“As Rare as Hen’s Teeth”

Each and every Columbus Day, we are reminded by some misinformed historians who should know better, that the great navigator proved by his daring bravado that the Earth was more like a blue marble than a dinner plate. How many elementary-school students are taught that prior to the progressive thinking of Christopher Columbus any ship that journeyed beyond the horizon risked falling off the edge of the Earth? If we believe historical revisionists, Columbus supposedly stood firm against the religious and scientific leaders of his day proposing that the Earth was round and not flat. Many history books tell the story that the learned men of the day ridiculed the explorer’s theory of a round earth and proposed that the Earth was indeed flat.

While a historical account of one man doing battle with the religious and academic establishment of his day makes interesting copy, none of it is true. “Columbus, like all educated people of his time, knew that the world was round. . . .”[1] The shape of the earth was not even a topic for debate in Columbus’s time; it was an established fact that the Earth was round. Flat Earth advocates were as rare as hen’s teeth in the fifteenth century, and hens don’t have teeth.

Even the late evolution advocate Stephen Jay Gould admitted that Christians did not teach that the Earth was flat. “Virtually all major Christian scholars affirmed our planet’s roundness. The Venerable Bede referred to the earth as orbis in medio totius mundi positus (an orb placed in the center of the universe).”[2]


[1] Zvi Dor-Ner, Columbus and the Age of Discovery (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1991), 72. [2] Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998), 114.