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Does the Bible say the Earth is flat?

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Started: 12/19/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 weeks ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 199 times Debate No: 105995
Debate Rounds (3)
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While I am not arguing necessarily that it is proof of a flat Earth, I am arguing the bible says the Earth is flat.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Verses which say the Earth is flat, or verses which imply the Earth is not flat.
Round 3: Explaining.


I would be happy to debate this topic with you, and I look forward to our discussion.
Debate Round No. 1


While there are many, many verses in the bible that say that the Earth is flat, I will only be naming a few in order to keep this debate short.

1. Isaiah 40:22

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." This verse not only implies that the Earth is a circle, but that the "heavens are like a canopy/tent".

First off, one of the most famous projections of the flat Earth, the AE Map, is flat and circular.

How this gets mixed up with a sphere Earth is beyond me. I know some will try to use this verse as proof the bible claims the Earth is spherical, but it says "circle", not "ball", "sphere", "pear", "oblate spheroid", etc. Also, many flat Earthers believe that the stars and space are a part of the "firmament", which is part of a dome encasing the Earth.

2. Psalm 96:10

"Say among the nations, The Lord reigns. The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity"

This verse implies that the Earth cannot be moved at all, not that it flies around the sun at over 66K MPH while spinning faster than sound.

3. Genesis 1:6

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."

This is yet another verse implying there is a dome and firmament above the Earth.

4. Job 28:24

"For He looks to the ends of the earth And sees everything under the heavens."

Now, you can't have an "end to the Earth" on a spinning ball. Again, the bible says the Earth is flat.

5. Psalm 19:6

"It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth."

This verse implies the sun has a circuit, which we would not see on a globe.

The reason for time zones on a flat Earth is because the sun goes in a circuit around the Earth. Similar to this.



Genres of the Bible

Before I present my counters to each verse, I want to describe the different genres of the Bible, and explain the best way to understand specific books. For this I will borrow from Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, who does a fine job of summarizing them.

There are about 8 different genres in the Bible, which include law, history, wisdom, prophecy, poetry, gospel, epistles, and apocalyptic. I will not include gospel, law, epistles, and apocalyptic in this summary since your verses do not belong to any of them, but if you want to take a look at them, I will have the link below.

1. History

These books give a historical account of events, and tell them how they actually happened. Books include Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and Joshua.

2. Wisdom

These books focus on shrewd statements, the meaning of life, and common sense. Books are Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs.

3. Poetry

Similar to modern poetry. Characterized by rhyme, and includes figurative language. Books are Psalms, Song of Solomon, and lamentations.

4. Prophecy

Mainly focused with predictions of future events, and calling others to repent. Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Eziekel, and Daniel.

Recognizing these genres become crucial when determining whether to take a verse literal or search for a figurative meaning. You can probably see where I am going with this. On the other hand, a single book is not confined by a single genre, and many books mix them while others may stick to one. For example, Isaiah is very poetic at times as well as prophetic; in contrast, Joshua is very historical, and little else.

Verse Rebuttals

1. Isaiah 40:22

The first thing to note about Isaiah is that it is prophecy book that also heavily poetic; consequently it can be figurative.

The first thing to notice here is that it includes a simile "He stretches out the heavens like a canopy". Right off the bat, we know that it is figurative, and not literally describing Earth's geography. Thus when it mentions Earth's circle, it is neither teaching that the Earth is spherical, nor that the Earth is a pancake; rather, it is just using the circular nature of the Earth as imagery (Most civilizations at that time probably recognized the circular nature of Earth). The part of the verse that mentions the canopy is actually included in the simile, and is no more than a comparison which resembles how God created the universe.

2. Psalm 96:10

The first thing we should notice, is that Psalm is almost exclusively poetry, and is as a result, very figurative. This is crucial to keep in mind when interpreting the scripture; obviously, we would not take "He makes us lie down in green pastures" literally. But before I dissect your verse, I want to point out that, even if this verse is completely literal, why should it be inconsistent with science. After all, the Earth is established firmly in orbit to the sun, and cannot break free from it. Moreover, it is also a firm foundation for humans, as it is not unstable and constantly moving out from under our feet. Obviously if you take "cannot be moved" completely literally, then it would be inconsistent with science; however, I think it could just as easily suggest that the Earth is firmly secured in orbit. Information from Job 26:7 emphasizes this possibility further: "He suspends the Earth over nothing". This suggests that the Earth was hung in empty space and is held there by invisible forces.

With that said, I believe this to be figurative. It most likely suggests that God has created the world to reflect His nature and the fact that He is permanently sovereign over it. Romans 1:20 helps understand this:

"For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what was made, so that they are without excuse"

This gives us evidence that God has woven His characteristics into creation, and that His divine nature is revealed through it. At the end of the verse, Paul states that because of this "general revelation", no one will be without excuse. It is clear that this ties in perfectly with the Psalm, which state "He will judge the world with equity".

I want to drive this point home, so I will elaborate further by showing how the verse would flow if it were literal and if it were figurative:


God Reigns
The world cannot move
He will judge the world with equity.


God Reigns
The world reflects his divine nature, and none are without excuse
He will judge the world with equity.

It appears that a literal description of Earth's geography does not seem to belong here, while the figurative explanation seems to cohere well with the rest of the verse. I think this provides a strong case for the figurative interpretation.

3. Genesis 1:6

Genesis is within the history genre, and it is highly unlikely that this verse is figurative. But the error in the use of this verse, is that you have equated the "firmament" to a outer dome before you bring up the verse. However, we have to note that the original Hebrew word "raqia" literally translates as an expanse or extended surface. Modern Hebrew simply translates the word as sky. Now the wrd may have gotten a connotation of hardness or firmness through translation to Greek and then to the Latin "firmamentum", but however it happened, I think it is irrelevant. The main idea of the firmament is simply that is the heavens or the sky. God actually calls the firmament heaven in the following verse; however, this only suggests that heaven is an expanse which God has stretched out over the Earth. It does not suggest anything else, let alone a solid dome structure.

4. Job 28:24

Job is one of the wisdom books, but it mixes the genres of history and poety; although, the poetry section is longer.

Simply put, the "ends of the earth" is an idiom. Idioms are harder to translate effectivley, but it most likely means "the furthest reaches of mankind", or something along those lines. You can tell by it's use in the following verses that it is not ment to be taken literally. Psalm 22:27, Psalm 67:7 Isaiah 45:22, Psalm 98:3

5. Psalm 19:6

We have already established that the book of Psalms is very poetic and figurative, but that alone does not reject this verse as proof of a flat Earth teaching. By itself, the verse looks to be compelling evidence for the kind of circuit you described; however, it is important to look at the previous verses for a better context.

"Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens; and makes it's circuit to the other. Nothing is deprived of it's warmth"

Once you take the verse out of isolation, and put it into context with the previous verses, you can tell that this verse is obviously figurative. Right off the bat, we see the "Ends of the world" idiom, and two similes; these, point to an obvious figurative nature of the verse. This psalm is a song, and is not describing the Earth's geography in the slightest. The verse is painting a picture, and it describes the sun as rising and making a circuit in the same way that people today say things like sunrise and sunset. All this is, is imagery. More verses which use phrases like sunrise are Psalm 113:3. Genesis 15:12, Daniel 6:14


When taken completely literally, the verses you presented do imply a flat Earth; however, when you analyze their context and literary style, it becomes obvious that you ought not to do so. For example,Paul warns us to watch out for dogs, but it is doubtful that he meant "steer clear of bulldogs". As a result, the challenge is to determine whether or not the verse should be taken literally or figuratively. And most of your verses seem to fall into the latter.


Debate Round No. 2


1. Isaiah 40:22

"The first thing to notice here is that it includes a simile "He stretches out the heavens like a canopy. Right off the bat, we know that it is figurative, and not literally describing Earth's geography. Thus when it mentions Earth's circle, it is neither teaching that the Earth is spherical, nor that the Earth is a pancake; rather, it is just using the circular nature of the Earth as imagery (Most civilizations at that time probably recognized the circular nature of Earth"

Right, it says like a canopy. It doesn't say that the heavens or the stars are within in an infinite space vacuum. In that instance, whether or not it is figurative is irrelevant. And also, how would "circle" be describing a sphere? Why did they choose to say "circle" instead of "ball", "sphere", "pear", "oblate spheroid", etc? That is my question.

2. Psalm 96:10

So, your argument is, a verse that is implying the Earth cannot be move and is firmly established, is actually implying the Earth is firmly established within an orbit. Lets go over the verse again

"Say among the nations, The Lord reigns. The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved."

The verse is implying the Earth is firmly established and cannot be moved. It doesn't say "The Earth is firmly established, it is in an orbit around the Sun".

3. Genesis 1:6

Alrighty, the verse might not be implying a dome specifically, but it does imply that there is a vault above the Earth to separate the waters above from the waters below. On a globe Earth, the blue sky is because of Rayleigh scattering.

4. Job 28:24

Your implication is highly speculative. While it is possibile it is meant to say the furthest reaches of mankind, do you have any evidence it was a mistranslation?

5. Psalm 19:6

Fine, I concede this verse.


Isaiah 40:32

"Right, it says like a canopy. It doesn't say that the heavens or the stars are within in an infinite space vacuum"

You are missing the point. The use of simile proves that the verse is figurative; consequently, you cannot use it as evidence for a literal teaching. To elaborate, this description of Earth is based off of what people observe e.g. a circular Earth or a dome-like sky. For example, if I said that stars are "like a diamond in the sky", I am not saying that stars are diamond shaped; rather, I am saying that they look to be diamond shaped. In the same way, when Isaiah says that the heavens are like a canopy, he is not declaring that they are literally a canopy, but rather that they look like they are a canopy. What you are trying to do here is use a simile from the poetic writings of Isaiah as evidence of a flat Earth teaching. This is not going to fly.

"Why did they choose to say "circle" instead of ball"

As stated above, this is a poetic verse which uses descriptions of how the world looks, rather than how it is.

Psalm 96:10

First, I will remind you that I am not subscribed to the "Earth established in orbit theory"; rather, I believe this verse to be figurative. I only included the above theory in my response, as it is an equally likely explanation of the verse. In fact, if you examine Job 26:7, where it is stated that the Earth is suspended over nothingness, a solid case can be made for this theory. With that said, this is not the theory I subscribe to; I think that it is clear the phrase is figurative for God's divine nature being permanently reflected in creation. I addressed my reasons for believing this in my first response; however, you chose to ignore my entire argument and instead tried to knock down the orbit theory. As a result, my figurative argument remains uncontested.

In addition, I believe that your counter argument to the "Earth established in orbit" theory is unsound. Even though I believe the verse to be figurative, I believe you have done an inadequate job at dismantling the orbit theory.

"It doesn't say "The Earth is firmly established, it is in an orbit around the Sun"."

If taken literally, all this verse says is that the world is established, and cannot be moved; It does not give any extra information that would be evidence of a flat Earth teaching. For instance, it could have said "The Earth cannot be moved, it is resting on four pillars." This would unequivocally declare the flatness of the Earth; however, we have nothing like that in this verse. All we have is a statement that the Earth is established and unmovable. In fact, suppose a theory states that Earth is flat and sticks to God's forehead like a sticker; this, would still be consistent with the above verse. After all, it is established by an adhesive, and cannot be moved. As a result, even if this verse is supposed to be taken literally, it is still pointless to use it as a flat Earth teaching.

Gensis 1:6

"Alrighty, the verse might not be implying a dome specifically, but it does imply that there is a vault above the Earth to separate the waters above from the waters below"

No, all this verse implies is that there is an expanse which divides the waters below from the waters above. Remember, your original claim is that it implies a dome; however, you have just agreed that it does not. As I explained in my first response, when you break the verse down, the main message is that the expanse or "firmament" is merely the heavens or sky. I agree with you that it does not imply a dome, but I think it is clear that it neither implies a "vault". The ONLY thing the verse implies, is that there is an expanse which divides the waters.

Job 28:24

Do not misunderstand me here. I am not saying it is a mistranslation at all; what I am saying is that when you translate an idiom, it is harder to grasp the meaning. Furthermore, I did not say that the meaning is definitely "the furthest reaches of mankind", rather, I emphasized that it is a likely explanation. But even if I have gotten the meaning wrong, the fact that it is an idiom is sufficient evidence to refute it as a flat Earth teaching. And based off of it's use in other verses, I believe it is clearly an idiom.

Psalm 67:7

"God will bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him."

Psalm 98:3

"He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the Earth shall fear Him.

Now look at Job 28:24

"For He looks to the ends of the Earth, and sees everything under the heavens"

When you isolate the verse from Job, it might appear that it is implying the Earth to have an edge; however, when you look at the use of the phrase across the entire Bible, it does not seem to be a reliable explanation. On the other hand if you understand it as an idiom for "the furthest reaches of mankind", or something along those lines, then the explanation can fit all the contexts in which it is found.

1) The furthest reaches of mankind will fear him
2) He sees the furthest reaches of mankind.

So my argument is not speculative; rather, I have examined the different contexts which the phrase has been used, and provided a sound case for why it is an idiom. Obviously, if it is an idiom, it cannot be interpreted as a flat Earth teaching.


The fundamental flaw with your argument seems to be that you are isolating specific verses from the Bible, and claiming that the teach a flat Earth. However, you did not consider factors such as context or genre, and at times, simply tried to stretch the meaning of a verse. I believe I have shown that most of the verses you selected are figurative, and not to be taken literally; as well as , revealed that argument for a dome is the result of a distorted verse.

The Bible is very quiet on the geography of Earth, and consequently, any claims that it teaches a flat one are either the result of a misinterpreted verse, or taking verses out of context. I believe I have effectively shown that you have fallen pray to these traps, and that the Bible clearly does not teach a flat Earth.

Thankyou for the debate, I enjoyed the topic.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by I_just_plant_the_seed 3 weeks ago
Sorry for late post
Posted by Flatstanley 4 weeks ago
Th erf es flot and it es in th bibl chrismis profs it because chrismis tre
Posted by ninjad912 4 weeks ago
with earth is flat why does no one ever bring up gravity if the earth was flat in some places near the edge you could jump miles?
Posted by SilverishGoldNova 4 weeks ago
Agreed, again, this debate is on if the bible says the Earth is flat.
Posted by I_just_plant_the_seed 4 weeks ago
Since the burden is on you to prove that the bible teaches that the Earth is flat, I do not necessarily have to argue that it teaches the Earth to be a sphere. So for this debate, my focus will be on disproving the conclusions of your arguments for a flat Earth, not presenting arguments for a spherical Earth.

Please let me know if you agree with this.
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