Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
It perplexes us to see that belief in a “flat earth” is gaining traction, despite being thoroughly debunked for thousands of years. This idea was almost non-existent until recently, yet this particular branch of pseudoscience is making inroads. It’s notable that the article The Flat Earth Myth, busting the myth that the church taught a flat earth, written as recently as 2013, did not receive any negative comments from flat-earth believers. Why? Because there were hardly any people back then who believed it! Rather, readers were grateful to see that the church had never taught this nonsense. Several honest atheists have even slammed people from their own side who have pushed a bad pseudo-history that accuses the church of teaching a flat earth.1
So, if almost nobody believed it back then, why do some people believe it now? This includes several who commented on an article published earlier this year: Isaiah 40:22 and the shape of the earth. Most of the influence today is coming from a series of online videos that have been shared widely. These were created by charlatans and, sadly, are deceiving many. Even more sadly, some Christians are being caught up in the hype.
It is not our business to warn people about each and every false idea that comes up, but only when the idea directly impinges on a straightforward biblical teaching. Thus, we steer clear of 9-11 conspiracies, but directly engage with people who attempt to claim the moon landings were a hoax on our Arguments Creationists Should Not Use page. Why? Because the first, even though it deals directly with physics, is enmeshed in too much conspiratorial gobbledygook. The second, however, gets into how we see the world, how the universe works, how science proceeds, and how we can tell what is true and what is not.
Even though we have addressed the Flat Earth Myth multiple times (see Related Articles, below), and even though we have gone into the biblical and scientific arguments against it, people have recently started to ask us about it (or criticize us for our firm global-earth view). Our only conclusion is that the Internet is breeding people who have trouble thinking through important ideas.
By necessity, this paper aims to be very thorough to demonstrate how wrong flat-earthism is on so many levels: biblically, historically, and scientifically. But readers can skip to some of the main points below.
We can use observation and reason to figure this out. It is so easy to see even ancient civilizations understood it. There are several evidences we think are impossible to refute:
The earth and the moon
The shadow of the earth, when cast on the moon during a lunar eclipse, is round. This was known in ancient times. But note that lunar eclipses do not always happen when the moon is in the same position in the sky. If the earth were flat, the earth’s shadow would not have the same shape when the moon is directly overhead as it would when the moon is closer to the horizon. Since it is possible to observe multiple full and partial lunar eclipses during an average lifetime, this would not have been lost on any observant person, even in the distant past (note that this is assuming one model of a flat earth, the one where the sun and moon cross under the earth as they travel back to the east). Also, if the sun and moon were orbiting overhead, as in some recent flat earth models, then how could the earth ever get in between them to cast a shadow in the first place?
The moon’s phases are also proof that it’s orbiting a global earth. In real life, at any given part of the moon’s cycle, all people on earth see the same phase, and the moon is always about the same size. This makes sense if it were orbiting the globe from a distance far greater than the earth’s diameter. If it and the sun were always orbiting above a flat earth, as per a recent flat earth scenario, then they would both change size drastically, and people in different areas would see different moon phases. Someone looking toward the moon would be presented with a different view than someone looking at it from the other end of the earth.
Instead, a person with a telescope can actually watch the shadow creep across the moon’s surface and someone on the other side of the earth can then pick up watching the shadow creep when the moon drops below the horizon of the first person. There are human eyeballs all over this globe of ours, and the progress of the moon (and sun) represents a continuum.
Also, by watching the shadows creep across the craters and plains of the moon, it is clear that the moon is a sphere. Also, the crescent and gibbous phases, which have curved boundaries, are possibly only on a spherical moon, not a disk.
And we can watch sunspots migrate across the face of the sun and they behave as if they are moving across a spherical surface. There is also the phenomenon of limb darkening, where the sun (and other stars) appear darker and redder towards the outside, which proves a spherical sun, not a flat disk. We have overwhelming evidence that the other bodies in the solar system are spherical. And we have overwhelming evidence that the earth is also a sphere.
Note also, if the moon and sun were flat disks, then their apparent shape would become more elliptical as they moved lower in the sky. The fact that a full moon and sun always look circular from any angle shows that they are spheres, not disks.
Things disappearing over the horizon
People have often noted that ships coming up over the horizon appear sail-first. That is, the highest portion of the vessel comes into view while the lower parts are still hidden by the bulge of the earth. It’s so well known that there is an old naval term for it: ‘hull down’. Sailors could even roughly estimate distance from their own height and how far down the other ship was. And the same happened in reverse, with observers on ships seeing objects on land. Also, higher observers could see further, hence the advantage of the ‘crow’s nest’ (see for calculations, box, below). Indeed, this was explained well back in the Middle Ages by John Sacrobosco (c.1195–c.1256) in his Tractatus de Sphaera (Treatise on the Sphere, i.e. the earth):
That the water has a bulge and is approximately round is shown thus: Let a signal be set up on the seacoast and a ship leave port and sail away so far that the eye of a person standing at the foot of the mast can no longer discern the signal. Yet if the ship is stopped, the eye of the same person, if he has climbed to the top of the mast, will see the signal clearly. Yet the eye of a person at the bottom of the mast ought to see the signal better than he who is at the top, as is shown by drawing straight lines from both to the signal. And there is no other explanation of this thing than the bulge of the water. (Tractatus1:11)
Flat-earthers often produce photos of things that are visible even though they are so far away they should be below the horizon. However, these are almost always over water, which on rare occasions (usually in the Spring) can produce a temperature inversion, i.e. cold air below warmer air. This, in turn, causes refraction, bending light around the curve, so we see things we normally wouldn’t, in what is called a superior mirage. This is quite uncommon, and photos of the same area under most conditions would not show the mirage, even on the clearest days. Also, mirages can be minimized when the object and viewer a few metres high, so the line of sight mostly avoids the inversion layer.
Importantly, videos, as opposed to still photos, show that the images change rapidly (they tend to shimmer, flip, duplicate, triplicate, etc.), thanks to fluctuations in the air, as we would expect from a mirage. We wonder why flat earthers almost never show videos of these below-the-horizon features.
We also wonder why they do not time the passing of the sun, for when it is rising and setting we are not actually seeing it in the place we would expect it. It ‘rises’ a little earlier and ‘sets’ a little later than we would expect because of atmospheric lensing. In essence, every sunset is a mirage!
Distance to the horizon from different heights
The distance to the horizon (d) from an observer at a height above sea level (h) on a sphere of radius R can be worked out by Pythagoras’ theorem. It comes to √(h(2R + h)). Since most observers’ heights are much, much less than the earth’s average radius of 6,371 km, this formula approximates to √(2Rh). That is, horizon distance is proportional to the square root of the observer’s height, e.g. a lookout on a crow’s nest with eyes 8 m above sea level would see twice as far as observers on a deck with an eye level 2 m above. In particular, if horizon distance is in km and observer’s height is in m, this comes to d ≅ 3.57√h. For distance in miles and height in feet, the formula is d ≅ 1.22√h. (There is even an online Distance to the Horizon Calculator that works for both sets of units)
The reverse is true: if you were sailing in a low yacht with eyes at sea level on a clear day, you could see the top of hill 100 m high from 35.7 km, but mounds only 1 m high could not be seen until 10 times closer: 3.57 km away.
To calculate the distance (D) at which an object at h2 will be visible to an observer at height h1, just add the horizon distance from h1 to the horizon distance from a hypothetical observer at h2. So the formula for km and m is D ≅ 3.57(√h1 + √h2). For example, a lookout at 9 m high could see a 100-m-tall tower from a distance up to 3.57 (3 + 10) km = 46.41 km.
Note also, since the horizon distance is proportional to the square root of the height, the amount the surface drops away due to the earth’s curvature (c) is proportional to the distance squared. That is, c ≅ (d/3.57)² for km and m, and c ≅ (d/1.22)² for miles and feet (which gives a rule of thumb: c ≅ ⅔d²). For example, many have correctly heard that the earth curves 8 inches (⅔ foot) in 1 mile. But to curve 6 feet or 72 inches, nine times as much, it doesn’t require a distance of nine times further but only three (√9) times.
But there is much more observational evidence that shows the curvature of the earth. Anyone standing on a shore can see that there are points along the shore that are not visible. But if that person walks along the shore to the edge of what they could see at the starting point, new things appear in front of them and things that were once visible in the other direction have since disappeared. The simplest explanation for this is that the earth is curved. You can do this yourself. Just take a drive along a shoreline on a clear day and take photos of what you can see at different points along your journey.
Sunrise and sunset
Furthermore, the sun rises every morning, and the sun sets every evening. We can clearly see the round disk appearing and disappearing piecemeal. Its apparent diameter stays almost the same, as does the moon’s—it doesn’t get smaller in diameter, which it would if it was getting further and further away. This applies especially to a modern flat earth model where the sun orbits in a plane overhead that is parallel to an earth disk. By simple trigonometry, its apparent size would be proportional to the sine of its angle to the horizon. So it would appear to be about half the size at 30° (sin30° = ½) as it is directly overhead (sin90° = 1), and the vertical sun would appear almost six times as big as it would appear at 10° (sin10° = 0.173).
Note also, if the flat earther claims to be a biblical literalist, this sun perpetually overhead contradicts the passages about the sun rising and setting, e.g. Ecclesiastes 1:5 and Psalm 113:3. These are compatible with a global rotating earth, using the earth as a reference frame (see Biblical phenomenological language), but not with this new flat earth model.
Relative sizes and distances of sun and moon
Furthermore, such modern flat earth models absurdly claim that the sun is much smaller than the earth, although in reality the sun is much larger. In fact, even back in the 15th century, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) correctly deduced from the shadows of the eclipse that the earth is smaller than the sun and larger than the moon, and he was far from the first to do so.3
The order of sizes was known least as far back as Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310 – c. 230 BC), who wrote On the Sizes and Distances (of the Sun and Moon). By his time, Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) and Plato (427–347 BC) had taught a spherical earth, and Plato’s best pupil Aristotle (384–322 BC) provided reasons. Eratosthenes (276–194 BC) had yet to measure the circumference of the earth, but Aristarchus knew that it must be big. So how did he work out relative sizes?
First, from observation, he knew that the moon and sun have the same angular size in the sky (about 31 arcmin (′) or ½°), so their relative sizes would be proportional to their relative distances (using similar triangles). Second, the moon blocks the sun in a solar eclipse, so the moon must be closer, so smaller. Third, how much smaller? He used what would now be called trigonometry (see diagram): at the first or third quarter of the lunar cycle, where it appears like a half-moon (semicircular), the earth-sun-moon angle must be 90°. Therefore the ratio of the earth-moon distance (L) to earth-sun distance (S) is the cosine of the moon-earth-sun angle (φ). Aristarchus measured this angle at 87°, and cos87° is about 1/19. So the sun, he thought, was 19 times further away, so 19 times larger. Actually, it wasn’t easy to be so precise, because it was hard to measure from the centres of the sun and moon, and also to know when the moon was exactly in a quarter phase. Now we know the angle is 89°51′10″, meaning that the sun is actually 389 times further away, and precise measurements show that the sun is 403 times the diameter of the moon.
By analyzing the geometry of lunar eclipses, he could also provide a rough estimate of the distances in terms of earth’s radius. And because the sun was clearly the biggest of all, Aristarchus thought that it was the centre of the solar system. Most astronomers after him agreed with the relative sizes, but it took almost two millennia for astronomers to agree with his conclusion.
Also, how many people have witnessed sunlight striking a high mountain either just before sunrise or just after sunset? This is possible only because the earth’s curvature does not block the light ray from the sun to the mountain, while it does block the view of the sun from low ground.
There is also the phenomenon of noctilucent clouds, meaning clouds lit up at night. These are too faint to be seen during daylight, because they are actually very high-altitude (~80 km) clouds composed of tiny ice crystals, but can be seen when the rest of the sky is dark. They are easily explained by the rays of the sun below the horizon reflecting off the ice, while lower-altitude clouds are blocked from the sun by the earth’s curvature.
Also, it doesn’t matter how strong a telescope you use, you will never be able to see the sun at night. That’s because you can’t see through the earth! And no, despite what these mendacious videos claim, the sun does not “behave like a spotlight”; the sun is a sphere, which is why it always appears as a disk, no matter what direction it’s viewed from.
The absurd ‘spotlight’ sun
To try to evade the severe problems with time zones (see below), a common ‘modern’ flat-earth idea is that the sun is like a spotlight, floating a few thousand miles above the earth and shining down in a localized area. Added to the simple observational contradictions above, everybody who has ever seen a flashlight/torch in use at night knows you can see it from the side. But even if the light coming from the sun was perfectly uniform in its starting direction, as soon as light hits air it begins to scatter (indeed, studying of light scattering was part of the doctoral dissertation of one of the authors [JS]). This is the reason the sky is blue whenever the sun is up, even at the far side of the sky from the sun. If the sun was above the earth ‘but not visible because the sun is like a spotlight’ a huge portion of the sky would still be blue.
There is another difficult puzzle they cannot solve. This has to do with the shape of the area in the sunlight portions of the earth and the way this changes though the seasons. Let’s test this by looking at what is being illuminated during January, June, and March/September. That is, at the solstices and equinoxes. For those who do not know what these terms mean, the solstices occur in the winter and summer when the sun’s apparent path is highest in the sky (the summer solstice) or lowest in the sky (the winter solstice)—‘solstice’ comes from Latin meaning ‘sun standing still’, i.e. its path is neither rising nor sinking. There are two equinoxes every year, in the spring and fall, when all portions of the earth receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness (‘equinox’ comes from the Latin meaning ’equal night’, i.e. equal to the day). How does this look on a flat earth?
In the northern hemisphere summer, the north pole receives 24 hours of light, the famous ‘midnight sun’. In fact, anything within the Arctic Circle is bathed in sunlight for an entire day during the summer solstice—the day the sun does not set. At the same time, Antarctica gets essentially no light at all as the sun is below the horizon across approximately 99% of the continent. Everywhere in the Antarctic Circle, the sun remains below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year even at noon. If you were to plot the area of the earth that is experiencing daylight at noon in Africa, for example, it would look something like the figure.
Three months later, however, everything is radically different. As we said above, at the spring and fall equinoxes, all places on earth receive 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. This is not debatable. But if you look at the time the sun rises and sets on the equinoxes in different places, it becomes quite clear that a round sun could not produce the necessary effect on a flat earth. Take a line drawn due north from southern South America. Sunrise happens simultaneously in Patagonia (southern South America), Colombia (northern South America), and Nunavut (in the North American Arctic), while at the same time it is setting at Lake Baikal (east central Asia) and the Knox Coast of Antarctica.
How could a round spotlight produce a straight line like this on a flat earth? The ‘beam’ of sunlight should be at least roundish, but instead it illuminates fully one-half of the flat-earth map with a perfectly straight line between light and dark. Why does Columbia not see the edge of the sun’s circle first, and why does it not get more hours of daylight, since this is where the fat part of the sun will pass overhead? The answers to these questions is simple: the earth is actually a globe, and the sun is actually very large and very far away.
Three months later, the situation is clearly impossible for a round ‘spotlight’ sun. During the northern hemisphere winter solstice, nothing within the Artic Circle receives any sunlight for at least 24 continuous hours. But at the same time, the sun does not set in Antarctica—it’s now Antarctica’s turn for the midnight sun. If you were to display what areas of the earth are lit, it would look something like the figure. Not only did the approximately circular area at the first winter solstice turn into a half-watermelon shape at the equinox, but it kept changing until the sunlight areas wrapped around the entire earth and overlapped at Antarctica.
And if this ‘spotlight’ sun were radiating light in a cone, then the base of a mountain would be lit before the peak at sunrise. It’s easy to confirm that the peak is lit first, because the curve of the earth blocks the sunlight from the base.
‘Spotlight’ sun? No! Spherical earth? Yes!
One of the worst aspects of the flat-earth claim is that to believe it you also have to deny simple trigonometry. You see, if two people standing at different places on the earth, but a known distance apart, simultaneously measure the angle to the sun (from a theoretical chord drawn through the earth), they get approximately the same answer. Why? Because the sun is so far away that parallax is almost non-existent. It amounts to just over 8″ of angle (0.000407°.
What happens if the earth is flat and two people try this? Let’s say someone measures the angle to the sun at sunrise. At the exact time someone else on the other side of the world measures it at their sunset. They both get an angle of zero. This means that the sun must be sitting on the earth! In the north-south direction, stars that appear overhead at night to an observer on the equator would appear to be sitting on the ground to an observer at the north pole, and v.v. Yet, both parties would claim those stars are very far above their heads indeed.
Due to the nearly featureless face of the sun, it is difficult for two observers in different places to pick out the (to less than 4/10,000th of a degree) same spot to observe. We had to wait until the 1700s to accurately determine the distance to the sun, and then only after multiple parallax measurements were made of the transit of Venus across the sun in 1761 (we wrote about this in our article against geocentrism). Multiple measurements of the time it took Venus to cross the plane of the sun were made, but all the measurements had to be timed to the nearest second in order to be useful. They were, and the measured distance (153 million km) was more than 97% accurate (modern measurement is 149.6 million km). The real, measurable distance to the sun is far too great for flat-earth models. Thus, they also have to reject math, or claim that even more people are liars.
You can, however, use parallax to measure the distance to the moon. Hipparchus did this in the 2nd century BC (thus, you could do it too). He was less than 10% off and must have assumed a spherical earth to do the calculations. Today, we know the moon is 384,400 km away. This is not debatable. Or trigonometry is a lie. Like the sun, the moon is also too far away for flat-earth models.
And the moon and the sun have almost the same angular size (about half a degree), making total solar eclipses possible. From similar triangles, it follows that the sun must be as many times the moon’s size as it is far away (400 times). Flat earthers (as well as some geocentrists) deny the clear trigonometric evidence for the vast size of these bodies, especially the sun.
When most people think of a flat earth, they think of the sun going under the earth at night. This would mean the entire surface would be illuminated as long as the sun was up, and all parts of the earth would experience the same sunrise time and sunset time. However, we know that different longitudes have different time zones. John Sacrobosco pointed out:
That the earth, too, is round is shown thus. The signs and stars do not rise and set the same for all men everywhere but rise and set sooner for those in the east than for those in the west; and of this there is no other cause than the bulge of the earth. Moreover, celestial phenomena evidence that they rise sooner for Orientals than for westerners. For one and the same eclipse of the moon which appears to us in the first hour of the night appears to Orientals about the third hour of the night, which proves that they had night and sunset before we did, of which setting the bulge of the earth is the cause. (Tractatus1:9)
Remember he is writing in the 13th century!
However, now that we have the ability to communicate across the earth, this argument is even stronger. Many of us have had to be careful when calling someone in another country, in case we catch them in the middle of the night, and they become irate at being woken up! Also, when CMI-USA staff have Skype meetings with their colleagues in CMI-Au, it’s usually evening in America and morning in Australia (and the Americans know quite well that the Aussies get to have meetings during normal working hours!).
Jesus, the Creator, clearly knew of this phenomenon. Speaking of His second coming, which will be in an instant, He said:
I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34–35).
I.e. in one place, it would be night, with people in bed; while in another place, at the same time, it would be during the morning when women ground grain. And in the parallel passage of Matthew 24:40, there is allusion to a still different time zone, the main part of the day: “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.”4
The different time zones are clear proof that the earth is curved at least in the east-west direction. (See Sunrise and sunset above for refutation of the modern flat earth fudging about the sun orbiting above the plane of the earth). But the earth is not a barrel. There is abundant and clear evidence that it is also curved from north to south.
One thing astronomically inclined northern visitors to the southern hemisphere love to do is see the Southern Cross. This constellation is not exactly at the southern celestial pole, but it cannot be seen in most of the northern hemisphere. People in Europe and North America can’t see it no matter how powerful their telescopes. Yet this constellation features on the flags of two countries with CMI offices, Australia and New Zealand. Brazil’s flag features the Cross and more stars visible only from the southern hemisphere.
But as consolation, northerners can see Polaris, the North Star. People can never see this from the southern hemisphere, even with the best telescopes, and no matter how far north they look. This even applies to countries in the same time zone. For example, South Africa and Germany share the same time zone, South Africans can see the Southern Cross at night while at the same time Germans are seeing Polaris.
This was well known to the ancients as well, although they didn’t come as far south as many people have today, e.g. John Sacrobosco:
That the earth also has a bulge from north to south and vice versa is shown thus: To those living toward the north, certain stars are always visible, namely, those near the North Pole, while others which are near the South Pole are always concealed from them. If, then, anyone should proceed from the north southward, he might go so far that the stars which formerly were always visible to him now would tend toward their setting. And the farther south he went, the more they would be moved toward their setting.
Again, that same man now could see stars which formerly had always been hidden from him. And the reverse would happen to anyone going from the south northward. The cause of this is simply the bulge of the earth. Again, if the earth were flat from east to west, the stars would rise as soon for westerners as for Orientals. which is false. Also, if the earth were flat from north to south and vice versa, the stars which were always visible to anyone would continue to be so wherever he went, which is false. Also, if the earth were flat from north to south and vice versa, the stars which were always visible to anyone would continue to be so wherever he went, which is false. But it seems flat to human sight because it is so extensive. (Tractatus1:10)
Furthermore, New Zealand is almost in the opposite time zone, so is day while South Africa is night, but they see the same constellations every night. In the flat–earth model, New Zealand and South Africa are almost diametrically opposed, so should have different constellations overhead.
When employees of CMI’s US office in Atlanta visit their colleagues in Brisbane, Australia,5 and v.v., they have to lean over backwards when looking at the stars to get things into their normal perspective. Atlanta is about the same distance above the equator (33.7°) as Brisbane is south of the equator (27.4°). Due to the curvature of the earth, if you are used to seeing the moon, planets, and stars in one setting, everything looks upside-down in the other setting! Why? Because if you look ‘straight up’ from either place you are looking at a very different place in the sky.
A well known example is the constellation of Orion the Hunter. In the southern hemisphere, Orion looks like he is standing on his head, so his ‘shoulder’ (Betelgeuse) is down, and Rigel on the bottom of his tunic is ‘up’ and is the first bright star to appear as this constellation rises in the sky. Also, in the original constellation as understood by the ancient Greeks in the northern hemisphere, the stars are meant to picture Orion holding his club above his head, but in the southern hemisphere, his club looks like it’s digging something.
The sun, moon and planets move along a line called the ecliptic, but the ecliptic is toward the south at that latitude in the northern hemisphere and toward the north at that latitude in the southern hemisphere. Why? Because the earth is a sphere! Another disconcerting aspect of living on a sphere is that after the sun rises in the northern hemisphere it moves diagonally up to the right, but it moves diagonally up to the left in the southern hemisphere.
Stars rotate around celestial poles in opposite directions
Another illustration of the same phenomenon is using time-lapsed photography to see the stars in the northern hemisphere revolving anticlockwise (counterclockwise) around Polaris (or more precisely, the Celestial North Pole). In the southern hemisphere stars appear to revolve clockwise around the Celestial South Pole. See the time lapse videos below (left: northern hemisphere; right: southern hemisphere).
Speaking of rotation, in tropical cyclones or hurricanes, the powerful winds blow anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, because of the Coriolis effect on a sphere. They would rotate in the same direction if the earth were a spinning flat disk.
Variable speed of the stars through the heavens
From our vantage point on the earth, the following three points are not debatable:
The North Star does not move. It is too close to what is called the northern celestial pole [apart from the ‘precession of the equinoxes’ (axial precession) which has a theoretical period of about 25,000 years].
The further from the northern celestial pole you go, the further the stars must visually travel each day to get back to where they started. Stars close to the North Star trace out little circles. Stars farther away trace out larger circles.
This trend continues until you reach stars circling above the Celestial Equator, at which point the flat earth and spherical earth theories diverge.
Here, we are defining the Celestial Equator as an imaginary east-west line through the heavens that is directly above someone at 0° latitude. Flat-earthers do not believe it actually exists, but this definition works for both parties (on the global earth view, it’s a great circle of the ‘celestial sphere’ on the same plane as the equator).
The discussion so far might seem unfair for flat-earth supporters in the Southern Hemisphere, so just flip the argument around, if you like. This sets up an interesting test. If the earth is flat and if the stars are circling the earth on a dome-shaped heavenly vault, the visual speed of the stars will continue to increase until you reach the edge, which we assume will be past the supposed “Antarctic ice wall”. Like kids on a merry-go-round, the stars near the center of rotation travel a smaller distance per revolution than the stars at the edge.
However, if the earth is a spinning sphere, the velocity of the stars will begin to decline past the Celestial Equator until they stop moving at what we will call the South Celestial Pole.
Except for the North and South Poles, from any other point in either hemisphere, you can see stars on the other side of the Celestial Equator. CMI-US has an office in Atlanta, GA, at 33.7°N. We can see a lot of stars past the CE. In fact, the stars we see are exactly the ones we would expect to see given our latitude north on a spherical earth. The North Star is also exactly at the correct angle above the horizon, given our location on a spherical earth. But, we can leave these two points aside for the time being and simply focus on the visual speed of the stars through the night sky. The stars past the CE (fully ⅔ of the stars we see!) should be moving more slowly across the sky, and the visual speed should decrease as we look closer to the horizon.
CMI also has an office in Brisbane, Australia, at 27.5°S, meaning they can see more of the Northern Hemisphere stars than we in Atlanta can see of the Southern Hemisphere stars. We also have an office in Auckland, New Zealand, at 36.8°S, almost mirroring the Atlanta office. If the South Celestial Pole exists, our people in these two places should see be able to see it, and it should be closer to the southern horizon for our Brisbane people.
CMI also has an office in Singapore, at 1.4°N. This is the best place to be for this test. We will have to ignore the fact that the stars do NOT trace a semi-circular path through the heavens like they should if they were on a dome spinning above a disk. Instead, at any time of year, any star that is due east rises straight up, passes overhead, and descends straight down, to the point where it intersects the horizon once again. Actually, the fact that the stars always travel parallel to the Celestial Equator is a direct disproof of the flat earth. Putting this also aside, someone at the equator should be able to see stars moving most quickly when they are following the east-west line that passes directly overhead. But the further north or south they look, the stars should move more slowly. This continues to the point where trees, buildings, or haze on the horizon obscures the view of the stars.
Note, both of us have spent time at the Equator (JS in Singapore; RC in Ecuador), the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand), and the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, North America, and Asia). Flat-earth supporters with limited geographic exposure beware!
OK, so which model do you think fits what we see?
The stars ‘past’ the equator do indeed travel in smaller circles. You can see this yourself no matter where you live. We have seen this with or own eyes. How about you?
The South Celestial Pole does indeed exist. Look for videos or time-lapse photos online, or travel south of the Equator yourself. We have seen it.
Add to this these facts:
Two celestial poles exist, one in the north and one in the south.
The height of the North or South Celestial Poles exactly matches your latitude.
The field of stars you see at night exactly matches your latitude.
Stars you cannot see are not too far away to see;, the earth is blocking them from view.
Stars do not trace a curving path you would expect them to if they were fixed onto a rotating sphere.
In fact, stars always travel parallel to the Celestial Equator.
Why are points 1–3 and subpoints a–f true? Because the earth is a spinning sphere!
The missing South Pole
Another problem lies with the modern flat-earth claims that the earth is encircled by an enormous Antarctic ring ‘due south’ from everywhere. And what do we make of the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station? It was built by the United States and is manned year-round, and has a web camera that’s accessible anywhere in the world via the Internet. There is no south pole on a flat earth.
Circumnavigation of the globe
While it was a myth that Columbus was the only spherical-earther of his day, he (and of course everyone else) did realize that if you sailed west far enough, you could make it back to where you came from (barring land masses in the way). In fact, this was well known at least a century before him in the fictional work The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. One of the stories involves such a journey, and the author expected his readers to know that the earth is a sphere.
I have often thought of a story I have heard, when I was young, of a worthy man of our country who went once upon a time to see the world. He passed India and many isles beyond India, where there are more than five thousand isles, and travelled so far by land and sea, girdling the globe, that he found an isle where he heard his own language being spoken… He marvelled greatly, for he did not understand how this could be. But I conjecture that he had travelled so far over land and sea, circumnavigating the earth, that he had come to his own borders; if he had gone a bit further, he would have come to his own district.
Later, the expeditions of Ferdinand Magellan6 (1480–1521) and Sir Francis Drake (1540–1596) did circumnavigate the globe, as did the HMS Beagle with the young Charles Darwin aboard as the gentleman-companion of Captain Robert Fitz Roy (a devout Christian who later became a creationist). Now of course we have airliners doing this. Two of the board members of CMI-US are pilots; so are they also lying when they say they fly across the globe (to say nothing of their thousands of passengers)?
Astronauts in space
The International Space Station has now gone around the earth over 100,000 times, carrying with it more than 220 different astronauts over the past 15 years. One astronaut, Col. Jeff Williams has recently returned from his fourth trip to space. Not only has Col. Williams set the record for cumulative days in space (534) but he is also an outspoken Christian!7 He and other astronauts have taken thousands of pictures and hundreds of hours of videos of the earth from space, many of which are available online. You can patch these together seamlessly to make a montage of the entire earth, and it is demonstrably a sphere. All of these scientists and astronauts are not lying!
Earthquakes and seismic waves
Earthquakes are often very powerful events, and their waves can travel enormous distances. Geophysicists have learned much about the earth from such seismic waves, which travel at known speeds. The most important for our purposes are the two major categories: body waves and surface waves. The first go through the earth, while the second stay close to the surface.
And as expected, if the waves are strong enough to be detected by seismographs at a great distance from the site of the earthquake, the body waves will arrive quite a long time before the surface waves, even though the surface waves from powerful earthquakes can travel around the world several times. The reason for this is simple: body waves have less distance to travel.
But here’s the key: On a globe, the ratio between the surface distance and the through-the-earth distance increases as points become further apart. This is because the through-the-earth distance is a chord of a circle and the surface distance is an arc (see diagram). On a flat earth, the ratio would be the same for shallow earthquakes and almost the same for deeper earthquakes (the distance to the detector can be treated as the hypotenuse of a very flat right-angled (or right) triangle).
This presents us with yet another test of the flat-earth model. For a detector close to the source of an earthquake, the body and surface waves arrive together in both models. If the detector is further away, the surface waves arrive later. Surface waves travel about 90% of the speed of body waves, but if the earth is flat they will always arrive just behind the body waves and always with a ratio of 0.9 no matter how far away the detector is. If the earth is a sphere, however, the body waves will arrive proportionally faster than the surface waves as the distance between earthquake and detector increases. The greatest test would be if the detector is at the antipode of the earthquake focus, because by definition the body waves would travel the diameter of the earth, while the surface waves must travel a distance π/2 times this, i.e. 57% further.
Seismologists have been recording earthquakes from all around the world since the last decade of the 19th century, and of course their results have been consistent with a global earth. Again, this is information known long before NASA. It is a simple fact that body waves arrive earlier than surface waves, and this ratio changes with distance from the epicenter. This can only be true if the travel distances are proportionally different, i.e. the earth is not flat.
Yet another test involves only the surface waves. If you have an array of detectors at various points on the earth, you can time how long it takes for the surface waves to travel between the points. The flat-earth map puts places like Australia and South America on opposite sides. But the time is takes for surface waves to travel between them is proportional to a much smaller distance. In fact, if you network the times between the thousands of stations currently positioned around the earth, after accounting for various slight discrepancies, the only way to make any sense of the data is if you project them onto a spherical surface.
Furthermore, the different types of body waves can even tell us about the earth’s interior. The primary (p) waves (called that because they are the first to arrive) are pressure waves or longitudinal waves, basically sound. The secondary (s) waves are shear or transverse waves. The p-waves can travel through both solids and liquids, but the s-waves can’t go through liquid. Seismologists soon worked out that there was a “shadow zone” for the s-waves—we can’t detect any from a seismometer over about 104° from the earthquake. So they realized that deep inside the earth, there must be a liquid core about 2,890 km deep. And because the earth is a sphere, the core must also be a sphere of smaller radius (3,480 km) than the earth. An earthquake shadow zone can’t be explained on a flat earth, even one with a deep liquid layer deep down. And this shadow zone exists at a certain surface distance from the earthquake (about 12,000 km or 7,200 miles) in all directions, no matter where the earthquake occurs. This means the earth has a uniform shape with no edges, i.e. a sphere.
Also, boundaries between different layers can cause partial reflection of the waves, and refraction can occur if the waves can be transmitted into the next layer. Both types of wave travel in gentle curves as well, caused by refraction as the earth changes consistency at different depths. This is similar to the reason you cannot hear a rocket blasting off beyond a certain distance—the sound waves bend as they travel through the surface air layer that cools with altitude. This means that there is also a shadow zone for p-waves,8 between 104° and 140°. However, the Danish scientist Inge Lehmann (1888–1993) analyzed the devastating 1929 Murchison earthquake in New Zealand (7.3 on the Richter scale, 17 people killed). She was surprised that p-waves were detected in the shadow zone, so she realized there must be a solid inner core off which they reflected. Its radius is obviously smaller than that of the outer core: about 1,220 kilometres, about 70% of the moon’s.9
So in summary, seismologists all around the world long ago showed that the earth must be a sphere—indeed, a sphere layered in spherical shells, or spheres within spheres. There is simply no other way to make sense of the data.
Prove it to yourself
Anyway, you don’t have to believe us. For the (mostly northern hemisphere) people who have been taken in by these videos, find a person on social media who claims to be from the southern hemisphere, and set up a video conference with them (using something like Skype). Ask them what time it is, have them point their camera outside, ask them what stars are visible, ask them where the moon is, and what phase it is in. This is a simple experiment and can be done by just about anyone with friends online. For even more fun, interview multiple people in different places in the world on the same day/night. Unless everyone in the other hemispheres are independently lying to you about all these things, this will show that the earth is a globe.
The differences in the stars are clear proof that the earth is curved in the north-south direction. Combine these two categories and we have proof that the earth is curved in both the east-west and the north-south direction. Now what sort of shape can do that—as well as leave a circular shadow on the moon when the shadow comes from any cross–section of the earth? Exactly, a sphere.
Why does the earth superficially look flat?
It’s a very simple explanation: if we look at a tiny part of a circle, it approximates a straight line. Another way of thinking about this: the larger the circle, the smaller the curvature. One well known illustration comes from unfortunate hikers who have lost their sense of direction and wander around in circles. They think they are walking straight ahead, but in reality, they are turning very slightly. Eventually, this small curvature adds up to coming full circle. The earth is just so huge compared with structures on it that the curvature is very low. But it is real!
But the apparent flatness is only local. You can make a reasonable map of an area just a few kilometers square with little fear of distortion at the edges. But since the dawn of cartography, mapmakers have been struggling with how to depict the continents on world maps without significantly distorting high-latitude landmasses like Greenland or Antarctica.
Also, if you go to a very flat place (e.g. Hay, Australia, one of the flattest places on earth) and turn in a circle, the horizon will appear almost perfectly flat. Why? Because you are standing on a sphere and can only see a small portion of that sphere. If you took a round fruit (like an orange) and tangentially sliced off a small section of the edge, that would be a good representation of what you can see – and the slice would be an almost perfect circle.
Daniel Shenton resuscitated the defunct Flat Earth Society in 2004. One evolutionist reports: “The Flat Earth Society is an active organization currently led by a Virginian man named Daniel Shenton. Though Shenton believes in evolution and global warming, he and his hundreds, if not thousands, of followers worldwide also believe that the Earth is a disc that you can fall off of.” As late as 2014 his society has as few as 500 members, but that was before the flat-earth YouTube phenomenon caught on.
Eric Dubay has produced lots of flat earth videos. He describes himself on his website as “a 35 year-old American living in Thailand where I teach Yoga and Wing Chun part-time.” Other articles on his site show that he is a rabid anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and thinks Hitler was a peace-loving good guy who has been wrongly vilified (and he thinks dinosaurs never existed). Dubay is thus a New Age neo-Nazi, not a Christian, and he makes money peddling conspiracy theory through online advertising. He is not a neutral party on this issue.
Rob Skiba is another major YouTube player. He has questionable theology. He claims to believe in the Trinity, but when probed further, he denies that the Holy Spirit is a person. This is not something new—it is called the pneumatomachian heresy (meaning spirit-fighters). He calls the creedal (and biblical) view, i.e. one God in three Persons, heresy. He says that, if you believe in what Christians have believed about the Trinity for the past 2,000 years, you are a heretic. But this means he’s not a Christian, by definition. Misusing words like this, where the speaker intentionally means something different than what receiver thinks he is saying, is a classic mark of a cult. Beware!
Michael Heiser is a compromisingtheologian who does not believe in a flat earth, but argues that the Old Testament cosmology describes a flat earth—he just thinks they got it wrong. He argues that because “the Bible was not produced to give us science” we can reject its cosmology while maintaining belief in “things that the Bible does in fact ask us to believe.”10 Sadly, many of those arguments are identical to those of Bible haters like the atheist and anti-creationist Robert Schadewald (1943–2000), and thus he doesn’t really believe in biblical inerrancy (but compare Does the Bible really teach a three-storey cosmology?). And in arguing that the biblical authors taught a flat earth, he has given support to people who use his arguments about Hebrew cosmology, but have a more consistent view of the Bible’s perspicuity.
Note, exposing the above is not committing the genetic fallacy. We are not attacking the man in order to discredit the theory. Rather, we are making an appeal to Christians that we have no reason to trust people who deny the very authority of Scripture to which they are supposedly appealing; they are not our friends and allies. Christians should certainly not allow anti-Christians to dictate to us about what the Bible says, and we should be wary of those calling themselves Christians who attack the very foundations of our shared faith. We should also not allow the flat-earth myth, derived as it was from atheistic attacks on the Bible, to influence our understanding of Church history.
Why would we trust them over all the Bible-believing Christians throughout church history who affirmed a spherical earth? Remember, these are the people who affirmed the Biblical canon, and who fought for, and often died for, the foundational doctrines Christians hold dear, and in whose footsteps we walk today.
This is a matter for discernment and we would encourage anyone researching these issues to be very careful. It is not always easy to spot an error, especially when presented by slick marketers, and in this case one can fall so far down the rabbit hole that it can become difficult to climb back out.
Discussion (major problems with a flat earth)
If the earth is flat, we cannot use physics to explain how things work. Essentially, the universe becomes a place of magic where things happen that simply defy explanation. We would have to go back centuries and reject just about everything we have learned about physics. This includes the great discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (who gave us the Three Laws of Motion and the Theory of Gravity), Johannes Kepler (who gave us the Three Laws of Planetary Motion), and the works and discoveries of many other Bible-believing scientists.
What do we do with the work of Dr Mark Harwood, who retired from a long career in the aerospace industry and who specialized in the design of geostationary satellites? These satellites appear to be stationary in the sky but they are actually orbiting at around 3 km per second to keep pace with the rotation of the earth. This principle only works because the earth is a sphere. If the earth were flat, the stationary satellites would either plummet to the earth if they were not actually moving or sail off into space if they were. And how can we explain the work of Dr John Hartnett, whose cryogenically cooled, sapphire-crystal clocks generate the most precise microwave signals on earth, and who has used both GPS satellites and geostationary satellites to transfer his time and frequency signals between cities?
Flat-earthism also impugns almost all the great Christian leaders of the past and present who affirmed a spherical earth. Flat-earthers should ask themselves why they instead trust the videos of avowed enemies of the Gospel such as Dubay.
Actually, we note with some irony the modern ‘moon landing hoax’ nonsense tends to accompany flat-earthism (and geocentrism, but that is another story). Back in 1969, although there was appropriate rocket technology that could take us to the moon, the video technology was totally inadequate to fake this.11 Nevertheless, there are people who believe that the faking was somehow managed. Yet they are totally oblivious to the fact that the video technology of 2016 could easily fake a flat earth! Also, one of the main arguments against the moon landings is that the moon is too far away (384,399 km, 238,854 miles) for rockets to reach. But modern flat-earth models claim that both the sun and moon are only 3,000 miles away, so they undercut their own argument.
Clearly, the Internet easily radicalizes people. It is trivially easy to present someone with a series of things that are obviously true and slip something false into the mix. Pollsters have known for a long time that if you can get someone to answer a series of questions in the affirmative they are more likely to answer “yes” to the one question you really want to ask.12 In today’s world, it is easy to find someone trying to defend just about any opinion you can imagine. Some of these are very professional looking and they provide interesting and often true facts (mixed in with fallacies). But sometimes the arguments seem very complicated and you can’t quite figure out what the person is saying. This makes the presenter look very smart, to the novice, but slick presentations that are just on the edge of understanding actually make it harder to think through the issues.
We have been wondering what is motivating people to go down this road. Some might simply be fooled by the tricky nature of the ‘facts’ being presented. Some might have the conspiratorial idea that ‘science’ equals evolution, so therefore they must reject science in general. Others might have a pseudo-pietistic mindset, that by rejecting science and embracing what they see as the ‘plain’ teachings of the Bible they are being more holy. We saw some of this in our rebuttal of geocentrism. It is as if some people believe that God will bless them more if they embrace really nutty ideas, even when those ideas directly clash with both the Bible and sound logic.
There is a tragic flaw in human psychology. It deals with the trouble people have when presented with facts that are contrary to some belief they hold. People don’t change their mind like they change their socks. No, they usually take a long time to come to a different view. Why? Because they have to think through a number of different issues. In the case of the flat earth, people have been fed a line of false reasoning that takes a while for some people to ‘unthink’. With this in mind, we encourage people to put on their thinking caps and take a serious look at what the Bible and science have to say.
You could probably think up a few bits of supporting evidence for any theory, and that’s one of the difficulties we as people face. But no amount of evidence can prove something. Instead, science is all about falsification. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” For every piece of evidence that seems to point to a flat earth (and there really are not that many), there are many more pieces of evidence that show it cannot be true. Are you trying to figure out if the earth is spherical or flat? We encourage you to think of things that disprove the idea. Likewise, try to think of something that disproves a spherical earth (if you can!).
If the earth is flat, one has to reject mountains of clear observational evidence. From the shadow of the earth on the moon to the fact that people in the northern and southern hemispheres see different stars, none of it can be true. You have to reject experimental science, and nearly all physical science going back centuries. You have to reject Christian scholarship, going back to the beginning of the religion. You have to reject the testimonies of thousands of scientists, and the personal observations of billions of people who happen to live on the other side of the world from you.
Nothing we observe in science contradicts Scripture. Not only that, but Scripture does not teach a flat earth, neither has any serious Christian scholar throughout the entire Christian era. We have written about this several times (see Related Articles, below), pointing out how clear it is that not only is the earth round but that at least for the past 2,000 years no scholar of any repute believed in a flat earth. Still, the question keeps coming up, and more frequently, and from different quarters, thus there was need to address it here.
Watch Dr Henry Richter, Dr Robert Carter, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, and CMI-US CEO Gary Bates discuss flat earth teaching and geocentrism.
Some easy-to-understand main points
CMI—and you, the reader—should be pro-Bible first and foremost, not anti-establishment just for the sake of it. We should oppose the establishment only when it contradicts the Bible.
As a corollary, the creation/evolution issue is about historical science, while the shape of the earth is operational science, which CMI affirms.
The Bible does not teach the flat earth. Atheists and their compromising churchian allies claim this, but in reality, some passages in the Bible lean towards global, and other passages are not teaching anything about the shape of the globe at all.
Despite the widespread myth of Columbus vs. flat-earthers, almost every theologian and scholar throughout church history who commented on the earth’s shape affirmed that it is spherical. So evidently they never saw the Bible as a flat-earth book. So flat-earthism is actually a theological novelty, contrary to almost universal church teaching. So it’s not surprising that the leading flat-earth video makers are anti-Christian.
Things really do disappear piecemeal down the horizon as they are hidden by the earth’s bulge. Seafarers have used the term hull-down for centuries. It was no accident that their lookouts were high on the mast so they could see further past the earth’s curvature, and they knew full well that hills came into view before beaches.
Flat-earth agitprop often shows pictures of things that should be below the horizon. However, these are rare occasions when a large, cool water surface on a warm day produces an inversion layer that curves light around the curve of the water, producing a ‘superior mirage’. Videos of the same scene (which flat-earthers won’t present) show much movement and distortion per a mirage. And at most times, even on the clearest days, you will not see these below-horizon objects.
Anyone who phones or Skypes internationally knows the problem of different time zones. On a global earth, this is easy to understand: the sun shines on some parts of earth, producing daytime; while the other side of the globe is blocked from the sun so is at night.
Jesus affirmed different time zones when He said that His return would be instantaneous, but some people would be asleep at night, others working early in the morning, and still others late in the day.
Modern flat-earthers try to get around this by claiming that the sun is circling over a disk-earth about 3,000 miles above, but:
They must abandon any pretense of taking the Bible straightforwardly, because this has numerous passages about the sun rising and setting. A global geokinetic model can affirm that the sun rises and sets in the earth’s reference frame.
They must ignore simple observations: the sun’s apparent size is almost constant, not getting smaller and smaller as it gets further away, and you can see it disappearing piecemeal over the horizon, just as ships do.
Constellations are very different for the southern and northern hemisphere. On a flat earth, why shouldn’t southern hemisphere dwellers all see Polaris (the ‘North Star‘), but on a globe, the earth gets in the way! Similarly, most northern hemisphere dwellers can’t see the Southern Cross, which is on the flag of several southern countries.
Also, northern hemisphere dwellers observe stars in the north apparently rotating counterclockwise (anticlockwise) around the north celestial pole, while southern hemisphere dwellers sees different constellations rotating clockwise around the south. A flat earth model with the north pole at the centre just doesn’t have any south celestial pole at all!
Every major creationist organization rejects the flat earth idea, and always has. We are all about science, good observational science. Science is not ruled by the majority (or we would still believe in phlogiston!), yet one must walk carefully when they decide to reject common views in science.
CMI absolutely rejects the theory of evolution, but we have done so after carefully scrutinizing both the biblical and scientific records. We did not do this lightly. After critically examining what we can learn through operational science and comparing that to the historical philosophy called evolution, too many lines of evidence point away from evolution and toward biblical creation for us to not accept the latter. In this case, however, the sphericity of the earth is one of the simplest aspects of operational science one could wish for.
References and notes
O’Neill, T., The New Atheist Bad History—Great Myths 1: The Medieval Flat Earth, historyforatheists.blogspot.com, 31 May 2016. We acknowledge this paper for the medieval writers cited here. For an original translation of one source, see The Sphere of Sacrobosco: An early 13th century treatise on astronomy, by Iohannes de Sacrobosco, translated by Lynn Thorndike, 1949, esotericarchives.com. Return to text.
We are using ‘sphere’ for the shape of the earth, even though the sphere is not perfect. It is a good approximation, however, being accurate to one part in 300. The earth is closer to an oblate spheroid, meaning that it’s flattened at the poles. Sir Isaac Newton, a creationist, was the one who first predicted oblateness from the earth’s rotation on its axis. But although the earth’s polar radius is indeed shorter, at 6,356.8 km (3949.9 miles) there is only 21.3 km (13.3 miles) difference. This is a mere 0.3% deviation from a perfect sphere. Scale this down to the size of a ball close to the size of a baseball or cricket ball: if the ball were 6.3781 cm in one radius and 6.3568 cm in a perpendicular radius, one could safely call its shape a ‘globe’ or ‘sphere’. It would take a sharp eye indeed to notice that a ~6½-cm ball bulged a bit in the middle, by merely a fifth of a millimetre. Return to text.
Nicholas of Cusa (Nicholas Cusanus), On learned ignorance (Latin: De docta ignorantia), 1440: “And though the earth is smaller than the sun, as is known to us from its shadow and the eclipses …. Nor is the earth the smallest star, for it is larger than the moon, as we are taught by the experience of the eclipses.” Cited in I. The Sky and the Heavens: Nicholas of Cusa and Marcellus Palingenius, sacred-texts.com. Return to text.
As N.T. Wright is fond of pointing out, whatever Jesus taught, He taught hundreds of times, with minor variations. The Gospels had to be selective about which version they quote; compare John 21:25. Return to text.
CMI has offices in seven English-speaking countries worldwide: Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, UK, South Africa, and Singapore. We are just using these two countries as examples. See our events page to see if there is an event near you, or contact us to request an event in your church. Return to text.
Various village-atheist websites attribute the following words to Magellan: “The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church.” But he never said this, simply because the Church never said the earth is flat! This quote is not found earlier than 1873, by the atheopathic propagandist Robert G. Ingersoll, who probably just made it up. See O’Neill, T., How the Middle Ages Really Were, Huffington Post, 8 November 2014. Return to text.
See: Stamp, M., ISS Commander Returns from Space, Acts and Facts (Institute for Creation Research) 45(9):9, Sep 2016; icr.org/article/9521. Return to text.
There is one strange idea that the earth is hollow. But in that case, most of the earth would be a shadow zone for both types of body waves, which obviously could not pass through any hollow part. Return to text.
This page has clear diagrams and explanations: “Inge Lehmann: Discoverer of the Earth’s Inner Core”, American Museum of Natural History, amnh.org. Return to text.
Heiser, M., Modern flat earth theory exposed, part 1, drmsh.com, 9 September 2016. Return to text.
Collins, S.G., Moon Landings Faked? Filmmaker Says Not! 29 Jan 2013, youtube.com. Return to text.
O’Neill, T., The New Atheist Bad History—Great Myths 1: The Medieval Flat Earth, historyforatheists.blogspot.com, 31 May 2016. We acknowledge this paper for the medieval writers cited here. For an original translation of one source, see The Sphere of Sacrobosco: An early 13th century treatise on astronomy, by Iohannes de Sacrobosco, translated by Lynn Thorndike, 1949, esotericarchives.com.
We are using ‘sphere’ for the shape of the earth, even though the sphere is not perfect. It is a good approximation, however, being accurate to one part in 300. The earth is closer to an oblate spheroid, meaning that it’s flattened at the poles. Sir Isaac Newton, a creationist, was the one who first predicted oblateness from the earth’s rotation on its axis. But although the earth’s polar radius is indeed shorter, at 6,356.8 km (3949.9 miles) there is only 21.3 km (13.3 miles) difference. This is a mere 0.3% deviation from a perfect sphere. Scale this down to the size of a ball close to the size of a baseball or cricket ball: if the ball were 6.3781 cm in one radius and 6.3568 cm in a perpendicular radius, one could safely call its shape a ‘globe’ or ‘sphere’. It would take a sharp eye indeed to notice that a ~6½-cm ball bulged a bit in the middle, by merely a fifth of a millimetre.
Nicholas of Cusa (Nicholas Cusanus), On learned ignorance (Latin: De docta ignorantia), 1440: “And though the earth is smaller than the sun, as is known to us from its shadow and the eclipses …. Nor is the earth the smallest star, for it is larger than the moon, as we are taught by the experience of the eclipses.” Cited in I. The Sky and the Heavens: Nicholas of Cusa and Marcellus Palingenius, sacred-texts.com.
As N.T. Wright is fond of pointing out, whatever Jesus taught, He taught hundreds of times, with minor variations. The Gospels had to be selective about which version they quote; compare John 21:25.
CMI has offices in seven English-speaking countries worldwide: Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, UK, South Africa, and Singapore. We are just using these two countries as examples. See our
Various village-atheist websites attribute the following words to Magellan: “The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church.” But he never said this, simply because the Church never said the earth is flat! This quote is not found earlier than 1873, by the
See: Stamp, M., ISS Commander Returns from Space, Acts and Facts (Institute for Creation Research) 45(9):9, Sep 2016; icr.org/article/9521.
There is one strange idea that the earth is hollow. But in that case, most of the earth would be a shadow zone for both types of body waves, which obviously could not pass through any hollow part.
This page has clear diagrams and explanations: “Inge Lehmann: Discoverer of the Earth’s Inner Core”, American Museum of Natural History, amnh.org.
Heiser, M., Modern flat earth theory exposed, part 1, drmsh.com, 9 September 2016.
Dr Carter, Dr Sarfati, God bless you both infinitely! Your timing couldn't be better. France is one such country where the flat earth theory is gaining strength and being advertised by French evangelical Christians on Facebook (and it's hardly any wonder since France is rife with conspiracy theories, being aggressively pushed by antisemitic pseudo-intellectuals who believe that Jews are in an evil plot to infiltrate every sphere of power and conquer the world with the help of the CIA, the Illuminati, the reptilians, the ETs and the Nephilim). With the amount of information in this article, I'm confident I'll be able to lay this flat-earth folly to rest at my humble scale.
Robert Carter responds
You are more than welcome! However, although you may be able to demonstrate the sphericity of the earth to yourself, it may not be easy to convince a flat-earther. They have been fed a lot of misinformation, so before hitting them with all the evidence, try to engage them with questions like "How does science work?" This might be a good way to introduce the fact that science is about disproving things. Then, all you have to do is throw in a few disproofs of flat-earthism. May God bless your efforts!
Kevin H., New Zealand, 13 September 2016
Anyone who thinks the world is flat is not thinking logically. In New Zealand if we fly to the western seaboard of the USA we arrive there before we leave NZ, due to crossing the International Date Line.
Jon S., South Africa, 13 September 2016
When I was young I saw a television show that claimed that Christianity is anti-technology. I was very sad by this as I loved both the Bible and technology. It took me a few years of reading the Bible to realize this was not the case.
So often new atheist claim that Bible literalist are anti-science, I wonder how many Christians are fooled by this lie and thus reject all of science and not just "macro" evolution (not that the latter is science).
Norm M., Australia, 13 September 2016
I fully understand that you wont publish this comment, but why dont you just show us some curved water, then all of us silly flat earth christians, who have the courage to take the scripture as it is written will go away. Ships over the horizon, NASA and the ISS, god grief, this article was pathetic, and you two should get out of the ministry.
Robert Carter responds
Why would you think we would not publish this comment? We really only filter out profanity and comments that have nothing to do with the subject (these are often answered via e-mail).
Curved water?! Perhaps you did not actually read the article? We clearly explained that the horizon is flat because when you look at it you are seeing a tangential slice out of a spherical object. Hence the horizon is a flat circle. We also clearly explained that when you look in a straight line the bulge ("curve") gets in the way of distant objects.
I submit that you are not taking Scripture 'the way it is written', but are making a mockery out of language in general, direct observational science, logic, and the testimony of the Scriptures themselves. I would point you to numerous articles on creation.com that deal with multiple facets of your reasoning, but I am afraid that you would not read them, so deep is your faith in this poorly-reasoned hypothesis. But, if you are a reader, start with the Related Articles and Further Reading lists at the end of the article.
Timothy H., New Zealand, 13 September 2016
I do not believe this article was written in the correct spirit, and includes several derogatory terms which attempt to belittle any one from even daring to question the status quo.
The flatness of the Earth is exercising many people's minds, not because people are being deluded or deceived, but because there are compelling reasons to doubt we live on a globe. This article was poor because it did not give any credence to the many sound arguments for flatness, and made no effort to admit to the problems for the globe model.
Sitting on Napier beach it is very easy to see the 53 miles across Hawkes Bay to Mahia Peninsula, and only the bottom 100 metres of that 400 metre high landmass is not visible. The curvature of the Earth over 53 miles is in the order of 1800 feet and the maximum height of Mahia is 1300 feet. No appeal to refraction or mirage can explain seeing such a landmass from such a distance.
It is simple personal observations like this which drive this subject on, and the appeals your authors make to largely theoretical proofs or remote proofs which cannot be personally verified, cannot overcome what the normal unbiased individual experiences firsthand.
I have personally measured the moon's diameter as it moves across the sky and it does not stay the same. Your assertion the moon and sun do not change does not bear out to be true. People are doing as I am and are discovering for themselves truths that are denied by 'science falsely so called'.
Ships do not disappear over a curve, that is poppycock. They disappear from view as visual acuity causes the image to merge into the apparent horizon.
The authors should be more humble, and less defensive of the same science community that perpetrates the evolution lie. Before that came heliocentrism don't forget.
Robert Carter responds
I stand corrected! In the article we say "mostly northern hemisphere" when talking about people who believe in a flat earth. I added "mostly" after Dr. Sarfati, who is from the Southern Hemisphere, made the comment that this belief is found among inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere. We were apparently wrong, for here is a New Zealander supporting the idea.
Were we sarcastic? Yes. In fact, the tone of the article was quite different from my normal writing style and we used terminology that pulled no punches (i.e. "mendacious").
Did we give credence to the many arguments for flatness? No. Why not? As we explained, science is not about proving things. It is a negative process that attempts to disprove things. No amount of "proof" can ever prove something. Yet a single contrary factoid can bring the most robust scientific theory to the ground.
Does your example work? First you admit that the bottom portion of the land is not visible. That is a tacit admission that the earth is curved. Instead of the entire landmass looking very tiny, you can't see the bottom portion. Second, the only way you could see this if your distances and heights are correct (note, I did not look up the geometry of Hawkes Bay) diffraction and bending of light must be in play. Visual acuity? Have you ever heard of a telescope? My friend, you have been duped.
And, yes, first came heliocentrism. See our article arguing against geocentrism that appeared just last week.
P. Z., Australia, 13 September 2016
I admit to being one of those Christians influenced by Flat Earth (FE) teaching, and I actually WANT to believe in the globe and would actually sincerely love it if you guys could "reconvert me". The article you wrote was quite convincing, yet there are still questions;
1) How do satellites and the ISS survive in the thermosphere which is 2,000 C ? How do these dissipate heat if the vaccuum around them is the perfect insulator (Vaccuum flasks work on this principle of perfect insulation)?
2) Why are planes completely unaffected by the fact that the equator underneath them is spinning at faster than the speed of sound in one direction? (Snipers take into account the earth's spin, but planes:never. I have been a pilot)
3) You did not mention the curverture formula for the globe; 8 inches squared per mile at equator, then increasing to 10-11 inches squared per mile the further north (or south) you go and measuring along the lattitude. I like the photo you published, proving curvature, but reluctant FE believers (like me) like Rob Skiba and Brian Mullin on you tube, repeatedly show this mathematical equation for a sphere is "disobeyed" by our planet.
As Brian Mullin says in his videos "I don't know what this world is anymore", I am also confused, although your article has made the issue clearer than it was before for me, I am still concerned about the above anomalies. God bless.
Robert Carter responds
First, THANK YOU for being willing to be persuaded. You fall in with the Noble Bereans, which is a good thing.
1) How do satellites survive (a) in the thermosphere and (b) when it is so hot? (a) The thermosphere is a layer in the atmosphere. Satellites are not in the atmosphere. They are above it. This is why they do not plummet to the ground. If they were in the atmosphere, friction would slow them quickly. There is a minute amount of friction in space, however, and it increases as altitude decreases (because there is not a hard line between the edge of the atmosphere and outer space). This is why old satellites slowly spiral down to eventually burn up in the atmosphere. (b) Yes, a vacuum is a very good insulator. The reason for this is that two of the three forms of heat transfer (conduction and convection) are neutralized. However, radiation is not. Radiation works just fine in a vacuum. Note also that sunlight, even though it is very "hot", only comes from one direction in space. It is simple enough to put up a heat shield to reflect most of that light back into space. It is also simple to set up a radiator to get rid of the absorbed heat (through radiation).
If we could park a ship in the thermosphere, the heat load would be a tremendous problem, for we could not keep it cool. Yet, since satellites are not "in" the atmosphere, the temperature question is moot.
[readers note: I misread the question at first, but went back and corrected my mistake and changed this answer. If you happened to read this comment within the first 10 minutes of me posting it you would have read something very different. My apologies to all.][Note #2: Even worse, my corrected answer was still wrong. Please see the comment from Arend K on 19 Sep 2016. The ISS is indeed within the thermosphere. However, the gas density is so low that the heat transfer from the high-temperature molecules is very low.]
2) Planes are not moving fast enough to be affected by the Coriolis force. Atmospheric drag is enough to keep them from moving sideways. They are not "uncoupled" from the atmosphere within which they are flying. Plus, they are always aiming to stay on course, so the slight pull of Coriolis is negligible compared to the local turbulence with which pilots constantly wrestle. This is the same reason people do not experience internal tides. The tidal force within a person is less than the diameter of an atom. It is only on a planetary scale that you see a significant tide. It is only on the macro scale (large size or high velocity) that Coriolis applies to moving objects.
3) As we pointed out, the earth is not a perfect sphere. It is an oblate spheroid, squished at the poles due to the fact that the entire mass of the earth is rotating around them. The mathematical equation for "roundness" is not disobeyed anywhere.
All that said, I would encourage you to explore the issue for yourself. There are pitfalls into which many people fall, however, so be careful. The first and foremost problem is that most people do not set up an experiment correctly. Experiments fall into three categories:
1) Type A, in which a measurement will support one idea and at the same time contradict the other. These are hard to come by.
2) Type B, in which a measurement will support one idea but not negate the other. This is the most common type of experiment and many a scientist has been frustrated by this fact. The problem here is that many people think that if they find something that supports their idea they do not realize that it does not disprove the alternate idea.
3) Type C, in which a measurement does nothing to help resolve the issue. This type is more common than you may think.
May God bless you with a clear mind as you try to discern the nature of the universe He created!
Robert B., United States, 13 September 2016
Your observation: "There is a tragic flaw in human psychology." is dismally true.
It seems that most people are very reluctant to entertain that ANY belief they hold may be error. A prior pastor of mine was convinced of the "Gap Theory" by his Scofield Bible. Being taught that belief through a very doctrinaire catechism was a prerequisite to be in any sort of ministry in his charismatic mega-church. Not all church members agreed with him but all were taught it. I feel the nonsensical aspects of that doctrine undermined many of those church member's faith..
Over the years I have seen many other examples of what I term, "Institutionalized Error"
For a while, I corresponded directly with Duane Gish and Henry Morris in vain attempts to end their fondness for citing The Second Law of Thermodynamics to disprove evolution. They were two Phd scientists in the physical sciences who should have known better than to conflate Thermodynamic Entropy with Information Theory Entropy but they didn't. Morris even asserted in print in several books that the Second Law began with the fall of man!
I guess your observation that the internet is partly to blame is right too. There is so much Junk out there and with most people apparently, the first idea in gets locked into their minds. Would that more people delighted in having their minds changed by a better idea!
We know from history that holding the majority view is no protection from error. A pessimistic corollary to that is:
"Almost everyone is fundamentally wrong about something important"
It would have been way more interesting if you took the time to refute the flat earth arguments.
Instead it is obvious that you have not studied what the most well known flat earthers really believe, resulting in that you have mainly raised up straw men arguments (ideas which the current flat earthers do not have). It doesn't even look like you know how their flat earth map looks like, since you brought up the argument about circumnavigating the earth - which they too believe is possible and factual. And the sun going UNDER the earth? Which flat earthers believe that? Since you have not studied their arguments, flat earthers will continue to be flat earthers until you refute them based on their arguments.
Even if I don't agree with much of the content myself (or the world views of the makers) I can recommend "flat earth clues" to see their arguments:
[link deleted per feedback rules]
The moon hoax is a separate issue (it's possible to believe it's a hoax even if you don't believe in a flat earth), and I can recommend "A funny thing happened on the way to the moon" where Bart Sibrel PROVES that going half way to the moon was faked, and also this link showing more fake NASA photos than you count:
[link deleted per feedback rules]
Another option is of course to avoid reading stuff from the opponents and continue raising straw men arguments. Much like the evolutionists do when it comes to creationism.
Robert Carter responds
First, as we clearly indicated, there is more than one "flat earth" model. We are dealing with people who hold to multiple versions.
Second, we could have written pages and pages of careful analysis of multiple (false) claims made by flat earthers, but why would we? All it takes is ONE thing that cannot be explained and any theory can come crashing down.
Take a look at the phlogiston link at the end of the article. The greatest scientific theory of the age, one with myriad supporting evidences, one held firmly by the great majority of scientists, one that was the confirmed consensus of the intelligent world, came crashing down after just a few points were raised by only a few people.
The same is true of the flat earth idea. All it takes is ONE thing that cannot be explained. But there are many things that it cannot explain. Our main contention is that it violates the laws of motion, gravity, optics, and logic. There is no reason to go further than this.
Joseph M., United Kingdom, 13 September 2016
There is no need for testimonies of thousands of scientists else you fall foul of the majority fallacy. If the earth is flat at some point you must reach the edge. If you are on a plane above the clouds and you reach the edge, looking downward and backwards would presented a totally different and unique view from looking forward. In this day and age we have digital cameras that can show the changed viewpoint. So, all that's needed is for a flat earther to book a trip on an airplane sitting next to the window and travel to the edge of the earth in the airplane, with two fully charged batteries for the digital camera.
To date, I have never seen any photo or video of this unique view, from the millions/billions of travelers (of which some maybe old earther's) who account for billions of miles traveled. So the observational evidence should be there if the earth is flat. What concerns me more is an attempt to link the 6,000 - 10,000 age (which is historical) to flat earth (which is observational). This article is more important than CMI realizes, because it refutes fallacious straw-man and appeal to authority arguments to discredit creation.
Robert Carter responds
Excellent point, with the exception that we are not appealing to the opinions of thousands of scientists but the observations of thousands of scientists. Thus, we really are not risking falling into the majority fallacy. We don't care what those scientists believe about how the world works. Rather we care about the observations made by so many people over so much time, and the fact that these observations point clearly away from a flat earth. This is enough to convince us (individually) that the world is indeed spherical. We can only hope to point others in the same direction.
Lester V., United States, 13 September 2016
As a retired US Air Force navigator, I flew the E/KC-135 aircraft. We frequently used celestial navigation to determine our position. When performing the calculations for observing a series of stars (to "triangulate" our position), I had to adjust my figures to compensate for the Coriolis effect. I point this out simply to correct your statement that "planes are not moving fast enough to be affected by the Coriolis force." Today, virtually all aircraft use computers and GPS to determine their position and navigate, making "old-fashioned" methods of celestial navigation obsolete.
Robert Carter responds
Fair enough. Thank you for the lesson!
David W., United States, 13 September 2016
I have a question about the article and some of the comments. I live in Ohio, about 50 minutes south of Lake Erie. When I go up in a light house and look north to Canada, I (and all of my family) believe that I can actually see the curvature of the earth as the horizon does appear to curve from east to west. So are we really not seeing this? Is this just an illusion based on the fact that we believe that the earth is a sphere?
Note that from these old light houses, you cannot see Canada, thus further proving that the earth is round.
Robert Carter responds
If you are looking at the horizon, the earth should not curve from left to right. I cannot say what you are seeing, but something tells me you are making an assumption about what should be seen. Next time, take a ruler with you and hold it up in front of your eyes. That should show you that the horizon is indeed flat.
Doug L., United States, 13 September 2016
I have to laud Doctors Carter and Sarfati for their AMAZING patience in dealing with two idiotic ideas: geocentrism and flat earth. I would have dismissed them both under the advice of Solomon to not answer a fool according to his folly. It's appalling that any Christian would believe this nonsense.
I suppose I can be philosophical though. The issue does have one positive aspect to it. The arguments for a FE depend on technical sounding jargon (gobbledygook in reality) which the average person isn't equipped to verify. I mean you get into questions of spherical geometry, etc. So this puts the person into the same position as the Christian who believes in a young Earth. The Christian has to accept arguments from YEC scientists even though he has no real way of verifying their truth.
So the FE'ers are deciding to rely on people they have chosen to respect, just like the average Christian who accepts a young Earth and creation. I would expect a Christian to have better judgement than to listen to a charlatan (we do have the Holy Spirit) but life isn't always that simple and sometimes I think God lets us go through periods of following the wrong people in order to eventually sharpen our discernment.
I don't think that good arguments like you made in the article will dissuade many FE'ers but I know we can't just sit by and say nothing. I have to believe that the FE thing is spearheaded by atheists who are intentionally trying to make Christians look like fools and cause others of us to be distracted dealing with it. Pointed articles like these should be sufficient. In the long run this nonsense will hopefully die its own death.
Robert Carter responds
The Christians who believe this, by and large, do so because superficially the text describes a flat earth and a geocentric universe. They struggle with what they see as the 'plain meaning' even though the plain meaning is often contradicted by other places in the Scripture or influenced by the prevailing scientific views of the day (e.g. "firmament" vs "expanse"). I am being as patient as I can be because I don't want to see my brothers and sisters enmeshed in bad exegesis.
I also don't want people to be deceived by charlatans, and many of the proponents of these alternative views are nothing more than trouble makers. There are some who genuinely believe it, however, but sorting them out is impossible.
As far as trusting creationist scientists, yes, there is some degree of trust involved. Yet, we try as hard as we can to distill most everything down to an 8th grade level (that way even the scientists can understand what we are saying!). Almost everything we say and write can be validated because we also try to avoid arguments from authority. But we are imperfect.
Bridget M., United States, 13 September 2016
I agree with the author that it is sad indeed when such an article is a necessary defense, and even more sad to me that there are Christians who are embracing and propagating such erroneous ideas. In the hostile world that we live in today, we Creationists are mocked and accused by the secular media and evolutionary community as practicing pseudo-science and cherry picking scientific evidence to support our beliefs; I think it becomes that much more difficult to present our case as reasonable and rational when there are those out there who attach such misguided beliefs to the Christian name! It unfortunately gives a wealth of ammunition to the enemies of Christ.
I first ran into someone who accepted a flat earth idea several years ago at a Bible study; she took the Bible literally word for word (instead of reading it in context), and challenged me to explain why it said the sun rose and set. But as was explained to Narindra, even though I could give her a clear explanation, it was obvious that she thought I was simply blinded to the truth.
Its almost impossible to reason with someone when they have molded their worldview to accept false premises. When they only have a vague grasp of the complicated ideals behind the science, they become even more susceptible to false teaching, especially when it is presented in a convincing manner.
I'm dealing with that right now with my roommate. she accepts many conspiracy theories, political and spiritual, because of "evidence" she has seen on the internet and read in books, precisely because she doesn't have a clear understanding of science. Unfortunately, because it dovetails into her views about God and the spiritual, it makes it nearly impossible to get her to consider clear evidence to the contrary such as found here at CMI.
J W., United States, 13 September 2016
On a sphere model the earth has a diameter of about 8000 miles giving us a circumference of about 25000 miles which we can confirm. If we were to measure the distance along the curve of the earth from pole to pole then the diameter of a flat earth would be about 25000 miles making the circumference around the edge about 78000 miles.
Being that our degrees of longitude converge at the poles on a sphere the furthest distance between them is at the equator at about 70 miles apart. And we can confirm this 70 times 360 equals our 25000 mile circumference.
If we were working in a FE model then the lines of longitude would be converged on the North Pole but would fan out all the way to the edges. With a 78000 mile circumference a degree of longitude would be equal to about 220 miles at the edge. At our 45 degree South latitude (which would actually be 22.5 degrees on a flat earth being there are only 90 degrees between the pole and edge in a hemisphere) 1 degree of longitude would equal about 155 miles where in reality it equals about 50 miles.
Seems like someone in Argentina would have noticed a 100 mile discrepancy in every map every map we have. I'm not exactly sure how a pilot can plan fuel for a flight that calls for 150 miles and still make it to the destination at 450 miles.
But I've used this argument and it turns out that maps are part of the conspiracy too. Even though the lines of longitude are based on the sun's movement of 15 degrees per hour. You can't really give an argument good enough to disprove the FE to someone who really wants to believe it.
Robert Carter responds
You have just given me another spherical earth argument: no matter where you are on the globe, the sun moves about 15 degrees per hour. If the sun were circling above a flat earth, it would appear to move more slowly to people on the inside of the track than on the outside. As far as your numbers are concerned, it's hard to win someone over with math. Their eyes glaze over much too quickly.
Donato D., Canada, 13 September 2016
There is only one map projection that shows an accurate description of a globe earth on a flat plane and it is the Fuller Projection invented by Buckminster Fuller and completed in 1954 but very few people are interested in learning about it. Fuller saw the problem of representing a sphere earth on a flat plane and came about inventing the map like "peeling an orange". The projection is from the centre of the earth going out omnidirectionally where all land masses are represented without any visible distortion. [link deleted per feedback rules]
Robert Carter responds
While the Fuller projection certainly minimizes distortion, it does not eliminate it. Fuller was brilliant, but all he did was project the earth onto an icosahedron. Dividing up the landmasses into multiple projection areas reduced overall distortion, but each section still has issues (as do all 2D projections of our 3D sphere of an earth). Sadly, very few people are interested in learning about cartography in general. However, I have seen a map of human migration based on mitochondrial DNA using something very similar.
Richard L., United Arab Emirates, 13 September 2016
As others have previously pointed out, Jesus (indirectly) weighs in on this issue. Regarding Luke 17 and Mt. 24 regarding the return of Christ, and combining the details, Christ's return is associated with (1) people asleep in bed (nighttime), (2) women grinding at the mill (very early morning, getting ready to make the bread for the day), and (3) people in the field (full daytime)... i.e., time zones! And time zones are only possible with a curved earth, cutting across lines of longitude.
Tom G., Australia, 13 September 2016
My brother who is a surveyor says its quite simple to show the earth is not flat with a simple hand held instrument called an inclinometer.(I think that's what he called it)
leon R., United States, 13 September 2016
I don't understand how creationists can ignore scientific facts when deciding that the earth is only 6000 years old (when science proves that it is in fact 4543000000 years old) yet when they want to disprove the flat earth theory, they use scientific principles to do so. This seems inconsistent to me. I personally believe that the bible cannot be used as a science textbook for 2 reasons:
Reason 1: The Bible was written by man, not God. Man is not perfect, and man was not there when God created the universe. I believe that God explained creation to early humans in terms that they would understand. The calendar did not exist for a very long time, and concepts like years or decades were unknown to humans. We did not even understand how long days were. God wanted people to understand what he was telling them, not confuse them with words that would go right over their heads.
Reason 2: I personally believe that Adam and Eve were not taking notes about their lives. Even if Moses wrote genesis, he would be writing based on that which others told him.
I'm sorry if this comes off as me being disparaging towards your beliefs, and I understand that you probably won't post this. If you decide not to post this, I would like you to explain your beliefs to me in an email. My goal is to learn as much as I can, not to attack other people's beliefs.
Robert Carter responds
Thanks for writing in and thanks for being willing to learn. Let me address your concerns as briefly as I can.
First of all, you used the word "prove". This indicates that you do not really understand how science works. Refer to the discussion section in the article that describes how science cannot prove anything (and read the links).
Second, you have a four significant figures in the supposed age of the earth. That's pretty amazing, considering the arguing going on among secular geologists and how much I have seen that number change even in my own lifetime. How old is the earth? That is a matter of historical science, not operational science.
Third, if you read our Statement of Faith, you will see that we start off with the belief that the Bible was written by men (and a few women) through direct inspiration of God. So yes, it was 'penned' by man, but not truly 'written' by them. This would take too much time to explain, so go to the link.
Fourth, God did not accommodate error. See The Bible and hermeneutics. It would have been trivial to say "a very long period of time happened" at any place in Genesis, and there are multiple ways to say such in Hebrew. But none of those constructions are used. It would also have been trivial to say, "Oh, by the way, the earth is a sphere." (oh, wait, He did, but not in Genesis).
Calendars and their development: see the discussion in The biblical minimum and maximum age of the earth. The length of a day was irrelevant, at first. It simply was. Yet, it would not have taken long to figure out lunar months, seasons, and years.
Adam and Eve were not taking notes? Actually, the structure of Genesis reads like a series of eyewitness accounts that were then edited to make a single text. Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all apparent authors. I wish I could point you to the relevant section (pp. 17-22) in The Genesis Account, but here is an older article on the topic: Structure, toledoths, and the source of Genesis.
Brian G., United States, 14 September 2016
What I have noticed in Christian Apologetics is there is always alot of "The Bible says..." spoken definitely while "The Bible" never has any definitive statements that cannot be adjusted to protect it from being falsified at a later date.
It's really very easy to see with plain reading The Bible, only supports Young Earth Creation no evolution and a stationary Earth neither spinning nor moving (other than earthquakes) that is not a sphere and some sort of flat plane (like the Orlando Ferguson map) The Sun and the moon are two great lights that give separate light and the stars are just other lights described almost as if an afterthought. These were placed in the firmament.(plain reading of Bibles)
The Bible doesn't allow for NASA astronauts to visit "the moon" and the Tower of Babel makes no sense at all other than with a Geocentric Flat plane Earth with a dome like a snowglobe type deal.
In the Heliocentric cosmos Jesus ascending into heaven is like a caricature because there is no "up" for him to ascend to heck that doesn't even make sense in the Geocentricity model that is atleast acknowledging Joshua's long day and approx 199 other stationary earth verses.
At this point Christian Apologetics organizations arguing against the Geocentric Stationary Flat Earth model and arguing for a spinning ball earth heliocentric model are just refuting their own Bibles whether KJV or Hebrew/Aramaic Greek
The Holy Bible (any version any language) does not support a spinning ball earth or even a ball earth at all any more than it would support Billions of years millions of years ape men and evolution.
It's obvious whoever wrote the words claimed to be Jesus in no way thought stars were Suns!
Robert Carter responds
Though this is not a forum to get into the details of these claims, readers can find answers to just about every point on creation.com. The major idea here is that the "plain reading" indicates a very non-scientific view. However, we have pointed out numerous times that the "plain" reading is often ambiguous, many times poetic, and sometimes based on less-than-accurate translation. Also, what seems "plain" in one reference may be qualified in another to show that the real meaning is not what only a cursory glance indicates. Since most of the criticisms here are textual (instead of scientific) start with our Bible Q&A.
R. C., Canada, 14 September 2016
As someone who believes the Bible passionately and, as a result, believes in both Creation and a Flat Earth, I was eager to read this CMI article. I was searching for the authors’ use of the scripture to prove their belief in a Globe Earth (just like CMI does for Creation), but sadly did not find it. Starting the article off with Prov 18:17 does nothing to prove or disprove the theory of a Globe Earth and seems more like an effort in smoke and mirrors. Making reference to Luke 17:34–35 and Matt 24:40 in relation to time zones also does nothing to prove the Globe model since the Flat Earth model is compatible with time zones, perhaps illustrating the authors' lack of understanding of the Flat Earth model.
As if to highlight the difference in how they arrived at their opposition to both Evolution and a Flat Earth model, I find it terribly sad that the last paragraph of the article says: “…carefully scrutinizing both the biblical and scientific records…” (in reference to only Evolution), but yet says only this in the final sentence: “…the sphericity of the earth is one of the simplest aspects of operational science one could wish for" (clearly no need to put biblical window dressing around that final thought CMI - an honest acknowledgement?).
As someone who agrees with and deeply appreciates much of the great work CMI does on the Creation front, I was truly disappointed in the approach to this entire article. I believe that science does indeed support a flat earth model, but most importantly, I believe that scripture does as well. I find that the absence of (any relevant) scripture in this article very troubling and telling. (Try looking at this long list of scripture if you want to challenge the Globe view with the Bible: [link deleted per feedback rules])
Robert Carter responds
The reason we did not cite many scriptures is because this has already been done. See the list of related articles in the Further Reading section at the end of the main article.
The flat earth belief is not scientific. That is, it is not a predictive engine. The belief has its origin solely in (bad) readings of certain passages of the Bible and is egged on by non-believers and their crafty presentations.
Here's a challenge for you: take your evidence and compare it to the evidence for a spherical earth. Find those things that cannot be true in both models. Once you do that, you will see that the flat earth, despite whatever ad-hoc model has been developed in recent years, falls flat on its face.
You say you believe in a flat earth because the Bible teaches it? Then you stand against 2000 years of Christian scholarship, with one or two exceptions that you, as a Bible-believer, would not trust on other grounds. This goes back to the beginning of our religion, so has nothing to do with evolution, modern skepticism, or even the rise of geokinetic theory in the Middle Ages.
Timothy H., New Zealand, 14 September 2016
Refraction cannot explain the appearance of Mahia Peninsula at such a distance, and you clearly do not understand perspective and the vanishing point.
We live on a globe but you cannot demonstrate curvature except by the lame ship over the horizon nonsense. The sun is 93 million miles away yet it does shrink as it sets when it should not, and the moon does likewise. I think I have disproved the globe according to your arrogant logic. No I have not been duped, how dare you use such a term. You are behaving just like the atheistic scientists behave towards you for daring to question evolution. I am not going to argue with one so entrenched in normal science, and one who blindly accepts what he is told without question.
Robert Carter responds
Yes, refraction can indeed explain the evidence, as can the fact that on most days you cannot see the things over the horizon even with the best telescopes, and even when you have the best visibility possible. To see what you are seeing, it takes a specific situation where the temperature of the various air layers is such that the light bends around the curvature of the earth. I assume you believe in the laws of refraction and optics.
If the sun were 93 million miles away, the difference in distance from noon to sunset would be just greater than the radius of the earth (using the Pythagorean Theorem). Since this represents a fraction of a percent difference, there should be not change in the size of the sun throughout the course of a day on a spherical earth. In modern flat-earth models, the sun is close to the earth and so would change in size as time progresses. YOU must answer the data, not me.
You say the 'ship over the horizon' problem is lame. But it is the simplest and most elegant argument against your ideas. And it is not just ships, but headlands, buildings, mountains, islands, beaches, in fact anything that is at any distance. Thus, you are refusing to engage in a real discussion.
Bill E., United States, 14 September 2016
To those questioning flat earth, here's another experiment. Take an exercise ball approx 30 inches in diameter. Take a picture from the surface looking out to the horizon as close as you can get to the ball while still seeing the horizon of the ball. Measure the height of the lens. Determine the scale height of the lens given the ball is a scale earth. My digital camera can get as close as a scale 400 miles off the surface of the earth. The picture looks approximately like the pictures showing the curvature of the earth from the International Space Station. What this demonstrates is that even on a small spherical object, the horizon can look extremely flat if you get close to the surface.
Next suggestion: If the earth curves at a rate of 8 inches per mile squared, it would be a good exercise for someone to create a web site that demonstrates this so we could get a feel for what it actually looks like. Such web sites exist to show the size of the solar system.
Third point: Flat earth folks give excuses for southern hemisphere long distance flights. They can't explain with any sense of reasonableness why a flight from Sydney to Bueos Ares consistently flies a globe earth distance in a globe earth timeframe on a globe earth flight path with a standard passenger jet. On a flat earth, this flight would be longer by an amount far exceeding any explainable variations in plane speeds or other variations. A discussion on this issue on the flat earth society web site quickly dissolved into excuse making. Thanks for the article!
Robert Carter responds
Note: the website mentioned already does exist. More than one, in fact.
Martin K., Canada, 14 September 2016
This theory of flat-earth has found new life in the hearts of people looking for something new to believe in. The internet is just the perfect medium to dispense this confusion upon the world. The person or persons who started this will of course remain in the shadows. I do see a trend in that some people actively look for something outside the norm and they pump themselves up to be new and fresh and better than their forefathers.
This is an excellent article and I will forward it to my teacher and student friends. Thank you
Philip R., Australia, 14 September 2016
To quote Charlie Brown, "Good grief!"
I have a web-and-telephone-based meeting tomorrow evening after work with colleagues in York, England. It's scheduled for after work my time but before work their time. Supposedly. Are they part of the conspiracy, and they are inconveniencing me just to maintain this conspiracy?
And isn't this flat-Earth idea rather hemispherist? Why is it that the North Pole is in the centre of this flat Earth and the South Pole is non-existent or actually a ring right around the Earth? Why can't it be the South Pole that's in the middle? I claim discrimination!
(And p.s.: although I've seen it several times before, the Yes Prime Minister sketch is brilliant, and worth watching again.)
Edgar N., Canada, 14 September 2016
How I became a flat earth believer
I refused to look into the flat earth theory thinking as you that this was utter nonsense until I read Dr Micheal Heisiers article clearly delineating that the Bible and all the cosmologies of ancient civilizations were clearly a flat earth with a dome over the earth. So I thought if this is so maybe I should investigate the matter and question all things as the scriptures admonish us to. I then watched a YouTube video by p brane that demonstrated the operation of the sun and moon over a flat earth and how perspective works in observing the world around us. This was an a ha moment for me for I quickly realized the monumental lie we have been indoctrinated in for the last 500 years. Just as your ministry recognizes the lie of evolution and the age of the earth is not billions of years old and the Big Bang is a lie so you need to now recognize that the the universe is not as big as they are telling us the sun and moon are not nearly as big nor as far away as they are telling us and we are not spinning on our axis and orbiting the sun and the universe is not expanding at unbelievable rates of speed.
Please recognize that you to with all your credentialed education have been indoctrinated into this monumental lie called the heliocentric world view.
If you are truly open to honest scientific inquiry I would challenge you to a public online debate with someone fully knowledgable on the flat earth concept.
Robert Carter responds
Actually, it is not the last 500 years but the last 2000 years that Christians have believed the earth is round. You did read the article, right? We cited enough scholars to make our case.
As far as the heliocentric "worldview" (sic) is concerned, see our articles on geocentrism, one of which was published just last week (links in the main article above).
I do not care what other pagan religions believed way back when. The Bible stands out, and stands against them. They also believed in many gods (the Bible says there is but one). They also believed they could get to heaven on their own merits (the Bible says you can only get to Heaven if you are forgiven). They had different models of origins, usually involving a pantheon of Gods (the Bible says the one God that exists created the heavens and the earth by fiat, exercising nothing but His divine wisdom and power).
Yes, there are statements in the Bible that, if taken out of context or without consulting other verses, might contradict geokinetics and a spherical earth. But, as we pointed out clearly, no Christian scholar (with a couple of exceptions that you would probably accuse as being heretics on other grounds) supported a flat earth throughout the history of our religion. How can you say, then, that the Bible teaches a flat earth? If it is so clear then how did our forebears miss this fact? Consult the Related Articles at the end of the main article for the textual and historic details.
Dan M., United States, 14 September 2016
I can't believe this subject produced so many comments, especially from the pro flat earthers! I also can't believe we still have to educate on this issue in the 21st century!
I believe this is proof, that in the 20th century the masses have been conditioned through false education to regurgitate what to think and not how to think. I see this form of intellectual sedentary life style in my own country and I imagine it's just as bad in others. Get your information from several sources and then sit down and reason it out, (Occam's razor is a good method).
Of Course the earth is round as stated in both Job and Isaiah and proven through modern observations. As stated in the article Modern physics and the very laws of gravity wouldn't work if it weren't so. The planets must be spheres!
I agree with your statement that the internet is a dangerous place to glean your information if you don't know how to separate the grain from the chaff, so to speak.
Keep up the good work CMI!
Tony D., United States, 14 September 2016
This article is very disheartening. Many arguments made are from a heliocentric viewpoint, in which one assumes the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth. There is a plethora of evidence to conclude otherwise; one can do the research himself. All the arguments will have no impact on one who is educated in flat earth. This seems to be knee jerk reaction, with little to no research done; which is the typical and understandable reaction to the flat earth. However, the Bible is clearly a flat earth document. We as Believers have to stop trying to make the Bible fit science; the Bible is the Truth; science fits the Bible. Science today has become scientism. Satan is the father of lies, if he could convince a third of the angels to rebel against God, don't you think he can deceive mankind? He fooled Adam and Eve before the fall; you and I are easy. The reason the flat earth is becoming so popular right now is simple; there is in awakening, the Holy Spirit is revealing the truth in preparation for the Lord's return. The Earth is flat, if you believe otherwise, I understand; it wasn't too long ago I believed the lie of the globe. However, I pray the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to any Believer who reads this post. Peace to you and God Bless.
Robert Carter responds
The heliocentric viewpoint is not based on the assumption that the sun is 93 million miles away. Actually, the earth was believed to be a sphere thousands of years ago, so the sun-distance does not even enter into the discussion. In fact, geocentrism was believed both before and after people realized how far away the sun was. True, an accurate measurement was not made until people rejected geocentrism, but simple math tells us it is far away indeed (read the article). Yet, the same process that leads to the determination of the distance to the sun leads to the simple conclusion that the earth is indeed spherical. This is also supported biblically, as we pointed out and as the Related Articles detail.
If you find this disheartening, then I would encourage you to re-examine the scriptures to see whether or not they, in fact, teach that the earth is flat. We say they do not. Read the Related Articles.
You believe the popularity of flat-earthism is due to an awakening? We believe it is due to growing deception. Therein lies the difference. You say I believe in the lie of the globe? Actually, I have experienced the globality of the earth with my own eyes, having traveled and explored much of the surface of this planet of ours. Be like Thomas and see it for yourself. But when you do see it, be honest like Thomas and accept the facts as they are.
Brian G., United States, 15 September 2016
You guys may believe the earth is a spinning sphere but that belief is for certain not shared by whoever was the author of The Bible
Isaiah 22:18 uses word "ball" to describe a sphere ball shape
Isaiah 40:22 uses word english word "circle" to describe earth instead of using english word "ball"
If it had been the same Hebrew/Aramaic word and merely translated "ball" in Isaiah 22:18 and translated "circle" in Isaiah 40:22 then your argument from Bible would have it done.
The problem though arises when you realize that it was a totally different Hebrew/Aramac word in Isaiah 22:18 that was translated ball than the Hebrew/Aramaic word translated "circle" in Isaiah 40:22
Now certainly if the Bible was inspired by "God" the same Creator that has you guys standing up for young earth creation and against evolution etc then the God knows difference between a ball and a circle so would expect that Creator to have used same word from Isaiah 22:18 that described a "ball" later in Isaiah 40:22 to describe the earth if earth was a ball buuuut instead the other word translated "circle" was used by author of Isaiah instead.
Have a look at Isaiah 40:22 In the International Standard Version the word "disk" is used instead of "circle"
International Standard Version
He's the one who sits above the disk of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He's the one who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in, Isaiah 40:22
King James Bible
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: Isaiah 40:22
Robert Carter responds
Funny, because if you search through 2000 years of Christian tradition you will be unable to find a scholar who believed the earth was flat, and these people certainly knew Hebrew and Greek better than you. This is well documented in the article and in the links to the article. Perhaps you really don't know what you are talking about. Oh, and if I were sitting in space, looking down at the earth, it would like like a circle no matter what direction was my line of sight. Yet, other place in the Bible talk about the "four corners" of the earth. So which is it? Does the Bible teach a square earth or a round earth? In reality, neither, as Christianity has always apparently believed.
Brian G., United States, 15 September 2016
Robert Carter responds....
The Christians who believe this, by and large, do so because superficially the text describes a flat earth and a geocentric universe. They struggle with what they see as the 'plain meaning' even though the plain meaning is often contradicted by other places in the Scripture or influenced by the prevailing scientific views of the day....."
Mr Carter, that's the same argument those Christians from [link deleted per feedback rules]
GODOFEVOLUTIONdotcom use against the YEC folks and Hugh Ross putting Billions of years into the bible Mr Sarfati know that one full well from his Refuting Compromise book
Either The earth is a stationary flat plane circle/disk under 10,000 years old or The Bible (any version, any language) is wrong.
If you guys can prove the Earth is a spinning ball then you falsified the Bible by doing so.
Let me know if on a scale 1 to 100 how high percentage you guys are sure the earth is a spinning sphere 75% or higher than that?
Robert Carter responds
No, it is not the same argument. First, we said the translation is influenced by the prevailing science of the day (e.g. the KJV use of the word "firmament" comes straight out of Ptolemaic geocentrism and actually misses the meaning of the Hebrew -- see links in main article). Ross and others want to say the science should influence interpretation even more, which is the opposite of what we are saying.
Second, we say the flat-earth interpretations are contradicted by other places in the Scriptures. Ross and others might say similar things, but only when they are trying to add millions of years to biblical history, which is an error. See my article The Biblical Minimum and Maximum Age of the Earth.
Third, we are searching the Scripture to see what they actually say, in context, using the grammatical-historical method of inferring potential meaning. This is a critical method of inquiry as it prevents people from literalistically concluding that God is "an all consuming fire" or that people are 'signets on His right hand', etc. We are searching operational science to see what we can actually know. The old-age people of all stripes invariably mix historical science into their arguments. Our God is a God of order. He is the Ultimate Lawgiver. He would have created a universe that operates, therefore, according to law, according to His very nature. Thus, when we look at the universe, we can say, "Oh! That's how things work." Then we can compare this to the Bible and see if our conclusions match the Word. Since the Bible is not a science book, even though we would not expect it to ever be wrong about science, we would expect it to be vague about most propositions of operational science. Yet, it is clearly a history book, thus it is NOT vague about issues of time and chronology. This is why we feel free to explore the scientific world while at the same time criticizing old-age believers.
Chris B., United States, 15 September 2016
I just read this article and the geocentrism one posted last week. I don't know what's more disturbing, that you actually had to write articles refuting these discredited ideas (for centuries), or that there is a growing amount of people that actually believe them today and will try to defend them. Not only that, they also call y'all liars for speaking the undeniable truth. It's mind blowing. Seriously, what's next? Advocating for using leeches to bleed the sickness out of people?
Considering the many false doctrines and heresies Christians are chasing after today, I probably shouldn't be surprised they're also eating up untruths like flat earth and geocentrism. It's extremely sad. God gave you a brain to reason, learn and think critically, people. Use it.
Anyway, keep up the good work fighting for the Truth in this Twilight Zone era, CMI. It is appreciated.
Richard W., New Zealand, 15 September 2016
Does the fact that the moon in the Southern hemisphere does not look the same when it's viewed in the Northern hemisphere prove the earth is round? I say yes
Robert Carter responds
I suppose you mean "does not appear at the same angle"? The face of the moon is the same, except that parallax might allow two people to see a fraction of a percent more along one edge than another depending on perspective. Flat-earthers have an answer for the moon appearing the same, so you need a little more evidence. See the article for details.
Arend K., Canada, 15 September 2016
Thank you CMI for this article. I was introduced to the FE idea early this year but remain unconvinced.
One stumbling block put forward by FE’ers is Mat 4:8 “…the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”, as this is impossible even from the highest mountain (Everest). Based on a spherical earth, quick calculation shows that the radius from the top of Mt Everest to the horizon is approximately 340 km, which is hardly much at all – unless exceeding “high mountain” is meant to be understood as “exceeding high vantage point”?
Robert Carter responds
Since nobody was there except Jesus and Satan, we really cannot know. Everest is not really a good location for observing all the kingdoms on earth, though. Jerusalem would be much better for it is near the geographic center of all landmasses. But even in a flat-earth 'model' one cold not see all the kingdoms of the earth. First, there is no vantage point from which to do so (unless you are not actually on a mountain) and second once you get high enough above the earth all the kingdoms would blend into the background colors. There is something going on in this passage that is not explained to us.
Philip R., Australia, 15 September 2016
Given that some of the flat-earthers here admonish us to check out the claims, and Edgar N mentioned a YouTube video by a Mr. Pea Brain (or something like that), I decided to find the video and watch it.
It completely misrepresents perspective, in which parallel lines appear to converge at infinity, but he claims that they cross at a finite point! This is how he tries to explain why the sun appearing to go below the horizon isn't actually doing so.
Yet much of the video is concerned with why the appearance of the sun supposedly doesn't match the round-earth view. Inconsistency, anyone?
Then there are his unsubstantiated assertions. For example, he dismisses image from space as animation, but points out that you see what one would supposedly expect to see if the sun was 93 million miles away, then contrasts this with a ground-level view where we see something different, as though we should expect to see the same thing from ground level as from space. That what we see on the ground is not what we should see if the earth was round and the sun far away was just assertion.
In summary, I can't take the video seriously, and given his choice of name, I smell a spoof (or worse). And this is cited as convincing evidence?
Robert Carter responds
This is the main reason we did not spend much if any time arguing against flat-earth proofs. As soon as you begin you run into errors of fact, illogical statements, contradictions, and a general refusal to bring a thought to its obvious conclusion. One video by one disingenuous person cannot be used to judge the entire movement, but sadly this is a pretty good representation of what is out there.
Hendrik V., Canada, 15 September 2016
Thank you so much for your article. I pray that it gains a wide reading and dissuades many who are leaning in a flat earth direction.
A number of months ago I spoke to a man who was taken in by the Youtube videos about flat earth theory. I couldn't believe my ears that this was actually gaining ground. After that conversation I thought about the matter some more and I thought of a way (I'm pretty sure anyways) to show that those flat earth videos are simply wrong. The way these flat earth videos depict the world is with the north pole in the center of the flat earth with the sun circling the earth closer to the north pol in the northern hemisphere's summer and closer to the outer edge of the earth (toward Antarctica) in the northern hemisphere's winter. I live in Canada. If these videos were correct then I would see the sun make the same trajectory in the sky during the summer and during the winter but just further south in the sky during the winter. However, by simply looking at the path of the sun in the summer compared with the winter I can see this isn't correct. The trajectory of the sun (it's arc through the sky) in the summer is completely opposite of its trajectory in the winter time. Or to put it another way. The arc of the sun's path at the summer solstice is completely reversed at the winter solstice. In addition to this, if we asked someone from the southern hemisphere what the trajectory of the sun was like through the sky in their winter time it would be completely reversed of what we see in the Northern Hemisphere. This would not happen if the earth was flat and the sun followed the trajectory in the sky that these videos show.
Correct me if I am wrong but these seems to be a simple way to prove this theory wrong.
Robert Carter responds
I am certain they have an "answer" for this. The sun must take a different path in the winter (larger diameter circle) than in the summer (smaller diameter circle). How about just asking how long it would take to travel from Capetown to Perth by plane or boat?
Arend K., Canada, 16 September 2016
(My previous post was a bit ambiguous…)
Thank you CMI for this article. I was introduced to the FE idea early this year but have remained unconvinced for various reasons including some of those mentioned in your article.
However, one stumbling block put forward by some FE’ers is Mat 4:8 “…the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”, as this is impossible even from the highest mountain (Everest). Based on a spherical earth, quick calculation shows that the radius from the top of Mt Everest to the horizon is approximately 340 km, which is hardly much at all – unless exceeding “high mountain” is meant to be understood as “exceeding high vantage point” such as somewhere in outer space? I would appreciate your take on this.
Thank you for your good work and God bless!
Robert Carter responds
I answered this just a few comments ago. See above.
Tony D., United States, 16 September 2016
I understand why people get so angry and annoyed by the idea of the earth being flat, I did too at first. However, if you do the research, you won't dismiss the idea and the people who know it's flat, as crazy. You will see the arguments used to disprove the flat earth are erroneous. Don't let your pride get in the way, Mark Twain put it best, "It's easier to fool people, than convince them that they have been fooled." The Bible is clearly a flat earth document: A circle is different from a ball, Isaiah 40:22. A Compass is also round, not a sphere Job 26:10. According to the Bible, the Earth is immoveable 1 Chronicles 16:30. The sun stood sitll in Joshua 10:12-13, not the earth. There are many more Bible verses to support a flat stationery earth, and not one which supports the idea of the earth being a spinning ball hurling through space. You may want to resort to insults and pull the hair out of your head right now, because this guy (me) is clueless, I get it. However, for any of you that have even the slightest curiosity in the idea of the flat earth, please do your due diligence and research the idea. You will have a closer relationship with your Creator when you discover the truth of His creation. As for me, I have no doubt the earth is flat and I'm comfortable with personal attacks and being written off as crazy, because my value comes from who I am in Jesus Christ, not from the world.
Robert Carter responds
We have done the research, both biblically and scientifically. You have only done a light reading of the Scriptures and fail to grasp the scientific arguments. We get "annoyed by the idea" of a flat earth because it is wrong on both counts! Also, there is ZERO attestation to the belief through the entire Christian era. If you want to hold to it, you have to reject your ancestors in the faith. Of course, if it must be done then so be it, but you had better get your ducks in a row first. We answered the question about the Bible teaching that the earth "cannot be moved" in our first article against geocentrism (see links in main article). In short, if the earth "cannot be moved" then neither can the psalmist, poor guy.
My Creator is the one who created this universe. I have developed a closer walk with Him as I study His work. He is not a deceiver. He is not a trickster. He is the source of wisdom and in Him there is no illogicality. In the flat earth, however, there is no logic. One or two observations (even dozens, though I have not seen anything like that number of supporting evidences) that fly in the face of hundreds of counter evidences makes a mockery out of the character and nature of God Himself. Had Satan created the universe or had he a significant influence in its working I would be skeptical of what I see. Yes, the devil has influenced the minds of men, I get that. But that applies more to the interpretation of the facts than it does the simple, plain facts that stare us in the face every day.
Kathy W., Australia, 16 September 2016
Dear Drs Sarfati and Carter
Thought you would be interested in this brilliant depiction of atmospheric lensing and how no curvature is needed for the bottoms of buildings to disappear as one moves away
[link deleted per feedback rules]
I can't explain it!
Thanks and blessings
Robert Carter responds
This person is a charlatan. The reason you cannot explain it is because he has so obfuscated the facts and confused the rationale behind the issue that it makes no sense. It is VERY easy to understand atmospheric lensing. If you understand how eyeglasses work you can understand it. If you then apply the simple laws of optics to the curvature of the earth, voila!, easy answer. If the earth was flat, no, there is no reason to expect the bottoms of buildings to be unseen if the rest of them can be seen. I have seen several of this guy's videos and have read several of his articles, and I cannot make it more than a few sentences before I spot an error. Beware!
Mattanja B., Germany, 16 September 2016
Thank you guys so much for this excellent article. Sadly in my church there are also a couple of christians advocating a Flat Earth. I was hoping for CMI to publish a new article on the matter, and here it is!
I really hope that people will come to see flat-earth-theory for the nonsense it is as completely abandoning logic can potentially be dangerous. Unfortunately the same people are also believing that vaccination is the government's way of poisoning people :-(.
Joe B., United States, 16 September 2016
Thanks for a great article. While I do not always agree with all of the physics CMI presents (none of us has it 100% correct) I am in full agreement here.
But looking at some of the comments, I'm not sure what bothers me more, that people cannot see the logic/ill-logic of their thinking, or that they are certain about something for which they are simply relying on other people's interpretation and have no direct knowledge and done no credible experimentation through which to validate their position. When the Lord said that there would be a powerful delusion such that even the elect might be deceived - He was not kidding!
May the Lord continue to bless the work and the workers at CMI for it was through this type of knowledge that many of us (myself included) came to know and trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hendrik V., Canada, 16 September 2016
I know I posted above already but perhaps you will not mind me adding one more thing?
If the sun followed the trajectory that many of these flat earth videos showed then during the winter time in the northern hemisphere the sun would only appear as a tiny dot in the southern part of the sky compared with its size in the summer time. However, everyone knows this is not the case. The sun looks the same size in the sky during the winter time as it is in the summer time even though according to flat earth theory it is much farther away in the winter.
I do hope I have made myself clear and I certainly think that this alone falsifies those videos.
Anyways, keep up the good work CMI and don't lose heart! God bless!
Robert Carter responds
It would depend on the size of the sun and how far away it was, but, yes, if they think the sun is close enough to the earth that only parts of it will be lit by the sun at any time, it would have to be close enough and small enough that the size would change over the seasons. I know they have an "answer" for this, but like so many of their evidences it fails one or more tests of logic, math, or direct observation.
Hans G., Australia, 17 September 2016
It is amazing how the worms come out of a flat can arguing about the earth.
What about heaven or hell, are they flat too? Maybe two dimensional?
Wouldn't it more important to research a creator?
Lou Z., United States, 18 September 2016
I met some of these FE'ers a couple of months ago and was blown away by their acceptance of obvious malarky. It's a conspiracy mindset, and it's only for people who have zero understanding of science.
Would they at least agree that we live in a three dimensional world? So what shape do they believe the earth is? An flat disk? How deep? Shaped like a quarter? Or an ipad?
Surely they can't deny that the earth has depth to it, can they? So how deep do they think it is? And where do they get that number? And what about the fact that if the earth were flat that the sun would hit the entire world at the same time when it rises? Or is the sun also manipulated by Photoshop?
You can't reason with those who believe that every scientist and educated person is in cahoots to deceive them ... for some unexplainable goal. What would be the point of this "conspiracy"? Why can't any of them look through a telescope and observe the planets? These beliefs push them farther and farther away from God.
You can't reason with the unreasonable.
Robert Carter responds
The modern FE'ers say the sun is close to the earth and acts more like a spotlight, thus avoiding the problem with the entire earth being lit up. But all this does is illustrate the point that you are making. There is always a potential answer to everything, no matter how much is conflicts with direct observational evidence for other things.
Julie M., United States, 18 September 2016
Your article was very informative and helpful. Hopefully it will help those with an open mind. Unfortunately I think it is more of a heart issue to those who cling to conspiracy theories. What all Christians should be aware of, is that Isaiah warns “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread." Isaiah 8:12-13. I have close family members who are also conspiracy theorists, and one of them told me that "If it weren't for the Bible saying that the earth is a sphere..." she would also believe in a flat earth. (I didn't have the heart to tell her that the Bible does not explicitly say one or the other.) But the heart of the matter is distrust in everyone, especially the government and those in authority. I pray God helps all of them find peace and trust in Him, because conspiracies are a joy robber and a peace robber and a waste of time. And that is not what God wants for His children. Thank you again, CMI. I appreciate you so much!
Johannes B., Sweden, 18 September 2016
Hi. Just a quick question:
What did you mean by that there is a flaw in human psychology? I think that this is the way we have been created, and from my experience, it should be like this. If not, then we would not be humans, and our lives would probably be a hellish experience.
Maybe you meant that it's more like this because of our fallen nature, and because we are, knowledge-wise, in disarray, especially in this information age.
I still believe, though, that we function like this, more or less (or much less), fallen or not.
Robert Carter responds
OK, from a design perspective this might not be a flaw. However, this 'quirk' of human nature has been used by many to trap others in false ideologies.
Dylan O., United Kingdom, 19 September 2016
In order for the flat earth to be true then NASA would have to be lying about pretty much everything. Do you see space debris on the EVA on the space station changing trajectory (with no possible explanation from NASA given the vacuum of space) or do you see air bubbles in a water tank?
Is the mars rover on mars or here on earth somewhere with a hue of red thrown over the screen?
Did they really land on the moon? For sure they are sending rockets up but is that as really as far as they get?
Personally I think there is enough evidence to question NASA as an authority. I do not trust them and so the debate remains open for me.
The Bible presents a non moving earth with a firmament.
People will see what they want to see. I look at NASA and see that in fraud, what is missing is just as important as what is there. NASA lies, why people don't want to see that is up to them. In whom do we trust?
Robert Carter responds
Ah, conspiracy theory. NASA is not a person. It is a government institution that employs thousands of people, including many Christians, at least one of whom is a friend and supporter of CMI. In order to not "trust" NASA, tens of thousands of people would have to in on the conspiracy. That is utter poppycock. Case in point: the first two nuclear bombs exploded by the USSR were carbon copies of the two bombs the US dropped on Japan at the end of WWII. Catch that? They had our blueprints! And this was the most top secret thing the United States ever did.Yes, the government lies about all sorts of stuff. but the government is also a porous sieve of poorly held secrets. One cannot maintain a conspiracy if it includes more than a few people. Anything more than that and someone is going to sell out and said conspiracy comes crashing down. And, yes, they really did land on the moon. It would have been easier to do that than to fake the television footage using 1969 technology. Firmament? You mean raqiya? Etc. Etc.
Arend K., Canada, 19 September 2016
One of the earlier comments (P.Z, Australia, 13 September 2016) questioned how satellites and ISS survive in the thermosphere (up to 2000 C). I am a little puzzled by CMI’s response.
My understanding is a) that the thermosphere starts at about 80 km reaching between 500 and 1000 km above sea-level, and b) that ISS orbits somewhere in the range 300 km to 400 km with satellites orbiting between 700 and 800 km above sea-level. Then ISS and satellites are largely within the thermosphere, where the high temperature is indicative of the high energy of the gas molecules. However due to the thermosphere’s extremely low gas density, heat transfer is extremely inefficient, i.e., the coefficient of heat transfer (convective) is practically zero.
Robert Carter responds
When one tries to be an expert in everything, someone will eventually come along and correct something you say.
Arend, you are, of course, correct. I incorrectly remembered the height of the thermosphere. I should have realized my error when I talked about the "minute amount of friction in space". I did some research to make sure I was up to speed on the arguments and will be ready with the correct answer next time.
I will add a note to the answer I gave, pointing readers to this comment. Thanks again.
Joseph M., United Kingdom, 19 September 2016
A few days after I posted my comment I meet a flat earther in real life. He didn't believe in gravity, photographs, videos, satellites, GPS, testimony of scientists observations i.e anything that could verify if the earth was a sphere or flat. I gave an example of gravity with a torn paper falling in front of his eyes - he dismissed it as just mass!
I told him if the earth is flat there must be an edge/end. He said there's no edge and answered "if you walk in any direction you arrive at the Antarctic!" He couldn't understand that reaching the Antarctic had nothing to do with whether there is an edge, because once you reach the Antarctic (in his model), then you just keep walking, until you eventually reach an edge or never (infinity). There's only the 2 possibilities. He dismissed infinity! I said "So there must be and edge?" He said "no". I remove myself from his presence politely. Telling him Felicity Aston, Cecilie Skog and others had crossed the Antarctic would be futile.
Later I reflected that real observation of the sun rising should prove that there is an edge/end on a flat earth plane. So, I later looked at their proposed, "but certainly not definitive" (yeah they cover all their bases!) flat earth model diagram found on the flat earth official website. I surmised, if their suns orbital proposition is true, I should observe the sun using a filter get smaller due to perspective. This is an experiment anyone on earth can do, but it showed the sun staying exactly the same size which falsifies their model.
The empirical evidence should be there for them to go to the edge, and write down the position so that anyone can admire the unique view of the flat earth edge. But, in my experience, at least one, flat earther will say "He doesn't need to prove it".
Juha P., Finland, 20 September 2016
People should really start to think with their own brains. Water don't curve! You better checkout, who were the founders of nasa and maybe then you understand, that it's a big scam and you have to be stupid to believe, that they went to the moon 50 years ago, but not after that, even, that technology has gone so much further. Ships don't disappear and it's all about vanishing point, i'm a professional photographer so i know something about these things. Bible proves more about flat stationary earth than globe, that goes faster than a bullet. There is no such thing as gravity and Tesla knew it too and he was the all time smartest inventor and brilliant mind :)
Robert Carter responds
But all you have done is make sweeping statements. All of these points have been attempted by others and we have answered them. Thus, you have added nothing to the conversation and have failed to advance your position. Water does not curve? No such thing as gravity? We answered the NASA hoax argument, the vanishing point canard, and the speed of rotation of the earth objection. You ask us to trust you because you "know something about these things" and yet you cannot see that the vanishing point objection can be answered simply with a telescope on a clear day. "Trust" is not good enough. Prove it. But you have to prove it by disproving the other side. We put up multiple evidences that show why the flat earth cannot be true, but you reply with 'trust me this is all a conspiracy'?
Christopher S., United States, 20 September 2016
The troubling part about the flat-earth "Bible" movement is that verses are stripped from their context. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:58 to be unmovable. Does that mean that Christians can no longer move? Bible verses that say that the earth is "unmovable" mean that the earth is under the control of God just as our lives should be under the control of God. Thank you CMI for writing this article. Someone sent my Pastor and email say he would go to the Lake of Fire because the logo of our church is a globe! Again I thank both Dr. Carter and Dr. Sarfati for writing this article. The Lord's hand is guiding your research.
Andy G., Australia, 20 September 2016
I always liked the Bedord Level Experiment, which my father told me about when I was younger, as a way to show that the earth isn't flat. Three poles of equal length were placed floating upright, a few miles apart, on a long straight stretch of water in Norfolk, England. Sighting along the top of the first and last pole using a theodolite, the middle pole is almost a metre higher. Only possible with a curved earth.
Robert Carter responds
The BLE is a fascinating part of the history of this debate, but nothing is simple when using the argument. First, the initial measurements, made by flat-earthers and the results they got indicated they were right and the earth was flat. Later, Alfred Russel Wallace (yes, the same person that scooped Darwin) demonstrated otherwise by taking measurements high enough above the ground to avoid boundary-layer refraction of light. Flat-earthers are well aware of the BLE. In fact, it was one of the bedrock experiments for the early years of their movement. Thus, they hem, haw, obfuscate, and misdirect whenever anyone brings it up. Yet, they have to explain why one gets different results on different days (predictably depends on the temperature of the surface vs. the temperature of the air) and at different heights (boundary-layer effects or not). Sadly, the way they handle this is one more example of them taking things out of context and generally refusing to accept logical explanations and counterfactual experimental data. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
Jared C., United States, 20 September 2016
While I appreciate the work put into the main article, I feel the length and depth of the comment section is counter-productive. Having never met a genuine Flat-Earther in real life, I'm not sure how effective any of their arguments actually are....Even still, it is proper to debunk them.
However, having encountered multiple "internet FE'ers" I know that a large part of the "moment" is to be "in on the joke" and then to just troll those on the "out." And trolls thrive on replies. Some of the trolls are just having fun, while others are more maniacal. If they can't confuse you, they'll try to irritate and annoy you and if nothing else bait you into a meaningless discussion. So the comment section on this article looks like one, big internet-FE's trophy case.
Robert Carter responds
I have no doubt that many (if not most) FE'ers are trolls and other miscellaneous miscreants, but on the off chance that there is a Christian brother or sister out there that has fallen into this trap we soldier on. And I do understand that lengthy comment sections like this are not as productive as they could be, basically because hardly anyone is going to spend the time to read them all! On the other hand, we have received several comments from various people who have been keeping up with the conversations. Finally, and sadly, we do know that there are at least some Christians who actually do believe this. Most of them are deep into conspiracy theory and it is very difficult to reach a person who has fallen into that mindset, but there is always hope.
Geoff W., Australia, 23 September 2016
I saw some flat earth videos on excuse me that are just so bizarre. that the south pole is just a ring of ice around the circumference, but worst of all he claimed that God was also in on the deception, complete and utter blasphemy
God Bless you for the good work you are doing
Tony D., United States, 23 September 2016
Mr. Carter, cleary does not understand the flat earth model. I have no doubt he means well; I will pray for him; he is letting his pride blind him to the truth. However, once the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to him; the absurdity he relates to the flat earth will be reciprocated with the globe earth. As close as his walk with God is now, which I have no doubt it is, it will be that much closer when the Holy Spirit reveals this to him. Even now, the seed of doubt in the globe is creeping into his mind, hence his fierce defense of it. If the flat earth was such an abusurd idea, he wouldn't get so worked up over it; it seems he may be more trying to convince himself. For those of us who know the truth, as revealed by the Holy Spirit, we must remember to be patient and loving and remember, we were once like Mr. Carter.
Robert Carter responds
I wonder if this commentator has thought that maybe the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the earth is a sphere? No, of course He did not, but this illustrates the absurdity of his position. We have two sides to this debate. One side (ours) takes the Bible and simple operational science and find a happy place where both can exist without contradiction. The other side (his) says, "You have to trust ME because God told me this is true no matter what your eyes tell you." Are we not to 'test the spirits'? Should we not pursue the evidence? They tell us not to and throw in this pseudo-pietistic emotional mumbo jumbo. God is not illogical and does not do illogical things. Yet, we are told by the flat-earth supporters that the universe does not follow the simple rules of logic, and fails to be explained by simple observational evidence. What kind of God creates an ongoing illusion?
Hans G., Australia, 23 September 2016
On a second thought, the flat earth people may have an explanation about the extinction of the dinosaurs: The evolutionary pressure made the dinosaurs believe they can fly and jumped off the edge........
Robert Carter responds
The tongue-in-cheek nature of the comment probably won't get you very far, but you do raise a good question about the biology and instincts of organisms on a flat earth that has basically been unexplored to date.
Vaughan A., New Zealand, 26 September 2016
If the earth is not flat then I have a few questions. Here's some:
1. If we are on a globe spinning at 1000 mph how could we ever have still windless days. Yet we do.
2. Is there an experiment that has demonstrated a spinning ball keeping pools of water on its surface as it is rotated at 1000 mph? If not why not?
3. Why was the sea horizon perfectly flat the other day when I was flying at an altitude of over 7 kms? Shouldn't it appear curved at that height?
Or are we on a globe that is so massive that it appears flat in every direction? In which case to all intents and purposes we are actually on a flat Earth.
BTW I am a dedicated creationist.
Robert Carter responds
1. Answered at length above. Your question is couched in error.
2. Yes, it's called gravity. You could run your own experiment. Take a circle with a large radius (say 6,370 km) and rotate it once every 24 hours. What acceleration would it take to keep any point on that circle rotating along the circular path? OK, you can't do this for real, but you could take the math you learned in Middle School and work it out on a piece of paper. I dare you. (I'll give you a hint: your answer should be on the order of 0.3% of 9.8 m/s2).
3. Answered at length above.
4. No. We are on a globe with a radius about 6,370 km.
OK, you had your chance, but all you did was recite the nonsense you have learned from others. You have shown no evidence of critical thinking and have demonstrated no evidence that you read either the article or the many comments that followed it. Until you do some more homework, you should assume that you are wrong.
I am very happy that you are a fellow creationist, but we implore you to wade more deeply into the waters. I am a creationist because both the Bible and science point me in that direction. I reject the flat earth because neither do.