Does the Bible teach a flat earth?
Many a skeptic claims that the Bible depicts a flat earth. Scriptural references such as Revelation 7:1 are cited, which speaks of "four angels standing at the four corners of the earth." However, this passage makes reference to the cardinal directions as seen on a compass—i.e. north, south, east, and west. Terminology to a similar effect is used today when we speak of the sun rising and setting each day, even though we know that it is, in fact, the earth which orbits around the sun.
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Another passage often referred to is Psalm 75:3, which speaks of God holding the pillars firm. However, the Psalms are written in the poetry genre. Rather than referring to literal pillars, this is representative of God's guaranteeing the earth's stability. Even when the moral order of the world seems to have crumbled, God will not fully withdraw His sustaining power.
In contrast to the supposed "flat earth" verses, there are numerous Scriptures which show surprising consistency with what we already know about the earth from the field of astronomy. For instance, the earth is described in Job 26:7 as being suspended over empty space, just as science has shown is the case. In a similar vein, Isaiah 40:21–22 and Proverbs 8:27 both seem to refer to the earth as "circular," an observation which follows quite naturally if the earth has a spherical shape, as we know it does (although it's possible that these verses simply have an ordinary horizon in mind). The Bible is clearly quite far from affirming a naïve or unscientific understanding of the earth and the solar system.
The round-earth idea is further supported by Jesus in Luke 17:31, 34: "On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. … I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left." This would seem to suggest the phenomenon of simultaneous day on one side of the globe and night on the other side, indicating that the teachings of Scripture are therefore inconsistent (or, at least, strongly at odds) with the existence of a flat earth.
In conclusion, there is simply no basis for the charge that the Bible teaches a flat earth. In fact, what the Bible does appear to indicate about the earth's geometry coheres surprisingly well with what is already well known from the field of astronomy: the earth is a spherical (or, when viewed from a particular direction, a circular) object which orbits the sun while traversing the empty space that surrounds it. The Scriptures that seem to present a flat earth can all easily be explained when correctly interpreted and understood.
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