Nicolaus Copernicus. Perhaps you remember the name from 8th grade science class? Copernicus was a brilliant scientist who carefully observed the stars and (building on others) hypothesized a Universe that would shatter worldviews. His heliocentric model was dubbed a "revolution," which turned out to have a double meaning: it revolutionized our world by having the earth revolve around the Sun.
Prior to Copernicus' Theory, most people assumed that the Universe revolved around the earth (the geocentric or Ptolemaic model). And that made sense. People saw the sun "rising" in the east and "setting" in the west. From a fixed point of view, the sun's movement seemed quite real. It appears to move east to west across the sky, while we sit still. Yet, from a different vantage point (say, 100 million miles away), things look quite different.
Copernicus delayed publishing his discovery, perhaps to avoid running afoul of some church leaders.
It was his conviction that science and math pointed to the earth (and other planets) revolving around the sun. He also explained that the earth's rotation (spin) on its axis produced the deception that the Sun moves east to west. In fact, the sun does not move relative to us – we move relative to it.
For the average man, Copernicus' Cosmic Model threatened both common sense and God's primacy in creating Earth. How could the earth that God created not be the center of everything? Yet, the data proved otherwise.
Those with a weak faith in God were disrupted. They'd thought they were the center of the Universe. They'd been dethroned from their vaunted position. But God had not. He remained at the Center of all that is.
Ok, Dan, simple analysis of scientific history ... but you should keep your day job (I agree). But I have a larger purpose for these astronomical thoughts. I propose that we extend Copernicus' cosmic thinking to our spiritual understanding: I say, the average person today needs to experience a second Copernican Revolution – a Spiritual one.
What do I mean? Most people approach life as though they are the center of everything. All that exists revolves around them, around their being, their needs, their wants, their desires. They have tethered everything to themselves by the gravitational pull of their own self-centeredness. No object or person or desire can escape the orbit of the Self. Not even God (or so one might think).
While the Bible says God made us in His image (Gen. 1:26), we have foolishly returned the favor – we've created God in our image. We relegate Him to revolve around us, around our wants and needs. He doesn't. (Even if He did, God is not so weak that He's unable to reach escape velocity and break from our orbit). God is not within our gravitational pull. He is fixed at the center, and we revolve around Him.
A Spiritual Copernican Revolution
Every person on planet Earth needs to go through a Spiritual Copernican Revolution, where they come to gratefully admit they're not the center of the universe. God is. All that exists – all people and events throughout history – are for God, not mankind. We are not self-creating. We are not autonomous. We are not sovereign. There are a million things we cannot change about ourselves or the world. It is time we see the world from a new vantage point. It is time we jettison the anthropocentric model of reality for the God-centric one.
On the next cloudless evening, take a stroll and lift your eyes to the heavens and declare God is the Center. As Creator, He is the fixed point around which all orbit. He is the rightful King of the universe – not you.
"God counts the stars by number, and gives names to all of them." Psalm 147:4
- If God has created and numbered all the stars (billions of them), then He is transcendent and all-powerful. Only Him.
- If God has named all the stars, then He is personal and knowable. He is watching us.
We ... orbit ... Him.