The Dun Cow

space-1It is, of course, frankly ridiculous and embarrassing to believe that the earth is the center of the universe. That the entire cosmos revolves around the earth in a series of spheres. That these spheres are powered by the love of God. That there is even a sort of music associated with their movements, as when we sing the old hymn “This Is My Father’s World,”

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

Science has shown us that this idea, formulated by Ptolemy and adopted by the church, is just wrong. Silly people, we all know that the universe is an unfathomably vast place, that our galaxy is just one among millions, that our sun is just one among billions, and that our tiny and insignificant planet’s path across this blackness is unknown and aimless. There is no real purpose to earth’s path—or ours for that matter.

But although science has proven this old view as factual incorrect, is there another truth to be found in a geo-centric universe? Is there another perspective?

The Bible certainly seems to think so. The creation story of Genesis 1-3 is clearly seen from the perspective of earthbound mankind. The light and the heavenly bodies are significant only for what relationship they have to earth—and to man. The origin of the sun and the moon and the stars is not explained, except to point out their use as signs “for seasons, and for days and years,” and “to give light upon the earth” (Gen 1:14-15). These astronomical entities serve man. The earth is given as Paradise for men and women and their offspring to live and to love. Isaiah reminds us (45:18):

For thus says the LORD,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!)

Without the knowledge that ours is a special creation and we a special people, we are adrift and have no purpose. Walter Wangerin, in his allegory The Book of the Dun Cow, writes,

“For in those days the earth was still fixed in the absolute center of the universe. It had not yet been cracked loose from that holy place, to be sent whirling—wild, helpless, and ignorant—among the blind stars. And the sun still traveled around the moored earth, so that days and nights belonged to the earth and to the creatures thereon, not to a ball of silent fire. The clouds were still considered to flow at very great heights, halfway between the moon and the waters below; and God still chose to walk among the clouds, striding, like a man who strides through his garden in the sweet evening.

“Many tens of thousands of creatures lived on this still, unmoving earth. These were the animals, Chauntecleer among them, whom God noticed in his passage above. And the glory of it was that they were there for a purpose.”

God has not made us alone in an infinite cosmos, nothing more than extremely lucky bag of biochemicals on a shockingly accommodating planet. Instead, as Moses sang in Deuteronomy 32:10, when he reflected on God’s protection of his people,

“He encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.”