People who say Christopher Columbus was the first European to reach the Americas are unaware that the Vikings had been there centuries earlier, and Columbus himself never claimed to discover new lands not because he knew this, but because he insisted his whole life that they were Asia’s Indies. Thinking he’d reached these lands that included India, China and the Spice Islands, he called Native Americans Indians when arriving in 1492. The lands may have been named for him had he known better. When Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci later arrived and announced it was a new world, a geographer made a map of it and named it for him (Americus was the Latinized version of his name). Anyway, Europeans knew long before Columbus that Earth wasn’t flat and also had the same idea he did: sale west for a quicker trip to Asia. They reason they decided not to was they didn’t know if they could handle such a long trip by sea. Like Columbus, they didn’t know there was land between them and Asia. That was the geographic misconception Europeans had back then. That they believed in a flat Earth is a myth that was fabricated in the late 1800s by some of Charles Darwin’s supporters who wanted to give the impression that Christians have a history of intellectual ignorance.
Nowhere does the Bible say Earth is flat. When Isaiah said God would “gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the Earth” (Isa. 11:12), it was a figure of speech for North, South, East and West. Ezekiel used the same figure of speech in reference to Israel (Ezk. 7:2), and had Isaiah believed Earth was a square, he wouldn’t have called it a circle elsewhere (Isa. 40:22). (Technically it’s a sphere, but the Hebrew word translated “circle” can be used for anything round.) All that aside, the Bible’s authors didn’t need our modern knowledge to record God’s message. Some say the Bible is flawed based on Joshua asking God to make the sun stay still so that he and his men had time to avenge themselves in battle (Josh. 10:12, 13). This request was made according to the knowledge of the day, so it would have been ignorant for God to stop the movement of the sun, which orbits our galaxy’s center, instead of the Earth due to Joshua’s lack of knowledge. God knew what he was asking for and granted his request. And had the Bible recorded what actually happened, it would have confused readers for thousands of years thereafter. Not until 1543 did the Polish cleric Nicolaus Copernicus publish his theory that the sun is the center of the solar system, and not until 1613 did the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei write his first letter in support of the Copernican theory, in which he explained that it did not contradict the Bible. I get tired of hearing that Galileo disproved a biblical doctrine. He and Copernicus both believed in and studied the Bible. The Catholic Church declared Galileo a heretic for challenging their man-made doctrine that Earth is the center of the universe.
We still speak of the sun rising and setting, because that’s what is happening from our perspective. By all appearances Earth is unmoving. If you throw something straight up, it appears to fall straight down. You’d see the same illusion by tossing up an object in a moving car. Since it’s moving forward at the same rate as the car, it wouldn’t move toward the back of the car on its way down. But if that object was on the car’s hood and the driver slammed on the brakes, it would continue moving forward instead of staying with the car. The situation would be no different for everyone and everything not firmly attached to Earth if it suddenly quit spinning, giving critics another argument against the Bible’s veracity. What they’re basically saying is, “Maybe God could have stopped the Earth in place, but it would have been too difficult for him to also stop whatever’s on the Earth.” Ridiculous! Another ignorant criticism of this miracle I’d like to address is if it had happened, there would be reports of it from around the world. There are reports of it, and that’s something I mention in my essay Christianity Among Other Religions. You can get more information on these reports by clicking here.
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