Many skeptics claim 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.
Similar terminology is used today when we speak of the sun rising and setting each day, even though we know that it is the earth that orbits around the sun.
Another passage often referenced 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 verse is representative of God 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 that clearly indicate otherwise. The earth is described in Job 26:7 as being suspended over empty space, implying a spherical figure. This notion is further illustrated in Isaiah 40:21-22 which refers to "the circle of the earth."
Proverbs 8:27 speaks of God drawing a circle on the face of the deep. From a 'birds eye' view of the ocean, the horizon is seen as a circle. Such an observation indicates that where light terminates, darkness begins, describing the reality of day and night on a spherical earth.
The round earth is further supported by Jesus in Luke 17: 31, 34:
"In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back...I tell you in that night there will be two people in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left."
This would seem to indicate the phenomena of day on one side of the globe while there is darkness on the other side of the globe.
The curvature of the earth is certainly a Biblical concept. There is no basis for the charge that the Bible teaches a flat earth. The scriptures that seem to present a flat earth can all easily be explained when correctly interpreted and understood.
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In 1828, American writer Washington Irving (author of Rip Van Winkle) published a book entitled The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. It was a mixture of fact and fiction, with Irving himself admitting he was ‘apt to indulge in the imagination’.
Its theme was the victory of a lone believer in a spherical Earth over a united front of Bible-quoting, superstitious ignoramuses, convinced the Earth was flat. In fact, the well-known argument at the Council of Salamanca was about the dubious distance between Europe and Japan which Columbus presented — it had nothing to do with the shape of the Earth.
The idea that medieval Christians believed the earth is flat has been thoroughly refuted in the book "Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians" by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
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