Occasionally I will come across arguments that the Bible is scientifically inaccurate. Generally the purpose of the accusation is to discredit the Bible, depicting it as writings from when the world was ignorant and when superstitious religious peasants based their worldview on myths. The implication is that science has proven the Bible wrong on a very basic fact, and therefore modern Christians should get with the program.
Hunh? Why did they even mention the Bible? I thought this was a science class. I understood the unspoken subtext immediately. The Bible is hooey. God doesn't exist. I was also annoyed because they were not so subtly indoctrinating a bunch of pre-teens into the doctrine of science over religion.
More recently I was reading a Virginian New Age focused newspaper. In it the author was ranting (No other word for it. Sorry.) about both the arrogance and ignorance of Christians when it came to God's Word. And they brought up the whole "the Bible claims the earth is flat" accusation.
So let's set the record straight. The primary reference to the shape of the earth in the Bible appears to be Isaiah 40:21-22 which reads...
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he [God] who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;" (RSV)
Now, the reference is to "the circle of the earth." A circle could easily be either a disc or a sphere. Isaiah isn't definitively going for one or the other as God's sovereignty is his point, no the geology of the planet.
Another interesting scripture is Proverbs 8:27. "In his preparing the heavens I [wisdom] am there, In his decreeing a circle on the face of the deep,..." (Young's Literal Translation) Other translations of this verse say God "drew a circle" or "set a compass." Again, the earth being circular is indicated, but not whether that circle is a disc or a sphere.
Historically speaking, there have been times when pretty much everyone on the earth believed the world was flat. But as early as the 4th century B.C., Greek philosophers and scientists advocated the spherical Earth. There may have been some Christians who espoused a flat earth, but then again, there were some non-Christians who did so, too. Scholars, both Christian and non-Christian, considered the spherical Earth to be a fact.
The belief that Christians as a whole believed the earth was flat based on the presumption of the Bible as a myth. It's actually called, The Myth of the Flat Earth.
Sure, we've seen the ancient maps. I especially love the "Here be dragons!" declaration near the edges of the earth. But laying this belief at the feet of Christianity, especially these days, just can't be sanctioned.
So the next time someone tells you the Bible claims the world is flat, say just one thing. "Show me."
Here be dragons, alright! And not only on the map.