Note: This essay is extracted from my book, The Great End Time Debate: Issues, Options, and Amillennial Answers (Redemption Press). Here is a key to some of the acronyms you will encounter:

OTKP = Old Testament Kingdom Prophecies
NCH = New Covenant Hermeneutic (the NT method for interpreting the OT in general, and OTKP in particular)
DNT = Didactic New Testament (the explicitly teaching portions of the NT)

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Premillennarians generally agree that this OTKP speaks about the future of ethnic Israel. Beyond that, they differ widely among themselves. Some say it has already been partially fulfilled in the recent return of millions of Russian and European Jews to Palestine. Others (i.e., dispensationalists) say it will be fulfilled during a seven-year tribulation, when a believing remnant of Jews will fan out across the globe to gather their dispersed brethren back to their ancestral homeland, there to await the Second Coming of their Messiah (Isa. 66:18–21). Still others argue that it will be fulfilled after Christ’s return, when, through the same faithful remnant, the Lord will gather his far-flung Jewish brethren to rule with him during the Millennium.

But might there be a different interpretation, an interpretation that unites all Christians and speaks to them in the here and now? “Yes,” says the NCH, “there is. And when you see it, you will rise to your feet and find yourself running to the Gospel battle!”

Let us consider it now.

In Ezekiel’s previous Oracles of Good News God had given his people glorious promises of an ultimate eschatological restoration. Among other things, he had promised to bring them back from captivity (34:12–13; 36:24), cleanse them of their filthiness and idolatry (36:25; 36:33), give them a new heart (36:26), place his Spirit within them (36:27), set his servant David over them as Prince and King (34:23–24), and grant them eternal peace and prosperity on the mountains of Israel (34:13–15, 25–31; 36:8–15, 33–38). Thus shall the great promise of the Covenant be fulfilled: In an eternal homeland purged of sin and secured from judgment, the LORD will be their God and they will be his people—forever (36:28; cf. 37:24–28).

Here in chapter 37 Ezekiel gives us a mysterious vision of how all this will come to pass: Because of the greatness of God’s grace, a people lying dead in the Valley of the Shadow Death will soon be miraculously transformed and definitively transferred: planted once and for all upon the mountains of Israel, where they will forever live in peace and prosperity with their Messiah and their covenant-keeping God.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (vv. 1–2)

The vision begins with the LORD carrying Ezekiel in the Spirit to a valley where he beholds a great multitude of bones scattered over the face of the ground. Upon close inspection he realizes that they are “very dry”—that is, long dead, and therefore thoroughly dead (vv. 1–2). Reading these verses, the Jews in exile may well have recalled how Jeremiah had predicted that the Babylonians would fill the accursed Valley of Topheth with the bones of the inhabitants of sinful Jerusalem (Jer. 7:32–8:2). But God does not name this valley, and for good reason: The vision does not speak of a physical place, but of a spiritual condition. This is the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Ps. 23:4; 107:10, 14; Isa. 9:2; Jer. 2:6; Luke 1:79). This is the great spiritual wasteland into which God, because of the sin of Adam, cast all the sinful exiles of Eden (Gen. 3:22–24; Luke 4:5–7; Rev. 12:6, 14). This is the Domain of Darkness, whose unregenerate inhabitants, despite having a reputation that they live, are in fact completely dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1–10; Col. 1:13; 2:13; Rev. 3:1).

Can These Bones Live? (v. 3)

Now that the inspection is complete, God has a question for the prophet: “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel well understands that nothing is too hard for the LORD (Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:27). However, not knowing what the bones symbolize, he is uncertain as to whether or not God wills for them to live. So he responds, “Lord God, You Yourself know” (v. 3). This calls to mind Christ’s exchange with his incredulous disciples, when they asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’s answer applies here: “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). The sovereign LORD can indeed save spiritually dead sinners. Moreover, in the case of his elect, nothing in Heaven or upon the earth can stop him from doing so (John 6:37; 10:16).

Prophesy to Them! (vv. 4–6)

In verses 4–6 we hear God’s command to Ezekiel: He must prophesy to the dry bones, telling them that God will put sinew and flesh upon them, cover the flesh with skin, and fill the bodies with breath so that they will live again and come to the knowledge of the One who has just raised them from the dead.

These verses speak of a creation. The imagery clearly recalls the creation of Adam, whose body God formed from the dust of the earth, and then brought to life by breathing the breath of life into his nostrils (Gen. 2:7). Here, however, we are dealing with something different. This is a re-creation. And it is a spiritual re-creation rather than a physical. The NT tells us that Christ himself willaccomplish it (John 20:19–23), with the result that his people will know both him and his Father as their sovereign Creator and Redeemer (John 14:15–20). A NT paraphrase of God’s message to Ezekiel might go like this: “In that day God will regenerate a great multitude of elect sinners (i.e., his Church), raising them up from the spiritual death that they inherited from the First Adam, and bringing them to an eternal newness of life that they will inherit through the Last” (Rom. 6:1–4; 1 Cor. 15:45; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1).

Does this prophecy also allude to the resurrection of the body? To be sure. However, it does so in a manner that awaits further light on the (two) stages of the Kingdom. That light is given in the DNT, where we learn that a saint’s spiritual resurrection (through faith in Christ) precedes, prepares for, and guarantees his bodily resurrection, which is set to occur at the end of the present evil age (John 5:24–29; 11:25–26; Rom. 6:5). So then: Ezekiel 37 does indeed allude to the resurrection of the body, but that is not its focus. Its focus is the spiritual resurrection of the Israel of God: the Church (Gal. 6:16). Before she can attain the resurrection of the body, something spiritual must occur: She must first be spiritually resurrected, spiritually assembled, and led out by God into spiritual war (Ezek. 37:10; 38–39; Rom. 6:1-14).

Come, O Breath, So That They May Live! (vv. 7–10)

In verses 7–10 we find the prophet doing exactly as he was bidden. Moreover, when he does, all unfolds exactly as God said it would. Such mighty prophesying pictures the spiritually re-creative power of the Gospel in the mouth of the prophetic Church (Rom. 1:16; 10:17; Col. 1:6; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23; Rev. 11:1–3).

In accordance with the pattern laid down in Genesis, Ezekiel sees that the eschatological re-creation will occur in two stages. First, the dead bones will become bodies (vv. 7–8), then the dead bodies will become living bodies, for the breath (i.e., the Spirit) of God stands them on their feet, henceforth ready to serve as an exceedingly great army (vv. 9–10). All of this pictures the ongoing creation of the Church Militant throughout the Era of Proclamation. In a microcosm it was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit fell upon and filled 120 “rattling bones” who had previously come together in one place (Acts 2:1). As a result, they stood up boldly to wage a loving holy war in the name of Christ and the Gospel (Acts 2; 4; 10; 13). But the vision will continue to be fulfilled right up to the end of the age, whenever and wherever God assembles, builds up, and sends out the Body of Christ through interaction with his Spirit and his (Gospel) Word (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:12, 15–16; Col. 2:18–19).

Notably, this ecclesiological interpretation is supported by verse 9, which represents the Spirit as coming from the four winds. This alludes to the four corners of the earth, from which God will gather his universal Church, comprised of Jew and Gentile (Mark 13:27; Rev. 7:1–8). It is also supported by verse 10, in which eschatological “Israel” is portrayed as an exceedingly great army, a metaphor repeatedly used to describe the NT Church, who are cast as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (Luke 14:31; 1 Cor. 9:7; Eph. 6:10–18; 2 Tim. 2:3; Rev. 19:14).

The Whole House of Israel (vv. 11–14)

In verses 11–14 God finally interprets the vision for Ezekiel. It is yet another oracle of eschatological “Israel’s” restoration (Gal. 6:16). Ethnic Jews will indeed be among them, for in many times and places they have felt themselves hopelessly lost and cut off. But so too have multitudes of Gentiles (v. 11; Matt. 4:12–16; 15:25; Eph. 2:12); and since, through Christ, they also will enter the Eternal Covenant, God will not be ashamed to call them “my people” (Rom. 9:25–26; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 2:11; 8:10; 11:16; Rev. 18:4).

God’s promise to them is manifold: He will raise them up from the grave of spiritual death, transport them to their heavenly homeland, and plant them on the top of his Holy Mountain (v. 12; Ezek. 36:8–15; 40:1–2; Gal. 4:26; Col. 1:13; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1). Note carefully from the conclusion of the prophecy that when this happens his people will realize that the great transformation was not of their own doing. Rather, God himself, by his sovereign grace, was the One who made them alive together with Christ, raised them up together with Christ, and caused them to be seated together with Christ in the heavenly places. There they will enjoy the glories of the Zion above (and vicissitudes upon the earth below) until the happy day when the High King returns and raises them bodily for eternal life in the glorious Homeland to Come (v. 13–14; John 15:16; Rom. 8:28–30; 1 Cor. 1:26–31; Eph. 2:4–10; Titus 3:4–7; 1 John 3:14; Rev. 14:1; 21:1–5).

By pushing this prophecy into a distant millennial future, and by limiting its fulfillment to ethnic Israel, prophetic literalism turns it into a valley of dry bones. But when the NCH breathes upon it, how the dry bones live!

 

For all its doctrinal complexity, this lengthy eschatological text was written primarily out of deep pastoral concern. As verses 1–2 make plain, a rumor was circulating among the Thessalonian house churches to the effect that the Day of the Lord had come: that it was imminent. Since this rumor was troubling the brethren, distracting them from their spiritual mission and daily responsibilities, Paul addressed it pointedly. His message is clear: The Day of the Lord will not come until certain things happen first; until certain unmistakable signs appear on the historical horizon. Therefore, until you see those signs, stand firm (v. 15) and stay busy (v. 17; 3:6–13).

Because this passage informs the Church about important events leading up to the Consummation, it demands close attention. My approach will be to give the gist of each section and to spotlight the many characteristics indicating that Paul presupposed a single Consummation at the Parousia of Christ.

An Urgent Request (vv. 1–2)

Verses 1–2 give us the apostle’s urgent request. The subject matter is threefold: The Coming of Christ (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23), the gathering together of the saints to him (i.e., the “Catching Up” of 1 Thess. 4:17), and the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2). Dispensationalists assert that the gathering together is distinct from the Day of the Lord, with seven years between the two. But Paul says no such thing. On the contrary, the juxtaposition of these closely related subjects makes it quite clear that he has in mind a single Consummation. Yes, each is a discrete event; but the discrete events are elements of a single Momentous Event. If the concerned apostle and pastor thought otherwise, would he not have said so?

As for the request itself, it may be paraphrased thus: “Don’t let any evil spirit, any false teaching or prophecy, or any fake letter as if from one of us apostles persuade you that the Day of the Lord has come, and so shake you from your proper spiritual composure” (see Mark 13:5–6). Concerning the crucial verb “has come,” the NIV Study Bible well remarks: “Obviously, Christ’s climactic return had not occurred, but Paul was combating the idea that the final days  had begun and their completion would be imminent.” “No,” says the apostle, “certain things must happen first; certain signs must appear on the stage of history.” This simple truth, directly contradicted by dispensational teaching on the Rapture, is of great importance for all of God’s people, but especially for those who will live and serve in the last of the last days. By holding firmly to it, Christians should be well able to keep their cool, even at the end of the world.

It Will Not Come Until (vv. 3–5)

What exactly are the telltale signs that will enable them to do so? In the Olivet Discourse the Lord had identified several. Here, Paul focuses on just two, presumably because they are especially important and will occur closest to the end. They are the rebellion (Greek: apostasia) and the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness (or the Antichrist).

Concerning the first of these, it is true that the New Testament anticipates a large-scale apostasy, or falling away from the (profession of) faith, at the time of the end (Matt. 24:10–12; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1–9). Here, however, the close association of the apostasia with the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness strongly suggests a causal relation. If so, it is surely best to follow the NIV and ESV in translating apostasia as rebellion. On this reading, Paul is saying that the Day of the Lord will not come until the corrupt world system fully and finally rebels against the Law and Gospel of God, paving the way for Satan to go public with his counterfeit christ, and for the fallen world system to follow after him (vv. 10–11; Matt. 24:12; Rev. 13:3).

As for the Man of Lawlessness, Paul draws freely upon OT prophecy to give us the gist of his character and very short career (vv. 3–4; Dan. 7:8, 20–21, 25; 9:26–27; 11:36). Though Paul does not use the word, it is clear that he thinks of this man, above all, as an antichrist. As the apostle John would put it, he is the final human embodiment of “the spirit of Antichrist,” and so is the Antichrist himself (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).

Very importantly, the Greek word anti means against or instead of. We see both meanings here and throughout our text. The Man of Lawlessness will act against Christ, even as he blasphemously tries to act instead of Christ as the appointed prophet, priest, and king of the world. Verses 3–5 give us several illustrations of this all-pervading motif.

Like Christ at his first and second comings, the Man of Lawlessness will be revealed in his proper time; his time, however, will be (cut) short, since he, unlike Christ, is “a son of destruction”—that is, a man “doomed to destruction” (v. 3; 2 Thess. 1:7; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 John 3:2).

Unlike Christ, who loved the Father and delighted to do his will, the Man of Lawlessness will oppose every so-called god or object of worship, including the one true living God and his divine Son (vv. 4, 8; John 8:28; Heb. 10:7). He will stand against the triune God and his people.

Finally, acting instead of Christ, the Man of Lawlessness will exalt himself, “taking his seat in the sanctuary [or, temple] of God, displaying himself as God” (v. 4). This verse calls to mind the sin of (the archangel?) Lucifer, who, from the very beginning, has sought to exalt himself above God, and to usurp the worship that properly belongs to the LORD (Is. 14:13–14; Matt. 4:9). In the Man of Lawlessness—who will present himself as God incarnate—he (Satan) will briefly achieve his goal: The whole (unregenerate) world will worship him (Rev. 13:8).

This, I believe, is the sense of Paul’s words about “the sanctuary,” (Greek, naos: the inmost, and therefore most sacred, part of a temple). He is not looking for the Man of Lawlessness to seat himself in the temple at Jerusalem, from which, in Paul’s day, he could hardly have been expected to gain a worldwide following. Still less is he looking for him to seat himself in the Church, since at the time of this letter the Church had neither institutional status nor spiritual credibility in the eyes of the Gentile world (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21). Rather, he is simply looking for the Man of Lawlessness to present himself as God incarnate, thereby seating himself in the place of the universal worship rightfully belonging to God and Christ (Is. 14:13-14).1

Note from verse 5 that Paul had previously taught the Thessalonians about these things, and is therefore surprised that they have already forgotten them. Now if, as dispensationalists admonish us, the Church is to look only for Christ (i.e., at a secret Rapture), and never for the Antichrist (i.e., as a sign of Christ’s Coming), why does Paul tell the Thessalonians to do the exact opposite? The answer is clear: He never told them to look for a secret Rapture. Rather, he told them to look for the one Coming of Christ, but also for the foremost sign of that Coming: the appearance of the Antichrist. Armed with such wisdom, no believer can fall prey to false prophecies about an “any moment” return of Christ—as all too many of our dispensational brethren have.

The Restrainer (vv. 6–7)

Seeking to keep the Thessalonians on their spiritual toes, Paul now reminds them that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work (v. 7). He means that the spirit of Antichrist (i.e., Satan and his demon hosts) is now abroad in the world, eager to raise up the Antichrist himself: the Man of Lawlessness (1 John 2:18). For the moment, God is restraining Satan from doing so—through what instrumentality, Paul does not say, since he spoke of this earlier when he was with them. Possibly he has in mind a (Roman) ruler (something he would be loath to mention in a letter), or an angel, or simply the power and person of the Holy Spirit himself (Rom. 13:1–7; Rev. 12:7). In any case, his inspired words assure the Church that the restrainer will continue to restrain Satan until God, at his good pleasure, takes him out of the way. Since this must happen, and since it could happen without warning, the saints must stand watch.

In passing, let us note how closely these verses parallel the teaching of Revelation 20 (Rev. 20:1–3, 7–10). In both cases we learn that Satan is bound and the Church free to fulfill her mission of global evangelism until God removes the restrainer, thereby, in swift succession, releasing the devil for a little season, bringing forth the Man of Lawlessness, bringing on the Last Battle, and bringing back the High King of Heaven and Earth. Thus shall the sovereign God work all things together for the good of those who love him, of those who are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28 NKJV).

The Deceptive Career of a Counterfeit Christ (vv. 8–14)

In verses 8–12 Paul again takes up his theme of the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness, this time going into greater detail about his brief, dramatic, and dangerously deceptive career. In so doing, he also gives us an astonishing disclosure, not simply of a sovereign God, but also of a sovereign God with a flair for the dramatic.

In particular, for wise reasons God has ordained that at the end of Salvation History Satan will be allowed to raise up a counterfeit prophet, priest, king, kingdom, and “god-man” who, in many ways, will darkly mirror the Person and Work of the true Christ. Here we have the final manifestation of the principle laid down in the Protoevangelium and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares: Both Christ and Satan will have their own kingdom and people, sown together in the same earth, growing side by side, and running closely parallel to each other until the Day of Judgment and final separation at the end of the age (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 12:22–30; 13:36–43; Luke 4:6; Rev. 14:14–16). Knowing this, the apostle is at pains to show that the Man of Lawlessness is doubly an antichrist: Not only does he oppose Christ, but he also apes him—powerfully, deceptively, and dangerously. Yet for all that, he and his evil career are in the omnipotent grip of the true God and the true Christ, who will by no means allow his little ones to be deceived (Matt. 24:24; John 10:5).

Accordingly, Paul begins by telling the Thessalonians what will happen when the restrainer is removed: The Lawless One will be revealed, much as Christ was revealed in the days of his flesh (and will again be revealed in the Day of the Lord). Unexpectedly, yet quite significantly, Paul does not immediately describe his evil career. Instead, he first speaks of his destruction: The Lord himself will slay him with the breath of his mouth at the appearing (epiphaneia) of his coming (parousia) (Is. 11:4). The message here is both clear and comforting: The career of the Lawless One will be exceedingly short, brought swiftly to an end by the return of Christ in judgment. Therefore, the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness is the single most important sign of the imminence of the end—and, in its own way, a great encouragement to the (suffering) saints of God (Luke 21:28).

In verse 9 Paul resumes his teaching about the career of the Lawless One. Now, however, he speaks of his coming. Again, this word denotes the arrival of a powerful dignitary, as of an emperor or a king. Just as Christ, in the days of his flesh, arrived on the scene with great power and authority, so too will the Lawless One. Just as God the Father enabled Christ to perform signs and true wonders, so too will Satan—the spiritual father of the Lawless One—enable his son to perform signs and “lying” (i.e., real, but misleading) wonders (John 8:44; Rev. 13:2, 4). The Lord Jesus himself warned his disciples of this very thing (Matt. 24:24). Later, John the Revelator will do the same (Rev. 13:13–14; 16:14; 19:20). Let not the saints forget.

According to verse 10, when the Lawless One appears he will come not only with counterfeit miracles, but also with “every deception of wickedness.” This deception will include “the lie”—a false but very winsome gospel: a new, alternative religion. It will work. Multitudes who did not welcome the true Gospel of Christ will believe the false gospel of the Antichrist, and so perish (v. 11; Rev. 13:3).

Because the Lawless One will gain a large following, and because it is important for the saints to understand why, Paul is moved to explain. He does so in verses 11–13. He has just said that the Man of Lawlessness will deceive multitudes because “. . . they did not welcome the love of the truth” (v. 10). The Greek here is dechomai, a word that can mean to welcome or to receive. In this case, both senses are applicable, bringing into view the biblical tension between man’s freedom and responsibility on the one hand, and God’s sovereignty on the other.

Why will latter day unbelievers fall prey to the deceptions of the Antichrist? It will be because they did not welcome the message of the truth, but chose instead to take pleasure in unrighteousness (v. 12; Eph. 1:13). Consequently, the God of judgment will hand them over to a deluding influence, so that they will believe “the lie” and stand condemned, together with their god. Here Paul depicts unbelievers as free agents who are responsible to take and pass the Gospel test (John 3:16-21; Acts 13:46).

Nevertheless, through a fervent personal expression of thanksgiving, he would teach his converts always to ascribe their salvation to God: the God who loved and chose them from the beginning, and who—through the proclamation of the Gospel, and by the sanctifying work of the Spirit—called them to saving faith Christ (vv. 13-14; Eph. 1:3–14). The Thessalonians are to realize that they freely welcomed the truth of the Gospel only because they had received the love of the truth as a gift from the sovereign God (Matt. 5:6; 13:10–17; John 8:43–45; 1 Thess. 1:2–5).

Conclusion

Reading this challenging text, Christ’s Church is taught to understand, fear, and rejoice. One day up ahead Satan will unveil his man. When he does, few on earth will discern or resist him since his person and work will hew so closely to Person and Work of the true Christ. Like Christ, the Antichrist will have a coming and a revelation. Like Christ, he will have a spiritual father who leads and empowers him. Like Christ, he will perform supernatural signs and wonders. Like Christ, he will proclaim a gospel of salvation. Like Christ, he will have a flock and a kingdom, both of which will seem larger and more powerful than those of the Good Shepherd.

In short, things will be just as the Truth himself said: “For false messiahs and false prophets will arise; and they will display great signs and wonders, so great that even the elect would be led astray, if that were possible” (Matt. 24:24). Let his little flock therefore give thanks to the sovereign God who has chosen them, and who has promised to keep them from all deception. But let them also be ever vigilant to receive and welcome the love of the truth, both now and in the dark days immediately prior to the Second Coming of the Light of the World (2 Thess. 2:9, 13). For it is he who endures to the end that will be saved (Matt. 24:13; Jude v. 24).

Notes:

     1. All that said, we should not rule out the possibility that the eschatological Antichrist may emerge from, or be associated with, a nominally Christian institution. For the moment, the Roman Catholic Church appears to be the likeliest candidate. Here are some further remarks on this subject, excerpted from my book, The High King of Heaven.

During and after the Reformation most Protestant leaders taught that 2 Thess. 2:4 was/is fulfilled in the papacy. For them, the institution itself was the Antichrist, a spiritual usurper that for centuries had lawlessly seated itself in the temple of God (Christ’s Church), distorted the Gospel, and opposed and persecuted the true spiritual Church through the evil offices of compliant kings and princes. Given the nature of their vicissitudes, it is easy to see how the Reformers arrived at this conclusion. However, the conclusion itself does not fit well with the actual data of Scripture or history. The reasons are many. Paul represents the Antichrist as an individual man, not an institution. Strictly speaking, the popes did not exalt themselves above God, but at least postured themselves as his servants. Similarly, they directed men’s worship to God and Christ, even if they also misdirected it to Mary, the saints, the angels, and themselves (Rev. 19:10, 22:10). They did not claim to be God or Christ, but only to act as their vicars (i.e., representatives) on earth. They were not (preeminently) governmental or military leaders, as both the Old and New Testaments depict the Antichrist (Dan. 7, 11, 12; Rev. 13). Finally, they did not perform amazing miracles, as Paul says the Man of Lawlessness will. It appears, then, that the papacy is not Paul’s Man of Lawlessness. On the other hand, whatever Paul’s private opinion may have been, there is nothing in his inspired words to rule out the possibility that one day up ahead an individual pope, promulgating an egregiously mutant and highly politicized form of Catholicism, could become (or abet) the kind of Antichrist Paul here envisions. Unlikely as it may now seem, Christians should not rule out this possibility. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious institution in the world; it has a long history of skillfully lending the venerable name of Christ to its unscriptural teachings; it has an ugly history of persecuting the true spiritual Church; and even today it appears to be looking hard for ways to welcome (unconverted) Jews and Muslims into its fold. If, at the end of the age, there is to be an anti-christian one-world religion, surely the Roman Catholic Church is one of the best candidates presently on the scene to lead it. Alert Bible Christians, living in the last perilous days of deepest deception, would be wise to keep a sharp eye on what comes out of Rome. For more, see Kim Riddlebarger, The Man of Sin (Baker Books, 2010), chapter 7.

     2. This essay is taken from my book, The Great End Time Debate (Redemption Press, 2022). Available here.

Note: This is the first of two essays dealing with cosmic geocentrism: the idea that the Earth sits at rest at the center of a rotating universe. Here we deal with biblical testimony favorable to cosmic geocentrism, in the next with the scientific. I have extracted the material for these articles from my book on biblical cosmology, In Search of the Beginning: A Seeker’s Journey to the Origin of the Universe, Life, and Man (Redemption Press). That book contains copious end-notes (not included here) and much additional information about the development of modern cosmological views, and also about the scientific evidence—often suppressed—supporting cosmic geocentrism. If you find this subject of interest, please consult the longer work, and also the resources that I have linked to remarks you will read below. God bless you as you embark on your journey to the center of the universe!

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The world is firmly established: It cannot be moved.
Psalm 93:1

Modern Man is lost in the cosmos. He is told by the experts that space is curved and expanding; that the universe is perfectly homogeneous and isotropic (i.e., that it is the same, and looks the same, no matter where you happen to be in it); that it has no center, no edges, and no place special or more important than any other. Believing all this, most folks have no definite sense for the structure of the universe, or for their place in it. Quite literally, they no longer know where in the world they are. And if they no longer know where they are, how can they possibly feel at home where they are?

Giving picturesque expression to this modern mood of cosmic displacement, H. L. Mencken once complained, “The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.”

Carl Sagan agreed (philosophically, if not astronomically), confidently declaring that man’s inheritance from modern science is the humiliating realization that ” . . . we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

And yet it has not always been so. Medieval man, for example, was actually quite at home in the cosmos, dwelling securely beneath God’s heaven and envisioning himself at the center of a finite, spherical universe, lovingly set and kept in motion around the Earth by the Father of lights (James 1:17). So too were many of his Catholic and Protestant descendants.

But then came Copernicus, and after him Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. And with these, the dominoes began to fall: first, the Earth-centered universe, then the finite universe, then the sun-centered universe, then the created universe; and finally the creator of the universe himself. Said the poet Goethe after much of the damage had been wrought:

Among all the (scientific) discoveries and (new) convictions, not a single one has resulted in deeper influence on the human spirit  than the doctrine of Copernicus…Humanity has perhaps never been asked to do more. For consider all that went up in smoke as a result of this change becoming consciously realized: a second paradise (i.e., a coming Kingdom of God), a world of innocence (i.e., Eden), poetry and piety, the witness of the senses, and the conviction of a poetic and religious faith.

And Goethe was not alone in this gloomy assessment. Contemplating the collapse of the ancient biblical worldview and all the spiritual wreckage it would surely bring in its train, Anglican priest and poet John Donne lamented, “Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone!”

Subsequent history bears out the testimony of these seers. The Copernican revolution did indeed eventually bequeath to modernity an essentially beginningless, structureless, purposeless, and godless cosmos, in which the Earth and man henceforth appear as cosmic specks, meaningless accidents wandering aimlessly about in the void. All coherence—and all comfort—was indeed gone.

Now given this dismal outcome, alert spiritual seekers, tender to the importance of optimism and hopefulness in any viable worldview, may well find themselves asking: Could it be that we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way? Might we even have erred at the Copernican crossroads? Could it be that in abandoning cosmic geocentrism we have lost something precious that the Unknown God (i.e., the God who reveals himself in nature and conscience) actually intended his dear human children to enjoy: a sense of place, a sense of importance, and a sense of being at home in the midst of his creation?

The Test Perspective (i.e., the idea that our life is a test from the Unknown God, who, in a world of religious diversity, is testing of our love of the truth about ultimate religious and philosophical questions) boldly answers all these questions in the affirmative. For if, as I have suggested earlier, our spiritual hunger to behold the beginning of the universe comes from the Unknown God, then surely our corresponding hunger to know something about its structure—and to situate ourselves comfortably in its midst—must come from him as well. And if (as the labors of the scientists abundantly attest) we are by nature eager to look upon and contemplate these things, is it not reasonable to expect that a revelation from the Unknown God will enable us to do so, at least in some small measure? Here, then, we find yet another occasion for suspecting that the Unknown God may well be speaking to us in the Bible. For as we have already seen, the Bible does indeed give us a clear revelation, not only of the beginning of the universe, but of its basic structure as well.

The Bible and Cosmic Structure

Concerning this fascinating question, three preliminary points must be made.

First, experience proves that it is difficult to glean from the Bible a detailed picture of the (structure of the) universe. Partly, this is because the data is limited; partly, it is because that same data is amenable to different interpretations. As a result, many questions still remain open. For example, do the waters above the expanse (Genesis 2:6-7) serve as the outer boundary of the atmosphere, or as the outer boundary of the universe itself? Does the third heaven—the abode of God’s continuing self-revelation to the angels—exist somewhere within the expanse of space, or in a “hyperspace” situated just beyond our own, or as another dimension altogether (yet mysteriously related to our own)? Is the expanse of space empty (i.e., a true vacuum), or is it full (i.e., a plenum, filled with an invisible substance such as the light-bearing ether of 19th century physics)? Is space “curved” (as Relativity Theory argues) or “flat” (as Euclid and common sense assert); and is it static or expanding? Is the universe bigger than we have yet to imagine, or smaller than we have been led to believe?

To these and other fascinating questions the Bible may well give definite answers; but again, experience proves that those answers are elusive, and that consensus is difficult to achieve. Thus, it seems fair to conclude that the Bible does not readily yield a detailed picture of the structure of the universe.

But secondly, despite all this, it is indeed possible to glean from the Bible a reasonably clear picture of the basic structure of the cosmos. Believing this to be so, I would not agree with biblical creationist Gerald Aardsma when he asserts, “The Bible provides no explicit teaching on any questions relating to the form of the universe.” On the contrary, it seems to me that the Bible provides quite a number of concrete and spiritually comforting facts about cosmic structure. Admittedly, some of these must be inferred from the text. Yet down through the years—and especially prior to the Copernican revolution—multitudes of interpreters have made these “good and necessary” inferences, and have therefore reached a significant degree of consensus.

Chief among such basic facts is what I will henceforth call the radical geocentrism of the cosmos, the focus of our attention in these essays. It is crucial to define this idea carefully. As I see it, the biblical revelation of radical cosmic geocentrism involves at least the following five elements: 1) Our habitable Earth lies at (or very near) the geometric center of a spherically symmetrical universe, a view technically referred to as geocentrism; 2) the Earth sits motionless, or at absolute rest, at the center of this universe, a view technically referred to as geostationism. These two ideas imply, of course, that the Earth neither rotates on its axis beneath the “fixed stars,” nor revolves in an orbit around the sun, nor revolves around the center of the Milky Way, nor moves through space with the Milky Way, etc.; 3) the heavenly bodies (i.e., sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.), though not necessarily without limited motions peculiar to themselves, nevertheless all orbit the Earth once a day from east to west. The essential idea here is that the universe itself revolves around the Earth, somehow carrying all the heavenly bodies (and their peculiar motions) along with it; 4) this revolving universe is finite, since, quite apart from the direct biblical testimony to this effect, it is self-evident that an infinite universe cannot revolve daily around the Earth, and 5) the radical geocentrism of the physical creation is laden with spiritual meaning, having been designed to reflect the existence, wisdom, and power of the creator, as well as the centrality of the Earth’s inhabitants in his affections and purposes.

Now if all this may be justly deduced from the Bible, one would certainly have to concede that we have indeed been given a clear picture of the basic structure of the universe. Moreover, it is a picture clear enough to make even a little child feel at home in the cosmos—and very important to the divine head of the household!

This brings us to our third point—and to a fact that will come as a surprise to no one—namely, that a radically geocentric understanding of the physical universe is highly controversial, more even than the alleged 6,000 year age of the creation. Just to contemplate such a universe is to completely go against the grain of some 300 years of scientific “common sense.” Indeed, it is to invite charges of abject scientific ignorance and/or religious fanaticism, as though one held that the Earth is flat, or perched on the back of a cosmic turtle. Most assuredly, no son of modernity can fail to be scandalized by the geocentric thesis.

And yet, if that son is a true seeker—and a seeker who truly hungers to find his place in the universe—he will be unable to dismiss it out of hand. Why? Because the biblical signs (i.e., the manifold body of God-given supernatural signs bearing witness to Christ and the Bible) have instilled in him a sense of the trustworthiness of the Hebrew Scriptures. Accordingly, his proper course of action in this matter will soon become clear. First, he must determine if the Bible really does teach radical geocentrism (for some who love the Book say that it does not). And second, if he finds that it does, he must determine whether this teaching has any scientific credibility at all. That is, he must see if the Unknown God has graced the idea of radical geocentrism with enough theoretical and observational support to make it scientifically reasonable to believe.

Needless to say, this will be another daunting—and fascinating—journey. In an effort to point the way, I will now offer a few remarks on the first of these two important questions.

The Testimony of the Bible

Does the Bible really teach radical cosmic geocentrism? Or is Dr. Aardsma correct when he claims that the Bible contains no clear teaching on the physical form of the universe? A careful consideration of several different (classes of) texts will enable the seeker to make his own informed judgment on this important question.

  1. The Genesis Cosmogony

First and foremost, we have the Genesis cosmogony itself, and especially the material found in Genesis 1:1-19. This passage is, of course, explicitly cosmological, as opposed, say, to the more poetic statements of the Psalms and the Prophets. Moreover, because of its placement at the very head of biblical revelation, it is clearly of first importance in determining the biblical testimony about the structure of the universe. With the question of cosmic geocentrism in mind, let us survey this foundational passage with some care.

Verse 1 is best read as a heading and summary statement. That is, it gives us the gist of all that the writer is about to tell us in verses 2-31; the gist of all that God did when he created “the heavens and the earth,” or what today we call “the universe.”1

In verse 2 we meet the object of God’s primordial creation, what the writer referred to as “the Deep.” It appears to be an enormous sphere of water, standing silent and motionless amidst absolute darkness. Possibly, it is suspended in empty space (see Job 26:7). However, subsequent verses suggest a far different interpretation: that the Deep is the immense physical body within which the womb of space (i.e., the expanse) will be opened up on the second day of creation. Note carefully that the Spirit of God alone is moving—moving upon the face of the Deep.

In verses 3-5 we have the creation (or sudden appearing) of a bank of primordial light. Like the Spirit of God (who is its ultimate source), this light also seems to be moving. Indeed, how else can we picture it except as revolving around the still motionless face of the Deep, thereby introducing the first day and the first night, and thus instituting the fundamental unit of Earth time?

In verses 6-8 we have the creation of the expanse (or firmament). This begins the account of the creation of the heavens, mentioned in verses 1 and 8. Here we can readily envision God separating or pushing back the waters in such a way as to create spherically concentric envelopes of: 1) air, 2) clouds (or water vapor), 3) space, and 4) water or ice serving as the outermost edge and boundary of the universe. In other words, this passage gives us a strong impression of the Earth-centered sphericity of the universe. 

Importantly, this impression is confirmed by a number of other biblical texts that refer to the sky as a vault or dome (Job 22:14, NIV; Amos 9:6, RSV), and also as a canopy (Job 36:29, NKJ; Isaiah 40:22, NIV). Note also that the sphericity of the sun, moon, stars, and planets—clearly visible to the naked eye—only adds to our common-sense impression that space itself is spherical, and that Gen. 1:6-8 presupposes this very thing.

In verses 9-13 the focus is upon the creation of the earth, first mentioned in verse 1. Here, God first brings forth (i.e., creates and raises up) the dry land (or earth) out of the waters beneath the heavens, waters that will henceforth be called the seas (v. 10; 2 Peter 3:5). Then, with a view to the service of man (and the animals), he brings forth from the dry land grass, vegetation, and fruit, some of which he will later designate as man’s appointed food (vv. 29-30).

Finally, in verses 14-19 we have the creation of the luminaries on the fourth day: the sun, moon, and stars. This paragraph completes the account of the creation of the heavens. Here the text strongly encourages us to envision God as not only imbedding the luminaries in the expanse (v. 17), but also as setting them in orbit around the still motionless Earth that they will henceforth serve. This important conclusion flows logically from several biblical considerations.

First, it is evident that the luminaries are designed to supplant the revolving bank of light that marked out the Earth’s first three days. This leads naturally to the conclusion that they too revolve around the Earth.

Secondly, in describing their function, the text treats the different luminaries as a unit: all give light upon the earth, all are for telling time, all serve as signs, etc. Presumably, then, all share the same basic motion as well: All revolve around the Earth.

Thirdly, it is highly counterintuitive to imagine that God, on the fourth day, would suddenly set a stationary Earth in motion around the sun. Intuitively, we feel instead that the member of the Earth-sun system that was created first should remain the stationary member—that it should serve as the center—while the other member should become an orbiting “planet,” (from the Greek planao, to wander). Along these lines, note once again that the luminaries are expressly designed to serve the Earth. How, then, shall the Earth subserviently revolve around any of the heavenly lights, including the “greater light” that we call the sun?

Finally, we do well also to observe that the Genesis cosmogony puts life and man only upon the Earth. The uniqueness of the Earth in this regard further inclines the reader to view it as central: central in God’s affection, purpose, and plan—and therefore central in his cosmos.

In sum, we find that the Bible’s premier, foundational, and most explicitly cosmological text, Genesis 1:1-19, positively drips with radical geocentrism. Admittedly, it is not explicitly stated; but it is everywhere implied. Moreover, as we are about to see, subsequent biblical texts go on to make explicit what remained implicit in the all-important cosmogony of Genesis 1-2.

  1. An Earth at Rest

We come now to a class of passages that affirms cosmic geocentrism by depicting the Earth as being at rest and immovable in the universe. Importantly, these texts seem clearly to presuppose and reflect the cosmology of Genesis 1. In particular, they are designed to glorify God as the divine sustainer of the world. He who in the beginning set the world “in its place” (Job 9:6) is here depicted as the One who keeps it there, safe and sound, day by day, until all is accomplished and the end (i.e., ultimate goal) has come.

Such passages are numerous. The Psalmist declared of God, “You laid the foundations of the Earth so that it should not be moved forever” (Psalm 104:5). Similarly, David said, “Tremble before Him, all the Earth. The world also is firmly established: It shall not be moved” (1 Chronicles 16:30). And again, David proclaims, “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty. The LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. The world is firmly established: It cannot be moved” (Psalm 93:1, 119:90). The message of such texts is uniform and clear: The mighty creator God has anchored the Earth securely in its proper place beneath the sun, moon, and stars, all of which go about in their courses above (Judges 5:20; Psalm 19:5-6; Ecclesiastes 1:6). Though hell itself should come against it, he will hold it to its place and to his purposes. His obedient and trusting people may rest assured.

Now it is true that a few texts envision the Earth as moving (Psalm 99:1), shaking (Isaiah 2:19-21, 13:13; Haggai 2:6), tottering (Isaiah 24:20), reeling to and fro (Isaiah 24:19-20), and even as fleeing before he face of Christ (Revelation 20:11). While the language here is somewhat figurative and hyperbolic, it is nevertheless clear that these texts do indeed speak of the Earth moving. However, in each case the thought is of the Earth being temporarily moved out of its normal resting place by the end-time judgment(s) of God. Isaiah gives us an excellent illustration of this point:

I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make man scarcer than fine gold, more rare than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the Earth will move out of her place at the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger. —Isaiah 13:11-13

Again, this text and the others like it actually support the idea of cosmic geocentrism, seeing that they presuppose a static, immobile Earth as the divine norm. From where will the LORD move the Earth? From her appointed place, which is a place of rest. Such texts reveal the assumption of all the biblical writers, namely, that the Earth is not like the other heavenly bodies, for it alone lies at rest in the midst of the cosmos; it alone, in one form or another, will remain forever; it alone is the privileged, stationary footstool for the feet of him who sits unmoved upon heaven’s throne (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:34-35; cf. Genesis 28:12).

  1. A Sun In Motion (and the Stars as well)

This class of passages, strictly interpreted, proves challenging indeed for all who have imbibed modern heliocentrism. I refer to a largish number of texts stating or strongly implying that within the Earth-sun system it is the sun that moves. Moreover, the assumption here, as we just saw, is that the sun is in motion relative to an Earth at absolute rest. This was the tenor of Genesis 1:2-19, the basis of Hebrew cosmology. In the passages we are about to consider, that tenor is specified and confirmed in remarkable detail.

Let us begin by noting the obvious: In common with our own habits of day-to-day speech, many Bible passages speak of the motions of the sun (Genesis 15:12, 17, 19:23, 32:31, etc.). One thinks of the words of the Psalmist, who declared, “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the LORD’S name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). Importantly, in some texts we hear the voice of God himself using these very terms. For example, in the Mosaic Law we find God saying, “If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down” (Ex. 22:3, 26; Lev. 22:7). Similarly, through the prophet Malachi God says, “From the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles” (Mal. 1:11; Isaiah 45:6). Along these lines, one thinks also of the words of our Lord, who, in urging his disciples to show impartial love to all men, directed their attention to the work of his Father, who “…causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Just as surely as God sends down a (moving) rain to the parched earth, so surely does he raise up a (moving) sun over the darkened earth. Thus, the Bible gives us many passages about the sun that not only reflect our common sense experience, but actually shape and confirm it.

Of special importance is Psalm 19, in which David vividly describes the motion and ministry of the sun:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork… In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing like a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heaven, and its circuit to the other end, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. —Psalm 19:1, 4-6

David’s words here are very like those of his son Solomon, who wrote, “The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose” (Ecclesiastes 1:5). Both of these texts have the sun in motion, both have it running a course, and both have it making a circuit around the Earth. Elsewhere, we learn that the stars too go “in their courses” (Judges 5:20). Nowhere, however, do we read of the Earth having a course, or making a circuit around the sun. Like all the biblical writers, David and Solomon assume that the sun—and beyond that, the heavens themselves—revolves around an Earth that remains stationary in the midst of all.

This persuasion is explicitly affirmed in James’ epistle to his persecuted Christian brethren. Seeking to reassure them of God’s immutable love and goodness in all his dealings with his children, James writes, “Every generous act, and every completed gift, is from above, and descends from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow cast by turning”  (James 1:17). The idea here is that every gift of God—including the persecutions and temptations he wisely permits—is good; that the goodness of the gifts reflects the goodness of the Giver; and that the immutable God is always good.

Importantly, the saints may catch a glimpse of their Father’s unchanging goodness in his gift of the heavenly lights—the sun, moon, planets, and stars—whose faithful “turnings” in the sky above reliably give us light, warmth, shade, and the ability to reckon time. On the other hand, those same lights stand in stark contrast to God, since their position is always changing—along with the shadows that are cast by their “turning”—whereas God changes not (Malachi 3:6). We see then that James—who may well have been aware of ancient (Greek) heliocentric cosmologies—nevertheless fully embraced the faith of his fathers, presupposing as he did a stationary Earth above which all the heavenly lights are steadfastly “turning” (revolving) in their appointed courses.2

  1. “Phenomenological” Language?

When modern readers come upon the passages we have just cited, they typically react in one of two ways. If, on the one hand, they are skeptics, they will simply dismiss such texts as yet another “proof” that the Bible is a mythological artifact of pre-scientific man in his spiritual and cultural infancy. If, on the other hand, they are respectful of the evidence pointing to the Bible’s divine inspiration, they will try to interpret such texts “phenomenologically.” That is, they will say, “The (inspired) writers were simply using the language of appearance. Today we know that the sun does not really rise or go down. Rather, the Earth, rotating on its axis before the sun (and moon), makes it appear as if this is the case. Thus, the Bible is simply speaking from ‘the Earth’s reference frame.’ It gives us the language of common sense experience, while science gives us the language of truth and reality.”

Though the latter approach is popular even among strict biblical creationists, there are a number of good reasons why seekers should think twice before embracing it.

First, the contention that the Bible uses phenomenological language does not arise from the Bible itself. On the contrary, the Bible seems consistently to presuppose that the Earth is stationary and that all the luminaries are in motion. If we had just one or two passages in which it was recorded that the Earth turns or moves or goes about in a circuit, then we would indeed have to wonder which of the two classes of passages was telling us the truth and which was speaking phenomenologically. However, we do not have to wonder, for all the texts speak geocentrically. And if the Bible is inspired by God, that is a fact to be taken seriously.

Secondly, the assertion that these texts are speaking phenomenologically clearly does arise from assuming the truth of heliocentrism. Why would this discussion even come up unless a modern reader was interpreting the text through the grid of the prevailing heliocentric model? The preeminent proof of this important point is the simple historical fact that prior to Copernicus no trusted biblical interpreter ever taught that the Bible speaks phenomenologically about the Earth-sun system. Rather, the leading interpreters of Scripture received these texts at face value, and therefore consistently gleaned from them a radically geocentric cosmos. It is, then, our modern indoctrination into heliocentrism that moves even the biblical loyalist to impose a new (and alien) interpretive framework upon the text. “Knowing” that heliocentrism is true, he presumes to vindicate the Bible from an apparent error by saying that it is speaking phenomenologically—and therefore truly enough relative to common sense experience. But one wonders: In thus subordinating his interpretation to prevailing scientific opinion, is he missing the true cosmological teaching of the very Book that he so ardently seeks to defend?

This brings us to our third point, namely, that seekers of cosmological truth cannot take the phenomenological approach. The reason is clear. As seekers, they have interacted with the evidence indicating that the Bible is a trustworthy revelation from God. Therefore, in their quest for truth about the structure of the cosmos, they will want to come to this book with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. In particular, they will want to see what it really says about the structure of the universe. Moreover, if they are well established in the test perspective, they will examine the data with a keen awareness that finite man, apart from divine revelation, can never be sure about the structure of the universe; that sinful man—whose faculties (according to the Bible) are fallen—is always biased and subject to error; and that as a result of all this, scientific theories about the nature of the universe are always in flux. In short, prudent seekers will be wary of imposing popular cosmological models on the biblical data, no matter how deeply entrenched in the culture they may be. Knowing that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, they will try to let the Bible speak in it owns terms (1 Cor. 1:27). And when they do, they will find that it speaks geocentrically from Genesis to Revelation.

Fourthly, the fact that the Bible uses common sense language to describe the motions of the heavenly bodies should actually be seen as an argument against a phenomenological interpretation. All agree that the Scriptures do indeed reflect our common sense impression of an Earth at rest beneath a revolving heaven full of lights. But this argues against geocentrism only if we assume that heliocentrism is true, and that God, in the Bible, is “accommodating” himself to our scientific weakness by using the language of everyday experience. Yet surely it is just as reasonable to assume that God chose the language of common sense in order to confirm the testimony of common sense. Indeed, of the two options this is clearly the better, since God himself is surely the author of common sense. Why, then, would he deceive us twice: First by inclining us to feel that the Earth is at rest in the center of the universe (as indeed most ancient pagan cosmologists taught), and then again by couching his revelation in language that would only serve to confirm this (false) impression? When Goethe said that Copernicanism overthrows “the witness of the senses,” he put his finger upon a telltale heart. The senses do indeed bear witness to cosmic geocentrism, and have not ceased to do so all these 500 years since Copernicus stepped forward to contradict them. Why is this so?

Fifthly, the fact that occasional Bible passages use figurative language to describe the shape of the Earth does not entail that the geocentric passages are figurative as well. Yes, the scriptures sometimes refer to “the ends of the Earth” (Psalm 72:8; Isaiah 40:28; Matthew 12:42), or to “the four corners of the Earth” (Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1), or to “”the pillars of the Earth” (1 Samuel 2:8; Job 9:6; Psalm 75:3). We can be sure, however, that all such expressions really are intended figuratively. This is usually evident from the contexts in which they appear, but even more so from the important fact that still other passages speak of the sphericity of the Earth, thus directly contradicting them (Job 26:7; Prov. 8:27; Isaiah 40:22; Luke 17:34-36). Moreover, the foundational cosmological text of the Bible (Genesis 1:1-19) gives no hint whatsoever of a flat, four-cornered Earth set upon its pillars. When, however, we read it in conjunction with the other biblical passages cited above—and bring to our reading both common sense experience and a wealth of compelling scientific observation—we see immediately that biblical cosmology everywhere presupposes not only the sphericity of the Earth, but the sphericity of the heavens as well.

In sum, the geocentric passages—unlike those describing the shape of the Earth—are abundant, consistent, and undergirded by explicitly cosmological texts. This is why history provides us with no biblical theologians who believed in a flat Earth, but with many who believed that the sun, moon, and stars go around a spherical Earth situated at rest in the midst of all (here).

This brings us to our sixth and final point: If geocentrism is not true, then the truthfulness of God is impugned. The argument here is straightforward. According to the Bible, God is the author of common sense, a common sense that inclines us to view the universe geocentrically (Psalms 94:8-11; Prov. 20:12). Also, he himself has directly spoken of a sun that rises and sets (Ex. 22:3, 26; Lev. 22:7; Isaiah 45:6; Mal. 1:11). Moreover, he himself was inspiring all the biblical authors when they wrote, believingly, of an Earth at rest “in its place” and of a sun revolving in its circuit around the Earth (Job 9:6; Psalm 19:6; Prov. 30:5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).

Thus, in manifold ways the God of the Bible gives us a definite and powerful impression of a geocentric cosmos. Furthermore, until Copernicus, this was precisely the impression that God’s people took from his Book. To say, then, that geocentrism is untrue is to say that God has given us a false impression. But this is to impugn the truthfulness of the God of truth, the God who cannot lie, the God who would not have his people ignorant, and the God in whom there is no darkness at all (Num. 23:19; Isaiah 65:16; John 8:40; 1 John 1:5).

  1. Joshua’s Long Day

These considerations bring us to a brief discussion of Joshua’s Long Day. This well-known Bible story, which served as a potent theological weapon against the early Copernicans, is among the most impressive bastions of geocentricity to be found in Scripture. As we are about to see, it not only powerfully resists “phenomenological” interpretations, but also contributes decisively to their demise. Let us turn to it now.

In Joshua 9-10 we read of Joshua and the Israelites going to war against a great confederacy of Canaanite kings. When the battle was finally joined, God worked mightily in behalf of his people, strengthening them for victory in direct combat, and further assisting them by casting down hailstones upon their foes. Joshua, however, found that he needed still more time to complete the rout. So he petitioned God, thereby securing a final intervention that stood out far above all the rest:

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and O Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people avenged themselves of their enemies. Is this not written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel. —Joshua 10:12-14, cf; Habakkuk 3:11

Observe first that “Joshua spoke to the LORD.” Presumably, this means that he asked for further help in completing the defeat of the Amorites, whereupon God explicitly authorized him to issue his forthcoming command in the sight of all Israel (John 5:19; 1 Corinthians 4:7). Now if this is so, it means that Joshua’s very words to the sun and moon were, like the miracle itself, God’s idea. But if this is so, it means that God himself presupposed the sun to be moving, or else he would never have spoken to Joshua as he did. For if heliocentrism were true, then God, in the interest of speaking and teaching truth to his people, would surely have told Joshua to say, “Earth, stand still beneath the sun!” But he did not, presumably because heliocentrism is not true (Numbers 20:8).

Notice next that our passage tells us twice that the sun did indeed stop. This double affirmation may well reflect God’s ancient mandate that in the giving of public testimony every matter must be established by two or more witnesses (Deut. 17:6, 19:15; 2 Corinthians 3:1). If so, it implies that we should give special consideration to the magnitude, uniqueness, and importance of the miracle here affirmed. In other words, the double affirmation signals that we are to take this testimony seriously, as all who consent to the divine inspiration of the Bible must.

Finally, we must not overlook the significance of the moon’s having stood still as well. For what is the simplest, most natural implication of this notable fact, if not that the sun, just like the moon, normally makes a daily circuit above the Earth? The text says that sun and moon both stopped. Therefore, the sun and moon both were moving, and moving with the same kind of (orbital) motion. Moreover, we may be sure that the “real” miracle was not, as some heliocentrists have suggested, that the Earth stopped rotating on its axis beneath the sun. For if that had been the case, then it is indeed true that the motion of the moon would not have been apparent to the Israelite’s naked eye; however, since the heliocentric model also posits a monthly journey of the moon around the Earth, the moon would still have been in motion. Yet the Bible says it stood still. For all these reasons pre-Copernican interpreters took this text at face value: They confessed that the sun and moon really did pause in their regular motions above a stationary Earth.

But modern interpreters, constrained by their allegiance to the Copernican theory, have been forced to depart from simplicity and seek out exotic, non-geocentric explanations. Indeed, they have proven endlessly inventive in doing so. Some, of course, simply reject the story out of hand, calling it a mere legend. Others, trying to reconcile their Copernicanism with an inspired Bible, argue that God specially refracted the light of the sun and moon; that he temporarily changed the inclination of the axis of the Earth so that Gibeon became the North Pole for one day; that he slowed the rotation of the Earth, or placed clouds over the sun, or caused his people (fortuitously) to hallucinate a longer day. The list goes embarrassingly on. (See here)

All of these strained interpretations have one common and painfully obvious flaw: They are motivated by a desire to avoid the plain sense of the text. The text says that the sun and moon stood still. Logically, this entails that they were first in motion, then stopped, and then—after about a day, when victory was complete—began to move again. Admittedly, none of this logically requires that the Earth itself remained at rest beneath the sun and moon. Most would agree, however, that this is by far the most natural conclusion. Moreover, when our text is read in light of the Bible’s pervasive geostationism, that conclusion becomes positively compelling.

Seekers of cosmological truth should understand that the story of Joshua’s Long Day (along with one or two others like it) is an especially important piece of biblical testimony since, among other things, it so powerfully anchors down the geocentric interpretation of the rest of the Earth-sun passages in the Bible. To say the same thing negatively, it decisively refutes the phenomenological interpretation of those passages. And indeed, some would say it was providentially designed to do so. Yes, in speaking of the rising and the setting of the sun the biblical authors speak of how things appear. But the story of Joshua’s Long Day—confirmed as it is by widespread extra-biblical evidence—assures us that how things appear is how they really are.3  So does the cosmology of Genesis 1. So does the fact that the God of the Bible always tells the truth. So does the fact that he could easily have told us something else if something else were the truth. So does the fact that he hasn’t.

In sum, the biblical narrative of Joshua’s Long Day wonderfully focuses our attention on the central issue in our quest for cosmological reality: Whom shall we trust to tell us how things really are? Modern science says that the Earth really revolves around the sun, and that the Bible is therefore in error, or that it must be interpreted phenomenologically. The God of the Bible says that the sun—along with the heavens themselves—revolves around the Earth, and that modern science, insofar as it contradicts his word, must be in error. Honesty compels us to admit that the two views and the two antagonists cannot be reconciled. It appears, then, that honest seekers must be willing to search out the truth for themselves, and to stand up bravely for it when he finds it, no matter how foolish it may seem to the world ( 1 Cor. 4:10).

  1. The Argument from Typology

We come now to a further class of passages often held to support radical geocentrism, passages in which the sun “typifies” the Messiah: the divine Son who “goes down” from heaven to the Earth below to secure his people’s redemption, and who then “rises” from its depths to carry the light of salvation from east to west, and so to the whole world.

By way of introduction let us note that the biblical writers consistently treat nature as “God’s other book”—as another appointed vehicle of his self-revelation to the world. In “general revelation” God uses the book of nature to reveal certain general truths about himself to the generality of mankind. These truths include his existence, eternity, power, intelligence, goodness, etc. In “special revelation” God uses the words of Scripture to reveal certain special truths that man cannot read in the book of nature. These include the answers to the ultimate questions of life, and especially the answer to our urgent questions about eternal rescue from evil, suffering, and death, and eternal restoration to the fullness of life.

If, however, man cannot discover these special truths simply by studying nature, it does not necessarily follow that nature is silent about them. As a matter of fact, Jesus and his apostles did not view nature as being silent about them. On the contrary, they taught that under the light God’s special revelation believers can henceforth see and understand nature in a whole new way. In particular, they (the believers) can see that God has fashioned all things—including nature itself—with a view to glorifying his Son and supplying tangible vehicles for communicating the great truths of redemption. In other words, they can now read “God’s other book” as heralding, celebrating, and confirming the things of Christ.

Here, then, is the reason why we find Jesus and the apostles declaring that rocks (Romans 9:33; 1 Corinthians 10:4), trees (Romans 11:24; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 2:7), water (John 7:37), bread (John 6: 35, 48), vines (John 15:1f) and many other material objects all speak mystically of (the things of) Christ. But if this is so, it should hardly surprise us to find that the Bible, in many places, symbolizes or “typifies” Christ and the things of redemption by referring to the sun and its motions (Psalm 89:36; Matthew 17:2; Acts 26:13; Revelation 1:16). Moreover, when we examine these passages closely, we realize that they speak, not only of the things of Christ, but also (in favor) of a radically geocentric cosmos as well.

Perhaps the most impressive of these passages is Malachi 4:1-2, where we find God speaking through the prophet as follows:

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes all who do wickedly, will be as stubble. And the day which is coming will burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts. “That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in His wings. And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

Most interpreters regard this as a Messianic prophecy. In context, the rising of the Sun of Righteousness refers to the coming again of Christ at the end of the age, when he will judge the world in righteousness and consummately “heal” his people by raising them bodily to eternal life in God’s kingdom (Matthew 13:36-43; John 5:24-29). Nevertheless, the NT also affirms that the Sun of Righteousness has already risen, though not yet consummately. Christ now shines as the light of the world (John 1:5, 8:12, 9:5). His light now heals the (spiritually) sick of the world, (Acts 3:11, 8:7; Hebrews 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24). Thus, our text also refers to present blessings, presently enjoyed by all who believe in the Messiah.

How has all of this come to pass? Essentially, it is through the twofold work of the divine Sun of Righteousness. First, this Sun “went down.” That is, the divine Son humbled himself to incarnation as a man, then to death on a cross, and finally to burial in a borrowed tomb. As Jesus himself said, “I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38, 41, 51, 58; Ephesians 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-8). Thus, the setting of the astronomical sun pictures Christ’s manifold humiliation.

But secondly, this Sun also “rose.” That is, the divine Son was exalted by God unto a resurrection from the dead, an ascension into heaven, and a seat at God’s own right hand, whence, by means of his Spirit working through his obedient people, he henceforth encircles the Earth, sun-like, bringing to the nations the light and warmth of the gospel (Psalm 50:1, 113:3; Isaiah 45:6; Romans 10:18). Thus, the rising of the astronomical sun, as well as its circuit, pictures the full scope of Christ’s exaltation. Notably, it is all but impossible to read Malachi without thinking in particular of Jesus’ resurrection, which occurred at dawn on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1), just as the sun was rising (Mark 16:2). The NT is clear that for all who “see” this risen Son and believe on him, a new Day—a day of everlasting rejoicing—has begun (Matthew 29:9; Luke 1:78; John 6:40, 8:56).

The geocentric implications of this constellation of texts are evident. According to the Bible, God himself has established a definite correlation, both in nature and in Scripture, between the work of the sun and the work of his Son. This correlation strongly supports radical geocentrism, the idea that the sun (and all the heavenly wanderers) moves around an Earth at rest. For it is clear that in the work of redemption it is the Son who does all the moving. As we just saw, he is the one who came down out of heaven, and he is the one who came (in) to the world (John 16:28). Moreover, such divine initiative was absolutely necessary, since man, being absolutely dead in trespasses and sins, could not make a single move towards the Son (John 6:44, 65; Romans 3:11; Ephesian 2:5). Now if God desired to embed these profound truths in his other book (i.e., the book of Nature), how better or more impressively than by having the astronomical sun—in humble, life-giving subservience—go down and rise upon an Earth that sits absolutely still with the stillness of the grave (Mark 10:45; John 11:1f; Phil. 2:5f)? We conclude, then, that “sun” passages like Malachi 4:1-2—and the great truths of redemption that they typify—do indeed support cosmic geocentrism.

Let us complete this section by looking again at Psalm 19:4-6, already cited above. Just like the passage in Malachi, this text also seems to have the sun typifying Christ at his second coming. For just like the sun, Christ, in that day, will be as a bridegroom coming out of his heavenly chamber (Matthew 25:1f; Mark 2:19; John 14:1-3). Eager to fetch his beloved Bride, he will be as a strong man, rejoicing to run his race. Importantly, his circuit will be from one end of the sky to other (v. 6). This correlates well with Jesus’ own description of his return, in which he said, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to west, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). Observe also from our text that no one will be hidden from the heat of this sun when it finally appears. John the Revelator says much the same thing, crying, “Behold, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him (Matthew 26:64; Revelation 1:7). But how can this be unless Christ, like the sun, makes at least one circuit around the globe, safely gathering his Bride to his side, even as he consigns his enemies to the final judgment (v. 6, cf. Matthew 13:42, 50; Luke 17:34-36)?

We see, then, that the typology of Psalm 19:4-6 richly supports the idea of cosmic geocentrism. For just as Christ one day will “rise” and circle the Earth at his coming again, so even now the sun rises and circles the Earth, both promising and warning all nations that the great Day of the Lord—the Day of Christ—is soon to come (Psalm 50:1f; Philippians 1:10, 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

  1. The Argument from Eschatology

Let me conclude this essay with a final argument from biblical eschatology: the Bible’s teaching concerning the wrap-up of world history and the future state of the universe.

According to the biblical writers, history is moving inexorably towards an awesome consummation of God’s redemptive work in the universe, a consummation that will occur when Christ comes again at the end of the age. In that day he himself will create “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 22:21). Importantly, this creation is actually a re-creation. That is, the old cosmos—and especially the Earth—will not be annihilated, but rather transformed into a (radically) new cosmos (Romans 8:18f; 1 Corinthians 7:31, 15:35-49; Philippians 3:21). In the Revelation the apostle John gives us some tantalizing glimpses of the new and eternal world to come. Having just described the resurrected and glorified people of God under the imagery of a city that descends onto the Earth as a Bride adorned for her husband, John says of her, the New Jerusalem:

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God illuminated it and the Lamb was its light…They shall see His face and His name shall be on their forehead. And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. —Revelation 21:23, 22:4-5

This text harmonizes with many others found throughout the Bible, indicating that the sun, moon, and stars will all be dissolved in the end-time conflagration, and also that they—along with darkness itself—will never again be created (Isaiah 13:10, 24:23, 34:4; Joel 2:10, 31; Zephaniah 1:15; Matthew 24:29; 2 Peter 3:10). As John said, God and Christ alone will be the light of the world in the world to come (Isaiah 60:19-20; Zechariah 14:6-7; Matthew 17:1f). The question therefore arises: What part of the old universe does manage to pass through the end-time cataclysm so as to enjoy continuing existence in the eternal Kingdom? The biblical answer is spectacularly clear: only a fully transformed Earth, so firmly established in its place that it “cannot be moved forever” (Psalm 93:1, 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:40).

Here, then, is yet another line of evidence favorable to cosmic geocentrism. For it is evident from Scripture that the world to come is, in several important respects, exactly like the world as it was before the fourth day of the good beginning: suspended once and for all—majestic, unmoving, and immovable—in the midst of space, and in the midst of God’s loving presence and watch-care. The only real difference is that in the future world, night (a symbol of spiritual darkness) has given way to perpetual day, and periodic illumination to the perpetual light of the glory of God. With the luminaries gone and astronomical time abolished, the consummated Kingdom breathes an atmosphere of eternity, though time itself endures forever. Thus, in biblical perspective, the “day” of the luminaries is surprisingly short and quite temporary: For just a few thousand years out of a whole eternity they shine, move, and at the last move on. But the Earth does not move on. Like God himself, it abides unmoved and immovable, forever.

Summary

In our survey of biblical teaching on the structure of the universe we have encountered an impressive body of evidence favorable to the idea of cosmic geocentrism. This includes the Bible’s foundational cosmological passage (Genesis 1:1-19); passages that depict the Earth as being at rest and immovable in the midst of all; passages that depict the sun (and the stars) as revolving around the Earth; Joshua’s Long Day, along with extra-biblical evidences for it; Messianic types indicating that the sun daily encircles the globe; and passages depicting the Earth as the only “world” in the world to come. Moreover, we have seen that in many ways the Bible positively discourages a “phenomenological” interpretation of the relevant texts.

Here, then, is why Christians understood their Bible geocentrically for over 1000 years: For all the reasons just cited, it seemed like the sensible thing to do. Here also is why Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, strenuously resisted Copernicanism for some 200 years, leaders such as Martin Luther (1483-1546), Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), John Calvin (1509-1604), Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Gilbert Voet (15881676), Abraham Calovius (1612-1686), John Owen (1616-1683), and Francis Turretin (1623-1687). These men ran deep. Well able to understand the science of their day, and well acquainted with it, they nevertheless remained convinced that the Bible spoke more clearly and more authoritatively about the structure of the cosmos than did the scientists. Said Martin Luther in the midst of the tumult: “Even in these things which are thrown into disorder, I believe the Holy Scriptures.” John Calvin concurred, reaffirming on the basis of God’s inerrant word that, “The heavens revolve daily, immense as is their fabric and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions.”

But again, the center did not hold. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, incorporated by Newton into a powerful new system of celestial mechanics, seemed too compelling. Since Newton’s system described and predicted the motions of the heavenly bodies so well (though not perfectly), most concluded that its underlying heliocentrism must be true. And with few exceptions, most continued to reckon it as true for the next 200 years. Little did they imagine, however, that fresh theoretical insights and new astronomical observations would soon enable even the staunchest opponents of biblical revelation to contemplate a geocentric universe once again.

(Continued)

Notes

  1. Hebrew scholar Dr. Thomas Strouse writes, “Insurmountable arguments for interpreting Genesis 1:1 as the the title for the chapter are the following: 1) the expression “the heavens and the earth” consistently refers to the completed creation of God (Genesis 14:9; Psalm 121:2; Matthew 24:35; etc.); 2) the completed cosmos of v.1 cannot exist contemporaneously with the incomplete cosmos of vv. 2-19; 3) the verb ‘bara’ refers to a finished creation; and 4) the ‘waw’ of v.2 (i.e., the “and” introducing the verse) is disjunctive, thus not giving consecutive action, since it is attached to a non-verb (i.e., and the earth).” Also, the heading of the complementary creation account of Genesis 2 (found at 2:5) suggests that the analogous verse in Genesis 1 serves the same funciton.
  2. I am indebted to Dr. Martin Selbrede for his close examination of James 1:17. It is found in his video, Geocentricity: The Scriptural Cosmology.
  3. In his book, A Geocentric Primer, Dr. Gerry Bouw cites many stories from around the world referencing either a long day, a long night, or a long sunset. For example, with regard to an unusually long and frightening night, the Mayan Book of Princes states, “They did not sleep, they remained standing, and great was the anxiety of their hearts and their stomachs for the coming of the dawn and the day…’O, if only we could see the rising of the sun! What shall we do now?’…They talked, but they could not calm their hearts, which were anxious for the coming of the dawn.” Concerning the widespread historical evidence for a global long day, Bouw writes, “That some peoples have tales of a long night, while others tell of a long day, while none have both a long day and a long night tale signifies that Joshua’s Long Day is not one account, originating in the mid-East, which has migrated all over the world. For if such were the case, then all nations would tell of a long day and none would tell of a long night, let alone a perfectly placed long sunset. So we must conclude that Joshua’s Long Day was a real, historical event and not some fiction” (Primer, p. 61). For further historical confirmation of Joshua’s Long Day, click here.

 

 

 

 

Note: This is the second of two essays dealing with cosmic geocentrism: the idea that the Earth sits at rest at the center of a rotating universe. The first essay dealt with biblical testimony favorable to cosmic geocentrism; this one deals with the scientific.

Let me say at the outset that I am not trained in the natural sciences. As you will soon see, in what follows I rely heavily upon the writings of scientific professionals, and in particular upon Christian writers with expertise in natural science. Feeling acutely my own vulnerability to misunderstanding and error, I would urge my readers to study these matters for themselves. However, I would also urge you to join me in insisting that genuine natural science must be understandable by thoughtful laymen, and that Christian laymen are wise to bring a healthy skepticism to the confident (and often baffling) assertions of modern scientists, many of whose views are based, not upon the Bible, but upon naturalistic assumptions and the ever-changing theories of finite, sinful man.

I have extracted most of the material for this essay from my book on biblical cosmology, In Search of the Beginning: A Seeker’s Journey to the Origin of the Universe, Life, and Man (Redemption Press). Please see the end notes and bibliography of that book for further documentation of the statements made here. Also, please click on the links scattered through this essay, since they will take you to interesting articles and videos on this most fascinating subject. Finally, be sure to visit Philip Stott’s You-tube channel, where, in a series of short videos, he winsomely presents the fruits of decades of thinking on these matters (here).

May God bless you as you embark on your journey to the center of the universe and the heart of God!

 

Where in the World is the World?
Natural Science and Cosmic Geocentrism

“Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?”
Job 38:33

In the previous essay we examined biblical testimony concerning the structure of the universe. In so doing we found that Scripture consistently pictures the Earth at the center of all, and this for the most excellent reason that the Earth and its human inhabitants lie at the center of the triune God’s affections, purpose, and plan for his creation.

Now it is time to consider a second witness in the great debate about cosmic structure: natural science.

In approaching this subject it is vital that we ask the right question. I believe it is this: Do the findings of natural science speak up in favor of cosmic geocentrism? Now if, as I argued earlier, our life in this world is essentially a test of our love of the truth about God and the other great questions of life, then they certainly should. For how could the God who created us with interest and ability in natural science give us a revelation that runs contrary to the findings of sound natural science? In other words, if the Bible really is God’s word to mankind, its cosmological statements should be reasonable, and—to a reasonable extent—verifiable by means of the scientific method. This includes his statements about the geocentric structure of the universe.

Note carefully, however, what the question is not. It is not, “Does natural science prove cosmic geocentrism?” Natural science cannot prove any model of the universe, since natural scientists are unable to observe the universe in all places and at all times. So the real question is: “Are geocentric models of the cosmos scientifically plausible? Is there any solid observational evidence to support them? Are they at least as reasonable—or possibly even more reasonable—than the prevailing a-centric model?” Well, surprisingly enough, a growing number of modern physicists and astronomers are now returning an enthusiastic answer of “yes” to all these questions!

In what follows I will touch briefly on the main lines of scientific argumentation favorable to the idea of cosmic geocentrism. There are three: 1) Arguments based on scientific experiments, 2) Arguments based on scientific theory, and, 3) Arguments based on astronomical observations.

Arguments Based on Scientific Experiments

Beginning in the 16th century and continuing to the present day, history displays a great philosophical and scientific contest, initially between geocentrism and heliocentrism, but more recently between geocentrism and relativistic a-centrism. In this contest, certain scientists—most of whom were favorable to heliocentrism—performed experiments that turned out to favor geocentrism. Happily, several Christian writers with scientific expertise have discussed these experiments in considerable depth. In this short section I offer a simplified description of a few of the most important, referring you to my cosmological mentors to study this  subject more closely on your own.1

     1. Airy’s Failure

First up is “Airy’s Failure”. Piqued by certain experiments performed by F. Arago (1786-1853) that were favorable to the idea of a stationary Earth, English astronomer G. Airy (1801-1892) set out to resolve, once and for all, the puzzle of stellar aberration. Aberration is a term used to describe a curious astronomical phenomenon: When, over the course of a year, we observe a “fixed star” in our telescopes, its day to day position, relative to its average position, describes an ellipse. Astronomer James Bradley believed that this “aberration ellipse” proved the revolution of the Earth around the sun. However, proponents of Tycho Brahe’s earth-centered cosmos responded by saying that the same effect could be caused by change in the annual motion of the stars around a stationary Earth. Airy set out to prove, once for all, that stellar aberration was indeed as James Bradley had hypothesized: an optical effect caused by shifts in the Earth’s orbit as it revolves around the sun.

Taking up an earlier suggestion offered by Roger Boscovich (1771-1787), Airy filled one of his two telescopes with water. Knowing that light travels 1.5 times slower when passing through water, he reasoned that if the Earth were indeed moving beneath fixed stars, he would need to tilt the water-filled telescope somewhat more than the normal telescope in order to view the star in both eyepieces. But to his surprise and dismay, he found that he did not need to tilt the telescope at all. The annual ellipses given by the two different telescopes were identical.  To all appearances, at least, stellar aberration had nothing to do with the motion of the Earth. Indeed, to all appearances the Earth is standing still, and the stars—yes, the heavens themselves—are moving around the Earth! (For an animation describing Airy’s Failure, click here.)

      2. The Michelson-Morley Experiment (MME)

Keenly aware of Airy’s failure, A. Michelson (1852-1931) and E. Morley (1838-1923) resolved to confirm the mo­tion of the Earth through space, thereby also confirming Bradley’s view of stellar aberration. Happily, it now appeared that Providence had given them a means of doing so. Only recently physicist James Clark Maxwell (1831-1879) had developed his elegant (and fabulously useful) theory of electromagnetism, according to which light consists of electrical and magnetic energy passing at a constant speed as waves through a univer­sal sea of tiny particles that he called the ether. Reflecting on this view, physicists like Michelson and Morley soon realized that Maxwell’s fresh understanding of the physics of light supplied a way to test for absolute rest and motion. More particularly, it provided a way to test for the widely assumed motion of the Earth through the ether.

With all this in mind, the two researchers built an ingenious device called an interferometer. The instrument consists of a light source, several mirrors strategically situated on a table, and a detector where the reflected rays of light are gathered after their journey around the table. A beam of light is discharged from the light source, then split at a half-silvered mirror into two beams moving perpendicularly to one another. By means of more mirrors the beams are further reflected and then reunited at a photographic plate situated near the light source. The scientists knew that if there was a difference in the speed at which the beams of light traveled to the plate, there would be an “interference”: a unique mingling of the out-of-sync light waves. Photographically, this mingling would show up as a “fringe,” or a pattern of parallel black lines. Accordingly, they reasoned that if the Earth were indeed racing through the ether at 30 km./sec (67,000 mph, the assumed speed of its revolution around the sun), then the beam of light heading into the ether would be slowed down by an “ether wind”, rather like a car is slowed by the air into which it is driving at high speeds. On the other hand, the beam running perpendicular to the first beam would be slowed less. On this premise, the interferometer should definitely register a “fringe shift,” and this fringe shift would confirm the motion of the Earth through space. Indeed, by rotating the table, one should be able use the maximum fringe shift to show the direction of the Earth’s motion, and also to establish experimentally the speed at which it passes through the ether. (For an animation and further discussion of the experiment, click here)

In the annals of physics the results of this experiment have been described as “convulsive.” Factoring in the supposed motion of the solar system through space, Michelson and Morley predicted shifts of at least 0.4 of a fringe width. However, the maximum change discovered was only 0.02, and the average change less than 0.01. These results were so close to the margin of instrumental error that the two scientists dismissed them as insignificant. Thinking that the motion of the solar system had perhaps cancelled the motion of the Earth around the sun, they repeated the experiment six months later. Still no change. Documenting their growing desperation, Philip Stott writes, “They repeated the experiment at all seasons of the year. They repeated it all times of the day and night. They repeated it in Berlin, in Chicago, on the tops of mountains, and everywhere. No fringe shift.”

And such would be the case for years to come: The interferometers—built with ever increasing sophistication—would continually register very small fringe shifts, enough perhaps to indicate a slight “ether drift,” but certainly nowhere near enough to vindicate the Copernican notion of an Earth revolving around the sun at 30 km/sec, or a solar system hurtling through space at 300 km/sec. Wrote Michelson when all was done, “This (experiment) directly contradicts the explanation of aberration which has been hitherto accepted, and which presupposes that the Earth moves through the ether, the latter remaining at rest.” Stellar aberration (and parallax) must be traceable, not to the motion of the Earth, but to the motion of the starry heavens!

      3. The Sagnac Experiment

Clearly, the MME—and the tiny “ether drift” it detected—supported cosmic geocentrism: the idea that an ether-filled universe is rotating daily around a stationary Earth. However, the geocentric option—which threatened the accumulated “wisdom” of over 300 years of natural science, and which had powerful theistic implications not at all palatable to most scientists—was simply unthinkable. Therefore, after a short season of more or less desperate theorizing, Albert Einstein advanced what in time would become the accepted way of escape from the geocentric implications of the MME: the Special Theory of Relativity (STR).

Having grappled with it in my book, I will not pause here to discuss the STR. Suffice it to say that in the STR Einstein daringly abolished the ether and explained the “null results” of the MME by arguing that, for reasons unknown, the universe operates in such a way as to keep the speed of light [c] constant, and that it does this by altering the length, mass, and rate of the passage of time of/on objects moving relative to one another. Very importantly, this theory rises or falls upon the idea that c is a cosmic constant: that the speed of light remains a constant everywhere in the universe.

Though the STR offered (and still offers) no physical explanation for these strange “contractions” of length, mass, and time, many scientists joined with Einstein (and still do). But George Sagnac (1869-1928) had his doubts. A true scientist, he wanted to put Einstein’s theory to the test. So he constructed a special interferometer designed to ascertain whether or not c really is constant at all times. Describing the experiment, Philip Stott writes:

Sagnac built a turn-table with mirrors on it arranged in such a way that a beam of light was split into two beams. One was reflected from mirror to mirror anticlockwise around the table, the other reflected around clockwise. After a complete circuit the beams were recombined in a camera to give interference fringes. Looking at it in a very simplified way, when the table was set spinning there was known to be movement: the beam going round with the turn-table’s rotation would be chasing the camera (which is moving away at speed v) with a relative speed of c-v, whereas the beam going against the rotation would approach the camera “head on” with a relative speed of c+v. If the basic assumptions of SR were correct—with c+v = c-v, and no ether—then there should be no fringe shift. But there was.

Notably, the so-called Sagnac Effect is observed daily by technicians maintaining the Global Positioning Satellite System. Signals arriving from a satellite ap­proaching a ground station do so 50 nanoseconds sooner than those from a satellite receding from the station, though the distances traveled are the same. Thus, in a rotating system, c clearly travels at different speeds—so predictably that if the GPS computers do not compensate for this effect, the system will not work.

In sum, Sagnac showed that c is not constant in a rotating system, the ether does indeed exist, and the STR is therefore false. (For an animation and discussion of the Sagnac Experiment, click here)

     4. The Michelson-Gale Experiment

Performed a few years after the MME, this was yet another experiment designed to test for the existence of the ether. Stott describes it as follows:

[Michelson and Gale] built a tunnel of pipe sections at Chicago. The tunnel was in the form of a large rectangle. They reasoned that if there were an ether, then the rotation of the earth from west to east through the ether should cause a beam of light traveling clockwise round the tunnel to take slightly less time to get around than a beam traveling anticlockwise. If there were no ether, then both beams would take the same time. They measured a difference. Existence of ether established.  

In my book, In Search of the Beginning, I list a number of other experiments, observations, and theoretical considerations indicating that c in the universe is not constant, that the ether definitely does exist, and that SR is therefore in error.2 But to admit that is also to admit that Earth may indeed be at rest in the center of all. (See below for Philip Stott’s videos on the ether).

Arguments Based on Theory

In proposing theories, scientists are trying to supply us with models: ways of thinking about the nature and behavior of the natural world. Hopefully, these models will not only help us understand our world, but also enable us to develop technologies useful to mankind. For many years the geocentric model has been out of favor, so much so that most people consider it a relic of the past. However, as we are about to see, for quite some time stubborn natural phenomena are forcing theoreticians to reconsider the heliocentric model of the solar system, and the acentric model of the universe. Not only so, these same phenomena are also forcing them to consider afresh the geocentric model of the universe. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. The Trend Towards Relativity

First up in this part of our discussion is modern trend towards relativity—a trend that, paradoxically enough, restores geocentrism as a fresh and viable cosmological option.

To understand this point, let’s consider for a moment the crucial role of presuppositions in the study of the cosmos. We know, for example, that in the West medieval cosmology was grounded upon a biblically-based metaphysical presupposition, a presupposition that—with the help of Aristotle and Ptolemy—endured until the time of Copernicus: cosmic geocentrism. However, with Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, that presupposition changed: Now the sun stood at the center of a finite material universe, while Earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun beneath “the fixed stars.” Later on, Kant retained a cosmic center, but denied pride of place to our solar system. After that, theoretical cosmology more or less abandoned the idea of a cosmic center, realizing that it was indeed a presupposition, and that the methods of natural science could not, in any case, discover or demonstrate a center, since, according to the Galilean/Newtonian principle of relativity, we are unable to determine absolute motion or rest by direct observation. Finally, Einstein stepped up and made what is surely an enormous philosophical and scientific faux pas: Daringly, he introduced a new metaphysical presupposition: absolute relativity. According to this presupposition, there is no such thing as absolute motion or rest, a presupposition which entails that a cosmic center cannot exist. Modern seekers of cosmological truth should understand that in our day the twin presuppositions of absolute relativity and an a-centric cosmos rule the scientific roost.

Said Dr. Arnold Sikkema:

No physicist I know says that the Earth in any absolute sense travels around the sun . . . Science today does not claim that there is an absolute reference frame in which the Earth is moving. Newton thought that, but after Einstein, no informed scientist still makes that claim.

Similarly, Bertrand Russell wrote:

Whether the Earth rotates once a day from west to east, as Copernicus taught, or the heavens revolve once a day from east to west, as his predecessors believed, the observed phenomena will be exactly the same. This shows a defect in the Newtonian dynamics, since an empirical science ought not to contain a metaphysical assumption [i.e., presupposition].

This is a most revealing statement. Because of the modern trend towards relativity, Mr. Russell faults Newton’s cosmology as unscientific. He asserts that an empirical science (e.g., cosmology) ought not to contain a metaphysical assumption (i.e., Newton’s assumption of absolute heliocentricity). However, if this is so, then surely cosmology ought not to assume absolute relativity. True, we cannot observe absolute rest or motion. Nor can we observe the center of the universe (if indeed there is one). But do these observational limitations really justify our saying that absolute rest, absolute motion, and an absolute cosmic center absolutely do not exist? Surely not, for again, that would be to introduce exactly what Mr. Russell condemns: a metaphysical assumption—a metaphysical presupposition of absolute relativity. This is what Einstein did in his General Theory of Relativity. But, says Russell, he was quite unscientific in doing it. For in the end, the post-Copernican trend towards relativity does not rule out the possibility of absolute motion, absolute rest, or an absolute center; it only confronts us with our inability to observe or ascertain them scientifically. Accordingly, the modern trend towards relativity does not rule out a geocentric universe.

Happily, some modern cosmologists are wise and honest enough to admit this. They include men like S. Hawking and G. Ellis, who confessed that it is impossible to do cosmology without metaphysical assumptions; that their preferred a-centric universe contains an “admixture of ideology”; that they have arbitrarily embraced a “democratic” view of the cosmos, rather than grant to the Earth or to mankind any special place therein. Similarly, we have the words of Sir Fred Hoyle, who declared—albeit rather reluctantly—“The Earth-centered hypothesis is as good as anybody else’s, but no better.” Here, Hoyle speaks for all clear-thinking relativists, openly admitting that the modern trend towards relativity has not ruled out cosmic geocentrism, but has in fact made it a viable cosmological option once again.

However, in one respect Hoyle is surely mistaken. For what if an ever-growing mass of direct observational evidence actually favors the geocentric view? Furthermore, what if the Creator of the cosmos has given us a well-attested scriptural revelation that positively teaches this view? Under such circumstances would not the geocentric model become, far and away, the better hypothesis—and therefore the most reasonable to believe?

  1. The Proliferation of Geocentric Modeling

Since the idea of relativity leads inexorably to a fresh consideration of cosmic geocentrism (and therefore quite possibly to its own demise), it should hardly surprise us that 20th century physics is marked by a noteworthy proliferation of geocentric models. I will briefly discuss them here.

In order to be viable, any model of the cosmos must satisfy two basic criteria. First, it must “save the appearances.” That is, it must enable us to understand and even predict the observed motions and appearances of the heavenly bodies (e.g., the path and phases of the moon, the path of the sun, the Earth’s four seasons, the path of the planets, the retrograde motion of the planets, various “perturbations” of the planets, the path of the stars, etc). Down through the years Ptolemy gave us one such system of celestial kinematics, Copernicus another, Tycho Brahe yet another, and Kepler and Newton another still, until at last the modern turn to relativity seemed to eliminate any hope of arriving at a definitive picture of the actual structure of the cosmos. Might a renewed confidence in the geocentric cosmology of the Bible supply us with such a picture? Perhaps. But for it to do so, it must—like any good model—“save the appearances.”

Secondly, a viable cosmology will also seek to give us a plausible system of celestial mechanics and dynamics. That is, it will try to explain the physical reasons for the diverse motions of the heavenly bodies. Are these bodies attached to revolving crystal spheres that are propelled by angels? Are they moved by invisible gravitational, centrifugal, and Coriolis forces acting at a distance? Are they rolling around in pockets of curved space-time (whatever that might mean)? Or are they carried along by a dense but invisible ether, rather like fish in a revolving fishbowl, or like boats in a whirlpool? Only heaven knows for sure. But on Earth, we do know that the model with the greatest explanatory and predictive power normally carries the day—until a better one comes along.

Again, the twentieth century has witnessed a surprising proliferation of basically geocentric models of the cosmos, all of which attempt to address the above concerns. Very importantly, the majority of these are “secular,” having been developed by scientists with no explicit interest in, or appeal to, divine revelation. Examples here include the work of P. Gerber, H. Thirring, G. Brown, G. Birkhoff, P. Moon and D. Spencer, J. Nightingale, J. Barbour and B. Bertotti, G. F. Ellis, D. Lynden-Bell, and others. The common component in all or most of these models is Mach’s Principle: the idea that if the universe is indeed a bounded sphere rotating around the Earth, this cosmic rotation will somehow generate inertial forces more or less identical with those we associate with heliocentric physics and cosmology: centrifugal, centripetal, coriolis, and Euler. After agreeing on this, each embarks in its own direction. Some are based on Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, others upon classical Newtonian mechanics, others still upon newer physical models. After discussing a number of these, Christian astronomer G. Bouw concludes:

All of these physicists (and there is not a geocentric Christian in the bunch) conclude that there is no detectable, experimental difference between having the Earth spin diurnally on an axis as well as orbit the sun once a year, or having the universe rotate about the Earth once a day and possessing a wobble centered on the sun, which [i.e., the sun] carries the planets and stars about the Earth once a year. In none of these models would the universe fly apart, nor would a stationary satellite fall to the earth. In every one of these models the astronauts on the moon would still see all sides of the Earth in the course of 24 hours, the Foucault pendulum would still swing exactly the same way as we see it in museums, and the Earth’s equator would still bulge. In other words, each of these effects is due to either the centrifugal force, Coriolis force, or some combination of the two, and can be totally explained in any geocentric model.

Such considerations are likely the kind of thing English astronomer G. F. Ellis had in mind when he said, “I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center and you cannot disprove it based on observations.”

Encouraged by these developments, biblically-oriented scientists and philosophers have stepped forward as well. Modern biblical geocentrists include the father of the movement, W. van der Kamp (1913-1998), the heir to his mantle, Dr. Gerardus Bouw, and a growing cadre of thoughtful colleagues including Dr. Russell Arndts, Dr. Robert Bennett, R. G. Elmendorf, Dr. J. Hansen, Dr. Martin Selbrede, Philip Stott, and Dr. Robert Sungenis. Most of these men have daringly devoted a significant portion of their career attempting to rescue modern physics and cosmology from their thralldom to Relativity Theory, hoping to restore them once again to what they see as their true and proper foundation: the geocentric cosmology of the Bible. Their friends call them prophets, their opponents call them “windmill tilters.” Each seeker will have to decide for himself which description fits best.

Most biblical geocentrists (but not all) champion a slightly modified version of Tycho Brahe’s Earth-centered cosmos, sometimes referred to as the Neo-Tychonic Model (NTM). If we limit ourselves simply to the kinematic side of the model (i.e., to a description of the motions of the heavenly bodies), it is fairly easy to understand. Here, the Earth stands motionless at the center of the universal sphere. The moon, whose orbit wobbles slightly over the course a month, revolves around it daily. As for the planets, they do indeed orbit the sun. But since the sun itself is embedded in the ether, it too, like the moon, revolves daily around the Earth. And since the stars, galaxies, and other astronomical bodies are all “centered on the sun” (that is, embedded with the central sun in the same ethereal frame), it appears to us as if the sun were carrying the entire universe around the Earth. Thus, the Earth truly is at the center, since the moon, the sun, the planets, the stars, the galaxies—the universe as a whole—all revolve around the Earth once a day!

Kinematically speaking, this model is the exact equivalent of the traditional heliocentric view, but with the Earth standing still and everything else in motion. Accordingly, its proponents argue that it does everything the traditional model does. In particular, it is held to account for the observed motions of the planets (including their retrograde motions), the phases of the planets, the phases of the moon, and stellar parallax, commonly held to be one of the definitive proofs of heliocentrism. But as we are about to see, it may do even more, since the NTM is uniquely able to accommodate the various observational evidences favorable to cosmic geocentrism, and since it also proffers a fresh, holistic understanding of the physics of the universe.

Turning now to the dynamic side of the NTM, we find considerably less agreement and considerably more speculation, some of which is quite challenging for the layman to understand. We cannot, however, overly fault the geocentrists on this point, since, unbeknownst to many, the situation in the larger scientific community is certainly no better, and perhaps worse. Yes, with the help of Newton’s equations any physicist can give a basic mathematical description of how gravity and inertial forces work (on the Earth, at least). But the well-kept secret of modern science is that there is little if any agreement as to why, physically speaking, they work as they do—and no end to the resulting hypotheses and speculations about them. Here, then, is where the geocentrists may actually have a leg up on their secular peers: Though they are not yet fully united around a single theory of cosmic dynamics, they are at least pretty much agreed in eschewing the bizarre relativistic world of Einstein in favor of a simple, underlying physical cause for the dynamics of celestial motion.

To get a feel for this cause, let us briefly consider some of Robert Sungenis’ thoughts about the structure of the cosmos. According to Sungenis, the Earth lies at the center of a spherical rotating universe full of ether particles. He likens this universe to an immense gyroscope whose enormous mass locks the central Earth in place in the midst of all. But what exactly does he mean by “the universe” and “the mass of the universe”? In the following quote he answers these questions, and in doing so implicitly proposes an (astonishing) explanation for the seasons, as well as for other important astronomical phenomena:

What constitutes the sphere of which the Earth is the immobile center? Do the stars themselves define the universal sphere, or is the universal sphere defined by itself? By force of logic we are compelled to say that the stars are merely contained within the universal sphere, but are not necessarily the composite body by which the sphere is defined. This is especially true when we understand that besides the stars and other celestial bodies comprising the universe, the universal sphere has its own substance (i.e., the ether), and thus it has a mass and velocity independent of the stars. It is the universe’s own mass that is rotating around the immobile Earth, and as it does so it carries the stars with it. As such, there is nothing to prohibit the stars from being slightly shifted to one side of the universal sphere and thus have their center on the sun, whereas the universal sphere itself is centered on the Earth. In fact, if that is the case, we would obtain the characteristic precession or “wobble” that we see in so many sectors of the cosmos. All this can be accomplished by keeping the Earth as the immobile center of the universe.

Here we find Sungenis introducing what, for many biblical geocentrists, is the primary physical ground of cosmic dynamics: an all-pervading physical ether that somehow lies behind, or is involved with, gravitational and inertial forces. First, he places the Earth at the center of a rotating spherically symmetrical universe. Second, he fills this universe with ether. Third, he embeds the stars and galaxies in the ether, thus making the universe a gigantic ethereal fishbowl. Fourth, he posits that the stars and galaxies are (intentionally) distributed in such a way as to be “centered” on the sun, rather than the earth. (Does this mean that the stars and galaxies are largely arranged in concentric shells radiating outward from the sun, as astronomical observations now affirm? Or is it simply that, at the largest scale, all the other stars are homogenously distributed around this particular star?) Fifth, he suggests that because of this arrangement the universe “precesses”, or slightly wobbles. This causes the sun, which is itself carried along by the rotating universe, to describe an annual helical motion up and own the Earth’s y-axis. Here, according to Sungenis, is the reason for the seasons, and for other astronomical phenomena as well. Though unstated, it is happily understood that God alone is dynamic One who rotates the universe around the Earth, the home of his most beloved physical creation, man.

Again, the dynamical side of geocentric cosmology (and of other systems as well) is essentially based upon the ether, a concept that controlled much of the physics prior to Einstein, and to which post-Einstein scientists are now gradually returning under the influence of new discoveries in quantum mechanics. Dr. Robert Bennett, Sungenis’ colleague, defines the ether as a hugely massive “fluid of quanta” (i.e., tiny particles, the smallest in all creation) that is more rigid than steel, more flexible than any known substance, and that fills (or constitutes) all of space. It is this ether, he argues, that the Bible has in view when it speaks of “the firmament.”

The importance of the ether for geocentric cosmology can be seen in its many functions. Macroscopically, it serves to carry all the stars and galaxies in their daily revolution around the Earth; that is, it is the primary physical cause of cosmic inertia (with the God of providence being the spiritual cause). Its enormous mass locks the Earth at the center of the universe. It is perhaps the case that vortices or whirlpools of ether account for local rotational motion, say in a spiral galaxy. Perhaps streams of ether, flowing to us from outer space, create a downward ethereal pressure that we on Earth experience as gravity. Or perhaps gravity is caused by the continual vibration of the ether particles, which vibration will always push two material objects together, since there is less “ether pressure” in the space between them than there is around them. Again, it seems largely agreed that the rotating ether—and/or interactions with it—somehow produces the various “inertial forces,” (i.e., centrifugal force, the Coriolis force, and the Euler force). Finally, as in days of old, the ether is retained as the appointed medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves. (Philip Stott further discusses the ether here, here, and here.)

Geocentrists freely admit that their new ether science is still in its infancy, and that there will inevitably be theoretical false starts and dead ends before things come into focus. They are, however, much encouraged. Experimental evidence for the existence of cosmic ether, which began to appear in the 60’s, is now abundant. Secular researchers are increasingly open to the idea that the “vacuum” of space may actually be a plenum of tiny ethereal particles. As a result, the prospect of a new and truly physical physics suddenly looms upon the horizon. For biblical geocentrists this is all to the good, since it raises hopes of a latter day exodus from the maze of Relativity Theory, a fresh look at cosmic geocentrism, and, above all, a return to the God and cosmology of the Bible. In hopes of winning a new generation of seekers to that warm and wonderful world, the geocentrists labor on.

  1. Geocentric Answers to Heliocentric Arguments and Objections

While geocentrists certainly do not claim to have all the answers, they contend that their model has at least as much explanatory and predictive power as the heliocentric. Neither space nor scientific competence permit me to explore this fascinating debate in detail, but we can at least survey the main fields of battle here.

In arguing for the Earth’s rotation on its axis, heliocentrists typically cite: a) the Earth’s equatorial bulge, b) the veering flight of projectiles fired towards the north or south pole from the equator, c) the diagonal, west-to-east pattern of the Earth’s generally north-south winds, d) the precession of the plane of gyroscopes or a Foucault Pendulum, and e) the amazing behavior of geostationary satellites (i.e., satellites that hover over a single point on the Earth’s equator).

Beneath the light of Newtonian mechanics, all of these phenomena can indeed be taken to demonstrate a rotating Earth. For example, one can argue that the centrifugal force generated by the Earth’s spin produces its bulge; that geostationary satellites, orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 22,000 miles, are moving synchronously with a point on the Earth’s equator below and being held aloft by a balance of centrifugal and gravitational forces; that winds, projectiles, gyroscopes, or pendulums—all actually moving in approximately straight lines—seem to be veering because the Earth is moving beneath them, thus producing a so-called Coriolis effect.

In response to this line of reasoning, geocentrists typically point out that the same phenomena may be explained at least as well within a geocentric framework. All that is necessary, they say, is to begin with the presupposition that the Earth is at rest with respect to a universe that rotates around it once a day. It is the second part of this presupposition that proves decisive (as well as shocking). For again, many scientists, whether secular or biblical, agree with Ernst Mach, that a revolving cosmos will generate centrifugal and Coriolis forces capable of producing the various effects under discussion. Moreover, the biblical geocentrists throw a revolving ether into the mix, thus enhancing their model by positing a genuinely physical cause for such effects.

If, then, the Earth really does have an equatorial bulge (for satellite photographs do not show one clearly), might this be an effect of a rotating universe, or of distant masses rotating within it? As for the flight of projectiles, the diagonal pattern of winds, and the arcing motion of the Foucault pendulum or the gyroscope, might these also be caused by forces associated with gravity, a rotating sea of ether, and/or distant masses embedded in it?

Concerning the challenging problem of geostationary satellites, most geocentrists again appeal to a rotating cosmos and the forces it generates. Sungenis illustrates this approach by inviting us to imagine a roulette wheel. There are two ways to put centrifugal force on the marble situated on the inside rim. We can move the marble very fast on a stationary rim, and the marble will cling to the rim due to centrifugal force; or we can rotate the roulette wheel very fast, and the marble will again cling to the rim, again by centrifugal force. The latter option is meant to picture the geocentric solution: A geostationary satellite remains in place at 22,000 miles about the Earth because at that that point the satellite “experiences” a centrifugal force generated by a rotating universe that exactly matches the centripetal force generated by the Earth’s gravity.

There are other approaches as well. Robert Bennett, for example, points to peculiarities in the flow of cosmic ether near the Earth, suggesting that, “Ether motion around the Earth can be deduced from satellite motion, since ethereal rotational motion around an object sustains orbital motion.” Thus, a geostationary satellite would remain in place because at an altitude of 22,000 miles the ether, for some reason, is either flowing negligibly or not at all. Still another approach would simply be to say that at 22,000 miles above the Earth the gravitational force generated by precisely situated stars and galaxies (which may be nearer than we think) cancels out the gravitational force generated by the Earth, thus allowing an object in that special zone to remain aloft.

In seeking to prove the Earth’s annual revolution around the sun, heliocentrists typically cite the four seasons, stellar parallax, and its kissing cousin, stellar aberration.

Concerning the first of these, we have already seen that geocentrists respond by positing a “wobble” in the rotating universe at large. Yes, to a modern mind saturated in heliocentrism this solution will indeed sound far-fetched. It must be remembered, however, that biblical geocentrism tends to be radically theistic; that it is centered upon the God of the Bible, who rhetorically asks all mankind, “Is anything too hard for the LORD” (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26)?

Moreover, the idea of a cosmic wobble—perhaps a slight destabilization of the motion of the original universe—seems to fit well with the Genesis cosmology. The wobble could be traceable to the Fall of Adam, which, according to the apostle, sent shock waves throughout the entire universe (Romans 8:18-21). In that case, the four seasons—at least as we presently experience them—would ultimately be traceable to man’s sin, an idea embraced by Christian poets and philosophers who see in this annual cycle a mystical and redemptive significance centered upon Christ.3 Thus, the thesis of a cosmic or solar wobble may not be nearly as preposterous as it first seems.

Stellar parallax is the apparent shift of position of any nearby star against the background of distant stars. Geocentrists typically explain parallax by noting that the Copernican and Tychonic models both predict this phenomenon, on the condition that we modify the Tychonic model by centering the stars upon the sun rather than the Earth. Sungenis has developed a helpful animation to illustrate this point. (See here)

As for stellar aberration, we saw earlier that Airy’s Failure proved that this phenomenon is not caused by the Earth’s annual revolution around the sun. Rather, it is somehow traceable to the motion of the heavens themselves, and/or to the ether. Robert Bennett argues as follows:

Bradley’s results make perfect sense in an ether-filled universe. The effect could be caused by the ether flow or density variation between the star source and the Earth. The light speed changes while traversing the ether medium, bending according to the ether’s properties and hitting the Earth at an angle, moving the image position of the star so as to form an annual ellipse. For example, stars on the equator have no observed North-South aberration component, so the ether flow in the space projected out from the equator has only an East-West flow. Another valid interpretation is that the ether has no net effect on the starlight, but what is observed is, in fact, reality, the actual intrinsic elliptical motion of the stars. The only reason to discard this alternative is Occam’s razor, which makes a subjective human judgment about the (relative) beauty and simplicity (of) two possible conclusions. Occam’s razor sees complexity as an obstacle to human understanding, which it is, but excludes revelation as a valid source of knowledge and is ignorant of God’s perfect simplicity. Having no parts, God finds nothing complex. To Him all things are simple!

Heliocentrists also point to Jupiter and its moons, arguing from this example that the smaller body always revolves around the larger. Here, two geocentric responses are customarily made:

First, it is not good logic to say that the pattern seen in the planets (and their moons) must apply to the Earth as well. Obviously, the Earth may be an exception to the rule. Indeed, if the Earth holds a God-ordained privileged position in the universe, it is only reasonable to expect that it should be an exception, and the sole exception.

Secondly, it is indeed true that Newtonian mechanics requires the smaller body to orbit the larger—if we limit our gravitational calculations to these two bodies alone. But this is precisely what the geocentrists will not permit. Rather, they argue that gravitational and inertial forces arising from a rotating universe filled with other massive bodies must be included in the calculations as well (as indeed all good Newtonians would agree). In other words, they argue that God has situated the ether, the stars, and the galaxies in such a way that they somehow hold the (presumably) more massive sun in orbit around the (presumably) less massive Earth.

Our discussion thus far has addressed the usual objections to cosmic geocentrism. It remains only to touch on two that are somewhat less common:

First, critics sometimes assert that geocentrism is impossible, since the enormous centrifugal force generated at the outer edges of the universe would cause it to “fly apart.” One response here is to say that such centrifugal force is counterbalanced by an equally enormous gravitational force directed towards the cosmic center (i.e., the Earth). However, the question itself may betray a misunderstanding as to the true nature of centrifugal force. If, as some geocentrists suggest, centrifugal force is generated by rotational motion against the ether, then it is clear that only objects within the (ether-filled) universe will feel such force, and not the universe itself. In other words, unless our universe were encased within yet another sphere of (rotating) ether, it would feel no centrifugal force working upon it to cause it to stretch or fly apart. And besides all this, where would such a universe fly apart to?

Finally, some object that celestial objects situated beyond the so-called Schwarzchild radius (i.e., about 2.6 billion miles out from the Earth, the radius beyond which objects daily orbiting the Earth would exceed the speed of light) would be moving at superluminal speeds, something that is physically impossible. Here, several responses are in order.

First, this objection presupposes the truth of Special Relativity, which posits that the speed of light is a cosmic absolute. However, there is no good reason to believe that Special Relativity is true, and good reasons to believe it is not (see here, here and here) More to the point, however, is the fact that even in Relativity Theory, c is constant only within a given medium, and in particular in the so-called “vacuum of space.” Therefore, even if the relativistic view of c were true, this would not constitute a problem for geocentrism, since in that model it is the (outer reaches of the) universe itself that travels at superluminal speeds, not the stars moving within it. In other words, relative to the (ether-filled) universe that carries them along in its bosom, celestial objects beyond the Schwarzchild radius do indeed travel faster than the speed of light. But relative to one another, or to the ether through which they (and their light) are moving locally, all or most of them are traveling at speeds considerably slower than 186,000 mps. On the other hand, it may be that some are indeed traveling through the ether at speeds faster than c, as a number of recent observations seem to suggest, much to the dismay of strict relativists.4

I want to close this section on geocentric theory and modeling by stressing once again that natural science still does not really understand gravity or inertial forces, only how they work locally (i.e., near the Earth), and even then only approximately. Newton thought it preposterous to hold that gravity was an immaterial force acting upon objects from a distance, and he therefore contemplated a number of physical theories of gravity. Einstein’s notion of gravity as a distortion of space-time is incomprehensible, and observations alleged to demonstrate its truth have been challenged or explained on other grounds. Quantum Mechanical views, looking to explain gravity in terms of tiny particles of “space-foam,” may be getting closer to the mark, since the evidence for an ether is now plentiful. But again, the bottom line is that no one really understands gravitational and inertial forces from a physical point of view.

Moreover, even if we were able to discover an underlying physical cause for these forces, the new knowledge would only inaugurate a fresh search for further causes behind that one. In the end, then, our journey towards a satisfying theory of celestial mechanics must lead us back to the First Cause of all things. For the biblical geocentrist, that would be God. However many physical links there may be in the great chain of kinetic causation, he is the spiritual anchor that holds them all down. Ultimately, he is the Prime Mover of all that moves. As the Bible puts it, he is the One who causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the Earth; who makes lightning for the rain; and who brings the wind out of his treasuries. He is the One in whom all things live and move and have their being (Psalm 135:7; Acts 17:28). And—according to the geocentrists—he is the one who causes the stars to move in their courses, and the universe to rotate daily around the earth.

Therefore, urging physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists to lift their sights a little higher, God himself unabashedly asks:

“Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out the constellations in their season, or guide the Great Bear with her cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the Earth? Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, the One who brings out their host by number and calls them all by name. By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing. To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. —Job 38:32; Isaiah 40:26, 25

Arguments Based on Astronomical Observation

Observational evidence for geocentrism and geostationism is now so varied and so abundant that it threatens to completely overthrow the so-called Copernican (or Cosmological) Principle: the (unimaginable) idea that the universe has no center or outer edge. In other words, the evidence threatens to force a paradigm-shift on modern cosmology. Capturing the drama of this recent development, Sungenis writes:

After Hubble, all kinds of interesting objects and forces were found in man’s telescopes, e.g., quasars, gamma-ray and X-ray bursters, CMB radiation, and a wide assortment of galaxies and star clusters. To the utter consternation of the world’s scientists, each of the newfound discoveries kept revealing the same startling information—that the Earth was right smack in the center of it all!

In their magnum opus, Galileo Was Wrong, Sungenis and Bennett collate and carefully document all of the new evidence. Some of their discussion is technical and therefore challenging for the scientific layman. Nevertheless, the salient points are clear enough. Citing frequently from their work, I will touch on a few of the most important here.

    Observational Evidence for Geocentrism

     1. The Cosmic Microwave Background

First we have the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB). Though views greatly differ as to its cause, all agree that this so-called black body radiation arrives at the Earth at essentially the same temperature (2.70 K) from all directions in space. In other words, the CMB radiation is almost perfectly isotropic. This means, however, that the Earth must be at or very near the center of the CMB. Joseph Silk expresses the situation this way:

Studies of the CMB have confirmed the isotropy of the radiation, or its complete uniformity in all directions. If the universe possesses a center, we must be very close to it…otherwise excessive observable anisotropy (i.e., non-uniform appearance) in the radiation intensity would be produced, and we would detect more radiation for one direction than from the opposite direction.

As we saw earlier, Big Bang theorists reject Silk’s common sense geocentric conclusion by assuming the inconceivable, namely, that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic; that it has neither edges nor center; and that matter is so evenly distributed throughout it that the heavens (and the CMB) look basically the same from every vantage point. However, since this assumption is profoundly counterintuitive, impossible to prove, and contradicted by the evidence for geocentrism, the geocentric interpretation of the CMB seems far more reasonable.

In passing, we should note also that painstaking studies into slight irregularities in the CMB (i.e., so-called anisotropies) have given further credence to geocentricity. In particular, Dr. Max Tegmark’s analysis of data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) led him to conclude that: 1) the CMB is not perfectly isotropic, 2) the anisotropies show it to be symmetrically structured, 3) the universe seems to have an axis upon which it rotates (and therefore an equator as well), and 4) that axis passes through the Earth or a point very near to it. In short, the WMAP evidence points to a rotating cosmos with the Earth at its center. So dangerously anti-Copernican were these results, that one author wrote an essay about them entitled, Axis of Evil Warps Cosmic Background.

      2. Galactic Red Shifts

Over the last 25 years, beginning with the work of William Tifft, astronomers have carefully measured the red shifts of hundreds of galaxies. Also, they have analyzed the red shifts of several different kinds of galaxies (e.g., individual spiral galaxies, binary clusters, dwarf irregulars, rapidly rotating regulars, etc.). To the astonishment of everyone, the results showed that their red shifts are all “quantized.” That is, the red shifts are not smoothly distributed along a spectrum of numerical values, but bundled in one or another fraction of the most common value, 72 km/ sec. Thus, red shift measurements commonly fall at 12, 24, 36, 72, 144, or 216 km/sec. As Robert Bennett observed, “The probability of this occurring by chance is incalculable.”

But what does it all mean? Well, for the standard Big Bang model it means big trouble. That’s because Big Bang cosmology interprets red shifts as an indicator of galactic recession and spatial expansion. But if this view were correct, the red shifts should be smooth, not quantized. Furthermore, the new observations lead quite naturally to a most geocentric conclusion: The galaxies are situated around the Earth like the layers of an onion. As Tifft himself observed with due scientific caution, “A hierarchy of quantized domains is suggested.” Drawing out the implications of this for Big Bang cosmology, the alarmed writer for Sky and Telescope Magazine complained, “Quantized red shifts just don’t fit into this [standard Big Bang] view of the cosmos, for they imply concentric shells of galaxies expanding away from a central point—Earth.”

Big Bang cosmology wants all galaxies to be receding smoothly one from another, leaving no hint of a cosmic center, and thus confirming the cherished Cosmological Principle (i.e., the idea that the universe has no center and no outer edge). However, the actual observations—now confirmed beyond serious dispute—tell a very different story, putting the Earth at the center and leaving no hint of the Cosmological Principle.

It is, of course, possible to interpret galactic red shifts in other ways. For example, rather than seeing them as “cosmological” (i.e., as indicating recessional velocity), one can view them as “intrinsic” (i.e., as arising from some property within the galaxy itself). This approach would, however, be equally disastrous for the Big Bang, since it would mean that the so-called “Hubble relation” between the red shift, recessional velocity, distance, and age of a given galaxy is non-existent. This in turn would mean that the universe is likely quite small and (relative to Big Bang conclusions) quite young, leaving far too little time for cosmic evolution. Moreover, even if (as the best evidence now indicates) red shifts are not due to recession, the geocentric implications would still remain, for no matter what their cause, red shifts would not appear in our telescopes as systematically quantized unless the Earth were central. As Robert Bennett explains:

If Earth were not central, arcs of each shell would be seen with varying red shifts. In geometry, concentric circles can have but one center. All quantum red shifts indicate that the Earth is the center of this incredible phenomenon. Any other location would break the quantum levels, smearing them out, as was expected prior to the discovery by Tifft.

In closing, let us note also that actual observations do not favor the standard view that galaxies are homogeneously distributed throughout space. To the contrary, galactic distribution—like galactic red shifts—is decidedly geocentric. Physicist Harold Slusher states the case as follows:

If the distribution of galaxies is homogeneous, then doubling the distance should increase the galaxy count eightfold; tripling it should produce a galaxy count 27 times as large. Actual counts of galaxies show a rate substantially less than this. If allowed to stand without correction, this feature of the galaxy count implies a thinning out with distance in all directions, and that we are at the very center of the highest concentration of matter in the universe . . . This would argue that we are at the center of the universe . . . When galaxy counts are adjusted for dimming effects, it appears that the number of galaxies per unit volume of space increases with distance. From this we still appear to be at the center of the universe, but now it coincides with the point of least concentration of matter.

Summing up, it appears both from their distribution and the observed red shift of their light that the galaxies are trying to teach us something important: We on Earth are privileged to live in the midst of it all—and we didn’t get there by accident!

     3. Other Celestial Bodies

Like a symphony performing variations on a theme, the universe over and again presents us with celestial objects that are distributed geocentrically in space. We have just seen that the CMB and the galaxies both play their part. Let us look here at a few more.

First, we have gamma ray bursts (GRB’s). Emanating from invisible sources, these enormously powerful bursts of gamma rays “…are equivalent to 1045 watts of energy, which is over a million trillion times as powerful as the sun. The bursts occur at the rate of about one per day, but they are fast fading and random, never occurring in the same place twice.” From this description, we may justly surmise that GRB’s are caused by the explosive death of unknown, star-like objects. Very importantly, careful observation of the location and uniform intensity of the GRB’s leads investigators to the unavoidable conclusion that their sources are situated upon a spherical shell (or shells) whose center is the Earth. As GRB researcher Jonathan Katz observes below, the data create a very disturbing “dilemma” for the followers of Copernicus:

No longer could astronomers hope that the Copernican dilemma would disappear with improved data. The data were in hand and their implication inescapable: We are the center of a spherically symmetric distribution of gamma ray burst sources, and this distribution has an outer edge. Beyond this edge, the density of the burst sources decreases to insignificance.

Note carefully Katz’ emphasis on an outer edge. This is another source of his Copernican dilemma. For unless the GRB’s are distributed evenly throughout all space, they present decisive observational refutation of the Cosmological Principle, according to which no place in the universe is special or unique. The evidence, however, clearly leads to the conclusion that the shell of GRB sources is unique, and that the Earth at its center is uniquer still!

This brings us to a second kind of geocentrically distributed body: quasars. First discovered in the 1960’s, these faintly visible quasi-stellar radio sources display large red shifts, and so (on Big Bang premises) are thought to be very distant and very old. Y. P. Varshni, one of the earliest researchers in the field, studied some 400 quasars and found, to his amazement, that their red shift values effectively bundled them into 57 groups, giving the impression that quasars, much like the galaxies, are situated on concentric spheres, all of which have the Earth at their center. Subsequent observations of some 20,000 quasars have only confirmed Varshni’s findings. His original statement about the significance of this data, though later abandoned under pressure from his colleagues, was impressively direct:

The Earth is indeed the center of the Universe. The arrangement of quasars on certain spherical shells is only with respect to the Earth. These shells would disappear if viewed from another galaxy or quasar. This means that the cosmological principle will have to go. Also, it implies that a coordinate system fixed to the Earth will be a preferred frame of reference in the Universe. Consequently, both the Special and General Theory of Relativity must be abandoned for cosmological purposes.

As we see from Varshni’s own words, quasars produce big problems for relativistic Big Bang cosmology. If the Cosmological Principle is true, why are there no quasars near the Earth? Why are they uniquely centered upon the Earth? How can they travel at superluminal speeds (as indeed they must if they are moving as fast as their red shifts suggest)? Questions like these again cast doubts upon the standard interpretation of red shifts, inviting us to contemplate a small, Earth-centered universe, created by a big, Earth-centered God.

Besides the CMB, galaxies, GRB sources, and quasars, there are quite a number of other celestial objects that play their part in the great geocentric symphony. In surveying them at some length, Sungenis and Bennett discuss such exotic phenomena as BL Lacertae, X-Ray Bursts, Spectroscopic Binaries, Globular Clusters, Quantized Planetary Orbits, and Cosmic Mega-Walls. The breadth and force of the evidence is impressive indeed.

     4. The Uniqueness of the Earth System

Observations to date reveal that the local physical system of which the Earth is a part is cosmically unique. For example, though astronomers think they have found a few stars with a single associated planet, they have certainly found nothing like our own so-called solar system, however we may conceive its actual configuration. Also, they have never discovered a planet that supports life, not to mention a planet inhabited by self-conscious beings such as ourselves. Now the Cosmological Principle predicts that all these phenomena should appear uniformly throughout the universe—hence NASA’s deep space probes and the SETI program. But the facts, so far as we know them, show that they do not. The Earth, and the local system of which it is a part, appear to be very special, even unique. If so, it is only reasonable to think of them as central.

     5. Cosmic Fine Tuning

Here we touch upon a very large body of evidence suggesting that our Earth lies at another kind of center—the center of interest of the One who created it. It includes literally hundreds of phenomena indicating that the Earth, the solar system, and the universe itself have all been fine-tuned to support life on earth.

Scientists know, for example, that there are a great many physical constants in nature, none of which could vary even slightly without shattering the physical integrity of the universe (e.g., gravitational and electromagnetic constants, the mass of elementary particles, strong and weak nuclear forces, etc.). They know also that life could not exist if the sun were a different color, or a different mass, or closer to Earth, or farther from it. The same is true of the moon: If it were only 50,000 miles closer, ocean tides would engulf nearly all the Earth’s land mass twice a day; if slightly further, life in the stagnant seas would die. Or again, if the Earth’s gravity, crustal thickness, oxygen/nitrogen ratios, and water vapor and ozone layers were only slightly different, life would perish. Because, on naturalistic premises, this manifold fine-tuning is so improbable, many have concluded that there must be a Fine Tuner who has delicately structured all things for the support and enjoyment of earthly life. In short, cosmic fine-tuning reveals Earth’s inhabitants as the special object of a divine creator’s interest and activity. And if they lie at the center of his interest, is it not reasonable to imagine them at the center of his universe as well?

Summing up on this point, in our brief survey of the evidence for geocentrism we have looked at the CMB, galactic red shifts, miscellaneous heavenly bodies, the uniqueness of the Earth system, and cosmic fine-tuning, also sometimes called the anthropic principle. Any one of these phenomena should give Copernicans pause. Taken together, they are compelling. The Bible declares, “Out of the mouth of two or more witnesses, let every matter be established” (Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16). To judge from the manifold observational evidence, the matter of cosmic geocentrism appears to be well-established indeed, presumably at the hand of the Bible’s evidence-loving and evidence-giving God.

      Observational Evidence for Geostationism

Just as it is impossible to prove experimentally that the Earth is moving through space, so too it is impossible to prove experimentally that it sits at absolute rest in the center of the universe. Nevertheless, there are several lines of scientific evidence suggesting strongly that this is indeed the case.

     1. The Interferometer Experiments

As we saw earlier, an interferometer is a device specifically designed to detect and measure the speed of the Earth as it (supposedly) moves through space. After many such experiments, Michelson and Morley found that their interferometer was unable to detect any significant motion. In particular, their experiements showed that: a) there is indeed an ether, b) it is either stationary, with the Earth moving through it at a snail’s pace, or c) the Earth is stationary, with the contiguous ether (i.e., the ether near the Earth’s surface) revolving around it at a snail’s pace. While direct observation cannot decide between these two options, several other lines of evidence agree in declaring that the geostationary option is best (e.g., Biblical teaching, common sense experience, the observational evidences for cosmic geocentrism, etc.).

In passing, it is well worthwhile to mention the work of physicist Dayton Miller, a contemporary and very formidable opponent of Einstein, who devoted the better part of his career to studying the ether. Using thousands of readings from highly sophisticated interferometers, Miller was able to ascertain the presence of an ether, the velocity of its drift, the fact that it moves faster at distances farther from the Earth, and the fact that it moves in sync with the stars. Miller’s work, panned by Einstein, certainly seems to spell the end of Special Relativity.

     2. The Pattern of Global Air Currents

In heliocentric thinking, the observed west-to-east airflow is caused by thermal heating plus the rotation of the Earth on its axis. But in the following quote, Robert Bennett shows how unreasonable this view is, and in so doing gives impressive evidence for a stationary Earth:

We would think that a rotating Earth would drag along the air right at the surface, but the lack of friction and viscosity of air, plus its inertia, would make the air stream behind the ground’s motion form as swirls of cream in a coffee cup. At the equator, which [supposedly] spins at 1,054 mph, there would be a rapid change in the wind profile, from zero on the ground to 1,054 mph at high altitudes. Testing our belief with anemometers, we are surprised to learn, however, that the equatorial winds are quite docile, random, and calm, even at heights. Only the sun’s heat, as it crosses the sky (literally) provides gentle breezes . . . Moderns, having made great advances in natural understanding, laugh and say, incredibly, that the whole atmosphere co-rotates with the Earth, as if the air were solid! Theists, with a geocentric mind, say with scriptural simplicity “Of course there is no wind—the Earth is fixed forever. It was God who told us so!

     3. The Superior Usefulness of a Fxed-Earth Model for Astronomical and Navigational Calculations

After conceding that the heliocentric paradigm does have occasional practical advantages (e.g., for calculating the relative positions of the planets), geocentrist Philip Stott goes on to observe:

Nevertheless, well over 90% of all astronomical calculations are done assuming that the Earth is not rotating, but is stationary at the center of the universe. All navigation calculations also assume that the Earth does not move and does not rotate.

Notably, this is precisely the testimony of NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other governmental science agencies, all of which concede that global positioning satellites, geostationary satellites, and deep space probes use what is called the Earth Centered Inertial (ECI) frame of reference in planning and executing their launches. In other words, because it works best to do so, these agencies chart their rocket’s courses on the assumption that the Earth is at rest in the midst of the universe. But this invites an important question: Does their assumption work so well because it happens to be the truth?

Conclusion

Though it certainly appears to be an emerging trend, for most cosmic geocentrism is still a radical idea. It cuts hard against the grain of prevailing scientific opinion, and it sharply challenges a pervasive ideology of progress telling us that we moderns have become wiser than our ancestors. Yet the Test Perspective warns us against any and all smugness, even in the matter before us. So too does the Bible. Together, they both declare that the world is a strange place where truth and error ever do battle, where God sorely tests men’s love of the truth, and where he chooses “foolish” things in order to confound the wise (Matt. 11:25f; 1 Cor. 1:27).

In such a world, cosmic geocentrism may well be true. Moreover, from many quarters we have received good evidence that it really is true. It is the testimony of common sense (and therefore the testimony of most ancient cosmologies). It is the testimony of the Bible. It is the testimony of sound observational science. It promises emancipation from the confusing labyrinth of Relativity Theory. It holds forth the promise of a new, coherent, and holistic physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. But most importantly, it points us to a wise and powerful divine Creator, one who very much has the Earth on his mind; a God who shows himself to us in his universe; and a God who calls us back to himself through his Son and in his Book.

Such considerations will give seekers of cosmological truth pause. Moreover, as they pause—perhaps gazing upward on a clear, moonless night at the mighty vault of heaven—they will better be able to discern the wisdom of the great Swiss mathematician, Leonard Euler (1707-1783), when he said:

In our researches into the phenomena of the visible world we are subject to weaknesses and inconsistencies so humiliating that a (divine) Revelation is absolutely necessary to us. We ought to avail ourselves of it with the most powerful veneration.

On the matter of cosmic structure, shall we not then seriously question the word of man, even as we powerfully venerate the Word of God?

Notes

1. See Philip Stott, Vital Questions (Reformation Media Press, 2002), chapter 6; Robert Sungenis and Robert Bennett, Galileo Was Wrong and the Church Was Right (Lulu Press, 2010), chapter 3, 4, and 6.

2. Dean Davis, In Search of the Beginning (Redemption Press, 2018), p. 111-114.

3. Since, in man’s experience of nature, the four seasons embody a cycle of life and death, Christian interpreters of nature wonder if they mystically point to the truths of redemption. One suggestion is that spring typifies the birth of Christ, who, after millennia of spiritual cold and darkness, brought new life into the world (John 1:4); summer represents the days of his childhood and youth when, like Israel’s crops, he quietly grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52); fall points to the short three-year season of his earthly ministry, when he began to harvest God’s believing children in Israel (Matthew 9:37; John 4:35); winter recalls the dark days of his rejection, death, and burial, in which the light and warmth of the world was seemingly extinguished, and when “no one could work” (John 9:4, 5, 11:9, 12:35). This brings us again to spring, which may also be seen to typify the day of Christ’s resurrection, when he brought life and light back into the world, once and for all, (John 1:5; Romans 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:10). According to a similar (and related) paradigm, spring corresponds to the world in its pre-fall purity and vitality; summer to the first four millennia of mankind’s toil, when God was secretly working (especially in Israel) to prepare a global harvest; fall to “the fullness of time,” now some two millennia long, throughout which Christ, by means of the Church, harvests a people from all nations; winter to the end-time tribulation and agony of the true spiritual Church; and spring to the eternal season of light and life, inaugurated by Christ’s coming again, the resurrection of the dead, and the creation of new heavens and a new Earth.

4. In 1994 astronomers Mirabel and Rodriguez discovered that an x-ray source in our own Milky Way galaxy suddenly produced several blobs that expanded in pairs at speeds faster than c. Similarly, in 2000, Lijun Wang succeeded in propagating light at a speed some 300 times higher than its usual velocity! (ISB, p. 112)

5. Here are two links taking you to video presentations created by Robert Sungenis, arguably the current leader of the modern biblical geocentrism movement (Here and Here). While I demur strongly from his Roman Catholic soteriology, I do think that his (and Dr. Bennett’s) work on biblical cosmology is of great interest and importance.

THE LORD is mid-way through his Olivet Discourse. He has just revealed to his disciples the various signs that must occur prior to his providential coming in AD 70, and also to his supernatural Coming at the end of the age. In a moment he will complete the discourse by speaking of the Judgment (Matt. 25:31–46). However, before doing so, he desires to draw out some practical applications of the truths he has spoken so far.

He begins by admonishing his disciples—all of them—to watch for the signs of his Coming. To this end he bids them learn a lesson from the fig tree: When they see it put forth its leaves, they know that summer is near. Likewise, when they see “all these things”—all the signs he has just spoken of—they can know that his eschatological Coming (vv. 29-31) and the end of the present evil age are at hand (vv. 32–33).

But how do we know that he has his eschatological Coming in view, and not his providential coming? We know it because “all these things” (i.e., all these signs) include events that did not occur prior to 70 AD: the global proclamation of the gospel (v. 14), the universal hatred of Christians (v. 9), the appearing of the eschatological Abomination that Causes Desolation (i.e., the Antichrist; v.15), unprecedented and unparalleled tribulation (v. 21), false messiahs and false prophets who work deceptive signs and wonders (v. 24), and dreadful portents in the sky and sea (v. 29; Luke 21:25-26). All the saints must watch for all these things; and when they see that all have happened, they must lift up their heads, for in those days the Parousia, the Consummation, and the fullness of their redemption will be near, even at the door (v. 33; Luke 21:28).

Having thus outlined the remaining years of Salvation History, the Lord now solemnly pledges: “I tell you the truth: This generation will by no means pass away till all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:34-35). These verses are quite difficult, and have therefore generated a host of interpretations, some of which I will touch on before briefly sharing my present view.

Note first his preface: “I tell you the truth.” This strong affirmation fits hand in glove with verse 35, where he states that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away. His meaning? “My words—my predictions, warnings, and promises—come straight from the divine Creator and King of the universe. They are everlastingly true and trustworthy. In the face of all events, temptations, and persecutions you can take them to the bank.”

In much the same spirit, he then says, “This generation will by no means pass away till all these things have taken place.” What did he mean by “this generation”? We cannot answer with confidence until we know what he meant by “all these things?” Now in light of verse 33, it is possible that he meant the various signs previously mentioned, excluding the Parousia itself. Here, however, the expression certainly seems to be all-inclusive. His solemn “I tell you the truth,” plus his subsequent reference to the passing of the (present) heavens and the earth (v. 35), both suggest that in addition to the signs of his Coming, he also had in mind his Parousia, the Consummation, and the advent of the eternal cosmos to come.

What, then, did he mean by “this generation”? The Greek is genea. Undeniably, the Lord customarily used this word to refer to his contemporaries: the Jewish men and women of his own generation (Matt. 11:16; 12:30, 38-42; 16:4; 17:17, etc.). Insisting that he was doing so here, theological liberals, rejecting a divine Christ and an inerrant Bible, assert that he was simply wrong. We dare not follow them.

Others—our preterist brethren—agree that Jesus was referring to his own generation, but assert that in speaking of the signs of his Coming (vv. 3-28), and of the Coming itself (vv. 29-31), he was largely using figurative, apocalyptic language to describe the events of AD 33-70, events that would culminate in Titus’s destruction of Jerusalem. But this “mystical” interpretation cannot possibly be correct, since it is obvious that throughout his discourse the Lord was actually making straightforward historical predictions about his providential coming on the one hand, and therefore straightforward historical predictions about his eschatological Coming on the other. The former has come to pass. The latter—and many of the events that must precede it—has not. And so we watch.

Still other interpreters, noting that genea can sometimes mean race, believe that the Lord was referring to the Jews (cf. Matt. 13:15; 15:8, Luke 21:23), whether as an obdurate people who will remain under God’s wrath until the Judgment (so Anthony Hoekema), or as a favored people from whom God, in love and mercy, will continually save a remnant down to the very end (so William Hendriksen). Seeing, however, that the thrust of Jesus’ teaching was to prepare the whole Church—both Jew and Gentile—for her centuries-long pilgrimage to the World to Come, this ethnic interpretation seems far too narrow, and therefore highly unlikely.

Given, then, the vast historical scope of the discourse, my view is that here the Lord was using the word genea in its widest possible sense: as referring to the fallen, guilty, but beloved and eminently redeemable generation (i.e., offspring) of Adam and Eve; as referring to Jews, Gentiles, saints, and sinners of all times and all places; as referring to the one generation comprised of his own generation, the last generation, and all the generations in between.

Admittedly, such usage is rare; however, the disciples’ two-fold question, the historical reach of the Lord’s reply, and the very words he used in this short pericope, all seem to demand it.  Moreover, this usage is not unprecedented. Earlier, Jesus had said, “In their dealings with their own generation, the sons of this age are wiser than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8; cf. 29:34-35). Similarly, the apostle Paul would soon refer to God’s saints as those who shine like lights amidst a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). In both of these texts the word genea is being used to describe huge blocs of certain kinds of people; kinds of people who, since the fall of man, have always been with us, and always will be.

So again, may it not be that in speaking to us as he did, the Lord was assuring all his disciples that this generation—this seed of Adam himself (and also, perhaps, the present evil age out of which many of his kind will be rescued)—will not pass away until the divine Creator, Judge, and Redeemer of heaven and earth fulfills all of the words he has so solemnly, graciously, and comfortingly spoken to the world in his great Olivet Discourse?