The Best (and Worst) of Twitter

2021 #3

Twitter. There’s a part that’s good. There is a part that is bad; and there is a part that you wouldn’t believe. Twitter, along with other social media platforms can be used for good. But, there are a lot of things you can find on Twitter’s Christian circles that are not that good. Perhaps you have seen comments on social media that are contrary to the Christian worldview. I’d like to take a look at those statements and comments to see if we can give an answer

#3. The Bible is a flat-earth book.

A few years ago, basketball star Kyrie Irving said on a podcast that he believed the earth was flat. In a discussion with fellow players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye from the year 2017, Irving said, “The Earth is flat.” The sports star made the further claim, ”I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces…They lie to us.” Later, Irving apologized for the statements he made which also appeared to support other conspiracy theories as well.

One might be tempted to dismiss this as a single individual. However, a 2018 survey from YouGov revealed that two percent of those surveyed believed that the Earth is flat. The largest percentage of those Flat Earthers were 18-24 years old. Among those adherents to a flat planet, 52% described themselves as very religious. In order to consider the answer to such a claim as made by the Tweet, we should consider what the Bible says about the shape of the earth, what science says about the shape of our planet, and whether there exists a contradiction between the two.

First, does the Bible describe the shape of the earth? The word “earth” occurs over seven hundred times in the Bible. Many of the usages of the word earth occur in the phrase “ends of the earth.” This phrase occurs forty-two times in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. The context of each occurrence suggests language referring to geographical location, rather than the Earth’s shape. This understanding also comes from Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1, which refer to the “four corners of the earth.” Rather than suggesting an earth with corners, geographical locations and compass directions are the best interpretations of these passages. Isaiah 40:22 says that God’s throne is above the “circle” of the earth. Is this a flat circle or a sphere? When viewed from above, a sphere appears to be a circle. But, as Dr. Hugh Ross points out, that would be an “overinterpretation” of the text. Again, such a description of the earth is more consistent with a geographical interpretation.

Second, how does science describe the shape of the earth? The first people to suggest that the earth was spherical were the ancient Greeks more than 2500 years ago. Such figures as Pythagoras and Aristotle proposed the round shape of the Earth. Many years later, Isaac Newton more accurately described our planet as a sphere that is bulging at the equator and compressed at the poles. This knowledge was not limited to Europeans as Islamic and Chinese astronomers determined that the Earth was not flat.

Finally, give the Biblical and scientific evidence is there a contradiction between the two? It is important to understand that the Bible makes no specific comment on the shape of the earth. The Biblical documents and writers use idiomatic language and poetic figures to make their points. It is important to view the text in the original languages and their written context. Properly interpreted, the Biblical documents give no contradiction to the scientific evidence of the shape of the earth. The charge that the Bible teaches a flat earth is unfounded. Neither the Christian nor the atheist should be taken in by conspiracy theories.

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