Geocentrism is the view that the earth is the center of the universe, and that the universe (sun, moon, stars, planets) revolves around the earth. Most geocentrists also believe that the earth stands still, and does not rotate on its axis. Geocentrism is in contrast to heliocentrism, which is the view that the earth rotates on its axis and, along with the other planets, revolves around the sun. While it is permissible for Christians to hold the heliocentric view, heliocentrism can only be advanced as a theory, not a certainty (because neither heliocentrism nor geocentrism can be scientifically proven definitively). In fact, three Popes (Paul V, Urban VIII and Alexander VII) have officially declared that heliocentrism is opposed to Sacred Scripture, and condemned the notion that heliocentrism was a truth to be believed with certainty. Instead, the Scriptures, the Apostolic Tradition and teachings of the Church support a geocentric cosmology vis-à-vis a heliocentric one. Nota Bene: I am a faithful Catholic, not a scientist. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. When presented with a question of faith (such as how God created the universe), I look to the Scriptures, the Tradition and the teachings of the Catholic Church for the answer. I do not rely upon modern scientists who have been unable to prove heliocentrism and disprove geocentrism, especially those who deny the inerrancy of Scripture and generally abhor the Catholic faith.
I. The Earth Does Not Move
When interpreted literally, the Scriptures teach us that the earth does not move. Should we interpret the Scriptures literally? The Catholic Church, having adopted the rule of St. Augustine, teaches “not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires; a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate.” Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, No. 15, 1893. This was affirmed by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, No. 36, 1950.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 116, also says: “The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."
In other words, we are to interpret the Scriptures literally unless there is a compelling reason to interpret them otherwise. This is why the Church interprets literally, for example, Matt. 16:18 (Peter is the rock); Matt. 19:9 (remarriage after divorce is adultery); Matt. 26:26-28 (“this is my body”); John 6:51-58 (“eat my flesh”; “drink my blood”); John 3:5 (born of water means baptism); John 20:23 (“whose sins you forgive are forgiven”); 1 Peter 3:21 (“baptism saves you”); and James 5:14-15 (“anoint the sick with oil to save them and forgive their sins”).
We must also remember that the Scriptures were dictated to the sacred writers by the Holy Ghost. Thus, we take God’s Word for what it says, for He is the author of Scripture. There does not seem to be a compelling reason to depart from the literal and obvious sense of the following Scriptures which teach, both implicitly and explicitly, that the earth does not move.
Certainly, a literal interpretation is not untenable, nor does necessity require an alternative interpretation (because science has not disproved the geocentric theory; in fact, science also provides more evidence for geocentrism):
1 Sam. 2:8 – “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.”
2 Sam. 22:16; Psalm 18:15 – “Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were laid bare...” (Describing the earth as having “foundations” is consistent with an earth that is fixed and established and does not move, as many Scriptures reveal).
1 Chron. 16:30 – “yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.” This and many other passages say very plainly that the earth does not move.
Job 26:7 – “He stretches out the north over the void, and hangs the earth upon nothing.”
Job 38:4; cf. Job 9:6 – “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
Psalm 8:29 – “...when he marked out the foundations of the earth.”
Psalm 93:1 – “Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.”
Psalm 96:10 – “Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved.”
Psalm 102:25 – “Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.”
Psalm 104:5 – “Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken.”
Psalm 119:90 – “thou has established the earth, and it stands firm.”
Isaiah 24:18 – “…for the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.”
Isaiah 48:13 – “My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens...”
Isaiah 66:1 – “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.”
When the Scriptures say the world is “established” (in Hebrew, “kun”), it indicates that the establishment is ongoing. See, for example, 1 Chron. 22:10, Judges 16:26,29 and Ezra 3:3 where “kun” is used to explain an ongoing lack of motion.
The only time Scripture says the earth will “move” (in Hebrew, “mot” - see “mot” in Job 41:23; Psalm 125:1; 140:10; and Isa. 41:7) is in the context of the end of the world, where God will come in judgment (e.g. Psalm 76:8). This coincides with the apocalyptic literature of, inter alia, Matt. 24:29-30 and 2 Peter 3:10-13, but never suggests actual motion.
Gen. 1:1-5; 14-19 - God created the earth on the first day, and the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. God created them to “give light upon the earth.” The heavenly bodies were therefore created for the earth, to adorn it, and to mark its seasons. The earth is God’s focal point. This ordering is another indicator that the earth is the center of the universe. How could the sun be the center, if it wasn’t created until the fourth day? This also raises the question: How did the earth have “evening and morning” on days one to three, before the sun was created on day four? Scripture reveals this is because the universe has light that is independent of the sun and stars. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas hypothesized that God created the sun and stars on day four from this effusive light that He created on day one (just like God created man on day six from the dirt He created on day one). This effusive light is what brought about the “evening and morning” periods of days one through three.
Job 38:18-20,24 – in these verses, although Job knows the sun gives light, God asks Job “where is the way to the dwelling of light” and “where is the way the light is divided?” Job cannot answer God’s questions. Why can’t he, if Job knows that the sun gives light? God is referring to the light He created without any dimensional source. For example, Psalm 74:16 says “You have prepared the light and the sun,” which distinguishes the two sources of light. Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 also says “Remember your Creator…before the sun and the light, and the moon and the stars are darkened.” The sacred writer distinguishes between “the sun” and “the light,” and also indicates that there are four separate sources of light.
Gen. 1:1; 2:1,4; Psalm 113:6; Jer. 10:11; 32:17; 51:48; Joel 3:16; Hag. 2:6,21; Jud. 13:18; cf. Psalm 102:25; Isaiah 24:18; 48:13 – here are some examples where God distinguishes “between the heavens and the earth.” The earth is unique and distinguishable from the rest of the heavens.
Gen. 14:19,22; Ex. 20:11; 31:17; Deut. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 2 Sam. 18:9; 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chron. 2:2; Ez. 5:11; Psalms 69:34; 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 146:6; Isaiah 37:16; Jer. 23:24; 33:25; 4 Ez. 2:14; 6:38; Tob. 7:18; 1 Macc. 2:37; Jud. 7:28; 9:12; Matt. 5:18; 11:25; 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 10:21; 16:17; 21:33; Acts 17:24; Rev. 14:7; cf. Matt. 28:18; Eph. 4:8-10; Phil. 2:10; Col. 1:16 – more examples where God distinguishes between “heaven and earth.” The Scriptures clearly teach that the earth is unique among the rest of the universe.
John 17:24 – Jesus says “...behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.” Jesus’ language also suggests a world that has a firm, unmovable foundation.
John Salza Esq.