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Fallacies in the Flat Earth Concept, From Noah’s Ark to Galileo

By Dr. Grady S. McMurtry

Attendees of Creation Worldview presentations often ask if people during biblical times really believed in a flat earth. This question is in many ways misinformed, reflecting the erosion of our educational system under those who hold an Evolutionary Worldview. Even during pagan times, man was able to harness the powers of reasoning to deduce that the earth was spherical. Indeed, God states this fact on six different occasions in the text of the Old Testament. Far from being uneducated and illiterate, ancient man was able to complete works of engineering that modern engineers have yet to duplicate.

There were several ways in which ancient man was able to determine that the earth was a sphere. First, the shape of the shadow of the moon on the earth’s surface offered evidence, since only a sphere will cast a round shadow, whatever its position.  Another phenomena familiar to ancient mariners was that the North Star appeared higher in the heavens as they travelled northward from equator. The circular movement of the earth became evident through the observation that the stars orbited the North Star each night. The north-south voyager would also have known he was traveling in an arc around the globe, because different stars became visible as the journey progressed. These pieces of knowledge have given people a common understanding that the earth was a sphere since Noah’s Flood.

The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes of Cyrene , who lived in the third century B.C., coined the word geography and initiated study in the subject. He also invented the concepts of latitude and longitude, and he compared measurements of shadows taken at different geographical locations at the summer solstice. Utilizing data points from Aswan to Alexandria, which he estimated as 500 miles apart, Eratosthenes accurately calculated the circumference of the earth.

Perceived battles between the church and scientists over the shape of the earth turn out to be fabricated as well. The famous schism between Galileo Galilei and the Roman Catholic Church, over whether the earth was flat or round, is one such case. The chief point of disagreement between the two parties revolved around Galileo’s portrayal of his old acquaintance Pope Urban VIII as a fictional character in the book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. The Pope perceived Galileo as ridiculing him, resulting in personal enmity between the two figures. Leading scientists of Galileo’s day recognized the earth as round, and there was no substantial public debate over that point.

About the Author: An international creation emissary, Dr. Grady S. McMurtry operates the Christian non-profit educational organization Creation Worldview Ministries, Inc.