Do the Qur’an and the Bible support the flat earth theory, or the science on the subject of a round earth? Where is the belief coming from that they do?
Though the concept of a spherical earth was developed in ancient Greece around the seventh century BCE, starting with Pythagoras, the issue of spherical shape of the earth remained rather unsettled until the sixteenth century. Aristotle had hinted at the spherical shape of the earth some 330 years before Christ.
There is some evidence that the concept of a spherical earth was widely held by scientific community as far back as the early church period, but many lay people still believed in a flat earth model until few centuries ago. (Some still do! Check out the ”International Flat Earth Research Society“).
What did the Qur’an say on this subject?
Far from a unique concept at the time, the Qur’an however does refer to the spherical shape of the earth.
O company of Jinn and men, if you have power to penetrate (all) regions of the heavens and the earth; then penetrate (them)! You will never penetrate them save with (Our) sanction. 55:33
You may very appropriately ask the question: Where does this verse say that the earth is spherical?
Good question indeed. It does not say it outright. But let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s ponder a little more, like the Qur’an repeatedly asks us to do.
The Arabic word used for “regions” in this verse is Aqtaar. It is a plural of the word Qutr or “diameter” and is frequently used in Arabic geometry texts. Thus Yuksel has translated the verse as follows:
O Tribes of Jinn and humans, if you can penetrate the diameters of heavens and earth …
A diameter is obviously a measure for a spherical object. If earth were flat, it would not have a diameter.
This verse points out that the earth is spherical, in an indirect way—not an uncommon approach by the Qur’an, leaving the reader to do the pondering. Moreover, there are several passages in the Qur’an that refers to the day and night merging into each other gradually.
See you not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges day into night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do? 31:29
However the merging of day and night gradually would indicate a rotating round earth, and thus can only mean that the earth is not flat, otherwise the night and day will not merge but change suddenly.
Bible, “Four Corners of the Earth” and the Flat Earth Theory
The flat earth theory has taken momentum in recent times among (some) Christians, aided by the ease of spreading the message on social media. It is also claimed that the Catholic Church was preaching the flat earth theory until about 500 years ago. There are at least three references to the “four corners of earth” in the Bible.
And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Revelation 7:1
But the Christian scholars also point out that the “four corners” of the earth does not indicate a flat earth. The argument is put forth that , as is the case with numerous other passages, this is used metaphorically, or as an idiom, to mean ‘from all over the earth’.
Dr. Danny Faulkner, a physicist and astronomer, and editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly argues in an article titled Does the Bible Teach That The Earth Is Flat? on Answers in Genesis, that the medieval church actually never taught the flat earth theory and further argues my point about the ‘four corner of the earth” being used as an idiom.
Next Page: The Qur’an and the Bible on the orbits and finite life of the universe.