“You can tell me that your dog ran away, then tell me that it took 3 days.’’ That’s part of the theme song to the Canadian situation comedy “Corner Gas.”
The show centers around a store and gas station at a lonely crossroads on the Saskatchewan prairie.
“Corner Gas” is supposed to only be available in Canada, but some of our extended family living on the border smuggled some VHS tapes.
The theme song implies that the prairie terrain is so flat that the retreating pooch could be seen until he rounded the curve of the earth.
Of course, we all know that the earth is round, not flat. (A-a-a-ctually, the earth is an oblate sphermid as it is slightly flattened at the poles.) However, this hasn’t always been the commonly held belief.
Common knowledge once was that the earth was flat and that was that.
Around 600 B.C., Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras suggested that the earth might be round instead of flat. It would be about 2,000 years before Columbus would sail and resolve the question to everyone’s satisfaction — mostly, anyway.
So how did Pythagoras come by this bit of accurate information? Did he, perhaps, have contact with inter-planetary space travelers? Who else could possibly have determined the earth’s shape and its position in the cosmos?
Well, let’s park the flying saucers for the moment and investigate another possibility. As it turns out, this information had long been right under Pythagoras’s Aegean nose.
Parts of the Bible existed before Pythagoras’s birth. One example, the Book of Job, was completed in the wilderness by Moses about 1473 B.C. and covers about 140 years-all the way back to 1657 B.C. (Remember to count B.C. years backward.) At· Job chapter 26, it’s pretty heated between Job and his so-called “comforters.”
Let’s focus on verse 7 “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place and hangeth the earth on nothing.” (King James Version) On nothing? No elephants or sea turtles of ancient mythology just … nothing hanging there unaided in space.
That verse alone could have tipped ol’ Pythagoras off; he was the all ’round smart guy after all.
Let’s move along to our next possibility. The Book of 1 Kings was completed in 580 B.C. Did Pythagoras get the jump on the Bible by 20 years? Not necessarily — the Book of 1 Kings includes the reign of King Ahab from 940 to 920 B.C.
In chapter 18, we see that the prophet Elijah was having a busy day. He called out the priests of the false god Baal by challenging them to produce fire from the sky. Baal — since he doesn’t exist — couldn’t respond.
Elijah’s challenge wasn’t without a measure of wit — and sarcasm (see verse 27). When asked for a demonstration, the true God sent fire from heaven, which completely devoured its intended target — a direct hit.
With a little help, Elijah then slew the priests of Baal. I guess you could do that then; anyway, who’s gonna slap the cuffs on a guy who calls down fire from heaven?
There had been a drought that was then in its 3rd year. The issues that caused the drought having been resolved, God saw fit to restore plenty to the land.
In verse 41, Elijah predicted a heavy downpour and then climbed to the top of Mount Carmel where he “cast himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees” (KJV). It’s my personal speculation that Elijah wasn’t doing something mystical, but rather applying basic first aid in an effort to avoid passing out. It had been an intense day with more activities to come.
Elijah sent his assistant to the top of a promontory and had him look out to sea. Nothing. This went on again and again and again (the assistant wasn’t Union) with nothing visible out to sea.
On the 7th ascent, the assistant saw a small cloud “rising from the sea” that he could cover from view with his outstretched hand. Clearly, the assistant was seeing the storm approaching around the curve of the (round) earth. However, the cloud wasn’t so small as it was distant. How distant?
We have access to that information today; consider the diameter of the earth at that latitude, the height of Mount Carmel and the average altitude of a typical storm. As for ETA (estimated time of arrival), a storm is limited as to how fast it can travel without being torn apart.
Elijah, imbued with a prophet’s insight and understanding, could probably have worked out this equation in his head. He then confidently sent word to King Ahab to hitch up his chariot and head for home so the “rain stop thee not” (KJV).
But 1 Kings wasn’t “released” until 580 B.C. How could this account have influenced Pythagoras’ thinking in 600 B.C.? Remember that these events transpired around 930 B.C.
Given the velocity of a country rumor, first person/eye witness accounts could easily have traveled as far as Greece during a period of 300 years.
And finally, let’s look in on the Book of Isaiah completed in 732 B.C.
At verse 40:22 we see mention of the “circle of the earth.” The original Hebrew word used here: “chugh” can also be rendered “sphere” as it is in some modern translations of the Bible albeit usually in a footnote.
Why does the King James Version still use “circle”? The English language wasn’t always as developed as the version we speak today. According to Webster’s, “globe” was a botanical term that didn’t enter the English lexicon for more general use until 1641 — 30 years after King James embarked on his noble project in 1611.
The word “sphere” was adopted in 1602. Perhaps the new word hadn’t yet reached the king’s translators — or maybe they were afraid of sounding too hip and casual. In 1611 “circle” was the only game in town.
Regardless, any full-on view of a round object will yield the image of a circle.
Any way we look at it (pun alert) the Bible writers knew nearly 4,000 years ago that the earth is round and suspended in space without visible support.
Were the Bible writers writing under Divine inspiration or were they advised by interplanetary space travelers? Somebody was up there; may the reader draw their own conclusion.
Though most of us are satisfied with the explanation found at 2 Timothy 3:1b it still bears mentioning that no alien space travelers were harmed in the production of this article.