Originally posted on truthonair.com, February 9, 2014.
A much-anticipated debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham occurred at the Creation Museum in Kentucky last February 4, the topic being: Is the Creation Model a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern, Scientific Era? In Ham’s presentation, he briefly played a clip where Nye was being interviewed by Larry King. In the interview, “The Science Guy” mentions his thoughts on the fact that a lot of people still believe in ID (intelligent design) and says that it is “troubling” and “dangerous.” He goes on explaining his view,
“…then you can show the earth is not flat, then you can show the earth is not only thousands of years old.” – Bill Nye
I would never despite a million dissonances miss what Mr. Nye said. Well, actually hearing the “Flat Earth Myth” mentioned as if it were verifiable truth hasn’t failed to cheese me off yet. (And oh, I’ve learned from Biblical exegesis that the earth is not only thousands of years as well. But that’s another story for another post.)
To those who are clueless why, “The Flat Earth” is one of the most prevalent false accusations against creationists, taught widely in schools, and thence widely accepted by students as accurate history. “Did you know in medieval times ‘the Church’ taught the earth was flat, slowing down the progress of science? Religious doctrines constrict, if not retrogress discovery!” – this is what you would typically hear from the majority of scholars that slam those who believe in biblical creation (sadly usually condescendingly).
Though I’d been familiar with the said indictment (the Flat Earth Myth Myth – see what I did there?), the first time I encountered it in a conversation was only some time by the end of last year. I was having a casual chat with an evolutionist about science in general when he asked me, “Well, you don’t believe the earth is flat, do you?” I was too dumbfounded that quite such an erudite person still believed a debunked myth, all I could do was fumble with the Isaiah verse. The thing is, “academics” still use this Flat Earth hokum-bunkum these days to insist the fallibility of true Christianity, so in hopes of enlightening, let me line up three brief points on the “Myth of the Flat Earth” (in a countdown structure, pray don’t mind):
- #3 “The Church” is pretty vague.
What do anti-creationists even mean by “the Church”? Are they referring to a “Christian” sect? “Christian fathers”? An ecumenical church? Admittedly, there really were “Christians” who taught that the earth was flat (most notably a heretic Lactantius [c. 240-320] and an obscure “Cosmas Indicopleustes”), but do a few men automatically represent Christian dogma? Would a few individuals ignorant of true Bible doctrine represent “the Church”?
- #2 The Bible does not teach a flat earth.
The book of Isaiah says, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth (40:22).” Just look at that, someone who lived circa 8th century B.C. knew the earth was a sphere for a fact. “But it still says circle, you idiots!” I’ve heard (or read) skeptics of the Bible say (or type), “that means two-dimensional!” But here’s a heads up: the Hebrew word used in this verse is chûwg, which doesn’t necessarily mean a flat circle. Rather it can mean a “roundness”; thus, it can refer to three-dimensional figures.
Unconvincing? Wishful thinking? But that’s not all. Let’s jump over to the New Testament.
In Luke 17. The context of verses 20-35 is an impending judgment. In verse 31, we read “on that day”; whereas, in verse 34, we read “on that night.” These indicate events that will happen simultaneously but on different times of the day. Therefore, the writer knew that night and day occur at the same time, implying the earth’s sphericity.
Other verses from the old testament are: Proverbs 8:27, “…He drew a circle on the face of the deep…”; and Psalms 104:2, “It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other…” Although being from the ancient world, the writers of the Bible, inspired by the Spirit, knew about the general laws of the world and acknowledged that the earth is a globe.
- #1 The Flat Earth was a myth.
This is the creationist’s strongest rebuttal against someone who throws the Flat Earth Myth in his/her face. There is no historical evidence to support that the capital-C “Church” taught the earth was flat in medieval times making it a “long age of darkness.” It was a myth, it was an error. And in these days, it is worse than just a myth or an error. It is a lie. A lie that has been long disproved by historians like Jeffrey Russell, author of Inventing the Flat Earth. In his summary article “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” Russell explains that “no one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat.” He traced back the origin of the lie and was led to believe that the begetters were
“. . . .Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), an academic of strong antireligious prejudices who had studied both geography and patristics and who cleverly drew upon both to misrepresent the church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth, in his On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers (1834). . . .[and] our beloved storyteller Washington Irving (1783-1859), who loved to write historical fiction under the guise of history. His misrepresentations of the history of early New York City and of the life of Washington were topped by his history of Christopher Columbus (1828).”
So why does the “Flat Earth Lie” continues to exist in textbooks, most encyclopedias, and hence in the minds of those thoroughly educated?
“. . . why did the false accounts of Letronne and Irving become melded and then, as early as the 1860s, begin to be served up in schools and in schoolbooks as the solemn truth? . . . The answer is that the falsehood about the spherical earth became a colorful and unforgettable part of a larger falsehood: the falsehood of the eternal war between science (good) and religion (bad) throughout Western history.”
Even noted paleontologist, evolution biologist, and historian of science, Stephen Jay Gould, had observed the outrageous pervasiveness of this historical inaccuracy in modern times. In his article “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” Gould says,
“. . . the supposed Dark and Medieval consensus for a flat earth—is entirely mythological . . . the myth itself only makes sense under a prejudicial view of Western history as an era of darkness between lighted beacons of classical learning and Renaissance revival—while the nineteenth-century invention of the flat earth, as we shall, see occurred to support another dubious and harmful separation wedded to another legend of historical progress—the supposed warfare between science and religion . . . there never was a ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars . . . Greek knowledge of sphericty never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology.”
In 1945, the Historical Association of Britain published a pamphlet listing the top common errors in history and “Columbus and the Flat Earth Conception” ranked as second. Unfortunately, regardless of the number of works exposing the “Flat Earth Lie,”it has still prevailed and persisted in the world of scholarship, and is still being perpetuated both inadvertently (and possibly even intentionally).
After the question, “Did you know that ‘the Church’-?”, do you know how the conversation supposedly goes? If the individual being examined answers “no,” the questioner would say, “And that’s exactly what some religious people are doing today with their creation hogwash: denying evolution and holding back scientific discoveries.” Take careful note: if the questioner is aware of the falseness of the Flat Earth Lie, then it seems that Darwinists really are not willing to play fair (the relative belief system that accompanies their scientific position pretty much exhibits itself). Actually, engraved in the mindset of certain evolutionists is the notion that it’s okay to lie in order to bring someone into the “light of truth.” On the other hand, if someone asks due to ignorance, well then he’s better off with someone telling him/her the truth: that the Flat Earth Lie is nothing but an absurd attack on one of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible – creation – subsequently, on Christianity as a whole. But the good news is, like all other attacks, it can and will be torn down (eventually).
Lies are inescapably rampant, so where can we find the truth? Nowhere else but the Word Yahweh. And Who is the Truth according to the Bible? It is no other than Jesus the Messiah, the God-man Who died on the Cross for the sins of the world that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” To those who are seeking the Truth, the Truth will reveal Himself to them. Abide in His Word, know the Truth, “and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).”
Steadfast in the Word,