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Geocentricity and the Bible


There are those who claim that the Bible says that the sun and the rest of the universe go around a motionless Earth. Some use this claim to mock the Bible. Some Christians have embraced the idea and attacking the concept that the Earth orbits the sun as heretical. They even try to present alleged scientific evidence to back them then selves up.

Dr. Buouw's web site is one of the most prominent sites pushing this view.

This view is flawed both scientifically and Biblically.

A heliocentric system better describes the motion of the planets and does so in a manner that can be described by relatively simple mathematics.

The hold outs of geocentricism were forced to adopt a revised Tychonian model. It has all the planets; except the Earth and Moon; going around the sun. The whole package goes around the Earth as illustrated above. Such an arrangement shows a desperate effort to salvage the theory. While this model solved most of the problems about predicting planetary motion, it still has scientific problems.


Scientific Problems.

Since all motion is relative you can set any point in space as a fixed center. It can be the Sun, the Earth or any point you chose. This works find as long as you are not talking rotational motion.

Rotating reference frames have internal accelerations that are problematic if one tries to make it non rotating. For example, the acceleration involved in rotating Earth every 24 hours is extremely small compared to that needed to rotate the universe in the same amount of time. Because of these internal accelerations a rotating reference frame can be detected. There are several experiments that can be used to show that the Earth is a rotating reference frame. The simplest and most inexpensive is are pendulums and gyroscopes.

The direction of the swing of a pendulum that is free swing any direction rotates east to west. It makes a complete circle every day. This occurs because the inertia of the weight, will not allow the direction of swing to change as the Earth rotates. This will happen on any rotating surface.

Similarly, a rapidly gyroscope; that is free to rotate; will also seems rotate once a day. This too is because the gyro's inertia prevents its rotational axis from changing as the Earth rotates. This is a real problem for inertially guided rockets, since relatively small launch delays, require a realignment of the gyroscopes

Gravity will cause any object stationary relative to the Earth to fall in to it, hence preventing a geostationary satellite from staying up with a motionless Earth. Since Coriolis and centrifugal forces do not exist in a none rotating reference frame they would not keep the satellite up with a stationary Earth and satellite as Geocentrics claim.

A satellite stays up because its velocity produces sufficient centrifugal force to keep it up. The velocity of a geo-stationary satellite above a none rotating Earth would be 0, and as such it would have no velocity to keep it up. With a rotating Earth the geo-stationary satellite has sufficient velocity relative to the Earth's center of mass for a stable orbit.

Stellar aberration is a result of the Earth's motion around the sun. The image of a star is angled towards the direction of motion of the observer. It results form the relative transverse velocity the observer and the light. Experiments  and stellar observations show that it is based on the motion of the observer and not the motion of the source.
Stellar Aberration and Einstein's Relativity

All these effects are predicted by a heliocentric model, but they are problems for a geocentric model.


Modern attempts at salvaging geocentrism.

Besides the above heliocentric predictions a geocentric model needs deal with enormous amount of centrifugal force would be produced as you got further out into space.

The formula for centrifugal force is:

F = mv2/r

F = force.
m = mass.
v = velocity.
r = radius

The velocity formula at the equator would be:

v = 2 p r / t

t = time.

If r is measured in light years (LY) and v in measured by a multiple of the speed of light (c) then:

v = 365.25 (2 p r)

So force becomes:

F = (m (2 p r)2) / r t

Thus

F = 4 m (p2) r / t

The result is as one gets further out the force needed to keep even atoms going around the Earth every 24 hours, quickly becomes enormous beyond imagination. One only needs to go as far as the sun to see that there is problem.

According to the Geocentric model the sun would be going around the Earth at: 6,757 miles per second. The Earth escape velocity is only 7 miles per second, so the sun would be going 965 times Earth's escape velocity. Furthermore the sun's escape velocity is 383.6 miles per second, so the relative speed between Earth and sun would be 17.6 times faster than solar escape velocity. If they were created at their current distance of 93 million miles apart then gravity would only decrease their relative velocity to 6,745 miles per second as they separated, that means that today they would be about 217 LY. apart if they were created 6,000 years ago.

The problem gets even worst one tries to rotate the stars around the Earth every 24 hours. For example even the nearest star would be going around the Earth at: 10212.5 times the speed of light. The Andromeda Galaxy at a distance of 2 million LY would be be going around the Earth at 4,589,866,867 times the speed of light. The problem just get worst when as one gets further out in to space.

Now there are three was possible wasy of solving the problem:

  1. General Relativity allow a type of geocentricism, by considering the Earth as being at rest with all of space time rotating around it, but this is not true geocentricism since it is totally subjective and could just as well be Luna centric, Solar centric, Martian centric or any thing else. To most modern geocentrics this is not acceptable since their world view, which requires the Earth to be at absolute rest.
  2. A second approach makes centrifugal force the result of rotation relative to an aether. While this is claimed by most modern geocentrics. It renders the frame of reference of the aether as that of absolute rest and not the Earth's frame of reference. Thus despite the claims of modern geocentrics, it fails as a truly geocentric model.
  3. The final approach while truly geocentric is also unworkable. It requires the aether to able to keep the universe together but an aether capable of doing the job would prevent all other motion as well.

Does the Bible say that the Earth is motionless?

The following verses are often use by Geocentrics to claim that the Earth does not move.

1 Chronicles 16:30. Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

Psalm 93:1. The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.

Psalm 96:10. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously...."

The word "world:" in these verses is translated from the Hebrew word "tebel" [ Strong's Ref. # 08398 ] and it means "the fertile and inhabited Earth." It is likely referring to only dry land and not the Planet Earth. This is supported by the use of the same Hebrew word in geologic contexts that can only be a reference to dry land.

1 Samuel 2:8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them.

Some times stalactites and stalagmites meet forming what is are actually called columns or pillars. These are most likely "the pillars of the earth" in 1 Samuel 2:8. The verse says that God set the world on these pillars, this shows the it must refer to dry land and not the entire planet Earth.

2 Samuel 22:16. And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, At the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

Now,the planet Earth dose not have foundations but the continents sit on a granite crust, that go deep into the Earth and as such are quite literally their foundations, so the word "world" here clearly refers to the continents and not the planet.

In each of these cases the word "moved" is translated from the Hebrew word "mote". [ Strong's Ref. # 4131 ] According to Strong it means: "to waver; to slip, shake, or fall." So the word has noting to do with being absolute motionless, but a steadiness in motion and permanence. This is because saying that something does not "to waver; to slip, shake, or fall" does  not eliminate other forms of motion. Furthermore the word "mote" is used in a geologic context.

Psalms 125:1. They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Here the Hebrew word "mote" is translated "removed". Now this is a geologic context and it clearly is not intended to say that Mt Zion never moves from geographic activity. Mt Zion has experienced Earth quakes. One of which is recorded in Matthew 27:51. So Mt Zion has moved in the sense of earth quakes, thus the word "mote" is not intended to speak of absolute motionlessness.

Psalm 104:5. Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Isaiah 13:13.  Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

The geocentric position centers on verses that are interpreted as saying that the Earth doesn't move. Most of discussion here center around the word "moved" but the word "earth" is assumed to mean the planet as a whole. However while the Hebrew word "eh'-rets" can mean the planet Earth, it can also refer only to the dry land on the planet Earth.

In fact, it is used both ways in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:1-2.
1.  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:10.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

If the verses that are interpreted as saying that the Earth doesn't move, are referring to dry land and not the planet, then their scientific meaning goes from astronomy to geology. Based on this interpretation the references to the foundations of the earth are a perfect description of the granite continental crust on which most of the dry land sits and as shown above these references can not be a barrier to motion from geologic activity since so in these verse the word Earth, refers to the continents not the Planet.


The Bible and sun movement

The main argument use by geocentrics to claim that the Bible teaches geocentricism is that the Bible refers to the motion of the sun and not the Earth. They insist that the Bible must be talking about absolute motion, rather than observed or relative motion. However the claim that the Bible must be referring to absolute motion can easily be falsified by actually studying the verses in question.

There are a total of 50 references to sun motion in the Bible, 46 of which are references to sunrise and sun set.

Ecclesiastes 1, 5: "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose."

This verse is an excellent example of the sun's motion as observed from the surface of the Earth and it is literally true from the observational perspective of the human author Solomon.

However this verse can only refer to absolute motion on a flat Earth. Geocentrics still claim that this supports their view since the Bible is still saying that the sun is doing the moving, it doesn't seem to bother them that the described motion is 100% observation and from the perspective of an Earth bound observer, since when one person sees a sun rises, some one else sees a sun set.

As shown above in both a Geocentric and Heliocentric model the sun / Earth distance is roughly constant during a day, as such, the terms rising and setting can not refer to absolute motion.

In fact the same effect has been observed by probes on Mars and NASA uses the term sunrise and sun set. If I stand in a room and spin, the room's observed motion is around me, even though I am the one spinning. The same goes for sunrise and sun set. It is scientifically accurate to say from the perspective of a person standing on the Earth "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." It would be equally accurate on Mars. This can be shown to be the case by the 2 Viking launders and Pathfinder. Below are several pictures of sunrise and sunset on Mars from Pathfinder.


Catalog Page for PIA01547


  Catalog Page for PIA00917


  Catalog Page for PIA00920

The point is that such verses in the Bible are referring to the obseerved motion of the sun and not its absolute motion and it does so literally and with scientific accuracy.

As stated above 46 of 50 Biblical references to sun motion are references to sunrise and sun set and these can only be observational descriptions, that means that 92% of such references must be observational descriptions. That leaves just 4 verses to deal with, and they are:

Joshua 10: 12. Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
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.

This verse is part of the historic narrative of the conquest of the land of Canaan, and there is no reason to take this as referring to absolute motion. What Joshua wanted was extended daylight so that he could win a battle, to get it he asked God to stop the sun and Moon. He was not concerned with the sun and Moon's absolute motion, but he wanted the sun to stay put in the sky, so that he would have enough day light to win the battle, and so he asked God to stop sun's and Moon's motion through the sky. In verse 12 Joshua asked God to do this based on what he would observe, and in verse 13, it describes God's answer also from Joshua's perspective. If God has switched frames of reference here the narrative would be needlessly difficult to understand. This view is supported by the fact that the second part refers to sun set, and such a reference can only be an observational description, so it logical to conclude that the entire verse is observational.

Thus this verses are shown not to be geocentric, and that leaves only three verses to deal with.

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

This verse sipmly referes to the events of Joshua 10:12,13 and maintains the same observational language an so there no reason to consider this verse as refering to absolute motion.

Thus this verse is shown not to be geocentric, and that leaves only thwo verses to deal with.

Isaiah 38:8.  Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

This verse is a good scientifically described observation. It says that it went back 10 degrees and that it says that it did so relative to a specific observational device called a sun dial. Also the verse gives specific measurements; (10 degrees ), that combined with the reference to the observational device, shows that this is clearly an observational description.

Thus this verse is shown not to be geocentric, and that leaves only one verse to deal with.

Psalm 19:4-6 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."

Geocentrics love to point out that is no place in the Bible that says the Earth orbits the sun or rotates, while this is true there is also no place in the Bible that says the sun orbits the Earth. The claim Psalm 19:4-6 says the sun orbits the Earth, but the claim does not stand up to objective scrutiny.

While this passage is little more difficult to interpret because of the clearly poetic and symbolic language, bit once again it is simply a description of the suns motion across the sky as seen by an observer on Earth. The first clue is the fact that there is no mention of the Earth, if God had intended to say the sun goes around the Earth, he could have simply said, his circuit is around the Earth or something similar but He does not. Verse 6 is describing the observed motion of the sun across the sky, and the use of the word circuit suggests the daily repeating this observed motion.

Thus these verses are shown not to be geocentric, and that leaves geocentrics with nothing. To see these verses as geocentric requires assuming that the Bible would only use absolute motion never use totally human observational descriptions. While the Bible is was written by God, He use human writer, writing to human readers, so it makes since that God would use our perspective in referring to the relative motion of the Earth and sun.

Geocentrics seem not understand the concept of relative motion. They think that relative motion is a case of being the observation being true from one view point and false from another but this is not the case. Relative motion involves describing something that is absolutely true from different perspectives. One time while flying I saw another plane go by my widow at about 1200 mph. Now it was absolutely true that the relative speed of the two planes was about 1200 mph, but while I saw that absolute truth as the other plane go by at about 1200 mph, a passenger in the other pane would have see my plane go by at about 1200 mph and an observer right below us would have seen both planes going opposite direction at about 600 mph each. Now all three of us would see the relative speed as about 1200 mph, that speed was an absolute truth, but we each saw it from a different perspective.

Applying this to the problem at hand, the absolute truth is that the sun and the Earth move relative to each other, but there are different ways of describing that relative motion and the Bible describes it from an Earth bound perspective.


The Michelson-Morley Experiment

Geocentrics also like to point to Michelson-Morley Experiment as evidence that the Earth is motionless. The idea of this experiment was to detect the Earth motion through aeither. It failed to detect such motion, so geocentrics claim that it proves the Earth is motionless. All it really did was show that their theory of light propagation was wrong.


Sagnac effect


 

The Sagnac effect is used by geocentrics on other opponents of Special relativity claiming that it is inconsistent with Relativity theory. This experiment use a rotating platform and it shows that rotational motion can be detected. The flaw in this argument is that Special relativity deals only with inertial frames of reference, but a rotating frame of reference is an accelerating frame of reference not an inertial. Accelerating frames of reference, including rotating frames of reference fall under General relativity, and the Sagnac effect is consistent with General relativity.

Ironically, a large version of the Sagnac interferometer known as the Michelson-Gale experiment actually did detect the the Earth's rotation, so geocentrics have yet another Heliocentric prediction to explain away.


The Firmament

Genesis 1:6-8
6.  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
 7.  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
 8.  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The word "firmament" is translated from the Hebrew word "raw-kee'-ah." [ Strong's Ref. # 7549 ]

raw-kee'-ah: from HSN7554; properly, an expanse, i.e. the firmament or (apparently) visible arch of the sky:

expanse: A wide and open extent, as of surface, land, or sky.
Dictionary.com/expanse

Given the fact that outer space is the greatest wide and open extent in existence, raw-kee'-ah is simply the Hebrew word space. Genesis 2:6-8 simply means that God created a space between the water below the space and above the space. The water above the firmament is probably a shell of water forming a boundary layer at the edge of the universe..

"raw-kee'-ah" is derived from the word raw-kah'. [ Strong's Number: 7554 ]

raw-kah':  a primitive root; to pound the earth (as a sign of passion); by analogy to expand (by hammering); by implication, to overlay (with thin sheets of metal): --beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch.

The implication of these two Hebrew words is that space something that can be expanded, spread out, or stretched. This exactly the way General Relativity describes space.


 

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Other references.

Galileo, Geocentrism, and Joshua’s Long Day Q&A

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