Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

A Flat Earth?!!!

Did the church fathers teach that the earth is flat?
Free Atheist's Answers Book

THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM the Bible teaches that the earth is flat!

Further support for the idea of a flat earth is contained in the verses mentioning the “four corners of the earth” (e.g., Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1) and the “ends of the earth” (e.g., Jeremiah 16:19; Acts 13:47).

Because of such Bible teachings, most of the early church fathers thought the earth is flat.[33] In fact, the view of the world contained in Cosmas’ book was accepted for several centuries as orthodox Christian doctrine.[34] Even in the fifteenth century, when Christopher Columbus proposed to sail west from Spain to reach the East Indies, the biblical notion of a flat earth was a major source of opposition to him.[35]

As for the question of what holds the flat earth in place, the Bible indicates the answer is “pillars.” The pillars of the earth are mentioned in several verses in the Old Testament (I Samuel 2:8; Psalm 75:3; Job 9:6). These verses reflect the belief of the ancient Hebrews that the earth rests upon pillars.[36]

Here are their references, White and Draper yet again:

[33] White, Vol. I, p. 91. See also Draper, John W., History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1919), pp. 62, 63, 161.

[34] White Vol. I, pp. 325, 326. See also Draper, pp. 163, 294.

[35] Draper, pp. 163, 164.

[36] The New English Bible with the Apocrypha, Oxford Study Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), p. 1002.

A typical reaction to these claims is, “On no, I’m being accused of believing in a flat earth. That’s so stupid. I don’t want to be associated with people who believe that!" That is exactly the reaction humanists hope to get. This is a propaganda ploy, attempting to associate the Bible with a ridiculous, obviously false belief.

BUT… let’s answer this accusation anyway: does the Bible teach the earth is flat? We will look at this in three parts: the referenced verses, the church fathers, and the earth being supported on pillars.

The Referenced Verses

And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
- Isaiah 11:12

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. - Revelation 7:1

This next quote is from a secular book. Compare how the Bible talks about the world, with the language used in a secular book:

"They came from the four corners of the earth, driven by hunger, plague, tumors, and the cold, and stopped here. They couldn’t go any further because of the ocean. That’s France, that’s the French people. - from Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (published in 2006)

I am surprised humanists still bring up this one. The dictionary definition of "four corners of the earth" is "The far ends of the world; all parts of the world." ( It is obvious from the above quotes, this phrase is used in exactly the same way in the Bible as it is in English literature. It is talking about people coming from everywhere in the world. It has nothing to do with the earth, nor is it describing the earth as flat. Humanists, you are embarrassing yourselves with these types of claims.

O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
And my refuge in the day of distress,
To You the nations will come
From the ends of the earth and say,
“Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,
Futility and things of no profit.”
- Jeremiah 16:19

For so the Lord has commanded us,
"I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles,
That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.”
- Acts 13:47

Compare how the Bible uses the words “ends of the earth” with the secular world. Here is a quote from a secular book. Is there any difference?

The opening was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranguil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky. - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (published 1902)

Once again the answer is obvious... the phrase "the ends of the earth" has nothing to do with describing the earth as flat. As with the first example, we see that the Bible and English language literature use this phrase in exactly the same way. The definition is "The utmost limit, as in She would go to the ends of the earth for him. This usage was once literal (referring to the farthest reaches of the planet) but now is used only figuratively."

Origin of the Idea of a Flat Earth

If you would like to read a brief history describing where the idea of a flat earth came from, this article "Who Invented the Flat Earth?" is excellent.

Spoiler alert... The idea of a flat earth, and that Christians were ignoramuses who believed in a flat earth, was popularized in a fiction book by Washington Irving published in 1828. And BTW, Andrew White references this fiction book—“The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” —as a source proving Christians believed the earth was flat. That is absurd!

For more information watch my 15 minute video on the origin of a flat earth.

The Church Fathers

We have a direct contradiction. The humanists claim the church fathers thought the earth was flat, referencing Andrew White and John Draper. And in the previous page I stated that the church fathers rejected a flat earth. Which one of us is right?

I've already shown that Andrew White is not a source who can be trusted to stick to the truth. John W. Draper's "History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science" is also referenced above. In the preface he writes: "The history of science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other." Is that historically accuratre? Can we trust Draper? If you have read the appendix you know that Draper’s book is just as much a fraud as White’s. Neither one of these humanist favorites is a source that can be trusted..

If you'd like to read a brief and accuate history describing where the idea of a flat earth came from, an article titled "Who Invented the Flat Earth?" is available here.

Is Comas a Church Father?

Cosmas the monk also makes another appearance. This time White claims Cosmas is a church father who believed in a flat earth. (See the second paragraph of the humanist accusation.). Not only is Cosmas not a church father, his teaching was soundly rejected until Draper and White needed someone to support their false accusations against Christianity.

There’s little evidence that anybody before the late 17th or early 18th century cared about Cosmas’s ideas. This didn’t stop people like Andrew White from making up stories about Cosmas having influenced medieval ideas about the construction of the earth. - Darin Hayton, A Tabernacle-Shaped Earth

Cosmas’ work was rejected, even during his own lifetime, by the church fathers.” White, and the humanists, are using an obscure monk, whose teachings were rejected by the church, to represent the church. That seems somewhat dishonest to me.

What about those who were considered to be church fathers? What did they teach? They accepted the science of their day, and were busy with more important matters.

The rather mundane fact is that most educated Christian writers accepted Greco-Roman teachings about the earth and cosmos and quickly moved on to more urgent matters of sin and salvation. No Christian authority of any consequence ever taught that the earth was flat. - Huffington Post, May 25, 2011

It looks like the humanists, and their sources White and Draper, are wrong once again. Since these two men are frequently called on by humanists as “authoritative” sources, maybe we should take quick look at what they wrote about belief in a flat earth. In the mid-19th century, in an effort to discredit the Bible and Christianity, both White and Draper were the major promoters of the myth that the church fathers believed the earth was flat.

In the late nineteenth century, the writings of John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White were responsible for promoting the myth that the church taught a flat Earth. Both had Christian backgrounds, but rejected these early in life.

Both men incorrectly portrayed a continuing battle through the Christian era between the defenders of ignorance and the enlightened rationalists. In fact, not only did the church not promote the flat Earth, it is clear from such passages as Isaiah 40:22 that the Bible implies it is spherical. (Non-literal figures of speech such as the ‘four corners of the Earth’ are still used today.) - from "Who Invented the Flat Earth?”, March 1, 1994

It seems White and Draper were more interested in attacking the Bible than they were in truth. We will see that is true as the humanists continue to use them as their #1 source, and they are continually proven wrong.

Does The Bible Claim The Earth is Supported On Pillars?

No, the Bible does not say the earth is supported on pillars. The following are the verses (with additional verses for context) the humanist references:

[This is part of Hannah’s Song of Thanksgiving]
“He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles [princes],
And inherit a seat of honor;
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He set the world on them.
- I Samuel 2:8

1 - We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near;
Men declare Your wondrous works.
2 - “When I select an appointed time,
It is I who judge with equity.
3 - “The earth and all who dwell in it melt;
It is I who have firmly set its pillars.
4 - “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn;
5 - Do not lift up your horn on high,
Do not speak with insolent pride.’”.
- Psalm 75:1-5

[Job speaking]
5 - “It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how,
When He overturns them in His anger;
6 - Who shakes the earth out of its place,
And its pillars tremble;
7 - Who commands the sun not to shine,
And sets a seal upon the stars;;
- Job 9:6

On previous page, we saw that the humanist author claims scripture supports the idea that the earth physically has an unmovable foundation. They claim the above verses are saying the same thing, based on the earth being supported by pillars. So what is going on? The word "pillars" is a metaphor in the first two referenced verses. Here are explanations for each verse. (Previous page..

1 Samuel 2:8 - The context is that of God talking about people. Scripture is saying that God stabilizes societies (not the physical planet earth) through the "pillars" of His common grace and His laws.

Psalm 75:3 - Notice that the context is that of judging "the earth and all who dwell on it." This Psalm is talking about people, not the physical earth. Once again "pillars" is a metaphor, in this case for God's common grace.

Job 9:6 - In this instance “pillars” is figurative language. The context is that of God being so powerful that He can do the impossible, such as make immoveable things move. Here "pillars" refers to the secure and stable position of the earth in the universe. However, in spite of that stability, God is powerful enough to shake the earth out of its place.

A similar figure of speech used today is, "it's as solid as a rock." For example, an old song proclaims, "your love is as solid as a rock." Another example is the phrase, "We can't break down this door. It is as solid as a rock." Neither of these is talking about a physical rock. “Rock” is a metaphor describing something that is solid, immovable, or unchanging. That is how the ancients used the word “pillars.”

Before I finish this chapter I’d like to take a look at a “contradiction” the humanists missed. We need to look at Job 26:7:

He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing. - Job 26:7

This verse reveals a Bible contradiction the humanists missed. They claim 1st Samuel 2:8 says the earth is set on pillars, yet Job 26:7 says that it hangs on nothing. This looks like a major Bible contradiction to me. Except, it is not. Job is the book that describes the physical reality of how the earth is supported. It hangs on… nothing.

Conclusion: There is nothing here, except once again, misinformation from White and Draper. Neither the Bible nor the church fathers support the idea that the earth is flat. This was a myth created specifically to attack the Bible.

Okay... so what is next?

NEXT the humanist claim: The Bible Says the Sky is a Solid Dome Containing Windows

The Bible promotes the idea that the sky is a solid dome covering the earth. In the creation account given in the first chapter of Genesis, verse 17 says the Lord set the sun and moon “in the firmament” to provide light for the earth. The Hebrew word translated as firmament is raqia, which means “hammered metal.”[37]

More support for the notion of a domed earth is found at Job 37:18 (where the sky is described as like a “molten lookingglass”); Isaiah 40:22 (God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in”); and Revelation 6:14 (“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.”).

Here is the reference:

[37] Ecker, Ronald L., Dictionary of Science and Creationism (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1990), p. 56.

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The Good News

Before you get the good news, you need to know the bad news. It's about you. God says:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23

Sin means disobeying God, aka breaking God's law. God is perfect and perfection is required to enter heaven. It's a standard none of us can achieve. We all fall short. For example, compare yourself with just one of the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie?

All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8. Or what about:

Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:

Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Have you done that?

You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...

Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true (believe), and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.