Gerardus D. Bouw, Ph.D.
To hear tell, geocentrism, the ancient doctrine that the earth is fixed motionless at the center of the universe, died over four centuries ago. At that time Nicolaus Copernicus (picture below), a Polish canon who dabbled in astrology, claimed that the sun and not the earth was at the center of the universe. His idea is known as heliocentrism. It took a hundred years for heliocentrism to become the dominant opinion, and it did so with a complete lack of evidence in its favor.
Yet the victory of heliocentrism has been less
than total. Over the years geocentrism has had its
spokesmen. Among scientists who adhered to the
centrality of the earth were three generations of
Cassinis: a family of astronomers who dominated French
astronomy from the late seventeenth to the early
nineteenth centuries. Astronomers, pastors, and
educators in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran
Church maintained the geocentric truths well into the
twentieth century. They, with the reformers such as
Luther, saw that the embracing of heliocentrism would
weaken not only science, but also the authority of the
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
Perhaps the strongest geocentric verse in the Bible is Joshua 10:13:
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.Here the Moderator of Scripture, the Holy Ghost Himself, endorses the daily movement of the sun and moon. After all, God could just as well have written: "And the earth stopped turning, so that the sun appeared to stand still, and the moon seemed to stay ... ." That wording would be no more "confusing" to the reader than anything in Job chapters 38 through 41. There are those who would claim that the language used is phenomenological, that it was not meant to convey the truth of the matter. They like to equate Joshua 10:13 with verses like Isaiah 55:12 where the trees are said to "clap their hands." The problem with that is that everyone since Adam can understand that Isaiah 55:12 is a literary device; but there is not a clue to tell those before Copernicus that Joshua 10:13 is not to be taken literally.
About the immobility of the earth the Bible seems clear enough. The nineteenth-century logician and mathematician Augustus de Morgan, whithout whose theorem (de Morgan's Theorem) there would be no digital computers, put it quite succinctly when he wrote that those who try to get around the Bible's wording:
... make strange reasons. They undertake a priori, to settle Divine intentions. The Holy Spirit did not mean to teach natural philosophy: this they know beforehand; or else they infer it from finding that the earth does move, and the Bible says it does not. Of course, ignorance apart, every word is truth, or the writer did not mean truth. But this puts the whole book on its trial: for we never can find out what the writer meant, unless we otherwise find out what is true. Those who like may, of course, declare for an inspiration over which they are to be viceroys; but common sense will either accept the verbal meaning or deny verbal inspiration. [De Morgan, A. 1872. A Budget of Paradoxes, second edition; edited by D. E. Smith, 1915, (Chicago & London: The Open Court Publishing Co.), Vol. 1, p. 36. (Emphasis added.)]In other words, either God writes what he means and means what he writes, or else he passes off mere appearances as truths and ends up the liar. The ultimate issue is one of final authority: is the final say God's or man's? This is brought home again and again by humanists, such as the twentieth-century philosopher Bertrand Russell and astronomer Ivan King, who point to the church's abandonment of geocentricity as having "freed" man from the ancient God-centered outlook on life to the modern man-centered outlook. For complete documentation of the Biblical significance of geocentricity see G. D. Bouw's book, Geocentricity
The Copernican Revolution, as this change of view is called, was not just a revolution in astronomy, but it also spread into politics and theology. In particular, it set the stage for the development of Bible criticism. After all, if God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the "rising of the sun," then how can He be taken literally in writing of the "rising of the Son?"
The other of the two concerns over heliocentrism, as expressed by the reformers, is that the earth-centered view is better science than is heliocentrism. Although hints of that have sporadically surfaced in physics over the last 150 years, only in the 1980s has this claim become substantial through a new discipline called geocentricity. Whereas geocentrism was a concept which divided the universe into independent parts, geocentricity is an integrative approach, starting from the very smallest parts and integrating them into a unified view of the universe. For being only eleven years old, geocentricity has been surprisingly successful, solving several severe problems in cosmology such as providing a single-universe solution to the parallel universes problem.
To illustrate the difference in approach between geocentricity and heliocentrism, consider the derivation of the equations which technicians use to orbit space ships. Now some will insist that since satellites are sent up using heliocentrically-derived equations, that the space program is proof of heliocentrism. This erroneously assumes that the geocentrically-derived equations would be different from the heliocentric ones. That such is not the case has repeatedly been shown in scientific papers since the turn of the twentieth century.References Back in the nineteenth century, Ernst Mach (photo at left) showed that if there were an essential difference between geocentricity and heliocentrism, that then all the rules of geometry would be violated. Ever since then, geocentricity has been referred to by physicists as Mach's Principle.
These papers show that the geocentric model
is entirely compatible with phenomena such as the stationary
satellite, the Foucault pendulum, the equatorial
bulge, and how the distant stars can be "moving" faster
than the speed of light; The speed of light is only a speed
limit for bodies moving through the stellar universe, not for
rotation. [Also see Barnes, T. G., 1983. Physics of the
Future, (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research), p. 127.]
in short, they answer every argument based on the Coriolis
and centrifugal effects. The main difference is that
geocentric models must
always take the existence of the universe into account
whereas heliocentric models always ignore it. Other
than that, the differences between heliocentrism and
geocentricity are philosophical and theological. [See, for
example, Sir Fred Hoyle, 1975. Astronomy and Cosmology:
A Modern Course, (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Co.),
p. 416, where he writes: "We know that the difference
between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is
one of relative motion only, and that such a difference
has no physical significance. Emphasis added.]
In addition, the firmamental model readily accounts for
such experimental results as the Sagnac effect, the Faraday
disk-generator paradox, earth's night-time electric field, and
ball lightning. All of these point to geocentricity as
Last modified on 7 May, 2001 by GDB