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….


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.


The Bible and sun movement


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.


That leaves just 4 verses to deal with, and they are:

  • Joshua 10:12,13
  • Habakkuk 3:11
  • Isaiah 38:8
  • Psalm 19:4-6

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 simply 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[s], writing to human readers, so it makes [sense] that God would use our perspective in referring to the relative motion of the Earth and sun.

Geocentrics seem [to] not understand the concept of relative motion. They think that relative motion is a case of … 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.

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[ real-history videos ] Galileo’s heresy was in challenging ‘The Church’ not the Bible — “Catholic authorities were concerned about people interpreting the Bible for themselves” | Their medieval geocentric view had more to do with the influence of ancient Greeks than of the Bible