A couple years ago, I had a stunning conversation with one of my coworkers.
For the record, this coworker of mine is a great employee. He’s a loving husband, a terrific father. A likable guy.
He’s also a devout Christian.
And he firmly believes the Earth is flat.
He reads the Bible, sees verses like the ones below, and concludes: our planet must be a flat circle.
The world is established; it shall never be moved. | 1 Chronicles 16:30
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. | Psalm 104:5
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth… | Isaiah 40:22
I don’t know if you’ve met a flat-Earther, but it’s a surreal experience. At first, you assume they’re joking. You keep waiting for the punchline, for the, “Haha, just kidding,” but it never comes.
So I tried my best to reason with him.
Oh, but he was totally convinced. In his mind, I was the one deceived. I was the one lacking proper scientific understanding. Yes, I was the one compromising God’s word.
It was truly stunning. More than that, it was deeply saddening. Here was a dear believer in Christ, passionately promoting pseudoscientific nonsense.
It was then that I began to understand the danger of scientific illiteracy in the church.
Although the number of flat-Earthers within Christianity appears to be small, this incident underscores a bigger point: many Christians are skeptical of science. Many Christians view scientists with suspicion. Many Christians gullibly fall for unorthodox views on everything from medicine to vaccinations to climate change.
That is a problem.
Because when any Christian—my coworker, me, you—stands on scripture and argues for ideas that are likely not true, that reflects poorly on the gospel. It makes Christianity look like a joke. It undermines any respect people might have for the word of God.
Even 1,600 years ago, Augustine realized this:
“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world … about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth … it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation…” | Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis
Friends, the gospel matters.
As Christians, we need to make sure our views on science are not nonsense. Because if they are, that could create a totally unnecessary stumbling block for unbelievers or curious Christians. How tragic and misguided that would be.
Key takeaway: we should be careful not to fall for scientifically invalid ideas (even if they seem biblical), as that reflects poorly on Christ, the church, and the gospel.
Welcome to Science and Scripture, where we seek to read the Bible in a healthy way by respecting the worldviews of the biblical authors. Click here to read more about our new science and faith initiative.