"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17
Geocentric vs Heliocentric: Who's Right?
Author:
Christopher J. E. Johnson
Published: Feb 24, 2014
Updated: Sept 29, 2016

Some of you may not understand what 'geocentric' and 'heliocentric' mean. It simply has to do with the position and orbit between the sun and the earth.
Surprisingly, this issue has never been completely settled. There are still some people today, many of them Bible-believing Christians, who argue for a geocentric position.

If we stop to think about it, just looking outside can't tell us much concerning orbital rotation because our perspective limits our understanding of what we're seeing. The sun does, even from space, appear to moving, but if we went to the sun, and looked at the earth, the earth would appear to be moving. Without being able to go far out into space and film it from a distance in a stationary, third-party perspective, we really can't know for sure, but there are some scientific experiments we can do to give us an idea of what's happening.

Before we get to the experiments involved, let's first look at the Biblical arguments that come from some born-again Christians. Since the Bible is our final authority, we need to look at what information God has given us before we turn to our analysis of experimentation. One of the first arguments a geocentric-believing Christian will present is from the book of Joshua, and though they typically only quote verse 13, I'd like to start at the beginning of the paragraph in verse 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. 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.
-Joshua 10:12-13

To the geocentric Christians, this verse is proof-positive that the sun revolves around the earth because, as they'll argue, the sun stood still and stopped moving, so therefore it is normally moving, which means it's in orbit while the earth sits still and does not move. The problem with this argument is that it ASSUMES what's written here is speaking from a perspective looking at Earth from a far-away distance somewhere in our solar system. (When you actually say it outloud, it sounds very silly.)

Go back and read Joshua carefully, and notice that it says "in the sight of Israel." Joshua is speaking to the Lord in verse 12, and all of the people were watching this, so the perspective is from the Jewish people here on the earth, who watch the sun as it appears to move across the sky just as we see it today as earth-bound observerers. As people on Earth, looking up into the sky, the sun stopped moving.

Another important point is to consider is the sun is stood still over Gibeon, and the moon stood still over "the valley of Ajalon," which I believe is the same valley in Gibeon mentioned in Isaiah 28:21. This creates a large problem for the "flat-earth" folks as well, since they believe the sun and moon rotate in circular patterns opposite each other over the earth. The Bible is describing the position of the sun and the moon being at very close angles simultaneously to one another in the sky, which defies the "flat-earth" model.

Notice it also says the sun "hasted not to go down," so I would ask: If this is talking about orbit, how does the sun "go down?" The only time we mention the sun "going down," is when it is setting on the horizon, which is what it appears to do from our earth-bound perspective as the earth rotates on its axis.

Confusion Between Orbit and Rotation

Geocentric Christians tend to make the argument, "Why didn't God just come out and say the earth stopped if this was the case?" First of all, God can phrase anything the way He chooses to do it, and if you think that God has to meet your personal standards of phrasing, then the Word of God is not your final authority. (i.e. Your brain is your final authority, which means you have a heart problem that needs to be fixed.) God chose to have this written from Israel's perspective, so we can either choose to accept that or not.

Secondly, even if the sun was orbiting the earth, the earth would still have to stop spinning in order for the sun not to move across the sky. This point seems to be ignored because the geocentric Christian tends to overlook that the perspective, and thus, if they make the argument that Joshua 10:13 is describing an outer-space perspective, then they must also believe the earth does not spin on its axis, and that the sun travels at incredible speeds in a full orbit every 24 hours. (This is what "flat-earth" folks also believe, and we will cover some of the major Scriptural problems with this later.)

Further still, it says "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," which specifically uses the word 'heaven' singular. This is also important. Three heavens are mentioned in the Bible:

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. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
-Gen 1:7-8

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
-Deuteronomy 4:19

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
-2 Corinthians 12:2


When the Bible talks about the 'heavens' (plural), it is talking about all three, or the concept of dimensional space in general.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
-Genesis 2:1

That's why in the first verse of the Bible, God does not refer to 'heavens' (plural) because the space (heaven - singular) wasn't divided into three parts yet.
(New-age versions change the word to the plural 'heavens' in Gen 1:1, making them wrong from the first verse.)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
-Genesis 1:1

So when Joshua 10:13 says "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," it is referring to one specific heaven. Obviously, the sun doesn't literally reside in the thrid heaven because it is physical matter, and it also doesn't literally reside in our atmosphere, or pilots would have noticed a long time ago. It literally resides in outer-space, but that's NOT what the Bible is referring to here either, and that can be Scripturally proven. This verse is referring to the sun as it appears to us (as earth-bound observers) to be moving across our heaven (sky).

Let's look at correlating verses talking about the movement of the sun:

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.
-Psalm 19:4-6

What is the first thing a geocentric Christian focuses on in these verses? It says the sun is running a race, so obviously it's moving in orbit through outer-space, right? No, read it carefully. It says he set a tabernacle for the sun.

tabernacle (n): a tent; a temporary habitation
(See 'tabernacle', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Feb 18, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])

A tabernacle is something the Jews would go into, and come out of, just like the "bridegroom coming out of his chamber." I would like to hear an explanation of how the sun goes in and out of a chamber in outer-space. Where is this tabernacle? This is obviously talking about the sun's coming and going over the horizon as it appears to us as earth-bound observers looking into the sky (heaven).

Further still, notice that it says "his going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his cicuit unto the ends of it." Are the geocentric Christians trying to tell us that the sun travels across the entire universe in its cycle? This is obviously talking about the sun's coming and going as it appears to us as earth-bound observers looking into the sky (heaven), looking from one horizon to the other.

And finally, "there is nothing hid from the heat," but there are unmeasurable amounts of places in outer-space that are hid from the sun's heat. These are the kind of mental gymnastics one has to perform if they take Joshua 10:13 as talking about outer-space and orbit. This is obviously talking about the sun's coming and going as it appears to us as earth-bound observers looking into the sky (heaven).

So when Joshua 10:13 says "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," it stopped moving across the sky as we would observe it standing on the earth and looking up into the sky. This makes it easy to understand for the average layman reading his/her Bible (giving understanding to the simple - Psa 119:130), and doesn't require outside knowledge of the universe to create an interpretation.

In discussion with geocentric Christians, I've had the following verses quoted to me:

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

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.
-Psalm 96:10

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

Just reading these individual verses at a first glance, I'm sure some Christians have taken up a geocentric belief, but when I read them, I knew there was something not right, and upon closer examination of the chapters' contexts, I found some problems. Psalm 93 is talking about the holiness and majesty of God. Psalm 96 is talking about worshiping God and speaking the truth to the heathen. 1 Chronicles 16 is talking about praising and fearing God in His reign. Why is it that these verses just insert these odd fragments right in the middle of a completely different context that has nothing to do with creation or orbital paths?

The answer is that geocentric Christians take it out of context, and don't define their terms. Let's consider the following verse:

The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
-Psalm 99:1

But didn't the Bible just tell us that "the world shall not be moved"? How do we make sense of this? First, let's define our terms because, as we have seen in other articles on this website, the definitions of the Bible are not always the same as the rest of the world might classify them today; we have to look to the King James Bible's built-in dictionary.

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdom of the world upon the face of the earth.
-Isaiah 23:17

So according to the Bible, the earth is the planet itself, and the world is the state, condition, and/or inhabitants that exist upon the face of the earth. So, for example, in Psalm 96:10, it says the WORLD shall not be moved, and this means the conditions that exist on the face of the planet earth; not the actual sphere moving through space.

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it [the world] upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
-Psalm 24:1-2

The earth is described in full, but it could not be established on the seas if it hangs on nothing (Job 26:7). The world is described as being founded on the seas, and contains those people/animals that dwell therein, so the Bible does not define 'world' as the full spherical ball of matter.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
-John 3:16

The Lord Jesus Christ did not bleed and died on the cross for a spherical clump of matter. He loved the world, that is, the inhabitants on the face of the earth.

We also need to define the word "move," which has quite a few different meanings.

move (v): 1. To impel; to carry, convey or draw from one place to another; to cause to change place or posture in any manner or by any means
2. To excite; to affect; to agitate; to rouse
3. To cause to act or determine; as, to move the will
4. To persuade
5. To excite tenderness, pity or grief in the heart (Mat 9:36)
6. To make angry; to provoke; to irritate
7. To excite commotion (Ruth 1:19, Mat 21:10)
8. To influence or incite by secret agency (2Ch 18:31, 2Pe 1:21)
9. To shake or tremble (Psalm 46:5, Jer 49:21)
10. To prompt (Acts 17:28)
(See 'move', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Feb 20, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])

This word can mean to transfer from one location to another, or excite commotion, or influence, or make angry, or shake in its place. So how do we determine which definition is being used in these passages? The same way the King James Bible translators did it: They looked at the context.

And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
-Genesis 40:8

It's not what we want to believe about the verses we read, but what the context of God's Word tells us. The Bible defines most of the words it uses within the context, which relies on Scripture to interpret itself, allowing God to tell us His meaning, instead of us trying to develop our own personal interpretations.

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

As we defined earlier in Scriptural terms, this passage refers to "the world," which is the face of the earth on which we reside. This verse is describing the strength and majesty of God, that the foundations on which we live on the face of the earth cannot be moved, and that movement is referring to being transfered from one location to another (disproving the Pangea evolutionary model). Later in verse 4, the Bible explains that though the flood waters lift up, "the world [face of the earth] is stablished" by the might of God, and He is greater than the mighty waves. If we read through Psalm 93, this actually makes much more sense contextually than to assume it's describing the sun rotating around the earth.

O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. 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. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.
-Psalm 96:9-11

Again, "the world" is not talking about the entire planet, but the face of it. Notice that the two verses surrounding it talk about the earth, the whole planet, but when concerning 'move', it refers to the face of the earth [i.e. the world] specifically.

Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
-1 Chronicles 16:30-31

The pattern here is repeated, talking about all the earth fearing God, but the WORLD specifically is stable, and you'll notice that it speaks of the earth, and then says "the world ALSO," so this is defining 'world' and 'earth' seperately. This is a phrase that refers to God's constant power and reign maintaining the foundations of the face of the earth on which we stand, and has nothing to do with orbital paths.

Now let's go back to Psalm 99 and notice the change of words:

The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
-Psalm 99:1

So when the Bible actually describes the spherical fulness, it says "moved," instead of "shall not be moved." Of course, based on the context, I would say this is referring shaking or trembling, but for a moment, let's use the geocentric Christians' arguments about the actual movement of orbit in outer-space. It would mean Psalm 99 directly disproves their theory of the earth not moving, but those who take the Bible seriously understand that it is not talking about transport in this verse; it's referring to emotionally moved in fear.

A geocentric Christian recently emailed me and made the argument that those who are standing firm on God's Word "shall not be moved," just like the earth "shall not be moved," and therefore, the earth does not move. This is an extremely weak argument, but let's address it anyway. As we have already seen, the earth is different from "the world" in Biblical classifications, but let's look closer at this argument:

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
-Psalm 16:8

But on the other hand, we children of God are also described as walking a narrow path, moving along one particular pre-set track that we "shall not be moved" to the right or the left:

And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
-2 Kings 22:2

Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
-Psalm 27:11

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
-Psalm 119:105

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
-Matthew 7:14

To emphasize this point, in Psalm 46, the Bible describes God being in the midst of a river with a flowing stream, and the river "shall not be moved," but rivers move constantly. The understanding of this, keeping to the context, is that the river has a set path upon which in flows, and it will not be moved out of its foundation to the right or left.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
-Psalm 46:4-5

Based on what I have read and heard from geocentric Christians' arguments, they take these verses out of context, and don't define their terms properly. This leads them to claim the Bible says things it does not say, and if we do that, we are in danger of deceiving others, and bringing a curse on ourselves for adding to the Word of God as described in Rev 22:18-19.

More arguments from geocentric Christians:

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
-Job 26:7

The geocentric Christian claims the earth hangs, so therefore it does not move. But I say to them, clouds hang on nothing, but they move. This has nothing to do with movement, but rather, an accurate description of heaven #2 (outer-space), and that the earth does not rest on any object like we would normally observe on earth with gravity. (Gravity is a man-made term; so the Bible describes things in other ways so that all may understand.)

And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
-Zechariah 1:11

The Christian who sent me via email was just doing key-word searches, instead of studying the Scripture and reading out the chapter to get a context. (Keyword searches do not equate Bible study!) This is prophecy of a vision of future events that came to Zechariah, not the current conditions of the planet.

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.
-Habakkuk 3:11

This is describing the instance of Joshua 10:13, which we already proved is a description from the perspective of an earth-bound observer. Making up another interpretation only causes one to have to accept contradictory and illogical theories, adding to the Word of God, instead of accepting the Bible as written and defined by God's own context.

And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
-Genesis 15:12

The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
-Genesis 19:23

The geocentric Christians will still object on the basis that the Bible says the sun rises and sets, so they think it's moving. Well, the weatherman says "sunrise at 6:00 AM," but that doesn't mean he believes, or is referring to, a geocentric model; it just means he's describing what's happening from an earth-bound observer's perspective. This is common knowledge, and used worldwide in language, thus the Bible is giving understanding to the simple without having to have any extra astronomical knowledge.

The Bible does not deny or confirm a geocentric position.
The Bible does not deny or confirm a heliocentric position.
The Bible is silent on this matter.

So after explaining what the Bible does and does not say, which any Christian can pick up and read for him/her self, why is it that I choose to lean towards a heliocentric position? Well, as aforementioned, the Bible doesn't confirm or deny either position, so at that point, I turn to experimental observations if I want to gain that knowledge. Some geocentric Christians who have an axe to grind may complain about this, but the Bible doesn't confirm or deny the existance of digital circuitry and code, yet here we are using them to read articles on websites.

There are numbers of devices built and observations made in the Bible, to which the Bible does not give specific detail about them, yet we use observation to fill in the blanks when the Bible is silent on the matter. If God's Word says something specifically about the world, then we take that first and foremost as the truth, despite out presuppositions, but if the Bible is silent, we can use our own observation in conjunction. (Just makes sure not to rely on observation over the Word of God; our senses are not 100% reliable!)

One of the experiments that helps demonstrate the earth's rotation, and its orbital path around the sun, is the Foucault Pendulum:
(Professor Jim LaBelle discussing Dartmouth's pendulum and
its natural movement based on Earth's rotation
)
Notice that, outside of the rotation of the earth, he said this is unproven as far as orbital cycles, and I agree. I'm not saying this is a settled issue in science, although many scoffers and skeptics would claim that it is, but I am saying there is some very good evidence that the earth is rotating, and orbiting around the sun, and since Scripture is inconclusive on the matter, we can analyze the world around us to get an idea of what's happening.
(Long video of full rotation of Foucault Pendulum; filmed at 1fps)


If you're driving your car down the highway, you'll notice that bug splatter all over your windshield. That's why most cars have spraying devices that store windshield cleaning fluid on the front side of the vehicle, but rarely on the rear side.

The leading side of the moving object takes the most impact from scattered particles, and this would also apply to the movement of a planet.
Likewise, as the earth would move in an orbit, the leading side (depending on the time zone) would take the most impact from scattered particles.
Meteors are most often seen around 6:00 AM. It doesn't matter what time zone you're in, because as the earth rotates, 6:00 AM is the leading side of the earth as it travels through the orbital path.
(Notice that these are taken at sunrise; early morning, leading side of the movement.)
Even the recent Russia meteor explosion of 2013 happened at 9:20 AM, which is on the leading side of the orbital path.
Meteor showers can happen at different times depending on the velocity of the incoming cluster, but most often they will run into the front of the earth, so the best times to view them would be while it is still dark out, typically between 3-6 AM. The fact that early morning shooting stars are more common than any other time of the day, is evidence that points to the earth's orbital path.

Probes have been sent to the planet Mars, and returned. Very precise calculations have to be made to determine approximately when the probe must leave earth's atmosphere, and arrive at Mars's atmosphere, and vice versa. If the geocentric model was true, in the 300 days it takes for the probe to reach Mars, wouldn't NASA have to calculate to avoid the probe getting caught in the sun's path?

There's no calculation necessary to avoid the sun if it's not in an orbital path. The accuracy of mathematical calculations for probes is more evidence that points to the sun being stationary, and the earth moving around it in orbit like the other planets.
Finally, let me state something very clearly so everyone understands: I honestly don't care. Whether the earth goes around the sun, or sun goes around the earth, it has no effect on the Gospel, and therefore, no effect on working in ministry. The only reason I spent the time to answer this was because I was getting so many emails about it, and I wanted to point out Christians' fallacies in ASSUMING the Bible to say things it doesn't say.

In discussion with geocentric Christians, I've often gotten a lot of arrogant letters and messages, where they ASSUME that if you don't believe in a geocentric model like they do, then you're just dumb and haven't studied it enough to know the truth. This kind of prideful implication/accusation is unnecessary and unbiblical, and I would encourage all Christians to take the time to study the context of Bible to learn the meaning God has given to us, rather than run wild to rail on Christians for not making grand ASSUMPTIONS.

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.
-Proverbs 19:27

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
-1 John 4:6




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