Bible says the sun goes around the earth - Part 2 (Talk.Origins)
From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science
- The earth is fixed at (or near) the center of the universe. The sun and other planets travel around it. That is what the Bible plainly says [Ps. 93:1, Ps. 19:1-6, Joshua 10:12-14] and what the evidence indicates.
- Willis, Tom, 2000. "The Laws of Cause and Effect, and the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics have been invalidated by modern science", Part 2. CSA News 17(2) (Mar/Apr): 1-2.
- Jones, Steven, 2005. Geocentric universe. http://www.midclyth.supanet.com/
Alternate CreationWiki response:
- Main Article: Bible says the sun goes around the earth
Although the main consensus of creationwiki accepts the critiques of Talk Origins as true regarding this topic, this acceptance is not universal.
When dealing with bible passages that talk of the earth not being removed and the Hebrew words used, it can be seen that in the text of the bible there is no sign that the earth moves and the sun is standing still relatively. In fact, scriptural texts universally talk of the sun moving and the earth being immovable, except at times of divine judgment.
The only reason such passages are taken as simply and strictly observational, as opposed to actual and absolute, is because the idea that the earth orbits the sun has been taken as fact. The text of scripture does not demand that we take such statements as phenomenologically or observational. So Psalm 19 and Joshua 10 do not have anything within them, as texts, that rules out the idea of absolute movement. Only a presupposition that the earth moves around the sun and the acceptance of the theory of relativity as absolute fact rules out the idea of absolute movement.
An understanding of the contextual use of the Hebrew word which is transliterated "MWT" or "mot", with a long "o" as in "vote" (Strong's Ref. # 4131) shows that it does include in its implications an object that doesn't move, e.g. Psalm 125 verse 1. This verse states that Mount Zion will not be removed, using the Hebrew word "mot", talking about a mountain that doesn't move and will not be removed and has no implication of a steadiness in movement. An analogy can be used to help us understand the meaning of the word in two ways. On a car, a wheel keeps on slipping off the axle, which is really dangerous. So I fix on the wheel, so it doesn't slip, doesn't become unstable. In that context, we know from experience that that is a steadiness in motion, when the wheel moves. So the Hebrew word "mote" can possibly include such an idea, but there is no place in the Hebrew scriptures where the words "not move [Heb. lo' mote or bal-mote]" unambiguously implies this "steadiness of movement" notion. But in another analogy, I build a house on secure foundations so that it will not totter, be unstable. In this context, we know from experience that this is a steadiness, but with no reference to motion whatsoever. In fact, because it is a house, we want it motionless, which is why we have foundations. This context does not imply a "steadiness in movement or motion" at all, and such a usage of some sort of immovability is seen in the Hebrew Scriptures. And again the Hebrew word "mote" would be used here, in the place of "totter". So the idea that the Hebrew word can only refer to "a steadiness in movement" is not accurate and unfairly narrows the meaning down.
Now in scripture, with regards to the earth, the world, (there are two hebrew words used for the world and the earth, "tevel" and "eretz", and both can mean the whole world) we have words such as "standing", "fixed", "established", and "foundations". When we compare this to the analogy previously presented, the words used do not fit the "wheel of a car" analogy, but rather "the house" analogy. Thus it can be argued that the scripture points to a non-moving, motionless earth.
With regards to Psalm 93:1, we can look at the wording to find the meaning. Looking at the phrase "the world also is established, that it cannot be moved", lets focus on the second half, "it cannot be moved". Now it will be noted by all interpreters, heliocentric or geocentric, that the word "moved" is that same word "mote" which is only used to imply an instability with regards to something that is supposed to be fixed. So wheel can slip, and a house totter. So it refers to a moving out of place or an instability in location. That is universally understood. But it is contrasted with the previous statement that "the world is established". If this simply meant a permanence in existence, as opposed to a location, then the phrase "it will not be moved" or "it will not be shaken" or "it will not totter", doesn't really make sense in the Hebrew. It would better make sense, if such an idea was meant, if a Hebrew word was used that spoke of coming out of existence, such as "destroyed", to say "it will not be destroyed". But if the phrase "the world is established" actually means "the world has been erected, set in place, fixed", all root meanings of the Hebrew word that are stated in Strongs Dictionary (see Strongs no. 3559) then such notions are compatible with the contrasting idea that "it will not totter, move, be shaken". And this, logically, means that it refers to a remaining in place as opposed to simply a permanence in existence. Although the statement in Psalms 93 may have an implication of permanence, that implication resides in the fact that the earth is established and prepared in such a way that it will not shake out of place, i.e. "it will not be removed" in the KJV language. Such an idea is definitely geocentric-friendly, but a person with a heliocentric presupposition can find an explanation or interpretation that will avoid such a notion.
(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)
Let us note Talk Origins final point to start this response:
To the vast majority of Christians, the Bible is not plainly saying that the earth is stationary. They have accepted that reality is more important than their interpretation of what is "plainly" said.
The erroneous claim here is that objective reality (their words, "reality") shows us that the sun is the centre of the solar system, when it is known that the difference between geocentricity and heliocentricity is just a difference in preferred frame of reference, either the sun or the earth. A translation of what was just said is: "It just depends on your point of view". That is the reason why Fred Hoyle did say:
We know that the difference between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is one of relative motion only, and that such a difference has no physical significance. (Hoyle 1975)
He said this because all the observations would be the same. The only way that one could objectively say that the sun is the centre of the solar system is to be outside the solar system in an objective frame, with the solar system moving against a non-moving background, and there is only one being that can do that, as far as we know: Deity. Until we ever get to that point of view (however unlikely) we collect evidence that can either go for or against our point of view.
There is a reason why a vast majority of theists accept heliocentricity, and it is not because the bible says so. It is because that is what they were taught and the preferred frame of reference they were taught to use. Also, they are normally shown only one model of geocentricity, the Ptolemaic one, which is taught as the main model and is ridiculed as though it is the whole of geocentricity (this is the model where all the planets and the sun orbit the earth, the same as a heliocentric model except the earth is in the position of the sun at the center with concentric orbits for the planets and the sun). This model, portrayed as the whole of geocentricity, is taught as being an ancient, pre-scientific belief which modern observations have disproved, but this is not true. It has little to do with actual objective knowledge, but how we are raised. It is the same reason why a lot of people believe in evolution. Why? Because that is what they were taught and so that is what they believe.
Most people are taught myths about Galileo, that he shows that the sun was really the centre of the solar system, but ...
"Virtually all researchers agree that Galileo had no physical proof for his theory. Some parts of Galileo’s theory could even not be proven at all because they were wrong and already outdated by Kepler’s research." (The Galileo affair: history or heroic hagiography?)
Although people dogmatically hold to the notion that heliocentricity is fact, it can more accurately described simply as what has been accepted as fact, not what is fact. To add another informative quote.
"To cite one illustration: For years the Ptolemaic system was accepted as true, according to which the sun revolves around the earth. Later Copernicus evolved the theory that the earth revolves around the son. This is the theory which is now given in all text-books as an indisputable fact.
But what are the facts? Aside from the fact that even the Copernican sun centered system is no more than a theory, subject to a variety of reservations, as all scientific theories must be apart, also, from the fact that the Copernican theory did not presume to settle all the situations relating to astrophysical observations, but only answered more questions, and more simply, than the Ptolemaic - modern science has reached some revolutionary conclusions in the wake of the General Relativity Theory. Specifically, modern science is now convinced that when two systems are in motion relative to one another, it could never be ascertained, from the scientific view point, as to which is in motion and which at rest, or whether both are in motion. Let it be remembered that that the General Relativity theory has been accepted as fundamental to all exact sciences without dissent.
Yet - and it is surely no revelation to you - this new orientation in science is ignored in discussions relating to the Ptolemaic and Copernican theories on the high school level, but [also by] men in specialized studies of astronomy and physics in colleges and universities. In other words, science in many domains is still taught in terms of a scientific orientation which prevailed at the close of the 19th century, when two cardinal principles of science were yet unknown, namely the Relativity theory, and that all scientific conclusions necessarily belong in the realm of probability, not certainty.
I once asked a professor of science why he did not tell his students that from the viewpoint of the Relativity theory the Ptolemaic system could claim just as much validity as the Copernican. He answered candidly that if he did that, he would lose his standing in the academic world, since he would be at variance with the prevalent legacy from the 19th century. I countered, "What about the moral issue?" The answer was silence.*
In discussing this question with another scientist, he expressed surprise that there should be an individual in the 20th century who could still think that the earth stood still and the sun revolved around it. When I protested that from the viewpoint of modern science this could be as valid as the opposite theory, he could not refute it.*" (The limits of science, emphasis his)
And that previous quote is from a guy who may not even know about the other models of geocentricity, such as that of Tycho Brahe, or another modern geocentric model, a modified version of Tycho Brahe's model, which has the immovable earth at the centre of the universe with the sun circling it, with the motion of the stars and planet hinged on the sun. (see Geocentricity.com) These models do explain a lot of observations.
Talk Origins lists evidence for a rotating earth and a sun-centred system of planets, but the majority, if not all, of that evidence also has a geocentric explanation.
To prove that the earth is spinning on its axis, Talk Origins cites Foucault's pendulum and the coriolis effect as evidence of earth's rotation. Yet both can be explained geocentrically by noting the effect of the mass of the universe and the forces within it (not making it seem as though the solar system is a closed system not affected by the forces of the stars around it). Research by Barbour and Bertotti showed that a rotating universe can account for these effects on the earth (Il Nuovo Cimento 32B(1):1-27, 11 March 1977). Also work by Lense-Thirring and the words of Albert Einstein can be cited as evidence that it was acknowledged that the notion of the universe spinning around the earth would also account for these phenomena.
To prove that the earth orbitted the sun, Talk Origins says the following.
The orbit of the earth around the sun is also observable:
We ask the reader to please focus on the first thing Talk Origins says in this segment of proofs. They say that "the orbit of the earth around the sun is observable". Firstly lets look at what that statement says. It says clearly that you can see the orbit of the earth around the sun. So if this were true, we would look at the earth in relation the sun, and see the earth moving around the sun. This is what the statement means.
But now look at ways we can see the earth moving round the sun, as presented by Talk Origins.
- "certain stars have parallax" - This is supposed to be a way we can observe the earth moving round the sun. But notice that this isn't observing the earth moving. It is observing the star in the sky moving, and then, because you assume that the earth is moving, then you conclude that the earth is moving. This is simply circular reasoning. All that is really observed is the star in the sky moving relative to other stars and we are left to wonder why. The geocentrist simply takes it that the star is moving relative to stars further away, which is what is observed. This doesn't prove the orbit of the earth, because it is not the orbit of the earth that is observed, but rather the movement of a star. Then it is interpreted, due to preconceived notions, as the earth moving. So it is a interpretation, as opposed to an observation, and thus there may be other interpretations, i.e., geocentric interpretations. And there are !
- "Stellar aberration shows up as the need to point the telescope slightly ahead of the star's true position..." - Again, what is being observed? The earth moving? Or the star moving? Again, what is actually seen is the star moving. A repetition of the previous rebuttal is not needed.
But the notion of "the star's "true" position" is only based on their belief that the earth is moving, so the thinking is circular. Either the star is moving or the earth is. Heliocentrists have made their decision and so have geocentrists, and both their models explains it. This also explains parallax as well. The link at the bottom of this page  answers a lot of questions and so-called problems concerning geocentricity.
At present, the geocentric interpretation of stellar aberration is:
"It is explained in one of two ways: (1) the same effect would be observed if the stars are centered around the sun and partake of the sun’s annual motion around the earth. (2) the sun has an aether field attached to it that sweeps past the earth with a period of one year. The sun’s aether would drag the starlight with it and an aberration would be observed. Science knows this as the Fresnel Drag, and it is readily observable." (About scientific (& theological) aspects of Geocentricity, page 96, 148-151)
- "Stars near the plane of the earth's orbit show a radial velocity, a slight red shift as the earth moves away from them in its orbit, and six months later, a slight blue shift" - Again it needs to be asked, what is being observed. The earth's orbit is not what is observed, but rather the behaviour of the light coming from stars. The notion that there is a slight redshift and blueshift is not going to be questioned here, although there is always room for investigation. But again, the fact is what is observed is not the movement of the earth. Instead, we are seeing the light from stars changing in frequency with a certain yearly periodicity. The fact that this happens does not help us differentiate between the theories of whether the universe is moving around the earth in a certain way over the year, or if the earth is moving.
- "Related to radial velocity, the "light time" effect affects the timing of pulsars and short-term variable stars. General relativistic calculations are needed to correct for it." The important question to ask is what is being observed? The stars? Or the earth? If we are actually looking at the earth moving from a position of absolute rest (which is unknowable in our universe), then they have a major proof on the side of heliocentrism. But if they are simply looking at stars and then trying to interpret the effect, then we are not observing the earth move. Rather, we are being told authoritatively how to interpret the light effects from stars in a way that puts us in that place of absolute rest, in order to say that the earth moves. We have to assume that general relativity and its mathematics are true and that the results are verifiable. Unfortunately, since we cannot go to these stars, then the opportunity for proper verification is out of our reach. And the general theory of relativity is only held to be true by a great many scientists, but such an acceptance has never been universal in the "scientific" community since its inception.
- "Since the earth's orbit is elliptical, it is closer to the sun in January than in June. The difference in the apparent size of the sun can be observed." - The question is again asked: what is being observed? This can be seen in the last statement: "the size of the sun". Lets say, for the sake of argument, that the sun is really changing in size because of our distance from it. Because of the fact that we are observing the sun, and from this the heliocentrists interpret, using their preconceptions, the fact that the earth is moving, we are forced to conclude that the heliocentrist have proved nothing. Why? Because what was observed is the size of the sun! This is not seeing the earth moving. It is only when you assume heliocentricity, that is when you come to the conclusion that it proves heliocentricity. Thus more circular reasoning, which proves nothing. Why? Because the observation, in and of itself, doesn't tell us if the sun is moving around the earth or if the earth is spinning. The only thing that tells a person which is their preconceptions, the conclusions they have made beforehand.
To conclude and sum up these series of proofs, it is possible to state some facts about all these evidences.
- None of these proofs have us observing any movement of the earth.
- They all have us looking at something else other than the movement of the earth relative to the sun.
- None of the proofs help us discern whether the universe and sun is moving round the earth, or if the earth is spinning.
- Many, if not all, of these proofs rely on circular reasoning.
All these facts, added with the fact that the motion of the earth has never been unambiguously determined, help us see that heliocentricity appears to be in exactly in the same boat as geocentricity, with regards to observable phenomena, since both can "save the appearances" (explain what is seen). Thus the very notion that the orbit of the earth is observable is untrue. And the very idea that it is possible to say that the earth moves around the sun in a universe full of motions and no human means of finding absolute rest in order to tell us what is absolute motion, i.e. that the earth is moving, is even more questionable. Such things are more in the realms of metaphysics as opposed to physics and science.
If the earth were stationary, these effects could only be explained if every star in the universe were moving in unison relative to the earth with a periodic variation that matched the earth's year.
This is an untrue statement. It is not as if geocentrists have to deal with every single star, as is implied by this statement. Rather they take the universe as a whole as a body of stars, some being closer to us and others being further away. And the geocentric model(s) do seek to explain the observable phenomena. They deal with these observations and strive to understand the others, as all scientific endeavours do. In fact, both Ptolemy's and Tycho Brahe's geocentric models were based on observations. But heliocentric models (as well as the idea that the universe has no centre and is unbounded) makes metaphysical statements, since it places an observer who is part of the system in the place of bystander outside the system/universe, or make statements as though they were.
Talk Origins states
Heliocentrism falls out naturally from the law of universal gravitation.
For those who don't know, the law of universal gravitation is a description of what gravity can do. It says that objects are attracted by a force proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the square of their distance from one another. Translation: the more massive two objects are the greater the force between them; and the more distant these masses are away from each other, the less the force between them will be. If you let an apple go, it will drop on the ground. If you throw it, the force will carry the apple for a while, defying gravity, before it drops to the floor. The author reasons two things: 1) that if something is shot perpendicular to the earth's surface at the right speed, that object will orbit the earth for as long as its force remains constant, as the author may believe the moon orbits the earth; and 2) this applies everywhere in the universe.
The problem is that this equation doesn't really tell us what gravity is or its cause, even though the equation can mathematically describe some of what it can do. Nobody knows what causes gravity. Does this law accurately tell us how the whole universe should act? No! It doesn't even tell us which mass should orbit the other. If this gravitation law was all there is to it, then it would be difficult to understand how so many gravitational forces in our planetary system alone, the star, the planets, and the moons, could remain in such harmonious orbits. All that can be derived from this law is that a counter-force is needed to defy the attractive effects of gravity, whatever gravity is. Now what that force is becomes more theoretical in some cases, since it could be momentum, and there is even evidence that an aether exists, so it could still play a role when it comes to the planetary system.
What must also be understood is that maths is not reality. You can have a mathematical equation that is consistent and yet does not reflect reality, so there is little point in saying "hey, we have a mathematical equation, so our model of reality is true". An example is a singularity, a place where there is an large amount of mass in an infinitesimal region. Mathematically, it is possible. On a piece of paper, anything is possible. But it may not reflect reality. So you may have a theory, you may have a law that goes with that theory, but that doesn't necessarily make the theory part of objective reality or true.
Heliocentrism didn't fall naturally out of this law but it possibly came about to explain some things that the Ptolemaic system, at that time could not. But Tycho Brahe's geocentric system was still intact, and the modified system is even better. In fact, according to some geocentrists, if the Ptolemaic system was modified a little it would still explain the observations that were said to disprove it.
Heliocentrism is useful. As implied above, it is used for predicting hurricane and iceberg paths and for aiming missiles. The space program would be impossible without it. (The Cassini probe, for example, used the earth's motion around the sun to slingshot the probe to Jupiter.) As with all of creationism, strict geocentrism is useless.
Firstly, just because a theory is useful, that doesn't make it true. Did you know that you can use the butt of a gun to hammer in nails? So the gun is useful in that way. Is that the true intended use for a gun? No! It can be much better used than that mistaken, but useful, way. Theories can be useful, but that doesn't make them correct.
Only one example needs to be given to show that the claim that strict geocentrism is useless is false. A geocentric system is useful to an astronomer who is noting the position of stars each night, because throughout the night, stars appear to orbit the earth around the celestial north pole situated at (or really really close to) a star called Polaris. Ancient people, who were geocentric, were also great astronomers. Please note, this is not to say that geocentricity is true because of this one thing. But it shows that geocentricity can be useful which contradicts what Talk Origins just said. There are many other ways that the geocentric model can be useful, e.g., NASA appears to use some geocentric geometry and mathematics as well. This is not to say that NASA is a geocentric organization, but the fact that they do use some geocentric maths shows that geocentricity is not as useless as Talk Origins tries to make out.
Another interesting point is noted by another community encyclopedia:
"The geocentric (Ptolemaic) model of the solar system is also of interest to planetarium makers, as for technical reasons a Ptolemaic-type motion for the planet light apparatus has some advantages over a Copernican-type motion." (Geocentric model - Wikipedia.org)
Is geocentricity really so useless? No!
Let's also take note of the dogmatic and zealotic tendencies of scientists. Once the majority of them hold to a certain theory of things, other theories are cast aside and not extensively research, because they take that one theory as a worldview, as truth. An example of this is the theory of evolution and the theories of relativity, which are not without their problems and criticisms. Once they took hold, other theories were ridiculed and not researched to the level of the predominant theory. So it's no wonder that Talk Origins thinks that nothing useful can come from geocentricity or creation science, since his worldview is so steeped in evolution and heliocentricity, all other theories are simply useless.
So why go through all this, when the original point was about scriptures that seem to talk geocentrically? Because a lot of bible-readers and bible-believers have their mind set on heliocentricity, a sun-centred planetary system, taking that as fact, they will interpret these verses which say things like "the sun stood still" and "the earth cannot be moved" phenomenally, i.e. they think to themselves, well this would still be seen by a person on a rotating earth moving round the sun, even though it looks like the earth doesn't move and the sun moves round it. What they think is true. But because they are so dogmatic in their belief, they will exclude the idea that it could literally be true that it was the sun that stopped moving in Joshua's day, and the world doesn't move. They will do this, not because it has been empirically proved to them, but because that is what they have been taught from a child upwards, that this is the only way to think, and no other side has had a chance to have a real chance to show its point of view.
The guy writing above said that the hebrew word "mote" has nothing to do with absolute motionless and that it has to do with "a steadiness in motion and permanence". It is true that it can mean "a steadiness in motion", but context can point to a totally motionlessness. For example,
Isa 41:7 So the carpenter encourages the goldsmith, and he who smoothes with the hammer him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, It is good; and he fastens it with nails, that it should not be moved (Heb. mote).
Psa 125:1 Those who trust in Yahweh are as Mount Zion, Which can't be moved (Heb. mote), but remains forever.
Both of these scriptures can refer to a motionless object, with the Hebrew word "mote" enforcing the fact that the object's position will not waver or slip. It will stay where it is. That's why numerous translaters will translate the word as "move" or "remove", because it does refer to some movement. So when there are other scriptures that speak of the earth and the sun, there is no need to bind the meaning of this hebrew word to only stuff that is steady in motion simply to defend heliocentricity, especially when such a model is not out-and-out fact, especially when the motion of the earth cannot be detected objectively (see Geocentricity), although many experiments have attempted to track it. Such a model is ultimately theoretical, and the evidences for it being circumstantial, indirect.
There are passages that refer to the sun moving, such as Ecclesiastes 1:5, Isaiah 38:6, and the others cited by Talk Origins, like Joshua 10. Now, remembering that the notion of an earth moving round a relatively stable sun is not absolute fact, and that geocentricity has not been disproven, there is nothing wrong or irrational about accepting these scriptures at face value. But some creationists, who do not accept the geocentric idea, but reject it, would interpret these verses phenomenologically, which means they think the bible is simply speaking from man's point of view and not from absolute reality. They think in terms of all movement being relative. If heliocentricity has not been proven and geocentricity disproven, what are the grounds for such an interpretation, apart from an adherence to heliocentrism? They cannot consistently use the argument that such scripture are talking poetically since a number of sun-moving passages are in plain historical narrative. These same creationists would then argue that Gen 1-11 should be taken as historical narrative and not as poetry because the context of the book of Genesis is generally historical narrative.
A classic example is Ecclesiastes 1:5 which says that the sun rises, goes down, and hurries to where he arose. The natural implication of this verse is motion. The following verses, verses 6 and 7, talk about the wind moving, and about the waters of the river moving. Thus the context backs up the sense of motion. So what reason is there to take the part that talks of the sun phenomenologically? Simply because they believe very strongly that the earth circles the sun, and thus it is the earth that truly and absolutely moves and not the sun. Rather than suffer the ridicule of a godless naturalistic science establishment, who already ridicule them for rejecting the theory of evolution, they continue to promote heliocentrism. This is not to say that they don't accept the sun-moving, heliocentric theory themselves for reason of personal preference, i.e., they agree with what it says, since the vast majority of them do accept it for this reason. But that doesn't make it proven and that doesn't give them grounds to make it the exclusive way of interpreting scripture if the other opinion, the geocentric opinion, has not been disproven.
Speaking simply from a human standpoint, without recourse to an objective point of view, because of the competing models of the universe and solar system, both of which explain what we see, from that human standpoint, we cannot absolutely know which is true, whether heliocentricity or geocentricity. From that point of view, we cannot rule out either. So when reading these passages that talk of the sun moving or the earth being still, simply read it with an open mind. It may be talking phenomenally. But it also may be talking literally. The words of scripture say simply that the earth stands still and the sun moves. Man says the sun stands still relatively, and the earth moves round the sun in a universe with no centre, or whose centre cannot be here. The most important question is which is to be taken as a standard. The word of scripture? Or the word of man?
The writer of the first response states that verses like Joshua 10 and Psalm 19 are taken "are observational descriptions. In other words these verses describe motion of the sun as seen by an observer on Earth and has nothing to do with absolute motion. The same observed motion has been observed by probes on Mars" (emphasis mine). The important question is who or what determines absolute motion? And is this writer speaking scientifically when he states absolutely that the words of scripture have "nothing to do with absolute motion"? Or has he taken the human experience of relative movement and theories about our planetary system and the cosmos to a metaphysical level and now stating what scripture has no say in absolute movement?
The question is left to the reader to decide.
- About scientific (& theological) aspects of Geocentricity
- Better reasoning and thinking by Phillip Stott
- Labour of the Sun by Walter van der Kamp