Ol’ Hambo Is Not a Flat-Earther

Everyone who can read knows that the bible is a flat Earth book. In The Earth Is Flat! we quoted dozens of scripture passages that say so, and there are none that say otherwise. Creationists sometimes claim that Isaiah 40:22 says the Earth is a sphere because it says “the circle of the earth,” but our post explains that “circle” in that passage means “disk.”

If one is going to take the bible literally, he must be a flat-Earther. It’s therefore extremely amusing to find bible-believing creationists who don’t believe the Earth is flat. A good example is Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Look what appears at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), Hambo’s creationist ministry: Faith on the Edge: a New Flat Earth Documentary. Hambo wrote it. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

When I am out speaking, I answer many (many!) questions, and often they’re the same sorts of ones I’ve heard for years (i.e., Where did Cain get his wife? What about the dinosaurs? And so forth). In the past, one question I rarely ever received was, “What about the flat earth?” But now I hear it all the time! And that holds true for our other AiG speakers, particularly our astronomer, Dr. Danny Faulkner.

Faulkner wrote a few posts for AIG attempting to deny that the bible is a flat Earth book — see, e.g.: Answers in Genesis & the Flat Earth, Part 3. But now that the question is coming up all the time, Hambo is dealing with it himself. He says:

In fact, it used to kind of be an insult thrown at creationists, “You guys must also believe in a flat earth, right?” (Spoiler: we don’t.)

It really amazes us that they’re not flat-Earthers. But let’s be fair and give Hambo a chance to defend himself. He tells us:

And that’s why I’m excited about a new documentary hosted by The Creation Guys [Who?] and produced by Awesome Science Media. [Whoever they are.] With a gracious spirit, the DVD looks at this issue from both a biblical and scientific perspective. The Creation Guys even do a neat experiment and interview Gen. Charlie Duke, one of the Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon — and saw the global earth from it!

It isn’t difficult to demonstrate that the Earth is a sphere, and we see no need to praise anyone for accepting the true shape of the world — but if these people are also bible-believing creationists, why don’t they accept what the bible says about the Earth? Hambo continues:

On top of being an astronomer and having taught astronomy for 26 years, AiG’s Dr. Danny Faulkner has written a great deal on this new flat earth phenomena [sic] for our website. Therefore, he was asked to be an expert featured on the full-length documentary Faith on the Edge: Exposing the Biblical & Scientific Case Against the Flat Earth. [Link omitted.] This excellent DVD debunks some of the most popular arguments flat earthers make and looks at the biblical passages they use to support their position.

Sounds thrilling, but we’ll ignore it. Let’s read on:

Now, before you contact us to tell us the earth is flat [We were just about to do that!], first, please watch this documentary. We’ve thoroughly researched the supposed biblical and scientific pieces of evidence presented in favor of such a (wrong) view. It simply isn’t taught in Scripture [Groan!], and the science doesn’t support it (although, sadly, many Christians are being convinced by cherry-picked data that only shows part of the whole story and out of context).

Regardless of all the evidence in the world, Hambo believes and preaches young-Earth creationism because that’s what the bible says. Yet he refuses to accept what the bible says about the shape of the Earth. How does one brain accommodate both positions without exploding? It’s an abominable mystery. Here’s another excerpt:

If you know someone in the flat earth movement, I encourage you to share this documentary with them. And if you’re part of it, I respectfully encourage you to humbly view this film and reconsider your position.

That’s all Hambo has to say on the subject. For the rest of his post he’s promoting some other DVDs, so we’ll leave him here. And what do we conclude, dear reader? What can we say about someone — a whole bunch of people, actually — whose view of reality is so … we don’t know what to call it. How about “selectively wrong”? That’s close, but we don’t know how to describe it. Can you help us out?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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34 responses to “Ol’ Hambo Is Not a Flat-Earther

  1. “If one is going to take the bible literally, he must be a flat-Earther.”
    And pi = 3 and bats are birds. Conclusion: there are no literalists. Ol’Hambo lies when he claims he is.

    “we see no need to praise anyone for accepting the true shape of the world”
    Ol’Hambo is playing his beloved operational vs. historical science card.

    “selectively wrong”
    Ah, how nice that a Dutchie like me gets the chance to advise our dear SC on matters regarding his native language. I propose “selectively literal”.

  2. It gives Ham the opportunity to show to the world how science conscientious he is, looking down and correcting the flat-earthers.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Nice to know that the “Creation Guys” have zero scientific experience – likely neither has been near a university science course.

  4. It used to be that I didn’t like to bring up the Flat Earth. Not long ago, I assumed that there were very few serious believers in a Flat Earth. Charles K. Johnson was about the only one, and he was concerned that people were joining his society as a joke. I understand that there were conflicting Flat Earth societies which each claimed that the other was not serious. And then there was the false claim that it was a commonplace in the Dark Ages before Columbus proved that the world was round. The truth is, that Christianity had come to terms with the spherical Earth since antiquity. One could argue that the proof-texts for a Flat Earth were cases where it was obvious that they were not to be taken literally. There are plenty of places were the Bible was not to be taken literally. There is the Parable of the Trees in Judges 9:8-15.
    And then there is the issue of Geocentrism. There is a small group of people who seriously believe that the Earth is motionless in the center of the universe, and the heavens make a daily circuit. And we know that no one believed that the Bible proof-texts for geocentrism were not to be taken literally, for something like 2000 years, from the earliest books of the Bible to the rise of modern science. ONe cannot claim that these texts were obviously meant non-literally, if so many people for so long did not notice that. Moreover, I claim that the science involved is not all that obvious. In order to argue that the Earth is a planet of the Sun takes more than ordinary science, knowledge at least at the level of a physics/astronomy major in college. (It is a bit easier to argue for the daily rotation of the Earth.) BTW geocentrists make sure that they are not taken for Flat-Earthers.

    But IMHO things have changed recently. Today all sorts of stupidity is accepted. Yes, I have to admit that there are really people who believe in a Flat Earth. Arguing about geocentrism is too arcane a subject, today, alas.

  5. Yeah, belief in geocentrism by some creationists, particularly in the Lutheran Missouri Synod, persisted into the 60s and maybe later due to biblical texts like Joshua 10 (the Long Day) that are impossible under heliocentrism.

    The modern flat earth conspiracy movement is almost entirely the fault of Youtube (Google) and its algorithms that maximize “engagement” (ad revenue) by recommending extreme content to gullible users.

    That said, biblical cosmology clearly assumes a flat earth, so I am somewhat disappointed in Ken Ham accepting the word of man over the wisdom of God.

  6. It’s obvious: God made the earth flat, so he could observe what everyone was getting up to, at all times. One Great Pervert spying on all us lesser perverts, spread out down below, as on a round tabletop. A spheroid earth only complicates the matter, unless God has immaterial eyes in the back of His immaterial head, or some other godly manner of keeping tabs on everyone at the same time.

    Ham is simply a Christian heretic, and deserves to be burnt at the stake.

  7. Michael Fugate

    If you are a young earth creationist why would you care one way or the other? Sphericism won’t make you appear more science friendly.

  8. For me, a staunch unbeliever, it’s no big deal. Who am I to prescribe what christians should believe or not? I’m only interested in the scientific aspect. And then the picture is clear: 2000 – 2500 years ago many people in the Levant believed our Earth was flat. Very reasonable.
    My issue is rather that FETers and Ol’Hambo use those texts as scientific evidence. That’s utterly stupid. Of course I’m old and grumpy, but I see similar stupidity everywhere: anti-vaccination, denial of climate change, jesusmythicism, blind faith in a twisted version of Adam Smith’ Invisible Hand etc.

  9. @Michael Fugate
    It’s a matter of consistency – or continuity – so it is of no concern to creationists.

  10. Dave Luckett

    Almost always there are ways of escaping even the apparently plain statements of words uttered in an ancient language, let alone their implications. That’s why scientists deal mostly in precise measurements expressed in numbers and mathematical relationships.

    The pi=3 implication, for example, comes from 1 Kings 7:23- where the text describes a great bronze vessel used in the Temple of Solomon, so large that it was called “the Sea”. It is described as “round”, (a-gol) which need not mean “perfectly circular” – the ancient Hebrew is not so specific- ten cubits from rim to rim and a line of thirty cubits measured around it. But does “rim to rim” mean Inner edge to inner edge, inner edge to outer edge, or outer to outer? Does the line go around the inner circumference or the outer? There’s certainly enough fudge factors to make it possible that the description is accurate, and of course the text does not say that a perfect circle’s diameter divides into its circumference exactly three times. Still less does it say C=2pir.

    Bats are of course not birds, but the Hebrew seems to include everything that has wings and flies under that word – “oph”. It is also used to refer to winged insects at Leviticus 11:20, for instance.

    No, the problem is inconsistency of interpretation. There’s plenty of wiggle room in the Genesis creation stories, too. As TomS has often remarked, they imply that the Universe began with an endless expanse of water, not with nothing. They say that the earth and the waters brought forth living things, not that God specified their forms and created them severally and personally. Above all, there is no reason whatsoever to insist that these accounts must be read literally, as actual history. It has always been open to Christians to accept their meaning as figurative and metaphorical.

    Ham wants to read the references to the flat earth in scripture figuratively, but the Genesis creation stories literally (except in those selected parts where they aren’t). There is no reason for that distinction, except that it is convenient for Ham.

    Ham would deny that he’s interpreting or selecting at all, of course. I wonder if he really believes that himself, but there’s no way to know. But I strongly suspect that none of Ham’s paying customers are even aware that there are such processes involved in extracting meaning from text.

  11. @Dave Luckett
    Only that the freedom of interpretation of the sacred texts goes far back, and is quite free in ancient times. See this book for many examples from a couple of centuries before and after after the turn of the eras BCE-CE:
    James L. Kugel
    The Bible As It Was
    Belknap/Harvard U. 1997
    ISBN 0-674-06940-4

  12. Gotta love how creationists cherry pick the Bible to reinforce their own inbred belief system. Flat earth versus a sphere, really who cares as long as they don’t look for gainful employment as rocket scientists? But when they choose passages, for example to support their homophobia and puritanism, the real damage of their faulty logic truly becomes evident with tragic results for those even outside their twisted cult vision.

    Science doesn’t get to pick and choose on the basis of a faulty belief system. Science is done with observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable experimentation something that the creationist scientists/prostitutes aligned with Hambo, ID and their ilk have conveniently seem to have forgotten.

  13. @Dave Luckett & TomS

    Makes one wonder how many more direct references to a flat earth appearing in older texts were scrubbed from the KJ version, which was published in 1611, almost a century after Magellan.

  14. Jim Roberts

    As a recovered young earth creationist, it’s no so much about lying to others as it is being self-deceived. To some, I appreciate that it’s a distinction without a difference, but what eventually persuaded me out of young earth belief was the build-up of cognitive dissonance – I believed a lot of things that were mutually contradictory, and eventually I just couldn’t.

  15. @retiredsciguy
    The idea that the Earth was not flat was well known since antiquity in Europe, and essentially every literate person thorughout the Middle Ages accepted that the Earth was round. The Divine Comedy is an example of how that knowledge was integrated into common knowledge. See the Wikipedia article “Myth of the flat Earth”.
    I don’t know of any Bible translation which as “scrubbed” refernces to a flat Earth. There are some questionable practices in Bible versions when there is a matter of doctrine. A famous example being the translaton of Isaiah 7:14. See the Wikipedia article on Almah. One which concerns YECs is Genesis 2:19, which the KJV translates as “The Lord God formed every beast of the field”, placing that act after the creation of Adam, while Genesis 1:27 seems to put the creation of man after the creation of animals in 1:25. Some translations render 2:19 as “The Lord God had formed …”. (Biblical Hebrew does not have the same tense distinctions as English.) But
    I can’t think of any example of where a Bible version has suppressed a reading contrary to modern scientific knowledge. There certainly are plenty of chances.

  16. Dave Luckett

    retiredsciguy: wonder no more. The KJV translators were honest. Their translation used the collection of manuscripts originating with Erasmus, and although some of their copies were corrupt, as later discoveries of older mss showed, they did their formidable best to make good translations of the whole of the material available to them. “Good”, that is, within certain guidelines, such as the suitability of the completed translation for reading aloud. Still, it was in general both faithful to the meaning of the text that they had and graceful.

  17. Oh look, Ken wants to sell you a DVD to teach you what you can get easily get for free from a google search.

    What. A. Surprise.

    But Ken, you only have scientific data to show the earth is not flat, and THAT contradicts your Bible! And by your own policy, that makes the scientific data WRONG! I heard you say it!

  18. Michael Fugate

    Scientific data shows the earth is not 6000 years old… and that seems not to bother Ken.

  19. Once again, I agree with Dave Luckett. (Not that my opinion has much value.) I’d just like to note that the KJV was made from mostly Hebrew and Greek texts, whereas the standard in Western Christian Europe had been to use the ancient Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. A sigificant improvement by today’s standards. And one other thing, they had to be circumspect about the Catholic interpretation of proof-texts.

  20. @ Dave Luckett: “Ham wants to read the references to the flat earth in scripture figuratively, but the Genesis creation stories literally (except in those selected parts where they aren’t). There is no reason for that distinction, except that it is convenient for Ham.”

    You nailed it. This eventually leads to a buildup of cognitive dissonance, as described by Jim Roberts. The question is with how much cognitive dissonance can you live. Also, it is very hard to admit that you have been wrong all along. This is a lot easier for the scientist who needs to adjust his “beliefs” with new incoming evidence.

  21. @TomS I can’t think of any example of where a Bible version has suppressed a reading contrary to modern scientific knowledge.

    The NIV does this a bit. For example, in a couple of verses that mention “the waters below the earth”, they will drop “the earth” so it doesn’t sound like the author believes a subterranean ocean beneath the flat earth. It also avoids mentioning the firmament in a few places, using “skies” or “heavens” instead even though they’re not really the same thing.

  22. @Paul D
    Interesting. The NIV translates Genesis 2:19 as the past perfect, saying that the Lord “had formed” animals after narrative about the man. Thus softening the impression that Genesis has a different order of creation than Genesis 1. Now Biblical Hebrew conjugation of verbs does not have a tense structure like English which marks a tense like past perfect distinct from other past or perfect tenses.

  23. @TomS The NIV does the same tense fudging in Genesis 2:8 (when Yahweh plants the garden of Eden, again due to conflict in the creation order), and numerous other times throughout the Old Testament to solve chronological contradictions.

  24. jimroberts

    I also agree with @Dave Luckett, that the bat/bird and Π/3 things are no big deal and not fair criticism of the great omniscient dictator’s inspired holy books.
    “Things that fly with flapping wings” is a useful way of classifying some animals: why should the more complicated “things with feathers and two legs for walking” be considered so much better?
    When I do a mental or back-of-the-beermat calculation, I’m quite happy to approximate Π to 3, or even 4, to make things easy. But, rather than just using a rather poor approximation, it would be more of a weakness in an omniscient inspirer not to realise that, if the vessel was indeed perfectly round, i.e. circular, it is not necessary to specify both circumference and diameter. Even so, the omniscient one could have found it useful for emphasis, or for some other rhetorical purpose, or to allow for the possible ignorance of some of his audience, to indulge in pleonasm. Or, as DL suggests, if technological limitations mean that the “sea” might not be perfectly circular, then “about 10 cubits across and 30 round” is a very reasonable way of describing it.

    TL;DR; Some nits aren’t worth picking.

  25. jimroberts

    Jim Roberts is a very common name. There are hundreds of thousands of us. When I first wanted to comment on the internet, I tried adopting a probably unique pseudonym, but I settled on using my real name and my unique, until someone steals it, atheist fishapod C Euler Tux gravatar.
    I think this is the first time both I and my capitalised spaced possibly distant cousin have commented on the same post. Long may we both flourish.

  26. @jimroberts
    I think that it is very likely that the authors of the Books of Kings did not realize or care that there was a mathematical constant ratio relating the diameter of a circle to its circumference. It is also possible that they, and their sudience, were interested in giving the precise measurements for dimensions which turned out to be exactly in the ratio of 3 to 1, but were not the ciricumference and dimeter of a perfect circle. The least likely explanation of the text seems to me that the authors knew that the there was that geometrical ratio, but believed it to be 3.
    I agree that it is not worth the effort to argue that third ppssibility as a way of demonstrating the fallibility of the Bible. The weakeness of the argument makes the propositon look weak, when there are much better examples available. So, too, IMHO, with the “bat = avian” argument.

  27. jimroberts

    Oops! I should have written π rather than Π.

  28. jimroberts

    I completely agree that the authors of the Books of Kings did not realize or care that there was a mathematical constant ratio relating the diameter of a circle to its circumference, etc. I believe strongly in the desirability of trying to understand ancient texts as their authors and propagators would have wished them to be understood. Hence my attempted criticism of the “Great Omniscient Dictator” as the true author.

  29. Ashley Haworth-roberts

    Answers in Genesis refuse to accept the clear implications of Matthew 4:8:
    So even they cannot make that verse ‘infallible’. Other Christians do – they insist that Earth is flat. Such as Philip Stallings.

  30. @Ashley Haworth-roberts
    Matthew 4:8 is a problematic text when it comes to the Earth being flat.
    Yes, it does seem to say that one can see the whole of the Earth from one point. But the Bible is free with hyperbole in referring to all of the Earth. Yes, Noah’s flood covered the whole Earth, and YECs insist that that is to be taken literally. But there are other places where it must be hyperbole. When Joseph was in Egypt, he stored grain which was a supply to all of the nations of the Earth. Surely not including Australia and the Americas. Solomon received gifts from all of the nations of the Earth. In the New Testament, we read that people had come to Jerusalem from all of the Earth at Pentecost.

    Now, I am not arguing that the authors of the Bible knew the size of the Earth, or that they knew about Australia and the Americas. Nor am I arguing that they knew that the reason that one can see farther from a high point is because one can see farther over the curvature of the Earth. But that is true, and the ancient Greeks knew that. And, if you will excuse a little joking, one could argue that the high mountain that the Devil took Jesus to was on the Moon – just wait about 24 hours and one will be able to see all of the Earth.

    Seriously, one shouldn’t take the details of Bible stories too literally for knowledge of nature of the authors and their audiences.

  31. The problem of understanding Matthew 4:8 goes away if we realize that the Earth was flat back in those days. The spherical shape we know now is obviously something that happened recently.

  32. Michael Fugate

    Just like ultra-rapid speciation since the flood, we have ultra-rapid sphericalization.