Is the Earth actually flat?
Wait a minute ̶ isn’t this a topic that came up a long time ago, but was handily put to bed for good? You’d think so, however, it has resurfaced and is quite popular and debated in many circles. In some respect, it’s similar to the claim that we never actually landed on the moon. (i.e., It’s all just a conspiracy that the US government continues to successfully perpetuate.) Both Christians and non-Christians alike can be found among the supporters of the belief in a flat Earth.
I’m probably going to frustrate many of my readers when I say that it is not my intention to develop a thorough refutation of this belief. I will, as I often do, aim to make a larger point with this article. Others have written extensively regarding the major problems with the idea of a flat Earth, so I am not going to “reinvent the wheel,” but will offer a suggested response when approached by someone who holds a flat Earth view.
Conspiracy theories can be quite intriguing and that is often what accounts for their powerful draw. Another aspect is the fact that they usually contain a fair amount of truth in and amongst everything else. Not knowing what is true and what is not adds to the allure. In addition, anyone who denies the “evidence” is actually part of the conspiracy!
Being very transparent, when someone first approached me regarding the belief that we never really landed on the moon (and showed me a full-length video), it really made me wonder. I never ended-up buying into it, but I initially could not refute much of what was presented and it was conveyed in a very rational, professional manner. Eventually, I discovered responses to each of the arguments, but it certainly had my attention for a while.
The possibility of a flat Earth never made sense to me logically or scientifically, but in parallel to the moon landing conspiracy, some of the initial arguments I heard were not immediately dismissible. I wasn’t at all concerned that I couldn’t think of an instant refutation, but because of how many followers this movement gained, I had to look into it further.
Here’s my twist for this article. I have had many people ask for advice as to how to respond when others make the claim the Earth is flat. What they generally mean is can I teach them a number of facts that easily refute the whole idea. While the flat Earth concept can certainly be shown to be untenable, it does take some effort and some aspects can get fairly technical, going deeper than some people have an interest in or time for.
With that in mind, here’s my personal, unique approach. When someone claims the Earth is flat, simply say, “OK, so now what?” You could further add, “Whether the Earth is flat or spherical, it doesn’t change one iota what I am called to do, and that is share the Gospel message and make disciples. If God is truly calling you to really dig deep and focus on the shape of the Earth, then I guess that’s what you should do. However, I have not at all sensed that calling in my life and cannot afford to get distracted from what He is calling me to do, which is to preach the Gospel and make disciples. If at some point in the future, He gives me a different direction to go, then I will faithfully follow, but until then, I need to stay focused.”
With this response, you are not questioning their sincerity or their intelligence. You are not name-calling or being condescending. You are also not getting into the nitty-gritty of evidences. You are simply graciously acknowledging their passion, while staying focused on God’s leading in your own life.
It is my personal experience that when people get really drawn into any particular area, whether conspiracy-related or not, they often become very unbalanced. What I mean by this is that they put an exorbitant amount of time and effort into discussing and promoting their particular view on the subject, while largely ignoring other more fundamental issues, such as further developing their personal relationship with Christ and sharing the Gospel message. In many cases, if you were to ask them, “How many people have you talked to about the flat earth?” (or whatever issue they are promoting), their response would be something like, “I’ve created a Facebook page for it and posted it on my own page, and have had numerous, maybe countless, conversations with people.” Then when you ask them, “How many people have you actually, clearly shared the Gospel with in the past six months?”, they likely will say, “A couple,” or “None.” Something is wrong with this picture.
I have to be very careful myself not to get too caught up in simply discussing evidence for creation (and opposed to evolution) without directly tying it into the authority of Scripture and the Gospel message.
So, if you find yourself in a conversation regarding the idea of a flat Earth, you might consider using this suggested approach, getting the focus off the actual answer (flat or spherical) and encouraging the other person to grow in their personal relationship with Christ and “preach the Gospel” whenever possible.
If you feel led to look into this issue further and learn some of the scientific and logical refutations of the “flat Earth” belief, feel free to do so. However, you must also realize that many of those caught-up in a conspiracy are not actually looking for answers and your denial of the flat Earth may be further confirmation in their mind that they are right and you are only serving to perpetuate the conspiracy of a spherical Earth!
I hope this novel perspective has been helpful. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
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