Religious Tolerance logo

horizontal rule


horizontal rule

Religion and science


Cosmology: Pagan, Bible,
Qur'an & Modern Concepts.
36 Proofs of a spherical Earth.
Resolution to the shape conflict.

horizontal rule

earth A definition:

"Cosmology" involves the study of the origin and structure of the universe, including such topics as the shape of the earth, the the locations and paths of the sun, moon, planets and stars, the age of the universe, the evolution of stars, etc.

horizontal rule

Main cosmological belief systems from ancient times until now:

Historically, there have been five main Western beliefs about the layout, shape, size, movements, etc. of the earth, moon, sun and the rest of the universe:


Pre-scientific view: Ancient Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area and throughout the Middle East taught that the universe was small. These religions included those of ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Canaan, etc. The Earth was viewed as being more or less flat, like a dinner plate. Mountains around the edges held up a canopy in the shape of a rigid metallic dome which formed the sky. Angels pushed the sun, moon, planets and stars across the underside of the dome of the sky on a daily basis. God sits on his throne in Heaven, which lies above the canopy. Doors or windows in the dome could be opened through which water (and in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone) could be poured. This is the view of the universe that the writers of the Bible appear to have adopted from these Pagan religions, if one interprets their writing literally.


Earth centered view: The ancient Greeks introduced the concept that the Earth is a sphere at the center of the universe. The moon, sun and stars are all embedded in transparent spheres which revolved around the earth. Heaven and God were believed to be located at a great distance from earth. They were even beyond the outermost sphere, which contains the stars.


Muslim view: One English verson of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, states in section 39.5 that Allah: "... overlaps the night over the day and overlaps the day over the night, and enslaved the sun and the moon. All ... move to a prerecorded destiny. Is He not the Exalted, the Forgiver?

The Arabic word translated here as "overlaps" has the meaning of to make into the shape of a ball. The passage also says that the Earth, Moon and Sun all move through space.

Qur'an 55:33 refers to the "diameters of the Heavens and the Earth." This supports the belief that the Earth is a sphere.


Modern scientific view: The Earth near spherical in shape. Actually it is an oblate spheroid. It is close to a perfect sphere, with a slight bulge at its equator.

  • Its radius at the equator is 6,378 km or 3,963 miles.

  • Its radius is at a pole is 6,357 km (3,959 mi).

It rotates on its own axis once a day and revolves once around the sun each year of about 365.2422 days. (To be precise, the Earth and Sun each revolve around their mutual center of gravity.) The Gregorian Calendar, which is now in widespread use around the world, considers every fourth year to be a leap year with 366 days. By itself, this would be a perfect match to a year lasting exactly 265.25 days.

A "century year" is a year like 1900, 2000, or 2100 that is divisible by 100. To increase the accuracy of the calendar, only those century years that are divisible by 400 are considered to be leap years. Thus the years 1600, 2000, and 2400 were or will be leap years, while 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 were or will not be leap years.

Our Sun is a somewhat average-sized star in a fairly typical, slowly rotating galaxy. Our galaxy, commonly called the Milky Way, is on the order of 120,000 light years across. (A light-year is a measure of distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in a year.) Our galaxy contains at least 100 billion stars. There are perhaps 170 billion galaxies in the universe. One astronomer speculated that the total number of stars in the entire universe is approximately equal to the number of grains of sand on all the world's beaches. Most stars have planets. However, only a minority of planets are located in their sun's circumstellar habitable zone -- sometimes called the "goldilocks" region -- where liquid water can exist.


Modern "Flat Earth Conspiracy" view: A "Flat Earth" movement has gained many members in recent decades, particularly among conservative Christians who believe that Bible text as inerrant -- without error. Many "Flat Earthers" believe that the Earth is actually disk-shaped, about 24,900 miles in diameter. They are sometimes called by derogatory names, like Flatters. FE people, Flattards, or Flat heads. They typically view the North Pole as being at the center of the Earth as shown in the image below. Most of them believe that the sun is a tiny sphere only about 32 miles in diameter, located about 3,000 miles above the Earth. The moon is similar in size and location, and is believed to be self-luminous; that is, it emits light. Some Flat Earthers believe that the Moon's light has cooling properties.

All of the photographs of the Earth that have allegedly been taken from outer space clearly show the Earth to be roughly spherical in shape. However, Flat Earthers believe the images are all forgeries created by forgers on Earth -- many of them employed by NASA . Many also believe that no human has ever landed on the Moon. It is all a NASA hoax, perpetrated by insiders in order to keep federal money flowing.

The North Pole is believed to be at the center of the Earth, in the white ice patch shown in the image below. The South Pole does not exist as a point. Antarctica is not a roughly circular continent as has been surveyed and photographed, and appears on world globes. Rather it is a narrow ring of land roughly 80,000 miles long, around the entire edge of the Earth. It keeps the oceans of the world in place and prevents ships from sailing off the globe into oblivion. There is a meta firmament -- a dome over the Earth -- as described in the Bible in which the stars and other planets are embedded.

shape of the Earth according to believers in a flat earth

Shape of the Earth according to many Flat Earth believers

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

A possible resolution to the conflict between a flat and spherical Earth:

Jeffrey P. Bezos' company, Blue Origin, plans to start flying tourists into space, reaching a maximum of 62 miles (about 100 km) above the surface of the Earth. The capsule will have five large windows which will allow the passengers to both view and photograph the Earth. ... For about four minutes ... [the passengers] will experience the thrill of weightlessness and be able to see the shape of the Earth."  3

This will provide a great opportunity to prove with photographic evidence that the Earth is not flat but close to a sphere in shape. However adequate arrangements would have to be made in advance to convince doubters that the pictures that will be taken are real, undoctored, images of the Earth. That would probably be an impossible task.

Richard Branson's company, Virgin Galactic, also plans future flights of tourists into space in their SpaceShipTwo.

Finally, modern airplanes often fly high enough -- above 30,000 feet -- so that the curvature of the earth can sometimes be seen from their windows under ideal viewing conditions.

horizontal rule

Topics on cosmology covered in this section:

bullet Two Pagan views, one modern view, one hoax-conspiracy theory:
  • Part 1: Overview about cosmological beliefs. The Ancient Pagan view originating in Sumer.

  • Part 2: The revised Pagan view, as generally accepted within early Christianity.

  • Part 3: Greek Pagan cosmology (Continued). Muslim view. Modern view of the solar system. Church taught an Earth-centered system. The big hoax: that the church taught a flat Earth during the Middle Ages

  • Part 4: A modern-day return to the belief that the Earth is flat, and that there is a massive, false conspiracy teaching that the Earth is similar to a sphere

  • Part 5: Three more proofs that the Earth is more or less spherical and not flat.

  • Part 6: Five more proofs that the Earth is more or less spherical and not flat

  • Part 7: Arguments about the Earth's shape. A weak proof of a spherical Earth. More Old Testament passages about the Earth's shape.

  • Part 8: Passages from the New Testament about the Earth's shape. Proofs 13 & 14 that the Earth is not flat.

  • Part 9: Proofs 15 to 26 that the Earth is not flat.

  • Part 10: Proofs 27 to 37 that the Earth is not flat: Videos on You Tube. Are Flat Earthers Hoaxters?

  • Part 11: Two Conflicting Videos About The Shape Of The Earth: Flat, Cubical, Spherical?


Bible passages about cosmology:

bullet How conservative and liberal Christians interpret these passages

horizontal line

A fascinating seven-minute video by Wylie Overstreet:

It shows the construction of a scale model of the solar system in a desert area:

No drawing of the solar system to scale is possible because if drawings of the sun and planets from Mercury to Neptune were to be placed on a page or shown in a video, the planets would be so small that they would not be visible. A very large model that is navigated by automobile is needed to show the solar system in a meaningful way.


horizontal rule

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Eric Dubay, "Flat Earth Star Trails Explained," You Tube, uploaded on 2015-SEP-16, at:
  2. Wylie Overstreet, "To Scale: The Solar System," Vimeo, at:
  3. Jeff Bezos shows off the crew capsule that could soon take tourists to space," The Washinton Post, 2017-APR-05, at:
  4. "Earth," Miracles of Quran, undated, at:

horizontal rule

Site navigation:

 Home page >  Christianity > Bible & the world > here

Home page > Religion & science > here

horizontal rule

Copyright 2001 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JAN-28
Latest update: 2019-NOV-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go the Religion & Science menu, or to the "Bible and the world" menu,  or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.