Why biblical geocentrism is wrong

By Phil Plait | February 15, 2007 11:46 am

Every now and again I get email about Geocentrism; literally, the belief that the Earth is the center of the Universe. PZ mentioned it the other day (as did SciGuy) and I’m getting email again, so now’s as good a time as ever to debunk this garbage.

Now let me be clear: don’t confuse this with lower-case-"g" geocentrism, which is just using a coordinate system with the non-rotating Earth at the center. We use this every day whenever we say "The Sun rose today." It’s a perfectly reasonable coordinate system, and astronomers use it all the time to guide their telescopes.

No, what I’m talking about here is capital-"G" Geocentrism, where the advocator is doing the literal interpretation of the bible thing. You can guess how I feel about that.

It’s wrong. What’s funny is that it’s provably wrong using simple logic. Most people miss this point, but it’s valid, and to my knowledge it has never been refuted. I wind up posting this every now and again to the bulletin board, but here it is for the general public, slightly paraphrased:

Geocentrism, as advocated by creationists or other religiously fundamental people, is certainly wrong.

How, you may ask? What is going on is that you can do a change of reference frame to a geocentric one, and by Einstein’s mathematics of relativity the math must still work out. I readily admit that. This means that, physically, geocentrism is just as valid as, say, heliocentrism.

But note the words "just as valid". Also, by relativity, it cannot be any more valid; geocentrism is just another change of frame (although to a non-inertial one).

What Geocentrists are saying is that geocentrism is the one, true frame. They must say that because that is what is says in the bible. Now pay attention here, because this is the important bit: to say Geocentrism isn’t wrong, you have to accept the premise that any frame of reference is just as valid as any other. But to claim that Geocentrism is correct, you have to ignore that very same premise.

Geocentrism as the One True Way is therefore self-contradictory. It doesn’t work.

Q.E.D.

Creationists, fundamentalists, flat-earthers, anti-scientists of all stripes: I’m listening. If this is wrong, tell me how. Why, I’ll even invite rational people to tackle it. If I’m wrong, I wanna know why, and see if there is some way to fix it.

Oh, and I suppose I should mention the final irony of all this: creationists and other literal biblical fundamentalists think the world revolves around them. Talk about self-defeating beliefs!

Comments (67)

  1. I’ll admit to being confused. Why is it true that “to say Geocentrism isn’t wrong, you have to accept the premise that any frame of reference is just as valid as any other”? Can’t I just believe that there is a preferred frame, and the Earth is at the center of it? Maybe the appeal to relativity on the part of some Geocentrists is logically inconsistent, but not the basic idea itself.

    Here’s my take from a while back:

    http://cosmicvariance.com/2005/10/03/does-the-earth-move-around-the-sun/

  2. Eh hmm

    Phil

    NOT all creationists believe in geocentricity

    This article is from a creationist site shows that the Bible does not teach geocentricity.

    This was an idea from Ptolemy which for their own reasons was adopted by the RC church, eho only acknowledged their error in 1992!

    I like to think its a start towards reconciliation at least

  3. Mark

    You forgot to capitalize the “G” in the blog title… Sorry, this was bothering me. SKEPTICS RULE!

  4. Carolyn

    “…creationists and other literal biblical fundamentalists think the world revolves around them.”

    You only have to swap two letters to turn geocentrism into egocentrism. ;)

  5. I’m with Sean on being confused about this. As far as my poor brain can make out, saying “the Earth is the immobile center of everything” doesn’t lead into the sort of contradictions which arise when you say, for example, “heavier objects fall faster than light ones” (so what about an anvil and a feather tied by a string?).

  6. elgarak

    Sticks,

    Very interesting, since I believe that the bible does not teach or claim most of what people say it does. Most bible-based claims are interpretations of the text that are not actually found explicitly spelled out.

  7. elgarak

    For instance, I’m still trying to figure how in the bible the Earth’s age is given as 6000 years.

  8. phish

    Elgarak,
    They basically take all the ages mentioned in the Bible and add them up, to the modern day. Seriously.

  9. Given that we know the galaxies are all flying apart, shouldn’t it be possible to calculate the “centre” of the visible universe by extrapolating all those paths back and selecting a point where they more-or-less converge and call that “the centre of the visible universe”?

    Is that as weird as it appears now that I have written it?

  10. elgarak:

    YECs calculate the earth’s age at approximately 6,000 years thus:

    Allegedly, Jesus was around 2000 years ago.

    The old testament covers about 4000 years of Jewish history starting at Creation and ending around the birth of JC if you try to add up all the dates and such.

    Ergo, the earth the universe and everything is 6,000 years old. As proof, on the Jewish calendar, which obviously began at the beginning of time and was handed by the IPU directly to Moses or some such bullocks, it is currently the year 5767.

  11. If you look at survey numbers (say, in chapter 4 of Robert Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians) the percentage of fundamentalist Christians who have actually read more than a smattering of the Bible often turns out astonishingly small.

  12. Perhaps I’m missing something, but the common-sense objection to a Geocentric universe seems much simpler than the semantic and relativistic arguments you suggest. How could a galaxy a billion light years from Earth circle around it, covering (2 * pi * 1 billion light years) in 24 hours? WHY would it, and why would it coincidentally have exactly the same period as a star a million times closer? By what mechanism would the Sun, planets, and everything else in the universe orbit the Earth? Surely not gravity, unless you want to argue that Earth is the most massive object in the universe. For Geocentrism to be correct, everything we know about gravity, the speed of light, and the size and distance of astronomical objects would have to be wrong. Right?

    In point of fact, I think some of your other commenters are right. For all its profoundly deep faults, I don’t know of anything in Creationism or Biblical literalism denying that Earth orbits the Sun. The number of people who believe such are probably comparable to the number of Flat Earthers. You’re swatting flies with an overly complex and subtle argument when a rolled-up newspaper will do.

  13. Leon

    Phil, I’m disappointed by this one! I was expecting a nice, long article giving a half dozen or so concrete, scientific reasons we know that Geocentrism is wrong, but instead you put forward a logical contradiction.

    Now, I see and agree with the contradiction, but I was looking forward to a good hard astronomical smack-down! Also this tactic makes me a little uneasy, as it sounds similar to the creationists’ bogus attempts to dismiss evolution as a logical contradiction. They really don’t need an excuse like “Darwinists use this kind of argument to try to disprove creationism [or ID]!”.

    Anyway, if you do put together here a nice solid astronomical a**-whoopin’ of Geocentrism, I will read it with glee. :)

  14. JohnW

    Mr. or Ms. Squid:
    “Given that we know the galaxies are all flying apart, shouldn’t it be possible to calculate the “centre” of the visible universe by extrapolating all those paths back and selecting a point where they more-or-less converge and call that “the centre of the visible universe”?”

    Not really. Extrapolating backwards shows that there was a time when everything was in the same place, but can’t show where that place was (actually, it shows that the place was, well, everywhere). You’re assuming an absolute, outside-the-Universe frame of reference, and there isn’t one.

  15. Evolving Squid Says: “Given that we know the galaxies are all flying apart, shouldn’t it be possible to calculate the “centre” of the visible universe by extrapolating all those paths back and selecting a point where they more-or-less converge and call that “the centre of the visible universe”?”

    Yes, and it would show that the Earth is the center. Really!`

    This has nothing to do with the Geocentrism of the current topic, but rather the fact that all of the universe started as a single point at the Big Bang. Therefore every point in the universe is moving away from every other point as the space between them expands. It doesn’t work locally where gravity has some influence over the movement of stars, but at large scales that’s what it looks like.

    I should mention that if you took this measurement from any other point in the universe you’d get the same result.

    - Jack

  16. Jason

    FlyingSquid, the problem is that the galaxies are flying away from one another. There’s no initial point because space is expanding in all directions. It’s the old “pennies taped to a balloon” metaphor — there’s no center of the universe because the universe itself, space and time, erupted from the Big Bang. It didn’t erupt in any particular spot — space itself erupted. And has been expanding ever since.

  17. Leon

    Brian: Yes, that’s the sort of stuff I was looking forward to!

    Also, you’re right–it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between those three different beliefs: creationism, Geocentrism, and flat-earth. The last two are probably the most similar; they’re certainly far smaller than creationists, and in fact generally anyone who believes in Geocentrism or a flat earth is also a creationist. Just the same, most creationists accept a spherical earth and a heliocentric solar system. (I almost wrote “heliocentric universe”, but the universe doesn’t revolve around the Sun, does it?)

  18. I’m confused too. You seem to be saying that Geocentrism is certainly wrong because … it ignores the possibility that it might be wrong.

  19. Frank Ch. Eigler

    > What Geocentrists are saying is that geocentrism is the one, true frame.

    Really? Are you sure it’s not just “for our spiritual purposes, consider ….”, much like the “innocent before proven guilty” slogan implies “for purposes of law …”.

  20. Sean, maybe I should have been more clear: many Geocentric apologists claim relativity backs up their claim, since a common argument against Geocentrism is the idea that Pluto would have to move faster than light (for example) to prbit the Earth once every 24 hours. This is a refutation of that claim.

    All the Geocentrists are left with is then a claim of biblical infallibility, but that is a purely religious claim, not a scientific one.

    As I point out, there really is no scientific claim you can make against Geocentrism, since any frame is as good as any other. Any argument you make about Mach’s principle or anything like that must be explainable through relativity. It comes down to Occam’s Razor, and that falls smack dab (one might say centrally) onto acentrism.

    I love it when Geocentrists call me heliocentric. That just shows how ignorant they are of all this.

  21. But will you accept that some creationists consider Geocentricity with just as much hooey, i.e Geocentricity is accepted by a sizeable proportion of the creationist community as flat wrong.

    We agree with you that Geocentricity is hogwash. You seemed to imply that all creationists were geocentrics, which is not true.

  22. Leon

    That’s what I was getting at, though I didn’t say it directly–most creationists don’t believe in Geocentrism, just as most socialists arent communist. I can’t vouch for Phil’s position, but I imagine he understands that as well. It probably just didn’t come out looking that way in the article.

  23. Nathan Hinman

    Phil never said that all creationists advocate geocetrism. specifically he was pointing out religious fundamentalists who support the idea which can include creationists.

    I’m suprised that people like that Chisum guy get elected though I just hope that his constituents come to their sense come next election.

  24. BC

    But will you accept that some creationists consider Geocentricity with just as much hooey, i.e Geocentricity is accepted by a sizeable proportion of the creationist community as flat wrong.

    We agree with you that Geocentricity is hogwash. You seemed to imply that all creationists were geocentrics, which is not true.

    Who says that, Phil? All he says is “Geocentrism, as advocated by creationists or other religiously fundamental people, is certainly wrong.” I don’t read that as saying all/most creationists are geocentrists. Phil is dealing with one segment of the people who are motivated to believe in geocentrism by looking to their “infallible” religious texts. There are some obvious parallels, and at one time, the young earth creationists actually used to welcome geocentrists to their conventions. (They have, since then, ostracized them – they’ve obviously figured out the problems it creates for them when they are associated with geocentrists.)

  25. BC

    On a similar note, I think it’s funny that YECs whine about not being taken seriously by the scientific community, but then they reject geocentrists as crackpots. Yet, both (YECs and geocentrists) derive their beliefs from the Bible, both do shoddy science, and both whine about not being taken seriously by others around them. Seems pretty hypocritical for YECs to reject geocentrist advocates and then complain about their work being rejected by mainstream science.

  26. David Vanderschel

    The problem I see with the BA’s argument is that the argument would not make sense to the sort of person who insists on a Geocentric view. The concept of multiple frames of reference would be foreign to such folks. In order to follow the BA’s argument, you need to understand concepts which already falsify the Geocentric-only point of view. The argument is not complete without also successfully teaching those concepts.

  27. TheBlackCat

    I think BA’s approach is really the only one that works for a certain subset of the group. I have heard Geocentrists trying to use relativity to support their claims precisely in the way described by Phil. They claim that all frames of reference are equally valid, therefore theirs is the one correct frame of reference. Certainly those that outright reject science are not going to be swayed by such arguments, but then again there is no scientific argument you can make that would convince someone who completely rejects all science.

  28. Evolving Squid Says: “Given that we know the galaxies are all flying apart, shouldn’t it be possible to calculate the “centre” of the visible universe by extrapolating all those paths back and selecting a point where they more-or-less converge and call that “the centre of the visible universe”?”

    Yes, and it would show that the Earth is the center. Really!`

    I was thinking about this in the afternoon, and relating it to the dots-on-a-balloon analogy and came to the same conclusion… If you extrapolated back to the original point it would always be wherever you are since you too would have to be at the point, unless you could step outside the universe and look in.

  29. Yes — the Big Bang happened everywhere! (-:

  30. Tom B

    From looking at the geocentrist’s website, they deny that relativity is valid. Therefore, any assumption about how any frame of reference is equally valid is false. It is kind of funny. So, the fact that light coming from all directions appears to be at the same speed ISN’T because it is that way in all cases, but because we truly are sitting in one spot. If we were moving, the waves of light would be at different speeds depending on whether we were going toward them or away.

    I wonder what it is like to live in a brain like that. To ignore gravity etc…or the fact that relativity predicted things like the energy released from atomic fission and fusion.

  31. SLC

    This argument seems to be equivalent to traveling from the thumb to the forefinger by way of the elbow. If the earth is not rotating, how does one explain phenomena like hurricanes, typhoons, coastal storms, etc. In particular, one would have to explain why hurricanes spin counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. A rotating earth generating the Coriolis force explains this nicely.

  32. CACTUSJACKmankin

    My view towards Geocentrism is the same as my feelings about flat-earthers, I’d probably be angrier with it if it weren’t for the fact that there weren’t so few of them. It doesn’t seem like something that has that much mainstream or even worrisome underground following. Am I right in thinking that the scale of belief in these is so small that this is relatively harmless? Or is it a “you’d be surprised” situation?

  33. TheBlackCat

    I’m afraid it is a “you’d be surprised” situation. The reason there has been so much talk about it recently is that the head of the Texas State Legislature House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum has been promoting it. Apparently he is the second most powerful member of the Texas House of Representatives.

    See here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/02/texas_legislature_officially_i.php

  34. DKary

    I’m not entirely sure that relativity claims that all frames of reference are equivalent.

    It certainly says that the laws of physics have to be the same in all frames of reference, but that’s not the same thing.
    In particular, it make very clear that accelerated frames of reference clearly look very different from non-accelerated frames (in fact, they tend to look like gravity). In effect, it’s the difference between the special and general theories of relativity. A rotating Earth is definitely an accelerated frame of reference, so if you make that your frame then you hit the problem others including Phil have mentioned about planets and stars racing around at superlight speeds.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve looked into this stuff in any but the most popular level, so I may be missing some fundamental point here, but I don’t see how a universe centered on the Earth can be considered consistent with relativity? A universe centered on some local standard of motion (perhaps as defined by the cosmic microwave background) might work. I suspect that’s not what the Geocentrists mean.

  35. Olive

    I think that one of the problems here is that geocentrists and creationists and many others have a different notion of “true” than scientists. For a scientist, the “true” thing is the simplest model that produces accurate predictions. For the others, “true” is some sort of deep metaphysical True, thoroughly unconcerned with predictive power. (Now, I would imagine most scientists and most non-scientists also feel deeply pleased by the scientific truths, and take them as True, but that’s beside the point.) It’s Stephen Colbert’s “truthy,” more than “true,” that they want.

    Thus, for science, it’s pretty unimportant whether evolution is a puzzle left by God/Satan to keep humans occupied or the actual history of the planet- either way, the predictive power is the same, and evolution is true.

    I myself don’t see much point in talking about Truths that don’t help anyone predict anything except for their upcoming ascension, but that’s just me.

  36. “This was an idea from Ptolemy which for their own reasons was adopted by the RC church, eho only acknowledged their error in 1992!”

    No.

    The RCC accepted heliocentrism centuries ago. In fact, it /never/ objected to heliocentrism except when it was taught as being absolutely true, to the exclusion of all alternatives, and even that restriction had been dropped completely by 1758, after Kepler and Newton had completely rationalized Copernicus’s original system (which was not without problems). What happened in 1992 was that they reopened the question of whether Galileo had been guilty of being a smartass. (Frankly, on that point, they had a good case against him.)

  37. It seems to me that the average Geocentrist would object that you can’t invoke Relativity to prove that Geocentristm is false, because the Michelson-Morley experment depended on the assumption that the Earth moves. (Of course, there have been any number of experimental confirmations of Relativity since, but Michelson-Morley is what they were typically told about in 8th-grade General Science.)

  38. “They basically take all the ages mentioned in the Bible and add them up, to the modern day. Seriously.”

    Well, the actual figure of 4004 B.C. has a somewhat different derivation. It was based on the two assumptions that God likes round numbers, and that Jesus was born in 4 B.C. (It has been known for a /very/ long time that the setting of A.D. 1 where it is was a mistake.)

  39. (Note to put the following in context: I’m a staunch agnostic, not religious.)

    Phil, please be careful when you make claims about what the bible says vs what some people say the bible says. These things are not the same. As has been said by multiple people, the bible supports neither geocentrism nor the young earth hypothesis; these are interpretations of the text which do not hold up under scrutiny. Geocentrism in particular has absolutely no support whatsoever in the bible. You don’t even need to reach for any scientific argument. Geocentrists are crackpots, not just in their interpretation of science, but also that of the bible. They don’t have a leg to stand on.

    But as Blake Stacey said, the number of nutso fundies who have actually read the bible or even just a substantial fraction of it is vanishingly small; most religious crackpots wouldn’t know the bible from a hole in the wall. All they are going by is what someone else told them the bible says. Strange coincidence that it would be the same approach they take with science… or maybe that’s just how far their lack of critical thinking goes: they don’t even think to verify claims about the bible.

    Again, please do be careful. It rightly bugs you when the people twist and contort some scientific observation in bogus ways so as to support their argument; it would behoove you to not make similar mistakes yourself where the biblical side is concerned. (I think everyone would benefit from reading the bible, actually, and not even as a religious text: the book is so deeply woven into Western culture and civilization that anyone who has not read it must be considered almost culturally illiterate. It should be seen as essential reading just like the great philosophers.)

  40. TheBlackCat

    The bible talks routinely about the unmovable “foundations of the Earth”, stars falling from heaven onto the Earth, the firmament (a solid object) above the Earth that the sun, moon, and stars are embedded in, pillars supporting the heavens, the sun moving around the Earth, and other things that if taken literally point directly to a stationary Earth. An object just floating in space does not have foundations. The stars cannot fall to the Earth. There is no solid object in the sky which the stars are attached to. The Bible has lots of support for Geocentrism if taken literally. Science, however, does not. You can criticize Geocentrists for being totally out of touch with reality, but they are perfectly in line with scripture.

  41. Daffy

    Sorry apologists, but Genesis 1:9-18 clearly imply that the earth is at the center of all things.

  42. JustAl

    So, let’s see. We can consider that every object observed from our stationary vantage point not only dances around us, but all inner-system objects also form a complicated Spirograph design around the Sun at the same time, all beholden to every last law of planetary motion, gravity, and relativity, except us mind you…

    …or we can assume that we simply move around the Sun like everything else in our system.

    Hmmmm. And equatorial bulges, tidal/gravitational drag, and atmospheric movement systems are all just coincidental, or indicative of the Earth’s rotation.

    Golly. Hard to tell where to put the smart money. I gotta admit, trusting in an ancient tome that disagrees with every last facet of science is mighty tempting (hah! Oh, the puns, the puns…), and it’s got that whole “damnation if you even sneeze” thing going for it as well.

    Decisions, decisions…

    But I suppose the next time someone assures me that the Earth is stationary, I’m going to have to ask where they’re measuring it from.

  43. BC

    Geocentrism in particular has absolutely no support whatsoever in the bible.

    He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter, forever and ever.
    - Psalm 104:5

    The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
    - Psalm 93:1

    Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
    - 1 Chronicles 16:30

    For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he set the world on them.
    - 1 Samuel 2:8

    It is I who have firmly set its pillars.
    - Psalm 75:3

    the number of nutso fundies who have actually read the bible or even just a substantial fraction of it is vanishingly small; most religious crackpots wouldn’t know the bible from a hole in the wall. All they are going by is what someone else told them the bible says.

    Apparently, even the leaders of protestantism didn’t know their Bibles, then:

    Martin Luther: “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”

    John Calvin: “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?”

  44. Jeremy

    According to the Bible, the so-called “universe” is really just a bunch of twinkly lights hanging from the dome that holds the ocean up. Shouldn’t the bible thumpers all be Geo-under-ists?

  45. Speaking as a non-believer who was raised evangelical, I can say that one does not need to read the Bible as claiming a stationary Earth, anymore than that it means the Earth is just 6,000 years old. But both of those claims are more defensible if you’re only using the Bible than the claim that the Earth rotates the sun and is ancient. After all, there’s no evidence for either of those positions in the Bible.

    And let’s not forget that Genesis calls the stars besides the sun “lesser lights.” From our perspective, yes, but surely an all-knowing God would not that they’re not really “lesser” at all.

  46. Nice logic, but owing to the ignorance in which faith thrives, I doubt that Geocentrists would know what a reference frame is.

  47. Michael Duchek

    There’s one thing I haven’t figured out from the Geocentrists websites: Are astronomers lying, or just mistaken? It seems to me that it would be impossible to get satalites to other planets if our understanding of the universe was so badly flawed.

    So did we get the satalites there, or just make everything up?

  48. Russ

    THE BIBLE DOES NOT EVEN INFER THAT THE EARTH IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. I realize that the Roman Catholic Church at one time believed this, but it was a belief based on tradition, and not on the words of the Bible. The Church has frequently confused theological thought with Science, and this was an excellent example.

    Which leads me to this question … knowing that modern science has measured a distance to the furthest objects we can see or hear, do the furthest objects in all directions have approximately the same distance, or do we see and hear a Universe that seems to have an odd, not spherical shape? If we perceive an odd shape, that would be a big step in disproving geocentrism.

    Of course, in an infinite Universe, all points would be at the center. Earth would be the center of the Universe as would some star 10 to the 100 light years away. Geocentrism lives!

  49. Steevl

    Ooh, I’m coming very late to this thread, but I want to re-emphasise something Sean Carroll touched on:

    Phil, the argument you make in the blog post does not prove Geocentrism wrong. It demonstrates a contradiction in that particular way of justifying Geocentrism, and it means that Geocentrists should stop saying relativity backs up their claims. But it does not prove that the Earth is not the centre of the universe.

    I’m sure you must be aware of this point, but you seem to clearly state in the blog post that it is Geocentrism itself, rather than a relatvistic defence of Geocentrism, that is “provably wrong using simple logic”. Apart from some trivial cases, I don’t even know what it would be like for a matter of fact to be provably wrong using simple logic.

  50. Apologies about the 1992 thing. I remembered that Galileo was given a posthumous apology by Pope John Paul II.

    The issue with the Bible and the passages used to support Geocentricity, is that they were using clear phenomenal language which is what we still use to day, in terms like Sunrise and Sunset and of course Moonlight. There are clear rules, or there are supposed to be as to what passages are allegorical, what are literal and what are symbolic. Usually a good bible scholar is able to tell which is which, like the book of Acts and the books of Kings and Chronicles are taken as literal histories. Ezekiel and Revelation are symbolic and not literal. Genesis has a literal style, so we are not given the option to make it allegorical or symbolic, it it were this would have been put to bed years ago.

    It is incredibly frustrating

    At least we are able to unite and say that Geocentricity is wrong.

  51. Sue Mitchell

    A quirky friend of mine – not a religious nutter by any means! – hypothesizes thus:

    Viewed from Earth, the stars appear to be receding from us. But if I stand on a different planet, billions of light years away, the stars will still appear to be receding from me.

    This happens at whatever place in the universe I happen to be.

    Ergo, *I* am the Centre of the Universe. ;-)

  52. Ausrick

    I’ve never really given much thought to Geocentrism with a capital G in the modern day.

    How does that even work? I mean, does their earth rotate or not? Their model would seem to have more internal consistency if it didn’t (i.e. everything is measured from where I am standing.) but it would make everything in the universe move impossibly fast. To me a spinning immobile earth would make “more” sense.

    Can anyone tell me, is there division in the camps of the Geocentrists? are there the “Earth-Spinners” and the “Non-Rotationists” and do they have bloody feuds on which one is right?

    and not to get into an issue of how to interpret scripture too deeply, people have argued over that for thousands of years, it’s complicated… but one rule of thumb thats been pointed out to me, when interpreting almost anything (scripture or other), you need to get into the shoes of the people who wrote it, and if something doesn’t make sense, read before it and after it to determine context. Most bible-believers believe that the holy spirit guided the hands of the authors like instruments, but their stylings and personalities were used. (more like an unseen hand moving in the background but not some sort of direct dictation.)

    Another sad point. If one reads the Bible, a clear picture emerges of the theme of God creating the universe to show his glory, so that people could explore it, learn from it, and in doing so magnify Him as the artist. Wisdom, understanding, knowledge are considered good things to have according to the Bible. You would think that truly Bible-believing people would pursue that rather than taking the easy route of “just tell me what to believe”… Then again this trend is not just evident in Bible believers, but laziness in thinking seems to run rampant across the board in western civilization (and probably all other civilization too, I just can’t vouch for that.)

  53. Gary Ansorge

    The bible and Koran are very useful books. Both work quite well as supports for my wobbly table legs,,,

    Gary 7

  54. DennyMo

    Daffy Says: Sorry apologists, but Genesis 1:9-18 clearly imply that the earth is at the center of all things.

    “Clearly imply”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  55. Rich

    All,

    Check out this site: http://www.fixedearth.com. I couldn’t believe the BS. This was referenced by Rep. Warren Chisum, chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee in a recent memo denouncing the Kansas Ed. ruling to teach only science in science classes. For more on the story, see this article in the Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/4557923.html.

  56. andy

    Amusingly enough, if there were a universal rotation, any observer would find that they were on the rotation axis.

  57. Irishman

    …to say Geocentrism isn’t wrong, you have to accept the premise that any frame of reference is just as valid as any other. But to claim that Geocentrism is correct, you have to ignore that very same premise.

    I think I sense a flaw.

    To say Geocentrism is not wrong, you have to accept the premise that any frame of reference is scientifically just as valid as any other. But to claim that Geocentrism is correct, you assert that there’s some other justification beyond science.

    Now there’s no inherent logical contradiction. Science says any frame is equivalent, and the Bible says there’s a correct one. Ergo, two sources trump one. They’re not relying on Science to justify the uniqueness of one frame, so they aren’t contradicting what Science says.

  58. Irishman

    Blake Stacey said:
    > “heavier objects fall faster than light ones” (so what about an anvil and a feather tied by a string?).

    By tying them together, you’ve changed them from two objects into one.

    Brian Fies said:
    > Perhaps I’m missing something, but the common-sense objection to a Geocentric universe seems much simpler than the semantic and relativistic arguments you suggest.

    Phil has mostly encountered people trying to justify their Geocentrism with science. Thus he has encountered numerous times the claim that because Relativity allows any reference frame to be equal, Geocentrism is allowed. That is why this response makes sense to him and is the biggest refutation. He’s got a selective argument posed to him. The common sense rejections don’t work because within Relativity, all of those strange things are mathematically allowed to make the frames equivalent. Just add fictitious forces when necessary (Coriolis, gravity, whatever).

  59. BC

    Sticks:
    There are clear rules, or there are supposed to be as to what passages are allegorical, what are literal and what are symbolic. Usually a good bible scholar is able to tell which is which, like the book of Acts and the books of Kings and Chronicles are taken as literal histories.

    Chronicles is literal. Thanks for that. Do I need to write it again?

    Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
    - 1 Chronicles 16:30

    For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he set the world on them.
    - 1 Samuel 2:8

    The earth doesn’t move. It sits on pillars. I got it now. The Bible doesn’t support geocentrism at all.

    Usually a good bible scholar is able to tell which is which

    Are Martin Luther and John Calvin not good bible scholars? I quoted them in my last post.

  60. BC:

    “To move” and “to be able to be moved (by someone)” imply two very different things in my understanding of English.

    Also: He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. —Job 26:7

    Evil Bender:

    He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. —Isaiah 40:22

    The word which is frequently translated as “circle” here also means “sphere” in Hebrew.

  61. Ausrick

    Martin Luther and John Calvin are good Bible Scholars, who were human and capable of error, who lived in a different era with different knowledge available to them to build some of their suppositions from. They also suspected the Pope was the antichrist. They also weren’t trained scientists, even at a time when many scientists of the day still held a view of geocentricity. If you’ve got no reason to believe your current frame of reference is wrong, and the texts you study don’t weigh in on the matter, it is easy to read an interpretation into them when using them as evidence to support your view against an up and coming theory. To me Calvin and Luther from those quotes sound mostly skeptical that this upstart heliocentrism holds any truth. Also, on the other side of the token, I wonder what Copernicus had to say in retort. Did he attack the veracity of the Bible or Calvin and Luther’s interpretation of it that led them to their geocentric conclusion? And as new data arrived, assuming Calvin and Luther were still alive did it alter their views on the matter?

    And, does any one know if in the modern geocentricity camp, if there are rotating-earthers and non-rotating earthers? It would seem like this would complicate anyone’s math, being these two sub-camps would have very different frames of reference. (assuming they do math anyways.)

  62. 1 Chronicles 16:30 is a quotation from a psalm King David composed, 1 Samuel 2:8 is from a prayer.

    1 Samuel through to 2 Chronicles are the histories, which mean they are in the literal style, however they sometimes record dialogue, and that dialogue may have been allegorical. When Eric Cantona made his obscure quote about trawlers and fish, was that video tape of him doing so allegorical or literal.

    It was literal, but recording an allogory

    Please look at these passages in context

    And reminder, not all creationists believe that the Bible teaches geocentricity. I agree with Phil 100% about what he says about Geocentricity, that it is 100% wrong.

  63. Eric

    Is it only me that suspects there’s an alternately amused and horrified physics major prankster maintaining the Fixed Earth site?

  64. This is a *very* late post, but I admit, at 4am I can’t see why the Corilis Effect (and thus precession of a pendulum, etc) doesn’t outright say that the Earth must be rotating. Under a coordinate transformation those effects translate to a force which is thus required as a axiom of a ‘fixed, non-rotating Earth’ model. After all, we can only transform away to a LIF around a point and for a little distance epsilon away …. after that, high-order corrections in the metric need you to accept that you’re in a particular reference frame, yes?

    Probably a too technical question a month after the posting to merit a response, but then again, the coriolis force is bizzarre…. I still haven’t seen another double-cross-product.

  65. Rick DeLano

    What if the Bible were accurate, and space was “stretched out” from a central point (Earth), and the Earth occupied the center of mass in a closed, rotating Universe?

    Further suppose that space is not, after all, a vacuum, but is instead composed of a “plenum” of particles- say, “plancktons”- which function as an “aether”.

    Further suppose that this medium is itself in rotation about a barycentric point, Earth.

    Perhaps the medium might be supposed to carry the objects we view from Earth around with it, in a rotational period equal to a sidereal day.

    Therefore the objects would not themselves be moving at velocities > c.

    We would suppose from this that the evidence of an expanding universe must be false, that what we have interpreted as expansion cannot in fact be expansion.

    We would further expect that observations would eventually disprove the Copernican principle, and instead provide evidence of a central, preferred position for Earth.

    We would further expect, therefore, that observations would contradict assumptions of homogeneity in matter distribution, and reveal instead evidence of isotropic distribution.

    Plug in the Axis of Evil, and the recent hypothesis of Clifton, et al (2008):

    “An alternative to admitting the existence of dark energy is to review the postulates that necessitate its introduction. In particular, it has been proposed that the SNe observations could be accounted for without dark energy if our local environment were emptier than the surrounding Universe, i.e., if we were to live in a void. This explanation for the apparent acceleration does not invoke any exotic substances, extra dimensions, or modifications to gravity – but it does require a rejection of the Copernican Principle. We would be required to live near the center of a spherically symmetric under-density, on a scale of the same order of magnitude as the observable Universe. Such a situation would have profound consequences for the interpretation of all cosmological observations, and would ultimately mean that we could not infer the properties of the Universe at large from what we observe locally.”

    If there were a stock market for cosmological theories, geocentrism might still be on the pink sheets but that suckah would have had one astonishing run lately……and might be worth a closer look.

    Just sayin…….

  66. Destxn

    Very well done. In all seriousness, I like this.

    I have no quarrel with this logic, in fact I believe the bible supports this kind of understanding–that you can either choose a frame that you believe is supported by a greater power or you can choose a frame of mind that puts our ability to reason above all other input. This sounds like a conversation I had with a man at college some months ago, and I believe it has the same answer: faith. We don’t know the truth, we believe one or the other is the truth. …And although some may believe that the Creator made the earth the center of the universe, it doesn’t mean that they believe they are the center of the universe because each of them will also believe that they were created for His glory along with the earth.

    Personally, I prefer the answer with a little less math and a whole lot more continuity.

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