Early Church Fathers and Catholic Teaching on Geocentrism

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Early Church Fathers and Catholic Teaching on Geocentrism

Post by flatterme on Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:22 am

Geocentrism / Tradition / Church Fathers

In 1564, the Council of Trent (Session IV, April Cool infallibly declared that that no one could “in matters of faith and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine...interpret the sacred Scriptures…even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”

This infallible declaration was restated by the First Vatican Council: “In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers” (On Revelation, April 24, 1870, chapter 2, no. 9).

Pope Leo XIII explained why we are required to hold to the interpretation of the Fathers when they are unanimous: “the Holy Fathers, We say, are of supreme authority, whenever they all interpret in one and the same manner any text of the Bible, as pertaining to the doctrine of faith or morals; for their unanimity clearly evinces that such interpretation has come down from the Apostles as a matter of Catholic faith” (Providentissimus Deus, 1893, no. 14).

In other words, when the Fathers are unanimous about an interpretation of Scripture, their understanding comes from the Sacred Deposit of Faith handed down by Christ and the Apostles. The Fathers unanimously interpreted the Scriptures to support a geocentric cosmology.  According to Trent and Vatican I (two dogmatic ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church), we are not permitted to depart from their interpretation of the Scriptures, because their interpretation is deemed to have come from the Apostles. Those who reject geocentrism must explain why they do not submit to this rule of biblical interpretation set forth by two infallible councils.

With that, let us look at some of the quotes from the Fathers.

Things to consider when reading the Fathers regarding the earth and sun:

1) The Fathers never say the earth moves, except at the end of time.

2) The Fathers always say the earth is at rest at the center of the universe.

3) The Fathers never say the sun is the center of the universe.

4) The Fathers never say the sun does not move around the earth, even in their scientific analysis of the cosmos.

5) The Fathers always say the earth is the center of the universe.

6) The Fathers always say the sun moves as the moon moves.

7) The Fathers recognize that some of the Greeks held that the earth moves and rotates, but they do not accept that teaching.

Cool The Fathers accept the Chaldean, Egyptian and Greek teaching that the earth is at the center of the universe and does not move.

9) The Fathers hold that the earth was created first, by itself, and only afterward the sun, moon and stars.

10) The Fathers hold that light was created after the earth, but that this light preceded the light of the sun and stars.

The Fathers on the Geocentric Cosmos

Ambrose: But they say that the sun can be said to be alone, because there is no second sun. But the sun himself has many things in common with the stars, for he travels across the heavens, he is of that ethereal and heavenly substance, he is a creature, and is reckoned amongst all the works of God. He serves God in union with all, blesses Him with all, praises Him with all. Therefore he cannot accurately be said to be alone, for he is not set apart from the rest.(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Bk V, Ch II)

Athanasius: but the earth is not supported upon itself, but is set upon the realm of the waters, while this again is kept in its place, being bound fast at the center of the universe. (Against the Heathen, Book I, Part I)

Athenagoras: to Him is for us to know who stretched out and vaulted the heavens, and fixed the earth in its place like a center (Why the Christians do not Offer Sacrifices, Ch XIII

Augustine: Who else save Joshua the son of Nun divided the stream of the Jordan for the people to pass over, and by the utterance of a prayer to God bridled and stopped the revolving sun? Who save Samson ever quenched his thirst with water flowing forth from the jawbone of a dead ass? Who save Elias was carried aloft in a chariot of fire? (Tractates, XCI, Ch XV, 24-25, 2).

Chrysostom: And what took place at a later period were few and at intervals; for example, when the sun stood still in its course, and started back in the opposite direction. And this one may see to have occurred in our case also. For so even in our generation, in the instance of him who surpassed all in ungodliness, I mean Julian, many strange things happened. Thus when the Jews were attempting to raise up again the temple at Jerusalem, fire burst out from the foundations, and utterly hindered them all. (Homilies on Matthew, Homily IV)

Chrysostom: For He not only made it, but provided also that when it was made, it should carry on its operations; not permitting it to be all immoveable, nor commanding it to be all in a state of motion. The heaven, for instance, hath remained immoveable, according as the prophet says, "He placed the heaven as a vault, and stretched it out as a tent over the earth." But, on the other hand, the sun with the rest of the stars, runs on his course through every day. And again, the earth is fixed, but the waters are continually in motion; and not the waters only, but the clouds, and the frequent and successive showers, which return at their proper season. (Homilies to Antioch, Homily XII)

Clement of Rome: the Creator, long-suffering, merciful, the sustainer, the benefactor, ordaining love of men, counselling purity, immortal and making immortal, incomparable, dwelling in the souls of the good, that cannot be contained and yet is contained, who has fixed the great world as a centre in space, who has spread out the heavens and solidified the earth (Homily II, Ch XLV)

Clement of Rome: For it is manifest even to the unbelieving and unskilful, that the course of the sun, which is useful and necessary to the world, and which is assigned by providence, is always kept orderly; but the courses of the moon, in comparison of the course of the sun, seem to the unskilful to be inordinate and unsettled in her waxings and wanings. For the sun moves in fixed and orderly periods: for from him are hours, from him the day when he rises, from him also the night when he sets; from him months  and years are reckoned, from him the variations of seasons are produced; while, rising to the  higher regions, he tempers the spring; but when he reaches the top of the heaven, he kindles the summer's heats: again, sinking, he produces the temper of autumn; and when he returns to his lowest circle, he bequeaths to us the rigour of winter's cold from the icy binding of heaven. (Pseudo-Clementine, Bk VIII, Ch XLV)
Eusebius: Even so one and the same impression of the solar rays illumines the air at once, gives light to the eyes, warmth to the touch, fertility to the earth, and growth to plants. The same luminary constitutes the course of time, governs the motions of the stars, performs the circuit of the heavens, imparts beauty to the earth, and displays the power of God to all: and all this he performs by the sole and unaided force of his own nature.(Oration of Constantine, Ch XII)

Gregory Nanzianzus: But who gave him motion at first? And what is it which ever moves him in his circuit, though in his nature stable and immovable, truly unwearied, and the giver and sustainer of life, and all the rest of the titles which the poets justly sing of him, and never resting in his course or his benefits? How comes he to be the creator of day when above the earth, and of night when below it? or whatever may be the right expression when one contemplates the sun? (Orations, Oration XXVIII, XXX)

Gregory Nanzianzus: The sun is extolled by David for its beauty, its greatness, its swift course, and its power, splendid as a bridegroom, majestic as a giant; while, from the extent of its circuit, it has such power that it equally sheds its light from one end of heaven to the other, and the heat thereof is in no wise lessened by distance. (Funeral Orations for St. Basil, 66).

Irenaeus: The sun also, who runs through his orbit in twelve months, and then returns to the same point in the circle (Against Heresies, Bk I, Ch XVII, 1)

Jerome: In Exodus we read that the battle was fought against Amalek while Moses prayed, and the whole people fasted until the evening. Joshua, the son of Nun, bade sun and moon stand still, and the victorious army prolonged its fast for more than a day. (Against Jovinianus, Bk 2).

Jerome: The moon may dispute over her eclipses and ceaseless toil, and ask why she must traverse every month the yearly orbit of the sun. The sun may complain and want to know what he has done that he travels more slowly than the moon. (Against the Pelagians, Bk I, 19)

John Damascene: For it is night when the sun is under the earth, and the duration of night is the course of the sun under the earth from its rising till its setting. (The Orthodox Faith, Bk 2, Ch 7)

Justin Martyr: The former, after he had been named Jesus (Joshua), and after he had received strength from. His Spirit, caused the sun to stand still. (Dialogue with Trypho, Ch CXIII)


Methodius: Resuming then, let us first lay bare, in speaking of those things according to our power, the imposture of those who boast as though they alone had comprehended from what forms the heaven is arranged, in accordance with the hypothesis of the Chaldeans and Egyptians. For they say that the circumference of the world is likened to the turnings of a well-rounded globe, the earth having a central point. For its outline being spherical, it is necessary, they say, since there are the same distances of the parts, that the earth should be the center of the universe, around which, as being older, the heaven is whirling. For if a circumference is described from the central point, which seems to be a circle, for it is impossible for a circle to be described without a point, and it is impossible for a circle to be without a point,--surely the earth consisted before all, they say, in a state of chaos and disorganization. (Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse VIII, Ch XIV)

1615 – On April 12, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine (a saint and Doctor of the Church) writes a letter to Fr. Foscarini, advising him that Copernicanism is contrary to Scripture.

The following is list of Cardinal Bellarmine’s most salient quotes:

    1.  “to affirm that the sun really is fixed in the center of the heavens...and the earth... revolves with great speed around the sun, is a very dangerous thing…by injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false.”

    2.  “the Council (of Trent) prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers.  And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe.  Now consider whether the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators.”

    3.  “Nor may it be answered that this is not a matter of faith...It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.”

    4.  “If there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe…and that the sun did not travel around the earth, but the earth circled around the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary…But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration.”

    5.  “I add the words ‘the sun also riseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to the place where he ariseth, etc.’ were those of Solomon, who not only spoke by divine inspiration but was a man wise above all others and most learned in human sciences and in the knowledge of all created things, and his wisdom was from God.  Thus it is not too likely that he would affirm something which was contrary to a truth either already demonstrated, or likely to be demonstrated.”

1616 – On March 5, the Congregation of the Index condemns all writings which treated Copernicanism as anything but an unproven hypothesis.  The Congregation declared that such a theory was “false and contrary to Holy Scripture, which teaches the motion of the earth and the immobility of the sun, and which is taught by Nicolas Copernicus in De revolutiionibus orbium caelestium…being spread by... Father Paolo Antonio Foscarini…Therefore, so that this opinion may not spread any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth, it decrees that the said... De revolutiionibus orbium caelestium..be suspended until corrected; but that the book of the Carmelite Father, Paolo Foscarini, be prohibited and condemned.”  Pope Paul V presided at this Congregation and, while his name is not on the decree, approved and ordered the decree as supreme teacher of the Church.

1632 – Galileo publishes the book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in which he openly and enthusiastically advocated the Copernican system and ridiculed the geocentric system.  This publication was in direct conflict with the Council of Trent’s teaching that one could not hold a position contrary to the unanimity of the Fathers, Cardinal Bellarmine’s letter holding the Copernican theory contrary to Scripture, and the Congregation of the Index’s ban on all books that taught the Copernican theory.

1633 – On June 22, the Holy Office formally condemns Galileo for heresy:  “We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo...have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world...after it has been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture...From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that...you abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.”  Pope Urban VIII took full responsibility for the condemnation of Galileo by enforcing “in forma communi” the Congregation’s prohibitions against books holding the Copernican system as truth.

1633 - Galileo signs a statement which reads “with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies and generally every other error, heresy and sect whatsoever contrary to the Holy Church...but, should I know any heretic or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to the Holy Office or to the inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be…” 1664 – Pope Alexander VII issues Speculatore Domus Israel in which he solemnly sanctioned the condemnation of all books affirming the earth’s movement and the sun’s stability.  Pope Alexander VII published a new official Index which included the Congregations prohibitions from 1596 to 1664. The pope declared “We, having taken the advice of our Cardinals, confirm and approve with Apostolic authority by the tenor of these presents, and command and enjoin all persons everywhere to yield to this Index a constant and complete obedience.”

1758 – Pope Benedict XIV removes Copernicus’ book from the Index, after editors removed nine sentences which taught that heliocentrism was a certainty. This was consistent with the Congregation’s decree in 1616 that the book would be banned until “corrected.”  However, the Church’s condemnations of Copernicanism on the grounds that its teachings are heretical and contrary to Scripture is not (and never has been) overturned.

1870 – The First Vatican Council, Canons and Decrees, Chapter III, infallibly declares that “the Church, which together with the apostolic office of teaching, has received a charge to guard the deposit of faith, derives from God the right and duty of proscribing false science, lest any should be deceived by philosophy and vain deceit.  Therefore all faithful Christians are not only forbidden to defend as legitimate conclusions of science such opinions as are known to be contrary to the doctrines of the faith, especially if they have been condemned by the Church, but are altogether bound to account them as errors which put on the fallacious appearance of truth.”  The Council also affirms the inerrancy of Scripture by dogmatically stating: “These books the church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the church.” Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, chapter 2, paragraph 7, 1870.

1885 – Father William Roberts publishes his book The Pontifical Decrees Against the Doctrine of the Earth’s Movement.  In this book, Fr. Roberts presents a strong case for the position that the Church’s condemnation of heliocentrism is infallible. He concludes: (1) Alexander VIII’s  Speculatores was a papal act of supreme authority by which the pope, in the face of the whole Church, confirmed and approved the decrees with his Apostolic authority, and made himself responsible for their publication, that heliocentrism was false; (2) heliocentrism was false because the Church declared it a heresy, and whoever says an opinion is heresy ipso facto says that the contradictory of that opinion has been revealed by God with sufficient certainty to oblige a Catholic to accept it by an act of divine faith; and, (3) infallible teachings, even those ex-cathedra, do not generally generate any fresh obligation of faith, but protect and vindicate one that already exists.

1893 – Pope Leo XIII issues Providentissimus Deus which affirms the teaching of the Council of Trent that the Scriptures are inerrant in all matters written, not just matters relating to salvation.  The pope states “But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow its inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred…For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; and so far is it from being impossible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church” (No. 20).

1907 – On July 3, Pope Pius X issues the encyclical Lamentabili Sane which condemned the errors of the modernists.  In connection with creation, science and the inerrancy of Scripture, the following errors, inter alia, were expressly condemned: -Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences (no. 5). -They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations (no. Cool. -Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every  error (no. 11). -Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted (no. 64).

1920 – On September 15, Pope Benedict XV issues Spiritus Paraclitus in which he likewise affirms the teaching of the Council of Trent, the First Vatican Council, and Lamentabili Sane on the inerrancy of the Scriptures.  The pope states “by these precepts and limits [set by the Fathers of the Church]…wish, indeed, that inspiration itself pertain to all ideas, rather even to the individual words of the Bible...”  The pope condemns contrary opinions by stating “For their belief is that that only which concerns religion is intended and is taught by God in the Scriptures; but that the rest, which pertains to the profane disciplines...is left to the feebleness of the writer...But how rashly, how falsely this is affirmed.”

1950 – On August 12, Pope Pius XII issues the encyclical Humani Generis which addressed false opinions that were threatening to undermine Catholic doctrine.  The pope, in echoing St. Augustine and Providentissimus Deus, declared that the modern exegete’s desire to depart from a literal interpretation of Scripture in favor of a non-literal interpretation was foreign to Catholic teaching: “Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual.” (no. 23). “Everyone sees how foreign all this is to the principles and norms of interpretation rightly fixed by our predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII in his Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, and Benedict XV in the Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, as also by Ourselves in the Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu.” (no. 24).


The Catholic Church has overwhelmingly declared the geocentric model to be factual and bases it in scripture.  Wikipedia explains...

Catholic geocentricity

This date-September 2007 may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this date-September 2007 if you can. (September 2007)
The interpretation of scripture by the Church fathers is asserted by the geocentrists to be unanimously in favor of a geocentrist position[citation needed]. The early Church Fathers such as Augustine and Origen argued against the heliocentrism of the pagan Greeks well before Copernicus' time. Modern geocentrists often quote these works which seem to admonish that scriptural references about geocentrism not be interpreted as allegorical or phenomenological since such an interpretation could lead to the appearance that the Holy Spirit (the inspirer of the Scriptures) might be lying


All the above is lifted from a page on a website called scripturecatholic.com
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