Date: Thu Aug 19 1993 14:31:32
Subj: The Circle of the Earth
In a msg to Crackpot on , T'Lena of 1:2430/2112 writes:
CR>Says who? Do you believe the Earth is flat? What's that? You don't?
CR>Funny, because a literal reading of the Bible would suggest just that.
Gosh, I was hoping you'd say that.
I have before me a copy of Isaac Asimov's article, "The Circle of the Earth."
It is some 15 pages long, so I'll have to do my best to summarize it.
(BTW, in case you were thinking of attacking Asimov's familiarity with the
Bible, he wrote a two-volume set of Asimov's Guide to the Bible.)
In Isaiah 40:22, the Bible (King James version) says, "It is he that sitteth
upon the circle of the earth..." A circle, as you well know, is a
two-dimensional figure; a sphere would be the proper three-dimensional
structure. Obviously, the Earth is a sphere (well, pretty close) NOT a circle.
Another verse to the same effect is a passage in the Book of Proverbs, 8:27.
"When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the
face of the depth."
A compass draws a circle -- a flat circle. So, as Asimov says, "we can imagine
God marking out the flat, circular disk of the world in this fashion." But
even "compass" is not the best translation from the Hebrew. The Revised
Standard Version of the Bible has the verse as: "When he established the
heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep." It's
even more specifically a flat circle.
As other evidence, the rest of the Isaiah 40:22 cited earlier says, "...that
stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to
dwell in." As we know, a tent is a piece of material "spread outward above and
then down on all sides until it touches the ground. A tent is NOT a spherical
structure that surrounds a smaller spherical structure. No tent in existence
has ever been that." (I.A.) And, of course, the ground underneath a tent is
flat. Thus, according to this verse, humans live inside the tent of the
heavens, on the flat Earth.
Now, of course with a flat Earth, what keeps everything from falling? Well, it
rests on something. The Bible does mention, rather casually, what the Earth
rests upon. Asimov contends that the Bible doesn't go into more detail because
everybody in the time period when it was written was assumed to "know" that the
Earth is flat, the heavens are a tent, and the Earth rests upon pillars. But,
like I said, there is a casual mention.
In the 38th chapter of Job, Job questions God about injustice and evil. God
says to him, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if
thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the
foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the cornerstone thereof? (Job
So, what are these "foundations"? Well, since the Bible writers had never even
heard of such things as mantle and the liquid iron core of the earth, and since
they NEVER refer to the regions under the Earth's surface as composed of rock
and metal, it obviously isn't that. So, we must come to the conclusion that
the "foundations" of the Earth are the objects upon which the flat Earth rests.
Elsewhere in the Book of Job, Job says about God, "The pillars of heaven
tremble and are astonished at his reproof." So, it looks like we've found the
"foundations" -- the "pillars of heaven."
There was more to the article, mostly dealing with hell below the circle of the
Earth, but I think the point about the Earth being flat according to a
literalist reading of the Bible has been made.
C A K O
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