The Biblical Flat Earth: A Response To Blue Letter Bible

The Blue Letter Bible website "provides powerful tools for an in-depth study of God’s Word through our free online reference library, with study tools that are grounded in the historical, conservative Christian faith." They also claim to be Bible centered and say: "We view the Bible as central to our study resources. We intentionally designed the website to include study tools that are linked directly to Bible passages."

Don Stewart, a contributor at the website, wrote an article entitled "Are There Mythological Elements in the Genesis Creation Account?" I wish to address this article here.

The article starts off by saying:

"One of the major criticisms of the early chapters of Genesis concerns the so-called mythological elements which it contains. These facts supposedly reveal the fallible human authorship of Scripture. A close examination, however, will show that the so-called mythological elements in Genesis do not really exist."

My response:

It becomes abundantly clear in this article that if there is any sort of fallibility occurring it is occurring by Mr. Stewart and how he completely slaughters the Holy Scripture of God through a classical case of eisogesis (which means to be reading INTO the text instead of 'exogesis' which is to read FROM the text).

The article continues:

"One example that is often cited is that the Bible portrays the heavens as something solid. The Hebrews, it is contended, believed the sky was a solid dome. This dome supposedly had windows which opened up to pour out the rainwater upon the earth."

My response:

Yes, the Hebrews did believe that it was a solid dome and the reason why is because they believed the Bible and what it actually said.

P.H. Seely, in his book, "The Firmament and the Water Above," writes:

"Jews speculated as to what material the firmament was made of: clay or copper or iron (3 Apoc. Bar. 3.7). They differentiated between the firmament and the empty space or air between it and the earth (Gen. Rab. 4.3.a; 2 Apoc. Bar. 21.4). They tried to figure out how thick it was by employing biblical interpretation (Gen. Rab. 4.5.2). Most tellingly they even tried to calculate scientifically the thickness of the firmament (Pesab. 49a). "Christians speculated as to whether it was made of earth, air, fire, or water (the basic elements of Greek science). Origen called the firmament "without doubt firm and solid" (First Homily on Genesis, FC 71). Ambrose, commenting on Gen 1:6, said, 'the specific solidity of this exterior firmament is meant' (Hexameron, FC 42.60). Augustine said the word firmament was used 'to indicate not that it is motionless but that it is solid and that it constitutes an impassable boundary between the waters above and the waters below' (The Literal Meaning of Genesis, ACW 41.1.61)." - p. 236

In addition, Easton's Bible dictionary defines firmament as "from the Vulgate firmamentum, which is used as the translation of the Hebrew raki'a . This word means simply 'expansion.' They who rendered raki'a by firmamentum regarded it as a solid body. It formed a division between the waters above and the waters below ( Genesis 1:7 ). The raki'a supported the upper reservoir ( Psalms 148:4 ). It was the support also of the heavenly bodies ( Genesis 1:14 ), and is spoken of as having "windows" and "doors" ( Genesis 7:11 ; Isaiah 24:18 ; Malachi 3:10 ) through which the rain and snow might descend. (Sections of this is omitted due to their helio-centric isogesis commentary which do not include the facts). The source can be found here.

Continuing from the article:

"The New English Bible adds to this mistaken idea. In Genesis 1, it translates the Hebrew term raqiach as firmament. This has contributed to the confusion over the meaning of the term and seems to give support that Genesis teaches that the heavens were solid. This, however, is an unfortunate translation of the Hebrew word which simply means expanse. The Hebrew word for expanse denotes air or atmosphere not something solid. Birds are often called, the fowls of heaven. They are said to fly in the heaven, not through the heaven. 

the likeness of any beast that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air (Deuteronomy 4:17).

Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times . . . (Jeremiah 8:7).

If the Hebrews thought that heaven was a solid plate, then obviously birds could not fly in it. 

My response:

My first question would be, what difference would there be if I said I was swimming IN the ocean or THROUGH the ocean? Or what if I said I am walking IN the room or THROUGH the room?

From Genesis 1:14-17 the text describes setting the "lights," which is the sun, the moon, and the luminaries in the "firmament."

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, - Genesis 1:14-17

It is interesting to note that "lights" are in the firmament. The passage in Deuteronomy 4:17 and Jeremiah 8:7 use the Hebrew word "shamayim" for air and heaven. This is the same word used in Genesis 1:17 when it says "heaven." If the birds are flying "in the heavens" and the heavens are merely the "atmosphere" then wouldn't that then mean that the sun, moon, and luminaries are also in the same place that birds fly?

The text in Genesis 1:17 uses two different Hebrew words describing what is going on.

And God set them in the FIRMAMENT of the HEAVEN to give light upon the earth, - Genesis 1:17

Firmament refers to the dome or vault of God's creation and is the Hebrew word "raqyia." The Hebrew word for heaven is "shamayim."

So, literally, God is setting the "lights" in the "vault" of the "sky."

The Hebrews didn't believe that "heaven" or "shamayim" was a solid plate. They believed that "raqyia" was a solid plate and dome. Obviously to miss the differences in the Hebrew wording there would cause the interpretation to fail. Of what sense would the text mean if "raqyia" and "shamayim" were BOTH referring to the air or expanse? 

The word used in Genesis 1:17 is from the Strong's root word "raqa." This is the same Hebrew word used in Job describing the "vault." 

Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? - Job 37:18

Therefore, we must understand that "raqyia" and "shamayim" are describing two different things here. Raqyia is describing what is separating the waters from the waters (the firmament) and the shamayim is describing the air and that which is set in the firmament such as the sun, moon, and the birds as referenced in Deuteronomy 4:17 and Jeremiah 8:7.

The article continues:

The Scripture teaches that the heavens were not a solid iron dome but something that was stretched out. The psalmist wrote the following about the heavens: 

Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain (Psalm 104:2).

In a number of places in Isaiah, he records God as the one who stretched out the heavens. 

Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it (Isaiah 42:5).

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb; I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself (Isaiah 44:24).

Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together (Isaiah 48:13).

And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth . . . (Isaiah 51:13).

The idea that the heavens were stretched out is inconsistent with some solid dome that is supposedly above us.

My response:

If the helio-centric view is correct, how is the heavens, which is shamayim here again in Psalms 104:2, supposed to mean both the immediate atmosphere where "birds" fly in and also the ever expanding universe and outer space? The "shamayim" are described as curtains which works perfectly if one understand they are spread out within the "raqyia" or "vault" of the earth. Isaiah 42:5, 44:24, 48:13, and 51:13 all use "shamayim" for the word "heavens." Therefore, if the "heavens" are to include that which the "birds" fly in, then why are they "stretched out in such a way as to be "unbound?" Certainly they would have to be "unbound" if there is not the "raquiya" in which they are contained. If they are not contained then they are part of the ever expanding universe which would not "give breath to people" as mentioned in Isaiah 42:5.

The article continues:

In the Book of Job we read: 

He binds up the waters in His thick clouds (Job 26:8).

The waters in the sky are in the clouds, not in some window connected to a solid dome. 

My response:

While Job 26:8 DOES seem to reference clouds here, what about the waters ABOVE the "heavens" as mentioned in Psalms 148:4: Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens?

The only way there could be "waters above the heavens" (shamayim) would be if the heavens were contained and stretched out within a dome. There can be waters above the "heavens" if one allows for raqyia to represent the hard like metal structure that is required by the Hebrew to speak to this issue.

The article continues:

Furthermore, the phrase windows of heaven should not be taken literally. It is obviously a figure of speech. The phrase windows of heaven is used not only of rain, but also of God giving grain: 

Then the officer had answered the man of God, and said, Now look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could such a thing be? . . . (2 Kings 7:19).

The fact that the phrase is used in contexts other than giving rain shows that it is a figure of speech, not something to be understood literally. 

My response:

The "windows of heaven shouldn't be taken literally?" Why not? Ironically in chapter 7 of 2 Kings we have the "royal officer" mocking the prophecy of Elisa in the words "could such a thing be" referencing the windows of heavens in light of Elisa saying that "To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria." (2 Kings 7:1). The point here that the officer was referencing the "windows of heaven" as such an incredible and unbelievable thing as much as Elisa's prophecy regarding the barley. Obviously this text might as well have been written to Don Stewart and others who would mock the teaching of Scripture just as this officer did in respect to the prophecy foretold to him.

Furthermore, what of these "floodgates" are also referenced in Genesis.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the WINDOWS OF HEAVEN were opened. - Genesis 7:11

Now, would Don Stewart also mock the idea of the world wide flood? Again, here we see how beautifully the Scriptures work together in explaining the "waters above the heavens," the firmament separating the waters from the waters, and even the very "windows of heaven" which poured down upon the earth regarding the flood.

The gates or "arubbah" of the "shamayim" heavens can certainly be referencing the dome. There couldn't be any sort of "gates" in clouds. If we were to take the Scriptures literally it would look a lot like this graphic here:

The article continues:

Another so-called mythological understanding concerns the place of the earth in the universe. Did Moses consider the earth as the center of the universe? Again, we must emphasize that Scripture was written in popular language from the viewpoint of an observer. There is no attempt by the biblical writers to give us a scientific explanation of how the universe functions. As far as humanity is concerned, we are the center of the universe from our perspective.

My response:

Moses was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the inerrant Words of God. To suggest that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit intended to inspire people based upon their primitive ignorance is to suggest that the Words of Scripture were relatively inspiring for a time and not eternally inerrant. At what point now do we not question the creation account regarding Adam and Eve? What now of the flood? What of the virgin birth, donkey's speaking, an ax handle floating, the Red sea splitting, the resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of Christ from the dead!? If we cannot trust the clear meaning of Scripture regarding these points, why trust it at all?

The earth is at the center of God's creation and the focal point of God's revelation to us and His plan of salvation. To deny this and accept the helio-centric position is to put the Bible as a primitive foot-note to the authority of men in scienitism and NOT in the Holy, pure, and inerrant Word's of Holy Scripture. Let NASA be true and God's Word a liar? Pardon me but I plan on believing God's Word and will let every man that stands against it to be a liar.

The article continues:

Why does the Bible say that the moon is a light when we know that it is not a light but only reflects the light of the sun? Again, we are dealing with the language of observation. This is another example of the biblical writers describing things as they appear. From the point of view of the earth, the moon is a light. From a darkened earth the moon appears to be a bright light in the sky. Therefore, the Bible in speaking from the language of appearance, calls the moon a light. 

My response:

Again, the Bible not only describes the sun and the moon as "two lights" but one being a "greater" light and the other being a "lesser light."

There have been temperature experiments conducted regarding the differences in the moon light vs. the sun light. The moon light actually gives off a cool light. To stand in the shade when the moon is out causes one to be slightly warmer than to be standing directly in the moon's light.

In addition, there are many problems with the sun being the only source of light in explaining the moon's phases. "In the lunar eclipses of July 17th, 1590; November 3rd, 1648; June 16th, 1666; and May 26th, 1668; the moon rose eclipsed whilst the sun was still apparently above the horizon. Those horizontal eclipses were noticed as early as the time of Pliny." I would love to see how Don Stewart explains the moon being eclipsed while both the sun and moon were visible above the horizon.

Here is recent proof of the flat earth demonstrating that the moon which should have been on the opposite side of a ball was clearly seen in the sky above the earth.

Here is another short video by Rob Skiba that deals with both the moon phases and temperature testing of the moonlight.

The article concludes by saying:

The Genesis account of creation does not have the mythological elements found in other ancient accounts of the creation of the world. The so-called mythology in Genesis comes as a result of misinterpreting and mistranslating the text. 

The account found in Genesis is a sober, realistic account of the heavens from vantage point of earth. It describes the heavens in the way an observer would see them. There is no attempt in Genesis to give a scientific description of the sun, moon, and stars.

My response:

The Genesis account is the foundation for the Gospel and for the rest of God's revelation to His creation. To suggest that it is false or catering to primitive man calls into question the verity of God's Word and leads to agnosticism and unbelief. There is so much in NASA that is literally "unbelievable" that I would never suggest that God's Word must bend to such a shameful organization.

Just as the officer in 2 Kings mocked the prophet of God regarding the windows of heaven, Don Stewart has mocked God's Word in this article. My reply will be the same as Elisa:

Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

And we shall all see it with our own eyes one day when we all stand before the King of Kings and every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord.

May God be true and every man a liar.

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