Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #121: The Bible Teaches That The Earth Is Flat

Today, I reposted a video here I got from David Woods blog regarding how some Muslims believe that Muhammad taught that the Earth is flat. Ryan Anderson posted the following comment.

Not sure how this doesn't equally apply to the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 40:22 and 44:24-28*, 1st Samuel 2:8, Proverbs 8:27 and Luke 4:5).
Sure, you can cite Job 26, but that just demonstrates that it's a hodge podge mess.

*probably the inspiration for the very Koranic verse in question.
So why is this FacePalm worthy? Simple: If you examine each of the scriptures Ryan cites, you can see how you assuming that the Bible is teaching a flat earth is unwarranted.

 

Isaiah 40:22



22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
   and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
   and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 
 

This is obviously figurative language. Is Isaiah saying that people are grasshoppers? No.Compared to God, we are like grasshoppers like grasshoppers are just like us. Four descriptions are made in a single verse:

a. Above the circle of earth
b. People like grasshoppers
c. Heavens like a canopy
d. Heavens spread out like a tent

Why would you take a single description out of four and claim it's a truth claim while the others are figurative and all are making a point. Anyone who thinks this is the Bible saying the earth is flat, is missing the point.

Isaiah 44:24-28



 24 “This is what the LORD says—
   your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

   I am the LORD,
   the Maker of all things,
   who stretches out the heavens,
   who spreads out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
   and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
   and turns it into nonsense,
26 who carries out the words of his servants
   and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,

   who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
   of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
   and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
   and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
   and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
   and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ 

Here Ryan cites 4 verses.  In verse 24, how do "stretches" and "spreads" mean that the earth and heavens are flat? If you are going to think that it's saying the earth is flat then why assume that it is not saying that  the heavens are flat too? Most people who misinterpret the Bible think it's teaching that the earth is flat capped by a sky dome. Obviously God is being poetic and not expecting you to literally imagine the image on the right.  Perhaps if one understood verses 25-28, one would not make such a big mistake.

1st Samuel 2:8

 8 He raises the poor from the dust
   and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
   and has them inherit a throne of honor.

   “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
   on them he has set the world. 

More figurative language. "Foundations" at this point means the underlying  rules and source on which creation is based. This does not imply that the earth is flat.

Proverbs 8:27



27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
   when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,  

This is in the middle of a discourse spoken by  Wisdom personified as a woman. . Setting the "heavens in place"  does apply to the earth or heavens being flat. Why make that assumption? It's merely stating that God put everything where it is. As for the horizon, a poetic description of the horizon is used and not a statement of science. The point is showing how much in control God is on everything.


Luke 4:5



 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  

I'd assume that Ryan and others look at this and think that what is being explained is that the Devil took Jesus to a mountain somewhere and showed him all the land that could be seen from the mountain. The problem is the text does not say that. The text states that the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. No one thought at the time that one could naturally go to a mountain anywhere and see all the kingdoms of the world. No one thinks that now, either - even if the earth was flat.  Therefore I'd take it as a miraculous thing that happened - to see all the kingdoms of the world in a short time. Why not? The New Testament is full of miracles.



Nice try. But these verse fail to show the Bible teaching that the earth is flat.

21 comments:

  1. This is obviously figurative language.

    Isn't this exactly what you were critical of the Muslims for in the original post? Hypocrite.

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  2. No. If you look at the previous post, I didn't attack the Qur'an. I just posted the video and I don't agree with everything in the video. I criticized Muslims who take the Qur'an and declare the earth is flat - like those who claim the earth is only 6000 yrs old. I think most of the language of the Qur'an on this matter pointed out in the video could be taken as figurative. The facepalm is because of your rationalization of rejecting the Bible as being true because you think it teaches that the earth is flat. The hypocrisy is yours.

    I notice that you offer no rebuttal just an unsubstantiated opinion (something you are really good at). Let Muslims prove that Muhammad did not think the earth is flat.

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  3. Let Muslims prove that Muhammad did not think the earth is flat.

    You really have no idea how flawed your epistemology is, do you?

    Do you consider asserting that language should be taken figuratively as "proving" that "Moses" didn't think the earth was flat and the sky a solid dome?

    That's all you've done here. But that's all you can do because if you actually looked at the sources you'd know you don't have a leg to stand on.

    It's a good bet "Moses" thought the earth was flat and the sky a solid dome, it's debatable if Jesus (i.e. whoever the Gospel authors where) did or not.

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  4. The post is not about what Moses thought about the shape of the Earth. I specifically said that I don't see how you can conclude that the Bible says that the earth is flat. I never brought up Moses and you didn't cite a single passage that anyone thinks that Moses wrote. You are just digging that hole deeper and deeper. My argument isn't really about what the Biblical authors knew scientifically. My point is that you and others are coming to conclusions about what the Bible says that can't be substantiated. You are the one writing checks you can't cash. Sad really.

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  5. Moses was in quotes because I didn’t feel like typing out “all the various anonymous authors of the old testament”.

    But I’m not following you, if many (but not all!) of the various anonymous authors of the old testament thought the earth was a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it, and when they wrote the various books of the old testament and described the earth as a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it, then how does the bible not “teach” that the earth is a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it?

    But by punting to “figurative” you’re doing exactly what “The Rationalizer” was criticizing the Muslims for doing.

    Note; posting something without comment is implicit endorsement.

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  6. But I’m not following you, if many (but not all!) of the various anonymous authors of the old testament thought the earth was a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it, and when they wrote the various books of the old testament and described the earth as a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it, then how does the bible not “teach” that the earth is a flat disk with a domed solid sky with holes in it?

    And what book, chapter, and verses of the Bible are you getting that interpretation from?

    Note; posting something without comment is implicit endorsement.

    I disagree. I can't help your delusion, but I will be clearer next time, given you have such a faulty presupposition.

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  7. Genesis 7:11, 8:2, and 11:4, Deuteronomy 4:15-19, Joshua 10:12, 2nd Samuel 22:16, 1st Chronicles 16:30, Job 9:8, 22:14, 37:18, and 38:4, Psalm 18:15, 19:1 and 4-6, 93:1, 96:10, 102:25, and 104:5, Proverbs 8:29, Isaiah 14:13-14, 24:18-19, 40:22, 45:12, 45:18, 48:13, and 40:22, Jeremiah 51:15-16, Ezekiel 1:22-26, 10:1, Daniel 4:10-11, and 8:10, Malachi 3:10, Matthew 4:8 and 24:29, and Revelation 6:13-16, and 7:1 are all consistent with the flat, fixed earth with a solid dome of sky.

    But to make them work with a modern understanding of cosmology it takes either punting to "figurative" or the mental masturbation of apologists.

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  8. I disagree [about reposting something without comment being implicit endorsement]"

    I bet you forward a lot of dumb emails and then take umbrage when someone snopeses you.

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  9. ...are all consistent with the flat, fixed earth with a solid dome of sky.

    But to make them work with a modern understanding of cosmology it takes either punting to "figurative" or the mental masturbation of apologists.


    That's a bold claim. Prove it.

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  10. I bet you forward a lot of dumb emails and then take umbrage when someone snopeses you.

    Only if I chose to inflict others more directly with your e-mails.

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  11. That's a bold claim.

    No, it's really not.

    Only if I chose to inflict others more directly with your e-mails.

    I've never emailed you.

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  12. I've never emailed you.

    Should have said "comments" instead of e-mails.

    And the claims are bold because you have no proof.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Yes, you are right, all those verses make much more sense when you ascribe context that wasn't there when they were written, you win, you are the champion mental masturbator, I mean apologist, sure... lol...

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  15. Yes, you are right, all those verses make much more sense when you ascribe context that wasn't there when they were written, you win, you are the champion mental masturbator, I mean apologist, sure... lol...

    See? When you admit you have a reading comprehension problem you can get help.

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  16. Stephen Jay Gould debunked the myth of the flat Earth long ago:
    http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/positive-atheism-cliff-walker-flat-earth-falls-flat

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  17. Stephen J. Gould was rightly debunking the myth of the flat earth in the Dark and Middle ages.

    Are you suggesting that Ancient Near East and Pre-Aristotelian Classical cosmology (not counting Pythagoras) did not hold to the flat earth?

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  18. Are you suggesting that Ancient Near East and Pre-Aristotelian Classical cosmology (not counting Pythagoras) did not hold to the flat earth?

    That wasn't the point of my post, nor the point Ryan was trying to raise. The point is that the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat.

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  19. The point is that the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat.

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

    If you disagree, you'll want to demonstrate how the above verses are not best fit to the ANE model.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

    If you disagree, you'll want to demonstrate how the above verses are not best fit to the ANE model.


    You first. You demonstrate how the verses prove that the Bible teaches the earth is flat. You are claiming that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat. Prove it. In Context.

    ReplyDelete