The Scriptural Basis for a Geocentric Cosmology? Part 1

I am, this week, continuing a conversation from Brian’s post, and to let this be an encouragement to him, in which Geocentricism was laughed at (now). The idea that the Sun and the Moon were the heavenly bodies which revolved, that the Earth was the center of it all, was not merely, as one contributor put it, ‘in Galileo’s day’, but prevalent throughout the early history of the Church. It is based on two things, first, a straight forward reading, otherwise known as woodenly literal, of Scripture mixed with a little Greek science. We know the history of the change of it, but we generally do not visit it as a topic any more; however, in discussing such issues with 6-day/6000 year Creationists, I find that it is needful to remind my brothers and sisters in Christ that these sames arguments – that those who seek to see science as adding to the inspired Word of God are somehow joining the world to it or loosening the authority, etc… I would dare say, that had Ken Ham been around in the 16th century, Galileo would have suffered at his hand.

Because of Fair Use, I am able to post this, nearly as the whole upon which it was received,

I am posting this in parts, in order to stoke a conversation.

Preface

Those who believe in the literal truth of the Bible are in for a shock. The Bible describes a cosmos that few of us would recognize today.

  • The earth is fixed and immovable and lies at the center of all things. The sun moves about the earth, not the other way around. Use of the phrase “solar system” should therefore be avoided in favor of the more accurate “geosystem.”
  • The earth is flat and finite. Its boundary may be circular, but the earth is most certainly not a sphere as was hypothesized by Eratosthenes (a pagan scientist who lived two centuries before the birth of Christ). The placement of globes in public classrooms can only serve to promote ecology as a possible state religion.
  • The sky is the roof over the earth — a solid impervious barrier that protects both believers and non-believers from the waters beyond. The term “outer space” is a notion perpetrated by secular humanists, new age gurus, and other freethinkers.
  • The stars on the sky are much smaller than the earth. (The word “on” is not a typographical error here.) The notion of “distant suns” is nothing more than a theory entertained by misguided scientists.
  • The laws of physics as they exist on the earth are different from those of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Astronomers should look to the Bible and not the Principia before they aim their telescopes. The former is the unerring word of God while the latter is merely the word of Isaac Newton. Nearly all scientist now recognize Newtonian mechanics as flawed, having inadequately explained the precession of the perihelion of the planet Mercury. (Newtonian mechanics has since been replaced by Eisntein’s general theory of relativity.)

You’d think Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell would be up in arms over these facts. Massive government bureaucracies send spacecraft to distant planets. The liberal media are awash in images of a spherical earth. (The Universal Studios logo is a globe!) Children in public schools are taught from Kindergarten that the earth revolves around the sun. With the exceptions of the persistent use of the terms “sunrise” and “sunset,” our modern world is flooded with images of heretical cosmologies that remove the earth from its God-given place at the center of all things. Only an atheist would buy the notion that we live on a tiny rock, circling an insignificant star in a galaxy of billions of stars in a universe of billions of galaxies. Why would God place his most holy of all creations in such location? Surely, no true believer in the Scriptures — the divine and unerring word of God — would accept the scientific notion that we live in place that is not special in the eyes of our Creator. I find it quite reasonable to insist on a Constitutional amendment requiring all Supreme Court justices to swear their allegiance to geocentrism and flat-earthism. Our souls and the souls of our children lie in their hands.

Beyond the hyperbolic humor, there is a truth here, in that the same arguments against those who keep the Word of God as inspired and yet understand that when new evidence is presented, it doesn’t lessen the authority of the word of God to change our interpretations. Further, it does damage to the Word of God to insist against mounting evidence that the interpretation must be kept, often times, creating conspiracy theories and straw-mans to maintain said interpretations.


Introduction

O.K. You can stop hyperventilating now. The previous paragraphs are an example of a rhetorical device known as hyperbole. A hyperbole is an exaggerated statement that is not meant to be taken literally, but is used to emphasize a point. The purpose of this essay is to demolish the notion that the Bible has any scientific relevance whatsoever. In particular, I aim to show that the same thinking that leads devout fundamentalists to deny evolution as atheism must also lead them to embrace geocentrism and flat-earthism as God-given truths.

So why would I do this? What got me started on the road to endless arguments? I work as a teacher in the New York City public school system. From time to time, I’m asked quite poignant and perceptive questions.

  • Who said so?
  • Why is this the way it is?
  • Why should I care about this?
  • Is this going to be on the next test?

So here I am one day, trying to remember all the details behind the progression from the geocentrism of Aristotle and Ptolemy to the heliocentrism of Copernicus and Galileo when this student asks me the question of the day?

  • Where does it say that the sun goes around the earth in the Bible?

Where, indeed? I remember learning that the earth was created in six days in Sunday school, but I don’t remember anybody teaching geocentrism. And yet five hundred years ago, that would have been the case. If not in religion class, then in secular classes taught by church-sanctified masters, Europeans were learning that the earth was the center of all things and that the sun, moon, and planets revolved around it. Prior to that, they might have even learned that the earth was flat and that the sky was a solid covering that protected the earth from the waters beyond. Of course, they also learned reasonably useful things like literacy, numeracy, geography, and history. We have no problem accepting that these subjects were full of what we now recognize as errors and limitations, but when it comes to biology, the beliefs of two to four thousand years ago are accepted by some as fact. The earth and all that is on it, including all living things, were created in the literal span of six terrestrial days (today, roughly 24 hours).

O.K. If you want to play that game, then let’s go. If you want to use millennia old Scripture to support your half-baked scientific notions then I can do the same with mine (which you must remember, I don’t really believe in). What does the Bible actually say about the nature of cosmology? Let’s open the Good Book and read it with the same uncritical eye as that of the anti-evolutionists. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

Of course, using a document from a non-believer might be problematic for some, but truth is truth. And as we shall see, reading certain verses with a sort of scientific literalism attached presents problems.

I am going to take this as easy as I can, because I realize that honest and sincere Christians still believe it and Creationism. I don’t think that it is a matter of The Faith.

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Post By Joel L. Watts (10,151 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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