In 1633, Galileo Galilei faced hostile inquisitors who opposed his astronomical discoveries. Galileo claimed that Earth moves
around the sun while the sun stays stationary, which was opposite to what Galilee's church taught.' This confrontation is often labeled as a "religion versus science" trial because it involved a disagreement about the meaning of Psalm 93:1:
"The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved."
The latter part of Psalm 93:1 allegeclly clashed with Galilee's analysis of our solar system. His telescopic measurements of movements in the heavens (i.e., sun, moon, planets, etc.) proved that Earth orbited the "stationary" sun, not vice versa. However, Roman Catholic interpretations of Scripture at the time disagreed with Galileo's astronomical analysis, claiming the opposite was true. Actually, both sides were partly wrong because both sides relied on errors.
- Both the sun and Earth are moving in very predictable orbits
(and thus neither is absolutely stationary), yet when described
contextually both are moving in relation to one another-
and to the Milky Way galaxy, as well. Plus, all motion must
be described with respect to a frame of reference, so it's most
practical for observers to use their own positions as locational
- The Hebrew phrase translated "it cannot be moved" in Psalm
93: 1 means that Earth cannot be yanked away (i.e., pulled off
course) from its divinely prescribed and established program
of movements-as opposed to describing a state of absolute
This is nothing new. During the heyday of the so-called Enlightenment (1700s-1800s), a fad called deism flourished. Deism was,
and still is, a "free thinking" -dominated theism that exalts human reason (ignoring how fallen reason is) while keeping the Bible closed whenever science is discussed. Prioritizing popularity with secular culture, deists strive to retain some Christianity. But this unbalanced compromise over-tips the boat, eventually sinking the ship under an ocean of self-contradictions.
Accordingly, deism artificially cherry-picks fashionable Bible teachings while ignoring and discarding others that are undesirable or inconvenient.' Modern-day deists, such as Intelligent Design (ID) proponents, often react to apparent "religion versus science" conflicts by siding with science over what the Bible teaches. Consequently, to favor science over Scripture, deists employ straw-man caricatures of biblical truth. Jonathan Sarfati highlights the approach taken by ID leader Dr. William Dembski.
Dembski justifies his Scriptura sub scientia approach (i.e., Scripture [ranked] under science) by raising the tired old canard
about geocentrism ....
WD: Yet, during that time [of Galileo's trial for teaching heretical science], church teaching also held that the earth was
Unfortunately, this [ecclesiastical error] is because they kowtowed to the prevailing Aristotelian science of the day, which in-
cluded the Ptolemaic cosmology ....
WD: Psalm 93 [verse 1] states that the earth is established forever and cannot be moved .... A literal interpretation of Psalm
93 seems to require geocentrism.'
William Dembski's misunderstanding of Psalm 93: 1 shows his failure to properly analyze the Hebrew philology. Similar approaches are taken by others who place a reliance on science over the truth of Scripture. Making the assumption that the Bible is not to be trusted in matters of science will always lead to error.
Pity poor Galileo. If only he had today's Newtonian astrophysics and geokinetics, a good Bible concordance, and a Bible in his own language! He could have seen that the Bible's descriptions of God's choreographed heavens are corroborated-not opposed-by true science.
Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic
Officer at the Institute for Creation Research