Bible does not teach Geocentrism!

I have a class which is taught by a Catholic professor, and He gave us a whole lesson on the Galileo controversy, and why it proved that the Bible is “wrong”.

Since then I have heard many other prominent Theologians, including one baptist minister who claims, “since the Bible is wrong on Geocentrism, it must be wrong on many things, such as homosexuality”.

The Bible does not teach Geocentrism. It stands aloof of the issue. The Three texts which are often quoted to establish the idea that the Bible espouses Geocentrism are 1) Joshua ch. 10 where the sun stands still, 2) Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5.

As for Joshua, back in the 15th century BC when the Israelites were in the wilderness, no man knew the true structure of the universe. God did, since He created it (see Jer. 31:35-36). What? Was God gonna say to Joshua, “Okay, I will not answer your prayer (Josh. 10:12) until you ask correctly without implying your ignorance of the structure of the solar system”?

As for Psalm 104:5, Which says that God has established the earth, not to be moved for ever. Those who revel in the Galileo controversy as proof the bible is wrong say, “the Bible says here the earth does not move”. But it is clear that the passage is talking about the earth as a solid structure, or mass, no matter where it is in the universe. Mt Everest is still moving north toward Asia, yet no one frowns on the use of expressions such as “solid as a mountain”.

Ecclesiastes 1:5: “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to its place where it arose”.

I challenge every one of you who are college students. Go to the astronomy department, ask as many PhD’s as you can if they saw the beautiful sunrise that morning. If any of them tell you, “no, I saw no sunrise, but I saw the earth rotate as the sun can into view” ill eat my words. My point, God spoke human language without making dogmatic statments regarding the structure of the universe.

Hope this blesses you,

Alan H.

Awesome post! :thumbsup:

Glory to God,


Actually, the authors of the bilbical texts probably were geocentric, as was virtually everybody, even educated people, prior to Copernicus. That is really not the point. The Bible is not about science. We also know, for instance, that you cannot repopulate the earth with only a single pair of animals from each species, and that languages did not arise from a scattering of tongues because someone wanted to build a tower reaching to heaven.

The Bible’s messages are moral and spiritual. To some extent, which remains difficult to determine with any exactitude though we can often take a pretty good educated guess, they are historical. But it has been a long time since most mainstream Christians, including Catholics, thought that the Bible was science. It cannot be what it was never meant to be in the first place.

I recently contacted the moderators regarding the fact that these forums are being used as a geocentrist message board. Up until a year ago I did not even know that any Catholic in his right mind held such a position (I still wonder if they are in their right mind). I was informed that as long as it was a subject of interest to Catholics and didn’t (as does, say, sede-vacantism) habitually start flame wars, it was ok. So I guess it’s my temporary vocation to address it whenever it comes up here, not because I am going to change the minds of a few people with an extremely eccentric notion, but because impressionable people, especially young ones, may come here and be given the impression that geocentrism is on some sort of level playing field with rational theories of cosmology.


You have hit the nail on the head; we use common expressions that we realize are not completely accurate but which serve our purposes just fine.

If I may quibble about your challenge, though, you will likely be hard-pressed to find an astronomy PhD who was up and outside early enough to watch the sunrise. :stuck_out_tongue: But your point is completely valid.

  • Liberian

serv << The Bible does not teach Geocentrism. It stands aloof of the issue. The Three texts which are often quoted to establish the idea that the Bible espouses Geocentrism are 1) Joshua ch. 10 where the sun stands still, 2) Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5. >>

I disagree, not only is the Bible geocentric, the Bible has a flat earth. How do you explain the flat earth of the Bible? Really I don’t see this as a problem, since God obviously did not communicate 21st century physics and astronomy to the biblical authors, nor even 17th century physics and astronomy. Benedictine priest and physicist, Fr. Stanley Jaki:

“If asked about his physical surroundings or about the physical world at large, the typical Israelite would have given a reply very irritating to the modern mind. It is irritating to say the least to hear that the earth is a flat disk, the sky an inverted hard bowl, and that the two form a vast tent-like structure. Of course, other inhabitants of the ancient Near-East would have given similar answers…To be sure, much the same would have been done by a typical ancient Egyptian and Babylonian…The hardness of the sky, but especially the immobility of the earth, had to appear all the more a divinely ordained physical fact as, according to the Bible, a mere man, Joshua, could be authorized by God to stop the sun and the moon in their tracks and, apparently, for a whole day…Obviously, to modern eyes dazzled by space rockets cruising along ‘world lines’ set by Einstein’s four-dimensional cosmology nothing could seem more jarring than the Bible’s physical world, which is little more than a glorified tent. To that tent the Bible assigns the sky as its cover and the earth as its floor, though hardly in a consistent way. In Genesis 1 the sky is a firmament, that is, a hard metal bowl, whereas in Psalm 104 and Isaiah 45:24 it is more like a canvas that can be stretched out…Herein lies one of the non-trivially unscientific aspects of the world as described in the Bible…Well before the advent of modern science, and indeed of heliocentrism, the contrast between that biblical world-tent and the world of Aristotelian-Ptolemaic geocentrism had to appear enormous.” (Stanley Jaki, Bible and Science, pages 19-25)

From my article based on Schadewald’s The Evolution of “Bible-Science”

This does not mean the Bible positively “teaches” these things as truth, but that was the “universe” the primitive people understood at the time. Does God know the true nature of the universe? Of course, but he did not communicate that to the writers of the Bible. The Bible has an “ancient science” and does not teach how the heavens go, but how to go to heaven. That’s my position, and you’ll find its the position of the modern Popes:

“Cosmogony and cosmology have always aroused great interest among peoples and religions. The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The Sacred Book likewise wishes to tell men that the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven.” (Pope John Paul II, 10/3/1981 to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, “Cosmology and Fundamental Physics”)

Phil P

Jbuck << I recently contacted the moderators regarding the fact that these forums are being used as a geocentrist message board. Up until a year ago I did not even know that any Catholic in his right mind held such a position >>

Nah its just one guy (truth seek, Mark W), I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Alec (Hecd on here, Ph.D. in physics) disposes of that science whenever it crops up and he notices it.

But you’ll find some support for Bob Sungenis on here because of his past books which I still think are great (Not By Scripture Alone, Not By Faith Alone, Not By Bread Alone).

Phil P

Not aware of Geocentrism as a word, it’s not on, anyone can explain to me what this is please?

It means the universe is “earth-centered” – the earth is the “center” of God’s universe, both physically and theologically. Also means the earth does not rotate or move.

Geocentric model also Modern Geocentrism

Phil P

1. The Bible is not an authority on cosmology - the authors were not concerned with the sciences (which did not even exist) but with the “mighty acts of God”

  1. Therefore, their utterances are neither right nor wrong in modern terms, but merely irrelevant; they are have as much value for matters they do not taken into consideration, as the cosmologies of writers of fantasy or SF; for they are not concerned to tell us about real cosmology either.

  2. To make up a collision between science & the Bible serves neither, & degrades both - the Bible is authoritative on some things, the sciences on others; it is for the sciences to tell us about cosmology, & the Bible to tell us the significance of these facts (or of some of them, now & again)

  3. The Bible does not tell us of “the constitution of the natural world” (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, 1893), but describes it “popularly” - the populus in the OT being that of the Ancient Near Eastern peoples, which had some shared ideas about what we call, but they did not & would not have called, the “natural world”.

  4. As there was no “natural world”, but only a world made & sustained by god/s, the very notion of scientific accuracy in the OT is meaningless. The world can be coherent *& *theistic - but it can’t be scientific too, because theism & science are incompatible approaches to the same things. That is, a believer with a degree in physics can’t invoke God as an explanation of his data: he can’t say, “Thunder is the Voice of the LORD” in a paper for a physics journal, as this would be an inappropriate method of explaining the data; faith is related to physics if one has a faith - but not in that way.

So: either thunder is caused by the voice of Ba’al, or by the cherubim-Throne of Jehovah, or by natural processes which do not require “explanation by god/s” - all are possible explanations, depending on one’s beliefs; no two are compatible. The Bible in interested in God, not in scientific accounts of brontology (if there is such a word :)) - so the Psalms & other books speak of His cherubim-Throne or His voice - not of the physics or chemistry of meteorological phenomena; that is for the weather-man to tell us about: we don’t need a god for that, whether Ba’al, Jehovah, or any others. We do need the Living God to reveal His ways to us - no scientist can tell us of them. And that, is what the Bible does. ##

Absolutely wonderful post!

I am now so tempted to always talk about sunrises/sunsets this way to my family and friends! I would be the greatest nerd ever!

It also has:

*]“everlasting mountains”
*]a sea-serpent (Isa.27.1)
*]a mountain called North where the gods assemble (Isa.14)
*]a world of the dead beneath the earth
*]…inhabited by divine beings (1 Sam. 28)
*]four corners
*]ends[/LIST]- etc. :slight_smile: Quite why we should have to believe in ancient Near Eastern cosmology is anyone’s guess: it has no more relevance for the meaning of the Bible or for the sciences than the (equally mythological) cosmology in so many ANE texts outside the OT. The OT cosmology has as much validity as that of myths ouyside the OT - both are mythological, & to insist on the scientific validity of either would be equally undiscerning.

People don’t insist on the eternal validity of the cosmology of the Epic of Gilgamesh, with its enchanted garden, sea of death, & Cedar Forest guarded by a divine being - so why do they insist on that of the OT, which is equally removed from geographical
actuality (& is none the worse for that) ?

Besides, what other cosmology could have been used ? The OT would have been monstrous & incomprehensible if it had been scientifically accurate - & not just to men 3000 years ago, but to us now too, because there is plenty we don’t know either. What possible use could it have been to talk about parsecs, light years or radio astronomy, when people knew nothing of any of them ? People who want the Bible to be scientifically infallible only succeed in making it absolutely incomprehensible & utterly useless to all generations to come except whichever one will be best informed in all scientific wisdom :frowning: - & that is clean contrary to the economy of the Incarnation. ##

Gottle << Besides, what other cosmology could have been used ? The OT would have been monstrous & incomprehensible if it had been scientifically accurate - & not just to men 3000 years ago, but to us now too, because there is plenty we don’t know either. >>

The OT would read like a Starfleet Technical Manual and that would be cool. Hey why do you change the font and color of your posts like that? :eek: :smiley:

Phil P

For the sake of clarity :smiley:

I very nearly included a(nother) reference to my favourite work of (supposed ?) fiction :slight_smile: - it includes many OT cosmological entities (though Middle Earth is not mentioned in the OT - well, not so far; doubtless somebody will discover it: probably in Isaiah or Job or Psalms :wink: ).

I think the Bible gains immeasurably from having so much fantasy, mythology & fiction in it - stories are far more memorable than lists of precepts. And IMO, far more fully human, more “involving”. ##

I don’t think it is so much fantasy, mythology, or fiction…rather…it was the language of the day…image 1000 years from now, if someone came across this: Today was aweful…It was raining cats and dogs all day. When I went to give my speech later that evening at the kindergarten, I was surprised at the audience. Why, there were 10, 000 people there, I could not believe it. All of these wankers here to hear me. come on, ME? I was a mere louse. But, the crowd was thirsting for blood and would not relent. They wanted what I had to offer…

A literal interpretation is essential…a literalist interpretation is deadly…

Fun illusion: Lay on the ground, watch the clouds roll by but pretend that the clouds are stationary. If you do it right you can feel yourself (and the earth) spinning through space.

Fun idea.

That’s what happens when you get caught up in protestant style Scriptural literalism. Us Catholic geocentrists go with what the Church has definitiviely taught about the Scriptures.

Mark Wyatt

Now you see how this deception has been used to undermine the Church. Clearly we Catholics need to stand up for what teh Church has taught, even against the opinion of the world.

Nice, but wrong. No one claims that argument.

As I understand it, the narrator (he who answers Joshua) states that the sun has stopped, and so has the moon. He who answers is God.

The fathers agreed on this. Going against the fathers is very difficult, and the Church has not done so (and stated it should not be done).

Everyone but the fathers and every theologian prior to Galileo’s time.

Neutral. Neither hurts nor helps the case. It is figurative language in either geocentrism or heliocentrism. Find a single phrase in the Bible that supports heliocentrism. You will not.

Silly, but kinda cute.

Mark Wyatt

It is interesting to note that every single verse in Scripture can be easily interpreted to be accepted as neutral to heliocentrism or geocentrism. Might suggest something.

That the Church Fathers support something suggests we should pay attention to it, but not simply accept it. If it is supported again by the Church in a council, then it should be accepted (or, as Catholics would assert, in the magisterium). Either way, nothing has been asserted in this manner by the Catholic Church. Quite the opposite, to the point where the Catholic Church has denied its ability to declare truth in scientific matters (“we will all be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science.”, a statement from Pope John Paul II establishes this separation). This would naturally apply to their ability to interpret Scripture, such that the Church cannot use Scripture to make definitive statements on Scientific Truths.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit