Hambo Says: Flat Earth, No & Young Earth, Yes

It was only two months ago that we wrote Ol’ Hambo Is Not a Flat-Earther. That’s why we’re surprised to find the subject being discussed again by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Hambo must be under a lot of pressure regarding the shape of the Earth, because he just posted this at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: Does the Bible Teach a Flat Earth? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

In the past, I would hear atheists argue that the Bible supposedly teaches a flat earth, and therefore we can’t trust anything it says about science. But now it’s not just atheists arguing the Bible teaches a flat earth — it’s some Christians, too, who’ve sadly fallen for flat-earth arguments and now believe that’s what the Bible teaches. But does it?

Does it? Yes, it does. And if Hambo can read, he knows that it does. We discussed dozens of flat-Earth bible passages in The Earth Is Flat! We also pointed out that there are no bible passages that say otherwise — and we even addressed a couple that are sometimes quoted by apologists who claim they mention a spherical Earth, and explained why their arguments don’t work.

So while there’s no doubt that the bible is a flat-Earth book, it’ll be amusing to watch Hambo struggle with the issue. First, he answers his earlier question (Does the bible teach flat-Earth?) with a denial:

No, it doesn’t. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!] Now, flat earthers will frequently bring up poetic passages, such as verses from Psalms or Job, and say those verses teach a flat earth because phrases like “ends of the earth” or references to a setting sun appear.

In our post we had lots of flat-Earth passages from both the Old and the New Testament. Among them we quoted Psalms seven times and Job three times. Here are the Job quotes, which Hambo says are poetry:

Job 9:6: Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. [A reference to the usually unmovable earth, but it must be flat to sit on pillars.]

Job 37:3: He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

Job 38:4: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Okay, back to Hambo. He claims all that stuff should be ignored:

But those passages are poetry — by definition poetry is filled with literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and figures of speech.

Some of it is poetry, but the quantity of passages we cited blows that feeble defense away. And don’t forget, there are no passages in the bible that claim the Earth is a sphere. But Hambo keeps babbling about the poetry defense — because it’s all he’s got:

The biblical text is meant to be interpreted naturally, according to the genre. And poetry is clearly intended to be understood within the context of abundant literary devices that are not meant to be taken so woodenly and literally (i.e., God does not literally lie us down in green pastures as per Psalm 23:2).

That’s nice, but what about some of the non-poetry stuff we quoted in our post. For example:

1 Samuel 2:8: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

Matthew 4:8: Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Luke 4:5: And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

Revelation 7:1: And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth,

Hambo then links to some AIG articles, and after that he ends his post with a few paragraphs hawking some videos, so this is where we leave him.

And what did we learn, dear reader? Well, we already knew the Earth isn’t flat — regardless of what the bible says (so many times). But we also know the Earth isn’t 6,000 years old, and there wasn’t a global Flood 4,300 years ago either. Hambo is in the impossible position of arguing that despite what the bible says, flat-Earth is a false and stupid belief, but young-Earth and the global Flood are The Truth.

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32 responses to “Hambo Says: Flat Earth, No & Young Earth, Yes

  1. Poetry, genre, metaphors, similes, figures of speech – that’s all new territory for Ham. Just give him time and he will apply it to Genesis as well.

    Just kidding! A hardcore creationist will never admit that he was wrong. He simply cannot. His whole belief system would collapse.

  2. Stephen Kennedy

    Hambo is truly amazing, he is obviously scared that if AIG, whatever the bible says, came out in favor of a flat Earth it would make them look ridiculous. The irony here, of course, is that Hambo does not seem to realize that promoting a 6,000 year old Earth and a global flood 4000 years ago makes AIG look just as ridiculous as flat earthers.

  3. Let me be clear: I have no doubt that many of the authors of the Bible, and their audience, shared something like the common cosmology of the Ancient Near East.
    But I find it interesting that Matthew and Luke realized that one could see farther the higher one goes. That’s why lighthouses are built tall, and sailors climb up to the top of the ship. And that is evidence for the curvature of the Earth, if anyone would have thought about it. Go higher to see around the curve of the Earth. Of course, there is a limit: one cannot see all of the Earth at one moment in time (the author was engaging in a little hyperbole, as he did in Acts 2:5).

  4. chris schilling

    The Bible is the Word of God, except when it’s to be interpreted poetically. According to genre.

    Ham is talking out of his flat ass. He’s a heretic, pure and simple. In the old days, people like Ken would have burnt people like Ken at the stake for heresy.

  5. Until recently, I was not interested in the Flat Earth. I was more interested in Geocentrism. Bible-believers long ago reconciled their beliefs with Ancient Greek science of the spherical Earth. But, as everybody knows, there was a long-standing understanding of the Bible as teaching that the Earth was motionless. Before the rise of modern science, nobody suggested that the Biblical proof-texts were to be understood as only poetic. That is, it is difficult to claim that it is obvious that are only poetic. Far from being obvious, nobody noticed that for a couple of thousand years (500 or so BCE to about the year 1500). Galileo would have loved it if he could point to one of the theologians who suggested that. If only! Sorry Galileo.
    To make things worse, it is not easy to explain the scientific evidence that the Earth is in a yearly motion as a planet of the Sun, in terms that be understood without college-level physics. (I think that the recent Gaia space mission will work, but there is no interest in the
    astronomy community in bothering with such elementary stuff.}
    In brief, ISTM that this is an untenable position: to believe what the Bible says is literally true, except when it is obviously poetic, or when the science to the contrary is plain to a lay understanding; and accept the heliocentric model of the Solar System; and, on the same basis, reject common descent with modification in the world of life on Earth.

    Maybe the current popularity of the Flat Earth might make for another example. But I have my doubts, because of the many, long-standing examples of acceptance of the curvature of the Earth, on the one hand; and simplicity of the scientific evidence. It is easy to argue that, for a long time. the Biblical proof-texts were seen as obviously
    poetic; and that the science is clear and easy to understand.

  6. Dave Luckett

    @Chris Schilling: Of course Ham’s a heretic. The flip side of “priesthood of all believers” is “everyone their own authority”, a doctrine Ken Ham has made a life from. And a career, let’s not forget that.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. It suits the Quakers, though how exactly they stay together as a body defeats me. But Ken Ham is an authoritarian, and the Quakers are so not. Ken’s a rare sort of authoritarian, one who won’t bear anyone having authority over him. Being his own Moderator, College of Cardinals, theologian, Ayatollah, Pontiff and Grand Moff suits him down to the ground, and he just adores laying down the law to others. His “priesthood of all believers”, which is the only actual claim to authority he has, really means “priesthood of Ken Ham alone”. A curious contradiction.

    The funny part about this is that the others he lays the law down to are authoritarians, too. They’re the more mainstream sort, who faunch after authority, but don’t derive it themselves. So Ken delivers himself of an encyclical that the Bible doesn’t say the Earth is flat, because scripture can be read metaphorically, but it’s six thousand years old, because scripture must be read literally – and the followers dittohead along, because Ken sounds like an authority. Internal contradictions? What are those?

    No, come to think of it, they wouldn’t ask that. That would require critical awareness. No authoritarian has that.

  7. “I would hear atheists argue that the Bible supposedly teaches a flat earth”
    It’s worth the effort to point out again that we have another fine example of creacrap speak here. There are quite a few Biblical scholars who and practise their christian belief and have concluded that the Bible does. In Ol’ Hambo’s dictionary they are atheists. In the end anybody who dares to challenge his wisdom is.

    “it’ll be amusing to watch Hambo struggle with the issue”
    I wanted to comment, no, because predictable semantics about discs and globes, but then I read this:

    “But those passages are poetry — by definition poetry is filled with literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and figures of speech.”
    But the creation account and the Global Flood myth of course are totally free of this.

    “And what did we learn, dear reader?”
    That YECers like Ol’Hambo s**k at exegesis as badly as at anything else. Even unbelieving me can see it – and I’m hardly interested in this topic. Also that my prediction (see the previous article) already has come true. Ol’Hambo is trying very hard to catch up with his former “prodigy”, the non-astronomer Jason.

  8. @TomS: ” I find it interesting ….”
    From a secular point of view not that much. Egypt was not far from Judaea and Syria. Eratosthenes had done his work almost 300 years before. Given that Mattheus and Lucas could read and write, hence were well educated, hence influenced by Hellenism despite centuries of jewish stubbornness, it can be expected that they at least had heard of Eratosthenes’ work.

    “nobody suggested that the Biblical proof-texts were to be understood as only poetic”
    I’m not sure what you exactly mean with “Biblical proof-texts”, but Augustinus of Hippo already understood the poetic nature of the Bible. Of course, unlike Ol’Hambo, Augustinus was an intellectual giant, one of the greatest minds of Antiquity.

    @DaveL: Ol’Hambo has the same attitude towards belief as Hitler had towards military matters (even Stalin sometimes listened to his generals). Someone should develop an instrument to measure egos.

  9. chris schilling

    Faunch: amazing word. Completely new to me.

  10. Dave Luckett

    @FrankB: I’m afraid you overestimate the penetration of texts into the cultures of the ancient world. There were copies of Eratosthenes in the Library at Alexandria – he was librarian there, in his time. And no doubt there were some dozens more at various times sculling around in the ancient world. But every single one of those copies has been lost, which indicates that there were not so very many of them. The chances of a literate person who was not a scholar nor particularly interested in mathematics happening on one was fairly small. We, who have immediate and unfettered access to all the knowledge of humanity (and pay for that by having to wade through as large an amount of disinformation) tend not to take into account the limited means available to the ancients.

    @chris schilling: “Faunch”: verb, pres indic: to desire to an obsessive and almost obscene degree, with overtones of submission to the object. It might be a portmanteau word: “fawn” with “raunch”. Seems to be a coinage of SF fandom.

  11. @DaveL: I’m afraid that you
    1) forget that to learn reading and writing Mattheus and Lucas had to read texts;
    2) librarians, natural philosophers and other scholars were at least as much part of the oral tradition as everybody else. Mattheus and Lucas didn’t need to have read Erathostenes’ accounts to have heard of them.

    “tend not to take into account the limited means available to the ancients”
    That’s why I stressed both the short distance (Alexandria – Jerusalem is about 500 km) and the 300 years. Also the latest developments in History of Antiquity suggest that both people (I refer to DNA-research) and information were more mobile than biased people with immediate and unfettered access in our modern times tend to assume.

  12. Eddie Janssen

    Why can’t a sphere rest on a pillar? Lots of foootball trophies show they can.

  13. What is most interesting to me is the attention being given to Young Earth concepts. I can only regard this as an assertion of American anti-intellectualism, and the refusal of Red-blooded Republicans (are they all, as I suspect, Republicans?) to let Gummint agencies like NASA and other elitists tell them what to believe. Certainly, I’ve never heard of Flat Earthism gaining any attention outside the US.

    If the passages in Matthew and Luke makes no sense as geography, they make even less sense as history. After all, what could the Devil possibly have to give to God Incarnate, that God Incarnate could not take for Himself? I can only conclude that these passages really were intended as poetic accounts of what Jesus did and did not consider really important.

    And I’m willing to give the Bible writers a pass on references to the ends of the Earth, or its corners. After all, we still use such expressions as rhetorical flourishes.

    What there seems to be absolutely no getting away from, is the idea of an Earth fixed and held in place. To say nothing of a Firmament, with waters above it

  14. Richard Staller

    Love how Hambo gets to cherry pick the verses from the Bible he wants to take literally. Nothing wrong with that methodology right?

  15. Since TomS raised the topic of geocentrism, I’d like to know how Hambo explains Joshua’s long day (Joshua 10) in scientific terms. I can’t find any AIG articles that address it in any detail.

  16. @FrankB
    I am well aware of the long-standing understanding of the Bible non-literally. I was writing about the supposed methodology to distincguish the parts whch are meant literally from those which are not meant literally. The supposed criterion being “it is obvious”. For something like 2000 years, nobody noticed that the proof-texts for geocentrism shouldn’t be meant literally. When Galileo tried to make that claim, the prosecutors correctly pointed out that nobody before had ever said that: Galileo was making up his own novel interpretation of the Bible, and Galileo had no example, in the vast literature of 2000 years of somebody who made his suggestion. Something which is obvious would have been mentioned by somebody, sometime.
    It is not obvious that Joshua’s long day, and other proof-texts for geocentrism, were meant other than literally.

  17. @Paul D. Yes, Hambo and especially his creationist astronomer friend Jason would have some trouble with the long day bit. I can’t do the maths to compute how much energy it would take to stop the rotation of our planet, but it sure would make a mess of the planet’s perfect design by the the creator (blessed be he/she/it). Just picture, if you can, the earth stopping and all the people on it continuing at 1.6km/s! Opps. Maybe it was a poetic device.

  18. Michael Fugate

    Just imagine how much harder it would be to stop the sun! But so what, if it is naturalistically impossible, then claim it is supernaturalistically possible – a miracle! One can never lose an argument with a god in your pocket.

  19. @TomS , there is no good way of explaining the long day poetically. It is a claim about what happened. The best attempt I’ve seen invokes unusual cloud lensing, so that the Sun was visible in the middle of the heavens long after it had (by normal criteria) set.

    I hadn’t looked at Joshua 10 for a long time. Doing so, I find interesting material about alliances, quite incompatible with the claim that the Israelites were fully distinct from, and totally replaced, the Canaanites, but that’s another long story

  20. @Paul Braterman
    IMHO, it is easy to explain the long day poetically. It is a commonplace observation how “time stands still” under certain situations. Mostly bad situations, but not always. The writer could well be just saying how long, and gloriously, it seemed that the battle took place.
    I am not offering this as an interpretation. Just that someone could offer it, as plausible as any other way of explaining away Bible difficulties. The simplest explanation is that the whole of the book of Joshua is fiction.
    In any case, the authors of the book of Joshua did not have the Aristotle-Ptolemy model of the heavens.
    Galileo pointed out that the Aristotle-Ptolemy model of the heavens was incompatible with the literal reading of the BIble. The proper motion of the Sun, in that model, is from West to East, contrary to the motion of the of sphere of the stars. Therefore, if the Sun stood still, then the day would be shorter, by something like 4 minutes. To describe a literal long day, the text would have to say that the heavens stood still (that is, that the stars, although invisible because of daylight, did not move).

  21. “I was writing about the supposed methodology ”
    Ask a professional exegete. I doubt if this blog will bring you any further.

  22. @Abeastwood If creationists really want to interpret Joshua 10 literally, as it seems they do, the text says that the moon stopped as well, and stopping the earth’s rotation wouldn’t fully account for that.

  23. @Paul D. I wasn’t trying to give an exhaustive account of all the things wrong with that tale. And of course if the moon suddenly lost it’s velocity, gravity would make another disaster to add to the woes of all the people speeding across the surface of the earth!

  24. @Paul D. But I’m sure you know that!!

  25. BTW the story of the battle when the Sun and Moon stood still is reported in the Bible as being taken from a written source. What we have was not an eyewitness account. It was not dictated by God. It was taken from the Book of Jashar, so we are told.

  26. Retired Prof

    I am writing a series with the working title “Fables of the Gods,” in which I write a sort of generic summary of some story involving one or more supernatural objects of devotion and/or dread and add a moral. Here is the passage where I explain this miracle:

    “This was in the days before the universe had been updated. The earth was still an immovable flat disk at the center of everything, and the heavenly bodies were ensconced in a firmament that rotated overhead. It was this rotation that made the difference between night and day.

    “As miracles go, this one was simple. All the god had to do was stop the firmament and hold it in position long enough for the rest of the defeated soldiers straggling home to their families to be hunted down by trained trackers and killed. And so his chosen tribe scored a noble victory.

    “To commemorate the triumph and glorify the god who made it possible, the general wrote a song, which is recorded in the tribe’s scriptures and remembered to this day. The most miraculous part of the whole story is that the god contrived to render other cultures all over the earth so completely oblivious to the calendar adjustment that none of them recorded it in their annals.”

  27. The spread of Eratosthenes’ proof that the earth is round would surely have been hindered by the fact that until the existence of the printing press books had to be copied out by hand, meaning that few copies would be available and that it was quite possible for even educated men never to have seen his work or even heard of it.

  28. @Eric Lipps
    The idea of the sperical Earth preceeds Erastothemes. Erastothenes lived in the 3rd cnetury BCE. The idea of the spherical Earth is commonly attributed to Pythagoras in the 6th century, and was certainly known by the time of Aristotle, of the 4th century.

  29. Michael Fugate

    This looks interesting – anybody read it?
    Russo, Lucio (2013). The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn. Translated by Levy, Silvio. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9783642189043.

  30. Hans-Richard Grümm

    @FrankB If 1 Ham is going to be the unit to measure egos, it will be as far from ordinary ego-sizes as 1 Farad is far from ordinary capacitors 🙂

  31. Jim Roberts

    On the subject of the “long day,” why not just a bloody miracle? Like, a “screw physics, I made physics, it’ll do what I say,” miracle? Sure utterly unproveable, but it irks me that the people who claim that miracles happen every day nevertheless try to find naturalistic explanations for things for which there is no natural explanation.