The Scriptural Basis for a Geocentric Cosmology – Scriptural Cosmology

The geocentric Ptolemaic system of the univers...
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Continuing this from our previous post….

When more than one citation is presented below a descriptive paragraph, their order on the page is the same as their order in the Bible.

The mobility of the sun

The most important biblical quote supporting a geocentric universe can be found in the Book of Joshua. This will be used as the starting point for our scriptural cosmology.

Joshua 10:12-13
Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

The miracle of Joshua appears again as a reference in The Book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 3:11
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation at the light of thine arrows as they sped, at the flash of thy glittering spear.

The evidence in support of a geocentric model is overwhelming here. Joshua commanded the sun to stand still. He did not order the earth to cease rotating nor did he qualify his statement with the divine knowledge that the sun was merely made to appear stationary. The sun was commanded to stand still because it is the sun that moves. Descriptions of its motion can be rather poetic.

Psalms 19:4-6
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs his course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and there is nothing hid from its heat.

Ecclesiastes 1:5
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.

The stability of the earth

On the other side of the geocentric coin, if the sun moves then the earth must not move. There are a few passages which more-or-less forbid the motion of the earth.

1 Chronicles 16:30
tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

Psalms 93:1
The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Psalms 96:10
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

In addition, the notion of an earth with a “foundation” is quite common. This leads one to conclude that the earth is quite stable.

2 Samuel 22:16
Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuke of the Lord at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

Psalms 18:15
Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare, at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

Psalms 102:25
Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

Proverbs 8:27-29
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

Isaiah 48:13
My hand laid out the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.

John 17:24
Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.

The firmness of the earth’s foundation is open to some discussion, however. Earthquakes may or may not be allowed.

Psalms 104:5
Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken.

Job 9:6
who shakes the earth from its place, and its pillars tremble.

Isaiah 24:18
He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit; and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.

The earth’s geo-architecture is also uncertain. Compare the following passages.

1 Samuel 2:8
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

Job 9:6
who shakes the earth from its place, and its pillars tremble.

Job 38:4-6
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone?

The shape of the earth

In any case, the earth is not spherical. According to the Scriptures, from a very high spot (heaven, for example) one could see the entire earth such that nothing would be hidden. Such a thing is not possible with a spherical earth as the opposite side can’t be seen directly. This implies that the earth is flat.

Job 28:24
For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.

Psalms 19:4-6
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs his course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and there is nothing hid from its heat.

Daniel 4:10-11
The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth.

Matthew 4:8
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them;

Isaiah 40:22
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

From a great distance, a sphere would look like a circle. Perhaps the phrase “circle of the earth” refers to the outline of the earth? Perhaps. But then how could one see “all the kingdoms of the world? Those on the back hemisphere would remain hidden. The next passages should remove this confusion.

Psalms 136:6
to him who spread out the earth upon the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Isaiah 44:24
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb; “I am the Lord, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth — Who was with me? —

If the earth were spherical, one would use a verb other than “spread out” to describe its creation (balled up, gathered up, gathered together, anything but spread out). One might say they “spread out” batter to make pancakes but no one would ever say they “spread out” hamburger to make meatballs. The earth in the Bible was “spread out” because it is flat.

This next verse appears to describe an earth that tele-literate humans would recognize.

Job 26: 7
He stretches out the north over the void, and hangs the earth upon nothing.

The highlighted portion reads like a description of the earth as seen from outer space. The remainder is entirely obscure, however. What void are they talking about? What does it mean to “stretch out the north”? Help me somebody.

The extent of the earth

Not only is the earth flat, it is also finite.

Psalms 103:12
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

On a spherical earth, one could travel east or west indefinitely. This passage seems to be saying that there is a limit to the directions east and west. That is, after some long journey, one would run out of east or west having reached the end of the earth. This contention is further justified in numerous passages.

Deuteronomy 28:64
And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.

Deuteronomy 33:17
His firstling bull has majesty, and his horns are the horns of a wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; such are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and such are the thousands of Manasseh.

1 Samuel 2:10
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.

Job 28:24
For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.

Job 38:13
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

Psalms 19:4-6
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs his course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and there is nothing hid from its heat.

Psalms 22:27
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

Psalms 46:9
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the chariots with fire!

Psalms 48:10
As thy name, O God, so thy praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Thy right hand is filled with victory;

Psalms 59:13
consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more, that men may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth;

Psalms 61:2
from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I;

Psalms 65:5
By dread deeds thou dost answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation, who art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of the farthest seas;

Isaiah 41:9
you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;

Jeremiah 51:16
When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.

Daniel 4:10-11
The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth.

Mark 13:27
And then they will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The edge of the earth

The phrase “the midst of the earth” from Daniel implies that not only does the earth have a boundary it also has a center. Since trees grow only on the earth’s surface, the earth’s center must also be on its surface. A sphere has its center beneath its surface which means that the earth is not a sphere but some sort of plane geometric figure. This raises another question. What is the shape of the earth’s boundary? The answer is somewhat puzzling.

Job 26:10
He has described a circle upon the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.

Job 37:3
Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth.

Proverbs 8:27-29
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

Isaiah 11:12
He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 40:22
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

Isaiah 41:9
you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;

Ezekiel 7:2
“And you, O son of man, thus says the Lord God to the land of Israel: An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.

Revelation 7:1
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on the earth or sea or against any tree.

Revelation 20:8
and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

The nature of the sky

There is far less confusion when it comes to the heavens. The sky covers the earth like a tent and we live under it. The is no mention of an atmosphere in the Bible, nor of the preferential scattering of blue light by nitrogen molecules (nor any mention of nitrogen nor of molecules). The sky protects us and keeps us safe not by filtering out ionizing radiation but by its sheer strength. The sky of the Bible is solid — a firmament.

Job 22:14
Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.

Job 37:18
Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror?

Proverbs 8:27-29
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

Isaiah 40:22
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

Isaiah 44:24
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb; “I am the Lord, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth — Who was with me? —

Isaiah 48:13
My hand laid out the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.

2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Not only does God walk around on the heavens, so too does the sun, or rather it runs around on the heavens.

Psalms 19:4-6
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs his course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and there is nothing hid from its heat.

The nature of the stars

The stars are exactly as they appear — mere points of light fastened to the sky that would fall to earth were they ever dislodged. Distant suns, far larger than the earth could not fall to earth but small points of light could.

Isaiah 14:12-13
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north;

Daniel 8:10
It grew great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host of the stars it cast down to the ground and trampled upon them.

Matthew 24:29
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;

Mark 13:25
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Revelation 6:13
and the stars of the sky fell to earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale;

Revelation 12:4
His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth;

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians spells it out more clearly — the sun and the stars are different.

1 Corinthians 15:40-41
There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another, There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

The next verse describes an actual astronomical event.

Acts 19:35
And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?

Today we call these stones meteorites. Note how the contemporary connection between meteorites and shooting stars is not made. The Bible’s authors appear not to care about its use as a scientific reference by future generations.

The water surrounding the earth

There are some truly odd references in the Bible (beginning on page one, no less) to there being waters above the heavens and beneath the earth. These references do not seem to describe rain or ground water as would be reasonable. Instead, they seem to promote the idea that the firmament of the heavens are holding back some unbelievably large reservoir and that the solid earth is floating in the ocean like a dumpling on soup.

Genesis 1:6-9
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.

Psalms 136:6
to him who spread out the earth upon the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Proverbs 8:27-29
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

The waters behind the sky are kept in place by the strength of the firmament. Openings (windows) in the firmament could be the source of the flood that wiped out humanity in the time of Noah.

Genesis 7:11
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventh day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of the heavens were opened.

Genesis 8:2
the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained,

Isaiah 24:18
He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit; and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.

The waters beneath the earth are far stranger. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen them, but the Israelites must have. They were prohibited from worshiping graven images of the creatures that inhabited this subterranean sea. It wouldn’t make sense to prohibit the worship of creatures that don’t exist so therefore they must exist.

Exodus 20:4
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

Deuteronomy 4:16-18
beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figures, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.

Deuteronomy 5:8
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth;

Now, let us consider that what a straight forward and often times woodenly literal interpretation would give us? Do we have water under the earth with fish? Pillars of the earth? Is the earth fixed with the sun and the moon rotating around us? Tell me, then, my friends, where does a woodenly literal notion leave us?

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4 Replies to “The Scriptural Basis for a Geocentric Cosmology – Scriptural Cosmology”

  1. I believe Jean explained why verses such as Joshua 10:12-13 are worded they way they on your previous blog. Those verses (and all of the verses you quote here) are not meant to be taken as explanations for how the universe works, they are only illustrations. And they are written from the perspective of people on Earth using language that gets across the point of the illustration If reading the Bible in such a manner is what you call woodenly literal then I couldn’t agree more that a woodenly literal reading of the Bible is inappropriate.

    However, a straight forward reading eliminates this problem by not ignoring the context of the whole piece being read. If one were to read the above passages in a straight forward manner then it is easily understood that the illustrations using elements from our world are using said elements to offer descriptions of certain events and beings, not to offer descriptions of the elements themselves. Like a mother calling a daughter her ‘little sunshine’, she wouldn’t be calling her daughter an actual beam of light from the sun.

    To get to the point (what I’m assuming is the point) the creation account in Genesis only yields one possible interpretation when read in it’s context in a straight forward as written way. There has yet to be any other kind of interpretation of the creation account without supposed scientific evidence as the need to perform exegetical and theological gymnastics on the Bible. And to interpret the creation account in ‘light’ of this supposed scientific evidence is to take it entirely out of it’s context.

    1. Jason, the point is made that we must take in cultural considerations when reading the text. The Hebrews, like most ancient cultures, believed in geocentrism, yet today, we don’t because we know better. It wasn’t an illustration for them but ‘science’ (although, admittedly, that is a bad word to use). Does it make it wrong? No. But, we understand that they used their words to explain something that happened. Do I believe that the Sun stopped? No. Does the bible say that the Sun stopped? Yes. The fact is, is that God didn’t stop the sun, although the sun is said to have been stopped. Yet, we now would say that it was the earth.

      The creation accounts in Genesis yields several different interpretations, especially taken with the other accounts of Creation throughout the Old Testament. They are speaking to us in their language of the things that God did. Like geocentrism, we have to be able to read through it in order to understand what they are saying.

      1. Hi Joel, My memory is fuzzy on whether or not you’ve read my chapter on “The Cosmology of the Bible” in The Christian Delusion. I suppose I could check your website and our past email discussions to see, but it’s late. (If you have not, I’ll gladly mail you a printed copy.) Also, on the topic of “reading through” the Bible, it seems that not only modern cosmology but also modern liberal ethical ideals (Paine’s Rights of Man) and modern laws in democratic societies are also brought into play and contrasted with ancient ones in the Bible, and it is the Christian deciding just what to accept or reject or refit/reinterpret. Christians are keeping the Bible “alive,” straining always for its relevancy. Without such an effort on the part of Christians the Bible would be more like other ancient Near Eastern documents, i.e., primarily of academic interest, but not essential to living.

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