by William Trollinger
Ok, probably not a bar.
So a young Earth creationist, a geocentrist, and a flat Earther walk into a Chick-Fil-A. And the young Earth creationist says, “If you take the Bible literally, and I do, then you have to believe that ‘day’ means 24-hour day. I am a young Earth creationist. I am the most literal of them all, in contrast with old Earth creationists, who have sold out to the secular scientific establishment.”
The geocentrist responds, “Not so fast. If you take the Bible literally, and I do, then you have to believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. I not only believe in a young Earth, but I also believe the Earth is at the center of the universe. I am the most literal of them all, and it turns that you, young Earth creationist, have sold out to the secular scientific establishment.”
But the flat Earther responds, “I have both of you beat. If you take the Bible literally, and I do, then you have to believe that ‘firmament’ refers to a hard dome over the Earth. I not only believe in a young Earth, I not only believe that the Earth is at the center of the universe, but I also believe in a flat Earth. I am the most literal of them all, and it turns out that both of you, young Earth creationist and geocentrist, have sold out to the secular scientific establishment.”
Something like this happened this past November at the Second Flat Earth International Conference in Denver. As reported by young Earth creationist Danny Faulkner, resident astronomer for Answers in Genesis (AiG), the highlight was a debate between flat Earther Rob Skiba and geocentrist Robert Sungenis over “whether the Bible teaches that the earth is flat.” According to Faulkner, Skiba argued that raqia, which the King James Version translates as “firmament” in Genesis 1: 6-8 is best understood as a “hard dome over the earth.” In response, Sungenis argued that “if the raqia were a solid dome, then the placement of the sun and moon in the solid dome on Day Four would inhibit the sun and moon from moving, [even though], in anyone’s model, they must move.”
So went the debate, with Skiba holding tight to the most literal read. Interestingly, the flat Earther also went after the young Earth creationist in the audience:
[Skiba] had a slide that included a photograph of me [Danny Faulkner], along with a quote from my 2004 book, Universe by Design, where I criticized the way that the . . . King James translated raqia as “firmament.” Skiba said that this was eisegesis. He also called Answers in Genesis “Answers not in Genesis.” I was a bit amused by this, because Skiba was rebutting me, when I wasn’t involved in the debate.
Why should the flat Earther limit himself to attacking geocentrists when he can also take down young Earth creationists? And Skiba’s claim that Faulkner engages in “eisegesis” is a deliberately pointed jab, given that young Earth creationists make precisely the same charge against those who hold to an old Earth. As Ken Ham argues in “Eisegesis: A Genesis Virus,”
When someone reads something into Scripture – this would be an example of eisegesis. For instance, nowhere does the Bible ever speak of billions of years. In Genesis 1, the word day (yom) in context, as used for the six Days of Creation . . . means these days are approximately 24-hour periods – ordinary days.
However, probably the majority of church leaders insist these days could represent billions of years – this is “eisegesis,” as the billions of years is a belief from outside of Scripture that is read intoScripture (resulting in the clear words of Scripture being reinterpreted on the basis of these outside ideas).
The cure for the “eisegesis virus”? According to Ken Ham, it is the “exegesis ‘vaccine,’” that is, interpreting Scripture “on the basis of context and the type of literature” so that one can read “out of Scripture what the writer clearly intended to express.”
But here’s the problem. Who decides when it is exegesis, and when it is eisegesis? Ham attacks old Earth creationists for employing eisegesis. But geocentrists critique young Earth creationists for themselves using eisegesis, and flat Earthers attack both young Earth creationists and geocentrists as infected with the “eisegesis virus.”
You can stand on the authority of the Bible. You can claim that the Bible is errorless, clear, and best understood by a common sense reading of the text. But none of that resolves the innumerable and ever-expanding disagreements over what the text means.
But among the creationists arguing in Chick-Fil-A, the flat Earthers have one great rhetorical advantage. They can claim they are the most literal.
It may not be a trump card, but it is pretty close.