Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

Is Science Superior to the Bible?

Does the Bible teach the earth is stationary and at the center of the universe?

THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM: The Bible teaches a Stationary Earth as the Center of the Universe

An erroneous Bible teaching caused Christian theologians to oppose Galileo’s proof that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun. In the sixteenth century, Copernicus proposed this theory about the double motion of the earth. In the following century, Galileo’s telescope proved that Copernicus had been right.

To oppose the Copernican doctrine and show that the earth remains stationary while the sun moves around it, the Catholic Church pointed to the tenth chapter of the book of Joshua [according to Andrew White]. There we are told that Joshua, in order to have a longer period of daylight in which to carry out the Lord’s command to slaughter the Amorites, ordered the sun to stand still – not the earth. (Once again Andrew White is referenced as the source. Andrew White has been discredited in previous pages (read more here).

Earth At Center

We're starting to get into some scientific questions, and we're just a little church on the Oregon coast. We had 12 people attending last Sunday, and we can't even afford to pay a pastor. So, how can a semi-retired, unpaid pastor of a tiny church on the north Oregon coast answer tough scientific questions? It's simple... you can always trust scripture. So let's dig into scripture, plus a little history, and see what it plainly and clearly says.

What Is The Origin of the Belief in a Geocentric Earth?

In one word Aristotle. It wasn't that the church was promoting a belief that the earth was at the center of the universe, geocentricity was the established scientific belief at that time. Why did some Catholic leaders believe in geocentricity? As often happens, people in the church abandoned the teaching of scripture, and believed what science taught. Galileo's supporting the fact that the earth goes around the sun was in opposition to the science of his day. And that's what caused him some problems.

Why Then Was Galileo Tried by the Inquisition?

You can get the complete answer to this question in a paper published in April of 2000. The author, Thomas Schirrmacher, writes in the abstract for the paper:

The 17th century controversy between Galileo and the Vatican is examined. Fifteen theses are advanced, with supporting evidence, to show that the Galileo affair cannot serve as an argument for any position on the relation of religion and science. Contrary to legend, both Galileo and the Copernican system were well regarded by church officials. Galileo was the victim of his own arrogance, the envy of his colleagues and the politics of Pope Urban VIII. He was not accused of criticizing the Bible, but disobeying a papal decree. - The Galileo Affair: History or Heroic Hagiography? by Thomas Schirrmacher on April 2000

Does The Bible Teach Geocentricism?

No, it does not. A good paper on this topic is: Geocentricism and Creation, by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner

Does Joshua 10:11-13 Support Geocentricism?

No, it does not. A good article on this topic is: Joshua’s long day Did it really happen—and how? by Russell Grigg

Why is Joshua 10:11-13 used to support geocentricism? Here are verses 12 and 13

12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“O sun, stand still at Gabon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

The phrase "the sun stood still" is taken to mean that the sun stopped moving. The thought is that... the only way that could be true is if the sun goes around the earth, and the sun had stopped moving. Therefore, the Bible describes geocentricity... the sun going around the earth.

The only problem with this is that it is absurd. If this way of thinking were true, then TV weather forecasters across the country declare geocentricity every day when they give the times of the sunrise and sunset. Obviously, the sun can't rise unless it is the sun moving around the earth.

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Do you see the error?

The Bible speaks in the same everyday manner that we speak. We describe things, such as morning arriving, from our point of view on the earth. That's why the SUN RISES in the morning. It's not that this is a scientific fact... it's just the way it appears to us. Being consistent, this is the way the Bible describes what happened during Joshua's long day. The sun appeared to stop moving in the sky. This says nothing about the sun physically going around the earth. All it says is that, to an observer on earth, the sun stopped in the sky.

How could the sun stop in the sky? I suggest reading the article I recommended above: Joshua’s long day Did it really happen—and how? by Russell Grigg

Conclusion: The Bible does not teach a stationary earth as the center of the universe. The historical facts are that science wrongly taught geocentricity for nearly 2000 years, and vigorously defended it in Galileo's day. It was science that was wrong, not the Bible.

The next humanist claim: Other passages demonstrating that the earth remains stationary include Psalm 93:1 (“The world is [e]stablished, that it cannot be moved.”); I Chronicles 16:30 (“[T]he world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.”); and Psalm 104:5 (The Lord “laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever.”).

Because of Galileo’s support for the Copernican doctrine, the Inquisition threatened him with torture, forced him to recant, and subjected him to imprisonment. Additionally, for nearly 200 years the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books condemned all writings that affirmed the double motion of the earth. [Again referencing the discredited Andrew White.]

The humanists continue whipping the dead horse of geocentricism, totally ignoring the fact that at the time of Galileo geocentricism was the firm belief of science, and had been for nearly 2000 years. It's science that got it wrong, not the Bible. We'll look at the scripture the references in the next page... click here.