Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

flat earth

There is a widely known criticism that the Bible teaches a flat earth and that Christians in the past used to all believe in a flat earth, bullying any poor rebellious scientist or explorer the argued otherwise. It is a very prominent accusation leveled against Bible believing Christians with some very reputable figures behind it. Robert J. Schadewald, former president of the National Center for Science Education, claims that many of the early church fathers were flat-earthers.[1] Massimo Pigliucci, chair of the Department of Philosophy at CUNY-Lehman College, claims that for most of western history Christians believed in a flat-earth.[2]  Famous medical officer and historian Charles Singer writes, “The sphericity of the earth was, in fact, formally denied by the Church, and the mind of Western man, so far as it moved in this matter at all, moved back to the old confused notion of a modulated ‘flatland’, with the kingdoms of the world surrounding Jerusalem, the divinely chosen centre of the terrestrial disk.”[3]

I’m sure you are, like myself, reminded of the story of Columbus, in which our history textbooks taught us in elementary school and onward that Columbus was the one who discovered the earth was round and that he had to convince his superiors that he would not sail off the edge of the world in order to get funding for his expedition. But Columbus lived in the 15th century, so that must mean that prior to the 15th century everyone (including the authors of the Bible from the first century and earlier) thought the earth was flat too, right?

Naturally, pictures like this come to mind when thinking of Columbus and declaration that the earth was round.

Naturally, pictures like this come to mind when thinking of Columbus and his declaration that the earth was round.

So I began to research the issue myself and found that the vast majority of Christians maintained the same views, but a few were divided on the issue. There are Christians that do believe in a round earth and do not believe the Bible teaches a flat earth. But there are also Christians who maintain that, yes the earth is round, but agree that the Bible teaches the earth is flat.[4] Worse, there are Christians that do not believe in a round earth, but do believe the Bible teaches a flat earth. They are known as the Flat Earth Society, www.flatearthsociety.org. So to find clarity on the subject I researched the history of the flat earth myth as well as what the Bible actually says about the subject. Here are my findings:

Is the Earth Flat?

No, the earth is not flat, obviously. It is round and spherical, with a slight bulge at the equator due to the earth’s rapid rotation.[5] So then the question naturally follows; where and when did the flat earth myth originate?

History of the Flat Earth Myth:

When we look back at history it is easy to speculate that people thought the earth was flat, since it obviously appears to be flat and they did not have the ability to fly at high altitudes or travel into space to see earth’s curve. However, such speculation is shallow and inaccurate. Some ancient civilizations actually did understand the earth to be curved, especially those civilizations that were sea faring nations. After all, their boats and ships were traveling over the horizon and not falling off the edge of the earth. Additionally, the curve of the earth could be seen in that when ships appeared on the horizon, their mast would appear first, then the hull. Likewise, from the sailors perspectives, the tops of mountains would appear on the horizon before the shores did, evidence of the earth being curved.

Outside of how objects appeared on the horizon, there were other inclinations to the ancient Greeks that the earth was round. For example, during a lunar eclipse the earth casts a circular shadow on the moon as it slips into the shadow regardless of the earth’s orientation. This would only be possible if the earth was round.[6]

The first documented claim that the Earth was round came from Pythagoras in the sixth century BC.[7] Aristotle (384-322 BC) reasoned the earth was round.[8] As did Euclid, Aristarchs, Crates, Strabo, Ptolemy, and so on and so forth.[9]  Eratosthenes (276-196 BC), director of the great Library in Alexandria, Egypt, actually calculated the circumference of the earth! One day he read that in the Egyptian town of Syene the sun cast no shadows on vertical objects every year on June 21, meaning the sun was directly overhead. So naturally on June 21 Erathosthenes placed vertical sticks in the ground to see if the same results would happen in Alexandria. But in Alexandria, the sticks did cast a shadow. He figured the shadows must be due to the curve of the earth, so he measured the degree of divergence from the shadows on the ground to the sticks, which was about seven degrees. He then hired a man to pace out the distance from Syene to Alexandria, which came out to 800km. Since seven degrees is roughly 1/50 of the circumference of a circle, all one must do is multiply 50 x 800 and you get 40,000 km for the circumference of earth.[10] The current estimate of earth’s circumference is 40,075 km at its widest, and an average circumference of 40,041km.[11] It is remarkable how close Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth in the 3rd century BC with basic geometry.

According to physicist and cosmologist Dr. John Hartnett, “There is a common myth that ancient peoples thought the earth was flat. Some may have thought so, but most others certainly did not.”[12]

You may be thinking to yourself, well that is ancient Greece and Rome, but when Christianity came around in the first century everything changed, right? Wrong. When considering Christian early church fathers and theologians, only two within the entire history of early Christian theology can be accused of believing in a flat earth: Lactantius of the 4th century (200+ years after the origin of Christianity), and a 6th century Egyptian monk named Cosmas Indicopleustes (400+ years after the origin of Christianity).[13] Both men’s writings were almost completely ignored by the church, their writings having very little to no impact in medieval scholarship.[14] It should also be noted that Cosmas’ writings, being from Egypt, were not in Latin. His writings were not translated into Latin until 1706,[15] so no one in Europe would have been influenced by his writings until 1706.

In the 7th century lived Venerable Behe, an English monk known for his scholarly work in history, theology and science. More importantly, Behe considered the earth a spherical orb.[16] Saint Hildegard (1098-1179), Roger Bacon (1220-1292), Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), John Buriden (1301-1358) and Nicholas Oresme (1320- 1382) all maintained a round earth.[17] University of California Santa Barbara emeritus professor of history, Jeffrey Burton Russell, writes, “A few–at least two and at most five–early Christian fathers denied the sphericity of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.”[18]

This image comes from Saint Hildegard’s Liber Divinorum Operum from the 12th century, showing the four seasons on a curved earth.

This image comes from Saint Hildegard’s Liber Divinorum Operum from the 12th century, showing the four seasons on a curved earth.

13th century scholar and astronomer Johannes de Sacrobosco wrote, “If the earth were flat from east to west, the stars would rise as soon for Westerners as for Orientals, which is false.”[19] Clearly there was no widespread notion of a flat earth among scholars. As world renowned paleontologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould writes, “There never was a period of ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars (regardless of how many uneducated people may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology.”[20]

The following image appears comes from Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de Sphaera (On the Sphere of the World) written in 1230 AD. It showcases the knowledge that the appearance of ships on the horizon testified to a curved earth.

The following image comes from Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de Sphaera (On the Sphere of the World) written in 1230 AD. It showcases the knowledge that the appearance of ships on the horizon testified to a curved earth.

Furthermore, the claim that 15th century explorer Christopher Columbus was the first to discover that the world was round is, and by now you should agree, false. Also false, is the claim that Columbus’ expedition was opposed because the royal authorities thought he was going to sail off the edge of the planet. Columbus’ expedition was actually opposed because it was widely known that the earth was round, but more importantly it was known how large the earth was (remember the works of Eratosthenes). What wasn’t known was the existence of North and South America. So it was assumed that traveling west from Europe to India would mean traversing one large super ocean, and thus, be too far of a journey. In other words, Columbus’ voyage was opposed because no one thought he could logistically make it across such a vastly massive ocean. As Samuel Morrison, a renowned maritime historian, wrote on the subject, “The sphericity of the globe was not in question. The issue was the width of the ocean.”[21] Gould agrees, “As a major critique, they argued that Columbus could not reach the Indies in his own allotted time, because the earth’s circumference was too great.”[22]

Even NASA’s website, in explaining the curvature of earth’s surface, makes reference to the claim that Columbus’ expedition being opposed due to belief in the earth being flat is a false notion.[23]  Additionally, Columbus was a Bible believing man.[24] So surely there would be some conflict between his faith and his knowledge of the earth being round, if the Bible taught such. There, however, was no such conflict, because the Bible does not teach a flat earth. So where did this historically-incorrect myth come from? It can be sourced back to 19th century American writer Washington Irving, who concocted the flat earth claims in his 1828 biography about Columbus called,  History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.[25] This biography has since, in more modern times, been highly criticized for its false claims.

 

Russell writes, “It was he [Irving] who invented the indelible picture of the young Columbus, a ‘simple mariner,’ appearing before a dark crowd of benighted inquisitors and hooded theologians at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed, according to Irving, that the earth was flat like a plate. Well, yes, there was a meeting at Salamanca in 1491, but Irving’s version of it, to quote a distinguished modern historian of Columbus, was ‘pure moonshine. Washington Irving, scenting his opportunity for a picturesque and moving scene,’ created a fictitious account of this ‘nonexistent university council’ and ‘let his imagination go completely…the whole story is misleading and mischievous nonsense.’”[26]

This picture is taken from the 16th century astronomy textbook, On the Sphere of the World.

This picture is taken from the 16th century astronomy textbook, On the Sphere of the World.

So we’re up to the 15th century and still there is no case for Christianity propagating a flat-earth cosmology. There is hardly any mention of it anywhere in history at this time. Moving onto the 17th century, there is still no history of flat earth claims and Christianity. There is however historical record that Jesuit missionaries introduced the round earth cosmology to Ming China, which was still at that time under the impression earth was flat. That is, Christian missionaries introducing the round earth to other parts of the world, which doesn’t sound like the works of a religion that believes in a flat earth. Moving onto the 18th century, the age of Enlightenment, where there was popular skeptical inquiry of religion from all of academia. Yet no where during this time do we see Christianity criticized for flat-earth cosmology.[27] Not one word from Franklin, Condillac, Condorcet, Diberot, Gibbon, or Hume about a flat earth? It seems rather odd that these men would not have used such a fallacy as ammunition against Christianity. That is, unless, there was no grounds for making such a claim.

Russell writes, “In my research, I looked to see how old the idea was that medieval Christians believed the earth was flat. I obviously did not find it among medieval Christians. Nor among anti-Catholic Protestant reformers. Nor in Copernicus or Galileo or their followers, who had to demonstrate the superiority of a heliocentric system, but not of a spherical earth. I was sure I would find it among the eighteenth-century philosophes [sic], among all their vitriolic sneers at Christianity, but not a word. I am still amazed at where it first appears.”[28]

So where did it first appear? Claims that Christianity maintained a flat earth mentality did not appear until the 19th century, which alone should raise some scepticism being 1,800 years after the origin of the religion. Irwing’s Columbus biography, though the beginning of published flat-earth claims against Christianity, did not take hold until the time ofAntoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), who was an academic with anti-religious prejudices that were evident in his 1834 book On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers.[29] This was subsequently followed by William Whewell’s 1837 book History of the Inductive Sciences, in which Whewell points out Lactantius and Cosmas to prove that the entire medieval period adopted a flat-earth cosmology, ignoring the overwhelming majority of other Christians that did not maintain a flat-earth cosmology.[30]

 

Also during the 19th century, Darwin’s Evolution theory began to take shape, which naturally met opposition from Christians. And so it was claimed that religion and science were at odds with one another. At least, that is what was declared by John Draper’s 1874 book The History of Conflict Between Religion and Science, and Andrew Dickson White’s 1896 book, A History of Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. In both books gross exaggerations are made of Christians, including the claim that Christianity is a flat earth believing religion. Unfortunately these claims have persisted today in academia, despite modern academia’s criticism of both books for their false dichotomization of western history as a war between science and religion.[31]

Russell writes,The reason for promoting both the specific lie about the sphericity of the earth and the general lie that religion and science are in natural and eternal conflict in Western society, is to defend Darwinism. The answer is really only slightly more complicated than that bald statement. The flat-earth lie was ammunition against the creationists. The argument was simple and powerful, if not elegant: ‘Look how stupid these Christians are. They are always getting in the way of science and progress. These people who deny evolution today are exactly the same sort of people as those idiots who for at least a thousand years denied that the earth was round. How stupid can you get?’ But that is not the truth.”[32]

Biologist, chemist, and geologist Dr. Jerry Bergman writes, “This history clearly supports, not a war of religion against science, but instead a war of evolutionary propagandists against religion.”[33] Gould writes, “I would not be agitated by these errors if they led only to an inadequate view of the past without practical consequences for our modern world. But the myth of a war between science and religion remains all too current, and continues to impede a proper bonding and conciliation between these two utterly different and powerfully important institutions to human life.”[34]

If one searches the history books for flat-earth believing Christians they might be put off at the miniscule amount that can be unearthed. If it is so transparent that the Bible taught a flat-earth, then why would the overwhelming majority of Christians in the entire history of Christianity NOT believe in a flat earth? The most reasonable and obvious answer is that the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat.

Oh, how I wish that was the end of the story for the flat earth. But it is not. In the late 19th century John Dowie began a campaign in the little town of Zion, Illinois to propagate the theology of a flat-earth. After he died in 1906, Wilbur Voliva took over as the organizations leader until he, himself, died in 1942. It is noteworthy that the movement was very unsuccessful in converting most of the Zion residents to their flat earth dogma, and after the death of Voliva, the movement died.[35]  They were, however, not the only flat earth organization.

Another flat earth organization is the one founded by Charles K. Johnson of LancasterCalifornia, who died in 2001. The organization is known as the Flat Earth Society of America. Again, like that of Zion’s small organization, they never had more than 100 members.[36] Johnson also went onto to claim that the sun was as far from earth as San Francisco is from Boston and that the sun and moon were both the same size, about 51 km in diameter.[37]

The Flat Earth Society today is led by Daniel Shelton, who oddly enough believes in evolution and global warming, but not in a round earth…[38] This is troubling for those who claim that creationists believe in a flat earth (aside from the fact that creationists don’t make this claim), since Shelton believes in evolution, something creationists do not adhere to. So out of the few remaining flat-earth believers, we see a belief in evolution. Both are theories that creationists do not adhere to. With all this considered, it can be concluded that claiming creationists preach a flat earth is incredibly false. However, as troubling as it might be to know that there are Christians that still maintain that the earth is flat, it is worth while to note that Shelton’s following is only in the hundreds, maybe a thousand.[39] While the rest of the Christian population in America totals 228 million as of 2008.[40] A thousand flat-earthers versus over two hundred million Christians that don’t believe in a flat earth (not counting the billion other Christians worldwide) should be enough to convince skeptics and critics, that a flat-earth cosmology is not a part of Christianity.

Lastly, before I end this segment on the sad history of the flat earth myth, I think it would be appropriate to share one humorous quote from Shelton: “I haven’t taken this position just to be difficult… To look around, the world does appear to be flat, so I think it is incumbent on others to prove decisively that it isn’t. And I don’t think that burden of proof has been met yet.”[41] That is, the work of countless astrophysicists, cosmologists, and other bright minds amidst rigorous scientific disciplines for the last 100 years in combination with the countless photos of earth from space, have yet to provide Shelton with sufficient proof. It is humorous to say the least. But it is even more laughable when people try to project this dogma onto Christianity as a whole.

What The Bible Doesn’t Say:

So we can agree that the flat earth myth isn’t rooted in Christianity. Yet, still, those that maintain a flat earth in modern times are almost solely Christian. Clearly there is a connection, and that has lead many to thumb through the Bible and point out the many verses that seem to suggest the earth is flat. After all, even if Christians have historically not believed in a flat earth, if the Bible teaches a flat earth and the Bible is supposed to be the inherent word of God, then we have a serious problem, don’t we? How can the Bible be the word of an all-knowing God if it describes the earth as flat?

Schadewald points out the versus he believes testifies to a flat earth, “Disregarding the dome, the essential flatness of the earth’s surface is required by verses like Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king ‘saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth…reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth’s farthest bounds.’ If the earth were flat, a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to ‘the earth’s farthest bounds,” but this is impossible on a spherical earth. Likewise, in describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Matthew 4:8 says, ‘Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world [cosmos] in their glory.’ Obviously, this would be possible only if the earth were flat. The same is true of Revelation 1:7: ‘Behold, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye shall see him…’”[42]

The following verses (all NIV) are used to support the claim that the Bible teaches a flat earth:

 

Job 37:3- “He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth.”

Job 38:13- “…that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?”

Psalm 104:2-3- “He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”

Daniel 4:11 – “The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.”

Matthew 4:8 – “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.”

Revelation 1:7 – “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.”

Revelation 7:1 – “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.”

At first glance, yes, these verses seem to convey a flat four cornered earth. But as with all situations involving quoting the Bible one should always take into consideration context and use of language, and never isolate verses by themselves to pass judgment on them. Alone and out of context, a verse can mean whatever you want it to. So with that said, here is an explanation for these verses.

“He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth.” (Job 37:3): This verse, and others like it that refer to the “ends” or “edges” of earth, are commonly brought up as evidence of a flat earth since a round earth obviously does not have edges or ends. In the case of this verse, and others like it in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used is “nk”[43] which is translated into, “ends” or “extremities” meaning lands far away. Which in proper context would denote a meaning of lighting striking all over earth, even in the remote far away regions. According to prominent apologist James Patrick Holding “… Job 37:3 hardly requires a flat-earth reading — it merely states that lightning occurs all over the earth. Even if it did teach a flat-earth reading, it would prove only that Elihu believed such a thing — not everything reported in the Bible is endorsed in the Bible.”[44] Holding makes a point to bring up that Elihu was speaking when this was said, and as is commonly pointed out, Job’s friends (one of which is Elihu) came to confide him with theology which proved to be inaccurate. So even if this verse is taken as the earth being flat (which it should not), it would then only be chalked up to the inaccurate theology of Elihu.

“…that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38:13): Theologian Paul H. Seely, who believes the Bible DOES teach a flat earth, argues, “In a clearly cosmological context, not just local, this verse speaks of dawn grasping the earth by its ‘extremity or hem’ …and shaking the wicked out of it. The verse is comparing the earth to a blanket or garment picked up at one end and shaken. A globe is not really comparable to a blanket or garment in this way. You cannot pick up a globe at one end. It does not even have an end.”[45]

However, Holding argues that the verse is being taken out of context, and when the previous verse (12) is taken into consideration the context can be clarified, “Are the wicked literally ‘shaken’ by the sunrise? Is the bringing of dawn accompanied by the sight of nighttime burglars rolling through the dusty streets of villages like tumbleweeds? Clearly this verse refers to no more than the visible horizon that the dawn ‘grasps’ as the sun rises. It is phenomenological and poetic in every sense of its expression.”[46] Holding’s argument is on point. If we are to take the description of the earth having edges literally, then one must also take the rest of the verse literal, which would necessitate wicked people being shaken from a flat earth after the sun somehow grabs a hold of its edges to shake it. Though no one would honestly believe the author meant this.

Methodist bible scholar and theologian Adam Clarke takes a different approach: “That the wicked might be shaken out of it? – The meaning appears to be this: as soon as the light begins to dawn upon the earth, thieves, assassins, murderers, and adulterers, who all hate and shun the light, fly like ferocious beasts to their several dens and hiding places; for such do not dare to come to the light, lest their works be manifest, which are not wrought in God.”[47] Thus again, we see a more proper use of this verse is that of a poetic and metaphorical nature, not literal.

 “He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:2-3): Anyone who has read Psalms knows it is a book of symbolic poetry. Beams of chambers on waters, wind with wings, wrapped with light as a garment; all metaphors one would expect in poetic writings, not literal descriptions.

“The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.” (Daniel 4:11): This verse provides probably the most imperative lesson on context. That is, if one were to actually read all of Daniel 4 they would see that this verse is describing a vision, a King’s dream. Do the fantastic details of YOUR dreams constitute literal reality? Of course not. So we should not therefore penalize the Bible for containing the description of a King’s fantastic dream. Furthermore, the King was not a Jew, but a pagan. According to Holding, “The Daniel passage is actually a statement by a pagan king, which doesn’t mean that the Bible endorses that view. And it is a vision, and is therefore not intended to be a picture of reality…”[48]

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” (Matthew 4:8): How could Jesus see the all the Kingdoms of the world from a high mountain unless the world was flat? Theologian Albert Barnes explains, “It is not probable that anything more is intended here than the kingdoms of Palestine, or of the land of Canaan, and those in the immediate vicinity. Judea was divided into three parts, and those parts were called kingdoms; and the sons of Herod, who presided over them, were called kings. The term ‘world’ is often used in this limited sense to denote a part or a large part of the world, particularly the land of Canaan. See Romans 4:13, where it means the land of Judah; also Luke 2:1, and the note on the place.”[49]

Expositor John Gill takes another approach, pointing out the supernatural aspects of Satan’s visit to Jesus, “Now the view which Satan gave Christ of all this, was not by a representation of them in a picture, or in a map, or in any geographical tables, as some have thought; since to do this there was no need to take him up into a mountain, and that an exceeding high one; for this might have been done in a valley, as well as in a mountain: and yet it could not be a true and real sight of these things he gave him; for there is no mountain in the world, from whence can be beheld anyone kingdom, much less all the kingdoms of the world; and still less the riches, glory, pomp, and power of them: but this was a fictitious, delusive representation, which Satan was permitted to make; to cover which, and that it might be thought to be real, he took Christ into an high mountain; where he proposed an object externally to his sight, and internally to his imagination, which represented, in appearance, the whole world, and all its glory.”[50]

So we have two different possibilities, one in which Jesus is literally taken to a mountain top to see the regions of Canaan which was commonly referred to as the kingdoms of the “world.” The other possibility being a supernatural apparition from Satan which corresponds to their instantaneous arrival to a mountain top, which is only possible via the supernatural. Besides, even if the earth was flat, you still couldn’t see all the kingdoms of the world on the simple premise of atmospheric haze preventing visibility to far off lands. Something any ancient man standing on a hill or mountain top would be aware of. That is, visibility is not infinite and cannot go as far as one may physically travel.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7): Here is another verse being taken far from context. The book of Revelation is a book of prophecy for the end times and the second return of Christ. Thus there are a few ways that this verse can be understood. The one popular explanation is that the return of Jesus will be widely publicized on television, internet, etc. It is today, in this modern time, very possible for “every eye” to see Jesus. The other, more agreed upon, explanation is related to the Day of Judgment in Revelation 20 when God judges the entire earth, and thus “every eye” would see Jesus sitting to the right of God’s throne, clothed in the clouds, a common symbol for majesty and glory. Obviously, Jesus’ second return will have supernatural implications, and thus it may be very possible for Jesus to appear to every individual at a supernatural level when He returns. Just as it is possible for God to be anywhere and everywhere at once since He is not bound by our natural dimensions, likewise Jesus would not be either, and it would therefore be possible for everyone to see Him at once.

One can go still further to say that even if the earth was flat, Jesus appearing in a cloud in the sky would still not make it possible for everyone to see him considering the horizontal distance of the known land. Even the ancients were well aware of the vast size of the earth regardless of whether the earth was flat or round. A vision in the skies in one area would hardly be visible at all a thousand miles away. It is therefore more appropriate to understand this verse in a supernatural sense.

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.” Revelation (7:1): This verse seems to suggest a flat rectangular earth with four corners. The four corners are not in relation to corners on a flat surface, but are in fact reference to the four points on a compass.[51] This is supported by Ezekiel’s similar reference to the four corners of Israel (Ezekiel 7:2). Gill agrees, “Four angels are mentioned, in allusion to the four spirits of the heavens, in Zec 6:5; and though the earth is not a plain square with angels, but round and globular, yet it is said to have four corners, with respect to the four points of the heavens; and though there is but one wind, which blows sometimes one way, and sometimes another, yet four are named with regard to the above points, east, west, north, and south, from whence it blows.”[52]

At that, it is clear to see that the charges of flat-earth cosmology leveled against the Bible can hardly stand in the face of critical analysis of the text. The Bible doesn’t speak of a flat earth. But then why do modern flat earthers tend to be Christians? A key consideration is that people who believe in a flat earth draw their conclusions from their own visual experience regardless of whether they’re Christian or not. Those who are Christian however, will come across particular verses, like those mentioned above, and fit them into their pre-conceived opinion of the earth being flat. Others are roped into it by the teachings of their pastors. Either way, they are, unfortunately, all the more brazen about it since they feel justified in their beliefs since (in their opinion) the word of God agrees with them, and are much less likely to change this opinion on the earth since such a change could be perceived as compromising on God’s word. This is the reason why the few remaining flat earthers tend to be Christian.

What the Bible Does Say:

So if the Bible doesn’t preach a flat earth, does it preach a round earth? Some would argue that it does:

Isaiah 40:22- “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

Now granted, in context, this language is metaphorical. So then what is meant by the “circle” of earth? It could be a genuine remark at the sphericity of earth, since the word used for circle; “chud,” refers to a circular, spherical or round object according to Barnes.[53] Gill writes, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,…. Or, ‘the globe’ of it; for the earth is spherical or globular: not a flat plain, but round, hung as a ball in the air; here Jehovah sits as the Lord and Sovereign; being the Maker of it, he is above it, orders and directs its motion, and governs all things in it.”[54]

Seely disagrees, arguing that if Isaiah wanted to describe the earth as a sphere he would have used the word “dur” which means “ball.”[55] The counter argument, however, is that dur can have multiple meanings as well. Case in point: Dur is used in Isaiah 29:3 to describe camping around a city to lay siege to it. In this context, dur must be used in accordance with encircling or rounding around the city, since one cannot obviously camp spherically over a city, at least not in ancient times. Therefore one cannot argue that Isaiah would have used “dur” if he wanted to convey a sphere, since it too has multiple meanings. So it remains possible that Isaiah was referring to earth as a spherical object.

The last reference I would like to make that the Bible supports a round earth is a deduction from the following verses:

Job 26:10- “He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.”

Luke 17:31-34- “On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.”

Matthew 24:47- “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

After reading those verses we can establish from Job that as one side of the earth is in daylight, the other is in night, from Luke that when Jesus returns some will be in bed while others will be working out in the field, and from Matthew that Jesus’ return will be in an  instant, like a flash of lightening.  The implications are this; that the sudden instance Jesus returns there will be people in bed at night and others out in the field working during the day. This could only be possible if earth was spherical with people experiencing daylight while others experienced night.

Thus, between Isaiah 40:22 and a deduction from Matthew 24:47, Luke 17:31-34 and Job 26:10, one could assert that with some confidence that the Bible speaks of a round spherical earth.

Final Thoughts:

It is my hope that after reading this you can agree that Christianity has never been one that maintains a flat earth cosmology and that the Bible does not teach a flat earth. Unfortunately, this myth has spread like an infectious disease, being gladly accepted by those with a predetermined dislike for Christianity and religion in general. Dr. Danny Faulkner, Chair of the math and Science Dept and Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of South Carolina, declares, “Many critics of creationists attempt to malign by suggesting that what creationists teach is akin to belief in a flat Earth. This attack is easy to refute, because the Bible does not teach that the Earth is flat, and virtually no one in the history of the church taught this. In fact, the belief in a flat Earth is a 19th century myth that was concocted to discredit critics of Darwinism. The supposed lesson of this myth was that the Church got it wrong before, so the Church has a chance to redeem itself by getting it right on the issue of evolution. This false lesson has been indelibly impressed upon common perception.”[56]

Bergman writes, “The idea that Christians once commonly believed in a flat earth for theological reasons is a myth. The story was invented to promote the claim that Christians have widely resisted scientific advancement due to doctrinal constraints.”[57]

Unfortunately, historically and scripturally inaccurate portrayals of Christianity (or in this case Intelligent Design, which is not affiliated with any religion) remain today.

Unfortunately, historically and scripturally inaccurate portrayals of Christianity (or in this case Intelligent Design, which is not affiliated with any religion) remain today.

Russell writes, “Contortions that are common today, if not widely recognized, are produced by the incessant attacks on Christianity and religion in general by secular writers during the past century and a half, attacks that are largely responsible for the academic and journalistic sneers at Christianity today. A curious example of this mistreatment of the past for the purpose of slandering Christians is a widespread historical error, an error that the Historical Society of Britain some years back listed as number one in its short compendium of the ten most common historical illusions. It is the notion that people used to believe that the earth was flat–especially medieval Christians. It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.”[58]

 flat earth t shirt

With that I’m left with the image of a thought provoking T-shirt from an anti-religious T-shirt brand. The T-shirt shows a flat earth and reads, “Teach the Controversy.” I completely agree! Even though the T-shirt is obviously under the influence of the false notion that Christianity teaches a flat earth. I say, let us indeed teach the controversy. The controversy that Christians never maintained a flat earth cosmology which was unfairly smeared on them by a handful of biased historians in an effort to propagate an unnecessary and unwarranted war between science and religion. Let us all become properly educated on the controversy and put an end to this ignorance of religion and history which blemishes our culture.


[1] Schadewald, R., (Winter 1981) “Scientific Creationism, egocentricity, and the flat earth,” Skeptical Inquirer, Pp. 44

[2] Pigliucci, M., (2002) Denying Evolution; Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science, (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates) pp. 38.

[3] Singer, C., (1917) Studies in the History and Method of Science, (Oxford: Clarendon Press) pp. 352

[4] Seely, P.H. (1997) “The geographical meaning of ‘Earth’ and ‘Seas’ in Genesis 1:10,” Westminster Theological Journal 59(2): pp. 231-256.

[5] Cain, F., (September 2009) “Earth’s Circumference,” http://www.universetoday.com

[6] Williams, A. & Hartnett, J., (2005) Dismantling the Big Bang, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books) pp. 24.

[7] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[8] Williams, A. & Hartnett, J., (2005) Dismantling the Big Bang, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books) pp. 23-24.

[9] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[10] Sagan, C., (1980) Cosmos, (London:MacDonald & Co.) pp.14-15.

[11] Cain, F., (September 2009) “Earth’s Circumference,” http://www.universetoday.com

[12] Williams, A. & Hartnett, J., (2005) Dismantling the Big Bang, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books) pp. 23.

[13] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 116.

[14] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 3, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[15] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 3, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[16] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 1, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[17] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 3, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[18] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[19] As quoted in Robert Kulwich’s “What Columbus Already Knew,” (Oct 2010) http://www.npr.org

[20] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 2, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[21] Morrison, S.E. (1942) Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, (Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.) pp. 89.

[22] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 2, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[23] www-spof.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/Scolumb.htm

[24] Lang, J.S. (1999) 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible but Never Thought to Ask, (New York, NY: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) pp. 19.

[25] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 117.

[26] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[27] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 3, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[28] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[29] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[30] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 3, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[31] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 5, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[32] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

[33] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 120.

[34] Gould, S.J., “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” pp. 5, which can be accessed here: http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/SS05/efs/materials/FlatEarth.pdf

[35] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 115.

[36] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 116.

[37] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 116.

[38] Wolchover, N., (June 2011) “Ingenious ‘Flat Earth’ Revealed in Old Map,” http://www.livescience.com

[39] Wolchover, N., (June 2011) “Ingenious ‘Flat Earth’ Revealed in Old Map,” http://www.livescience.com

[40] This is according to the 2012 Census, Table 75, which can be accessed here: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0075.pdf

[41] Wolchover, N., (June 2011) “Ingenious ‘Flat Earth’ Revealed in Old Map,” http://www.livescience.com

[42] Schadewald, R.J. (1995) “The Flat-Earth Bible,” http://www.lhup.edu

[44] Holding, J.P. (December 2000) “Is the ‘Erets (Earth) Flat?” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[45] Seely, P.H. (1997) “The geographical meaning of ‘Earth’ and ‘Seas’ in Genesis 1:10,” Westminster Theological Journal 59(2): pp. 239.

[46] Holding, J.P. (December 2000) “Is the ‘Erets (Earth) Flat?” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[47] Clarke’s commentary can be accessed here: http://bible.cc/job/38-13.htm

[48] Holding, J.P. (December 2000) “Is the ‘Erets (Earth) Flat?” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[49] Barnes’ Notes can be accessed here: http://bible.cc/matthew/4-8.htm

[50] Gill’s Exposition can be accessed here: http://bible.cc/matthew/4-8.htm

[51] Hodge, B., (2006) “Don’t Creationists Believe in Some ‘Wacky’ Things?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books) pp. 199.

[52] Gill’s exposition can be accessed here: http://bible.cc/revelation/7-1.htm

[55] Seely, P.H. (1997) “The geographical meaning of ‘Earth’ and ‘Seas’ in Genesis 1:10,” Westminster Theological Journal 59(2): pp. 238.

[56] Faulkner, D., (August 2001) “Geocentrism and Creation,” http://www.answersingenesisi.org

[57] Bergman, J., (August 2008) “The Flat-Earth Myth and Creationism,” Journal of Creation, 22(2) pp. 114.

[58] Russell, J.B. (August 4, 1997) “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” http://www.veritas-ucsb.org

A common logical fallacy many atheists, agnostics, and other skeptics of religion adhere to is an over generalization that followers of Christianity are dumb and uneducated. The logic being that no intelligent person could honestly believe in the contents written in the Bible. To show the fallacy of this kind of thinking, here is a list of some Christians that have contributed immensely to you, me and all of mankind with their intelligence.

 

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) This Polish astronomer, physician, translator, artist, cleric, diplomat, governor, economist, mathematician with a doctorate in law, turned the world upside down when he calculated that the Earth rotated around the sun, not the other way around. This would be the beginning of heliocentric cosmology. His results were published after his death in his book De Revolutionibus. Famous quote: “I am aware that a philosopher’s ideas are not subject to the judgment of ordinary persons, because it is his endeavour to seek the truth in all things, to the extent permitted to human reason by God.”

 

 

Francis Bacon (1561- 1626) Philosopher, statesman, scientist, and author, Bacon served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. He is most known for his contributions in science with the Baconian Method, AKA the Scientific Method, which is still used to this day as the theoretical framework for observational science. Famous quote; “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”

 

 

Galileo Galilei “Father of Observational Astronomy and Modern Physics” (1564-1642) Italian astronomer, physicist, mathematician and philosopher Galileo calculated that not only did earth rotate around the sun, but that all the other planets did as well, supporting Coperniucs’ work. His improvements to the telescope lead to the discovery on many moons around Jupiter and also allowed him to discover sunspots. He would publish his works in his book Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World, which lead to his trial and house arrest for the rest of his life by church authorities adhering to a non-Biblical, Aristotelian world view, ironically. Famous quote, “The Intention of Scripture was to persuade men of the truths necessary to salvation. Science could not do this, but only the Holy Spirit.”

 

Johann Kepler (1571- 1630) German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, Kepler invented the Keplerian Telescope. He is most known for his rigorous mathematical work in uncovering the laws of planetary motion. He often used religion in his science with reason, believing that God created an intelligible world accessible for discovery with reason and observation. Famous quote: “Geometry is unique and eternal, a reflection from the mind of God. That mankind shares in it is because man is an image of God.”

 

William Harvey (1578- 1657)  A physician, Harvey discovered the properties of blood and the circulation through out the body via the heart, detailing systemic circulation. Over the span of his life he contributed immensely to the understanding of anatomy.

 

Renes Descartes “Father of Modern Philosophy” (1596- 1650) French Philosopher, writer, and mathematician, Descartes is known as the father of modern philosophy with his astounding works in philosophy which proved to be the backbone for western philosophy. He was also a major figure in the rationalism movement. Additionally his work in mathematics is notable, with the Cartesian Coordinate System named after him (in the Latin). Famous quote: “In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.”

 

Blaise Pascal (1623- 1662) French mathematician, philosopher, writer, physicist and inventor, Pascal was a child prodigy. He would invent the mechanical calculator and contribute greatly to projective geometry and probability theory. He is famous for his philosophical concept called “Pascal’s Wager” in which he argues that a logical person would believe in God since you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Not believing in God you have nothing to gain but everything to lose. Famous quote: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

 

Robert Boyle “First Modern Chemist” (1627- 1691) Philosopher, chemist, physicist, theologian and inventor, Boyle was one of the founders of modern chemistry. He is famous for his discovery of the relationship between pressure and gases, developing what we now call Boyle’s Law. Famous quote: “From a knowledge of God’s work we shall know Him.”

 

John Locke (1632-1704) Locke was a very influential philosopher to the American Founding Fathers. He is also famous for his book, The Reasonableness of Christianity, and was very influential during the Enlightenment. Famous quote: “The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its Author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure, all sincere; nothing too much; nothing wanting!”

 

 

Sir Isaac Newton “Father of Physics” (1642-1727) Discoverer of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, this mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, alchemist, theologian and physicist had so many numerous discoveries that he was quickly knighted. He built the first reflection telescope, formulated the law of cooling, and demonstrated bionomial function. Newtonclaimed that each of his discoveries were communicated to him through the Holy Spirit. He adhered to the Bible and always propositioned for reconciliation between Scripture and science. Famous quotes; “No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible,” and “I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”

 

Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804) German philosopher, Kant is well known for his important publications on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. He argued for resolving contradictions and disputes between the empirical and rational methods of philosophy. He is regarded as one of the most profound philosophers of the 18th century. Famous Quote: “Men will not understand … that when they fulfill their duties to men, they fulfill thereby God’s commandments; that they are consequently always in the service of God, as long as their actions are moral, and that it is absolutely impossible to serve God otherwise.”

 

Sir William Herschel (1738- 1822) A German-born British astronomer and composer Herschel discovered Uranus and infrared radiation. He also composed twenty-four symphonies in his lifetime. Famous quote: “The undevout astronomer must be mad.”

 

Caroline Herschel “First Female Astronomer” (1750-1848) A German-British astronomer, Herschel is the sister of William Herschel. She made significant contributions to astronomy in field of comets, discovering the first periodic comet. Her work in astronomy earned her a gold medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, which did not hand out another medal to a female astronomer until 1996. She was also awarded a Medal of Science by theKing of Prussiaand is considered a pioneer for females in science.

 

Noah Webster “Webster’s Dictionary Founder” (1758-1843) Webster was a Connecticutschool teacher who established the first American dictionary called, American Dictionary of the English Language. He would later publish an American version of the King James Bible and would begin the famous collection of Webster’s Dictionaries. Famous quote; “God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”

 

John Dalton “Father of Modern Atomic Theory” (1766- 1844) English chemist, meteorologist and physicist, Dalton in considered the Father of Modern Atomic Theory and widely respected for his contributions into the research of color blindness, referred to as Daltionism, in his honor.

 

Michael Faraday (1791- 1867) British chemist, physicist, and philosopher, Faraday discovered magnetic fields, electrolysis, electromagnetic induction, and diamagnetism. His inventions led to the first electric motor. He coined the terms ion, cathode, anode, and electrode. Famous quote: “I am, I hope, very thankful that in the withdrawal of the powers and things of life, the good hope is left with me, which makes the contemplation of death a comfort — not a fear. Such peace is alone the gift of God, and as it is He who gives it, why should we be afraid? His unspeakable gift in His beloved Son is the ground of no doubtful hope, and there is the rest for those who (like you and me) are drawing near the latter end of our terms here below.”

 

Samuel F.B. Morse “Invented Morse Code” (1791- 1872) Painter and inventor, Morse was truly a gifted painter and in addition invented a form of telegraphy which was named after him; Morse Code. It became the primary telegraph language of its time and is still used today.

 

Joseph Henry (1797- 1878) American scientist and first secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, Henry invented the galvanometer and discovered self and mutual inductance of electromagnetism and contributed greatly to the advancement of aeronautics.  

 

Soren Kierkegard (1813-1855) A world renowned philosopher from Denmark, Kierkegard is very popular for his book Fear and Trembling, which addresses the shallowness of Christians in more modern history. He was also a critic of idealistic intellectuals. Many of his published works are still widely read and studied in philosophical circles. Famous quote: “Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.”

 

 

James Joule (1818- 1889) A physicist and brewer, Joule discovered the law of conservation, found the relationship between currant and resistance, aided in the development of the absolute scale of temperature, and he is from which we have the term, “Joule,” for a unit of energy. Famous Quote: “After the knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork.”

 

 

Gregor Mendel “Father of Genetics” (1822-1884) Growing up in what is now the Czech Republic, he went to a school for gifted children at age ten age. He later became a priest inBrno, where in addition to theology he was taught natural sciences, most notably, artificial selection. Eventually he would study science and statistics at theUniversityofVienna. After earning his degree he began to experiment with breeding plants and cataloging traits. He published his research in 1865 which covered hybridization, the law of segregation, etc. Unfortunately his work was ignored until being rediscovered in 1901 by three botanists that would later declare him the “Father of Genetics.”

 

Louise Pasteur (1822- 1895) French chemist and microbiologist, Pasteur was one of the founders of medical microbiology, made a number of breakthroughs in curing diseases, created the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax, his research led to the germ theory of disease, he invented pasteurization, discovered a molecular basis for the asymmetry of crystals, and developed the law of biogenesis; that life can only arise from pre-existing life, never from non-life. Famous quote: “Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic philosophers. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.”

 

Lord Kelvin William Thomson (1824- 1907) Mathematical physicist and engineer, Thomson formulated the first and second laws of thermodynamics, engineered the electric telegraph, developed the theory of an absolute zero in temperature, and is which we get the temperature measuring unit of “Kelvins.” Famous quote: “The more thoroughly I conduct scientific research, the more I believe that science excludes atheism,” and “If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”

 

James Maxwell “Father of Quantum Mechanics” (1831-1879), Scottish physicist and mathematician, Maxwell formulated electromagnetic theory. His model of electromagnetism was way ahead of its time advancing physics greatly. His work laid the foundation for quantum mechanics and special relativity. He is named the third greatest physicist of all time just behind Einstein andNewton. Additionally, he is credited for developing the first color photograph. Famous quote: “I think men of science as well as other men need to learn from Christ, and I think Christians whose minds are scientific are bound to study science that their view of the glory of God may be as extensive as their being is capable.”

 

 

Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939) Originally a skeptic archaeologist that set out to disprove the Bible, he eventually came to the undeniable authority of scripture after studying New Testament artifacts. He later became a Bible believing Christian. His most famous book was St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen. Famous quote: “I began with a mind unfavorable to it…but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.”

 

 

William Ramsay (1852- 1916) Scottish Isotopic Chemist that discovered the noble gases and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904. Additionally he discovered Neon, Xenon, Krypton and made Radon. Famous quote: “Christianity is the religion of an educated mind.”

 

Joseph J. Thomson (1856- 1940) A British physicist, Thomson is credited for discovering electrons, isotopes, and inventing the mass spectrometer. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Famous Quote: “As we conquer peak after peak we see in front of us regions full of interest and beauty, but we do not see our goal, we do not see the horizon; in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them still wider prospects, and deepen the feeling, the truth of which is emphasized by every advance in science, that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.”

 

 

Sir William H. Bragg (1862-1942) British physicist, chemist, and mathematician, Bragg is known for inventing the X-ray spectrometer and winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 for his research on X-ray technology. During his career he would also serve as the Chairman of Physics for the University of Leeds, would teach physics at the University College of London, teach chemistry at the Royal Institution, and would win a variety of awards including the Franklin Medal, Copley Medal, John J. Carty Award, and of course the Nobel Prize. Famous quote: “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.”

 

Orville and Wilbur Wright (1871-1948) (1867-1912) You know them as the Wright brothers, who on 1903 were the first humans to ever achieve controlled, powered, and sustained flight with an airplane they designed and built. What really made their flight possible were the first three axis flight controls they invented.

 

 

Alexis Carrel (1873- 1944) A French surgeon and biologist, Carrel is known for his revolutionary work in medicine pioneering vascular suturing techniques, inventing the first perfusion pump, discovering various wound antisepsis, and was key in fighting the eugenics movement. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1912. Carrel was always a skeptic of religion until he witnessed a miraculous healing in Lourdes of Marie Bailly. He could not conclude how the woman was healed outside of the supernatural to which he was subsequently ridiculed by fellow doctors. He published a book on the event called, The Voyage to Lourdes. A believer in the supernatural after that, Carrel became a Christian later on in life. Famous quote: “Jesus knows our world. He does not disdain us like the God of Aristotle. We can speak to Him and He answers us. Although He is a person like ourselves, He is God and transcends all things.”

 

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) An Italian inventor, Marconi is known for inventing long distance radio transmission, inventing the radio, developing Marconi’s law, and developing the radio telegraph system. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 and founded the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in Britain. Famous quote: “I am proud to be a Christian. I believe not only as a Christian, but as a scientist as well. A wireless device can deliver a message through the wilderness. In prayer the human spirit can send invisible waves to eternity, waves that achieve their goal in front of God.”

 

Max Born (1882- 1970) A German-British physicist and mathematician, Born was a key figure in the development of quantum mechanics and contributed greatly to solid-state physics and optics. He is most notable for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1954. Famous quote: “Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist must be rather silly.”

 

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889- 1951) Austrian-British philosopher that focused on logic, philosophy of the mind, of mathematics, and of language. Wittgenstein was a professor of philosophy at the Universityof Cambridgeand his book Philosophical Investigations is considered the most important book of 20th century philosophy. Famous quote: “Very intelligent and well-educated people believe in the story of creation in the Bible, while others hold it as proven false, and the grounds of the latter are well known to the former.”

Arthur Compton (1892- 1962) An American physicist, Compton discovered the Compton effect and was awarded the Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1927 for his work in electromagnetic radiation. He would work on the Manhattan Project, the first nuclear reactor and eventually become the Head of the Department of Physics at WashingtonUniversityin St. Louise. Later, WashingtonUniversityinaugurated Comtpon as the university’s ninth Chancellor. Famous quote: “For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man.  It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence—an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered—-’In the beginning God.’”

 

Dr. Werner Heisenberg (1901- 1976) Theoretical physicist, Heisenberg is best known for asserting the uncertainty principal of quantum theory. He contributed in setting forth the matrix formulation in quantum mechanics, discovered allotropic forms of hydrogen, and contributed greatly to nuclear physics, quantum field theory, and particle physics. He was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics, and was the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932. Famous quote; “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

 

Sir John C. Eccles (1903- 1997) Australian neurophysiologist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963 for his work on the synapse, Eccles graduated with a medical degree from the University of Melbourne, and received a doctorate in philosophy from Magdalen College, Oxford University. He is famous for his contributions to neuroscience and won Australian of the Year in 1963. Famous quote: “Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of a conflict is a result of ignorance.  We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence.”

 

Nevill Mott (1905-1996) An English physicist, Mott is known for his work on the structure of magnetic and disordered systems with an emphasis on amorphous semiconductors. Educated at the CliftonCollegein Bristoland St. John’sCollege, Cambridge, Mott would lecture at the Universityof Manchester, teach physics at the Universityof Bristol, and would become the Director of the Henry Herbert Willis Physical Laboratory at Bristol. He progressed the theoretical effects of light, introduced Mott polynomials, and earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977. Famous quote: “I believe in God, who can respond to prayers, to whom we can give trust and without whom life on this earth would be without meaning (a tale told by an idiot). I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in many ways and through many men and women, and that for us here in the West the clearest revelation is through Jesus and those that have followed him.”

 

Werner von Braun “Father of Rocket Science” (1912-1977) German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and pioneer of rocket science, Werner von Braun was educated inGermanyat the Technical University of Berlin and was a central figure of their rocket program from the 20’s to the 40’s. His actions during WWII are controversial since his designs were used in warfare, he was forced to join the Nazi regime, often opposed his superiors and was even at one point imprisoned by the Nazis. After WWII he surrendered to the Americans and would head up rocket science for them eventually entering the NASA program becoming a central figure in the space race. Famous quote: “The vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.  I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

 

Dr. Charles Hard Townes (1915- Current) Physicist and educator, Townes is famous for patenting the maser and his work in quantum electronics. He received a bachelors in physics and an additional degree in modern language from FurmanUniversityin Greenvilleat the age of 19. Townes earned a masters in Physics at DukeUniversity, and then a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He eventually would become a professor of Physics at Columbia University, then become the Executive Director of the Columbia Research Laboratory, later the Chairman of the Physics Department, then later the Vice President and Director of Research at the Institute of Defense Analysis in Washington D.C., and would additionally teach physics at MIT and Berkley. He would also be awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions to the understanding of religion. His career would be highlighted most notably for earning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964. Famous quotes: “I strongly believe in the existence of God, based on intuition, observations, logic, and also scientific knowledge,” and “At least this is the way I see it. I am a physicist. I also consider myself a Christian. As I try to understand the nature of our universe in these two modes of thinking, I see many commonalties and crossovers between science and religion. It seems logical that in the long run the two will even converge.”

 

 

Dr. Arthur E. Wilder-Smith (1915- 1995) Organic Chemist and three-star NATO general, Wilder-Smith earned a doctorate in physical organic chemistry from Reading University England, as well as two additional doctorates from the University of Geneva and the University of Zurich. He was appointed the Director of Research for a Swiss pharmaceutical company, taught chemotherapy and pharmacology at theUniversityofGeneva, and was a professor of pharmacology at the University of Illinois Medical Center.

 

Joseph E. Murray (1919- Current) A graduate ofHarvardMedicalSchool,Murraywent on to become a notable surgeon in the military. It was in the military hospitals that he encountered many burn patients that needed skin grafts. He noted that the closer the genetic similarity between the donor and recipient of the skin graft, the faster the graft worked. This became the foundation for his work in organ transplanting which would begin with the first successful kidney transplant in 1954. Prior toMurraymost doctors believed successful organ transplants to save dying patients was impossible.Murraywould be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1990 for his ground breaking work. Famous quote: “Is the Church inimical to science? Growing up as a Catholic and a scientist – I don’t see it. One truth is revealed truth, the other is scientific truth. If you really believe that creation is good, there can be no harm in studying science. The more we learn about creation – the way it emerged – it just adds to the glory of God. Personally, I’ve never seen a conflict.”

 

 

Dr. Arthur Schawlow (1921- 1999) An American physicist, Schawlow is known for his groundbreaking work on lasers, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981. After receiving a scholarship in science at theUniversityofToronto, Schawlow would earn multiple degrees there, including his Ph.D. He also had a postdoctoral position inColumbiaUniversity’s physics department, taught atStanfordUniversityand worked at several laboratories during his career. Famous quotes: “We are fortunate to have the Bible, and especially the New Testament, which tells so much about God in widely accessible, human terms,” and “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”

 

 

Dr. Antony Hewish (1924- Current) A British radio astronomer, Hewish was educated at Goneville and Caius College, Cambridge and would eventually earn his Ph.D. there. He advanced practical and theoretical understanding of scintillations of radio sources, would share the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974 for discovering the first pulsar, and would teach radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory. Famous quote: “The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief … may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense understanding.”

 

Buzz Aldrin [Edwin Eugene Aldrin] (1930- Current) American Astronaut and 2nd man on the moon, Aldrin was awarded a full scholarship to MIT but turned it down to enroll at West Point. He graduated West Point with a degree in mechanical engineering, became a 2nd Lieutenant and flew fighter planes overKorea during the Korean War. He then earned a doctorate of science in astronautics from MIT. Once he had earned this degree he was elected to enter into the NASA program where he would take part in one of the Apollo missions to the moon. Famous quote: (Describing taking communion on the moon) “I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.’ I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to theSea ofTranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Owen Gingrich (1930- Current) An American astronomer, Gingrich is a former research professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University as well as a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He is a graduate of Harvard. Famous quote: “Nevertheless, just as I believe that the Book of Scripture illumines the pathway to God, so I believe that the Book of Nature, with its astonishing details–the blade of grass, the Conus cedonulli, or the resonance levels of the carbon atom–also suggest a God of purpose and a God of design.  And I think my belief makes me no less a scientist.”

James Benson Irwin (1930-1991) An astronaut and engineer, Irwin received a degree in naval sciences from the US Naval Academy, then received a masters in aeronautical engineering and istrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan. He was the Chief of the Advanced Requirements Branch at Headquarters Air Defense Command as well as a proficient test pilot. He had been awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal and two Air Force Commendation Medals during his service. After being accepted into the NASA program, Irwin became the eighth man to walk on the moon as part of Apollo 15. He left NASA and the Air Force as a Colonel and started the High Flight Foundation. Famous quote: “Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

 

Kenneth H. Cooper M.D. “Founder of Aerobics” (1931- Current) Doctor of Medicine and former Air Force Colonel, Cooper is widely known for introducing the concept aerobics to improve the human cardiovascular system. Cooper earned a bachelors and masters from theUniversityofOklahomaand a Masters of Public Health from Harvard University School of Public Health. In addition he is certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He also founded the non-profit research and education organization called the Cooper Institute.

 

 

Charles Moss Duke, Jr. (1935- Current) A US Air Force Brigadier General, NASA Aerospace Engineer and Apollo Astronaut, Duke was educated by the US Naval Academy where he received a degree in naval sciences, and then later went to MIT to earn a masters degree in aeronautics, an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the University of South Carolina, and an honorary doctorate of Humanities from Francis Marion College. He has an impressive record of 4,147 flight hours as a test pilot and 265 space flight hours. In 1972 he became the youngest of the only twelve people that walked on the moon as part of Apollo 16. He is currently chairman of the board of directors for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, president of the Duke Ministry For Christ and focuses on ministering to prisoners.

 

 

Raymond Damadian M.D. (1936- Current) Medical practitioner and inventor of the MRI, Damadian received a mathematics degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, earned his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and studied violin in Julliard for eight years. For the MRI Damadian won the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Lemelson-MIT.

 

Dr. Werner Gitt (1937- Current) A German Engineer, Gitt, now retired, was Head of the Department of Information Technology at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology. He was declared Director and Professor of this institute, which in Germanyrequires a prerequisites of; being an academic scientist, publishing a significant number of research and technical papers, and being an expert in the field. Famous quote:The Bible has long made it clear that the creation of the original groups of fully operational living creatures, programmed to transmit their information to their descendants, was the deliberate act of the mind and the will of the Creator, the great Logos Jesus Christ. We have already shown that life is overwhelmingly loaded with information; it should be clear that a rigorous application of the science of information is devastating to materialistic philosophy in the guise of evolution, and strongly supportive of Genesis creation.”

Sir Ghillean Prance (1937- Current) A British botanist and ecologist, Prance has published extensively on the taxonomy of plant species, was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, was knighted in 1955, and is president of Christians in Science. He was educated atOxfordand is currently teaching atReadingUniversity. Famous quote: “For many years I have believed that God is the great designer behind all nature… All my studies in science since then have confirmed my faith. I regard the bible as my principle source of authority.”

 

Dr. František Vyskočil (1941- CURRENT) A ground breaking researcher in neurophysiology from Chechnya, Vyskcil has degrees in chemistry and biology, and completed postdoctoral work at the Instituteof Biomedical Researchat Prague. His work has been published in Nature and many other prominent scientific journals. He has been awarded the Lifelong Contribution Award from the Czech Academy of Sciences and is currently a professor of physiology and neurobiology at CharlesUniversityin Prague. Famous quote: “Every good scientist, regardless of his beliefs, must be as objective as possible. But my faith has changed me. For one thing, instead of being overly self-confident, highly competitive, and unduly proud of my scientific skills, I am now grateful to God for any abilities I may have. Also, instead of unfairly attributing the amazing designs manifest in creation to blind chance, I and not a few other scientists ask ourselves, ‘How did God design this?’ I am grateful for the opportunity to take a very small look inside these tiny miraculous creations, living cells and organs. Instead of exalting an anonymous mother nature I understand the universe, life and mankind as the product of the creative activity of God.”

 

Dr. Richard Smalley (1943-2005) Chemist Richard Smalley received his bachelors degree from the Universityof Michigan, his Ph.D. from PrincetonUniversityand postdoctoral work at the Universityof Chicago. He pioneered development of supersonic beam laser spectroscopy, contributed greatly to groundbreaking research in fullerences and nanotechnology, taught physics and astronomy at RiceUniversityin Houstonand was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering a new form of carbon. Smalley became a Christian near the end of his life. Famous quote: “It is increasingly clear to modern science that the universe was exquisitely fine-tuned to enable human life.”

 

Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III (1944- Current) A computational and theoretical chemist, Schaefer has published a significant number of papers in prominent scientific journals and is the Director of the Center for Computational Chemistry at the University of Georgia and a member of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received a degree in chemical physics from MIT and later a Ph.D. in chemical physics from Stanford. He has been a chairman for the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists and as taught at bothBerkleyand theUniversityofTexas,Austin. He has been awarded American Chemical Society Award as well as multiple medals from various universities. Famous quote: “A Creator must exist.  The Big Bang ripples and subsequent scientific findings are clearly pointing to an ex nihilo creation consistent with the first few verses of the book of Genesis.”

Dr. Matti Leisola (1947- Current) Receiving his doctorate of science in biotechnology from the Helsinki University of Technology, Leisola has been awarded the Latsis Prize for his contributions to research in Switzerland, was the Director of Research for an international biotech company, and the Dean of the Faculty of Chemical and Materials Science at Aalto University, Finalnd. Famous quote; “Christianity is the foundation of modern science and explains why we can do science: a rational God created a rational man in his own image so that he is able to understand the creation with his mind. Indeed, the Creator Jesus Christ is called the Logos [Λόγος John 1:1–3], and makes sense of this orderly universe and complexity of life. Those believing in a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life are the ones with a blind faith.”

Dr. Frank Jennings Tipler (1947- Current) A mathematical physicist and cosmologist, Tipler holds a joint appointment in the Dept. of Mathematics and Physics atTulaneUniversity. He earned a degree in in physics from MIT, received a Ph.D. from theUniversityofMarylandand took on a postdoctoral research position at theUniversityofTexas. Famous quotes: “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics,” And “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”

 

Dr. William D. Phillips (1948- Current) An American physicist, Phillips studied physics and chemistry at JuniataCollegebut would earn his Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He has been awarded the Albert A. Michelson Medal from the Franklin Institute as well as the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. He is the professor of physics at the Universityof Maryland, College Park. Famous quotes: “I believe in God. In fact, I believe in a personal God who acts in and interacts with the creation. I believe that the observations about the orderliness of the physical universe, and the apparently exceptional fine-tuning of the conditions of the universe for the development of life suggest that an intelligent Creator is responsible,” and “Being an ordinary scientist and an ordinary Christian seems perfectly natural to me. It is also perfectly natural for the many scientists I know who are also people of deep religious faith.”

 

-Dr. Francis Collins, M.D. (1950-Current) Physician, Geneticist, former head of the Human Genome Project and Director of the National Institute of Health, Collins received a degree in chemistry from theUniversityofVirginia, earned a doctorate in physical chemistry fromYaleUniversityand then received his medical degree from theUniversityofNorth CarolinaatChapel Hill. Famous quote: “Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world [but] is powerless to answer questions such as ‘what is the meaning of human existence?'”

 

Dr. Ben Carson M.D. (1951- Current) Neurosurgeon and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Carson graduated Yale University with a degree in Psychology and a medical degree from Michigan Medical School. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, and is renowned for his philanthropic causes and contributions to neurosurgery. Famous quote: “I have to come to realize that God does not want to punish us, but rather, to fulfill our lives. God created us, loves us and wants to help us to realize our potential so that we can be useful to others.”
Dr. Aw Swee-Eng MBBS, PhD (Chem Path)(Lond), FRCPath (Lond), FAMS: Biochemist and Head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Director of the Department of Clinical Research at Singapore General Hospital, Swee-Eng is extensively involved in Nuclear Medecine, diagnostics and anti-cancer drugs. He was also an associate professor of Biochemistry at theUniversity ofSingapore.

Dr. Dennis Flentge: Senior professor of Chemistry atCedarvilleUniversityas well as Chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics. He earned a degree in Chemistry fromTexasLutheranCollege, and furthermore a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry fromTexasA & MUniversity.

Dr. Felix Konotey-Ahulu: Considered one of Ghana’s leading scientists and the world’s leading expert in sickle-cell anemia, Konotey-Ahulu’s book The Sickle Cell Disease Patient has been hailed as the authoritative source on the disease. He studied at the University College of the Gold Coast (Ghana) as well as London University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medecine & Hygiene, Westminster Hospital, and Royal Postgraduate Medical School Hammersmith. He has also contributed greatly towards research on AIDs and served on multiple educational boards, genetic research projects, and medical research councils all over Africa. He has been awarded the Guinness Award for Scientific Achievement, the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Award, and the Third World Academy of Sciences Award. He is also know for his website, www.sicklecell.md, as a resource for patients that have the disease. Famous quote: “Nothing makes sense of life as I know it—wars, rumors of wars, strife (domestic and international), wickedness, injustice, sin and its consequences, pain and suffering, disease (hereditary and acquired)—until I see it through the history of perfect Creation, the Fall and its terrible consequences, the promise of God not only to undo the damage Satan has wrought, but also to restore man’s communion with Himself through His Son who would become Incarnate (God becoming Man).”

Dr. Carol Swain: An American political scientist and lawyer, Swain is a professor of political science and law atVanderbiltUniversity. Born in a poverty stricken family, one of twelve children, Swain did not attend high school. But later in life she earned her GED and an associates degree fromWesternCommunity College. From there she went on to earn a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Roanoke College, a masters in political science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, an additional masters in law from Yale, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has written and co-authored many prominent books on social concerns inAmerica, has served as an advisor to the US Civil Rights Commission, is a member of the National Council on the Humanities and leads the Carol Swain Foundation. Famous quote: “Christian values of mercy, justice, love, compassion, and fairness strongly influence all aspects of my life as a teacher, researcher, and scholar.”

Dr. James Tour: A synthetic organic chemist, Tour has taught chemistry and biochemistry at theUniversityofSouth Carolinaand taught Computer Science, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology atRiceUniversity. He received his Bachelors of Science in Chemistry fromSyracuseUniversity, his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry fromPurdueUniversity, and has postdoctoral experience with theUniversityofWisconsinandStanfordUniversity. In addition to multiple medals and awards from various universities he has also won Southern Chemist of the Year from the American Chemical Society, Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research. Tour is ranked as one of the Top 10 chemists (alive) in the world! Famous quote: “I build molecules for a living. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that job is.  I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. My faith has been increased through my research.  Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”

This list can go on and on. Additionally, it only mentions prominent figures in history, not the countless others that all throughout history and still to this day work in fields that require great intelligence, but have never made any headlines. The point of this list is to refute the fallacious notion that no intelligent person could believe in the Bible’s claims. Instead it can be shown that many incredibly intelligent people adhere to the Bible’s word in addition to the uneducated. Because, just as the Bible claims, the Word of God is for everyone, regardless of their intelligence, just as we would expect from a book claimed to be inspired by God Himself.

Are you going to run into Christians that are idiotic at times? Most definitely! But you are also going to run into idiotic atheists, agnostics, evolutionists, humanists and, well, any other possible affiliation one could identify themselves as. But this in no way reflects the authenticity of the cause they affiliate with, it just reflects their own intelligence. So don’t make hasty generalizations based on that one stupid guy on the corner, or that crazy woman you work with. Christianity is for ALL people, dumb and smart alike, God bless them all!

When skeptics think of the founders of a religion, they tend to think of corruption, lies, or simple-minded fairy tails. Considering Christianity, some skeptics tend to think of the first Christians as Romans trying to use this new religion as a means to gain control over theRoman Empire, and to keep the people subordinate. As if Roman authorities adopted Christianity only to maintain absolute power in the empire. But, if one would only study history, they would realize that this is nowhere near the case. The first 300 years after Christ’s death, was one of persecution, imprisonment, and execution for Christians all overRome.

 

First you need to know the Biblical back story as recorded in Acts. Before Christians were even inRome, they were in Judea, a Jewish territory on the outskirts of theRoman Empire. Here Christianity was seen as a blaspheming cult. One devout Jew, a man by the name of Saul was a persecutor himself, putting many Christians into prison. Though eventually, through a divine experience with Jesus and temporary blindness, Saul converted to Christianity and became known as Paul. With his conversion, Paul immediately began to travel throughout theRoman Empireon multiple journeys, spreading the good news. Since he inherited his father’s Roman citizenship, he was well suited to preach all overRometo the gentiles, not just the Jews as many of the first Christians did. Paul’s missionary journeys would land himself inRomemany times.

 

At the time of Paul’s conversion, there were already a few Christian communities in Syria, Phoenicia, and areas of Asia Minor, but by the end of Paul’s life these Christian communities were flourishing as well as new ones in Romeand Greece.[1] The spread of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean was aided by the relative peaceful time experienced throughout the empire as well as a strong period of commerce connecting many regions of the empire, like the 60,000 miles of Roman roads.[2] Not to mention, everyone was speaking the same language; Greek. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem where Christianity began, Jews were becoming more and more hostile towards Christians which lead to a migration of many Christians into regions of Syria and Asia Minor to escape the persecution. By the year AD 100 it is estimated there were 300,000 Christians within the Roman Empire.[3]

 

This rise in population was not an easy one however. Persecution all started with Emperor Nero in the summer AD 64. A very long and dry summer. Romecaught fire, and burned much of the central part of Rome. Nero seized this as an opportunity to begin to build a massive new palace for himself amidst the destruction. Rumors began to circulate that Nero purposely set fire to the city to clear the grounds for his new palace. At that time Christians in Romewere a small underground group amongst slaves and poor people, making them the perfect scapegoat. Nero blamed the fire on them, and ordered all Christians to be arrested. During this persecution Christians were thrown to wild beasts and eaten alive in arenas throughout the empire, others were crucified.[4] Those that were “thrown to the beasts” were tied securely to stakes or other solid objects when beasts like lions, tigers and leopards (usually starved and tortured themselves) were released to devour them. Lions, tigers and leopards were efficient killers though, killing victims in one bite or paw swipe bringing forth death quickly. To increase the duration of the execution, Romans began using bears, crocodiles and wolves to kill the victims… a very slow and painful death.[5] It is during Nero’s persecution that St. Peter St. Paul are traditionally believed to have been killed.[6] Though the exact number of those killed is unknown, Roman historian Tacitus wrote that is was a “large number” of Christians.[7] Ironically enough, Nero’s antics were notorious for being cruel and immoral, something that drove even more people to accept the high moral standards of Christianity.[8]

 

Historically Romans were very tolerant on other religions entering their empire. The problem with Christians is that they believed their God was the one and only God, with all others being false. Christians also refused to participate in Roman religious ceremonies. By Roman political standards, this made them traitors.[9] Emperor Domitian unleashed another government sponsored persecution of Christians in AD 95, though little is known of the size and severity of it.[10] It is believed by some scholars that Domitian’s anti-Christian campaign lead to killing of his own cousin Flavius Clemens, which testifies to Christianity entering the political realm as far as the royal family.[11]

 

During the beginning of the 2nd century one of the most famous Christian martyrs Ignatius of Antioch was thrown to the beasts in the Roman Coliseum in AD 107.[12] Yet Christianity kept growing. The Christian population was such a significant growth that governor of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan in AD 112 regarding Christianity as being “contagious.”[13] Between AD 161 to 180 Emperor Marcus Aurelius intensified persecution on Christians in which arrest, torture, property confiscation and execution were commonplace.[14] Sometimes the Christian persecution wasn’t government sponsored but instead carried out by Roman citizens themselves in the form of angry mobs.[15] It was during this period of persecution that the brilliant Justin Martyr was executed, for which the term “martyr” is now used.[16] In Greek, it is from “martus” which means, “witness” or “one who testifies,” in this case, for Christ. But after Justin martyrs execution it over time became the meaning as one who dies for his faith.”[17]

 

In AD 177 there was a persecution of Christians when Easter fell on the same day as the festival of hilaria, the Goddess of Cybele. Both the Christians and Romans in the city of Lugdunumheld a public procession for their respective celebrations, which turned to conflict. The priests of Cybele declared all Christians traitors, arrested them, and forced them to perform the Roman rituals. When the Christians refused they were taken to the arenas to be killed by wild beasts. Records indicate that 48 Christian leaders were executed for this conflict.[18]

But Christian populations were not shrinking during these persecutions. They were in fact, still growing. By the end of the 2nd century, theologian Tertullian wrote, “We are but of yesterday, yet we overspread your empire; your cities, islands, forts, assemblies, camps, palace, senate, forum all swarm with Christians.”[19]Rome was emerging as the central church for Christianity, sinceRome itself was the heart of the empire in which Christianity was spreading. It was also visited frequently by Peter and Paul which further signified it’s prestige among other Christian centers. This is also a time when many Christian apologists began debating Roman intellectuals on the divinity of Jesus and the false Roman Gods.

 

By the 3rd century Rome was in decline. A decline many were attributing (falsely) to the now massive portion of the population that was Christian. Emperor Decius, bent on restoring Rome to its former glory, hosted a series of public rituals to rally the Roman citizens. Christians of course refused to participate which enraged Decius, who then launched a brutal assault on Christians in AD 249. This persecution was carried on by his successors Gallus and Valerian as well.[20]

 

Later, Emperor Diocletian unleashed a persecution in AD 297 so violent and long it was named the Great Persecution, lasting 5 years.[21] Ironically, Diocletian was originally tolerant of Christians to the point where it is believed his own wife and daughter were Christians.[22] But the power Christians began to seize in the government was seen as a threat to his seat as the emperor. In an effort to maintain his power and restore Rome to its former glory, Diocletian, like many emperors before him, began executing Christians. First he declared that all government officials that did not participate in rituals to the imperial Gods be removed from power. Next came the arrest and execution of Christian clergy in AD 303 and 304. All churches were to be destroyed. Romans were also confiscating the land of the arrested and executed Christians, seizing it for themselves.[23]

 

Not all Christians kept strong to their faith during these persecution periods though. To escape death or torture, some self-proclaimed Christians submitted to imperial edicts and turned over their copies of scripture to the Romans, which were sadly destroyed. Persecuted Christians began to refer to these other “Christians” as “traditors.” Later, some of these traditors tried to become pastors and were subsequently denied because those, “unwilling to suffer for their faith were not worthy to be ministers of the church.”[24] In the end, the Christian population was too large and proved too costly for Diocletian to continue persecuting.Rome itself became divided into a west and east empire as it continued to decline.

 

In AD 306, Constantinecame to power in the west, and in AD 312 right before battle, Constantinesaw a vision of a cross on fire in the sky, which he perceived to be an omen of victory. Sure enough, Constantinewon the battle, and eventually became a Christian. In AD 313, he and the eastern emperor declared freedom for all religions in Rome, officially ending all Christian persecution. In AD 324, Constantineseized the eastern empire, reuniting Romeas one again. A year later, Constantinebrought 300 bishops together to the city of Niceato debate and declare authority to the state of Christianity in Romeand for the world.[25] Now secured, Christianity effectively ended the gladiatorial games and inhumane executions.[26] And even after theRoman Empire collapsed, Christianity continued its spread into the rest of the world.

 

After reviewing the historical facts surrounding Christianity’s rise to power inRome, it is clear that its rise was forged from persecution. This is important to understand as the Christian scriptures were already circulating and the theology was established long before the persecution ended and authority inRomehad been established. This alone should squelch many untrue conspiracies of corruption and attempts to control people with religion, in which many claim is the only reason Christianity took power. To read more about this and similar debunked conspiracies, I encourage you to read my other articles in the conspiracies section.


[1] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 204

[2] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 205

[3] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 205

[4] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 95

[5] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 94

[6] Lang, J. S., (1999) 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible  But Never Thought to Ask, Thomas Nelson,  Inc., Nashville, TN, pp. 106

[7] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 207

[8] Lang, J. S., (1999) 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible  But Never Thought to Ask, Thomas Nelson,  Inc., Nashville, TN, pp. 106

[9] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 95

[10] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 206

[11] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 206

[12] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 207

[13] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 205

[14] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 206

[15] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 207

[16] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 207

[17] Lang, J. S., (1999) 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible  But Never Thought to Ask, Thomas Nelson,  Inc., Nashville, TN, pp. 462

[18] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 96

[19] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 205

[20] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 208

[21] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 96

[22] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 208

[23] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 96

[24] Lang, J. S., (1999) 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible  But Never Thought to Ask, Thomas Nelson,  Inc., Nashville, TN, pp. 268

[25] Gardner, J. L. (ed), (1981) Reader’s Digest; Atlas of the Bible. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY., pp. 208

[26] Matthews, R. (2005) The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Chartwell Books, Inc.,Edison,NJ,  pp. 115

Fight or flight? Probably one of the most debated moral subjects of the Bible is in regards to violence. This subject alone has divided the church into a few different denominations. Christian groups like the Mennonites and Quakers refuse to fight based off Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.[1] Most other groups seem to be more willing to engage in warfare, but it seems to be based on relative circumstances church to church and person to person. I myself have struggled with this question ever since I became a Christian. It is, simply put, a large gray area. Can violence be justified or is it never justified? Is killing only wrong when innocence lives are at stake and how do we determine innocence? Can’t one kill to defend themself? Most of life’s questions for a Christian are easily answered in the text of the Bible. But in this realm it is not easily answered.

Common practice for Christians regarding tough subjects like this is a “back to the Bible” mentality, looking at what the first Christians did to model how Christians today should be conducting themselves. In the Roman Army, those that converted to Christianity were asked to no longer kill and instead ask for forgiveness for past killings.[2] Even early Christians that often disagreed with each other such as Origen and Tertullian both agreed in Christians should not enter military service.[3] Sure enough, the first Christians did not enter military service. In fact, the first documented Christians to join military service was in AD 300.[4] And this was only after Constantine, a Christian Emperor, came to power. Not to be ignored is the Roman centurion mentioned in Acts 10 that becomes a Christian yet it is never written that he leaves his profession. One can only speculate if he did or not, and if not, does that suggest his profession was acceptable? This doesn’t settle the matter though, because even though the original Christians did not join the army, it cannot be ignored that it was the pagan Roman army they were not joining. An army that was constantly at war for various reasons. None of which were justifiable for Christians. So is fighting acceptable when justified, or is it never justified for the Christian man and woman?

One of the most influential Christians in American history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arguably a pacifist, “I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence. But in a day when sputniks and explorers are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. It is no longer the choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence…”[5] And furthermore, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…. The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”[6]

Ben Salmon writes of the true nature of Christianity, “Regardless of nationality, all men are brothers. God is “our Father who art in heaven.” The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is unconditional and inexorable. … The lowly Nazarene taught us the doctrine of non-resistance, and so convinced was he of the soundness of that doctrine that he sealed his belief with death on the cross. When human law conflicts with Divine law, my duty is clear. Conscience, my infallible guide, impels me to tell you that prison, death, or both, are infinitely preferable to joining any branch of the Army.”[7]

But many disagree with this view of the nature of Christianity. “…there are others who wish to argue a philosophy of pacifism based upon the Bible. This is an unconscionable distortion of divine revelation. Whether defensive or preemptive, war is a necessary component of divine justice when evil rears its ugly head. The Bible teaches us that all Christians have a God-given responsibility to take a stand against wickedness for our good and His Glory. We have a right to protect our families and our possessions from murderers that mock the laws of the God of the Bible and exalt themselves.” –David Harrell.[8] It is clear that there is a strong case for both views.

Those who claim Christianity is a religion of pacifism look towards Jesus as the role model. Jesus is the Prince of Peace as mentioned Isaiah 9:6. Was there ever a time he was violent? The only time Jesus used physical force was when he cleaned out the temple in John 2:14-16, in which men were ripping off travelers selling them goods in the temple. Jesus cleared them all out by force. But this is a far cry killing of course. Outside of this one event, Jesus’ life was one of peace. So if we’re supposed to model ourselves off Jesus, and He was a man of peace, love and non-violence, then violence should not be an option for a Christian, right?

Here we come to the one thing that needs to be straightened out. Jesus was not passive. Yes he cleared out a temple with force and he “fought” in other non-violent ways for the souls of men as well. In the Gospel accounts Jesus is constantly confronting religious leaders. Especially in Luke 13:10-17. Author John Eldridge wrote the book “Wild At Heart” to break the image of Jesus being a passive wimp, and to recognize him as the strong warrior figure He is. He writes, “If you’re a leper, an outcast, a pariah of society whom no one has ever touched because you are “unclean,” if all you have ever longed for is just one kind word, then Christ is the incarnation of tender mercy. He reaches out and touches you. On the other hand, if you’re a Pharisee, one of the self-appointed doctrine police… watch out. On more than one occasion Jesus “picks a fight” with those notorious hypocrites.”[9] He writes further, “Christ draws the enemy out, exposes him for what he is, and shames him in front of everyone. The Lord is a gentleman??? Not if you’re in the service of the enemy. God has a battle to fight, and the battle is for our freedom… I wonder if the Egyptians who kept Israel under the whip would describe Yahweh as a Really Nice Guy? Plagues, pestilence, the death of every first born- that doesn’t seem very gentlemanly now, does it?”[10]

 The Bible speaks of Jesus in Revelation19:15saying, “Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” This shows the nature of Jesus as one who is not simply passive and gentle, but one who is a warrior. So if we are to model ourselves off Jesus, we cannot overlook this part of his character. Then again, the Bible says, “For we know Him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews10:30-31). Are we not to imitate this warrior Jesus, but instead wait and leave the fighting to him?

Hitler killed millions, but how many more would he have killed if not defeated in WWII. The atheist communist Stalin is claimed to be responsible for the deaths of 15-20 million people![11] Imagine how many lives could have been saved if he was stopped? Imagine how many Rwandans would have not died if the US stepped in to stop the Tutsis massacre. But we didn’t and 800,000 were slaughtered in less than a month.[12] When genocide is occurring, are we to stand-by and let them continue? How are we to stand before God and explain that we did nothing to try and end their killings? If we end a reign of terror are we not peacemakers? “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9. I don’t think anyone would disagree with the prospect of ending genocide, so ending genocide doesn’t seem to be the contested question here. It’s the method by which we bring about its end.

Dave Hoekema, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, writes on the similarity and difference between Pacifist and Just-War Christians and their theology, “Pacifism and just-war theory reach different conclusions only in a narrow range of cases: both positions insist that Christians must strive always for healing and reconciliation and must act out of love for all, and both traditions unequivocally condemn the reasons—whether nationalism, territorial or economic gain, revenge or glory—for which nearly all wars have been fought. Yet the differences that exist are both theologically and politically significant. Just-war defenders argue that if all means short of violence have failed and organized violence promises to be a limited and effective means of reestablishing justice, Christians may participate in war. Pacifists insist that to resort to warfare, even for a moral end, is to adopt a means inconsistent with the Christian’s calling.”[13]

What is our calling? We are commanded to hate what is evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). In doing so we must take a stand against what is evil in this world and pursue righteousness (2 Timothy2:22). So we must fight, but the question is more appropriately, how should we fight?  In 2 Corinthians 10:4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine powers to demolish strongholds.” So it appears our fighting should not be with weapons but with spirit, lining up with pacifist methodology. Jesus blessed the meek and asks us to forgive and love our enemies, turn the other cheek and return good for evil. How can we fight with these instructions?

According to David Harrell, “In every case when Jesus admonished these virtuous attitudes, the issue was always the need for a mortification of pride that inevitably seeks retaliation for personal offenses. Jesus’ passion was to call us to surrender our fanatical commitment to personal rights and vengeance and replace such attitudes with the love of Christ… In fact, war is an extension of capital punishment that God Himself instituted to maintain order and justice. This is well documented throughout Scripture.”[14] Harrell brings up a good point in that we must examine all of scripture, not just the New Testament. Without the Old Testament we cannot fully understand the role of Jesus for mankind. In the same way, we cannot fully understand Jesus’ teachings without understanding the Old Testament as well because Jesus is the son of God, and God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). God’s stance on war and violence cannot be in contradiction with Jesus’ teaching, John 10:30.

Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” Exodus21:12states, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” This is confirmed by Jesus in the New Testament in Matthew 26:52 when Peter pulls out his sword to attack the temple guards that are arresting Jesus. He tells Peter to put away his sword stating, “all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” Deuteronomy17:13states that capital punishment is a deterrent to crime, “Then all people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.” 

This may seem confusing because the OT also states in Exodus 20:13, “Thall shall not kill.” But the Hebrew word used in this passage literally translates into, “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice; murder.”[15] So murder is wrong. But is war murder? God ordered the Israelites to go to war in 1 Samuel 15:3 and Joshua 4:131 Samuel 15:18 says, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” Samson was used by God to fight the Philistines that had taken overIsrael. So obviously God is not against all war or else why would He command it? It seems that it is not killing in the broadest sense that is wrong, but murder that is wrong.

But if we fight with weapons, aren’t we denying Christ’s call for us to love everyone, even our enemies? We as Christians are to love everyone! As St. Macary said, “If a man loves all men passionately, but says only about one man that him he cannot love, the man who says this is no more a Christian, because his love is not all embracing.”[16] To clarify this, Communist prisoner Richard Wurmbrand writes, ““But Christians are more than just mere men; they are children of God, partakers in divine nature. Therefore, tortures endured in Communist prisons have not made me hate Communists. They are God’s creatures, how can I hate them? But neither can I be their friend. Friendship means one soul in two breasts. I am not one soul with the Communists. They hate the notion of God. I love God.”[17]

 I think this points out that we are to not hate our enemies. In not hating them we are loving them. Is it possible to fight an enemy without hatred of them? Is it possible to fight an enemy if you love them? One thing for certain is that it is possible to love another, while not submitting to them. To love thy enemy does not mean to not resist them. Though pacifists argue that pacifism is not passivity, and that it can and should be a force of resistance. That is, resistance that does not incorporate violence. Case in point; Ghandi’s protests inIndiaand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s fight for civil rights. Though one may make the argument that not all “fights” can be won with pacifism, as the success stories mentioned are related to rights and liberty struggles, not mass murders and genocide. With that, when all options are exhausted, war must be utilized.

What would happen if Christians never resisted or fought back? After all, the world is filled with sin and evil and not everyone will come to Christ. As Wurmbrand writes, “I am not so naïve as to believe that love alone can solve these problems. I would not advise the authorities of a state to solve the problem of gangsterism only by love. There must be a police force, judges and prisons for gangsters- not just pastors. If gangsters do not repent, they must be jailed. I would never use the Christian phrase about ‘love’ to counteract the appropriate political, economic, or cultural fight against Communists and other tyrants, who are nothing but gangsters on an international scale. Gangsters steal a purse; they steal whole countries. But the pastor and the individual Christian have to do their best to bring to Christ rebellious nations- whatever crimes they commit- as well as their innocent victims. We have to pray for them with understanding.”[18] Wurmbrand brings up the need the for prisons, judges, and police. These are requirements for justice and enforced law. Something which many argue cannot be enforced without the threat of force.

David Harrell writes, “Love cannot exist without law, and law cannot exist without the sword.”[19] Harrell brings up a good point. Peace requires justice. And justice cannot prevail without strength as there will always be those who commit to injustice. The concept of justice is something that Martin Luther King Jr. declares is a necessity to peace, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”[20]

Justice and law can be enforced without hate, which is exactly what Christ commands us to do. The Christian is to not hate. As Wurmbrand writes, “Only love can change the Communist and the terrorist… Hatred blinds. Hitler was anti-Communist, but one who hated. Therefore, instead of conquering them, he helped them win one-third of the world.”[21] And, ““We must love our neighbors as ourselves. Communists and other persecutors are our neighbors as much as anyone else.”[22]

I still can’t help but ask the same questions though. Can war be waged without hate? I think it can. But can it be waged out of love for the enemy? Wurmbrand brought up an important argument, that not everyone will accept Christ, and not everyone will turn to good. We have to continue to love even those that will always remain an enemy. And if this is the case, does pacifism work? This brings a divide amongst pacifists and non-pacifists Christians in that we must question the nature of man. Ghandi questioned this himself, “If love or non-violence be not the law of our being, the whole of my argument falls to pieces”[23] In other words, if man is not inherently good, than pacifism will never succeed. This is an easy part for Christians which believe that through the fall of man, man is inherently evil at heart, needing the grace of God.

But this argument can go both ways. As Hoekema points out, “…realism about human nature cuts two ways: if it undermines a pacifism based on optimism, it also undermines the assumption that weapons of destruction and violence intended to restrain evil will be used only for that purpose. The reality of human sinfulness means that the instruments we intend to use for good are certain to be turned to evil purposes as well. There is therefore a strong presumption for using those means of justice that are least likely to be abused and least likely to cause irrevocable harm when they are abused. An army trained and equipped for national defense can quickly become an army of conquest or a tool of repression in the hands of an unprincipled leader.”[24] Ironically though, just such a leader, Joseph Stalin made the following statement about pacifism, “It would therefore be a mistake to think that “pacifism” signifies the liquidation of fascism. In the present situation, “pacifism” is the strengthening of fascism with its moderate, Social-Democratic wing pushed into the forefront.”[25]

So has anything been concluded? Or are we just left with more questions that we originally had? Here are the conclusions I reached: The nature of God and Jesus is one of a warrior that fights evil and upholds what is good. As Christians, we must rescue the souls of men and love all people, but we must prohibit them from harming innocent lives as well. We are not to be passive, but resist tyranny. The methods by which we resist encompass acts of love, mercy, forgiveness, but if these options alone do not do and our only remaining option is warfare, than we must engage in warfare. To say Jesus would never condone warfare is to deny God’s call to arms throughout the Old Testament, of which Jesus and God cannot be in contradiction. The only gray area left, is under which circumstances of which we should engage in war. And unfortunately this is where we are tested morally amidst the gray. But do not be mistaken, there will be times where we will need to engage in warfare, as there have been plenty of times in the past. As written in Ecclesiastes 3:8, “There is a time for war, and a time for peace.”


[1] Lang, J.S., (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., Pp. 361

[2] Hoekema, D., “A Practical Christian Pacifism,” www.religion-online.org

[3] Hoekema, D., “A Practical Christian Pacifism,” www.religion-online.org

[4] Lang, J.S., (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc.,  Pp. 362

[5] “Social Justice and the Emerging New Age” address at the Herman W. Read Fieldhouse,WesternMichiganUniversity, (18 December 1963).

[6] King, M. L., (1967) “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

[7] As quoted in Finney, T. (1989) “Unsung Hero of the Great War: The Life and Witness of Ben Salmon,” pp.118-119.

[8] Harrell, D. (2005) “Out of the Depths; A Survivor’s Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,” Xulon Press, Pp. xvii

[9] Eldredge, J., (2001) “Wild At Heart,” Thomas Nelson Inc.,Nashville, pp. 24.

[10] Eldredge, J., (2001) “Wild At Heart,” Thomas Nelson Inc.,Nashville, pp. 25.

[11] Naimark, N. M., “Russia, Stalin’s Crimes, and Genocide,” History News Network, www.hnn.us

[12] Ford, A. (Dec  9th, 2008) “A Brief History of Genocide,” www.time.com

[13] Hoekema, D., “A Practical Christian Pacifism,” www.religion-online.org

[14] Harrell, D. (2005) “Out of the Depths; A Survivor’s Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,” Xulon Press,  Pp. xvii-xix

[15] “What does the Bible say about War?” www.gotquestions.org/war-Bible.html

[16] Wurmbrand, R. (1967) “Tortured For Christ,” Living Sacrifice Book Company,Bartlesville,  pp. 54

[17] Wurmbrand, R. (1967) “Tortured For Christ,” Living Sacrifice Book Company,Bartlesville,  pp. 54

[18] Wurmbrand, R. (1967) “Tortured For Christ,” Living Sacrifice Book Company,Bartlesville,  pp. 146

[19] Harrell, D. (2005) “Out of the Depths; A Survivor’s Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,” Xulon Press,  Pp. xix

[20] As quoted from Oates, S.B. (1982) “Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

[21] Wurmbrand, R. (1967) “Tortured For Christ,” Living Sacrifice Book Company,Bartlesville,  pp. 59

[22] Wurmbrand, R. (1967) “Tortured For Christ,” Living Sacrifice Book Company,Bartlesville,  pp. 145

[23] As quoted in Merton, T. (1964) “Gandhi on Non-violence,” Pp. 24

[24] Hoekema, D., “A Practical Christian Pacifism,” www.religion-online.org

[25] Stalin, J. (1924) “The Period of Bourgeois-Democratic Pacifism”

Ok, let’s face it, there are a lot of Christian denominations. We’re talking thousands! To be honest I’ve only known what a few of them actually believe of why they have the name they do, so I did a little research to find out what some of the most popular are all about.

 

Catholicism:

The one that started it all. Started inRomeoriginally to oversee all other Churches the Catholic Church became very modified over hundreds of years. In which they acquired many traditions and practices, many of which are not mentioned nor commanded anywhere in the Bible but were instead products of adopted traditions from other religions, political movements, and philosophical movements over the years. The Catholics believed that the Bible, along with the Church leaders and traditions, were the ultimate authority. One method by which the Catholics maintained a monopoly on Christianity was by only allowing Bibles to be produced in Latin, a language that was dying out and the majority of lay people did not understand.  Therefore, the only access the layperson had to the Bible was through the Church authority. These actions among other corrupt actions taken by Church leaders led to an eventual revolution.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283

The Protestant Reformation:

Launched by Martin Luther and others, the Reformation was a “back to the Bible” campaign. The key belief being that the Bible was alone the authority and guide to each man, not the doctrines and traditions of the church. This ran contrary to the Catholics way of doing things, which the reformers felt had become corrupt and ineffective (as indeed it had). One of the greatest outcomes of the Reformation was the Bible being translated into various languages for people to read themselves. Every denomination that came from this reformation is considered Protestant.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283

Lutherans:

With the Reformation came the Lutherans, followers of Martin Luther’s back to the Bible campaign.  Martin Luther one morning nailed a Ninety-five Thesis to a church door that addressed the corruption of the church. He was excommunicated and his life threatened but he continued forward writing many theological works. In many ways Lutherans practice or appear to carry out services like Catholics (hence their nickname of Catholic-lite) but maintained a priority of the Bible being the only authority.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 284

Anglicans:

The Anglican Church started with King Henry VIII inEnglandwho wished to divorce his current wife, but his request was denied by Pope Clement VII of the Catholic Church. Protestant Thomas Cranmer saw this as an opportunity to override the Pope’s authority and convinced English clergy to separate from the Pope’s authority and make the King the true head of the Church of England. This of course made it possible for King Henry to divorce his wife, and thus the Anglican Church was born. The Anglican theology is overall a confusing mix of Catholic and Protestant beliefs.

-http://www.gotquestions.org/Anglicans.html

Anabaptists:

After the reformation came another split as some Christians felt that even the Protestants were not faithful enough to the New Testament. Their name came from their belief that only adults should be baptized, not infants (as many Catholics and protestants like Lutherans do). They were called “rebaptizers” which is where the name Anabaptist comes from. They asserted that infant baptism is NEVER mentioned in the New Testament, which is true.  The Anabaptists also followed a very high moral code as outlined by Jesus. These differences lead to harsh persecution from Catholics and Protestants. Mennonites and the Amish are a branch of the Anabaptists.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 148-149

The Amish:

Stemming from the Mennonites and Anabaptists are the Amish. We all know about the Amish and their strict lifestyle. Why the simple life? Their belief is that Bible should be taken literally, with an emphasis on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with its strong stance on non-violence. Compared to all other denominations they live most accordingly to the Bible’s command to avoid worldliness.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 149

The Quakers:

Started by George Fox originally as the Society of Friends, taking their name from John15:15, “… but I have called you friends.” They believed that Christian worship was too ritualized and shallow. True Christian life was to live by the Bible and be guided by the Holy Spirit (or as they referred to it as the “Inner Light”). Like the Minnonites, they had a strong stance on non-violence. As they became larger they became named the Quakers and were harshly persecuted by other Christians.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.150

The Baptists:

Like the Anabaptists, the Baptists are named because of their belief in adult baptism or “believers baptism” which maintains that as long as you’re old enough to understand baptism and willingly want to be baptized, you may be baptized. This is can be done as young as 5-yrs old. Just like the Anabaptists, the Baptists point out that no infants were ever baptized in the Bible, but instead believers were.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.151

The Methodists:

Originally a university group called the Holy Club, they believed that the Church of England was a shallow Christian Church. They believed that the Christian lifestyle needed to be focused on prayer, fellowship, and Bible study. The name Methodist comes from their stance that “one who lives according to the method laid down in the Bible.” People inAmericaandEnglandwere desiring a much deeper Christian lifestyle and latched onto the Methodists launching a Methodist revival in the 1700’s.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Episcopalians:

Episcopalians are actually an organization of the Anglican Church here in theUnited States. They get their name from the Greek word “Episcopal” which means Bishop. In 1789 they became independent but remain Anglican in that they’re a mix of catholic and protestant beliefs, but throughout its history it has adopted many liberal theologies and interpretations of the Bible which has strained relations with the Anglican Church.

-http://www.gotquestions.org/Episcopalians.html

The Mormons:

Also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many Christians do not consider the Mormons a denomination of Christianity but instead a cult. This is because they do not maintain the Bible as the authoritative text on God, but instead believe that other books; the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, supersede the Bible’s authority. TheChurchofJCLDSwas founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed he was visited by an angel, which revealed to him Golden Tablets, which Smith then translated into the Book of Mormon. Oddly, the tablets have never been seen by anyone else, and the Book of Mormon contains many verses that are word for word identical to passages from the King James translation of the Bible, which leads to the fair assessment that he copied them out of the Bible. Because of this and many other facets of the Mormon teachings which contradict the teachings of the Bible, they have been labeled a cult, and though they claim to be Christian, almost all other denominations do not consider them to be.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Seventh-Day Adventists

A pastor by the name of William Miller predicted that Christ would return and the world would end onOctober 22, 1844. His followers spent all that day waiting, but of course it never happened. That day is historically known as the Great Disappointment. Miller disconnected himself from the movement, but his followers remained. They are known as the Seventh-Day Adventists because they worship on the seventh day, Saturday. This was the original day of Sabbath, as still practiced by the Jewish. The Sabbath was moved to Sunday in Christianity because that was the day Jesus resurrected from the dead. An interesting side note is that many Seventh-Day Adventists are strict vegetarians, which the Bible does not command.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Originally called “Bible Students,” Jehovah’s Witnesses are named for their strong evangelical practices, as I am sure many of you have had them come to your door at one time or another. Started by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870’s, he started a publishing house, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which publishes their own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. Mind you, the NWT has serious alterations in many key areas of the Bible, most notably the divinity of Jesus which JW’s deny. Like the Mormons, the JW’s contradictory beliefs lead one to not consider them Christians though they are often associated with Christians.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.153

Pentecostals:

The term Pentecostal comes from Acts 2 with its description of baptism by the Holy Spirit, which happened to Jesus’ disciples during Pentecost. This baptism by the Holy Spirit is more important than baptism by water for the Pentecostals, which one could make an argument for based off Biblical accounts of people “saved” despite not being baptized in water, like the criminal crucified next to Jesus. Pentecostals are also strong believers in the spiritual gifts of Christians as mentioned in 1 Corinthians and Romans. This is why many Pentecostals use speaking in tongues and prophesying heavily.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.154

The Evangelicals:

Evangelical is often considered a denomination though it is more so a term for any Christian that evangelizes. Today it brings with it the connotation of a conservative Christian. Evangelicals believe the Bible to be accurate and true in all aspects.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.159

Unitarians:

Unitarians have the most liberal theology of all Christian denominations. They recognize all spiritual religions and faiths. They also don’t have a conversion process, one may self-identify themselves as a Unitarian and do not need to denounce their current faith. Though it should be pointed out that their beliefs contradict Biblical teaching that Jesus in the only route to heaven (John 14:6). http://www.uua.org/beliefs/index.shtml

 

These are the most popular ones I know of. In case you’re wondering which denomination I am… I am none of these. My faith is non-denominational. I conduct myself in accordance to the Bible and it’s teachings as the literal truth of God. If anything, I’m closest to an evangelical.