The Case for Cosmic Geocentricity
The world is firmly established: It cannot be moved.
This essay is a LONG excerpt from my book, In Search of the Beginning. In posting it here, my hope is to whet your appetite for an open-minded, biblically based study of a fascinating, controversial, and important topic: the idea of radical cosmic geocentricity. As you will see, in the interests of simplicity I have removed all but a few superscripts and end notes. If you desire to view my sources (and supplementary remarks), please consult the book. Also, please remember that in several places in ISB I give further biblical, historical, and scientific background on many of the ideas presented here. Finally, if this topic interests you, be sure to check out some of the relevant links posted on my website.
Lost in the Cosmos
MODERN MAN is lost in the cosmos. He is told that space is curved and expanding; that the universe is perfectly homogeneous and isotropic (i.e., that it looks the same no matter where you might be located); 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 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 making10,000 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 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 seekers, tender to the importance of optimism and hopefulness in a 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 geocentricity we have lost something precious that “the unknown god” (i.e., the god who reveals himself in nature and conscience, and who beckons us to search out his truth on the ultimate questions of life) 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 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 both of 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 (Gen. 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 intriguing questions the Bible may well give some 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.” To 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 very inferences and therefore reached a significant degree of consensus.
Chief among such basic facts is what I will henceforth call the radical geocentricity of the cosmos, the focus of our attention in this section. It is crucial to define this idea carefully. As I see it, the biblical revelation of radical geocentricity 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 daily 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 infinite universe cannot revolve daily around the Earth, and 5) the radical geocentricity of the physical creation is laden with spiritual meaning, being 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 6000 year age of the creation. Just to contemplate such a universe is completely to 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 geocentricity (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 geocentricity 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 brief remarks on both of these important questions.
The Testimony of the Bible
Does the Bible really teach radical cosmic geocentricity? Or is it the case, as Dr. Aardsma claims, that it is impossible to find therein any definitive 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 geocentricity in mind, let us survey this foundational passage once again.
Verse 1 is best read as a 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 calls “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). More likely, however, it is itself the immense physical body within which the womb of space (i.e., the expanse) will be opened up on the second day. 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 appearing) of a bank of primordial light, possibly emanating from the spiritual Heaven. 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 (perhaps) 4) water or ice serving as the outermost edge and boundary of the universe. In other words, the 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, also mentioned in verse 1. Here, God first brings forth (i.e., creates and raises up) the dry land (or the earth) out of the waters beneath the heavens, waters that will henceforth be called the seas (v. 10, 2 Pet. 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, we have in verses 14-19 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 invites us to see God not only as setting 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 conclusion flows logically from several important 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 God on the fourth day suddenly setting 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—i.e., that it should serve as the center—while the other member should become an orbiting “planet,” (from the Greek word for wanderer). Along these lines, note 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?
In this connection, observe also that the Genesis cosmogony puts life and man only upon the Earth. The uniqueness of the Earth in this regard 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 geocentricity. 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.
2. An Earth at Rest
We come now to a class of passages that affirms radical geocentricity by depicting the Earth as being at rest and immovable in the cosmos. Importantly, these texts presuppose and reflect the cosmology of Genesis 1. In particular, they are designed to glorify God as the divine sustainer of the world. The One who in the beginning set the world “in its place” (Job 9:6) is here seen 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 Chron. 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 here 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, Eccl. 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 fleeing the face of God (Rev. 20:11). While the language here is to some extent figurative and hyperbolic, it is 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 clearly support the idea of radical geocentricity, 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 heavenly bodies, for it alone lies at rest in the midst of the cosmos; it alone, in one form or another, will ever remain; it alone is the privileged, stationary footstool for the feet of him who sits unmoved upon heaven’s throne (Isaiah 66:1, Mt. 5:34-35; cf. Gen. 28:12).
3. A Sun In Motion
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 (Gen. 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” (Exodus 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 Jesus, who, in urging his disciples to show impartial love to all people, 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” (Mt. 5:45). Just a 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” (Eccl. 1:5). Observe that 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 of its making a circuit around the sun. Like all the biblical writers, David and Solomon assume that the sun—and beyond it, 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 good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of 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 God himself; and that God is always good, since he is immutably, or unchangeably, 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 (Mal. 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)
4. 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 of skeptical turn of mind, 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. To the contrary, the Bible seems consistently to presuppose that the Earth is stationary and that all the luminaries are in motion. If we had, for example, even one or two passages in which it was recorded that the Earth turns or moves or goes about in a circuit, then we would 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 speak geocentrically. And if the Bible is inspired by God, that is a fact to be taken seriously.
Secondly, the assertion that all these texts are speaking phenomenologically clearly does arise from one’s 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? One 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, all students of Scripture simply 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 in these texts it is only 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 he so ardently seeks to understand and 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 man’s theories about the nature of universe are always in flux. In short, prudent seekers will be wary of imposing popular scientific models on the biblical data, no matter how deeply entrenched in the culture they may be. Instead, they will try to let the Bible speak in it owns terms. 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 phenomenological interpretation. For 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 once again, this argues against geocentricity 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. But surely it is at least 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 certainly the better, since God himself is 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 geocentricity, 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, Mt. 12:42), or to “the four corners of the Earth” (Isaiah 11:12, Rev. 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, and also 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 other biblical passages—and bring to our reading both common sense experience and our wealth scientific observation—we see immediately that the 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.
This brings us to our sixth and final point: If geocentricity 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 Peter 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 geocentricity 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).
5. 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 the scriptures. 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 confederation 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, 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 Cor. 4:7). Now if this is so, it implies that Joshua’s very words to the sun and moon were, like the miracle itself, God’s idea. But if this is so, it implies 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 (Num. 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 Cor. 3:1). If so, it implies that we are meant to 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, 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. Nevertheless, 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 that it stood still. For all these reasons, pre-Copernican interpreters gladly received this text at face value: They confessed that the sun and moon really did pause in their regular motions above a stationary Earth.
However, 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.
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 other’s 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 this very thing. 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 seekers will have to find out for themselves which one is really telling us the truth.
6. The Argument from Typology
We come now to a further class of passages often held to support radical geocentricity, 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, that is, 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 nature. These include the answers to the questions of life, and especially the answer to our questions about “salvation” from evil, suffering, and death.
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. To 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 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 (Rom. 9:33, 1 Cor. 10:4), trees (Rom. 11:24, 1 Peter 2:24, Rev. 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, Mt. 17:2, Acts 26:13, Rev. 1:16). Moreover, when we examine these passages closely, we realize that they speak, not only of the things of Christ, but (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 shall 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 (Mt. 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, Heb. 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 two-fold work of the divine Sun of Righteousness. First, this Sun “went down.” That is, the divine Son humbled himself unto 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; Eph. 4:7-10, Phil. 2:5-8). Thus, the setting of the astronomical sun pictures Christ’s 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, Rom. 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 (Mt. 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 (Mt. 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 geocentricity, the idea that the sun (and the stars) 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, Rom. 3:11, Eph. 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 radical geocentricity.
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, (Mt. 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 heaven 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” (Mt. 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 (Mt. 26:64, Rev. 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 fires of the last judgment (v. 6, cf. Mt. 13:42, 50, Luke 17:34-36)?
We see, then, that the typology of Psalm 19:4-6 richly supports the idea of geocentricity. 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, promising and warning all nations that the great Day of the Lord—the Day of Christ—is soon to come (Psalm 50:1f, Phil. 1:10, 2:16, 2 Thess. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:10).
7. The Argument from Eschatology
We close this section 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, Rev. 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 (Rom. 8:18f, 1 Cor. 7:31, 15:35-49, Phil. 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. —Rev. 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 be created again (Isaiah 13:10, 24:23, 34:4, Joel 2:10, 31, Zeph. 1:15, Mt. 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, Zech. 14:6-7, Mt. 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 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 radical geocentricity. 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 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 type 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.
In our survey of the biblical teaching on the structure of the universe we have encountered an impressive body of evidence favorable to the idea of radical cosmic geocentricity. This includes the Bible’s foundational cosmological passage (Gen. 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.
The Testimony of Natural Science
This brings us to a second witness in the great debate about cosmic structure, natural science. The question here is: Does science speak up even a little in favor of radical geocentricity? Now if the test perspective is true, it certainly should. After all, how could the God who created the universe, reason, and human ability in natural science give us a revelation that runs contrary to the universe, reason, and the trustworthy fruits of natural science? If, then, the Bible really is his word to mankind, its cosmological statements should be scientifically reasonable, including those about radical geocentricity.
Note carefully, however, that the question here is not: Does science prove geocentricity? Science cannot prove any model of the universe, since scientists cannot observe the universe in all places and at all times. So, then, the real question is: Are geocentric models of the cosmos scientifically plausible? Is there good theoretical and observational evidence to back them up? Are they at least as reasonable—or possibly even more reasonable— than the prevailing acentric model? Surprisingly, to all these questions a growing number of modern physicists and astronomers are now returning an enthusiastic answer of yes!
In what follows I will touch briefly on the main lines of scientific argumentation favorable to radical geocentricity, beginning with theoretical considerations and progressing towards specific experiments and observations. Since I have neither the space nor the expertise to develop these ideas at length, scientifically inclined readers are encouraged to consult the endnotes for helpful books, articles, videos, and websites dealing with this fascinating subject.
Arguments from Theory
1. The Trend Towards Relativity
The first line of argumentation is the modern trend towards relativity—a trend that, paradoxically enough, actually restores radical geocentricity as a viable cosmological option.
As we saw earlier, medieval cosmology was grounded in a metaphysical assumption: absolute cosmic geocentricity. With Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, that assumption changed: Now the sun stood at the center of a finite material universe, while the Earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun beneath “the fixed stars.” Later, Kant retained a cosmic center, but denied pride of place to our solar system. After that, theoretical cosmology more or less abandoned the idea, realizing that it was indeed an assumption, 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 cannot determine absolute motion or rest by direct observation. Finally, Einstein made his great faux pas, daringly introducing a new metaphysical assumption: absolute relativity. According to this assumption, there is absolutely no such thing as absolute motion or rest, with the result that a cosmic center cannot exist. In our day, this relativistic skepticism—and not textbook heliocentrism—is the view that prevails in the scientific world. 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.
This is a very 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 assumption of absolute relativity. This is what Einstein did in his 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 it. They include men like S. Hawking and G. Ellis, who, as we saw earlier, confessed that they cannot do cosmology without metaphysical assumptions; that their preferred acentric universe contains an “admixture of ideology;” that they have arbitrarily embraced a “democratic” view of the cosmos, rather than grant the Earth or 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 geocentricity, 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 unknown god has given us a well-attested 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?
2. The Proliferation of Geocentric Modeling
Since the idea of relativity leads inexorably to a fresh consideration of radical geocentricity (and therefore quite possibly to its own destruction), it should hardly surprise us that 20th century physics is characterized by a noteworthy proliferation of geocentric models. We 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). As we have seen, 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 motions of the heavenly bodies. Might a confident return to 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 follow in Kepler’s footsteps, trying 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 a 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, many of which do a good job of addressing both of 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 each of these models is Mach’s Principle, the idea that the universe may be a bounded sphere revolving around the Earth or a point quite near the Earth. 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 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 precisely 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 centre, 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. M. Selbrede, P. Stott, and Dr. Robert Sungenis. Most of these men have daringly devoted a significant portion of their career to rescuing modern physics and cosmology from their thralldom to relativity, 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 barycenter, or center of mass, of the universe. The moon, whose orbit wobbles slightly over the course a month, revolves around it daily. At the geometric center of the cosmos is the sun, with the planets periodically orbiting it, and the “fixed stars” centered upon it (and not upon the Earth, as in the original Tychonic cosmos). Very importantly, the sun itself, like the moon, orbits the Earth daily. Since, then, all the stars are centered on the sun, it is as if the sun carries the whole universe around the Earth. Thus, in an ultimate sense, the Earth really 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!
This model is the geometric equivalent of the traditional heliocentric view, and therefore does everything the traditional one does. In particular, it well accounts for all the observed motions of the planets (including their retrograde motions), the phases of the planets, the phases of the moon, and stellar parallax and (with help from geocentric dynamics) aberration, commonly held to be the definitive proofs of heliocentrism. But as we are about to see, it does even more, since the NTM is uniquely able to accommodate the many observational evidences favorable to radical geocentricity, and since it also involves 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 at this point, since, as we have already seen, the situation in the larger scientific community is even worse. 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 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 world of Einsteinian relativity in favor of a simple, underlying physical cause for the dynamics of celestial motion.
To get a feel for this cause, let us hear Robert Sungenis expound further on the NTM. According to Sungenis, the Earth lies at the barycenter, or the center of mass, of a rotating universe. This means that the universe is essentially an enormous gyroscope, whose immense rotating mass is so perfectly situated around the Earth that it locks it in place in the midst of all. But what exactly does Sungenis mean by “the universe” and “the mass of the universe?” In the following quote he responds, and in doing so 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 Sungenis introduces what, under God, must be considered the first cause of modern geocentric dynamics: an all-pervasive physical ether involved in all normative cosmic forces and motions (i.e., gravity, inertia, etc.). In the remarks just cited, he uses this idea to explain the four seasons. He proposes that the Earth serves as the barycenter of a vast, super-massive, spherical sea of tiny (and possibly vibrating) ether particles. Again, it is the rotating motion (and/or the gravitational “pressure”) of this ethereal ocean that holds the Earth fast at the center of all. As for the stars, galaxies, and other material (i.e., atomic) structures, these are geometrically centered on the sun (though not necessarily without their own limited motions in/through space). This means that the barycenter of the stars is (or may be) slightly shifted away from the barycenter of the ethereal universe. The result is that the universe-as-a-whole (i.e., the entire ethereal fishbowl, along with all the stars and galaxies that it carries in its bosom) “precesses” or wobbles slightly. And this in turn causes the sun, which is carried along by the universe, to describe an annual helical motion around the Earth that periodically moves up and down the Earth’s y-axis. Here, then, according to the NTM, is the reason for the seasons, and for other important astronomical phenomena as well, including stellar parallax.
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 new geocentric 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. Its enormous mass locks the Earth at the center of the universe. According to some, vortices or whirlpools of ether account for local rotational motion, say in a spiral galaxy. According to others, streams of ether flowing to us from outer space create a downward ethereal pressure that we on Earth experience as gravity. According to others still, gravity is caused by the ongoing vibration of 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 elsewhere around them. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that rotating ether—or rather interactions with it—produces all the so-called “inertial forces,” (i.e., centrifugal force, the Coriolis force, and the Euler force). Finally, as in days of old, the ether is seen as the appointed medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves and gravitational force.
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. As we saw earlier, 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 geocentricity, 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.
4. 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. Space does not 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” (i.e., arcing motion, rotation) 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).
Now 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 such conclusions, 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 revolves around it once a day. It is the second part of this presupposition that proves decisive (as well as shocking). For, as we saw earlier, many scientists, whether secular or biblical, agree with 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 motions.
If, then, the Earth really does have an equatorial bulge (for satellite photographs do not show one clearly), this could be an effect of the rotating ether, and/or distant rotating masses embedded within it (i.e., stars, galaxies). As for the flight of projectiles, the diagonal pattern of winds, and the arcing motion of the Foucault pendulum or the gyroscope, these too could be caused by forces induced by distant rotating masses, communicated to the Earth through a revolving sea of ether that also does its part in carrying the objects along.
Concerning the challenging problem of geostationary satellites, most geocentrists argue yet again that they are held aloft by cosmic centrifugal forces. Robert Bennett, on the other hand, points to peculiarities in the flow of cosmic ether near the Earth:
Ether motion around the Earth can be deduced from satellite motion, since ethereal rotational motion around an object sustains orbital motion. The translational speed of a satellite is zero at the geostationary distance of 22,000 miles above the Earth. It increases steadily to 18,000 mph at low earth orbit of 70 miles, then decreases sharply at lower altitudes with atmosphere absorption of the ether flow, so that at troposhperic altitudes it will either be moving with, or cause, the jet stream of up to 200 mph.
Here Bennett seems to envision the Earth as being embedded in concentric sheaths of ether, each rotating around the Earth at a different speed, and each therefore carrying along the satellite embedded within it at that speed. However, intriguing as this thesis is, it does not seem very explanatory. Why exactly does the stationary satellite stay aloft? Is it that the sheath of ether at an altitude of 22,000 miles is stationary? If so, one wonders why—for surely it is more reasonable to expect that the rotational speed of the sheaths of ether would increase in direct proportion to their distance from the earth. Why then do the sheaths orbit the Earth at such dramatically different speeds, and why is the fastest sheath (situated at 70 miles) sandwiched between slower sheaths? In any case, Dr. Bennett himself would be the first to admit that ether science is still very much in its infancy, with plenty of room remaining for fresh theoretical and observational discoveries.
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. They also note that everywhere we look in the solar system, the smaller body (e.g., Jupiter’s moons) revolves around the larger, as indeed Newtonian mechanics seems to require.
Concerning the first of these, we have already seen that geocentrists respond by positing a “wobble” in the rotating universe at large (or possibly in the sun alone as it revolves, with the planets, around an Earth that rocks slightly on its axis). To those saturated in heliocentrism this solution may 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” (Gen. 18:14, Mt. 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, for example, be traceable to the Fall of Adam, which, according to the apostle, sent shock waves throughout the entire universe (Rom. 8:18-21). On the other hand, it may have begun in the days of the Flood, after which, for the first time, the Bible mentions the four seasons (Gen. 8:22). In either case, the four seasons—and their astronomical cause(s)—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. (4) Thus, the thesis of a cosmic or solar wobble may not be nearly as preposterous as it first seems.
As we saw earlier, geocentrists typically explain stellar 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. Interestingly, a University of Illinois lecturer in physics, himself no geocentrist, makes this very point:
It is often said that Tycho’s model implies the absence of parallax, and that Copernicus’ (model) requires parallax. However, it would not be a major conceptual change for Tycho to have the stars orbit the sun (like the planets), which would give the same yearly shifts in their apparent positions as parallax gives. Thus, if parallax were observed, a flexible Tychonean could adjust the theory to account for it, without undue complexity. What if parallax were not observed? For Copernicus, one only requires that the stars be far enough away for the parallax to be immeasurable. Therefore, the presence or absence of parallax doesn’t force the choice of one type of model over the other. If different stars were to show different amounts of parallax, that would rule out the possibility of them all being on one sphere, but still not really decide between Tycho and Copernicus.
Again, led by Bouw, many modern geocentrists have made precisely this modification to the Tychonean theory. By centering the stars upon the sun, the geocentric and heliocentric models become fully equivalent, geometrically speaking. In this way stellar parallax actually speaks up in favor of geocentricity, rather than against it.
As for stellar aberration, we remember that it is different from stellar parallax, since the elliptical path described by the annual motion of the star as seen in our telescopes does not correspond exactly to the (alleged) elliptical path of the Earth. Bradley, as we saw earlier, therefore postulated that stellar aberration was an optical effect produced by two components: light traveling at a finite speed through the ether, and the annual motion of the Earth. However, Robert Bennett argues that there are other explanations for aberration that do not necessitate ascribing motion to the Earth:
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!
Concerning the problem of the smaller body typically orbiting the larger, two responses are customarily made.
First, it is not good logic to say that the pattern seen in the planets 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 insist that gravitational and centrifugal 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 is necessary). In other words, they argue that God has so meticulously situated the ether, stars, and galaxies in space that they hold the (presumably) more massive sun in orbit around the (presumably) less massive Earth. R. G. Elmendorf has this very thing in mind when he writes:
In the geocentric model, the function of the Earth is primarily to furnish a small gravitational stabilizing influence to the rest of the universe, not to generate the physical forces of orbital mechanics for everything else.
Now that is some kind of fine tuning—and one that justly explains how the sun can be reckoned a “planet” that actually revolves around the Earth!
Our discussion thus far has addressed the usual objections to radical geocentricity. It remains only to touch on two that are somewhat less common.
First, critics sometimes assert that geocentricity is impossible, since the enormous centrifugal forces generated at the outer edges of the universe would cause it to “fly apart.” One response 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 of the true nature of centrifugal force. If, as some geocentrists assert, 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 (revolving) 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 us, 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 (allegedly) posits that the speed of light is a cosmic absolute. As we have seen, however, there is no good reason to believe that Special Relativity is true, and many reasons to believe it is not.
More to the point, however, is the fact that even in Relativity c is constant only within a given medium, and in particular 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.
I want to close this section on geocentric modeling by stressing once again that science still does not fully 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 both counterintuitive and largely discredited by the evidence against General Relativity. 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 a kinetic 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 cause is 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 universe to revolve 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 from Observation
5. No Conclusive Evidence for Earthly Motion
Turning now to observational evidences for radical geocentricity, let us begin by affirming with Einstein’s disciple, Lincoln Barrett, that, “We cannot feel our motion through space, nor has any physical experiment ever proved that the Earth is actually in motion.” Similarly, Henri Poincare wrote, “We do not have, and cannot have, any means of discovering whether or not we are carried along in a uniform motion of translation.”
Though these statements will come as a shock to many, we have already seen why most scientists, in private at least, will admit to their truth. The reason, in a nutshell, is relativity. As Einstein, Hoyle, Hawking and the rest have publicly confessed, relativity makes it impossible to deduce the Earth’s motion from any physical experiment. For example, we have repeatedly seen that the NTM is at least as fruitful as the heliocentric; that it saves all the appearances and gives acceptable explanations for all the so-called proofs for the Earth’s rotational and translational motion. So who can say what is really moving, the Earth or the sun?
Now it is true that relativity is a two-edged sword: Just as it precludes observationally demonstrating that the Earth is in motion, so too it precludes observationally demonstrating that the Earth is at rest. This does not mean, however, that the evidence does not favor one model over the other. Indeed, a growing number of scientists, many quite reluctantly, are now prepared to admit that there is indeed a large and compelling body of observational evidence favorable both to the geocentric and geostationist views. In the space that remains, let us survey that evidence briefly.
6. Observational Evidence for Geocentrism
Observational evidence for geocentrism is so varied and so abundant that it now threatens to completely overthrow the Copernican (or Cosmological) Principle, forcing 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 scientic layman. Nevertheless, the salient points are clear enough. Citing frequently from their work, I will touch on a few of the most important here.
7. The Cosmic Microwave Background
First, we have the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, (CMB). Though views 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. Since, however, this assumption is highly counter-intuitive, and since other evidence points even more decisively to geocentricity, the geocentric interpretation of the CMB seems the 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.”
8. 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. 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!
9. 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 the 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 more unique 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)? How can they emit such stupendous energy (as indeed they must if we can still see their light from the “edge” of a universe billions of light years old)? 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.
10. 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.
11. 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 pause to Copernicans. 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, Mt. 18:16). To judge from the manifold observational evidence, the matter of cosmic geocentricity appears to be well-established indeed, presumably at the hand of the Bible’s evidence-loving and evidence-giving God!
12. 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 scientifuc evidence suggesting strongly that this is indeed the case.
First, there are the results of the numerous interferometer experiments. As we saw earlier, these all agree in showing 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 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.).
Secondly, we have 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 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!
Finally, we have the superior usefulness of a fixed-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 the Earth is not rotating and 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?
Though it may well be an emerging trend, radical geocentricity is still a radical idea. It cuts hard against the grain of prevailing scientific opinion and 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 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, (Mt. 11:25f, 1 Cor. 1:27).
In such a world, radical geocentricity may well be true. Moreover, from many quarters we have received good evidence for its truthfulness. It is the testimony of common sense (and therefore the testimony of most cosmologies). It is the testimony of the Bible. It is the testimony of sound theoretical and 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 important of all, 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 who calls us back to himself 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?
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 (Gen. 14:9, Psalm 121:2, Mt. 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 Gen. 1 serves the same function.
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.”
4. 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).
5. 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, (Mt. 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).
6. 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.