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09 of 10 - Fundamentalist Counterarguments
• • • • • Christian Fundamentalists do not accept that the Bible assumes a Flat Earth and have developed a number of spurious counter-arguments. They believe that the Bible is inerrant and therefore cannot imply a Flat Earth – no matter how much evidence to the contrary there is. There are several common counterarguments put forward in order to “prove” that the Bible writers knew that the Earth was a sphere. It is claimed that this information written down thousands of years ago was unknown until AD1492. This is taken as evidence of supposed scientific foreknowledge and an indication of the Bibles supposed supernatural origin.
However, all this is nonsense
Counterargument 1: Isaiah 40:22 The Circle of the Earth.
“It is he who sitteth upon the Circle of the Earth…” According to this passage, as Interpreted by Christian Fundamentalists, the Earth is “round” and the word for a circle can also mean a sphere. These word were supposedly written around 700BC, 2300 years before Columbus.
Isaiah 40:22 Shape of the Universe
“It is he who sits above the circle of the Earth,and its inhabitants are like
grasshoppers;who stretches out the Heavens like a curtain,and spreads them like a tent to dwell in. “ RSV & KJV “It was made by the one who sits on his throne above the Earth and beyond the Sky; the people below look as tiny as ants. He stretched out the sky like a curtain, like a tent in which to live.” GNB “He who sits enthroned above the circle of the Earth, the inhabitants of which are like grasshoppers, stretches out the Heavens like a cloth, spreads them out like a tent to live in.” JB “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the Earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the Heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell” NWT**
*Note how the words for “Heaven” & “Sky” are interchangeable. * *New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Isaiah 40:22: Analysis
1. Isaiah describes the Earth as being a Circle & not a Sphere. A Circle is a flat two dimensional shape & a Sphere is three dimensional. Contrary to some assertions, Hebrew does have separate words for “Circle” and “Sphere”. Isaiah 22:18 refers to throwing a ball. Earth is not described as a ball. If God can stretch out the Sky like a piece of fabric, then the Sky must be solid. Earth is described as being like the floor of a tent, with the Sky spread out overhead. Isaiah probably imagined a Universe like a tent. The Earth was the roughly circular flat floor & the Sky was like a hemispherical fabric covering. (See next slide)
3. 4. 5.
Isaiah 40:22 What Isaiah actually describes
God sitting above the Circle of the Earth Sky spread out like the cover of a tent
Circle of the Earth
Earth is like the Floor of a tent.
Counterargument 2 Job 26:7 Earth has no supports
“He stretcheth the North over the empty place and hangeth the Earth upon nothing.” According to this passage, as Interpreted by Christian Fundamentalists, this is a reference To the Earth sitting in empty space Without anything holding it up. These word were supposedly written around 1500BC, 3200 years before Newton developed His theory of Gravity
Job 26:7 Shape of the Universe
“He stretches out the north over the void,and hangs the Earth upon nothing“
RSV & KJV “God stretched out the northern sky and hung the Earth in empty space.” GNB “He it was who spread the north above the void and poised the Earth on nothingness.” JB “He is stretching out the north over the empty place,Hanging the Earth upon nothing ” NWT
Job 26:7 What Job actually describes
The “North” refers to the Celestial North Pole, the point that the Stars appear to revolve around. Is a used as a synonym for the whole Sky
Job 26:7 Analysis
• • • • • • • If the Sky can be stretched out, then it must be solid. The “empty place” is most likely the empty space below the dome of the Sky. If the Earth hangs in its place then it must not be moving. Hanging implies something to hang upon like a coat hanging on a peg. Job 9:6 & 38:4- 6 refer to Pillars and Foundations for the Earth. The word for “nothing” or “void” is the Hebrew word “Tehom”. In Genesis 1:2, the same word is used to describe the formless chaos of the waters of the Great Deep. This adds up to the Earth supported on pillars above the formless chaos of the waters of the Great Deep. (See next slide)
Job 26:7 What Job actually describes
The empty place Sky spread out
Pillars of the Earth (Job 9: 6 & 38: 4-6)
The word that is translated as“nothing” is “Tehom”. In Genesis it refers to the formless waters of the Great Deep
Counterargument 3: Job 38:14 The turning of the Earth
"It [the Earth] is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment." According to Christian Fundamentalists, this is a reference to the Earths turning or rotation every 24 hours like clay on a potters wheel. This was supposedly written around 1500BC, 3000 years before Copernicus
Job 38:14 The turning of the Earth
“It [the Earth] is changed like clay under the seal,and it is dyed like a garment.“ RSV “It [the Earth] is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment“ KJV “Daylight makes the hills and valleys stand out like the folds of a garment, clear as the imprint of a seal on clay.” GNB “She [the Earth] turns it as red as a clay seal, she tints it as though it were a dress.” JB “It [the Earth] transforms itself like clay under a seal,And things take their station as in clothing” NWT**
Job 38:14 Analysis
1. The word “turn” is used here to mean “change” or “transform” and not “rotate”. This verse has nothing to do with rotation of any sort. The Earth is compared to the imprint of a seal on clay. This is usually fairly flat and circular.(See overleaf)
Job 38:14:Earth is like a Clay Seal
Above: Clay Seal imprints
Counterargument 4: Luke 17:31-36 It is always day & night somewhere.
According to this passage, as Interpreted by Christian Fundamentalists, Jesus speaks of his second Coming happening while Both daytime and nightime activities are occurring. This is said to prove that Jesus knew that the Earth was a sphere almost1500 years before Columbus
Luke 17:31-36 It is always day & night somewhere
“On that day, let him who is on the housetop …… 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 “ RSV “In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop …… I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.“ KJV “On that day someone who is on the roof of a house …… On that night, I tell you, there will be two people sleeping in the same bed: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. Two women will be grinding meal together: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind.” GNB
Luke 17:31-36 Continued
“'When that day comes, no one on the housetop …… I tell you, on that night, when two are in one bed, one will be taken, the other left; when two women are grinding corn together, one will be taken, the other left' .” JB “On that day let the person that is on the housetop …… I tell you, In that night two [men] will be in one bed; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned. There will be two [women] grinding at the same mill; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned” NWT
Luke 17:31-36 Analysis
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. There is nothing remarkable about somebody in AD30 knowing that World was a Sphere. Pythagoras had suggested that the World was a Sphere in C6th BC. The concept of a Spherical Earth had been widely accepted by educated Greeks and Romans since about 350BC. It is by no means clear if Jesus is referring to day and night occurring at the same time. Jesus may be saying that he may return at night time or alternatively during daytime. Matthew 24:36 makes it clear that Jesus does not know when he will come again. If the latter interpretation is correct, then the verse could be interpreted to mean that Jesus believed that day and night occurred simultaneously all over the World. Presentation 07 of 10 in this series suggests that Jesus thought that the Earth was flat.
Matthew 24:36 Jesus may return either during the daytime or at night
Viewed in the light of Matthew 24:36, Luke 17:31-36 does not necessarily imply a Spherical Earth
Counterargument 5: Phenomenal Language Argument.
According to this argument, the Bible often uses descriptive or Phenomenal Language that describes appearances rather than Reality. For example, references to the the Suns motion are said to only refer to apparent motion such “Sunrise” or “Sunset”
Joshua 10: 12 & 13 Joshua stops the Sun & Moon from moving
In this story, Joshua halts the Sun & Moon in order to gain extra daylight and finish a battle before dark. According to the Phenomenal language argument, the Earth stopped rotating and then restarted again.
Phenomenal Language Argument Critique
1. This is a modern agreement designed to avoid difficulties with Geocentric imagery in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible is there any reference to this. Before the Renaissance, this argument was never used as everyone accepted that the Bible was literally true when it referred to the Suns motion. For this argument to have any validity, language needs to be a human invention that reflects the limited knowledge of the past.However, according to the Bible, language was created by God and modified at the Tower of Babel. It is impossible for the Earth to have stopped rotating and then resumed without destroying all life on Earth. Luther, Calvin and several Popes rejected this argument.
Counterargument 6: Dream imagery Argument.
According to this argument many of the Cosmological images in the Bible occur as images in dreams and therefore are symbolic or not to be interpreted literally. Only non dream imagery should be interpreted as being literally true Left: Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching up to Heaven.
Dream Imagery Argument Critique
1. 2. The prophetic dreams in the Bible are not ordinary human dreams. They are special messages from God containing important information. For example, the dream of Jacobs ladder included a message from God about renewing Gods Covenant with Jacob.We cannot say that some of the information in Gods messages are literally true and that some other parts of the message are not literally true. In the new Testament, Joseph has a dream in which he gets a message from God about Mary being pregnant with Jesus. If we follow the logic of the dream imagery argument, then we would have to reject this story as being untrue or merely symbolic. Christian Fundamentalists are often inconsistent & only use this argument when it suits them. Why should God mislead people with false information? This would undermine his messages.
Counterargument 7: Poetic imagery Argument.
According to this argument Many of the Cosmological Images in the Bible Such as the Psalms are written in poetic language are symbolic & therefore or allegorical & not to be interpreted literally. Left: David fighting Goliath. Many of the Psalms are attributed to David
Poetic Imagery Argument Critique
• • This is just an excuse for Christian Fundamentalists to ignore parts of the Bible that are inconvenient. Poetic Imagery does not necessarily imply that an image is untrue.Deliberate use of archaic references for literary reasons is a modern concept that has developed since the rise of modern science.There was no modern Science in Biblical times. Christian Fundamentalists are notorious for interpreting the Creation, Flood story & Tower of Babel literally.They only deviate from this when they run into difficulties. The Bible itself often interprets poetic language as being literally true. Acts 2:27 quotes the Psalms as a literal prophecy of Christ's Resurrection. How do we know which Biblical language is not to be taken literally?Perhaps Christ's Resurrection was only poetic or symbolic & not literally true?
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Continued on next Presentation ……