No Flat Earth; No Vaulted sky

I became convinced of this position about 20 years ago and defended it seriously on the old ASA list. I did graduate work in philosophy 45 yrs ago and so read a whole lot of those early Christian and secular philosophers. All of them believed in a round earth. Most believed the Ptolemaic system, which did have hard to fluid spheres, but they are not the same as the vaulted sky. I think it was Greek influence on the Septuagint translators is what caused them to even translate raqia (a word meaning expansion) as firmament. I think the 70 were trying to look sophisticated.

The ONLY guy I ever found who believed that nonsense was Cosmas Inicopleustes He was a sailor who sailed often to India, proving of course, that the gospel had been taken there. But the dummy should have known full good and well that sails are the first part of the ships to come over the horizon, a sign, of course, of a spherical earth.

Cosmas wrote a very strange book about the flat earth and vaulted sky.I read the thing but hardly found a note worth taking from it.The odd thing is that he was totally ignored by contemporaries and later scholars. No one believed his nonsense, except modern Christians and modern critics of Christianity. lol

This view of Christian topography was pushed by two highly anti-Christian/clergy people,Washington Irving, the novelist and Jeanne Antoine Letrone, a Frenchman. It was too easy an attack on our religion to avoid. All they had to do was ridicule us by saying “Look at what those stupid Christians believed!” and everyone believed them rather than the evidence.

So in my debates years ago I wish I had had access to Wiki because it seems that Wiki at least in one article agrees with my position. I suspect there are people here who will not believe me, so I would point out that the Wiki article notes two modern day celebrities agree with my position. It seems people prefer to believe celebrities than the data:

According to Stephen Jay Gould, “there never was a period of ‘flat Earth darkness’ among scholars, regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now. Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the Earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology” Historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers point out that "there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge Earth’s sphericity and even know its approximate circumference”."

Frankly, I just think we Christians are gullible to any attack on our religion and believe it implicitly!


It is an ironic ignorance which is ignorant in falsely ascribing ignorance in others. So far as the modern flat earth movement goes, I sometimes wonder if it is just some trolling that got out of hand. But who knows.

I have seen a number of articles over the years along the lines of what you are saying, and I do not believe there is any real debate among the informed that, from the Greek age forward, educated Europeans held to a spherical earth.

Given that I was not speaking of the modern flat earth movement but was speaking of what scholars have said the vast majority of Christians beleived, I find your comments a bit off base here. I was speaking of educated christians supposedly believing that educated christians believed in the vaulted sky and flat earth. That is a big difference from what you seem to be suggesting

As the church did all the educating in historic Europe, and the church held to a spherical earth, I would be surprised that Christians in an informed position today would be unaware that there was never an adherence to a flat earth in the Christian tradition. If otherwise, I just haven’t run into it personally, but neither have I actually canvased around on the topic.

Of course, there are many who owe their perception of the medieval church more to Monty Python.

Tell that to all the educated people I argued with in the ASA who were quite certain I was wrong. The debate is probably still in their archives should you have interest

Edited t add: it only takes a quick search here to find people here expressing the view that they supported the vaulted solid sky:

Two, I simply don’t accept your assertion that waters above the earth in Genesis 1 are referring to clouds. The vault is called the sky, which is typically blue, and looks like the changing blue water in sea or lake - so the vault comes from a phenomenological view of something (whatever it’s made of) holding the water above the earth (land), (and making it reasonable that the ancients would see this thing as solid). All the arguments you ever wanted to read about ANE raquia, firmament, sky, cosmology

The understanding that the Earth was roughly spherical came long before Christianity, first seen in Greece 6th century BC by Pythagoras. Aristotle provided evidence for the spherical shape also. But belief in a flat Earth is found in many cultures including ancient Greece (found in the teachings of many of the other ancient philosophers). The spherical understanding spread slowly, and the flat Earth view persisted in many cultures, in China until the 17th century where the Earth is described as a square table just like in the Bible.

So whether Christians understood the Earth to be spherical depended largely on their exposure to the teachings of Pythagoras and Aristotle, and after the fall of Rome there was a time before Greek science was rediscovered in Europe and this knowledge as well as continued scientific discovery was carried by the Arabs in the Moslem Empire, until they fell themselves to the Turks and Mongols.

Christian rhetoric gets around this by saying that no educated Christians believed in a flat earth. LOL Which is of course true by definition and therefore a rather empty statement. Nevertheless we find depictions of the Earth as a flat disc in a number of works of art during the middle ages. To be sure, I have little doubt that opponents of Christianity have painted an exaggerated caricature, but there are several cases of Christian resistance to scientific findings which has served to make this easier to believe.

Quote me an uneducated christian from the time, other than Cosmas, whom I have already mentioined, who had fame and a belief in the vaulted sky. It seems to me that it is equally empty to conjur up in one’s imagination, people who can’t be named who believed what you wish they to believe.

We even have a Syriac hymn from the middle of the sixth century that implies the physical dome of a church is similar to the sky

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As I said last night, it doesn’t take much to get this argument going again, and I have other things to do, which will get me called ‘chicken’. But as one historian says:

" Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense. How and why did this nonsense emerge? " Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Myth of the Flat Earth, 17.

People really ought to challenge their assumptions once in a while–but I don’t think they do it very often. As I said earlier, I never ran into all this solid stuff in a couple of years of studying philosophy, mostely of the western world. From what I recall of the data offered to me from the Eastern world, I found it well, kinda so so at best, but the Eastern world has never been my concern anyway.

Here is a case where Wiki cheated:

But even Wiki misleads:

" Severian belonged to the Antiochene school of exegesis , and his interpretations can be very literal. He is notorious for his six sermons on the Creation , in which he expresses “absurdly literal” [6] views including support for the Flat Earth ." 8

Except when one goes and looks up what Severian said we find he said:

" Before the stars were made, there really was no way for the order of the seasons to be determined by any indicators; there was no way the midday hour could be known before " the fiery sun had mounted to the midst of the orb of heaven ." 9

ORB sounds very round and unflat. So they took a guy that believed in a sun mounted to the orb of heaven and turned him into a flat earther–this is not different than what YECs do with data.

With that, scince I have limited time, maybe 4-5 months, I don’t know, I am going to go do different things. I spoke with my hospice nurse, she says I am not imminintly going to go away and stop bothering yall, but I have lost weight and am on constant oxygen and there is no treatment for my cancer, all things that get your thrown in to hospice. But I have better things to do that relitigate this, and would suggest you check your biases before naievely belieiving what is said about stupid Christians. It is so easy a target to dump on stupid christians that one and all are tempted by the target. I will be back on another topic at some point.

8. Ibid., p. 140 Note 62


The objective assessment is that the “myth of the flat Earth” is neither completely correct nor completely incorrect. In any case the flat Earth view does not have its source in Christianity any more than slavery, animal sacrifice, or misogyny can be laid at the door of Judeo-Christianity. Exaggeration can be found on both sides of this to serving an ideological agenda. To be sure the image of the flat Earth can be found in the Bible and Christian art, but it also true there was no resistance (that I am aware of) to the teachings of Aristotle and Pythagoras that the Earth was spherical but was indeed taught in church schools when it was rediscovered.

That sounds like it could be a translation issue, especially considering this quote, which seems more explicit,

“‘[It] is He…that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in’; the Scripture says that it has a top, which a sphere has not.”

That is only true of a featureless sphere which the Earth is not. The Earth not only has continents but a rotation which makes the word “top” applicable.

He didn’t know that, and he clearly says the earth is not a sphere

Very interesting paper. When I read the OT it seems to clearly describe a flat earth situation, such as the earth having four corners. The notion of a sphere seems absent, although the exact shape is never spelled out. Your article makes me think there isn’t any ground to ascribe a specific theory to the Hebrews, whether flat or spherical. Thank you for the article, and I will pray for you.

Even we today say the four corners of the earth, as in, “I have visited the four corners of the earth”. But this one I understand. We have four directions on a round earth, east, west, north,south. I think that is how 4 corners originated.We say stupider things–It rains “cats and dog” or here in Texas it is “hot as H”

Languages are not just for descibing scientific things–I think that is one of the mistakes people make, me included occasionally. It is also for impressing your neighbor with your ability to express things in a different bu entertaining way.

Also, and this is VERY important. the hebrew word Eretz does not mean what the YECs want us to believe, "planet earth’. It means LAND. So If I live anywhere from Midland, TX to the northern border of Kansas, and say "The eretz is flat, does that mean I belong to the flat earth society? no, the land is very flat and one can see for miles and miles and miles and miles as that old song from the sixties says. It is for this reason I am very careful to change the translation, ‘earth’ to ‘land’ when dealing with Scripture. The only time I leave it earth is if they are talking about things like, ‘The good earth of home’, earth meaning soil.

Further, if eretz means planet earth, we are stuck with a global flood, the planet of Nod where Cain went, and the idea that Abram left his planet and came to this planet which God showed him. Eretz there is translated as country but someone could claim it was planet Mingo!

I can’t and won’t defend everything, but I know from my reading, both inside grad school or outside, I never ran into any medieval who believed anything but a spherical earth, spherical moon and sun, on spherical crystaline revolving spheres. I had to go looking for Cosmas after I learned of him, but he was never required reading for what the medievals believed!

Those who might want to turn this around on me about Genesis 1 have a different problem. In Gen 1 it is God, not a human looking for human approval who is speaking and I don’t believe God lies, which is why I glomed onto the Days of Proclamation viewpoint to interpret that chapter


Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, said Satan’s deception was already at work. Daniel claims the Greeks were the cause of this ongoing abomination. It was not spiritual, nor philosophical. What would the Greeks introduce that would deceive the church today in the least expected way? The church still refuses most theology that man has come up with since the 2nd century. There have been several times when an apostate church has been the educated majority. Yet there has always been a remnant who have remained true to God’s Word. There is only one deception the church has not been immune from. The science of Greek thought, that was adopted by the west and specifically the most prominent western church. Not even Paul stressed nor made a big deal about it. Why would the church as a whole?

It has nothing to do with Gospel doctrine, nor has any effect much on the spread of the Gospel. Greeks were really not considered religious, but more science wise, and philosophical. Paul tended to use this knowledge passed onto the Romans, against their beliefs, instead of warning the church against their wisdom and forms of education. Nor would it help that Satan moved into Rome, after Paul naturally died, if not before.

So science being accepted by the church was not really a heresy against the Gospel. It was a direct attack on the Torah itself. Paul did warn the church, but the church herself, only applied the warning to doctrine and theology. The fact that Genesis was being attacked has never been noted much in the whole of the last 1900 years. Until evolution, current cosmology, this deception had slipped past the point of realization, but was full on accepted as fact. It was too late to uproot this heresy and deception. All who have tried have nothing but a science that was around since Daniel. Not even the Jews in their Judaism ever addressed the topic during the 500 years prior to Christ, and the 1st century church.

Current cosmology, thank God, has nothing to do with the Gospel, but it has become a mire of deep deception that the church has been sidetracked with. The opening of the 6th seal, will be when God finally dispells this long time running of Satan’s deception. At this point trying to prove otherwise seems to just make people mad, instead of resolve any verses in the Bible. This deception can only be removed by God, Himself.

I agree with the deception stuff. Before I and Gordie Simons wrote Quantum Soul, I was like everyone else around, that science and faith were totally separable entities. One couldn’t look for evidence of the supernatural within the natural. Then, when I saw Weinberg’s quote, and then Wigner’s and learned of Peierls’ view of Quantum, I realized that Science has deceived us, and TRAINED us never to look for evidence of God in Nature–separate Magistera according to Stephen Jay Gould.

If Quantum can’t be formulated without running into consciousness as Weinberg stated in an interview, then that is evidence of spirituality from scientific data. Others also were finding such a view tenable like physicists Rosenblum, Kuttner, and others Iearned of later, like Stapp, Barr, Von Neumann and others. I felt duped by modern materialist atheism.

The thing I won’t go with is just because we have an argument that our argument shouldn’t be examined hard, and just because we have an argument for our position doesn’t mean it is any good. We should be careful what we present. I have been disappointed by almost every biological argument presented by the ID movement. Design will never be found in Biology so long as evolutionary processes work–and they do. But going to physics, we don’t have evolution to cover up things.

When Gordie and I wrote that article, I stupidly thought Christians would be thrilled to learn of evidence of the immateriality of their soul, and actual evidence that God might exist. Even at age 70, my naivete runs deep. I don’'t think Christians care anymore whether we have a soul or not.

Whatever you do though, get your argument right–know every detail and counter attack. Don’t just repeat something from the latest pages of ICR or AiG–That spells disaster my friend.

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Thank you for the input. Reading QM from a Christian perspective helped. We will all know sooner than later. It seems each soul at conception is a new observation point in God’s magnificent creation.

I feel the word choice also helps show that the Jewish people believed in a vault as a actual dome. As something hammered out separating waters from above and waters from below.

There is nothing about a dome on that page. It would be more like the spreading out of a sheet or curtain. Hammered flat, spread out.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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