Flat Earth Debunked?

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INTRODUCTION

I honestly never thought I would see the day when addressing the flat-earth theory would be a necessity and not merely a reflection of a passing novelty. In my mind, the flat-earth theory belongs in the same category as conspiracy theories like secret alien bases underneath Antarctica and the claim that the moon landing is a hoax. But somehow this idea has been spreading like wildfire through evangelicalism in the last few years, primarily through the influence of YouTubers who profess to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and the literal interpretation of Scripture. I am continually running into otherwise solid evangelicals who have been bamboozled by its provocative call.

The theory claims that the earth is actually flat — usually represented as a flat disk — with a dome over it. The stars, the sun, the moon, and the planets are fixed in the dome. The earth does not orbit around the sun. The sun orbits around the earth. Antarctica isn’t at the bottom of the globe. There is no globe. Antarctica is a massive ice wall that completely surrounds the disk of the flat earth.

The theory further contends that science, religion, and the world’s governments have been perpetuating massive fraud for centuries, deceiving mankind into believing that the world we live on is a globe that orbits the sun. It further contends that this fraud is perpetuated to maintain the global sun-worshipping cult. Christians who believe that the earth orbits around the sun are part of this global cult.

Now I have no problem with those who feel compelled to investigate the question, for the argument is generally advanced with a ton of Scripture and an admonition to not trust “science falsely so-called.” Scripture always deserves attention. And there really is such a thing as “science falsely so-called,” an error we must all avoid like the plague. Not all that comes in the name of science is science. Evolution is a well-known example of this. But those who candidly and thoroughly investigate the flat earth theory will sooner or later realize that the argument for a flat-earth falls short of science on two levels.

FAILS IN THE SCIENCE OF LITERAL INTERPRETATION

First of all, it fails in the science of the literal interpretation of Scripture. Most believers are aware that literal interpretation means that we shouldn’t spiritualize passages that give a reasonable sense when taken literally. But many haven’t really contemplated the dangers of erring in the other direction, namely hyper-literal interpretation. There are two principles that men often transgress in this regard. One, don’t transform observational statements into scientific statements. Two, don’t wrest idioms and figures into stilted literal senses. The flat-earth theory breaks both of these principles regularly. They pride themselves on their strict faithfulness to literal interpretation in contrast to those who have drank from the serpent’s teat of science falsely so-called. But straying to the right and taking observational statements, figurative statements, and idioms in a hyper-literal sense is just as wrong as straying to the left and taking literal statements in a spiritualized sense.

REPRESENTATIVE ARGUMENTS FOR A FLAT EARTH

Here is a representative selection of the common arguments for a flat earth followed by brief responses. Each of these arguments is purportedly based on statements from the Bible. But the truth is, each is based on a misunderstanding of the Bible.

Earth is fixed — The passages cited to prove this only prove that the earth is fixed. They don’t prove whether it is fixed in an orbit or fixed in a non-orbital location. That information we must gather from elsewhere.

Earth has corners — The phrase “the corners of the earth” is figurative for the four compass-point directions. It is synonymous with phrases like “the ends of the earth” and “the four winds.” Now taking this in a hyper-literal sense overthrows the theory that the earth is a flat disk with a dome over it. If the earth has four literal corners, then it is a square with a pyramid over it, not a dome. How can you place a dome on a square? You can’t. It’s impossible. And this pyramid wreaks havoc with the orbit of the sun, moon, planets, and stars overhead. How can they orbit in concentric circles through the four sides of a pyramid?

Earth has pillars — If we take the verses on the pillars of the earth in a hyper-literal sense, then the earth can’t be suspended on anything, though that is exactly what the Bible says in Job 26:7. If the earth sits on physical pillars, then it isn’t suspended at all. But if the earth sits on magnetic pillars, then we can have literal pillars and literal suspension on nothing. The fact is, the north and south poles were called pillars in many ancient languages. They were literally visible pillars, but they were not literal, solid substance pillars. In ancient history, when the earth’s magnetic field was stronger, the north pole appeared like a gigantic tent pole rising high into the heavens with a canopy of northern lights spreading out in every direction. It is from this ancient appearance of the North Pole that the northern peoples got the tradition of dancing around the May Pole.

Earth has a face —The “face of the earth” is figurative language. It has zero implications for flatness. I have a face, and it is not flat.

The sun moves — This is an observational statement, not a statement of scientific fact. This is what the man on the street sees, not the actual scientific explanation for the apparent movement of the sun. Nothing in the Bible, rightly understood, is contrary to science. But the Bible is not a science textbook. It is written in the common language of the average man.

Heaven is a firmament or dome — The Hebrew word in question is רקיע (rāqîya‘) which is best translated by English expanse and Latin expansum. The translation firmament comes from the Latin Vulgate firmamentum, which was following in the footsteps of the Septuagint’s στερέωμα (steréōma) solid, which in turn had been influenced by the science falsely so-called Greek cosmology which envisioned the heavens as a series of crystalline spheres overhead.

The moon has its own light — This is an observational statement, not a statement of scientific fact. It can be scientifically demonstrated that the moon only reflects sunlight, it doesn’t make its own. Lunar eclipses (the moon covering the sun) would not go to full darkness if the moon gave off its own light.

CONTRARY TO STRAIGHTFORWARD SCIENCE

Secondly, the flat-earth theory runs contrary to science. We are not talking science here in the sense of evolution which faces problems in the evidential realm or relativity theory which often fails in real-world practical applications. We are talking about straightforward observational science and straightforward classical science like trigonometry, algebra, and calculus. To disagree with such straightforward science belongs in the same category as denying that 2 + 2 = 4.

Following are a few examples of simple science that overthrow the flat-earth theory:
The sun rises and sets at different times around the earth. If the earth were flat, the whole planet would experience sunrise and sunset at the same time. The twenty-four-hour cycle of different sunrise times demands a spinning globe.

The distance at which things can be seen. A ship sailing away from shore slowly dips below the horizon until only the stack is visible, then it vanishes. If the earth were flat, the ship sailing away from shore would not vanish in such a manner. It would slowly grow smaller and smaller until it was too small to see with the naked eye. But a powerful enough telescope would see it no matter how far away it was. Some YouTube videos show things above the horizon that are far enough away that they should be below the horizon. They claim this disproves the curvature of the earth. But all this phenomenon proves is that the atmosphere, under the right conditions, can act like a mirror. On most days, you can’t see these distant objects. They really are below the horizon. Moreover, there is a distance limit to how far you can see objects over the horizon via mirror reflection. The most powerful telescopes in America cannot see Beijing, though they could easily do so if the earth were flat.

The coast of Antarctica is convex. Were the flat-earth theory true, and Antarctica was the outermost region of the disk, the shoreline of Antarctica would be concave. However, the shoreline of Antarctica is convex.

The polar regions. At the poles, the sun never rises more than 23.5 degrees above the horizon. This low angle of the sun is why the polar regions experience cool summers and six months of night. This phenomenon would not occur in a flat-earth scenario. No part of the flat earth would experience perpetual night while other parts were experiencing perpetual day.

Traveling east or west doesn’t lead to the Antarctic ice wall. If the earth was flat and surrounded by a massive ice continent, then you would hit this ice continent no matter what direction you traveled. In reality, you only hit permanent ice if you travel north or south. If you travel east or west, you will eventually come back to where you started. You won’t hit Antarctica. Planes have demonstrated this many times. The advocates of the flat-earth theory claim, in response, that these folks are really traveling the circumference of the flat earth in a circle. But this can’t be correct. Are the east and west directions on a compass a conspiracy too? Do they really have us walking in a circle on a flat earth instead of a straight line on a globe? This question can be answered definitively.

Let’s throw our compasses away and walk toward the sunrise. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. So if we walk toward the sunrise, we will not walk in a mysterious circle that prevents us from finding the forbidden Antarctic ice. We will walk in a line that will be straight enough to solve the mystery once and for all. And once we have walked, sailed, driven, and flown (in any combination) for long enough, we will find that we have traveled all the way around the globe and come back to where we started. Hopefully, we won’t be too disappointed when we discover that the flat earth with its surrounding ice wall is pseudo-science.

CONCLUSION

The observations above demonstrate to every candid man that the pictures and footage that have been shot from the space station, space capsules, satellites, and airplanes which show a spinning globe are real footage. They are not fabricated footage made by sun-worshipping devotees in a secret laboratory to perpetuate the myth.

Now the lessons that we have learned from grappling with the flat-earth theory apply to dozens of other doctrinal questions that agitate the church today. Let us take to heart two research principles and determine to apply them consistently.

One, be careful to follow literal interpretation consistently. It is just as problematic to stray to the right into hyper-literal interpretation as it is to stray to the left into spiritualizing. Both are opposed to literal interpretation. Both result in error and false teaching.

Two, don’t rush to hasty conclusions on a subject based on a superficial investigation of a handful of scriptures that are cited. Investigate the subject broadly and deeply. The side that is the first to present its case with a raft of arguments and a lot of passion often seems right. We need to hear the other side before we make a decision (Prov. 18:17). Sometimes the side labeled as the lukewarm status quo is right.

MORE FROM LEE BRAINARD

Explore more enlightening and spirit-led insights from Lee Brainard at his website, Soothkeep, a treasure trove of resources for those seeking deeper understanding and divine wisdom in their walk with Christ.
CLICK HERE to be further inspired and edified.

For more discussion on flat Earth, check out this interview with Pastor Greg Locke.⬇️

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Lee Brainard Soothekeep

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11 Comments. Leave new

  • Greeting,
    first off, thank you for your ministry. I believe it has been a blessing to a lot of people.
    I would like to comment on the recent post you’ve made about debunking flat earth.
    I also thought at first that it was a silly idea, but I did that because I did not realy researched it in depth and have not collected enough information. I suggest that you do so as well, because it is very obvious that you have done no deep research into this toppic. I’m saying this out of love and respect and with good intentions. I believe that God want’s to reveal something amazing to you.
    I recommend this guy (he may be confused on certain things when it comes to Scripture, but he’s sencere and looks for truth):
    https://youtube.com/@WitsitGetsIt?feature=shared
    God bless
    Nejc

    Reply
    • I have actually read quite broadly on the subject, and I am familiar with the common arguments for the flat earth. In my experience, it is always the flat earthers that have fallen short in research and candor. They read broadly in pro-flat earth literature, but rarely read anything substantial that challenges their misconceptions. They all manifest intentional dishonesty when it comes to dealing with things like a ship sinking below the horizon on a large lake or ocean body. If the earth were flat, we would be able to see ocean liners a thousand miles away with a high-powered telescope. But we can’t see ships that far out. The limit is typically around fifty miles or less, and this only occasionally when the atmospheric conditions are right for the phenomenon called “looming.”

      Reply
    • Tracy Linville
      March 7, 2024 9:29 pm

      Listening to one that “may be confused on certain things when it comes to Scripture,” should be concerning. You are telling a man of God to check out facts from one who is confused about Scripture? Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

      Reply
  • Not an honest article. Not viewing the subject from a neutral position.

    Reply
  • David Weiss
    March 7, 2024 3:32 am

    Your article by Lee Brainard on Flat Earth is the most pitiful piece of garbage I have ever seen. It is filled with strawman arguments and plain ignorance. There is not one thing you got correct in there. Interview me and maybe you will learn something about our level, non rotating, topographical plane

    Reply
  • Foster Straker
    March 8, 2024 11:57 pm

    As a minister I love this ministry and I was very shocked and disappointed at the FlatEarth Article Because The Bible in Genesis Alone Completely describes an Earth that is Not A spinning Globe.
    Secondly I believe that Believers put way to much faith in Scientists and people who deny the existence of God.
    Look up flat Earth Dave and Flat Earth Banjo on YouTube. God is raising up people in every arena.
    I hope that you will honestly and prayfully concider this shot note.

    Reply
  • Excellent article. I’ve heard arguments from both sides, but this article was very clear and succinct. I appreciate having clear, simple answers to share in the future with others.

    Reply
  • Barbara Pelnar
    March 9, 2024 7:21 pm

    I wonder if you’ve considered the square (rectangle) flat earth? That model DOES address some of the issues such as “corners”, “pillars” and sunrise/sunset. I’ll be watching to see what you say…

    Reply
    • He addressed this in the second point under the “Representative Arguments for a Flat Earth” section in the paragraph titled “Earth has corners”. Directly after that he addressed the pillars in the next paragraph.

      Reply
  • I have a friend who believes in the Flat Earth argument. And I am so disappointed and actually shocked that people believe the Earth is flat. Those same people do not believe that we ever landed on the moon. The reason that the Bible says that God separates our sins from us as far as the East is from the West is because if you head east you will never be heading west but if you had North you will eventually be heading south. The folks who believe in the flatter Theory are susceptible to being deceived in many areas of scripture. Sorry guys I know this is going to upset some of y’all but the fact that people are actually discussing this to me is as ludicrous as discussing that a boy can become a woman simply because he thinks he can.

    Reply

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Tags: News
Tags: Antarctica, fiction, Flat earth, globe, Lee Brainard

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