Author Topic: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Globe Earth  (Read 617 times)

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Offline An even Seven

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Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Globe Earth
« on: October 13, 2017, 09:57:07 AM »
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  • St. Augustine- The literal meaning of Genesis: It is also frequently asked what our belief must be about the form and shape of heaven according to Sacred Scripture. Many scholars engage in lengthy discussions on these matters, but the sacred writers with their deeper wisdom have omitted them.   Such subjects are of no profit for those who seek beatitude, and, what is worse, they take up very precious time that ought to be given to what is spiritually beneficial.

    What concern is it of mine whether heaven is like a sphere and the earth is enclosed by it and suspended in the middle of the universe, or whether heaven like a disk above the earth covers it over on one side?
     
     But the credibility of Scripture is at stake, and as I have indicated more than once, there is danger that a man uninstructed in divine revelation, discovering something in Scripture or hearing from it something that seems to be at variance with the knowledge he has acquired, may resolutely withhold his assent in other matters where Scripture presents useful admonitions, narratives, or declarations.  
    Hence, I must say briefly that in the matter of the shape of heaven the sacred writers knew the truth, but that the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, did not wish to teach men these facts that would be of no avail for their salvation.
     
     But someone may ask: "Is not Scripture opposed to those who hold that heaven is spherical, when it says, 'who stretches out heaven like a skin?' " Let it be opposed indeed if their statement is false.  The truth is rather in what God reveals than in what groping men surmise.  But if they are able to establish their doctrine with proofs that cannot be denied, we must show that this statement of Scripture about the skin is not opposed to the truth of their conclusions.
    If it were, it would be opposed also to Sacred Scripture itself in another passage where it says that heaven is suspended like a vault.  
     
     For what can be so different and contradictory as a skin stretched out flat and the curved shape of a vault?  But if it is necessary, as it surely is, to interpret these two passages so that they are shown not to be contradictory but to be reconcilable, it is also necessary that both of these passages should not contradict the theories that may be supported by true evidence, by which heaven is said to be curved on all sides in the shape of a sphere, provided only that this is proved.
     
     Our picture of heaven as a vault, even when taken in a literal sense, does not contradict the theory that heaven is a sphere.  We may well believe that in speaking of the shape of heaven Scripture wished to describe that part which is over our heads. If, therefore, it is not a sphere, it is a vault on that side on which it covers the earth; but if it is a sphere, it is a vault all around.
     
     But the image of the skin presents a more serious difficulty: we must show that it is reconcilable not with the sphere (for that may be only a man-made theory) but with the vault of Holy Scripture.
     
     My allegorical interpretation of this passage can be found in the thirteenth book of my Confessions. Whether the description of heaven stretched out like a skin is to be taken as I have interpreted it there or in some other way, here I must take into account the doggedly literal-minded interpreters and say what I think is obvious to everyone from the testimony of the senses.
     
     Both the skin and the vault perhaps can be taken as figurative      expressions; but how they are to be understood in a literal sense must be explained. If a vault can be not only curved but also flat, a skin surely can be stretched out not only on a flat plane but also in a spherical shape.  Thus, for instance, a leather bottle and an inflated ball are both made of skin.
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 09:58:02 AM »
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  • St. Gregory of Nyssa speaking to St. Macrina, Sister of St. Basil: "Clearly, replied the Teacher, you have not quite attended to the argument. In speaking of the soul's migration from the seen to the unseen, I thought I had omitted nothing as regards the question about Hades. It seems to me that, whether in the heathen or in the Divine writings, this word for a place in which souls are said to be means nothing else but a transition to that Unseen world of which we have no glimpse.
     And how, then, I asked, is it that some think that by the underworld is meant an actual place, and that it harbours within itself the souls that have at last flitted away from human life, drawing them towards itself as the right receptacle for such natures?
     Well, replied the Teacher, our doctrine will be in no ways injured by such a supposition. For if it is true, what you say , and also that the vault of heaven prolongs itself so uninterruptedly that it encircles all things with itself, and that the earth and its surroundings are poised in the middle, and that the motion of all the revolving bodies is round this fixed and solid centre, then, I say, there is an absolute necessity that, whatever may happen to each one of the atoms on the
    upper side of the earth, the same will happen on the opposite side, seeing that one single substance encompasses its entire bulk. As, when the sun shines above the earth, the shadow is spread over its lower part, because its spherical shape makes it impossible for it to be clasped all round at one and the same time by the rays, and necessarily, on whatever side the sun's rays may fall on some particular point of the globe, if we follow a straight diameter, we shall find shadow upon the opposite point, and so, continuously, at the opposite end of the direct line of the rays shadow moves round that globe, keeping pace with the sun, so that equally in their turn both the upper half and the under half of the earth are in light and darkness; so, by this analogy, we have reason to be certain that, whatever in our hemisphere is observed to befall the atoms, the same will befall them in that other. The environment of the atoms being one and the same on every side of the earth, I deem it right neither to contradict nor yet to favour those who raise the objection that we must regard either this or the lower region as assigned to the souls released. As long as this objection does not shake our central doctrine of the existence of those souls after the life in the flesh, there need be no controversy about the whereabouts to our mind, holding as we do that place is a property of body only, and that soul, being immaterial, is by no necessity of its nature detained in any place."

    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales


    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 09:58:28 AM »
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  • Eusebius(Church Father):"The truth of this is assured to us by your works. It is your power which removes our guilt, and makes us faithful. The sun and the moon have their settled course. The stars move in no uncertain orbits round this terrestrial globe."
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 09:58:53 AM »
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  • Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor: “And how the Earth and sea their place should keep; And when the seasons, in their circling course, winter and summer, spring and autumn, each should come, according to well ordered plan; out of a confused heap who didst create this ordered sphere, and from the shapeless mass.”
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 09:59:12 AM »
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  • Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man: "For just as those skilled in astronomy tell us that the whole universe is full of light, and that darkness is made to cast its shadow by the interposition of the body formed by the earth; and that this darkness is shut off from the rays of the sun, in the shape of a cone, according to the figure of the sphere-shaped body, and behind it; while the sun, exceeding the earth by a size many times as great as its own, enfolding it round about on all sides with its rays, unites at the limit of the cone the concurrent streams of light"
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales


    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 09:59:53 AM »
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  • Jerome, Letter 124 to Avitus: "And concerning the heavenly bodies we must make a similar acknowledgment. The soul of the sun— or whatever else you like to call it— does not date its existence from the creation of the world; it already existed before it entered its shining and glowing body. So also with the moon and stars. From antecedent causes they have been made subject to vanity not willingly but for future reward, (Romans 8:20) and are forced to do not their own will but the creator's who has assigned to them their several spheres.
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 10:00:16 AM »
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  • John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith: "Further, some hold that the earth is in the form of a sphere, others that it is in that of a cone. At all events it is much smaller than the heaven, and suspended almost like a point in its midst. And it will pass away and be changed. But blessed is the man who inherits the earth promised to the meek (Matthew 5:5) ."
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 10:00:51 AM »
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  • John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith: "The eclipse of the moon, on the other hand, is due to the shadow the earth casts on it when it is a fifteen days' moon and the sun and moon happen to be at the opposite poles of the highest circle, the sun being under the earth and the moon above the earth. For the earth casts a shadow and the sun's light is prevented from illuminating the moon, and therefore it is then eclipsed.
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales


    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 10:01:42 AM »
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  • John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith: "Others have pictured the heaven as a hemisphere. This idea is suggested by these words of David, the singer of God, Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain, by which word he clearly means a tent: and by these from the blessed Isaiah, Who has established the heavens like a vault (Isaiah 40:22): and also because when the sun, moon, and stars set they make a circuit round the earth from west to north, and so reach once more the east. Still, whether it is this way or that, all things have been made and established by the divine command, and have the divine will and counsel for a foundation that cannot be moved. For He Himself spoke and they were made: He Himself commanded and they were created. He has also established them for ever and ever: He has made a decree which will not pass."
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: Church Fathers Did Not Condemn Flat Earth
    « Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 10:05:11 AM »
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  • Basil, Hexaemeron: “Those who have written about the nature of the universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth. If it be spherical or cylindrical, if it resemble a disc and is equally rounded in all parts, or if it has the forth of a winnowing basket and is hollow in the middle;  all these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to shapes; he has not said that the earth is a hundred and eighty thousand furlongs in circumference; he has not measured into what extent of air its shadow projects itself whilst the sun revolves around it, nor stated how this shadow, casting itself upon the moon, produces eclipses. He has passed over in silence, as useless, all that is unimportant for us. Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to the oracles of the Holy Spirit? Shall I not rather exalt Him who, not wishing to fill our minds with these vanities, has regulated all the economy of Scripture in view of the edification and the making perfect of our souls? It is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of their own invention to Scripture. It is to believe themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and to bring forth their own ideas under a pretext of exegesis. Let us hear Scripture as it has been written.”
    There is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

     

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