Does the Bible say the Earth was flat?


Note that I was talking about the modern Young Earth movement. If you follow the beliefs of the ancient Jews you believe in a flat, stationary earth with a dome over it.

Irreducible complexity is a undeniable fact
(Otangelo Grasso) #2

Is there a record that they believed that way ?


Yes. The Bible.

(Otangelo Grasso) #4

From : A case for a creator, page 107 :

Writers of astronomy textbooks just keep recycling the myth, sort of like the flat-Earth myth, which was the idea that Columbus was told the Earth was flat and he thought it was round. That’s just wrong."
“Scholars at the time knew it was a sphere” . “Even the ancient Greeks knew it was a sphere.”
“They’d known it for a thousand years or more,” said Richards.
I knew they were right about that. David Lindberg, former professor of the history of science and currently director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, said in a recent interview:
One obvious [myth] is that before Columbus, Europeans believed nearly unanimously in a flat Earth-a belief allegedly drawn from certain biblical statements and enforced by the medieval church. This myth seems to have had an eighteenth century origin, elaborated and popularized by Washington Irving, who flagrantly fabricated evidence for it in his four-volume history of Columbus… The truth is that it’s almost impossible to find an educated person after Aristotle who doubts that the Earth is a sphere. In the Middle Ages, you couldn’t emerge from any kind of education, cathedral school or university, without being perfectly clear about the Earth’s sphericity and even its approximate circumference.
Now in addition to the flat-Earth myth being exploded, here were Richards and Gonzalez asserting that the Copernican Principle was based on faulty history as well.


beaglelady was talking about the original Jewish belief, not the much later medieval church. All of the ANE cultures viewed the world as a flat disc. It is the way the Bible describes the world.

Aristotle is 3rd centure BC so what do you suppose people believed before him?

(Chris Falter) #6

Let’s establish a timeline, Otangelo. One of these two things happened hundreds of years before the other:

  1. The writing of the Old Testament scriptures.
  2. The popularization of Aristotle’s teaching.

Which happened hundreds of years before the other?

(Peaceful Science) #7

Perhaps @TedDavis can comment. I think there is some truth here.

This article is really well written: and traces the discovery of a non-flat earth to Eratosthenes.

I do agree that it is unfair to equate YEC and anti-evolutionism with flat earthism. That is just a slur and a taunt. Many more people believe in YEC an anti-evolutionism than flat earth. This does not make them right, but it is not correct to associate beliefs that 44% of the populations believes with those of a tiny fringe.

And I would say that in the OT and NT, there might have been debate about if the earth was a dome or a sphere (which was not resolved by Eratosthenes’ experiment) but it seems everyone thought the earth was stationary. It did not move.


The earth of the Bible has 4 corners. And we see phrases such as “as far as the east is from the west.” And we see a three-tier universe.

(Peaceful Science) #9

Those references could have been figurative in their mind.

(Otangelo Grasso) #10

ah ok. the bible is to blame for that. got it. [quote=“Bill_II, post:25, topic:3559”]
Tell that to the Flat Earth Society folks who use the Bible for the basis of their belief.

ah, the bible is to blame for that.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #11

Actually, I wonder if this is even quite correct. This is the kind of question that modern science interests itself in. To the extent that the ancient world referred to the earth as either of these things (dome or sphere or flat) it was probably a peripheral presumption useful to make the real point being debated or discussed. E.g. – If God scatters (or brings people back from) the four winds, it is their jargon for how to refer to “widely scattered everywhere” as if to the “four corners” of the earth. All these things are vehicles for making the real points (about what God is doing) and just expressing that by using whatever cultural presumptions were already in place.

I’m sure there were people in the ancient world who did debate about these things, but in the Bible we just see the language meeting people (the 99.9% of them) where they are.

To think the Biblical authors are concerning themselves with the shape of the earth is, I suggest, highly anachronistic – whether it be to show that the Bible does teach any such thing or to show that it doesn’t (as Mr. Grasso seems to want to insist). I think it more accurate to just know that the Bible isn’t teaching anything about this at all. It’s got much bigger fish to fry.

(Phil) #12

I would agree that this is not what the Bible is teaching , and another example of the Bible using imagery that is relatable to the audience was when Jesus ascended into the clouds. We do not think Jesus is floating around in space or upper atmosphere, but those heavens were seen as where God resides by the audience of the day, and that imagery was used
N.T. Wright talks of the ascension in chapter 7 of Surprised by Hope, and puts it much better than I ever could. That Britsh accent and all that.
Who also will be at the Biologos conference coming up in March.


Never said it was to blame for that belief. You said there was no support in the Bible for the flat earth view and there is. The problem is in the fallible human interpretation of the Bible. Just remember that your interpretation is likewise fallible.

(Lynn Munter) #14

I think you’re mostly right on target, but I would add that from what I’ve seen, the Bible may not teach a flat earth, but it does assume it. I’ve not seen any convincing biblical references to a spherical earth, figurative language or not, but there’s a lot of imagery based on the ends of the earth, the pillars or foundations of the earth, the vault or dome of the heavens, the waters above and below, etc. The figurative language used in the Bible came from the paradigm of the day, and that paradigm was flat-earth. Is there any other view recorded?


Please read Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution by Denis Lamoureux. He’s an OT expert. You can find his lectures on YouTube or on his web site

(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

Probably not, to be sure … why would the Bible not make use of the common presupposition of the day? My point is that all of this is probably a bit like people a thousand years from now studying the ancient story of Hansel and Gretel and then arguing about whether or not the ancients really believed that houses could be built out of food. A whole contingent of them (eager to showcase the intelligence of the ancients) sets about arguing that houses actually can be built out of sugar and cakes and that the accuracy of the story shouldn’t be discounted just because that seems silly. To which all of us now (relative contemporaries to that story more or less) would be busy slapping our heads and wondering how our future progeny could be so stupid so as not to even grasp the basic points of a children’s story.

In the same way, I imagine our prophetic ancestors are busy slapping their heads wondering how the future faithful could possibly be so dull as to think that praising God for a sunrise must necessarily be taken as some sort of commentary on cosmological mechanics rather than about God.

Leave it to the atheistic fundamentalists and their modern religious equivalents to try to make literary mechanics not just the main point, but even the gatekeeper to be satisfied before anybody is allowed to trust any featured message. As our future readers might say: “If the ancients actually thought houses could be built out of candy, then how can we trust any other alleged points their stories may have had --what could they have possibly known about children and danger if they can’t even get house construction right?” --or so that logic runs.

(Stephen Matheson) #17

I thought that the ANE cosmology, involving a giant table sitting on an endless sea covered by a crystalline bowl, was very well known and clearly assumed in the OT.


You are correct.

(Dennis Venema) #19

Possible, but not likely. Why would they choose figurative language that just happens to match what the cultures around them take as “the way things really are?”

(George Brooks) #20


You’ve read Job’s treatment of the foundation of the Earth and the colorful language representing the cosmology of the day.

God didn’t tell the Old Testament writers much about cosmology… nor, it seems, the New Testament writers.

There is all this imagery of stars falling to earth … which sure would have been inconvenient… once the star had passed Mars on its way to swallow up the entire earth !