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Gerardus D. Bouw, Ph.D.

To hear tell, geocentrism, the ancient doctrine that the earth is fixed motionless at the center of the universe, died over four centuries ago. At that time Nicolaus Copernicus (picture below), a Polish canon who dabbled in astrology, claimed that the sun and not the earth was at the center of the universe. His idea is known as heliocentrism. It took a hundred years for heliocentrism to become the dominant opinion, and it did so with a complete lack of evidence in its favor.

Copernicus Yet the victory of heliocentrism has been less than total. Over the years geocentrism has had its spokesmen. Among scientists who adhered to the centrality of the earth were three generations of Cassinis: a family of astronomers who dominated French astronomy from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Astronomers, pastors, and educators in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church maintained the geocentric truths well into the twentieth century. They, with the reformers such as Luther, saw that the embracing of heliocentrism would weaken not only science, but also the authority of the Bible.

The second of these two concerns: how the Bible's authority is weakened by heliocentrism; stems from the firm manner in which the Bible teaches geocentricity. Geocentric verses range from those with only a positional import, such as references to "up" and "down;" through the question of just what the earth was "orbiting" the first three days while it awaited the creation of the sun; to overt references such as Ecclesiastes 1, verse 5:

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

Perhaps the strongest geocentric verse in the Bible is Joshua 10:13:

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Here the Moderator of Scripture, the Holy Ghost Himself, endorses the daily movement of the sun and moon. After all, God could just as well have written: "And the earth stopped turning, so that the sun appeared to stand still, and the moon seemed to stay ... ." That wording would be no more "confusing" to the reader than anything in Job chapters 38 through 41. There are those who would claim that the language used is phenomenological, that it was not meant to convey the truth of the matter. They like to equate Joshua 10:13 with verses like Isaiah 55:12 where the trees are said to "clap their hands." The problem with that is that everyone since Adam can understand that Isaiah 55:12 is a literary device; but there is not a clue to tell those before Copernicus that Joshua 10:13 is not to be taken literally.

About the immobility of the earth the Bible seems clear enough. The nineteenth-century logician and mathematician Augustus de Morgan, whithout whose theorem (de Morgan's Theorem) there would be no digital computers, put it quite succinctly when he wrote that those who try to get around the Bible's wording:
... make strange reasons. They undertake a priori, to settle Divine intentions. The Holy Spirit did not mean to teach natural philosophy: this they know beforehand; or else they infer it from finding that the earth does move, and the Bible says it does not. Of course, ignorance apart, every word is truth, or the writer did not mean truth. But this puts the whole book on its trial: for we never can find out what the writer meant, unless we otherwise find out what is true. Those who like may, of course, declare for an inspiration over which they are to be viceroys; but common sense will either accept the verbal meaning or deny verbal inspiration. [De Morgan, A. 1872. A Budget of Paradoxes, second edition; edited by D. E. Smith, 1915, (Chicago & London: The Open Court Publishing Co.), Vol. 1, p. 36. (Emphasis added.)]
In other words, either God writes what he means and means what he writes, or else he passes off mere appearances as truths and ends up the liar. The ultimate issue is one of final authority: is the final say God's or man's? This is brought home again and again by humanists, such as the twentieth-century philosopher Bertrand Russell and astronomer Ivan King, who point to the church's abandonment of geocentricity as having "freed" man from the ancient God-centered outlook on life to the modern man-centered outlook. For complete documentation of the Biblical significance of geocentricity see G. D. Bouw's book, Geocentricity

The Copernican Revolution, as this change of view is called, was not just a revolution in astronomy, but it also spread into politics and theology. In particular, it set the stage for the development of Bible criticism. After all, if God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the "rising of the sun," then how can He be taken literally in writing of the "rising of the Son?"

The other of the two concerns over heliocentrism, as expressed by the reformers, is that the earth-centered view is better science than is heliocentrism. Although hints of that have sporadically surfaced in physics over the last 150 years, only in the 1980s has this claim become substantial through a new discipline called geocentricity. Whereas geocentrism was a concept which divided the universe into independent parts, geocentricity is an integrative approach, starting from the very smallest parts and integrating them into a unified view of the universe. For being only eleven years old, geocentricity has been surprisingly successful, solving several severe problems in cosmology such as providing a single-universe solution to the parallel universes problem.

Mach To illustrate the difference in approach between geocentricity and heliocentrism, consider the derivation of the equations which technicians use to orbit space ships. Now some will insist that since satellites are sent up using heliocentrically-derived equations, that the space program is proof of heliocentrism. This erroneously assumes that the geocentrically-derived equations would be different from the heliocentric ones. That such is not the case has repeatedly been shown in scientific papers since the turn of the twentieth century.References Back in the nineteenth century, Ernst Mach (photo at left) showed that if there were an essential difference between geocentricity and heliocentrism, that then all the rules of geometry would be violated. Ever since then, geocentricity has been referred to by physicists as Mach's Principle.

These papers show that the geocentric model is entirely compatible with phenomena such as the stationary satellite, the Foucault pendulum, the equatorial bulge, and how the distant stars can be "moving" faster than the speed of light; The speed of light is only a speed limit for bodies moving through the stellar universe, not for rotation. [Also see Barnes, T. G., 1983. Physics of the Future, (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research), p. 127.] in short, they answer every argument based on the Coriolis and centrifugal effects. The main difference is that geocentric models must always take the existence of the universe into account whereas heliocentric models always ignore it. Other than that, the differences between heliocentrism and geocentricity are philosophical and theological. [See, for example, Sir Fred Hoyle, 1975. Astronomy and Cosmology: A Modern Course, (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Co.), p. 416, where he writes: "We know that the difference between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is one of relative motion only, and that such a difference has no physical significance. Emphasis added.]

To further illustrate the difference the geocentric theory can make in viewing the universe, consider the two rivals' views on what space looks like on very, very small scales. At a scale much smaller than nuclear particles, modern science describes space as "foamy." The size of these foamy bubbles or "grains" of space is very small, amounting to only about 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,002 centimeter (written as 2x10-33 cm.) Each grain has a mass of about 0.00002 gram. According to the heliocentrically-based view, the grains spontaneously appears out of nothing, exist for a brief instant (5x10-44 second), and then vanishes into the nothingness from which it came. Strictly speaking, this violates the first law of thermodynamics which claims that energy can neither be created or destroyed by any natural process. [See Introduction to the Firmament.]

The geocentric theory explains the grains of space without violating any of the laws of thermodynamics. It takes the grains at face value, presuming them to be real. The medium of the grains is tremendously dense (4x1093 gm/cm3): so dense that one would have to pack 1039 universes into a cube one centimeter on a side in order to match their density. Geocentric theory has identified the grains as making up the firmament of Genesis chapter 1. It is common among Creationists to assume that the firmament was a canopy of water in one form or another; but whether there ever was a canopy before the flood, it cannot be equated with the firmament simply because Genesis 1:17 tells us that God set the stars in the firmament, not above it as would have to be the case if the canopy was meant. Since God called the firmament "Heaven" (Genesis 1:8) it must follow that the firmament is at least the size of the universe.

The firmament goes a long way towards explaining some of the mysteries of modern science. It readily explains why more massive nuclear particles are smaller than less massive ones. In the every-day realm it explains why, in general, mass depends on volume. It explains why very large objects, such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies seem to be as much as 500 times more massive than is indicated by the amount of light they generate. This phenomenon is now called "dark matter."

In addition, the firmamental model readily accounts for such experimental results as the Sagnac effect, the Faraday disk-generator paradox, earth's night-time electric field, and ball lightning. All of these point to geocentricity as serious science.

Despite the testimony of all the equations, and despite the published testimonies of top scientists to the viability of geocentricity as a model of the universe, and despite the inability of experiments to establish its truth or falsity; some will still scoff at geocentricity. How can one ever determine which is the truth? Only by going outside the universe and taking a look around can one ascertain the truth of the matter. Without that ability to "look around outside," physics cannot resolve the debate. However, since God does know what is beyond the universe, should His word not be taken as the final authority? It is the testimony of God as found in the Bible which constitutes the foundation of modern geocentricity. May it ever be so.

For further information or for a sample copy to the Biblical Astronomer, the interested reader can request it via email from gbouw@bw.edu or write to:

The Biblical Astronomer
4527 Wetzel Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44109

Last modified on 7 May, 2001 by GDB