The History of Astronomy by Dr. Jason Lisle (original source here)
The development of astronomy throughout history is a magnificent confirmation of biblical authority. The Bible is God’s inerrant, propositional revelation to man. As such, the Bible is absolutely correct in everything it affirms. This naturally includes its claims about the universe. When the Bible touches on the topic of astronomy, it is absolutely correct. The history of astronomy confirms this.
Secularists claim that the Bible is not the Word of God, but merely a man-made collection that documents the primitive thinking of the ancient Hebrews. As such, secularists believe that the Bible has countless mistakes, and therefore repudiate the idea that it should be used as a foundation for scientific research. This is not a new view. Ancient astronomers also largely rejected biblical authority, opting to form opinions of the universe while ignoring the inerrant history recorded in God’s Word. Yet, the Bible has been vindicated time and again with each new discovery.
The Spherical Nature of Earth
Sometimes evolutionists make the silly claim that believing in biblical creation is like believing in a flat earth. The irony is that the Bible taught a round earth long before secular thinkers came to accept the idea – at a time when they still believed the Earth was flat. One hint is found in Isaiah 40:22 in which the “circle of the earth” is mentioned. The Hebrew word translated “circle” here is ‘chug’ which refers to a circle or a circuit; something that begins where it ends and has the general sense of roundness such as a sphere. Of course, this isn’t conclusive proof of a round earth because a flat disk might also be described as a “circle.” Furthermore, some people have suggested that the circle or “circuit” of the Earth is actually a reference to Earth’s annual orbit around the sun, which would be remarkable confirmation of the heliocentric solar system long before any secular naturalist stumbled onto the idea.
For a more conclusive passage, consider Job 26:10. Here we read that God “has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness.” The same Hebrew word ‘chug’ is used in verb form indicating that God has drawn a circle on the surface of Earth’s oceans that separates light and darkness. Astronomers refer to this boundary as the terminator, because light stops there. People at Earth’s terminator are experiencing either a sunrise or a sunset. The terminator occurs primarily over the “waters” (oceans) because Earth’s surface is primarily water. The only way the terminator can always be a circle is if the Earth’s shape is spherical. No other shape will produce a circular terminator regardless of the position of the light source. We now have photographs of Earth from space that confirm a circular terminator.
Perhaps the earliest biblical confirmation of a spherical Earth is implied in Genesis 6-8. Here we read about a worldwide flood in which all the high hills under the entire sky were covered with water (Genesis 7:19). This would be impossible on a flat earth; the water would either run off the edge, or the edges would be raised so as to trap the water, in which case the edge itself would not be flooded and would constitute a hill that was not under water. A global flood is only possible on a globe.
Interestingly, all these passages were written at a time when the secular scholars of the day believed that the Earth was flat. Isaiah was written around 700 B.C. Job was written around 2000 B.C. Moses wrote Genesis around 1500 B.C. However, there is internal evidence that Moses used historical documents that were previously written by eyewitnesses as source material under divine guidance (e.g. Genesis 5:1, 6:9, 11:10). In any case, the Bible’s references to a spherical Earth predate the oldest secular reference.
Generally, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras is credited with being the first secular scholar to propose that the Earth is round. His argument for this (if he had one) is not recorded. But Pythagoras lived around 500 B.C., long after the biblical references to a round Earth had been written. Aristotle is generally credited with being the first secularist to demonstrate that the Earth is round from such lines of evidence as lunar eclipses. The Earth’s shadow on the moon is always circular regardless of the orientation of the sun and moon relative to Earth – this is only possible for a spherical planet. Aristotle lived during the 300s B.C.
So we see that the Bible recorded a round Earth long before the secular scholars of the day. It is almost as if the Hebrews had some divine insight into the issue. How about that! It follows that there was a time when the secular scholars of the day would have claimed that the Bible is wrong in its assertion that the Earth is round. But today, the Bible has been vindicated.
Earth Floats in Space
In a time when the secular experts believed the Earth to be flat and floating in water, the Bible teaches that God “hangs the Earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). This verse poetically describes the fact that Earth floats in space and is suspended on nothing. This cosmic fact is remarkably counterintuitive and may have been hard to believe when it was recorded. After all, everyday experience informs our senses that things fall unless they are suspended on something. The ancient idea that Earth is flat and floats in water is far more intuitive; we have seen that some things do float in water. But to suspend to the Earth on nothing may have seemed ridiculous. But today, the Bible has been vindicated. The Earth indeed hangs on nothing, and we now have pictures that confirm this. Continue reading