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Sunday, June 16, 2024 - 12:22 AM


First Published in 1994


In recent years there have been claims that the Bible teaches a Flat Earth. There are even modern-day flat earthers who pushed this claim as support for their flat Earth of claims. You have probably heard that Columbus proved that the Earth was round and that he was opposed in his voyage but Bible-believing Christians who thought the earth was flat based on the Bible.  However, none of these claims are actually true neither does the Bible teach Flat Earth. On the contrary, you can actually use the Bible to support a spherical rotating earth.

We will start this discussion with Columbus. First of all, he never proved that the earth was round, the results of his voyage actually provided no evidence one way or the other.  His idea was to reach India by sailing west and he never made it because the American continent was in the way, and he did not even realize it. Furthermore, no one with any degree of education in Europe at the time believed the earth was flat. The fact that the earth is a sphere was common knowledge a fact that had been demonstrated about 2000 years earlier.

Nobody opposed Columbus because they thought the earth was flat, the real problem was that he had overestimated the size of Asia and underestimated the size of the circumference of the earth in planning his first voyage. In fact, if the American continent had not been here, it is quite likely that no one would ever have heard of Christopher Columbus because he probably would have never made it to Asia Because the actual distance was much further than he thought.

If this is the case, why do people think that Columbus proved the earth was round and that he was opposed by flat earthers? We owe this bit of fiction to the imagination of Washington Irving who wrote a fictional account of Columbus’s life called A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. It was this book that got the myth started. This aspect was actually an attack on the Bible.

The first thing that needs to be noted is the fact that there is no place in the Bible where you will find the word earth and flat together let alone anything that actually says the earth is flat. Consequently, any claim that the Bible teaches a Flat Earth needs to be based on interpreting passages as showing it in some way. The most common way of doing this is to assume that the Bible teaches a stereotypical Flat Earth cosmology and read it into any passage they can. This of course makes the argument a form of circular reasoning. However, this is common with most arguments against the Bible.

Genesis 1: 6, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

The word “firmament” used in the King James Bible is one of their favorites because someone who has not investigated this word can easily think it implies a solid structure. Unfortunately, simply looking up the word is of no help because those that do not imply a solid structure simply define it as referring to the sky. However, its etymology helps because it takes away the implication of solidity. The word “firmament” comes from the Latin word firmamentum which means "a support, or a strengthening." This does not require solidity, For example, water supports a boat floating on it, but the water is not solid. Furthermore, the Hebrew word rāqîaʿ simply referred to an expanse. Consequently, the only reason for concluding that the firmament refers to a solid structure is a bias that assumes that the word must refer to a dome in a Flat Earth model. Both words actually fit with General relativity’s depiction of space because not only is space seen as an expanse but the functional supporting structure of the universe as well.

They will also claim that phrases such as ‘the ends of the earth” or “corners of the earth” show that the earth has to be flat. First of all their own model lack corners unless they artificially insert them outside their map. It also ignores the fact that God himself defines “earth” as referring to dry land in Genesis 1:10.

Genesis 1:10, And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Once you see that “earth” in the Bible refers to dry land unless the context indicates otherwise, all Flat Earth interpretations collapse. This is because the dry land that is the continents of the planet earth, does indeed have ends, and there are places that can be considered corners, even though this terminology is most likely a reference to the four cardinal directions at north, south, east, and west rather than actual corners. The simple fact is that there are no verses in the Bible that can objectively be interpreted as teaching a Flat Earth, but there are some that point to the Earth is a sphere in the void of space.

Isaiah 40:22, It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

This verse both speaks of the circle of the earth implying that the earth is round and speaks of God stretching out the heavens, which would seem to be a reference to the expansion of space that is observed in the form of galactic redshifts.

Proverbs 8:27, When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

compass: go around something in a circular course.

This is one verse that flat earthers conveniently avoid because it clearly indicates that the earth is a sphere. The face of the depth would be the surface of the ocean and you only get a circular course set on the surface of the oceans if the Earth is a sphere.

Job 26:7, He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

This verse describes the Earth as hanging upon nothing, here is one of those times where the word “earth” clearly refers to the entire planet. Saying that God hangeth the Earth on nothing is a good ancient way of describing the fact that there is nothing material holding up the Earth and keeping it from falling into the sun. The earth is kept up why its orbital motion around the sun. This goes against a Flat Earth because such models inevitably have the Earth supported by something.

Job 38: 14, It is turned as clay to the seal, and they stand as a garment.

Here's a verse they referred to the rotation of the Earth. it particularly makes sense when the word “earth” is seen as referring to dry land. This makes the analogy of the earth being turned as clay a perfect fit to the rotation of the planet Earth.

So, the Bible does not teach a Flat Earth. On the contrary, what the Bible does say about the planet Earth is a perfect fit to the earth being a rotating sphere in the emptiness of space around it. This is a myth that is popular among those that scoff at the Bible, and sadly it has nabbed a few Christians in the process. However, it is also a myth that is completely untrue.