Biblical Errors About the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun

The Judaeo-Christian scriptures, commonly called the 'Bible', has a wrong view of the Earth and of the Sun. The model of the Earth, and its surroundings, that can be understood from reading passages in the 'Bible', is that the Earth is a flat disk or rectangle (perhaps square or rectangular with rounded corners), upon some foundation that is fixed (unless acted upon by the "God" character), and covered over with a multilayered dome (the "heavens") in which 1) birds fly, 2) clouds move, 3) the Moon moves, 4) the Sun moves, and 5) the stars are fixed. Some have analyzed all the background of this topic to find seven layers, in the topmost of which is the location of the "throne of God". This is what ecstatic worshipers of the Hebrew diety, and/or editors of the Hebrew scriptures, have claimed, among all the other, more numerous, claims about their deity, history, future, and other statements upon which Science can bear.

The truth of the shapes, and relative motions, of the Earth, Moon, and Sun have been discovered by philosophers from ancient Greek times, and scientists since, with many corroborating, and improving, measurements, and is that the Earth is a spinning ball (oblate spheroid), as are the Moon and Sun, with the Moon orbiting the Earth -the Hebrews got that one right- but with the Earth orbiting the Sun, and with the Sun orbiting the center of the Galaxy. The Earth consists of a plastic molten mass, with a solid core, and a solidified crust, upon which we live. Earthquakes happen because of motions in the crust, parts rubbing against each other, but the 'Bible' credits the origin of earthquakes to actions of the god character. Furthermore, the Hebrews misunderstood the nature of the light we see from the Moon, recording that it emits its own light in one of the two creation stories, while the truth is that the light is from the Sun, reflected off the Moon.

In fairness, since the surface of the Earth is so much closer to us than is the Sun, we have a tendency to view the Sun as moving, relative to the Earth, hence we call the first sighting of the Sun "sunrise", and the last "sunset". But our perception, and that of the pre-scientific Hebrews, is mistaken, as our perception is caused by the rotation of the Earth, so that its surface carries an observer into the light, through it, and then away, into the shadow of the Earth, which we call "night". However, if the Judaeo-Christian scriptures were the product of any "spirit of truth", it should have had better information than our Earth-centered perceptions.

The point of exposing the wrong statements in the 'Bible' is to bring the mind of the reader to question, what else is wrong in that collection of books and letters? For those who believe that the 'Bible' has no error, let them read the many passages, listed below, and let them learn that it has many errors, and not just about this topic. For those who think that the Christian scriptures (the "New Testament") is of better revelation than the Jewish, think again: the narrators and characters in the Christian stories adopt the same models.

On the fixedness of the Earth:

  • 1 Samuel 2.8 "...for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them."
  • 1 Chronicles 16:30 "... all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved."
  • Job 9:6 "Which [Yahweh] shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble."
  • Job 38:4,6 "...Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?... Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof?"
  • Psalms 75:3 "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it."
  • Psalms 93:1 "...the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved."
  • Psalms 82:5 "...all the foundations of the earth are out of course."
  • Psalms 96:10 "...the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved."
  • Ecclesiastes 1:4 "...the earth abideth for ever."
  • Isaiah 40:21 "...from the foundations of the earth?"
  • Isaiah 48:13 "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth..."
  • Micah 6:2 "Hear ye, O mountains, ... and ye strong foundations of the earth,..."
  • Hebrews 1:10 "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth..."
  • On the shape of the Earth:

    1. Job 11:9 "The measure thereof is longer than the earth."
    2. Job 38:5 "Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?"
    3. Job 38:13 "That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, ..."
    4. Job 38:18 "Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth?..."
    5. Psalms 33:13-14 "The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth."1
    6. Psalms 74:17 "Thou hast set all the borders of the earth..."
    7. Isaiah 5:26 "...from the end of the earth."
    8. Isaiah 11:12 "...from the four corners of the earth."
    9. Isaiah 40:22 "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth..."
    10. Daniel 4:10,11 "...I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great... and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth."2
    11. Matthew 4:8 "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world..."1
    12. Revelation 1:7 "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him..."2
    13. Revelation 7:1 "...I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth..."

    Apologists for the Bible try to twist 'circle' (Is 40:22) into meaning 'sphere', but a circle is an outline of a disk, both of which are flat. There is a word in Hebrew that could have been used to convey a three-dimensional roundness, translated 'ball' in Isaiah 22:18.

    On the motion of the Sun:
    1. Joshua 10:12-13 "... and he said ..., 'Sun, stand thou still...' ... And the sun stood still...So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day."3
    2. Judges 5:31 " the sun when he goeth forth...."
    3. Job 9:7 "Which ["god"] commandeth the sun, and it riseth not..."
    4. Psalms 19:4-6 "... In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race, His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."
    5. Ecclesiastes 1:5 "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose."
    6. Isaiah 38:7-8 "And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.4
    7. Habakkuk 3:11 "The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went..."

    My task was made much easier by the Skeptics Annotated Bible, but I have read all the passages, in their contexts, before including them in these lists.

    1 The only way every person or every kingdom could be seen from anywhere is if the Earth were flat, generally.
    2 The only way anything could be seen from all over the Earth is if it were flat.
    3 Without shadows moving, how could they tell what a "whole day" was? It was just a made-up story.
    4Needless to say, this was not observed by the Greeks, the Persians, the Indians, nor the Chinese, all of whom had superior astronomers to those of the Hebrews. It was just another made-up story.