Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Geocentrism - It makes the World go round!

The Ptolemaic model of the solar system held sway into the early modern age; from the late 16th century onward it was gradually replaced as the consensus description by the heliocentric model. Geocentrism as a separate religious belief, however, never completely died out. In the United States between 1870 and 1920, for example, various members of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod published articles disparaging Copernican astronomy, and geocentrism was widely taught within the synod during that period.[citation needed] However, in the 1902 Concordia Theological Quarterly, Prof. A. L. Graebner claimed that the synod had no doctrinal position on geocentrism, heliocentrism, or any scientific model, unless it were to contradict Scripture. He stated that any possible declarations of geocentrists within the synod did not set the position of the church body as a whole.

The most recent resurgence of geocentrism began in North America in 1967, when Dutch-Canadian schoolmaster Walter van der Kamp (1913–1998) circulated a geocentric paper entitled “The Heart of the Matter” to about 50 Christian individuals and institutions. From these seeds grew the Tychonian Society and its journal, Bulletin of the Tychonian Society.

In 1984 Van der Kamp retired as leader of the Tychonian Society and Gerardus Bouw, an amateur cosmologist with a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Case Western Reserve University and a B.S. in astrophysics from the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) succeeded him. In 1991 Bouw reorganized the Tychonian Society as the "Association for Biblical Astronomy" and changed the name of the Bulletin to The Biblical Astronomer.

Previous works include Bouw's earlier With Every Wind of Doctrine (1984), Walter van der Kamp's De Labor Solis (1989), and Marshall Hall's The Earth is Not Moving (1991). Other modern geocentrists include Malcolm Bowden, James Hanson, Paul Ellwanger, R. G. Elmendorf, Paula Haigh, and Robert Sungenis (president of Bellarmine Theological Forum, author of the 2006 book Galileo Was Wrong).

Modern geocentrists subscribe to the view that a literal reading of the Bible contains an accurate account of the manner in which the universe was created and requires a geocentric worldview. For this reason, modern geocentrists are also creationists, many of whom actively promote creationism in the creation-evolution controversy, and a few, such as Hall even argue against modern views of celestial mechanics, although most, particularly Bouw and Sungenis, use General Relativity against the modern view. However, many creationists hold that while the Bible makes explicit historical claims regarding the origin of the Earth and life in the creation account in Genesis, it does not explicitly endorse geocentrism. The most popular creationist societies (specifically Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International and the Institute for Creation Research) explicitly reject the absolute geocentric perspective, and creationist journals such as TJ (now Journal of Creation) have rejected modern geocentric articles in favor of geokineticism (moving Earth). Geocentrists regard such groups as compromisers.

Modern geocentrists believe that they are the true standard-bearers for an appropriate integration of science and religion. In particular, Gerardus Bouw has claimed "Invariably, those [creationists] who do take more than a cursory look [at geocentricity] become geocentrists". Many modern creationists disagree, including Ph.D. astronomers such as Danny Faulkner.

Morris Berman quotes survey results that show currently some 20% of the USA population believe that the sun goes around the Earth (geocentricism) rather than the Earth goes around the sun (heliocentricism), while a further 9% claimed not to know.

Biblical references
Modern geocentrists point to some passages in the Bible, which, when taken literally, indicate that the daily apparent motions of the Sun and the Moon are due to their actual motions around the Earth rather than due to the rotation of the Earth about its axis. One is Ecclesiastes 1:5:
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
Another is in Joshua 10:12–13, where the Sun and Moon are said to stop in the sky:
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. 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.

At this point, the Wycliffe Bible Commentary says:
"The usual interpretation of the miracle described herein is that God prolonged the daylight about a whole day (v. 13) to enable the Israelites to complete their pursuit of the enemy. However, if the sunlight was extended for ten, twelve, or more hours, so that the entire ancient Near East could have observed the phenomenon – a more spectacular miracle than the crossings of the Red Sea and the Jordan River – then it seems strange that only one other reference to the event (Hab. 3:11) is to be found in the OT ... What Joshua deemed necessary for his pursuing troops, already tired from their all-night climb, was relief from the merciless sun in the cloudless summer sky ... The true explanation of this miracle, told in ancient, Oriental poetic style, tends to confirm the idea that Joshua was looking for relief from the sun. The word dom, translated stand thou still (v. 12b), means basically 'be dumb, silent, or still'; and then 'rest' or 'cease' from usual activity ... Robert Dick Wilson demonstrated that the root dm in Babylonian cuneiform astronomical texts meant 'to be darkened.' Thus the sun is spoken of as 'dumb' when not shining ... Joshua 10:12–14 may then be translated: 'Now Joshua spoke to Jehovah, in the day that Jehovah gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel; and he said before the eyes of Israel, "O sun, be dumb at Gibeon, and thou moon, in the Valley of Ajalon." And the sun was dumb and the moon ceased (shining), until the nation took vengeance on its enemies – Is it not written in the Book of Jashar – For the sun ceased (shining) in the midst of the sky, and (i.e., although) it did not hasten to set about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened to the voice of a man; for Jehovah was fighting for Israel.'"

One may also note that miraculous contexts, such as this one and Hezekiah's miracle (II Kings 20:10–11, Isaiah 38:8), overrode one or more of the laws of physics and so would have nothing to say about geocentrism, whose description supposedly relies on no overriding of the laws of physics.
Psalm 104:5 (according to King James Version numbering):
[God] (w)ho laid the foundations of the Earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
A suggestion that the Earth is stationary (relative to Heaven) is Isaiah 66:1:
 Thus saith the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool.

And another in I Chronicles 16:30
 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
Creationists ascribing to an inerrant, literal reading of the Bible such as those at Institute for Creation Research would argue that interpreting the descriptions of heavenly/spacial events as phenomenological rather than strictly scientific or literal is important and so assert that it is necessary to interpret the seemingly geocentric passages of the Bible as phenomenological because it is easily demonstrable that the Bible describes other heavenly events in similar language (the moon's light, stars falling from heaven, etc.).

They also argue that the Bible does not mix the phenomenological hermeneutic (or, interpreting the passage as being merely a description of the observer's point of reference) with the literal hermeneutic (or, interpreting the passage as what the observer saw, but also what literally happened). However, their critics would respond that Isaiah 13:10 does mix these two hermeneutics.

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Critics argue that this passage includes literal descriptions (the sun going forth) as well as phenomenological descriptions (sun and stars darkened, moon actually shining light).
Those who allow for phenomenological descriptions can say that Amos 8:9 (“I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day”) simply means that the day will be dark at noon. Yet the geocentrist must hold that the sun literally doubles its orbit around the earth during the Tribulation period. However, even this would not solve it, because it says that the entire earth is dark. (See Amos 5:20—“Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?”)

Joel 2:2—“…a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness…”

Zeph 1:15—“That day is a day of…darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness…”
A faster-spinning sun would only mean that periods of consecutive daylight hours were shortened and would not plunge all the earth into darkness. Micah 3:6 and Jeremiah 15:9 are similar:
...the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them."
...(Jerusalem's) sun is gone down while it was yet day..."

Yet the sun dictates night and day. This clearly is both metaphorical and phenomenological. Specifically, it is called Jerusalem's sun. This refers to the daytime over Jerusalem specifically. Yet if the sun truly did "go down while it was yet day", this would mean its orbit increased in speed, even in a geocentric cosmology. The passage is therefore interpreted as a metaphor for the arrival of darkness in the land.
Ezekiel 32:7–8 "And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD."

In this passage, the only literal language is the "darkness upon thy land".

Recently, geocentrists have developed a new paradigm that God created the earth first and the heavens later, making the Earth incomplete at first and surrounding it with a "firmament" (a now-obsolete theoretical concept comparable to "sky") before completing it. This relates to geocentrism because it is claimed that God did not place the earth in the heavens, but rather created the firmament around earth, putting it in the center of the universe. However, not all geocentrists are in agreement on this position. The leading proponent of modern geocentrism, Gerardus Bouw, holds that planets and stars were created before the earth. Hence, the heavens they are in must have been created prior to the creation of the earth.

Geocentrists tend to be careless or sloppy with their interpretations of passages, attempting to prove their own view of Biblical cosmology without keeping passages in their intended context.[neutrality is disputed] For example, geocentrists cite Psalm 119:90:
...thou hast established the earth, and it abideth (see also Ecclesiastes 1:4).

The word "abideth" means "to stand", and geocentrists claim this further proof of their position.
However, critics point out that the context of this passage is about the Bible and its endurance. To claim this discusses a stationary earth seems out of place in this passage. Also, they would argue that the Hebrew word used here for established and abideth is also used in other passages to refer to the sun, moon, stars, and the heavens. For example:
Proverbs 3:19 says that the heavens are "established". In fact, it compares the establishing of the heavens to the founding of the earth.

God prepared the heavens in Proverbs 8:27;
The moon and stars are ordained in Psalm 8:3;
The day, the light and the sun are all established in Psalm 74:16; and
In Psalm 148:6, the sun, moon, stars, and the heaven of heavens are all established (this is the same word abideth, used in Psalm 119:90 to refer to the earth).
Geocentrists take passages such as Psalm 96:10 to be geocentric:
the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved.
Some geocentrists (such as Gerardus Bouw) identify Mercury and Venus as the "morning stars" of Job 38:7 and the "wandering stars" of Jude 14 as references to planets. Given that these are planets, then they only appear to be stars.

Finally, the movement of the Holy Spirit during Day One of Creation is not orbital movement. It is translated as "hovered over" in most modern Bible versions and the words "moved upon" is translated as "fluttereth over" (Deuteronomy 32:11) and "shake" (Jeremiah 23:9) in the King James Version. This would seem to support heliocentricity rather than geocentricity, since it gives the image of a stationary Holy Spirit hovering above the earth. If the Spirit was shining light on earth, then the earth must be moving in order to create day and night, a point argued by Dr. Robert McCabe at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

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