What Does the Bible Say About the Shape of the Earth? Part 3

Other parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6

When you google “Does the Bible say Earth is flat?” you’ll see nearly the entire first page of results is covered in links to Christian apologetics ministries assuring readers that the Bible says no such thing, even though qualified historians and scholars of ancient civilizations disagree, as I showed in the last article.

These apologists express consternation and dismay that the “myth” of the Bible describing a flat Earth persists. Relying of course on Christians never actually reading their Bibles, or they would discover that it persists because the Bible does indeed describe a flat earth covered by a solid dome.

A common objection is that the literal, explicit phrase “The Earth is flat” does not appear in scripture. But for the same reason you won’t find an explicit affirmation that the Earth is spherical in most modern books not dedicated to the topic: It’s taken for granted, as something so obvious that it does not need saying.

Nevertheless, there are plentiful verses which make matter-of-fact references to elements of ancient Hebrew cosmology such as the firmament, the pillars of the Earth, sheol, the storehouses for snow and hail, and the sun being small enough to set someplace on Earth:

Ecclesiastes 1:5

“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.”

Does the sun really have a specific location it rises from, which it hurries back to after setting? Besides assuming the Earth is stationary and that it is instead the sun which moves, this verse bears a close resemblance to a passage from the Qur’an:

Al-Kahf: 86

“Till, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout: We said: O Zul Qarnain! Either punish or show them kindness.”

It was evidently a shared belief of the authors of the Torah and the Qur’an that the sun is dramatically smaller than the Earth (which it appears to be from ground level on Earth, if you don’t know any better) and that there’s a designated place on Earth it returns to at night.

This made sense to people who assumed Earth, the sun and so forth were all designed. That the Earth was constructed by Yahweh as a habitat for humans, and that the sun, moon, and weather are all functions of the habitat intended to serve purposes related to supporting human life.

For that reason, it is assumed in scripture that there exist storehouses for snow and hail. A sensible assumption if one believes Earth is artificial:

John 38:22–23

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?”

The video I’ll be presenting today explores this theme further. It examines verses describing a vast ocean beneath the Earth, which can be seen in both ancient and modern illustrations of Hebrew cosmology:

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The abyss of the waters, also sometimes referred to as the primeval ocean or “The deep” was thought to be an endless dark, watery expanse. This ocean was referred to in Genesis as the starting condition for creation:

Genesis 1:1–2

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

It then immediately references the creation of the firmament, which holds out the waters above, keeping them separated from the waters below:

Genesis 1: 6–8

“Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.”

This is consistent with the assumptions we might expect from ancient people who had no idea what space is. It has been argued that the firmament is poetic language for the atmosphere, but then is there an ocean outside the atmosphere which it holds up?

Later in Genesis, it refers to gates in the firmament which were opened to allow the waters above through, causing the great flood:

Genesis 7:11

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”

But as you can see, it also refers to “fountains of the deep” bursting open, as a secondary source of flood water. The video below discusses both this, the abyssal ocean of Genesis and more:

Stay Tuned for Part 4!

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