Our Wonderfully Round Earth | Tomorrow’s World

Our Wonderfully Round Earth

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Flat-Earth theory has gained a lot of followers and publicity. But it has not gained the support of everyday observations or the Bible, both of which are very comfortable on a very round Earth.

The idea that Earth is flat—instead of the wonderfully round “oblate spheroid” most of us know and love—has received a surprising amount of attention in the last several years. In April 2022, the University of New Hampshire reported on a poll finding that 10 percent of respondents in the United States believe that “Earth is flat, not round.” Survey company YouGov found that only 66 percent of Millennials, ages 18 to 24 at the time of polling, “firmly believe” that Earth is round. And YouGov found further that those who believe Earth is flat are more likely than the general public to be religious.

In fact, while some claim to believe in a flat Earth for “scientific” reasons, others see the argument between a flat Earth and a round Earth as, respectively, a matter of faith in God versus an atheistic view of the world and creation. A few flat-Earth believers have even written us here at Tomorrow’s World to encourage us to teach our readers that Earth is flat—or, conversely, to chastise us for embracing the round-Earth “lie.”

Is “flat versus round” an unanswered question in some way? And does believing the Bible require belief in a flat Earth?

Let’s take a careful look.

Scientific Evidence of Round Earth Anyone Can See

It must be recognized from the very beginning that there is simply no phenomenon experienced on Earth that cannot be explained by a round Earth, while—at the same time—there is no coherent flat-Earth theory that accounts for all phenomena so simply and elegantly. Most flat-Earth ideas are often ad hoc pronouncements that do not fit together as a whole to explain the wondrous collection of experiences that greet us on this planet on a daily basis. Understanding Earth to be round, however, is consistent with them all.

Consider just a few examples—no fancy equipment necessary.

Most “flat” models have the sun and moon traveling in a circle above a disc-shaped Earth. Yet every sunrise and sunset, as well as every moonrise and moonset, contradict such an idea. There is no flat model that would allow, say, half of the moon to be clearly visible on the horizon and half of it below. The same goes for the sun. In fact, the sun and moon would never intersect the horizon at all. Those who seek to base their flat-Earth beliefs on some sort of scientific footing work hard to justify this, inventing ways for light to bend and for objects to appear the same size no matter how far away they are, and creating other fanciful explanations. But none match the simplicity that a round Earth offers.

And consider the Moon a little more closely. If Earth were flat, someone on one side of the planet looking at a just-risen Moon and someone on the other side looking at an about-to-set Moon should see completely different portions of the Moon, since they are viewing it from widely different angles. Yet, matching the round-Earth model perfectly, both individuals instead see virtually identical portions of the moon, just as they would if the earth were round and the moon were far away, orbiting it. (The same could be said of sunspots, though those cannot be seen with the naked, unprotected eye.)

The stars above our heads provide another witness. In the northern hemisphere, the stars revolve each night around Polaris, the North Star. Believers in a flat Earth often claim this as evidence that the North Star lies above the pole at the center of the flat Earth. Ignoring the fact that people see such a different section of the sky depending on where they are in the northern hemisphere, let’s consider the parallel fact in the southern hemisphere. Those in the southernmost parts of the world see the sky revolve around a fixed point in the southern sky—close to a constellation called the Southern Cross. Yet, in most flat-Earth models, this should be impossible, since those models have no south pole at all. Clearly the stars of the southern hemisphere aren’t fans of flat-Earth models.

Some flat-Earth believers offer explanations, but they are often, again, ad hoc explanations or examples of “special pleading”— not consistent mathematical models that fit all the other available evidence. Again, a round-Earth model easily fits all that evidence and more.

Does the Bible Say the Earth Is Flat?

Claims of scientific support for a flat Earth simply do not survive any extended scrutiny at all. Explanations based on a round Earth, however, are not only simple, but also internally consistent, and have stood the test of time.

But what of claims that the Bible teaches a flat Earth? Is there any substance to such claims? The findings of the physical world—not just those generated by large institutions like NASA, but observations and experiments we can conduct as “plain old individuals”—are consistent in their support for a round Earth, but is there biblical evidence that should force us to declare such findings null and void?

No, there is not. No Bible verses, when properly understood, require belief in a flat Earth.

For instance, some point to verses, such as Isaiah 11:12, that mention the “four corners of the earth.” Yet even flat earthers do not generally believe Earth to be a flat square with four literal corners. It is plain that this is a reference to the four compass directions, meant to encompass the entirety of the world. Even today, many use the phrase “the four corners of the globe” without any hint of irony and in complete understanding of what we are saying.

Similarly, some will point to passages that mention the “ends of the earth,” such as Psalm 67:7, Micah 5:4, and Acts 1:8. Yet, if we look more carefully, we see that the Bible speaks of people living on the edges of Earth (e.g., Psalm 67:7, Isaiah 45:22, Luke 11:31). Are there any peoples on Earth living on the very edge of a flat plane? No. The phrase clearly means to go to the furthest possible extremes—such as ensuring the Gospel goes out to every part of the world.

Some will point to the “firmament”—in the words of Genesis 1:6–8 in the King James Version—placed above the earth, claiming that it proves the stars, sun, and moon exist as part of a hard dome above our heads, as if we live in a giant snow globe. Yet this Hebrew word is better translated in other Bibles as “expanse,” or something that is stretched out (e.g., the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Bible). That is why passages such as Genesis 1:20 can say that birds fly in the midst of this “firmament”—because it is not a hard dome, but the broad expanse of the sky above our heads. Again, no flat Earth required.

Others will note the “pillars of the earth” that are mentioned in a few verses, but are these literal? One example appears in Psalm 75:3: “The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved; I set up its pillars firmly.” Yet, only five verses later, this psalm also speaks of a cup in God’s hand, filled with red, mixed wine that He pours out, making the wicked of the world “drain and drink down” (v. 8). He is not literally feeding the wicked, and the wine is clearly a metaphor for His wrath (v. 10). While many fail to take the Bible literally when they should, it is also possible to fail to see metaphors when God uses them, and He does use metaphors. God is not literally a rock (Psalm 18:2) nor is Israel literally a vineyard (Isaiah 5:5). Failing to respect that God makes some of His points poetically shows His word as much disrespect as failing to take Him literally when He is speaking literally.

Finally, others use passages like Daniel 4:11, describing a tree seen by “all the earth,” or Matthew 4:8, in which Jesus Christ is shown the entire world by the devil from atop a mountain. Some read these passages and ask, How could these be possible if the world is round?

Yet those are clearly visions. Luke 4:5 even mentions “in a moment of time”—highlighting the supernatural element of the vision. These provide no requirement to accept a flat Earth, any more than they require a literal mountaintop to exist where such views are possible—a sight even those atop Mount Everest cannot see.

Other passages may be claimed by those who seek to slip a flat Earth into the pages of their Bible, but they all represent similar misunderstandings. There is simply no passage in the Bible that requires us to believe that Earth is flat, and all of them, when properly understood, fit very comfortably in the same very round world that physical observations have shown to be true for millennia.

Part of the Created Order, Not Apart from It

When you think about it, mankind’s home is very much like mankind itself. Consider: Man was made on the same day as the land animals (Genesis 1:24–31). He was made physical, like the animals. Much of the detail we learn about animals, including facts about something as important as brain structure, applies to man. Man is part of the created order and shares much in common with it.

Our planet, too, shares much in common with other planets of the heavens that were created along with it (Genesis 1:1). It orbits a star, accompanied by other planets, all of which experience weather, night, day, and seasons.

Yet man is no mere animal. He has been created in God’s own image. He is endowed with faculties that outmatch and far exceed those of any animal, powered by a spirit from God (Job 32:8), enabling him to live in communion with the Creator. He is clearly something truly special among all the life forms of the world.

So, too, is Earth. Earth is a unique planet—a world fit to serve as the home of man (Isaiah 45:18) and, one day, serve as headquarters of the whole universe (Revelation 21). All the evidence we have shows it to be a shining jewel among planets and celestial objects—rich with geographic diversity, teeming with life, beautiful and resplendent.

It does not “downgrade” our planet to see it as one created planet among many, any more than it does to see man as one created life-form among many. Rather, the special devotion and attention to detail paid by the Creator to Earth, just as He paid to humankind, shines through, obvious to all with eyes to see.

Yes, our very spherical Earth is a part of the created order, as are Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the other planets. But, like man, Earth stands out as something truly special: the uniquely designed home of man—the pinnacle of God’s creation—and the hand-crafted center of the Almighty’s plan of salvation. That plan now unfolding on Earth will one day impact the whole universe, and all of creation will resonate with the joy of it (Romans 8:18–21).

Our home here in the cosmos is, indeed, an astonishing place and a remarkable jewel in the crown of creation. The fact that it is round and not flat does not lessen that beautiful truth in the least.


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