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Who Believed in a Flat Earth?

“Universum”, carved in 1888 AD
“Universum”, carved in 1888 AD
“Universum”, carved in 1888 AD

You may not have run into this yet, but someday you’ll probably hear something like this, “You’re one of those crazy Bible-believers who still thinks the earth is flat!”

How would you respond to this?

Of course, if you know what a globe is about, or you’ve seen the pictures astronauts have taken, you know this isn’t true for you. But is it true for other Creationists?

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Of course not.

You can learn more about why we get accused of believing something so silly by reading these articles:

•Answers in Genesis: Who Invented the Flat Earth
•Creation Ministries International: The flat-earth myth and creationism
•Dr. Jay Wile: The President of the Flat Earth Society is an Evolutionist…


Now, what about people in general a long time ago? Did Columbus’ sailors really think they were going to fall off the edge of the earth?

No, they didn’t.

It turns out Columbus had trouble getting people to help him travel to the Far East by sailing west because they knew the earth was round. They also knew how big the planet was and knew it would take a super long time to travel so far.

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If you get out a globe, start at Western Europe and trace a line west until you get to China, you’ll see how right those people were. The only thing that saved Columbus from starving to death (if the sailors had been willing to keep going westward) was the forgotten lands of the Americas.

So, we knew the earth was round in 1490 AD. What about before?

Crown Jewels of Poland
Crown Jewels of Poland

You ever seen a picture of a European king holding a scepter and a ball with a cross on top? That ball is called a Royal Orb. And guess what it stands for… the earth!

Before Christianity became the official religion in the 400s, Roman emperors had an orb with an idol on top. They already knew what shape to make the earth. No one went to the throne carrying a plate to represent earth.

Ever studied geometry? The word itself means “earth measure” in Greek. We know several Greeks had figured how far it was around the earth pretty accurately several hundred years before Jesus was born.

Plato and Aristotle both believed the earth was round and had decent guesses about its size. The most fun to learn about is a guy named Eratosthenes [air-a-TAWS-the-nEEss]. He’d heard about this well in Egypt where the sun shown straight down it on the first day of Summer. He found a spot in Alexandria, almost due North, where the sun show in at an angle on that same day.

Difference in the angle of the Sun between two cities.
Difference in the angle of the Sun between two cities.

Doing some math, Eratosthenes calculated the distance around the world to within a small percentage. We can’t be sure if he had it dead on or was off by a bit because we don’t know the exact length of the “stadia” he used to measure with.

You can copy Eratosthenes’ experiment for yourself with faraway friends by reading this page by the University of Texas: Eratosthenes Find the Diameter of Earth!

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Before the Greeks, things get fuzzy about what civilizations really thought of the shape of the earth. Most of what they knew got broken, burned, or never written down in the first place. Plus, it doesn’t fit into the popular story of human history.

I did find one long, EYE-CROSSING PAGE those 14+ might want to check out for this: the people during Eratosthenes’ time knew he didn’t claim to discover the diameter of the earth. He was just showing the new-fangled way of thinking still worked with the ancient knowledge of how big the earth was.

It’s worth glazing your eyes on that page for another reason. It becomes quite clear that lots of early people had figured out how big the earth is to decide on the size of their measurements. Whether they were Egyptians or Persians, they divided distances into little pieces of the circumference earth. Just like metric does today.

Someone else saying the same thing is James Nienhuis over at Genesis Veracity Foundation. Here are a list of early round-earth people:

•Indus Valley (first people in India)
•Sumerians (first people in Southern Mesopotamia)
•Egyptians (first…. well, you know)

Remember, these are known to be the first civilizations on earth. And don’t forget, it wouldn’t take many weeks to walk/sail from Mount Ararat to any of them….

Sure, there have been plenty of myths about a flat earth. But did people grow out of those stories or fall from the knowledge of their ancestors?

Will the one who disciplines nations not correct them? Will the teacher of humanity not know? [The LORD] understands that people’s thoughts are merely a puff of wind. Psalm 94:10-11 Complete Jewish Bible

And what about the Bible? Check this out: The Universe Confirms the Bible, Taking Back Astronomy, Chapter 2 by Dr. Jason Lisle. Be sure to have a look at each Bible verse he links to!

Cheri Fields

Written by Cheri Fields

Hi, I’m Cheri Fields: 2nd generation homeschooling mom of seven, wife, writer, and science lover. There is a wealth of information available to help people see how trustworthy God and His testimony in the Bible is. The key is to explain concepts simply so they can be understood by anyone. This is my goal, and I’ve had a lot of fun tackling areas where the world tests our faith.

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