The geocentric cosmology of Thomas M. Strouse
Dr. Thomas M. Strouse, Dean and Professor Emeritus of Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Newington, Connecticut has a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University, and a Ph.D from Bob Jones University. He is the author of THE GEOCENTRIC COSMOLOGY OF GENESIS 1:1-19, presented below, in which he defends his geocentric interpretation of the cosmology of Genesis and the OT.
THE GEOCENTRIC COSMOLOGY OF GENESIS 1:1-19
by Thomas M. Strouse
The Beginning (1:1)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Moses uses very simple yet specific terms to describe the initial creation “in the
beginning” (bere’shith) of the heaven and earth to his Jewish audience. His
description of divine activity moves toward the creation of the earth and its suitability
for man’s habitation (cf. Isa. 45:18). His introductory statement begins with God’s
creative role in the creation of all things. God (‘elohim) created (bara’)
ex nihilo (“from nothing” according to Heb. 11:3) all creation including the heavens and
angelic realm (cf. Ps. 104:4; Col. 1:16; Neh. 9:6), and earth, by His word. The first
verse is the introduction and parallels Gen. 2:1 as the conclusion of this section (through
v. 2:3). This inclusio (Gen. 1:1-2:1) refers to the creation of the two physical heavens
(“the atmosphere” and “the stellar space”) only, and not the third heaven, as the context
demands and Ex. 20:8-11 confirms.
Day One (1:2-5)
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of
the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God
said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that is was
good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light
Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were
the first day.
Moses records the initial day of creation. Since he moves the revelatory narrative
immediately to focus upon the earth one must recognize the centrality of it in God’s
creative plan. He uses three clauses to describe the conditions needing God’s creative
action. First, the earth “was without form and void” (tohu wavohu). The
word tohu occurs twenty times in the OT referring to something that is futile. It
identifies with “desert” and “wilderness,” and consequently with that which is barren or
unlivable. In Dt. 32:10-11, the Hebrew word tohu accompanies the verb “fluttereth
over” (rachaph), which Hebrew verb translates into “moved upon” in Gen. 1:2.
The word bohu occurs also in Jer. 4:23 and Isa. 34:11, suggesting that which is
lifeless. Together these words seem to indicate that God was beginning to make
inhabitable and living the un-inhabitable and lifeless earth that He ultimately called
good (Gen. 1:31). Moses states in the second clause that “darkness was upon the face of the
deep,” apparently paralleling the deep (tehom) with the earth. The creation Psalm
104 identifies the deep with the waters upon the earth (v. 6). The Lord God created and
named the darkness (choshek) which was over the face (peney’) of the deep.
The third clause parallels the waters (mayim) with the deep and contrasts the Spirit (ruach) of God with the darkness. God created the waters, with the associated
darkness, as His un-furbished but presumably spherical earth. The good corrective for
the darkness was the creation of light, which source was the Spirit of God Who moved
upon (merachepheth) the face of the waters.
The Lord’s creative fiat “let there be…and there was” (yehiy…wayehiy
produced the light (‘or. This light, distinct from sunlight, moonlight and
starlight (vv. 15-18), is the light to which Solomon refers, stating “While the sun, or the
light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened…” (Eccl. 12:2; cf. I Cor. 15:41). This
created and good light was the first of three divisions during the first three days (cf. vv. 6, 9). God divided (wayyavedel) the light from the darkness and called or named (qara’) them both, thus indicating His creative and authoritative power over them.
He defined the Day (yom) and Night (layelah) with regard to the movement
of the light (from the Spirit) upon the dark earth, affecting simultaneously on opposite
sides of the earth the presence or absence of light. Since the Lord God created darkness
first, the light presumably came twelve hours later (cf. Jn. 11:9) to dispel the evening
(`erev) and bring in the light of the morning (boqer), producing the first day
(yom ‘echad). At the end of Day One all that God had created was the mass
of darkened water, with the light moving around it. This movement initiated time, making
the creation of time earth-centric, and therefore all time “earth-time.” There was no
heaven, and consequently the earth had no relationship with the uncreated sun, moon or
stars. God’s creation was exclusively geocentric.
Day Two (1:6-8)
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it
divide the waters from the waters. 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.
God’s second division of creation, which was spatial, was the division of the
waters of the watery sphere called earth. He created the firmament (raqiya`) to divide
the waters under from the waters above the firmament (Cf. II Pet. 3:5). The waters
under the firmament constituted the earth (cf. vv. 9-10) and the waters above constituted
the edge of the outer limits of the firmament (cf. Ps. 148:4). This firmament, named
heaven (raqia` = shamayim), came into existence the second day, and its parameters
include the earth (below) and earth water (above).
The word “firmament” comes from the Latin Vulgate word firmamentum (cf.
stereoma sterewma in the LXX) and is a good translation because the “emptiness” of
space has substance, which Isaac Newton called aether. The Biblical writers used the verb raqa` to refer to the spreading out silver (Jer. 10:9) or gold (Isa. 40:19) as beaten metal. Elihu likened the firmament to a strong, molten looking glass (Job. 37:18) which suggests the reflective powers of the outer layer of water over the heaven. Presumably the waters above the firmament are the same as the “a sea of glass like unto crystal” before the Lord’s throne (cf. Rev. 4:6). God’s throne (Ps. 11:4), which is in the third heaven, is “above the firmament” (Ezk. 1:22-26). The firmament, as days four and five
will bear out, contain both the stellar realm of the heavens with the sun, moon, and stars
(vv. 14-18), and also the atmosphere (v. 20) in which the fowl fly.
Moses records the conclusion of Day Two with the familiar refrain “and the
evening and the morning” were the second day. The light source was the same Spirit
Who moved around the earth creating the effect of night replaced by day. The earth is
the fixed focal point around which all movement consists. The Lord, Who is the Wisdom
of God (cf. Prov. 8:12, 22, 35 with I Cor. 1:24, 30), confirms this hermeneutic by
averring, “When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the
face of the depth” (Prov. 8:27). The psalmist corroborates that the earth is the absolute,
fixed point, stating “the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved” (Ps. 93:1).
The Bible records that the earth is the fixed divine footstool: “Thus saith the LORD, The
heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto
me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isa. 66:1).
At the end of Day Two God had separated the Earth’s waters with the firmament
between the water below and the waters above. The movement of light necessary to
establish Day Two was relative to the fixed, geocentric earth. Earth was the center of the
heavens and had no relationship with the uncreated sun, moon or stars.
Day Three (vv. 9-13)
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one
place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land
Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw
that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb
yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in
itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and
herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was
itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the
morning were the third day.
Day Three concludes the first half of the creation week with the third division.
The Lord separated the waters on earth from the dry land (hayyabashah) and
named the waters Seas and the landmass Earth. Solomon refers to the boundaries of
God’s created seas and land, stating, “When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters
should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth”
(Prov. 8:29). Furthermore, the Lord created foundations for the earth and asked Job if he
had knowledge about them, stating, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the
earth?…Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone
thereof?” (Job. 38:4, 6). The Lord also created the fountains of the deep according to
Solomon: “When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains
of the deep” (Prov. 8:28). The Lord declared that the land and seas were good.
The second creative act on Day Three was the creation of life-bearing
vegetation.35 This is the first example of indirect creation wherein the Lord created
vegetation through the life-bearing earth. The vegetation (deshe’) included plants
(`esev) and trees (`etz) with seeds (zera`). The light from the Spirit of God was sufficient for the growth of this vegetation prior to the creation of the sun on Day Four. The Lord God set boundaries for the vegetation to produce “after his kind” (cf. Gen. 1:21, 24-25; 6:20; 7:14). Through Day Three the Lord had created sufficiently to turn the formless (watery “wasteland”) earth into one which was livable.
At the conclusion of Day Three, which was still based on the time reference of
night and day, evening and morning, and was produced by the rotating light from the
Spirit of God, the earth was a fixed, livable sphere, with no relationship to the uncreated
sun, moon or stars.
Day Four (vv. 14-19)
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the
day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and
years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light
upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light
to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the
darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning
were the fourth day.
Moses introduces the creative activity on the fourth day with the divine fiat “Let
there be.” The fourth day begins the second series of days and is the middle day of the
first week. This second series gives the divine remedy for the formless earth. Not only
did God make the earth livable but He now gives it living creatures. Day Four parallels
Day One with regard to the creation of light. On the first day God created light which
emanated from the Spirit of God (Ps. 104:2), and on the fourth day He created the two
great light bearers (hamme’oroth).
This fourth day of creation repudiates any notion of heliocentricity. First, the
creation formula yehiy…wehayu (Let there be…and there was”) demands that the two
great light bearers were created on Day Four, and were not hidden since Day One.
Second, there was no heaven on Day One for the placement of the two great light bearers.
Third, since time hitherto had been determined by the movement of light around the
earth, hermeneutics demands that time still be determined by the movement of light,
whatever its source, around the earth. Fourth, if the earth began to orbit the sun, this
passage fails to indicate that teaching, and it fails to record any change from a geocentric to a heliocentric creation.
God placed the sun, moon and stars “in the firmament of the heaven” (bireqiya`
hashshamayim) or in the celestial heaven, on Day Four. Moses utilizes
this expression three times (vv. 14, 15, and 17) to emphasize the divine placement and
celestial location of these light bearers. The Lord revealed the three-fold purpose of the
light bearers (vv. 17-18) with the Hebrew conjugation of the Hiphil infinitive construct:
to give light (leha’iyr), to rule (welimeshol)), and to divide (ulahavediyl). The narrative repeats the purposes of the celestial lights, all of which are for the benefit of the earth. The earth needs physical enlightening, celestial governing, and temporal dividing. Moses gives four functions for the temporal separation that the celestial light bearers provide. Their functions are for signs (le’othoth), for seasons (ulemo`adiym), for days (uleyamiym) and for years (weshaniym)). Because of Moses’ linguistic de-emphasis on “the stars” (hacocaviym), the divine account indicates they are relatively insignificant in God’s overall redemptive plan for earth (Mt. 19:28) and mankind (Jn. 3:16). The movement of light on the earth, now from new sources, the sun, moon, and the stars, constituted Day Four. The celestial light bearers, primarily the greater light and lesser light, encroached upon the darkness of earth, dispelling the evening and giving morning throughout the world.
The literal and contextual interpretation of Gen. 1:1-19 demands the only possible
understanding that God created the geocentric earth surrounded by the three heavens,
regardless of any scientific ramifications. Other Biblical passages are consistent with
this interpretation. For instance, the classic case for geocentricity is Joshua’s statement, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon” (Josh. 10:12). Joshua did not cry out to the earth to stop rotating, because from his vantage point the sun and moon not only looked like they were moving phenomenologically, but they were in actuality.47 The verse following gives the divine and therefore absolute perspective that “the sun stood still, and the moon stayed…” (v. 13).
Another passage corroborating geocentricity is Eccl. 1:5-7: “The sun also
ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind
goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually,
and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return
again.” Solomon lists three objects that move continually relative to the earth: the sun,
the wind, and the rivers. Hermeneutically, it would be difficult if not impossible to
interpret these verses to teach that the earth moves relative to the sun but is stationary
relative to the wind and rivers. Alternatively, would one want to interpret the passages as
saying that the earth moves relative to the sun, wind and rivers?
The most significant object of the Lord’s creation in the firmament is the sun
(shemesh) according to David (Ps. 19:1-6). The psalmist uses four descriptive
terms, three Hebrew conjugations and one noun, to refer to the movement of the sun.
God has set (sam) a tabernacle in the firmament for the sun. This bright orb,
comes out (yotze’) as a bridegroom comes from his nuptial chamber, rejoices as a
strong man does to run (larutz) his race, and goes forth (motza’o)
throughout its complete circuit to the ends of heaven.
Other passages confirm the geocentric teaching of Gen. 1:1-19. The Scriptures
teach that the earth is stationary (I Chr. 16:30; Job 26:7), that the stars have their courses (Judg. 5:20), and heaven has its circuit (Job 22:14). There are no consistent and
compelling arguments from the Bible for heliocentricity. Proof for this false view must
be sought outside of the Bible and then forced upon Bible texts.
The Lord gave revelation about His geocentric creation through His servant
Moses (Gen. 1:1-19). The details of the narrative of the creation account clearly and
consistently teach God’s geocentric creation. He made the earth into a livable and living
world for His special redemptive purposes. On Day One He created the earth as a
darkened sphere of water and commenced time with light moving across the face of
earth. On Day Two He created the Heavens which separated the earth’s upper waters
from the earth’s lower waters. On Day Three He separated the land from the seas and
created life-bearing vegetation. On Day Four, He placed the light bearers in the
firmament to benefit the geocentric earth. Of course, Day Five records the creation of
animal life and Day Six focuses on the creation of man imago Dei. The Bible consistently teaches the centrality of earth in God’s physical creation for His redemptive
The earth is preeminent in the Lord’s creation and not the sun. The Bible never
teaches that the earth moves around the sun or that it is ever in the heavens to do so.
Christianity, and fundamentalism within, has embraced, for the most part, a fallacious
cosmology based on man’s reasoning rather than Bible exegesis. Rather than looking to
the Scriptures which the Creator wrote for absolute cosmology, many receive the
philosophy of men (Col. 2:8) and are severely benighted. Will Christianity follow the
philosophical rationale of Copernicus or the Biblical revelation of Christ? Jeremiah of
old stated the tension between man’s words and God’s when he said, “Yet a small
number…shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs” (Jer. 44:28).