Biblical knowledge of round earth before science

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The Earth is approximately spherical

Common among Christian Biblical 'scholars' and Christians that want to claim their scripture contains advanced scientific foreknowledge that was provided or inspired by God. A typical example is the verse that allegedly claims the Earth is a sphere.

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 Bible-icon.png

They claim that in the bible 'circle' or the Hebrew equivalent also could mean sphere therefore the bible is vindicated.


Counter Apologetics


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 Bible-icon.png
  • "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 Bible-icon.png
  • ".. that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?" Job 38:13 Bible-icon.png
    • 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 Bible-icon.png
  • "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 Bible-icon.png
  • "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 Bible-icon.png

Other explanations

Strictly speaking, the Earth's shape is not a circle or a sphere but an oblate spheroid (a squashed sphere). Even if the Bible were to state correctly that the Earth was a approximately sphere, a number of possibilities exist as to how this might occur:

  1. An all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent, non-manifesting, invisible, undetectable entity told the authors of the Bible.
  2. Aliens from a neighboring star system visited and educated the authors of the Bible.
  3. The authors of the Bible used basic science to figure it out.
  4. The authors of the Bible made a good guess.

Without further evidence, the best tentative conclusion is likely to be either #3 or #4. To say that it's #1 is literally picking the most unlikely explanation out of the list and an argument from ignorance.

See also

v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
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