The Bible on Flat vs Round Earth

The bible doesn’t specifically side with one or the other and scriptures are often taken out of context to suggest that the earth is explicitly flat or round. I believe in round earth because the flat earth model has observable testable scientific problems. I don’t get how day and night cycle like time zones (it’s night in Asia when it’s daytime in the Americas) work on a flat earth. The moon reflects the sun’s light, it can’t do that if the whole earth experiences night and day at the same time, because we wouldn’t be able to see the moon if the sunset beneath the earth at night. Also, the seasons are opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres, because of the tilt of the earth. Wouldn’t a flat disk cause a consistent global climate? In addition, how do eclipses work in the Flat Earth model? I’m sure a flat earth believer has some answers to those questions, but I don’t see any flaws in the round earth model that needs to be fixed in the first place.

A Biblical look:
1 Chronicles 16:30 says the earth can’t be moved, yet we know the earth does move when there are quakes, so this is obviously not meant to be literal. Also, 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 is a song of praise, it literally says this in verse 7. This means the things in it aren’t always meant to be applied literally, sometimes there are metaphors and allegories being used, so context is important. For example, verse 15 says, “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations”. We know that God’s people weren’t going to stop being in a covenant after exactly 1000 generations, it’s an expression. Also, “33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.” We know trees don’t sing, its an expression.

Scientifically interpreting the bible:
The bible reflects cosmology as understood by those who lived at the time its various parts were written. The bible often uses phenomenological language to describe astronomical events that today we have a deeper scientific understanding of. We still use phenomenological language today when we say the sun “sets” and “rises”, or talk about shooting “stars” which are actually comets. “Fiery serpents” are referring to venomous snakes because venom’s side effects include an internal burning sensation, thus the serpents are not on fire. In the gospels when talking about, Jesus’ ascension to heaven it says he went “up”. What does going “up” mean on a globe that’s spinning on its axis, while orbiting the sun, while our solar system is spinning around with the rest of our galaxy? Jesus’ ascension “upwards” makes sense when describing what we would see at the moment.

Ancient Cosmology:

Even if there are verses that allude to flat earth because various near eastern cosmologies of the ancient world all believed that, this doesn’t mean that picture is representing reality in its fullness. This was the easier way to explain things to people of the time in the frame they would understand since they didn’t have as many details about things like DNA, microbes, advanced chemistry, etc. Should a person who has a kid through artificial methods reject the existence of their child who spent his first few days as an embryo growing in a lab instead of being knitted by God in the womb as a literalist reading of Psalm 139 would demand? God still made the child since he made the rules of cells, genetics, and biology, the even of conception, development, and birth just didn’t happen in the usual way.

I believe in a round earth:

In order for the moon to be visible from the shaded side of the earth (the people experiencing night), the sun’s light has to reflect off of it. With spherical earth, the sun can hit the moon without lighting the dark side of the earth, because a sphere has an innumerable amount of omnidirectional faces. On a flat earth, the sun has to illuminate the whole earth at once, or not, because it is a disk and has one face on top and another face on the bottom. So everyone around the world would have to experience night and day and the same time, but we know that isn’t true. An American can have a live video call with someone in Asia and see that the world doesn’t work that way, it’s the whole reason we have time zones. Some flat earth models suggest an invisible force cuts halfway through the earth and blocks the sun on one side, but that force would also block the sun’s light from hitting the moon, so how would the people on the night side see the moon if the suns light is blocked?

Others argue the moon emits its own light. How can the moon be an emitter of light if it has a surface shadow? An object that emits light can’t receive shadows. If you hold your phone up to a light source and put your hand in front of it while the screen is off, then your hand makes a shadow on the surface of the phone screen. However, the shadow isn’t there when your phone is lit, so the moon can’t be an emitter because it has phases. The moon has phases because of its position relative to the sun. The lit side is facing an external light source (the sun), and the other side is dark. When directly across from the sun it gets direct sunlight and is a full moon, when it’s on the same side as the sun, then it is not visible to those experiencing night because they are looking up from the dark side of the earth which is facing away from the sun and moon. In between those it has all the other phases like half and crescent, which are created as the moon moves around the earth, and catches the sun’s light from different angles. Many ancient near east cultures including the Israelites, would have understood this because they used the moon as a clock.

Eclipses occur when the suns light is blocked by either the earth (lunar eclipse) or the moon (solar eclipse). In a Lunar eclipse, the earth casts its shadow on the moon and at the right angle can allow some red-shifted light to hit the moon, causing it to look like a blood moon. In a solar eclipse, the moon blocks the sun, the whole earth doesn’t experience this all at once, only certain points on earth that are facing the sun. This means that only in the daytime do people experience it and only people in specific locations get a full eclipse. So when America gets a solar eclipse, it’s not visible in Asia because it’s night. Also, it would only be visible in certain regions of the Americas because the moon isn’t big enough to cast that big of a shadow. That’s why in the eclipse over the US in 2017, people who drove to places like Kentucky were able to see a total eclipse, but where I live in Michigan it was only partial.

The tilt of the earth creates opposite seasons in each hemisphere. When it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, it is summer in the southern hemisphere. One can look up the weather right now in different parts of the world. The base climate is determined by latitude. Those on the equator one have two seasons, wet and dry seasons. Places north of the Arctic and south of the Antarctic circle, experience extreme cold climates. In between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic, there is a gradient of four-season climates. At the poles, it’s nighttime for 6 months during the winter and 6 months of the day during the summer. This is evident when looking at photos or videos in places like far north Canada and Alaska. In the summer in these places have daylight at 1:00 am, meanwhile in the winter it’s dark outside in the afternoon. The flat Earth model only has one pole Antarctica at the center (South Pole), and an ice edge (instead of the North Pole). Why would the edge and center of a disk have the same climate while the middle was the opposite? With poles on a sphere, it makes sense because they are symmetrical mirrors of one another, so they both experience 6 months of day/night each, in opposition because of the tilt.

One last interesting note:

The curvature of the earth hindered meteorologists from tracking tornado formation in the past. This is because radar towers are really high off the ground, and if a tornado forms too far away the radars can detect them because of the curvature of the earth. They have newer better radars now, that are much closer to the ground and use dual-polarization. Check out this NOVA special on deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma. They mention how Earth’s curve affects tornado tracking at 44:00.

More resources:
Myths about Christianity and Science

An Article on recognizing the bible’s cultural context first:
“The most significant conclusion from this journey of discovery is that the Bible is culturally bound: it was written in a language, to a people, at a time. While it’s meaning transcends those boundaries, the written form must be translated, contextualised, and applied to today’s problems.”

Read More

Some sources about the bible and flat earth:
AIG – Does the Bible Teach Flat Earth

Who Invented Flat Earth?

Does the Moon Give Light?

ICR – Moon Rules