In the martial arts, especially Jujutsu, a common method of overcoming an adversary is to use their momentum against them. Rather than trying to stop an attack directly, the attack is diverted, and even accelerated, with the aim of causing an enemy to be thrown off balance. Rather than the attacker injuring the defender, his own movements can result in injury to himself. This method is effective in debate as well as in martial arts. I have at times wondered whether the present resurgence in the flat earth theory is the work of an adversary in reaction to attacks being leveled against the Moon hoax, for the Moon landing deception has been taking a drubbing.
It has often proven more successful to divert an attack’s momentum, than to attempt to stop it cold. Many of the same arguments exposing the government lies pertaining to the Apollo Moon landings are used by those who contend that the Earth is flat and stationary. Not unexpectedly, some of the same people who are vocal about NASA faking the Moon landings are also proponents of the flat Earth model. Having perceived the lies of government and media pertaining to men walking on the surface of the Moon, many individuals are predisposed to believe other accusations of conspiracy which are presented to them, regardless of whether there is truth to the claims.
When a man or woman has their eyes opened to perceive the blatant deception of the Moon landings, a deception carried out by government, media, educational institutions, and other shapers of men’s worldview, they naturally begin to wonder what other lies have been foisted upon an unsuspecting public. This makes them ripe for cunning deceivers who are all to glad to greet those climbing out of the ditch of deception on one side of the road, only to take their hand and throw them into the opposite ditch. Rather than stopping their inertia, they use it against them.
One of the ultimate insults uttered by science enthusiasts is to call someone a “flat-earther.” This label is the equivalent of accusing someone of being anti-science and anti-knowledge. To be labeled a “flat-earther” is to be accused of superstition, ignorance, and a blind opposition to truth. Consequently, if a significant number of people who are exposing the lies of NASA and the Apollo Moon missions can be persuaded to embrace the view that the world is flat and stationary, and the Sun and Moon and stars rotate around the Earth, the entire segment of the truth movement which refutes man’s false claims of space exploration can be brought into disrepute.
The flat, stationary, and geocentric model of the Universe has been particularly attractive to Christians due to the existence of numerous Bible passages which speak of the Earth in language which superficially appears to support such a view. As any Christian should be aware, the Scriptures can be wrongly interpreted to the detriment of mankind. The apostle Paul admonished Timothy and, by extension, every one of us with the following words.
II Timothy 2:15
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
If there were no danger of incorrectly analyzing and inaccurately dividing the Scriptures, this apostle of Christ would have had no need to utter such an admonition. Men derive false and incorrect interpretations of the Bible all the time. It is an ancient failing of mankind. In writing to Timothy once again, Paul speaks of interpretation errors relating to the subject of the Law.
I Timothy 1:6-7
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
The apostle Paul’s words could be applied to an endless list of Biblical subjects and passages. Men are continually engaging in fruitless discussion. They are prone to making confident assertions about matters they do not understand. This is the case when men and women cite Biblical passages to assert with confidence that the Earth is flat and stationary, and the Solar System is geocentric rather than heliocentric.
As a son of God to whom Yahweh has revealed many things regarding the symbolic nature of the creation, opening my eyes to perceive parables in the design of the Universe, I must affirm that the heliocentric model of the Solar System is truer to both spiritual types and physical evidence. If we look at the Solar System as a parable, we would identify the Earth with man, for not only is the Earth man’s domain, but man’s flesh was formed of the dust of the Earth. The Sun represents God, for the Sun is the source of light, power, and life in the Solar System. Each of these attributes correlates to the role of Yahweh and His Son Yahshua. The Scriptures also refer to Christ as the “Sun.”
But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings…
To be more specific, the Earth stands as a symbol of Adamic man, or the flesh man, who was formed on the 6th day of creation. The Moon, being closely associated with the Earth, yet smaller and lying in the heavens, stands as a symbol of mankind redeemed, or the Church.
When we assign these identities to these heavenly bodies, a number of profound spiritual parables result. As previously mentioned, the Sun is a symbol of Yahshua who is the physical representation of the invisible God. Christ, like the Sun, is a source of life, light and power.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might…
And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
The MoonChurch has no glory of its own. It reflects the glory of the SunYahshua. Just like the Moon, the glory of the church has waxed and waned through numerous periods of apostasy and revival. A most telling parable occurs during a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, signifying the flesh of man, interposes itself between the Sun and Moon. So too, does the church of Christ lose all of its glory, and cease to function as a light in a dark world, when the flesh raises itself up and comes between the church and her only source of light and life.
These parables are present only when one adopts the heliocentric model of the Solar System. If one adopts the geocentric model, the parables not only fail to manifest, but a new parable proclaiming a negative message of human pride becomes apparent. In the heliocentric model, man is portrayed as revolving around God who is at the center. This is as it should be, for man was created for God’s pleasure, not the other way around. Yet, if one embraces the geocentric model, then man becomes the center, and God revolves around the man. This is indeed how many carnal Christians view God. They see Him as a type of divine Santa Claus in the heavens who exists to meet their needs. This man-centered view is a distortion and corruption of the truth.
I have never come across anyone teaching the geocentric model of the Solar System, or the flat and stationary Earth theories, who make reference to the parable aspect of their models. Although it is only a remnant of God’s people who perceive that Yahweh has created all things according to a divine plan to show forth spiritual truths, there should be some among the growing number of Christian proponents of these errant models who understand that the heavens and the Earth serve as spiritual symbols. This aspect is neglected, however, for if it were brought to attention, many would see that the geocentric model presents a false image of the relationship between Yahweh and His creation. It is a model expressing the selfish viewpoint of man, and a false man-centric theology.
It is insufficient, however, to answer this matter by referring to the symbolic nature of the heavens alone. We must also address the many claims which contend that the Bible is teaching a geocentric, flat and stationary view of the world.
The above map, created in 1893 by Orlando Ferguson, a Christian real estate developer in South Dakota, claims to be based upon “Four hundred passages in the Bible that condemn the Globe Theory, or the Flying Earth.” It should be noted that Ferguson created a square model of the Earth in order to accommodate the numerous Biblical references to the Earth’s “four corners.” Most flat Earth models promoted by Christians today depict the Earth as a round, flat disk. Many take the United Nations’ logo as an approximate representation of the true shape of the Earth.
In doing so, they demonstrate an inconsistency by insisting that many figurative passages of Scripture are to be understood literally, while at the same time choosing to not interpret passages speaking of the four corners of the Earth literally.
And [Yahweh] will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners [Hebrew: kanaph] of the earth.
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners [Greek: gonia] of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth…
In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as “corners” is also translated as “quarters” by the translators of the King James Bible, the translation which is most often cited as authoritative by flat-Earth adherents.
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters [Greek: gonia] of the earth
Th expression “four quarters” is understood to be a reference to the four directions North, East, South, and West which are the four cardinal points of the compass. Indeed, this is the manner in which the word should be understood, for the Earth is neither square nor rectangular in shape, a fact that is demonstrated by numerous proofs, including the shape of the shadow which the Earth casts upon the Moon during a lunar eclipse.
In the Hebrew, the word kanaph is translated with a wide assortment of English words.
kanaph (kaw-nawf’): an edge or extremity; specifically (of a bird or army) a wing, (of a garment or bed-clothing) a flap, (of the earth) a quarter, (of a building) a pinnacle:
KJV – bird, border, corner, end, feather [-ed], flying, (one an-) other, overspreading, quarters, skirt, sort, uttermost part, wing ([-ed]).
[Source: Strong’s Concordance]
I will not spend more time refuting the contention that the Earth is square, for there are few even among flat-Earthers who make this claim today. What then of the Earth being fixed in place, immovable, and non-rotating as a great many modern proponents of the flat-Earth view declare? Does the Bible actually teach that the Earth does not rotate, but is perfectly stationary? Following are some of the Scriptures cited in support of this view.
I Chronicles 16:30
Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
The world also is established. It can’t be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
Say among the nations, “Yahweh reigns.” The world is also established. It can’t be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
The critical point of interpretation is in correctly understanding what is meant by the Hebrew expression which is rendered into English as “can’t be moved,” or “will not be moved.” Does this in fact mean something is motionless, as the flat-Earth proponents declare? Are these passages teaching that the Earth does not rotate, nor move through the heavens? We need only look to other Scripture passages which use this same expression to answer these questions.
Psalms 15:1, 5
Yahweh, who shall dwell in your sanctuary? Who shall live on your holy hill?… He who doesn’t lend out his money for usury, nor take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
I have set Yahweh always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved [Hebrew: mowt].
The righteous will never be moved [Hebrew: mowt], but the wicked will not inhabit the earth.
All of the above Scriptures are using the same Hebrew word. They are references to men. Are men motionless bodies? Is Yahweh seeking to communicate that righteous men are fixed in place? It should be evident that this Hebrew word can have diverse meanings. Strong’s Concordance defines this word in the following manner.
mowt (mote); a primitive root; to waver; by implication to slip, shake, fall:
KJV – be carried, cast, be out of course, be fallen in decay, exceedingly, fall (-ing down), be (re-) moved, be ready, shake, slide, slip.
We can gain a better understanding of what Yahweh is intending to communicate when He says “the earth cannot be moved,” when we compare other passages which speak specifically of the Earth and include this Hebrew word.
You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; Heal its breaches, for it is shaking [Hebrew: mowt].
The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken [Hebrew: mowt] exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again.
In the context of these verses we can understand that the Hebrew word “mowt” which our English Bibles translate as “moved,” “shaken,” etc., describes something that trembles, that is violently broken, that is split open, that reels to and fro like a drunkard and totters like a hut. This Hebrew word describes something that is fallen. None of these descriptors have any bearing upon the natural motion of the Earth in the heavens.
In many passages expressing the thought that the Earth “cannot be shaken,” we find the correlated statement that the Earth has been “established.”
The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved.
What Yahweh is expressing is that there is a permanence to the Earth. It will exist until the time appointed for its dissolution. In this sense, the Earth is sure, steadfast, and “immovable.” Yahweh was not referring to the physical motion of the Earth in the heavens. We find a parallel when Yahweh declares “the righteous will not be moved.” Again, this is not a reference to physical motion, but rather to the confidence the righteous have because Yahweh supports, upholds, and protects them. Those who are using these passages as proof texts to teach upon the movements of the planets are failing to rightly divide the word of God.
Let us look now at those passages cited in support of the assertion that the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat. This argument is not based on any direct statement in the Bible declaring the Earth to be flat, but rather from numerous passages which are poetic, metaphorical, or contain allusions to the Earth which are suggestive of a flat Earth. For example, a number of passages refer to “the pillars of the Earth.”
I Samuel 2:8
For the pillars of the earth are Yahweh’s, He has set the world on them.
Who shakes the earth out of its place; The pillars of it tremble…
The earth and all its inhabitants quake. I firmly hold its pillars.
The image above is taken from the book On a Faraway Day…: A New View of Genesis in Ancient Mesopotamia by Alan P. Dickin. The image is described as representing a “Biblical and ancient Near Eastern worldview.” I would dispute the claim that it is an accurate representation of a Biblical worldview. There are some among both proponents and opponents of the flat-Earth view who have suggested that the Bible was written with the ancient Mesopotamian, or Babylonian worldview in mind, and that Yahweh described the world in these terms because it was what mankind understood. I have sincere objections to this argument. Yahweh did acknowledge pagan belief systems in various Bible passages, but He did not perpetuate them.
I believe any similarity to pagan belief, such as speaking of the Earth resting upon pillars, can be more accurately ascribed to the employment of poetic language. Much of the Bible is poetic. The Jews even classified certain books of the Old Testament as Poetry. These books included Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Solomon. Poetic passages, however, are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Hebrew poetry made wide use of metaphors, similes, and analogies.
Two of the three Scriptures above which mention the pillars of the Earth are found in the poetic books of the Old Testament, and all three verses are located in poetic passages. Following is the context of the passage from I Samuel.
I Samuel 2:1-10
Hannah prayed, and said:
If you look up this passage in your Bible, you will likely find that the type is offset, indicating that it is a poetic passage. This entire prayer by Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is understood to be poetic. Consequently, it is not unusual to find in it many poetic expressions such as “my horn is exalted,” “my mouth is enlarged,” and “neither is there any rock like our God.” Is God physically a rock? Of course not. We understand that this is figurative language. So too is it an employment of figurative language to state that “the pillars of the earth are Yahweh’s, He has set the world on them.” Pillars to the ancient mind represented strength. These words come right in the midst of Hannah rejoicing in Yahweh’s mercy and kindness as He “raises up the poor out of the dust,” and “lifts up the needy from the dunghill to make them sit with princes.” The comparison is made that even as Yahweh has established the world firmly, so too will He establish those who are weak and lowly in strength while casting down the wicked.
We should not think that the description of the world resting on pillars is to be taken literally anymore than the statement that Yahweh will break those who strive with Him into pieces, or that He will thunder against them in the sky. These are poetic expressions used to speak of the awesome power and might of Yahweh. Sadly, even Bible publishers and the creators of Bible software, perpetuate the idea that the ancient Hebrews interpreted these poetic passages literally. The creators of the Logos Bible Software have included the following graphic in their material.
Whereas the authors of the Logos Bible Software are suggesting that men such as Moses, Job, David, and Solomon were ignorant and fanciful in their conceptions of the heavens and the Earth, or equally bad, they are suggesting that these men’s words are to be understood literally and represent the true state of the cosmos, the true ignorance lies with modern men who are failing to discern when poetic language is being used in the Bible. The ancient writers of Scripture, and their hearers, recognized symbolic speech when it was employed. Men do err today when they assume that our early forefathers were ignorant and unsophisticated in their thinking. Such a conclusion is a myth perpetuated by proponents of pseudo-science who depict man’s forebears as living in caves and being primitive in their thinking. Such a depiction does not accord with the description of man’s creation in Genesis, nor the accomplishments ascribed to antediluvian men whose lives extended nearly 1,000 years.
Many of the passages which the flat-Earth proponents reference are from the book of Job, a book filled with poetic language. Job and his friends take turns conversing, and each speech is a masterpiece of poetry. Even when Yahweh speaks at the end of the book, He employs poetic figures of speech. The images above presenting models of what is supposed to be the ancient Near East worldview contain many details taken from the book of Job. The storehouses of snow, hail, and water which are figured above the vault of the heavens are details taken from the book of Job. So too are the pillars which support the heavens and the Earth, and the foundation upon which all rests.
Then Yahweh answered Job out of the whirlwind, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man, for I will question you, then you answer me! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who determined the measures of it, if you know? Or who stretched the line on it? Whereupon were the foundations of it fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth from the womb, when I made clouds the garment of it, and wrapped it in thick darkness, marked out for it my bound, set bars and doors, and said, ‘Here you may come, but no further; Here shall your proud waves be stayed?’”
Do you perceive the analogy being employed here by Yahweh? I am confident the ancients did. Yahweh is comparing His handiwork to man’s. Man’s greatest creations are the buildings he constructs, perhaps a palace or a grand mausoleum. To construct such works in ancient times men would employ building techniques which are equally ancient. They would lay a foundation and fasten it in place. They would stretch forth the plumb line, and the level. They would lay a cornerstone and erect pillars. Yahweh speaks of His own creation using this same language. By doing so He intentionally shows how puny man’s works are in comparison to His own. What kind of foundation could one lay for the Earth? How could one stretch out a plumb line to align it properly, or stretch out a measure to mark its length and breadth and height? What sort of cornerstone could one set in place to mark the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the Earth? What type of doors could be put in place to hold back the seas?
Brothers and sisters, it is great folly to suggest that in the book of Job we find an actual description of the world as conceived by men of the ancient Near East. Yet this is precisely what some misguided Bible teachers and adherents of the flat-Earth model are suggesting. I have watched their videos and read their web pages. They describe a great dome erected over the Earth. They have no observational evidence to support the idea of a giant dome being erected over the Earth. Their conclusions are wholly informed by their errant interpretations of the Bible. The Bible speaks of there being windows in the firmament which are opened to let water in, and the Bible describes the heavens as being spread out like a tent or a vault above the Earth.
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.
It is He who sits above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
How similar are men to grasshoppers? This simile is quite limited in its application. Men are not insects. They don’t have wings, or hop about like grasshoppers. They don’t have antennae. Yet at some level the comparison between men and grasshoppers is accurate. It is always necessary to guard against going too far in the attempt to derive meaning from similes and metaphors. Is there an actual vault above the Earth? Did Yahweh stretch out the heavens like a curtain, or is this figurative language used to express the appearance of the heavens to those who dwell upon the Earth? It is quite reckless to use such figurative language as if it were intended as a physically accurate description of Yahweh’s creation.
Most rational people would agree that there are no actual windows in the heavens. Yahweh did not construct an immense physical arch over the Earth and install windows in it to let in water anymore than He installed physical doors to hold back the seas. There are no physical storehouses of rain and snow and hail, irregardless of the poetic language employed in the Scriptures. The poetic passages of the Bible contain many ingenious allusions; comparisons which were not intended to be interpreted literally.
“Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, that you may take it to its territory, and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?”
I haven’t heard any flat-Earthers promoting the idea that light has a dwelling place. Why then do they insist that there is a dome over the Earth with physical windows which let in rain and snow and hail? In this same passage from Job we find the following questions asked by the Creator.
“Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?”
It should be clear that these are fanciful and imaginative questions posed to make a point. The Christian who makes a sincere and patient attempt to understand the Scriptures will discover indicators that figurative language is being used, and that Yahweh does not intend His people to interpret certain passages or expressions literally. Even as Yahweh was using human metaphors relating to building construction to discuss His creation of the heavens and the Earth, now he is using the metaphor of conception and birth while speaking of the origin of rain, dew, ice, and frost. There is no dome erected over the Earth, and there is no womb from which ice emerges.
Brothers and sisters, we subject the followers of Christ and the Bible itself to ridicule when we fail to rightly divide the word of God. Let us not be as children in our understanding. I find the assertion that the Earth is established upon literal pillars which suspend it in the heavens to be quite silly. Pillars and foundations are used to support manmade edifices, but they have to rest upon something solid, or they have no practical value. What are the foundations of the Earth and its pillars resting upon? Most flat-Earthers depict them as resting upon nothing. This is nonsensical.
Here is one image of the flat Earth covered by a dome, resting upon pillars with water surrounding all. This image is featured on numerous flat Earth websites and in videos. The image even includes floodgates which are depicted as being framed into the dome over the firmament of the sky. The Son and Moon and stars are drawn as being under the waters. This is all great folly. Neither antediluvian man, nor the Hebrew authors of the Old Testament, believed this to be an accurate representation of the Earth. Flat-Earth proponents do err when they suggest that the Bible teaches such a concept.
I watched a video recently titled 75 Bible Verses that Prove a Flat Earth.
The speaker is quite childish in his reasoning. One of the Scriptures he cites to support the idea that the Earth is flat and rests upon pillars is Isaiah 66:1. “Thus says Yahweh, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” He then shows an image of two different footstools, one rectangular and one round, each with four legs. He compares the images of the footstools to an image of a spherical Earth from space to demonstrate the difference, and then asks “What footstool spins at 1,000 miles an hour?”
If this is what passes for serious Bible exposition, the church is in deep trouble. Has this man not read what the Holy Spirit stated through the martyr Stephen?
“However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord; ‘Or what place is there for My repose?’”
Yahweh does not have feet that need to rest, nor a physical body to sit upon a throne. He is Spirit, and no man has seen Him at any time. When Moses was commanding the people of Israel at the end of his life, he spoke in this manner.
Take therefore good heed to yourselves; for you saw no manner of form on the day that Yahweh spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire. Lest you corrupt yourselves, and make yourself an engraved image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth…
It is error to think that Yahweh resembles the human form. Yahweh has never revealed His form to man. To suggest that Yahweh has actual feet to rest upon a footstool is folly. It is equally folly to infer that Yahweh was intending to convey to Isaiah that the Earth is shaped like a footstool, or that the heavens are shaped like a throne. How does one envision the heavens in the shape of a throne? These are the types of foolish assertions the proponents of the flat-Earth theory are making, and they are equally as careless in their scientific arguments.
Brothers and sisters, there are Biblical passages that describe Yahweh as having feathers and wings, but we would be mistaken to interpret these words literally and conclude that He has the form of a giant bird.
He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge…
That anyone can read a passage like this and deny that the ancient Hebrews were familiar with metaphors and figurative speech is indefensible. I have studied the Bible avidly since my childhood and I have come across no passage of Scripture that when rightly interpreted can be said to teach that the Earth is flat, stationary, or that the Solar System is geocentric. Stripped of any Biblical mandate to believe that the Earth is flat, the main force compelling such a conclusion for Christians is removed.
Some suggest that a spherical Earth model is a recent phenomena foisted upon the public by influential forces in the government and media. Yet the assertion that a rotating, spherical Earth is a relatively new belief is proven false with a little investigation. This is another area in which our educational system, school teachers, and text books have failed us. I remember in my childhood being taught that during the time period in which Christopher Columbus sailed west, ultimately discovering Hispaniola and achieving his place in history as the discoverer of America, that men believed the world was flat. I remember being taught that Columbus had to overcome the fear of the sailors who journeyed with him, for they were terrified at the thought of sailing over the edge of the Earth into some unknown abyss. I was led to believe that the Middle Ages, a period stretching from the 5th to 15th century A.D. was a time of great superstition and ignorance where the prevailing view among mankind, including academics, scholars, and the clergy was that the Earth was flat.
This false view of the history of the Middle Ages is now referred to as “the myth of the flat Earth.” This is not to be confused with people who actually believe in a flat Earth. The myth of the flat Earth in this context refers to the false assertion that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages included a belief in the Earth being flat. This can be proven to be a false view of history. During the time that Columbus made his famous voyage, belief in a spherical Earth was nearly universal among the educated class.
The vast majority of scholars throughout the Middle Ages held to the spherical Earth model which had been established by the Greeks centuries before Christ. (See the book The Flat Error: The Modern Distortion of Medieval Geography by Jeffrey Burton Russell.) According to D.R. Dicks in his book Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle, after the 5th century B.C., every Greek writer of repute thought the world was round. Plato, who lived from 427-347 B.C., wrote in his dialogue titled Phaedo, or On the Soul, “My conviction is that the Earth is a round body in the center of the heavens, and therefore has no need of air or of any similar force to be a support.”
The Greek philosopher Aristotle who lived from 384-322 B.C. observed that there were stars that were visible in Egypt and Cyprus which could not be seen in more northern locations. He understood this to be evidence of a spherical Earth. In 350 B.C., Aristotle wrote De Caelo (On the Heavens) where he concluded that the Earth was a sphere “of no great size, for otherwise the effect of so slight a change of place would not be quickly apparent.” In De Caelo, Aristotle named three evidences, or proofs of a spherical Earth.
• Every portion of the Earth tends toward the center until by compression and convergence they form a sphere.
• Travelers going south see southern constellations rise higher above the horizon.
• The shadow of Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse is round.
This latter point has been observed by mankind from ancient times, serving as evidence to multitudes of the spherical form of the Earth. I have little doubt that it was observed by antediluvian man thousands of years before the Greeks wrote about it.
Earth’s Shadow During Lunar Eclipse
The Greek astonomer Eratosthenes is regarded by some to be the first man to have calculated the circumference of the Earth. The year was 240 B.C.. Being informed that in Syene (Aswan, Egypt) the Sun is directly overhead during the Summer solstice, he measured the angle of shadows cast in Alexandria, Egypt, some 50 stadia to the north. With this information, he was able to calculate the complete circumference of the Earth. The exact length of the “stadia” he used in his measurements is unknown, as there were multiple standards at the time. However, it has been determined that his calculation deviated from the actual circumference of the Earth by no more than 2 to 20 percent.
The knowledge of the Greeks was passed along to the Romans, and was preserved through the ensuing centuries. Many Roman authors, such as Cicero (1st century B.C.) and Pliny (1st century A.D.) make reference to the “rotundity of the Earth.” Strabo (64 B.C. – 24 A.D.) stated that the spherical globe was known to mariners as far back as the time of Homer. When Homer lived is uncertain, but ancient accounts place him between the 9th and 13th centuries B.C..
Another common argument for the spherical shape of the Earth was advanced by Claudius Ptolemy, an Alexandrian who lived from 90-168 A.D.. In the Almagest, his great work of astronomy which served as a standard work on the subject for nearly 1,400 years, he set forth numerous evidences of the spherical shape of the Earth. Among them was the observation that when a ship is sailing toward mountains, to observers onboard the ship the mountains appear to rise up out of the sea. A corollary to this which is frequently mentioned is that when ship’s are observed from shore, they appear to sink into the sea when sailing away, and to rise up out of the sea when sailing towards the land-based observers.
Ship Disappearing Over Horizon
Among the early Christian church fathers, the prevailing view was of the sphericity of the Earth. Men such as Basil of Caesarea, Ambrose, and Augustine of Hippo revealed a belief in a spherical Earth in their writings. There were some literalists, however, who held to a flat-Earth view due to their failure to properly discern when figurative language was being used in the Bible. As presented in Klaus Anselm Vogel’s doctrinal dissertation Spherical Earth – The medieval image of the Earth and the revolving cosmos, the flat-Earth view held among a segment of the church during the early centuries of Christianity largely disappeared during the 7th century. Vogel wrote that from the 8th century, “no cosmographer worthy of note has called into question the sphericity of the Earth.”
The globe in the image above is believed to be the oldest surviving model of the globe. It was created by the German mariner Martin Behaim in the year 1492. As you can see, mariners at the time of Columbus’ voyage had no illusions about sailing off the edge of a flat Earth.
Brothers and sisters, this information refutes a key plank advanced by many of the flat-Earthers. Many contend that the spherical Earth worldview is a relatively recent model set forth by deceivers, and that to be a Bible believing Christian one must adopt the flat-Earth view. Both of these conclusions are false. Evidence reveals that the majority of early Christians believed in a spherical Earth. This should not be surprising since the church was birthed during the height of the Roman Empire. Greek was not only the common language of the Empire, but Greek teachings dominated the academic and scientific realms.
It was not the U.S. or British government that originated the spherical Earth model. Neither was it NASA, or some group of humanist, anti-Christian scientists. The spherical Earth view predated Christianity by a great margin and has from ancient times been demonstrated and defended from empirical observations. It is not a Satanic deception. I have not seen much evidence of Christian flat-Earthers researching the history of astronomical models. If they had they would discover that it was the Lutheran Christian Johannes Kepler who is credited with defining the laws of planetary motion. Kepler incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his published works, motivated by the conviction that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan that could be understood through man’s divinely given faculties of reason. Kepler’s writings on astronomy contain passages describing how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity, not unlike the principle behind the parables I set forth at the start of this addendum.
I would encourage any Christian who is troubled by the flat-Earth theories being promulgated to study Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. I would also challenge any flat-Earther to explain the motion of Mars without resorting to a heliocentric model of the Solar System and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion.
The flat-Earth theory reemerged in modern times when in 1838 the Englishman Samuel Rowbotham conducted what is referred to as the Bedford Level Experiment. This experiment consisted of taking observations in a level canal that stretched for a distance of 6 miles. Rowbotham argued, if the Earth is curved, and calculations are performed correctly, at a distance of 6 miles the small boat he used with a mast height of 5 feet, should have been 11 feet below the horizon and invisible to him. Rowbotham demonstrated that he could still see the boat plainly at a distance of 6 miles, which he interpreted to be evidence that the Earth is flat, rather than spherical.
Illustration of Bedford Level Experiment from Rowbotham’s Book
What Rowbotham did not consider is that the results he experienced are readily explained by the refraction of light. The atmosphere of the Earth is most dense at the surface. It tends to settle into stratified layers, of different densities and temperatures. These stratified layers of the atmosphere tend to bend light, especially horizontal light viewed near the surface of the Earth, or over a body of water. If a temperature inversion exists, such as is common above the surface of a cold canal on a warm day, or a warm canal on a cold day, this effect can be magnified, enabling people to view things which are beyond the horizon.
This experiment by Rowbotham reveals the peril of trying to draw conclusions when natural principles are not fully understood. Without having a knowledge of optics, a man can be deceived when making visual observations. Light rays are distorted through an array of variables and can make objects appear larger, smaller, closer, farther away, different colors, and even inverted.
To give an example of how such an error in conclusions can be made, suppose you are a high school student living in Denver, Colorado. You are told by your science teacher that water boils at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to prove this claim, so you stick a thermometer in a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature. You discover, however, that the water boils at 95 degrees Celsius or 203 degrees Fahrenheit. You return to class and tell your instructor he is wrong. He then tells you that there is another factor you have to consider, and that is elevation. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level, but Denver is 5,000 feet above sea level. Due to the lower atmospheric pressure at higher elevations, water boils at a lower temperature. When we don’t understand all the variables, and account for them, we can arrive at wrong conclusions.
Many flat-Earthers cite Samuel Rowbotham’s experiment, or their own experiments taken under similar circumstances, as proof that the Earth is flat. If they checked out Mr. Rowbotham’s reputation they might be less inclined to cite him as a reference. Samuel Rowbotham published his findings in a 16 page pamphlet titled Zetetic Astronomy under the pseudonym Parallax in 1849. He later expanded this to a 430 page book titled Earth Not a Globe which he published in 1865. In 1861 Samuel Rowbotham at the age of 45 married for a second time to the daughter of the woman who did his laundry. The young girl was 16 years old. He used the name “Dr. Samuel Birley” (Birley being his middle name) and sold “secrets for extending human life and curing every form of illness.”
Rowbotham’s flat-Earth beliefs were taken up in the United States by the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of Zion, Illinois which was founded in 1896 by John Alexander Dowie and continued by Wilbur Glenn Voliva. The church operated much like a commune. Dowie bought up a large parcel of land and built homes. Outside of the town the church erected signs such as the following.
The sign reads, “No one except a low down scoundrel, a person lower than the dirtiest dog, yes, lower down than a skunk would call the Earth a globe in Zion City.” If the names of Dowie and Voliva sound familiar, I wrote of them two years ago in a series titled Deception. Following is an excerpt.
Dowie taught that healing is promised in the atonement and insisted that those who sought faith healing give up all medical care. He viewed druggists and physicians as instruments of the devil. When his own daughter was severely burned after accidentally knocking over an alcohol lamp, he banished one of his followers for trying to alleviate her pain with Vaseline. He refused to allow her any medical treatment and she died in that condition. Many others who came to his faith cure homes died of their illnesses without any medical attention.
(For a Biblical understanding of faith and healing, I recommend the writing titled Understanding Faith and Healing.)
In his later years Dowie claimed to have had a revelation that he was The Elijah of the last days, and the first apostle of the Restoration. In his presumptuous role as Elijah, Dowie began to dress in garb modeled after Aaron’s High Priestly garments.
John Alexander Dowie
Dowie purchased land in Illinois and established the town of Zion. The entire town of about 7,000 individuals was comprised of his followers. Dowie owned all the property, and he controlled the local business that church members worked in. He was accused of misappropriating funds, a charge that has a factual basis to it as Dowie built for himself a 25 room mansion while most of the church members lived off of sub-standard wages for the time.
Although Dowie’s doctrine declared that physical health was promised to all mankind through the atonement of Christ, he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1905. He never fully regained his health after that, and suffered numerous subsequent strokes. He died after having been depressed and bed-ridden in 1907.
Dowie had chosen as his lieutenant a man as avaricious and deceived as himself. When Dowie suffered a stroke in 1905 while traveling in Mexico, W.G. Voliva, his second in command, took advantage of the situation and wrested control of Zion. Upon his return to Zion, Dowie sought to regain control, but was unsuccessful, being forced to be content with an allowance provided by the church. Voliva, continued to stress the promise of divine health as a consequence of Christ’s atonement, yet he also died after being stricken with cancer. In the year 1942, at the age of 72, Dowie’s successor confessed that he too had misappropriated church funds for his own personal use, and had committed “other serious sins.” There were numerous charges of sexual misconduct relating to Dowie and to Voliva, and it seems likely that it was to this that Voliva was referring. Voliva had previously proclaimed that he would live to be 120 years old, based upon the promise of God in Genesis 6:3. Nevertheless, he fell 48 years short of that goal.
Aside from Dowie suffering the horrific tragedy of his 21 year old daughter Esther being horribly burned by an overturned lamp that was fueled by alcohol, and Esther subsequently dying, Dowie lost his young daughter Jeanie to sickness 17 years earlier when he was in the midst of his healing ministry and claiming great success at healing others.
After Rowbotham’s death, Lady Elizabeth Blount founded the Universal Zetetic Society which attracted thousands of followers, published a magazine entitled The Earth Not a Globe Review and remained active well into the early part of the 20th century. After World War I, the movement underwent a slow decline, but it was revived in 1956 as The Flat Earth Society.
The Flat Earth Society maintains a website where one can find a picture of Wilbur Glen Voliva, leader of both the Zion, Illinois religious community and the Flat Earth Society, under the section on past leaders.
Wilbur Glen Voliva
This is the inauspicious genesis of the flat-Earth movement in this present day. If you have embraced the flat-Earth arguments and want to see where many of them originated, you can find them set forth in Rowbotham’s book Earth Not a Globe.
Rowbotham claimed that the Sun is less than 4,000 miles distant from the Earth, and all the heavenly bodies, including the stars are no further than 6,000 miles away. Thus, the distance from the Earth to the Sun is claimed to be less than the distance from Houston, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. Rowbotham also claimed that the Moon does not reflect the Sun’s light, but is “self-luminous.” Sadly, Samuel Rowbotham cited the Bible as supporting evidence of his many ridiculous claims.
Another follower of Rowbotham was William Carpenter. He published a book titled A Hundred Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe in 1885. Interestingly, one of the popular proponents of the flat-Earth worldview today is Eric Dubay. He has a book available titled 200 Proofs the Earth is Not a Spinning Ball. You can download a PDF copy of the document freely at the following link:
I considered addressing the myriad arguments set forth by those who are espousing a flat and stationary Earth, and a geocentric model of the Solar System. Although I have not yet found any of their arguments which are not flawed and readily refuted, they are nevertheless endless. Were I to attempt to refute the hundred proofs of William Carpenter, or the 200 proofs of Eric Dubay, I would have to write another entire book to give even a brief answer to each of them. I am persuaded that to do so would not be the most profitable use of my time. I will however, supply some links to videos and resources that do a good job of establishing the veracity of the spherical rotating Earth, and refuting some of the key points raised by flat-Earthers. Before I do, I will mention a number of points which I believe argue very well for a spherical, rotating Earth and a heliocentric Solar System.
First, it has been demonstrated by thousands of amateur and professional astronomers, that the other visible planets and moons in our Solar System are spherical and do rotate. There is no shortage of videos and images available online to demonstrate this fact. One need not look to NASA or other government entities as sources of this information. If a person cares to prove this matter themselves, they can easily view the Moon through a decent pair of binoculars and discern that it is spherical. With a more powerful telescope, such as a 12″ Dobsonian, which can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars, they can view several of the planets with enough magnification and clarity to discern that they too are spherical and do rotate. Since every other planetary body visible to man is spherical in shape and rotates, it would be anomalous to suggest that the Earth is the exception, being flat, and motionless.
To those who argue that the Moon does not rotate, but always presents the same face to those on the Earth, they are mistaken. The Moon’s rotation is closely synchronized to its orbit around the Earth so that in its 27.322 day orbit around the earth it rotates one time, thus keeping the same face to the Earth. If the Moon did not rotate we would see a complete 360 degree view of all sides of the Moon during each 27 day orbit around the Earth.
Another evidence I would cite is that there are satellites visible in space which have been photographed by amateur astronomers and can be viewed through backyard telescopes. You can see many of them as points of light with the unaided eye. These satellites are kept in space by their great orbital speed around the Earth. The centrifugal force of their orbit offsets the centripetal force of the Earth’s gravity. Gravity does not cease to exist at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. At 200 miles distance above the Earth, the International Space Station experiences 90% of the Earth’s gravity. It remains in orbit due to its orbital speed of approximately 17,000 miles per hour. Amateur astronomers have captured photos of the ISS passing overhead. If the Earth were not a sphere around which they were orbiting, these satellites could not remain suspended in space.
I would mention also the numerous empirical proofs cited by the ancient Greek astronomers. The shape of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon during a lunar eclipse; the angle of shadows measured at different locations on the Earth, mountains appearing to mariners to arise up out of the sea, etc..
The Coriolis Effect as observed in the opposite rotational directions of hurricanes north and south of the equator also argues for the Earth as a rotating sphere.
The Coriolis Effect
The oceans’ tides are explainable by the force of gravity exerted by the Moon upon the surface of the Earth. The tides are not adequately explained apart from a spherical rotating Earth orbited by the Moon.
Quick and Dirty Explanation of Tidal Forces
Advanced Explanation of Tides
Another evidence of the spherical rotation Earth is found in the fact that 24 hours of daylight lasts for months at a time during the Antarctic Summer. The flat-Earth model falls apart when trying to explain how people stationed at the South Pole are able to watch the Sun travel in a 360 degree arc around them with endless daylight. See the video below to see this illustrated.
Flat Earth Debunked by Antarctica Documentary
Additional Resource Links:
Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science
Top 10 Reasons We Know the Earth is Round
Malcom Bowden Refutes Flat Earthers (Note: Mr. Bowden holds to a geocentric view of the Solar System, so he has errors of his own, but he does well in refuting some of the common flat-Earth arguments, even if he is a bit impatient.)
Flat Earth Conspiracy 100% Debunked
Flat Earth Debunked Again
Fake Flights Claim 100% Debunked
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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