In Matter OfPosition Paper. “Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matter of Science” 1) Is Galileo right that Joshua passage cannot be taken literally, and that some interpretation is necessary no matter which system of the world is being considered? Yes. Literal reading of Joshua will bring us to unpleasant consequences. If only Sun’s and Moon’s spheres will be stopped, laws of Ptolemy will be broken (f.ex. relationship between planets and Sun-Earth line).
In Copernican Universe, with modern discoveries of Galileo’s, sudden stop of Earth will be at least as destructive as the Deluge. But as there’s no doubt that the event took place, and there are no records about something strange that happened on that day. We need some interpretation. 2) Is the literal reading of Joshua incompatible with either system of world? Yes. Ptolemy: If just Sun’s and Moon’s spheres were isolated from the rest and stopped, spheres of planets and star ball will continue to rotate (and they should as they weren’t asked to stop and it’s their nature to rotate) Heavens perfection will be either disturbed (centers of epicycles of inferior planets will no longer lie on Sun-Earth line, Sun may appear in other constellation of zodiac), or planets and starball will violate principle of uniform motion (moving in a special way to compensate for Sun’s behavior).
Copernicus: Sudden stop of Earth will probably destroy entire civilization as everything including waters of oceans, buildings and, finally, people will attempt to continue to move in the same direction with the same speed. 3) Must Joshua passage be interpreted? Yes. Literal reading leads us to nowhere. That means that Holy Scripture provided us with false information what is a critical hit on the most sacred values of mankind. This is a catastrophe. But interpretation may save the situation.
4) If the passage must be interpreted, then can it be interpreted to fit the Copernican system as well as the Ptolemaic system? Ptolemy: Joshua just didn’t say the whole thing. Considering position, reputation and experience of the Executant of the pray, concerns about side effects must be rejected. Due to God’s authority mortals may trust God on doing the most important things, asking just for the final result, assuming that God will do all necessary actions so the result will have divine quality. So, most likely, all spheres were stopped. Copernicus: If something is staying still it simply means that location of the object with respect to us stays the same.
With respect to the Earth sun is moving even in Copernican universe, even though with respect to the Sun we can see that Earth is spinning. We can “stop” the Sun by preventing Earth from rotating. Of course we will need an extra miracle so no one would notice that Earth just stopped spinning but it isn’t a big deal. 5) If the passage can be interpreted to support both the Ptolemaic and the Copernican systems, then in what sense can it be argued that Scripture supports Ptolemy and refuses Copernicus? Interpretation in support for Ptolemaic system may seem more natural and closer to text. Interpretation in support for Copernicus system uses some concepts that were delivered by Galileo, so someone can argue that Galileo made up something in order to defend his point of view. And Bible doesn’t talk much about spinning Earth.