Total eclipse of the brain
Why the 2017 solar eclipse proves the earth is not flat
Published: 19 August 2017 (GMT+10)
The Great American Eclipse of 2017 is already one of the most talked-about scientific events of recent memory, and it hasn’t even happened yet. But what is a Christian supposed to make of this? Does not astronomy, with its assumed millions and billions of years, challenge our faith? In this case, absolutely not.
It comes as a surprise to many, but astronomy as a science has long been associated with Christian scholarship and was strongly supported by the Medieval church. Cathedrals were turned into solar observatories and many observations of astronomical events were catalogued. After the Reformation, enough data had been collected for scientists, many of whom were faithful Christians like Johannes Kepler, to conclude that the earth went around the sun. You read that right; it was the work of faithful scientists that led to the rejection of the old geocentric model of the universe.
The belief that the universe was created by God is extremely important for these developments. The Bible describes God as omnipotent, omniscient, and never-changing. If God created the universe, He would not create a universe that operated against His very nature. No, thought these early scientists, He would make the universe to act in ways that were consistent with His nature. The Ultimate Lawgiver would have created a universe that operated according to law. This thought was the spark that led to the discovery of the many scientific laws we know today. But we had to engage our minds to discover these things. As Kepler said of his work, “It was like thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
And yet, many people today do not know about the Christian underpinnings of modern science. Worse, many people, thanks to the unfiltered influence of the Internet, have left reason behind and rejected the scholarship of those who have gone before. Case in point: flat earth theory has risen from the grave over the last few years.
As a fun exercise, we can use the August 2017 solar eclipse to easily test the flat earth model. A lot of people write to us asking why we bother with these people. But there is one, clear reason to address this: we do not want anyone else to fall into the flat-earth error. To do so means to turn off one’s brain, to reject the scholarship of all of Christian history, and to make a mockery of the Bible. This is a serious matter.
But, let’s get back to our exercise. The maximum diameter of the moon’s shadow (the zone of totality, represented by the small black dot) will be 114 km, at Carbondale, IL. The shadow covers much less than 1% of the lit portion of the earth (Figure 1). The shadow will also move quite fast, over 4,000 km/hr (2,400 mi/hr) when it appears in Oregon, and it will be moving more slowly in the middle of the United States than it will be at either coast.1 But there is also a large zone where only a portion of the sun will be hidden (the gray area, called the penumbra) that moves along with the zone of totality. What would it take to create this situation?
To answer this, we are going to have to assume that the moon (not usually visible during the day) is the thing getting in the way of our view of the sun. Many flat-earthers say there is something else up there that is blocking the sun, but think about it: we can track the moon throughout the month, and we know where it should be when the eclipse happens. Guess what? It should be in the same place in the sky where the sun is.
The flat-earth myth is a strange, convoluted thing, but clearly the moon cannot be the same size as the sun. If it was, it would then block out the entire sun across the entire earth. Yet, the moon appears to be the same size as the sun. To appear the same size as the sun to an observer on the earth, the moon has to be somewhere within the dotted lines of Figure 2. And it must be closer to us than the sun. Yet, if the moon is too close, the shadow would be too small, and if it were too far away, the shadow would be too large.
According to most flat-earth adherents today, the sun is only 5,000 km (3,000 miles) away. To explain both the apparent size of the moon and the observable size of its shadow, there is only one place it could be in the flat-earth model: the “dual-constraint lock point” in Figure 2. It turns out that the moon must be only 12.5 km (7.5 miles) above the earth! And its diameter must be only 0.13 km (about 427 feet)!
Friends, this is not true! Don’t get sucked into the flat-earth nonsense.
Note that we have not dealt with the speed of the shadow (approximately twice as fast as the speed of the sun and moon across the sky), nor the direction of the eclipse shadow (the sun moves in the opposite direction), nor the size of the penumbra. All three of these are exactly consistent with geokinetic (i.e., ‘the earth moves’) model of the solar system that includes a spherical sun, moon, and earth at great distances from each other. I suspect each also contradicts the flat earth ‘model’, but I will leave this fun exercise to others.
But what is the true situation? With some careful reasoning and some observational evidence from a lunar eclipse, Aristarchus of Samos (who died in 230 BC) demonstrated that the earth must be 3.7 times the diameter of the moon (the true value is 3.668).2 This was brilliant work and shows us how careful reasoning and careful observation can be used to figure out some amazing things. From similar experiments over many centuries, we know the distance to the moon and the sun, as well as the size of the sun. The sun is about 1,400,000 km (860,000 mi) in diameter and about 150 million km (93 million miles) from us. The moon is much closer (1/400th the distance), but also much smaller (1/400th the size). This is the reason why the moon appears the same size as the sun. Is this an amazing coincidence, or amazing design?
We cannot tell you what to think, but we can encourage you how to think. We are commanded to study, to think, and to defend our faith. This is one example of how careful study leads to good conclusions that are consistent with our faith and observational science.
Get out there and study God’s world, and don’t have a total eclipse of the brain.
References and notes
- eclipse2017.org/blog/2016/11/27/how-fast-is-the-shadow-moving-across-the-us-during-the-eclipse/. Return to text.
- eg.bucknell.edu/physics/astronomy/astr101/specials/aristarchus.html. Return to text.
Let the Bible speak and I'll see if you print this. Short list: Job 37:18 Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a molten mirror? Amos 9:6 NAS The one who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and has founded his vaulted dome over the Earth,...Job 38:14 It is like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. 1Samuel 2:8 For the pillars of the Earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world. Revelation 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth. Isaiah 40:22 It is He who sits above the circle of the Earth. Revelation 1:7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him. Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness. Job 37:18 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world. Matthew 24:29 And the moon will not give its light, and the stars (Angels) will fall from heaven. Proverbs 8:27 When He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep. Daniel 4:11 The tree grew and became strong, and it reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole Earth.
You say: "And to make a mockery of the Bible. This is a serious matter." Yet, you do not treat it seriously. Your understanding of the Flat Earth model is superficial; as repeatedly demonstrated by your articles.
Books: "Terra Firma:The Earth Not A Planet, Proved From Scripture, Reason and Fact." Scott
"The Greatest Lie on Earth" Hendrie
Psalm ? "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter: But the glory of Kings is to search out a matter"
This is God -vs- Man made "science". You choose.
Did you know there are people who actually believe we went to the moon ? This is a result of an unfiltered (censored) internet. Why has there never been a 360 degree pan of a camera in "space"? Who is being gullible here ? Who is the Great Deciever? I reject the heliocentric model because of the Bible and the observable lies feed to us in government schools. For example, the formula for the curvature of the Earth does not hold up to examination, a time-lapsed photo of Polaris reveals symmetrical circles - this negates all the changes angles involved in our heliocentric model. However, it stands firm in a Biblical model. Both sides have good arguments and tough questions, but when you honestly research the case for a Biblical Earth you see that it is not folly. I view it as God -vs- Nasa
John, I am sad for you that you are so deep into conspiracy theory that you have to reject the testimony of the Christians who went to the moon and the many more Christians who helped get them there. I am also sad that you think people believe in a 'heliocentric' model when we actually us a dynamic, gravitationally balanced geokinetic model where the sun is not even at the barycenter of the solar system. The formula for the curvature of the earth does not hold up to scrutiny? Why not attempt to demonstrate the problem instead of just throwing this out there without any substance behind it? You are not correct. Polaris reveals little circles? Yes, of course, because the earth wobbles, as any amateur astronomer who has to line up their telescope to 'true' north knows. God vs. NASA? But NASA is the new kid on the block. Instead, it has to be God vs. all Christian scholarship if you are arguing for a flat earth, or God vs. most people (including nearly all Christian scholars and scientists) since Copernicus and nearly everybody since Newton if you are arguing for geocentrism.
It is not just the “Flat Earthers” who demonstrate a “total eclipse of the brain”. Days before the eclipse, I started a thread on a “Debating Christianity” internet forum — which would more accurately be titled “Attacking Christianity” (by militant non-theists) -- that posited the question whether it was coincidence, or evidence of God’s design. I used as evidence for the latter the arguments advanced by Gonzalez and Richards in their marvelous “The Privileged Planet”, which lead to the “Anthropic Principle” — the conclusion that our universe is “designed to be discovered”.
Total eclipses are particularly spectacular evidences of this principle: the fact that the moon is precisely sized, and put in precisely the proper location (distance) relative to the Sun and the Earth, to allow them to occur — for the benefit of the only intelligent creatures in the universe able to observe the alignment, and its effects! One of which is the appearance of the Sun’s corona, to the naked eye, which led to the advancement of spectroscopy, through which we have come to our current understanding of the cosmos (understandings which have been further advanced by Hartnett, Humphries, et al.). The secular reaction to the above was rather dismaying, as they resorted to downplaying the long-odd linkages involved, in order to keep “the Divine foot out of the door”. Their “it’s no big deal” attitude indicated, to me, the loss of wonder associated with the secular, materialist, m2m mindset; itself a product of the “darkening of the mind” (Romans 1).
As a life long young earth creationist and long time fan of Creation Ministries and Answers In Genesis, I cannot express how disappointed I have been in the reaction of both to the recent resurgence of flat earth theory. It hasn't been handled in love, rather with scorn and ridicule. The idea has been to save people from this erroneous belief, by mocking it. Anyone can guess how effective this is. You might embarrass people for considering the idea but you won't shame a true believer out of their beliefs. You rather shame yourself by heaping ridicule on people who sincerely cling to scripture and want nothing more than to know and believe the truth. As Christians we already swim up stream, we daily fight off the lies of our society on every subject. If you want to gently correct what you perceive to be scientific error, be humble enough to do it. But dig in with a heart of love and address the science itself. Don't mock your fellow believers with name calling and insults to their intelligence. We're brothers and sisters in Christ, known by our love for one another.
Judith, I take this admonition seriously, especially in light of 1 Peter 3:15, which we cite often in our work. If I wrote harshly, it is only in response to an aggressive agenda from anti-Christians who are trying to dupe our fellow Christians into believing a lie. Perhaps you are right and we should have toned down the wording and/or the title. However, there are times to speak directly and to call things for what they are: the earth is not flat and the main proponents of the idea are lying. Do a few Christians believe it? Yes, sadly, they do. But for those who might be tempted to dabble into it, hopefully an article like this might prevent them from falling in.
Globe earth sounds mostly logical, & I hold it, w/ some skepticism now. All of us were raised with a globe in a classroom, which helps explain why FE sounds absurd. Eclipses alone are not enough evidence to satisfy skeptics, due to NUMEROUS other issues: 1) "Firmament"-references in Bible. Gov. “operation fishbowl” rockets were sent straight up during 50s, & mysteriously exploded, old gov. films, papers give incredulous accounts “why” we took interest in exploding rockets high in our atmosphere, years after Admiral Byrd explored Antarctica, 2) Byrd stated in archive interviews in 40s & 50s that much previously unknown & unexplored land mass exists beyond Antarctica, with many natural resources. Immediately an international agreement was made & military patrol keeps exploration “off limits” beyond a tiny area, 3) Flights in southern hemisphere are not shown on radar during their flights until they are only a few miles from destinations, yet all other flights in world are visible on radar, 4) the seeming impossible phenomena of water holding onto curved surface of earth w/ only the weak force of gravity, + other extremely weak evidence, incl. conflicting perceptions of visuals, 5) when pressed, NASA admits to only Computer Gen. Images of earth ("blue marble man" makes them) except for ONE taken in 60s through circular window in capsule in low earth orbit-archive film exposed), 6) Int Space Station is NOT outside Low Earth Orbit (although illusion of being in outer space is depicted in interviews with astronauts), 7) NASA “claims” to have “lost” technology to go to moon, 8) Van Allen belt is dangerous or impossible to pass, 10) Eric Dubai has 200 issues on Youtube re: globe earth.What if God did create unique earth that did not appear as evolution's "mere cosmic accident"?
As soon as you said "globe earth" I knew you were getting your info from the other side. Then you say it is logical but you have some skepticism. It was all downhill from there. Please allow me to help you affirm the globality and reject the flat earth idea. I will answer each of you points in turn.
FE does not sound absurd because of classroom globes. It sounds absurd because it flies in the face of easily documentable observational evidence, mathematics, logic, and Newtonian physics.
I did not claim that an the eclipse would be enough to satisfy anyone. However, it should be enough because my challenge cannot be answered in their model.
"Firmament": Straight out of pagan Ptolemaic astronomy and direct evidence that Bible translators can be influenced by the science of the day. The Hebrew is raqiah.
There is no mystery as to why early rockets exploded. In the same way there is no mystery as to why modern rockets occasionally explode. Rocket science is imperfect, but improves with time.
There is no international agreement to keep vast areas of Antarctica free from exploration. The agreement is to keep it free from commercial exploitation. Plus, what about those areas we have explored? What about the people at the South Pole Station?
Flights and radar: You do not know what you are talking about. Plus, see my article on flight times in the Related Articles section.
Weak force of gravity and curving water: How much do you weigh? This is due to the 'weak' force of gravity. How much does the ocean weigh? And if everything is being pulled toward the center of the earth due to gravity, what shape would you expect the very flexible oceans to attain?
When pressed, NASA released a treasure trove of Apollo mission photographs. Who told you that they have no real images of the earth and why do you trust that source?
ISS is not outside low earth orbit: And your point is... Think about it; if it is in orbit, the earth is not flat.
NASA does not claim it has lost the technology to go to the moon. Who told you that and why do you trust that source of information above others?
The Van Allen belts were discovered during space missions and after we were sending things through them. Dangerous? Perhaps, but we don't place manned objects there permanently. Instead, we blast through them on the way to outer space.
See my other comment to read up on Eric Dubay. if you are a Christian, he is not your friend.
What if God created the earth to appear sensible and logical, in the same way that He is sensible and logical?
Coming from a science and engineering background, I was told to laugh at the "flat earth theory" my whole life. Then one day I decided to research it. Research is not what this "lite" article is doing. 4 years later including a month in Antarctica including intensive BIBLICAL RESEARCH (shamefully & sorely missing in this article) I would say there is only ONE thing which I struggle with in the flat model...
Biblically you have totally missed the many scriptures supporting a flat immovable earth.
You have not addressed the science nor the Bible on this topic by a long way which is shameful.
But how could you have spent a month in Antarctica? That would mean you were allowed behind the "100' ice wall", which FEers tell is is protected by UN gunboats. I am not sure I can believe your story.
Biblically, we have stated our case in other places. There was no need to do so here as the interested reader could follow the links. I could re-post them here, but this is unnecessary since they are easily accessible within and after the article.
Finally, why do you say the science in this article is "lite"? You ignored the one thing it was written to demonstrate: flat-earth faces a mathematical impossibility when one considers the dual-constraints inherent in the geometry of the situation. So instead of avoiding the issue at hand, apply your reputed science and engineering background and answer the question.
I must say I was highly surprised to see an official map, and also your animation showing on this page, both clearly indicating that the moon's shadow was travelling west to east during the US eclipse the other day. Whenever I have seen the moon in the sky, it has always been moving east to west (seen from New Zealand). My friend on the east coast of the US always sees the moon moving from east to west.
This should not have been a surprise to you. When you look at the sun and moon on a daily basis, it is clearly evident that the moon loses ground to the sun. The sun passes behind the moon as they both move east to west, but since the moon appears to be moving more slowly to us, the shadow moves west to east. Not only is this not a difficult concept to grasp, but it is 100% in agreement with the facts.
show where this is wrong then email me and tell me please
[link deleted per feedback rules]AlD3vjaBL0
First of all, why would I take the time to watch a 2-hour video? That is completely unfair of you. if you have a specific question, ask it, but don't let someone else do all the heavy lifting. Plus, we have a standing policy that we do not respond to video requests, because there is not enough time in the world to do so.
Second, even so, I clicked on the link and told myself I would watch until I saw the first error. It was right there in the first sentence. "1. The horizon always appears perfectly flat 360-degrees around the observer regardless of altitude." This is NOT a prediction flat-earth theory. In fact, it derives directly from the fact that the earth is a globe and the observer is always observing the surface of a sphere. As he or she rotates, the view of the horizon = the tangent of the line of sight to the curve, regardless of altitude. On the flat earth, there is no horizon, only a gradual diminishing of clarity due to atmospheric interference with the view.
Third, I simply must question your source. Eric Dubay is a martial arts and Yoga Instructor living in Thailand. He is apparently not a Christian, but he is a neo-Nazi, rabid antisemite, Holocaust denier, and thinks Hitler was a peaceloving good guy who has been wrongly vilified. I am not going to post links to these claim here, but the interested reader can do their own research. Even after ignoring all the neo-Nazi baggage, why would I trust him as a source for scientific information? Why would you?
Many times Christians are falsely ridiculed by their critics for trusting in a book that teaches a flat earth. The falsehood being that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat.
In teaching that the Bible is accurate when it speaks of "earthly things" (John 3:12), I use the following scriptures to show that the Bible actually suggests that the earth is a round globe that spins.
[It is] he that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants are as grasshoppers; that stretched out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in: (Is. 40:22).
Although a former university colleague in Biology suggested that this circle could be two dimensional and flat, I asked if the following verse suggested that the earth was flat or a round globe.
As far as the East is from the West, so far has he removed our sins from us (Ps. 103: 12). On a global earth if we go North, we eventually travel South and vice versa. But if we go East we never travel West and vice versa. Even the metaphor is dependent upon the idea of a round/global earth. And, as we know today, the metaphorical suggestion is accurate.
And following, Solomon describes the global wind patterns produced (partially) by what is now called the Coriolis force/effect: The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit. (Ecc. 1:6)
So, the Bible is accurate when speaking of "earthly things" and when suggesting that the Christian faith is not a blind faith, but based upon ". . . the evidences of things not seen" and states . . . . [t]hrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear". (Heb. 11: 1, 3)
Pastor Cofer made this poem for Solar Eclipse Day:
It was THE DAY OF SOLAR ECLIPSE and all through the HOUSE ... FLAT EARTH preachers were SILENT ...as Quiet as a Mouse
I am a faithful member of creation.com as well as other young earth creation organizations. I appreciate starting with the Word of God, making predictions, and then using the scientific method to test predictions of a recent seven day creation versus naturalistic billions of years molecule to man scenario. We can use this same approach to look at geocentric versus heliocentric model.
Although I tend towards the heliocentric model myself, I am still be respectful and thoughtful of the reasons that Christians look into the flat Earth model, such as the interpretation of certain passages of scripture.
We (the young earth creationists) accuse the atheists/theistic evolutionists of making polemical arguments in place of scientific arguments, and when we refer to flat earthers as "those people" or the hypothesis as "nonsense", we risk deconstructing our own framework of biblical interpretation in conjunction with testing.
So much of what our students are exposed to in the public school system is to accept what they are taught without critical thinking, that we should always take a hypothesis and subject it to the type of analysis described above.
One final comment related to the history of science reveals that no scientist is completely objective, but has a particular worldview. While we know of many amazing Christian creation scientists, due to the research of creation.com and other organizations, it is also documented that many scientists of historical prominence were interested in the occult. The occult prominence in the history of space research is well outlined in biographies about Jack Parsons, and other scientists at Cal tech during the 30s and 40s. As this information comes to light, it is natural for Christians to want to reexamine science theory.
Understood, but there are nefarious characters involved in the flat-earth movement that are deluding well-meaning Christians (and non-Christians). We would like to ignore them entirely, but too many people are getting caught up in their web of deceit. It is not fun to speak harshly against fellow believers, but sometimes one has to take a stand.
Finally, yes, we all need to reexamine science theory and scientific history. However, CMI draws a line between the operational aspects of science and historical science. The case for our operational understanding of the shape of the earth, the centrality of the sun within the solar system, and the nature of the physical dynamics of the solar system are so solid as to be beyond dispute. If we are wrong about it, we are so wrong that one could not even know anything about the shape of the earth, flat or not, and all of our experiences reduce to nothing but an illusion. This does not sound like the world God created.
*sigh* this is a very timely article for me. Just Thursday evening, my brother brought up a video on the flat earth theory that he had seen on Youtube and was leaning toward believing what it said, telling me it had some thought provoking claims, including the comment that the belief that the earth was round is really only a recent belief globally. When I thoroughly debunked that fact with history and mathematics, his comment was "well, I've never been into outerspace, so I don't know for 100% certainty that the earth is round, so it could be true for all I know, and besides, it doesn't really matter in the long run."
It really is frustrating for me how the internet can so easily lead people down rabbit holes these days! From conspiracy theories to outrageous facebook claims to fake pictures, the whole thing really makes me want to shake my head and wonder who I can truly believe!
I do appreciate CMI's work in helping me sift through a lot of the misinformation!
Sadly, he has fallen into a pseudo-intellectual philosophical trap. With no apparent formal training in logic, theology, or epistemology, he apparently did not see it coming. I am glad that you were able to counter with true history (link added for other readers). He countered with another false claim—that one cannot know anything for certain without 100% personal validation. He also gave a false test of that validation (having to go to space). The Greek scholar Eratosthenes accurately measured the size of the earth, and Aristarchus accurately calculated the size of the moon … without ever going into space.
Finally, it most certainly does matter! Our God is not a deceiver, so the world He created must not be deceitful. If the earth is flat, nothing we think we know about the basic sciences is true. Etc.
This is just an amazing fact:
//The moon is much closer (1/400th the distance), but also much smaller (1/400th the size). This is the reason why the moon appears the same size as the sun. //
What would be the mathematical likeliness of this being coincidence?
I've also heard that there are more than 25 parameters that must be 'right' for life on earth/life in the universe to exist.
What are the chances of all these things being coincidental?
I do not know how to calculate the probability of the moon and sun having the same angular size in the sky. The moon could be any size (within limits) and any distance (within limits) and still be considered a moon, so the probability is extremely low.
As far as fine tuning goes, yes, if any number of physical constants changed even just a little the universe could not exist. See here for starters.
Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Was the earth in motion upon creation? If it was created in motion, when was it put in motion? Which verse implies that God started the earth on its daily rotation and annual orbit? This has always troubled me when it when it comes to accepting the Copernican Principle. Perhaps the science is good, but it would help if the Bible said something about putting the earth into motion.
With no outside object for comparison, how could one tell if the earth were moving or not? Also, all God had to do was to create the sun with motion and the earth would have instantly (within 8 light minutes) been captured in its gravitational well without anything on earth noticing. The sun would have slowed a little as the kinetic energy was transferred to the earth, but since all points on the earth would have accelerated more or less simultaneously, nothing would have happened here. If you were standing on the earth that day, you would have said, "Oh look a sun and a moon." You would not have said, "Hold on! Everything's falling over."
Please also understand that the purpose of the Bible is not to give us a complete guide to all science. The purpose is to tell the story of salvation. We can glean some science from it, but there are many areas where it is silent. This is one of them. There are many, many possible scenarios allowed for by the various biblical statements that contribute to the subject of the status of the earth and sun in space. But only one of them makes sense of the science. Since it is allowed for under scripture, we are free to accept it as a reflection of reality.