On Geocentricism & Heliocentrism


The position of Reformed Books Online:

Viewing or describing motion from any reference point is valid for godly, utilitarian purposes.  That the Bible does so from a geocentric perspective is expected, this being consistent with human experience, the way we de facto use language, and the gracious and natural accommodation of God in speaking with us.  The heliocentric paradigm is a useful tool, as is the geocentric paradigm at times.  That geocentrism is the only valid frame of reference is a serious error.




He Made the Stars Also

The Mosaic Physics

Contra a Flat Earth



Order of Contents

For Geocentrism
For Heliocentrism
History of



For Geocentrism



Doolittle, Thomas – pp. 7-10  of Earthquakes Explained & Practically Improved: Occasioned by the Late Earthquake on Sept. 8, 1692 in London…  (London, 1693)

Doolitle was an English puritan.

Edwards, John

ch. 2  of ‘A Demonstration of the Existence & Providence of God From the Contemplation of the Greater World’  in A Demonstration of the Existence & Providence of God...  (London, 1696), pp. 19-50

Edwards was a reformed Anglican divine.

Brief Remarks upon Mr. [William] Whiston’s New Theory of the Earth & upon an other Gentleman’s Objections Against Some Passages in a Discourse of the Existence & Providence of God, Relating to the Copernican Hypothesis  (London, 1697)

“As to the second part of my reflections, wherein I doubt concerning the earth’s moving about its axis, it may be I differ from you [John Woodward, a professor of physics, to whom the work is dedicated], and from the generality of Virtuosos [New Philosophers] at this day.  But truly I am not so much a [Brahe] Tychonian as to forswear the Copernican Hypothesis:

But the truth of the matter is this, when I was treating of the most substantial points of divinity, that is, when I was asserting and vindicating the being and providence of God, I was unwilling to found these or anything belonging to them upon an infirm and unstable basis, upon a dubious and disputable doctrine, and which had not long prevailed in the learned world.  Such I take the opinion of the circumgyration of the earth to be: and therefore till I could be ab∣solutely satisfied about the reality of it, I thought it was safest to aquiesce at present in the other doctrine, and the rather because it is suitable to the mundane system which Moses presents us with, whose literal sense of the account of it is not to be slighted by Chri∣stian philosophers.”



Howard, Edward – ‘Remarks on the Fourth Part of the New Philosophy of DesCartes, of the Principles of the Earth’  in Remarks on the New Philosophy of Des-Cartes in Four Parts  (London, 1700)

Howard was a gentleman, and argues against heliocentrism.  This work is here for reference, it is not necessarily important.



Ross, Alexander – The New Planet No Planet, or the Earth No Wandring Star, except in the wandring heads of Galileans, here out of the Principles of Divinity, Philosophy, Astronomy, Reason & Sense, the Earth’s Immobility is Asserted: the True Sense of Scripture in this Point Cleared: the Fathers & Philosophers Vindicated: Diverse Theological & Philosophical Points Handled, & Copernicus his Opinion, as Erroneous, Ridiculous & Impious, Fully Refuted  (London, 1646)

Ross (c. 1590–1654) was Scottish, a reformed chaplain to Charles I, and was the translator of Wolleb’s Abridgment of Christian Divinity.



Martin Luther

as quoted in ed. Eriksson, Estep & Johnson, Applied Mathematics: Body & Soul, vol. 3, Calculus in Several Dimensions  (Springer, 2004), p. 859

“There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved.  But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best!  The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down.  However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.”


Philip Melanchthon

as quoted in Bruce T. Moran, ‘The Universe of Philip Melanchthon: Criticism and Use of the Copernican Theory’  Comitatus 4 (1973), pp. 13-14

““But some dare say, either because of the love of novelties or in order to appear ingenious, that the earth moves, and contend that neither the eight sphere nor the sun moves while they assign other movement to the celestial spheres and place the earth among the stars. The joke is not new. There is a book by Archimedes called De Numeratione Arenae, in which he reports that Aristarchus of Samos defended this paradox, that the sun remains fixed and the earth turns around the sun. And although clever workers investigate many questions to give expression to their ingenuity, the young should know that it is not good to defend such absurd opinions publicly, nor is it honest or a good example.”


As quoted here.

“The eyes are witnesses that the heavens revolve in the space of twenty-four hours.  But certain men, either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity, have concluded that the earth moves; and they maintain that neither the [stars] nor the sun revolves…  Now, it is a want of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious. It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiesce in it.”


John Calvin

‘Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:19-24’  in Calvini Opera Selecta, Corpus Refomatorum, Vol 49, p. 677, tr. Robert White in ‘Calvin & Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered’  in Calvin Theological Journal 15 (1980), pp. 236-237

“…those dreamers who have a spirit of bitterness and contradiction, who reprove everything and prevent the order of nature.  We will see some who are so deranged, not only in religion but who in all things reveal their monstrous nature, that they will say that the sun does not move, and that it is the earth which shifts and turns.

When we see such minds we must indeed confess that the devil posses them, and that God sets them before us as mirrors, in order to keep us in his fear. So it is with all who argue out of pure malice, and who happily make a show of their imprudence.  When they are told: “That is hot,” they will reply: “No, it is plainly cold.”  When they are shown an object that is black, they will say that it is white, or vice versa.  Just like the man who said that snow is black; for although it is perceived and known by all to be white, yet he clearly wished to contradict the fact.  And so it is that they are madmen who would try to change the natural order, and even to dazzle eyes and benumb their senses.”


Commentary on the Ps. 93:1

“A simple survey of the world should of itself suffice to attest a Divine Providence.  The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion — no disturbance in the harmony of their motion.  The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point.

The planets, in all their wanderings, maintain their respective positions.  How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God’s hand? By what means could it maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it?”


Edward Leigh

Pious Annotations upon the Holy Bible…  (London, 1643), On Gen. 1

“[Gen. 1:4]  Divided, that is, ordained the heaven to turn continually about: and that when the hemisphere, wherein the light was imprinted, was above the earth, it should then be day: and when it was under the earth, it should be night, which was the beginning of the vicissitude or succession of day and night.”


Edward Marbury

Commentary or Exposition upon the Prophecy of Habbakuk...  (London, 1650), on Hab. 3:11, pp. 127-128

“’The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation’ – they stood still in their several spheres wherein they move, for these be their habitations, and note that they both stood still, sun and moon. For the moon borrowing all her light of the sun, had she kept her course while the sun had stool still the length of a day, there had been great irregularity of motion in these celestial bodies, from the constant order set them by their Maker in their creation.

Observe also, he does not say the earth stood still, but the sun: it had been, as some said, the earth and moon stood still as the sun and moon, and our understanding would have soon apprehended, if that new astronomy had been then revealed, which some of our empericks, and journeymen in that excellent science of astronomy have late revived in their almanacs, telling the world that they have long been in a wrong belief, that the sun moves and the earth is fixed, for they believe that the sun is fixed, and the earth is moved.

And to evade the clear evidence of the text, which tells it for a wonder that the sun stood still, they say, this is spoken to our capacity, because to our sight it so seems, that the sun moves and the earth is fixed, but indeed it is otherwise.

Our capacity I think has much wrong done in this, for if the Word of God had told us that God had created the sun to stand still, and the earth to move, it is more likely that we should have taken his word for it, and have believed it as it is, as well as we now believe it, as it appears.

We are neither incapable nor incredulous, but that many against the letter of Scripture have written, and made more believe, that the sun stands still from the creation.

The common defence of this opinion grounded on God’s application of himself, to human capacity, does make figures in a story where is no need, and makes David a man of small judgement in the knowledge of the sun, who says, that God ‘hath set a tabernacle for the sun in the heavens’ (called here) a habitation, ‘which is a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth, as a strong man, to run his race.’  His going forth is from the end of the Heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it.

Does not this prophet speak of the glory of God, declared in the motion, not the station of the sun? or in the glory of God showed in our opinion of the sun’s motion, not in the truth thereof.

Greater secrets then this are revealed in holy Scripture, which are against the vouchie of the outward sense, or the rational discourse of man, and no doubt, but if the sun had stood still, and the earth that we live upon had moved, when this miracle was by the spirit of truth recorded, it had been so set down to us…”


William Gouge

Commentary on Hebrews, on ch. 1, verse 10, section 131

“The stability of the earth is very useful to plants, beasts, and men, that abide thereon.  The damages and mischiefs that fall out upon earthquakes give further proof hereof.  It is a gross error of Aristarchus, Samius, Copernicus, and other philosophers, who imagine that the earth continually moveth, and that the heaven and the host thereof do but seem to our sight to move, as the banks and trees thereon do to such as are in a boat rowed with oars, or in a ship under sail. This conceit cannot stand with the metaphor of a foundation, here and in other places applied to the earth.”


Francis Turretin

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, 5th Topic, ‘Creation’, 6th Question, p. 449

“VIII.  …For on the first day [of Creation]…  a shining body lighted up in one hemisphere of the ethereal heavens (which by its circumrotation distinguished the day and night of the first three days, until that light was afterwards, on the fourth day, collected and distributed into the body of the sun and stars).”



Latin:  For Geocentrism

van Mastricht, Peter – Vindications of the Truth & Authority of Sacred Scripture in Philosophical Matters Against the Dissertations of Dr. Christopher Wittich  (Utrecht, 1655)  ToC

chs. 7, ‘Those Places of Scripture which put forth the Motion of the Sun & the Immobility of the Earth, Not to be Interpreted According to the False, Vulgar Opinion, are Set Forth’

ch. 8, ‘The Objections which Dr. Wittich Attempts to Refute are Vindicated’

For history behind the larger work and debate with Wittich, see J.A. Schlebusch, Cartesianism & Reformed Scholastic Theology: A Comparative Study of the Controversy  a Master’s thesis  (Univ. of the Free State, South Africa, 2013)

Witsius, Herman – Sections 13-15  in An Inaugural Philosophical Disputation on the Earth  (Utrecht, 1698)  See especially section 14.



Indifferent or Agnostic


On Andrew Rivet  d. 1651

Willem van Asselt  in The Theology of the French Reformed Churches  (RHB, 2014), p. 268

“Rivet also befriended the Roman Catholic priest Mersenne in Paris–a versatile scholar, scientist, and diplomat–and maintained an extensive correspondence  with him over the course of several years.  Mersenne discussed with Rivet the Roman Church’s condemnation of Galileo and explained the issue to him.

Although a proponent of the physica mosaica [Mosaic physics], Rivet claimed that one should regard Copernicus’s theories as a mathematical hypothesis.  When asked by Mersenne, he denied that heliocentrism should be deemed heretical.”


Edward Stillingfleet

Irenicum, a Weapon-Salve for the Churches’ Wounds, or the Divine Right of Particular Forms of Church-Government: Discussed & Examined…  (London, 1662), pt. 2, ch. 6, p. 293

“As if the several motions and phaenomena of the heavens may be with equal probability explained according to the Ptolemaic or Copernican Hypothesis, viz. about the rest or motion of the earth; then it necessarily follows, that from those phaenomena no argument can be drawn evincing the necessity of the one hypothesis and overturning the pro∣bability of the other.

If that great wonder of nature, the flux and reflux of the sea, might with equal congruity be solved according to the different opinions, of its being caused by subterraneous fires, or from the motion of the moon, or the depression of the lunar vortex, or (which to me is far the most probable) by a motion of consent of the sea with all the other great bodies of the world; we should find no necessity at all of entertaining one opinion above another, but to look upon all as probable, and none as certain.

So likewise for the composition and motion of all natural bodies, the several hypotheses of the old and new philosophy, implying no apparent incongruity to nature, do make it appear that all or any of them may be embraced as ingenious romances in philosophy (as they are no more), but that none of them are the certain truth, or can be made appear so to be to the minds of men.”


Origines Sacræ, or, A Rational Account of the Grounds of Christian Faith...  (London, 1662), bk. 2, ch. 8, pp. 233-34

“Secondly, that which is the only foundation of a scruple in this case, is a principle most unreasonable in itself, that we are to embrace nothing for truth, though divinely revealed, but what our reason is able to comprehend, as to the nature of the thing, and the manner of its existence; on which account the doctrine of the Trinity, Incarnation, Satisfaction, and consequently the whole mystery of the Gospel of Christ must be rejected as incredible, and that on this bare pretense, because although many expressions in Scripture seem to import all these things, yet we are bound to interpret them to another sense, because this is incongruous to our reason.

But although Christianity be a religion which comes in the highest way of credibility to the minds of men, although we are not bound to believe anything but what we have sufficient reason to make it appear that it is revealed by God, yet that anything should be questioned whether it be of divine revelation, merely because our reason is to seek, as to the full and adaequate conception of it, is a most absurd and unreasonable pretence: And the assertors of it must run themselves on these unavoidable absurdities:

First, of believing nothing either in nature or religion to be true, but what they can give a full and satisfactory account of, as to every mode and circumstance of it.  Therefore let such persons first try themselves in all the appearances of nature:

And then we may suppose they will not believe that the sun shines, till they have by demonstrative arguments proved the undoubted truth of the Ptolomaic or Copernican hypothesis, that they will never give credit to the flux and reflux of the Sea, till they clearly resolve the doubts which attend the several opinions of it.

That there is no such thing as matter in the world, till they can satisfactorily tell us how the parts of it are united; nor that there are any material beings, till they have resolved all the perplexing difficulties about the several affections of them; and that themselves have not so much as a rational soul, till they are bound to satisfy us of the manner of the union of the soul and body together.  And if they can expedite all these, and many more difficulties about the most obvious things…”



For Heliocentrism


Hooykaas, R. – G.J. Rheticus’ Treatise on Holy Scripture & the Motion of the Earth. With Translation, Annotations, Commentary & Additional Chapters on Ramus-Rheticus & the Development of the Problem before 1650  (Oxford: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1984)

Rheticus (1514–1574) was a mathematician, astronomer, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher.  He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus’s sole pupil.  He facilitated the publication of his master’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres).



Whiston, William – A New Theory of the Earth, from its Original to the Consummation of All Things, wherein the Creation of the World in Six Days, the Universal Deluge & the General Conflagration, as Laid Down in the Holy Scriptures, are shown to be perfectly agreeable to Reason & Philosophy…  (London, 1696)  GB  p. 373 shows his adopting of heliocentrism.



Answers in Genesis

Faulkner, Danny R.

‘Geocentrism & Creation’  Technical Journal (now Journal of Creation) 15, no. 2 (August 2001): 110–121.

“These people believe that the Bible clearly states that the Earth does not move, and hence the only acceptable Biblical cosmology is a geocentric one…  We examine these arguments, and find them poorly founded. The Scriptural passages quoted do not address cosmology. Some geocentrists draw distinctions that do not exist in the original autographs or even in translations. In short, the Bible is neither geocentric nor heliocentric…

Many evolutionists claim that disbelief in evolution is like disbelief that the Earth goes round the Sun. The obvious flaw is that the latter is repeatable and observable while the former is not….

…Aardsma’s ICR Impact article, where he points out something well known to high-school physics students, but apparently not to bibliosceptics—that it’s valid to describe motion from any reference frame, although an inertial one usually makes the mathematics simpler.  But there are many times when the Earth is a convenient reference frame; i.e. at some point we all use the geocentric model in one sense. For instance, a planetarium is a geocentric model. Calculation of rising, transiting, and setting of various celestial objects is calculated geocentrically. There are numerous other examples. Since modern astronomers often use an Earth-centred reference frame, it’s unfair and anti-scientific to criticise the Bible for doing the same.

But this is hardly the issue, and the use of the geocentric model under these circumstances hardly makes one a geocentrist. I’m using the term to describe those who claim that the Earth is the only valid reference frame and oppose the use of any other reference frame.

Perhaps the best-known geocentrist in the world today [2001] is Gerardus Bouw, who has been a professor at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio…  To distinguish modern geocentrism from ancient geocentrism, Bouw has coined the term ‘geocentricity’ for the former. Bouw has a Ph.D. in astronomy from Case Western Reserve University…  Given Bouw’s stature as the chief champion of geocentricity, we will use his book by the same name as the primary source on the topic.”

‘Geocentric Gobbledegook’  (2001)  Technical Journal (now Journal of Creation) 15, no. 2 (August 2001): 36–37. 

This is a correction of the book by Marshall Hall, The Earth is Not Moving (1991).

‘Geocentrism: History & Background’  in Answers in Depth  (2020)

‘The Rise of the Modern Geocentric Theory Movement’  in Answers in Depth  (2020)

‘The Copernican System & the Bible’  (2020)



On the History of Geo- & Heliocentrism

On the Whole of History

Neyman, Jerzy – The Heritage of Copernicus: Theories ‘Pleasing to the Mind’  (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1974)  550 pp.  IA


The Ancient World to the 1700’s

Kuhn, Thomas S. – The Copernican Revolution  (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957)  320 pp.  IA

This has since been surpassed by Westman’s Copernican Question below.


Ancient World


Grosu, Emanuel – ‘The Heliocentrism of the Ancient: between Geometry & Physics’



Stephen Lobb

The Glory of Free Grace Displayed…  (London, 1680), pp. x-xi.  Lobb (c. 1647–1699) was an English, calvinistic, indpendent minister.  He was prominent in the 1680’s as a court representative of the Independents to James II, and in the 1690s in polemics between the Presbyterian and Independent groups of nonconformists. His church in London is supposed to be the successor to the congregation of Thomas Goodwin.

“§ 5. I have moreover insisted on the different apprehensions the old philosophers entertain concerning those insuperable difficulties that are about predetermination, etc. thereby to intimate that the confident [Medieval] schoolmen and their several sectators do but actum agere, and consume their strength on needless controversies, to the great disadvantage of true religion.  These acting in divinity, as our virtuosi do in philosophy, who, by a zealous attempt to establish their new dogmata [dogmas] (as they call them) do not walk in any untrodden paths;

The Copernican Hypothesis about the motion of the earth, as also the learned fancies about the earth, and inhabitants that are said to be in the moon, as well as that solid truth about the Antipodes, so much reproached by Lactantius [early Church father, c. 250 – c. 325, in The Divine Institutes, Bk. 3, ch. 24 in ANF 7.94-95], were all known in Cicero‘s, if not in Plato‘s, or Pythagoras‘s days.  For this, consult Cicero, Quaest. Acad. l. 2:

‘Habitari ait Xenophanes in Luna, eamque esse terram multarum urbium, & montium.  Portenta videntur: sed tamen neque ille qui dixit jurare posset ita se rem habere, neque ego.  Nonne etiam dicitis, esse è regione nobis, è contraria parte terrae, qui adversis vestigiis stent contra vestigia nostra, quos Antipodas vocatis?  Cur mihi magis succensetis, qui ista non aspernor, quam eis, qui quum audiunt, desipere vos arbitrantur?  Nicetas Syracusius, ut ait Theophrastus, Coelum, Solem, Lunam, Stellas, supera denique omnia stare censet, neque praeter terram rem ullam in mundo moveri: quae cùm circum axem se summa celeritate convertat, & torqueat, eâdem effici omnia, quae si stante terra, Coelum moveretur.  Atque hoc etiam Platonem in Timaeo dicere quidam arbitrantur, sed paulò obscuriùs.’

Thus both our New Philosophers, and the Old Schoolmen, do but trace the ancient heathen in their particular fancies, concerning things not only unrevealed, but moreover, too high for vain mortals to reach unto.  The New Philosophers confidently solve, as they say, the insolvable phaenomena in the natural world…

for the Schoolmen are as vain, and consequently as liable unto just rebukes, as are the New Philosophers; Do the New Philoso∣phers revive the old dogmata of the heathen? so do the schoolmen: Do the New Philosophers disturb the world with their learned folly? so do the schoolmen.  And must the New Philosopher be severely checked for his presumption in philosophy?  then surely, much more so must the schoolman…”


Early Church

Quote on Chrysostom

John Owen, A Continuation of the Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews viz, on the Sixth, Seventh, Eight, Ninth & Tenth Chapters…  (London, 1680) on Heb. 8:2, p. 190

“And because this ‘tabernacle’ [in Heb. 8:2] is said to be fixed of God, Chrysostom reproaches them who say that the Heavens do move and are spherical, though he never had a prophetical dream of the Copernican Hypothesis.”


1200’s – 1600’s

Grant, E. – Planets, Stars & Orbs. The Medieval Cosmos,1200–1687  (Cambridge, 1996)


1400’s – 1800’s

Stimson, Dorothy – The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory of the Universe  PhD diss.  (Hanover, NH: 1917)  155 pp.  ToC


1500’s to Present


Lee, Hoon J. – ‘Accommodation—Orthodox, Socinian & Contemporary’  Westminster Theological Journal 75, no. 2 (2013)


1500’s – 1700’s

Vermij, R.H. – The Calvinist Copernicans. The Reception of the New Astronomy in the Dutch Republic, 1575–1750  (Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002)


1500’s – 1600’s


Hooykaas, R. – ‘The Reception of Copernicanism in England & the Netherlands’  in eds. Wilson, Hooykaas, Hall & Waszink, The Anglo-Dutch Contribution to the Civilization of Early Modern Society  (Oxford Univ. Press, 1976), pp. 33–44

Sytsma, David S. – ‘Copernicanism’  in Richard Baxter & the Mechanical Philosophers  (Oxford, 2017), ch. 5, ‘A Commotion over Motion’, pp. 154-58

Goudriaan, Aza – 3.3 ‘Copernicanism’  in ch. 2, ‘Creation, Mosaic Physics, Copernicanism & Divine Accommodation’  in Reformed Orthodoxy and Philosophy, 1625-1750 : Gisbertus Voetius, Petrus Van Mastricht, and Anthonius Driessen  Pre  (Boston: Brill, 2006), pp. 125-133

Sytsma, David – ‘Copernicanism’  in ch. 5, ‘A Commotion over Motion’  in Richard Baxter & the Mechanical Philosophers  (Oxford, 2017), pp. 154-158



Nouhuys, T. van – The Age of the Two-Faced Janus. The Comets of 1577 & 1618 & the Decline of the Aristotelian World View in the Netherlands  (Brill, 1998)

Meyer, Connie L – “To unsphere the stars– “: Exploring the Early Modern Ontological/Cosmological Crisis in English Renaissance Literature  PhD diss.  (Texas Christian Univ., 2012)

Abstract:  “This work, epistemological in nature, explores the manner in which selected Renaissance writers, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and John Donne, responded to the shifts in philosophy and cosmology that affected their culture.

The crisis that heliocentrism brought to early modernists unfolded over almost seventy years. Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus, which first proposed the new system was published in 1543 and Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius, which confirmed the system, was published in 1610…

This lost certainty was eventually replaced by an alternate form of certainty as defined by Francis Bacon’s scientific method and reified in the body of the Royal Society [est. 1660] of the mid seventeenth century…

I maintain that Renaissance writers responded to these shifts in various ways, often adopting metadramatic tropes, specific terminology and astronomical concepts lifted from the “new philosophy” into their works in an effort to process and anesthetize the new world order that included a radically altered cosmos.”

Grant, E. – In Defense of the Earth’s Centrality & Immobility: Scholastic Reaction to Copernicanism in the Seventeenth Century  (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1984)

Howell, K.J.

Copernicanism & Biblical Interpretation in Early Modern Protestant Europe  PhD diss.  (Univ. of Lancaster, 1995)

God’s Two Books. Copernican Cosmology and Biblical Interpretation in Early Modern Science  (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2002)

Westman, Robert S. – The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism & Celestial Order  (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2011)

Here is a review.

Hooykaas, R. – G.J. Rheticus’ Treatise on Holy Scripture & the Motion of the Earth. With Translation, Annotations, Commentary & Additional Chapters on Ramus-Rheticus & the Development of the Problem before 1650  (Oxford: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1984)

Rheticus (1514–1574) was a mathematician, astronomer, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher.  He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus’s sole pupil.  He facilitated the publication of his master’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres).

McTighe, Geoffrey Neal Cassady – The New Light of Europe: Giordano Bruno & the Modern Age  PhD diss.  (Univ. of NC, Chapel Hill, 2007)

Bruno (1548-1600)  was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist.  He is known for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then-novel Copernican model. He proposed that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own, a cosmological position known as cosmic pluralism. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no ‘center’.

Evers, Ingo Dietrich – William Gilbert’s Scientific Achievement: An Assessment of his Magnetic, Electrical & Cosmological Researches  MPhil thesis  (London School of Economics & Political Science, 1992)

Gilbert (1544–1603) was an English physician, physicist and natural philosopher.  He passionately rejected both the prevailing Aristotelian philosophy and the Scholastic method of university teaching.  He is remembered today largely for his book, De Magnete (1600).

Abstract:  “His cosmological views…  are set out in more detail in his De Mundo.  The wide neglect of this work has led to some of the errors in the appreciation of his cosmology.  The thesis examines Gilbert’s support of Copernicanism and his views on gravitation and cosmological forces…

The conclusion is that Gilbert took the decisive step in the history of science from occasional experimental investigations of isolated problems by his predecessors to a comprehensive examination of a whole area of physics, magnetism, and the creation of a qualitative theory employing genuine theoretical concepts. His electrical researches offer, similarly, one of the earliest examples of properly scientific work. His discovery of the earth’s magnetic field provided a suggestion for the existence of cosmologicl forces and connected terrestrial with extra-terrestrial physics.”

Makin, William Edward Anselm – The Philosophy of Pierre Gassendi: Science & Belief in Seventeenth-Century Paris & Provence  PhD thesis  (The Open University, 1985)

Gassendi (1592–1655) was a French philosopher, Catholic priest, astronomer, and mathematician. While he held a church position in south-east France, he also spent much time in Paris, where he was a leader of a group of free-thinking intellectuals. He was also an active observational scientist.

Richard Popkin indicates that Gassendi was one of the first thinkers to formulate the modern “scientific outlook”, of moderated skepticism and empiricism. He clashed with his contemporary Descartes on the possibility of certain knowledge. His best known intellectual project attempted to reconcile Epicurean atomism with Christianity.

Abstract:  “…the discovery that Gassendi was devoloping in almost total secrecy, from as early as 1618, his own Copernican physics, which in many ways must be regarded as a prototype of that deployed seventy years later in the Principia [of Isaac Newton].  Evidence to support this argument is in the sections on the Galley Experiment of 1640, Gravitation, Atomism and Astronomy. It is the extent of Gassendi’s co-operation with mathematicians, astronomers and scientists, and the fact that most of them must have shared the secret of his working assumption, that is the most remarkable aspect of the case. It indicates that all those contemporary rumours of underground scientific organisations were well-founded.

Gassendi’s secret Copernicanism seems to pale into insignificance beside my claim that he was not a believing Christian. A hitherto unclassified form of sceptical materialism, a sort of Pythagorean pantheism, was a major source of his interest in atomism, astronomy and nature in general…

Whilst these views were relevant to his motivation they had, arguably, no direct influence on the structure of his science. This was constructed on the principle of separating metaphysics from science altogether and, within bounds of any given inquiry, keeping hypotheses-however attractive-separate from the observations and their analysis.”




eds. Lehner, Muller, Roeber, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800  (Oxford, 2016)

Andreas Beck, ch. 13, ‘God, Creation, and Providence in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology’, p. 206

“The third issue concerned Copernican heliocentrism.  In the Netherlands, Cartesian [after Renee Descartes] theologians tended to adopt Copernicanism while Voetius and his pupils were opposed to it.  The dividing line was marked by different assessments of Cartesianism, rather than by astronomical research as such.

According to Voetius, the alternative theory of Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) had at least as much demonstrative and explanatory force as Copernicanism, without compromising any statements of the Bible.  There are no indications that the Reformed were worried about a downgrading  of humanity by the removal of the earth from the center of the universe (Vermij 2002; Gourdriaan 2006, 125-33; Jorink 2010, 89-91).”


Benjamin Mayes, ch. 19, ‘Scripture & Exegesis in Early Modern Lutheranism’, p. 292

“Copernicus and Kepler’s astronomical discoveries were generally rejected by orthodox Lutherans as incompatible with scripture, forcing Kepler, for instance, to find a way to reconcile his new views with Joshua 10.  This same basic pattern was repeated with each new discovery in the fields of biblical studies (such as in biblical geography and chronology) and of philosophy…

The Enlightenment reached Germany late, after taking hold in France, England, and the Netherlands.”


On Kepler


Holton, Gerald – ‘Johannes Kepler’s Universe: Its Physics and Metaphysics’  American Journal of Physics 24 (May 1956): 340-351


On Luther & Lutheranism


Norlind, Wilhelm – ‘Copernicus & Luther: A Critical Study”  Isis 44 (September 1953), pp. 273-776

Kobe, Donald H. – ‘Copernicus & Martin Luther: an Encounter Between Science & Religion’  American Journal of Physics 66 (March 1998): 190-196  Abstract

Wrightsman, Bruce – ‘Andreas Osiander’s Contribution to the Copernican Achievement’  in ed. Robert S. Westman, The Copernican Achievement  (Los Angeles: UCLA Press, 1975)

Westman, Robert S. – ‘The Melanchthon Circle, Rheticus, and the Wittenberg Interpretation of the Copernican Theory’  Isis 66 (June 1975), pp. 165-193

Moran, Bruce T. – ‘The Universe of Philip Melanchthon: Criticism and Use of the Copernican Theory’  Comitatus 4 (1973), pp. 1-23


On Calvin

White, Robert – ‘Calvin & Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered’  in Calvin Theological Journal 15 (1980), pp. 233-243

Sewell, Keith – ‘Calvin & the Stars, Kuyper & the Fossils: Some
Historiographical Reflections’  in Pro Rege, vol. 23, no. 1, article 3 (Sept. 2003), pp. 10-22

Houtz, Nicolaus – ‘John Calvin on Nicolaus Copernicus & Heliocentrism’  (2014)  at BioLogos


On Galileo


Gingerich, Owen – ‘The Galileo Affair’  Scientific American 247 (August 1982): pp. 132-143



Ursula Goldenbaum

ch. 35, ‘Leibniz, Wolff, & Early Modern Theology’  in eds. Lehner, Muller, Roeber, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800  (Oxford, 2016), p. 559

“…Galileo, who had tried to solve the discrepancy between the Copernican system and the Book of Joshua by arguing that the prophet knew very well that the earth moves around the sun, but accommodated his speech to the people’s understanding.”


In Eastern Orthodoxy


Moschos, Dimitrios – 6. ‘On God & Creation’  in ch. 23, ‘The Church of the East & the Enlightenment’  in eds. Lehner, Muller, Roeber, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800  (Oxford, 2016), pp. 509-510



Short Bibliographies

Oxford Bibliographies on:




Tycho Brahe




Related Pages

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