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FAITH: Don't believe everything you read — even in the Bible

It’s easy to confidently claim the Bible is the inspired “Word of God.” To actually believe everything it says is more challenging. For instance, the Bible presents the earth as being flat.

It’s easy to confidently claim the Bible is the inspired “Word of God.”

To actually believe everything it says is more challenging. For instance, the Bible presents the earth as being flat. Christians did believe this for centuries, but most modern Christians would regard anyone believing it today as a crackpot. By now, many generations of “believers” have chosen to believe scientists instead of Scripture.

Many Christians may not even realize that a flat Earth is at the centre of biblical cosmology. No doubt, their pastors are reluctant to mention it. Throughout Scripture, God and heaven are portrayed as being “up.” This doesn’t work well on a globe. “Up” for someone in the northern hemisphere places God at one end of the universe whereas someone gazing upward in the southern hemisphere would be looking billions of light-years in the opposite direction. Imagine a Canadian and an Australian praying together over FaceTime or Skype, both raising their heads and hands to heaven, but facing opposite ends of the universe. This point may seem trivial, but it’s only the beginning.

Isaiah describes God as sitting “above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22, NRSV throughout). The ancients believed the earth was a flat disk supported by a foundation of pillars: “The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world” (1 Samuel 2:8b). See also Job 9:6; Psalms 75:3; 104:5. Isaiah further portrays the earth as God’s “footstool” – a flat surface with cylindrical supports (ch. 66:1). Today, most Christians believe in a heliocentric system, i.e., a relatively stationary sun orbited by planets. The Bible teaches the diametric opposite – a geocentric system through which the sun travels in a “circuit” from one end of the heavens to the other over a flat earth that “shall never be moved” (Psalms 19:6; 93:1b). See also Psalms 96:10; 104:5; 1 Chronicles 16:30. Although generally considered apocryphal, 1 Esdras agrees the sun follows a “circuit” (ch. 4:34).

Christian commentators, evidently, eager to align themselves with modern, mostly atheistic scientists, raise two objections. First, they point to a puzzling passage where Job appears to create a contradiction by saying God “hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). They claim this suggests a globe. However, hanging the earth on nothing could just as easily refer to a flat disk. 

Basing one’s position on an ambiguous verse that contradicts all the other evidence is not sound exegesis. Secondly, they suggest God sitting “above the circle of the earth” could be referring to the rotating and revolving globe of modern science. Many have cited this phrase to claim the biblical authors knew the earth was a sphere long before anyone else. This is absurd. Perhaps, the Hebrew for “circle” can sometimes refer to a sphere, but how could it in this case when all the other passages indicate a stationary, flat Earth? Furthermore, as we have seen, placing God above a sphere hides half the earth and millions of people. There is really no such thing as being “above” a globe. However, sitting above a flat disk or “footstool” makes perfect sense.

The prophet, Daniel, supposedly received a supernatural dream in which he saw a tree so tall “its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth” (Daniel 4:11). This would be impossible on a globe. Those on the opposite side would never see the tree regardless of how tall it might grow. Moreover, there are no “ends” on a globe.

The New Testament assumes divine authorship of the Old Testament, so it would be fair to say its authors subscribed to Old Testament cosmology by implication. However, we are not without a New Testament reference to the flat Earth. Satan miraculously took Jesus “to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). Again, this would have been impossible on a globe. It’s clear the author, Jesus and Satan were operating on the assumption the earth is flat.

In the end, not a solitary reference to a globe can be found anywhere in the Bible. Of those authors who made any sort of reference to cosmology, all believed in a stationary, flat Earth. Those who claim that Scripture was inspired by God, but believe the earth is a spherical planet orbiting the sun are simply deluding themselves. 

To maintain their position on biblical inspiration and authority, and avoid being considered hypocrites, Christians have no option but to renounce the teaching of modern science and declare by faith that the earth is flat. I invite all the Christian pastors and priests of Kamloops to remove all doubt about where they stand on this matter by clearly stating their positions in the comment section below this article at the Kamloops This Week website.