Ok. Maybe that’s a little harsh toward those out there who have actually bought into this idea that the earth is flat. But I have to confess: if you actually do buy into this idea that the earth is flat, know that I wrote the article partly with a motive: I was trying to get your attention. And if you’re one of them, please be patient while you see where I’m trying to go with this, while I talk to the rest of them out there who would just dismiss you as crazy.
Yes, Virginia. Some People DO Think This World Is Flat
It’s hard to believe for most, but there are a lot of people out there who believe the earth is flat. Not only are they out there, but from common observation and interaction with them, it seems they are growing in number. Take a look at the Flat Earth Society website, for instance, and see how much interaction there is on that page in the discussion forums.
They Are Among Us
For you speherical-earthers out there, be aware that I want to be charitable to flat-earthers as I write. You see, I can appreciate and respect that their motives are good. There is a common thread among most of them that holds a high view of the bible as the word of God. And I agree with them on that one. For whatever your view of the world and of history, I do believe the bible to be a book unique in history as a clear revelation from God. For the record, I will say that I believe in the God of the bible.
But one of the marks of teachability is admitting you don’t have answers for the questions that you are asked. And if people ask you questions and you don’t have answers, you need to at least acknowledge that maybe you don’t know enough to make a firm conclusion. And with regard to this flat-earth theory, the lack of understanding of basic math and physics in this community is below the level of a general grade 10 science class. As a result, their reasoning for believing what they do about the earth being flat is regrettable.
Flat-earthers seem to share a common thought pattern, and it ain’t pretty
There seems to be a common theme among those who hold to flat-earth theory. Because they believe the bible, they believe we must take the bible seriously (not an unreasonable position, in and of itself). That I wholeheartedly agree with. But where they seem to fall down (and, like Steve Urkle, they can’t get up again) is that they draw the unfortunate conclusion that to take the biblical descriptions of the earth seriously requires that they be taken literally. And a simple observation of things around us seems, at a casual glance, to support the idea that a literal approach to these biblical passages is appropriate.
For the flat-earthers, the bible says it, and so they believe it. That settles it. What they seem to miss (or perhaps, not want to deal with) is that they have a good handle on what the bible says; they might not have a good handle on what it means. As Bill Johnson has said before, God will never violate his word. But he is perfectly willing to violate your understanding of his word, if your understanding is wrong.
And I would contend that their understanding is simply wrong. After all, the science is settled, right? Isn’t it simply the right thing to simply accept these passages of the bible as poetic speech? If we do that, then these difficulties go away, no?
They think the science is “part of the conspiracy”
It’s true. They really have little regard for the scientific research and data that demonstrates the reality of a spherical earth. They’ve taken these passages of scripture and simply written off everything in the fields of physics and astronomy as part of a vast government conspiracy to keep us in the dark and to keep us from knowing the God of the Bible.
(If you’re curious, I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist myself. Just not on this one.)
But They Would Ask You A Few Questions, Too
In their defence, perhaps it’s a fair question to ask: can you accurately handle the word of God and simply write these passages of scripture all off as poetic speech? Is that fair to the original intent of the passages?
For those who laugh at these naive souls, let me ask you a few questions. For those familiar with the bible, you’ll know that there are numerous references in the scriptures to suggest a flat earth, suspended on pillars with a fixed dome forming the sky. You might think that is a ridiculous notion. But like I’ve said, so much of what we believe, we believe without having really thought it through, so much as we believe it because it’s what we’ve been taught. If we’ve never had reason to question it, we kind of go for a ride on what we are taught, when what we’ve been taught all along might well be wrong. After all, before Coprenicus and Galileo, people held a common belief the earth was flat. These guys had to challenge a system that wanted their heads for proposing theories that challenged biblical norms.
So, dear reader, let me ask you questions that they would ask. Could you prove from looking at the sun, moon and stars that the earth is moving around the sun, and not the other way around? Can you explain why you can’t see any curve to the earth? If the earth is round, can you explain why the water doesn’t run off the edges? You say it is because of gravity. Fair enough. But can you explain gravity? Many people have a rough idea. Most people accept it as fact, and accept the explanations as true without serious question.
Flat-Earthers Also Share A Common Emotion
In discussing these matters of the solar system, of galaxies, of gravity, of the bending of light and properties of light in the atmosphere, another common theme emerges. It is a common emotion. And that common emotion is paranoia. Flat-earthers do seem paranoid; or if paranoia may be a strong term, then at least it should be classified as a strong mistrust of science and the institutions behind it. They seem, for instance, to have a particular loathing for anything published as fact by NASA.
Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
When you point out that they don’t seem to have a reasonable grasp of the science behind the claims that the earth is spherical, some are quick to agree with you. It almost seems to be a badge of honour for some of them that they don’t have to know how the science works; since it contradicts the bible, it can simply be dismissed as part of the lie.
This audio clip from YouTube might be a good source of understanding of the mindset of the typical flat-earther:
Now, I’ve often said to people that just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. But in the case of the flat-earthers , what really motivates them is this concern that the people behind the globe model are really out to get YOU. They are not really concerned for their own souls. They are confident that theirs are safely in the arms of Jesus. They have seen the enemy; they are aware of his devices; they are aware of a higher truth.
Their concern is that you, as a spherical-earther, are probably sucked in by the great deception: the deception that the earth is not really the center of the universe. To them, science is the great henchman of the devil, where the spherical earth, evolution and the great atheistic deception are all part of a grand chain of lies designed to drag people off to hell.
Can you see where they are coming from? They believe that the concept of the earth spinning as a ball in space, not unique, but one of possibly an innumerable number of potentially inhabited planets makes the earth not so special. They believe that it is part of a government plot to control the masses and to keep them in the dark about the existence of a God who will hold us accountable for all that we do in this lifetime.
Now, in fairness to the flat-earthers, I have to say that I hold a common belief with them: I hold to a view that in a very unique way, the earth really is the stage for the drama of the ages; that we hold a unique place in God’s design of the universe. I can’t prove it from the physics, though. I just can’t. But I can see it in the scriptures, and whether the earth is flat or spherical wouldn’t affect the reality of that one way or the other for me. But…
I don’t believe the earth is flat.
Everything I experience in this world tells me that it’s plausible the earth goes around the sun. It would not be my first conclusion looking at it; but when I hear the explanations for it, it is possible. Can I prove the earth goes around the sun? I believe it is provable by careful observation of the position of the sun, moon and stars. Can you prove the sun goes around the earth? I don’t think you can offer any proof of that in any meaningful way that would hold up under serious investigation.
But I DO see that the sun goes overhead during the day. It doesn’t circle around the face of a flat earth disc. This is where the flat-earthers TOTALLY lose credibility. They offer all KINDS of silly explanations as to how the sun circles overhead (rather than over and under) but every one of their explanations falls down. I’ve been on cruise ships, watched the sun rise and the sun set. It is a ball. It is the same size before it drops below the horizon line as it is on the way down. When the cloud cover is heavy during the day but enough to let the sun shine through (barely) the sun is the same size in the sky at midday as it is at sunrise and sunset.
Every you-tube video that I’ve been advised to watch seems to start with a premise about what the spherical earth model teaches that is not what the spherical-earth model teaches; and then, they develop all kinds of ridiculous theories about why these models are wrong. But they haven’t got a clue what the spherical model really is. They attack straw men. And they lead many others into their confusion and resulting paranoia.
It’s Not About Science; It’s About Being “More Enlightened“
Flat-earthers don’t have much regard for the sciences. As Eric Dubay says in the above video,
Our eyes and experience tell us the earth is flat and motionless. Everything in the sky revolves around us but when we ceased to believe her own eyes and experience we have to prostrate ourselves at the feet of these very pseudo-scientists who are blinding us, treat them as experts – astronomical priests who have special knowledge only they can access like the Hubble telescope. So by brainwashing us about something so gigantic and fundamental it actually makes every other kind of lesser indoctrination a piece of cake. The earth being the flat, fixed center of the universe around which everything in the heavens revolves gives the special importance and significance not only to earth but to us humans – the most intelligent among the intelligent designer’s designs. By turning the earth into a spinning ball thrown around the Sun and shot through infinite space from a godless big bang, they turned humanity into a random meaningless purposeless accident in a blind, dumb universe.
I get the desire to appreciate the uniqueness of the earth in the story of God’s creation and of the story of the ages. But I can’t park the brain God gave me at the gate to be able to accept their ridiculous explanations that the sun is not going below the horizon but is disappearing off into the distance.
You See, Things Are NOT Always What They Appear
Take a look at this YouTube video of optical illusions. As Eric Dubay would say, “Our eyes and experience tell us the earth is flat and motionless.” Yes. They do. But what about the things you see in this video? Things are not always as they appear.
Sorry, but it feels like spiritual pride
In my experience with people dealing with a combination of trust issues and a slight spiritual smugness about having a “higher revelation” than others, it is hard to get through to them. Most of them had accepted the spherical model, and now, because of “better” information, they believe they have arrived at a “higher” truth.
And, in the end, I think it is the smugness they often seem to portray that bothers me a bit. When you have a lack of teachability, a lack of scientific knowledge, a lack of mental stamina to track with explanations of what “is” by careful observation and combine it with a bit of paranoia and a false sense that you are somehow more “spiritual” than others because of a “higher regard” for scripture (where literalness is next to godliness) you have a recipe for a conversation that feels like it will never be settled.
Flat-earthers, I wish you well. I really do. But you have to realize that you destroy your credibility with the very people you purport to want to reach with the gospel of Jesus simply by not being willing to accept that your interpretation and application of scripture might be more appealing, but less accurate. The end result is a facade of spirituality that might, in the end, be nothing more than a spiritual pride.