Evolutionary Creationism: A Christadelphian Perspective: Flat Earth Creationists and Firmament Denialism

Flat earthers it appears are in all places in the meanwhile. A motion that one would think about would haven’t survived the launch of house probes has not solely managed to outlive however thrive. One factor that many overlook nevertheless is that the majority flat earthers are united by their adherence to Biblical literalism. For them, the literal phrase of the Bible is the last word authority, and they’re satisfied {that a} literal studying of the Bible teaches a flat earth lined by a strong firmament. One might regard their denial of the final 2500 years of science as past insane, however they at the least deserve credit score for being constant of their literalism. Typical YECs and even geocentrists, each of whom additionally declare to take the literal phrase of the Bible as their final authority in actuality reject a literal studying of the Bible when it conflicts with their perception in a spherical Earth, leaving them rightly open to the cost of selective literalism.

Again to our flat Earthers. Not too long ago, Josiah Hessein writing in The Guardian reported on the hyperlink between them and fundamentalist Christianity. The article opened with a report on a flat earth convention at Denver, Colorado:

The resort is internet hosting the second annual Flat Earth Worldwide Convention – an occasion that Davidson himself based and arranged. 

“I’d first heard it within the Bible and thought ‘this could’t be true,’” he recalled, talking with speedy pleasure. “I imply, I believed every thing else, that the Earth was created in six literal days, however what about all this different stuff [about a flat Earth]? To be constant as a biblical literalist, I can’t decide and select.” [1]

Properly, fairly. In case you declare you are a Biblical literalist then you have to take all the Biblical references referring to the character and origin of the Earth actually. Unsurprisingly, given this emphasis on constantly decoding the Bible actually, evangelical Christians signify one of many principal group of flat earthers. Hessein once more:

However maybe the most typical thread is the Bible, and the conviction of its basic fact. That makes evangelical Christians one in every of largest and most enthusiastic teams who embrace the speculation, however they’re additionally one of many least reported on and one which causes immense controversy in their very own group. [2]

Unsurprisingly, the non-fundamentalist elements of the evangelical group are lower than impressed by the spectacle of their fundamentalist wing discovering yet one more strategy to deliver the identify ‘evangelical’ into disrepute. Evangelical Christian and OT scholar Michael Heiser, who’s presently Educational Editor for Logos Bible Software program has written extensively on how historical Hebrews – like others within the historical Close to East – didn’t consider the Earth was a sphere orbiting the solar however slightly believed it was flat, and lined by a strong firmament through which the solar, moon, and stars had been set. Heiser, as Hessein notes, is kind of pissed off by the truth that flat earthers are taking his work (and that of different OT students who’ve documented the traditional Hebrew cosmogeography) out of context and utilizing it as proof’ that the Biblical references to a flat earth are prescriptive in addition to descriptive:

“In Genesis, you could have an Earth that’s spherical however flat, with a strong dome over it,” says Heiser. “In Proverbs, there are references to the seas being held in place the place mild meets darkness, which is the horizon, the place the dome covers and seals the Earth. You might have references to the Earth being set upon a basis, generally known as the pillars of the Earth. You might have waters beneath the Earth, which is the realm of the useless.

“All of that is normal vocabulary for a way folks of this time and place seen the world. They didn’t find out about Antarctica or New Zealand. The Bible is an historical Mediterranean-centered doc, written by people who find themselves describing their world via their experiences. The mountains are described as holding the dome of the sky in place, however there was no REI retailer close by the place they might purchase mountaineering gear and scale these peaks to see what was occurring.”

Heiser is a Christian himself, albeit one who prefers to view the Bible in its historic context. [3]

Historic context is the all-important reality right here, and it’s the place each normal YECs and flat-earthers fall down. The previous, acknowledging simply sufficient science to simply accept that the Earth is certainly spherical and orbits the solar whereas rejecting the remainder of modern science on the subject of the age of the universe have to clarify away the clear references to a strong firmament [4] whereas nonetheless pretending that they take the complete Bible actually in its description of the earth. The latter, whereas solely constant of their literalism have didn’t recognise that the references to a flat earth and a strong firmament mirror divine lodging, some extent recognised way back by John Calvin, who whereas (vainly) making an attempt to argue for firmament as expanse acknowledged the difficulties in constant literalism:

 Moses describes the particular use of this expanse, “to divide the waters from the waters,” from which phrases arises an important issue. For it seems against widespread sense, and fairly unbelievable, that there needs to be waters above the heaven. [5]

Unbelievable is an understatement, significantly if one is concurrently making an attempt to disclaim the existence of a strong firmament whereas believing that the waters above the heaven are literal. Calvin continues:

For, to my thoughts, it is a sure precept, that nothing is right here handled of however the seen type of the world. He who would study astronomy, and different recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Right here   V 1, p 80  the Spirit of God would train all males with out exception; and due to this fact what Gregory declares falsely and in useless respecting statues and footage is really relevant to the historical past of the creation, particularly, that it’s the guide of the unlearned. [6]

This precept, that God accommodates the finite perspective of His viewers even when meaning accommodating a perception in a flat earth topped by a strong firmament separating waters above from waters under, through which are set the solar, moon, and stars, is one which solves the issue by recognising that the Bible does mirror a flat earth cosmogeography with out endorsing it or requiring its acceptance as a primary precept, as Heiser remarks

My place is easy. The biblical writers do certainly describe a flat spherical earth…They wrote concerning the world this fashion as a result of they lived at a time earlier than information of the pure world was ample to exhibit in any other case. However I don’t consider the earth is basically flat “as a result of the Bible tells me so.” The information the biblical writers had of their bodily environment isn’t a fact proposition for biblical theology. Anybody who makes use of my work to prop up this concept with out offering a disclaimer that I reject fashionable flat earth pondering is unprincipled and intentionally dishonest. [7]

The YEC analogue to the flat earther who takes the scholarly consensus on the ANE view of the world as proof the earth actually is flat is arguably the place which seeks to learn into the OT a contemporary cosmology, creating within the course of a biblical-modern cosmogeography which violates each scripture and science. I used to be reminded of this yesterday after I encountered this slide from a fundamentalist presentation making an attempt to debunk the scholarly consensus on the firmament:

In fact the basic error behind this try at a biblical-modern cosmogeography is that it assumes with none justification that the Bible goes to mirror a contemporary idea of the world. On condition that passages resembling Job 26v11 “the pillars of heaven tremble, and are astounded at his rebuke” [8] when learn actually train a non-modern cosmology, any try and create a biblical-modern cosmology is useless within the water.

What strikes any disinterested reader once they see this slide is that the creator has began with the conclusion – that the Bible should mirror a contemporary cosmology – and cherry-picked verses throughout the Bible that haven’t any apparent relationship with one another and are taken out of context (the verses on the precise come from prayer and knowledge literature so their use to assemble a biblical-modern cosmology instantly means that the creator of the slide has dedicated eisegesis). It’s solely cheap to anticipate that if the creator desires to present us a coherent, constant Biblical justification for his mannequin, then the creator would wish to restrict his supportive verses to a single passage or on the very least passages from a prose-narrative style the place the Biblical creator is referring to an outline of the earth.

Even the verses on the left, which come from the identical passage betray proof of appreciable massaging in an effort to match the conclusion. The creator, with none justification invents two firmaments, a firmament referred to as heaven (Gen 1:8) and a firmament of the heavens (Gen 1:18). The rationale behind this multiplication of firmaments is to evade the truth that if one misinterprets raqia’ as ‘expanse’ (the Hebrew phrase translated firmament within the AV which the CEB and NRSV accurately render as ‘dome’) then there’s a enormous downside in that as Gen 1:15 states, the solar, moon, and stars are within the firmament:

14 God mentioned, “Let there be lights within the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night time. They may mark occasions, sacred seasons, days, and years. 15 They are going to be lights within the dome of the sky to shine on the earth.” And that’s what occurred. 16 God made the celebs and two nice lights: the bigger mild to rule over the day and the smaller mild to rule over the night time. 17 God put them within the dome of the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night time, and to separate the sunshine from the darkness. God noticed how good it was. (Emphasis mine) [9]

Understand that Gen 1:6-8 informs us that the firmament separated waters above from waters under:

6 God mentioned, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters to separate the waters from one another.” 7 God made the dome and separated the waters below the dome from the waters above the dome. And it occurred in that manner. 8 God named the dome Sky [10]

If this firmament was truly an atmospheric expanse separating clouds from ocean, then Gen 1:14-18 would train that the solar, moon, and stars had been within the environment, one thing which even YECs acknowledge is unattainable. So as to keep away from this deadly blow to the biblical-modern cosmogeograpy, with none justification, a second firmament is created in Gen 1. As one can see from studying fashionable translations such because the CEB, the translators didn’t suppose there have been two firmaments, however merely referred to the dome. (Gen 1:14 refers back to the dome of the sky for the merely cause that within the previous verse 8, the dome was named sky). Right here, the mainstream view that the firmament is a strong entity separating waters above from waters under, through which had been set the solar, moon, and stars is by far the extra coherent clarification for the information.

Lastly, if there have been two firmaments, then we might anticipate to see clear reference to this in Ezekiel 1 which explicitly refers back to the raqia’:

22 The form above the heads of the creatures was a dome; it was like glittering ice stretched out over their heads. 23 Slightly below the dome, their outstretched wings touched one another. They every additionally had two wings to cowl their our bodies. 24 Then I heard the sound of their wings once they moved ahead. It was just like the sound of mighty waters, just like the sound of the Almighty,f just like the sound of tumult or the sound of a military camp. Once they stood nonetheless, their wings got here to relaxation. 25 Then there was a sound from above the dome over their heads. They stood nonetheless, and their wings got here to relaxation.

 26 Above the dome over their heads, there appeared one thing like lapis lazuli within the type of a throne. Above the type of the throne there was a type that seemed like a human being. 27 Above what seemed like his waist, I noticed one thing like gleaming amber, one thing like hearth enclosing it throughout. Beneath what seemed like his waist, I noticed one thing that seemed to be hearth. Its brightness shone throughout. 28 Simply as a rainbow lights up a cloud on a wet day, so its brightness shone throughout. This was how the type of the LORD’s glory appeared. Once I noticed it, I fell on my face. I heard the sound of somebody talking. [11]

Aside from the truth that the solidity of the firmament is clearly
attested right here, the absence of a second firmament neatly refutes the
assertion that two firmaments exist in Gen 1. The mannequin thus fails on
Biblical grounds, and is clearly an instance of distorting the Biblical
knowledge to salvage an try and learn a contemporary conception of the Earth into
the Bible.

Lastly, the mannequin fails on meteorological grounds.
The ‘firmament referred to as heaven’ in response to this mannequin exists to separate
waters above (the clouds) from waters under (the ocean). As anybody with
a nodding familiarity with meteorology would realise, clouds do not
exist in a neatly outlined layer, however prolong from floor degree (fog) to
polar stratospheric clouds that are within the stratosphere roughly
20 km above floor degree. In reality cumulonimbus clouds can prolong from
200m to as excessive as 10km, often even reaching 20,000 km.

On condition that floor degree clouds resembling ocean fog are hovering over the ocean, the ‘firmament referred to as heaven’ would seem not solely to be doing a poor job of separating waters above from waters under however on this case be compressed out of existence altogether. When a mannequin fails each biblical and scientific examination, it’s truthful to say that the one intellectually sincere strategy is to desert it, cease making an attempt to learn science into the Bible, and browse what the textual content in sociocultural context is definitely saying.


Flat earthers, regardless of being completely, irredeemably incorrect have one factor over the category of YEC who attempt to learn fashionable ideas of the world into an historical textual content in that they’re in keeping with their literalism. In fact, their downside is that they suppose the biblical cosmogeography is prescriptive in addition to descriptive, a view that locations them in battle with noticed actuality. YECs get the worst of each worlds in that they preserve their literalism selectively, asserting that regardless of the proof, evolution is fake and the earth younger, however then abandoning their hermeneutic and insisting that regardless of what a plain studying of the Bible says, the Earth is spherical and has no strong sky. For sure, the particular pleading and cherry-picking of the Biblical proof required to defend the YEC view is appreciable and undermines the integrity of their complete worldview.

Recognising that the Bible accommodates pre-modern cosmogeography with out endorsing it, for the straightforward cause that it’s extra involved with telling us who created the world, slightly than when and how. As soon as extra, the Bible teaches a theology of creation, not a science of creation.


1. Josiah Hessein “Flat Earthers hold the religion at Denver convention” The Guardian Solar 18th November 2018

2. ibid 

3. ibid
4. I’ve written extensively on this topic so won’t repeat myself. It’s truthful to say that exterior a tiny fundamentalist / confessional minority, OT scholarship recognises that the traditional Close to Japanese idea of the world was radically totally different from ours, with perception in a strong sky (of various geometries) normative. As OT scholar Peter Enns notes, “The strong nature of the raqia is nicely established. It’s not the results of an anti-Christian conspiracy to search out errors within the Bible, however the “strong” results of students doing their job. This doesn’t imply that there could be no dialogue or debate. However, to introduce a novel interpretation of raqia would require new proof or at the least a reconsideration of the proof we now have that may be compelling to those that shouldn’t have a vested spiritual curiosity in sustaining one view or one other”. See “The Firmament of Genesis 1 is Stable however That’s Not the Level” BioLogos Weblog Jan 14 2010. (I’m conscious that just a few Christadelphians have not too long ago written in opposition to the scholarly consensus on the cosmogeography of the OT and ANE. As these authors are amateurs with zero skilled coaching within the related scholarly disciplines, have self-published their works and haven’t submitted them so far as I’m conscious for skilled peer evaluation, these books could be dismissed with out additional examination.)5. John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Guide of Moses Known as Genesis, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software program, 2010), 79.
6. ibid, p 79-80
7. Michael Heiser “Christians Who Imagine the Earth is Actually Flat — Does It Get Any Dumber Than This?Bare Bible Feb 18 2016
8. Fundamentalists invariably attraction to Job 26v7 “He…hangs the earth upon nothing” to show that the Bible was forward of its time in describing the Earth suspended in house. Curiously, they fail to incorporate verse 11 of their Biblical cosmogeography. That is yet one more instance of fundamentalist inconsistency in literalism.
Widespread English Bible (Nashville, TN: Widespread English Bible, 2011), Ge 1:14–18.
Widespread English Bible (Nashville, TN: Widespread English Bible, 2011), Ge 1:6–8.
Widespread English Bible (Nashville, TN: Widespread English Bible, 2011), Eze 1:22–28.

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