How could a Christian justify the Bible saying that the earth is flat?
I'm a fairly new Christian, but I've never considered this before:
The Bible does not specifically claim that "the earth is flat" but it is strongly hinted in several places. It is also rarely hinted at that the earth is round, or a sphere, etc.
So if the Bible is God's word, how could a Christian justify the Bible's claims of our earth being flat, when God created earth?
Surely God should know that the earth is round, and so this should be said in the Bible?
- Anonymous1 decade agoBest answer
The Bible states that the earth is SPHERICAL, but the word spherical doesn't exist in the ancient Hebrew language that the Old Testament was written in, so "spherical" is described using terminology that could only have been revealed by God at that time.
I should start by pointing out that in Isaiah 40:22, the Hebrew word for circle is "chug" , and its Strong's translation may be "circle:"
From H2328; a circle: - circle, circuit, compassive
Likewise, the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 22:18 may mean circle, the english translators just chose to use "ball", here is Strong's definition of the ambigous Hebrew word used:
From H1752; a circle, ball or pile: - ball, turn, round about.
Other answerers have pointed out the poetic use of language regarding "the four corners" of the earth, etc. so I'm not going to address that, but please take a look at Job 26:10.
Here it is in 7 different Bible versions:
Contemporary English Version: Job 26:10 On the surface of the ocean, God has drawn a boundary line between light and darkness.
English Standard version: Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.
Good News Bible: Job 26:10 He divided light from darkness by a circle drawn on the face of the sea.
King James Version: Job 26:10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
MODERN King James Version: Job 26:10 He has described a circle on the surface of the waters to the boundary of light with darkness.
Literal Translation of the Holy Bible: Job 26:10 He has described a circle on the surface of the waters to the boundary of light with darkness.
New Revised Standard Version: Job 26:10 He has described a circle on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness.
Now, dear reader, I'm going to point out several obvious things that a fifth grader should be able to understand...Job is undisputed among scholars to be the oldest book of the Bible. This was written long before Greek mathematicians.
If you take a flashlight and a ball into a darkened room, spin the ball and shine the falshlight on it, can you place the flashlight or ball in such a manner that the SHADOW made by the flashlight is NOT round, or a circle? Can you substitute any other geometric shape for the ball and have this little experiment work? Can you understand that the ball is the earth, the flashlight is the sun, and the shadow is the horizon where "day and night come to an end?"
How much of the earth is water? Answer: about 2/3, so MOST OF THE TIME, the "boundary" where "day and night come to an end" is "ON THE SURFACE of the waters."
Can you see the shadow of the sun AT THE HORIZON (boundary of light and darkness) on the face of the waters from outer space, say, 25,000 miles above the earth?
How else could Job have known this without space travel EXCEPT it was divinely revealed to him?
I have been a fifth grade sunday school teacher, and used this scripture and experiment to show children that the bible says that the earth is spherical without using the word spherical, and they understand it, yet there are college educated people who deny it, or rather, WON'T see this.
None of the anti-christian flat earth websites that I have seen argue with, attempt to refute, or even present Job 26:10. Why not?
Well, gee, whatdyaknow? Science proves the Bible!! Cool, huh?
John the Baptist
- QUILLLv 51 decade ago
As you say, the Bible does not state that the earth is flat. Thus, your claim that it does [see your title] is disingenuous and little more than a n excuse to vent your disappointment while inviting other Christians to do the same.
If you are, as you say, a Christian, then how do you justify the Bible saying something with which you disagree [apart from it not saying what you say it says]?
I am given to understand that the question conforms to the pattern of a device used by trolls, whatever they are. However, in the likelihood that you do not understand your basic source of information for your Christianity I will treat your question as being a serious inquiry.
As to what would be and what should not be in the Bible, that decision is out of your hands.
You need to discover what the Bible is, and, equally important, what the Bible is not.
It is a record, admittedly imperfect, in which inspired writers have done their best to detail accounts of their experience with the numinous. Some do this better than others, but because the Bible is not a scientific textbook, nor, properly, an history book, although there is much history recorded, so the criteria that are properly applied to the Bible is not whether it makes definitive statements about the shape of the earth, the nature of wood, stone, or metals, for these are unimportant to the purposes the sacred writings are intended fo fulfill.
The Bible tells the spiritually sensitive that God is the creator of the Universe, and that creation was necessary to fulfill a divine purpose.
Other parts of the book reveal the mind and will of God in regard to the relationship of man to God, man to family, and man to his community.
I do not know which of the several and discrete theories of inspiration to which you subscribe, but if it requires God to be specific about matters that have no impact on an individual's eternal salvation, then a Christian will overlook such shortcomings.
A Christian will use the book for its way pointing faculties, for its ability to inspire devotional exercises, and to provide understanding into the relationship of man to God, the purpose of God in regard to human salvation, and the acts and attitudes that please God.
If you look for God in the Bible you will surely find him. If you look for Galileo's discoveries you will surely be disappointed.
God knows the earth is neither flat nor round, but oblate, and it matters not because it has no bearing on man's search for eternal life.
QUILLSource(s): The Holy Bible
- Anonymous1 decade ago
1) How could a Christian justify the Bible saying that the earth is flat?
Considering that the bible says no such thing, I can't imagine how.
2) The Bible does not specifically claim that "the earth is flat" but it is strongly hinted in several places.
Not even implied in passing.
3) It is also rarely hinted at that the earth is round, or a sphere, etc.
The one place where the Earth's shape *is* mentioned, it is said to be round. Of course, that one passage is most likely not referring to the entire planet or to a sphere - but that is really conjecture on my part.
4) So if the Bible is God's word, how could a Christian justify the Bible's claims of our earth being flat, when God created earth?
Simple. It's very easy to justify an apparent problem when in fact nothing remotely resembling that problem exists in reality.
- 1 decade ago
There is not one passage in the Bible indicating that the earth is a sphere. Isaiah 40:22 refers to it as a circle. The Hebrew word translated as "circle" there is chuwg, which means "circle" not "sphere."
The circle of the earth in that passage refers to the far horizon when viewed from a mountain, and which the writers of the Bible thought was the limit of the earth.
There are many passages in the Bible that indicate the earth is flat. Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Dan 4:10-11 clearly indicates the earth is flat, and Dan 2:28 states that the visions of Nebuchadnezzar are from God. If the biblical god says the biblical earth is flat, it must be flat.
The physical aspect of a circle is a disk, so the biblical earth is disk-shaped. Since the biblical earth is flat, it has an underside and under the earth is the abyss, which is referred to several times in the Bible. That is also what is being referred to in Job 26:7 when it says that the earth hangs over nothing. Job 26:7 implies that the earth has an upper side and an underside, which the actual earth does not have. (The original Hebrew word translated as "upon" in that passage in the KJV also means "over.")
The original Flat Earth Society was Bible based, which shows that the idea of a flat earth in the Bible is not just what nonbelievers say.
The Bible also says that the earth is set upon pillars and is immovable, so, in the biblical view, it can hardly be orbiting the sun. If the earth is set upon pillars, it must be flat and have an underside.
Christian geocentrists who say the earth does not move are out there today.
Several early Christian writers believed the earth to be flat, including Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Lactantius, Tertullian, Theophilus, and Clement. In the sixth century, Cosmas Indicopleustes wrote a book called Christian Topology in which he used the Bible to prove that the earth is flat. The idea that atheists and evolutionists manufacture a myth that Christians used to think the earth is flat is just another creationist and Christian lie.
And don't forget. Bible believers burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for saying in contradiction to the Bible that the earth moves, and would have done the same to Galileo if he had not recanted.
The only reason Bible believers say that certain passages are poetic is that is the only way they can explain the contradiction of fact as we know it. But why, if the Bible is the word of god, must it present something contrary to fact and thus mislead people? Moreover, in ancient times, the people who were living then would not have known that these passages were contrary to fact. Since it is they who wrote the passages, why should the Bible be taken as presenting something contrary to what its writers believed?
@Matthew: "Scientists used to believe that the Earth was flat."
Name one scientist who said that the earth is flat. You are just repeating a creationist lie. The first scientists lived in ancient Greece and they fully understood that the earth is a sphere at the same time the writers of the Bible believed the earth to be flat. Eratosthenes even measured the circumference of the earth fairly accurately well before the end of the Old Testament era.
You creationists need to stop lying.
For those who say there was no word for sphere in ancient Hebrew, take a look at Isaiah 22:18. The original Hebrew word translated as "ball" there is "duwr." A ball is a sphere. If Isaiah meant "sphere" in Isaiah 40:22, why didn't he use the same word there?
Also, @Sunshine refers to the Douay-Rheims Bible as using "globe" instead of circle in Isaiah 40:22. That is an erroneous usage. That Bible was translated in the 17th century and the translators used globe in that passage to make it conform to the current understanding of the shape of the earth. The New American Bible, the current Catholic Bible, uses the term "the vault of the earth."
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- BarneyLv 61 decade ago
You have been misinformed about what the Bible says. Over 2700 years ago God inspired Isaiah to write this about the earth:
(Isaiah 40:22) There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell,
And this was long before explorers like Christopher Colombus helped us see that the earth is indeed round.Source(s): Bible
- scruffycatLv 71 decade ago
It doesn't hint that the earth is flat at all. In fact, in Isaiah, it talks about the earth being round. It's one of the reasons Columbus challenged the flat-earth theory.
Check out Isaiah, chapter 40, specifically, verse 22.
- 1 decade ago
Read the book of Job. Then ask yourself if maybe the flat Earth theory is really hinted at. By the way, Job is probably the oldest book of the bible. And the round earth wasn't discovered by secular man until Galileo, I believe.Source(s): Book of Job, King James bible.
- MatthewLv 71 decade ago
Scientists used to believe that the Earth was flat.
But the Holy Bible said the Earth was round thousands of years ago. Isaiah 40:22.
- 1 decade ago
Every single instance that claims this type of thing is written poetically and is meant to make a point not be a definitive description. Eg. Four corners of the earth, etc... Never are such terms used in narrative or historical senses.
- 1 decade ago
"Surely God should know that the earth is round, and so this should be said in the Bible?"
Not really, it shouldn't. If it should, then God might as well write EVERYTHING he knows about the world in that book. Even including what shoes I wore yesterday (Converse All Star :P heheh).