Danny Faulkner wrote a book titled “Falling Flat: A Refutation of Flat Earth Claims,” and he did so wearing two hats. He calls himself a long time astronomer, and he is a christian teacher who purports to accurately interpret the scriptures. His book has not sold well, so perhaps we could say he has taught us something about falling flat, but there are a few logical reasons his book has been an abject failure in this genre. First, it’s poorly written. It’s hard to stay in the book for very long. Second, it’s very unorganized. He’s all over the map in his thoughts. And third, his arguments, both from a true science perspective, and from a biblical perspective, are so defective, we felt the need, if not the obligation, to our christian brothers and sisters, to debunk and rebut some of his claims. Granted, the book has not been read by very many people, but some christians still are referring to it in support of the heliocentric and globe theories.
With all this in mind, we will begin a series of articles here rebutting and debunking his arguments. In this first article, we will simply share our concerns about the book and put out a warning to all believers that his book, Falling Flat: A Refutation of Flat Earth Claims, is not a reliable source for the correct biblical interpretation on the creation of heaven and earth, nor is it a reliable resource for the science of the earth and the Universe.
Faulkner does bring an impressive resume to the table, and this brings apparent credibility to him as an author. Briefly, here’s his self-description:
Dr. Danny R. Faulkner has a B.S. (Math), M.S. (Physics), M.A. and Ph.D. (Astronomy, Indiana University). He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he taught physics and astronomy. Upon his retirement from the University at the end of 2012, Dr. Faulkner assumed the position of astronomer at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. He has published more than one hundred papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Creation Research Society and is the editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly.
One member of our staff wrote this review of his book:
I frankly expected better from a PhD with decades of experience. The book’s stated purpose is to equip Christians to respond to claims of flat-earthers among them, whom Faulkner repeatedly refers to as “professing”. He openly treats these people as heretics, as if salvation itself depends upon his preferred cosmological views. He even alleges that people actually turn away from Jesus over this, yet the same claim is often made against Answers in Genesis for being young-earthers. He offers no data to back this claim anyway; in fact, many flat-earthers have credited flat earth for bringing them to belief in a creator— even when young-earth creationism did not. Faulkner’s openly-stated fear is that flat-earth will cause critics of our faith to mock us as “anti-science”— which, again, is a charge commonly made against young-earthers like Dr. Faulkner.
Overall, the book is haphazard and disorganized, employs many fallacies (chiefly ad hominem), cherry-picks quotations which turn out to say the opposite of Faulkner’s claims, and reads more like a hit piece than anything close to a serious attempt at argument. After repeatedly mocking flat-earth as a “conspiracy theory”, Faulkner presents one of his own toward the end of the book (p. 358 in the Kindle Read layout); it’s some secret cabal called the International Possum Brotherhood. Though he was being sarcastic, the early chapters of his book claim that flat earth is a conspiracy invented to discredit Christianity. So does he seriously believe that or not? Is the whole book satire then? These double standards indicate a level of sloppiness and lack of professionalism unbecoming of an expert in an allegedly scientific field.
Faulkner also speaks of arguments from silence, unwittingly destroying his own view, since nowhere in any genre does the Bible describe earth as spinning, moving, or orbiting. Regardless of how he may interpret each instance, the fact remains that not one shred of scripture supports modern cosmology. He seems ignorant of the difference between an argument from silence and conspicuousness by absence.
I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone who wants to be adequately equipped to challenge flat-earth claims. Most of the arguments are “straw man” fallacies to begin with, as the book cover indicates. For example, flat-earthers today only refer to the surface upon which we live and not what may lie below that. No claims are made about an exact outer shape. A better approach would be for any individual to seek out information both pro and con and then make a decision, since Prov. 18:13 tells us it’s foolish to answer a matter before hearing it out; one should not blindly accept someone else’s claims about their opponents. It’s also quite curious that since young-earthers like Faulkner often use videos to present their information, that he would dismiss any and all flat-earth information that comes from videos. The topic is inherently a VISUAL matter, after all.
It can’t be overemphasized that the arguments Faulkner makes against flat earth are IDENTICAL to those made against young earth. If the Bible’s statements about AGE are to be taken literally, so also are its statements about STRUCTURE. To accept one and not the other is very poor logic, exegesis, and reading comprehension. If any view is to be feared as heresy, it should be this double standard. If we can dismiss statements in historical narrative genre as figures of speech, then we can treat the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection the same. By what consistent standard does Faulkner justify rejecting a flat, stationary earth but accepting the Resurrection? Both are dismissed as “unscientific” by most of the academic world. Both can be taken as “phenomenological language” (p. 204, 213, 214, 285, 295). Both can be attributed to alleged ignorance or “primitive” knowledge of the time.
So which view could best be charged with threatening the Christian faith? The Bible is not a science textbook, but Faulkner seems to treat science textbooks as the Bible. The Bible is made to bow to whatever the current theories are, requiring excuses for ignoring context and being inconsistent in applying this hermeneutic. At least the book serves as a case study in how to mock, misrepresent, and poison the well against any perceived threat.
That’s a review by someone who actually read the entire book and gave us a careful analysis. Another reviewer wrote this:
I assumed this would be a worthwhile book to read because the author’s credentials are impressive on paper, but if I may be bluntly honest, this book is full of logical fallacies, inappropriate character attacks, and egregiously bad hermeneutics. For someone who is supposed to know the Bible and astronomy, he demonstrates a shocking lack of knowledge in either area. He butchers Bible verses with a liberal form of hermeneutics that violates many rules of traditional Bible interpretation. I would classify his methodology as the “new hermeneutic” as it is called among theologians. That is a liberal brand of interpretation, and ignores fundamental rules of interpretation. With such an approach, he gets any conclusion he wants. He sets the Bible aside. That surprised me because he has a Bible education.
He slaughters history with grotesque misstatements about renowned figures, like Augustine. He actually attributes statements or beliefs to Augustine that were the exact opposite of what Augustine believed and wrote. He does this with many who believed in a flat earth, distorting what they said. He also tells us what some of the early flat earth authors were thinking when they wrote their books. He has no idea what they were thinking, but this is just the tip of the iceberg of biased approach.
He constantly assumes and presumes when it comes to science, so he throws around pseudoscience like it was real science and expects me as the reader to simply accept it. I’m not that gullible! His writing style is tragically disorganized. But his most egregious sin in my opinion is how he talks down to Christians and anyone who is looking at the flat earth arguments sincerely. He attacks the character of sincere people, he falsely attributes wacky beliefs to them, he demeans them constantly, and he is outright offensive to those who question the heliocentric model. Nearly every page drips with bitter sarcasm. I guess I’m glad I spent the money and read this book, but only so that I could be better educated on what the main proponents of heliocentrism are arguing. If this is the best they have, it’s a sad commentary on the state of Faulkner’s world.
I’m reminded of an intriguing line in the movie “Runaway Jury,” in which Dustin Hoffman, playing the role of a lawyer asked a young woman who was trying to manipulate the jury’s decision, “What happened to you when you were young? Who hurt you?” It’s a dramatic scene. I’d like to ask Dr. Faulkner, “What happened to make you so driven with sarcasm and bitterness? How did you get so far astray from a fundamental interpretation of God’s Word?”
These reviews give you a good start to understanding Faulkner’s approach to addressing such an important issue, perhaps the most controversial christian issue of the day. In following articles, we will address specific issues that we feel need to brought to the attention of anyone seriously examining the flat earth verses the heliocentric and globe debate. Each articles will link to the next article so you will be able to follow the sequence.