Biblical knowledge of round earth before science
- He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Isaiah 40:22
They claim that in the bible 'circle' or the Hebrew equivalent also could mean sphere therefore the bible is vindicated.
Other verses seem to contradict this idea.
- "He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and 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, that no wind might blow on the earth or sea against any tree." Revelation 7:1
- ".. that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?" Job 38:13
- The KJV version is "... take hold of the ends of the earth ..."
- "O Lord, my strength and my stronghold my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say:" Jeremiah 16:19
- "The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the earth." Daniel 4:11
- "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." Matthew 4:8
Even if the Bible were to state correctly that the Earth was a sphere, a number of possibilities exist as to how this would be the case:
- An all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent, non-manifesting, invisible, undetectable entity told the authors of the Bible.
- Aliens from a neighboring star system visited and educated the authors of the Bible.
- The authors of the Bible used basic science to figure it out.
- The authors of the Bible made a good guess.
Without further information, the best tentative conclusion is likely either #3 or #4, as the most likely explanations. To say that it's #1 is literally picking the most unlikely explanation out of the list.
Defense of Biblical Text
The Hebrew language is extremely reputed for being one that engages images and metaphors reflecting the basic beliefs of the day. All of the above quoted texts save Matthew (the only listed text that doesn't explicitly allude to a flat earth) are cited from Biblical poetry, which would easily engage the reader's cultural and contextual scientific knowledge concerning the vast reach of God's influence, power, etc. Similar to the argument from the Hebrew language, the worldview in which the biblical authors wrote was pre-scientific, such that any language used to describe the world would be fundamentally different from that operating under a modern worldview. To use an example, Numbers 16.31-35 depicts the ground opening and closing around Korah's men, acting as the 'mouth of Sheol' devouring the wicked. If a person with a modern worldview had seen this event, it would rather be understood scientifically, using contemporary knowledge of tectonic plates. Literal readings of the biblical texts do not take into account both the language and the worldview of the authors.
The bottom line, however, is that the Bible isn't a scientific text and was written by men who claim to be inspired by God, not written by God himself (as the Koran is said to derive providence from, etc); this allows for scientific errors that engage the readers on their own contextual level and communicate an idea, not a scientific truth.