The Phlogiston Theory is well past its sell-by date, but has relevance to all of science now. The Phlogiston Theory held sway for about a hundred years, until Lavoisier produced the Oxygen Theory of combustion, which is standard science today. The Phlogiston Theory explained combustion through a substance called Phlogiston that was contained in all combustible materials. Scientists thought that as materials burned the Phlogiston was given off into the air, but with a limited air supply combustion would eventually cease. This was because air had a limited capacity to absorb Phlogiston; when it was completely phlogisticated it would no longer support combustion. When oxygen was first discovered it was called dephlogisticated air because it supported combustion far more effectively. It was assumed that the regular amount of Phlogiston held in the air had been removed, so its absorbent capacity had been increased.

The significant point about this theory is that it was completely off the wall scientifically, yet capable of accurate prediction and proof by experiment. Limited knowledge can produce practical, “provable” science while being totally wrong. The relevance to Cosmology today is that even though a theory can explain observations, it may also be totally wrong. This, of course, could apply to Geocentrism, but equally might apply to Relativity, Big Bang and anything else. But there is a difference between the Phlogiston/Oxygen debate of yesterday and today’s disagreements over Cosmology. With Phlogiston/Oxygen there was simply a desire to increase understanding; there would inevitably be an “Old Guard” defending the established view, but beyond that there were no big agendas. Today there is the problem that accepting Geocentrism is no different to accepting the existence of a Creator. That means there is a huge cultural and philosophical bias towards explanations which point away from God.

We need to be clear that in science, especially at the edge of current knowledge, two or more explanations of a phenomenon may exist. In science today it is invariably a godless explanation that is chosen, and then propagated through the Universities, schools, media, Wikipedia and internet. However, good science has never been about numbers or who can shout loudest. It’s about evidence, and also about fair assessment of that evidence.