Is the Earth Hollow?
Thanks to blog follower, Pam for requesting a post on this topic!
Let me state right up front that this is a subject that I was basically unfamiliar with until I was asked to write a post about it. Naturally, I was intrigued by this topic because it just sounds so far-fetched and I always love to learn new things. So, I’ve spent some time trying to learn the basics about this subject but in no way consider myself to have a robust knowledge about it. Still, I am happy to comment on the subject and will try to show where Biblical connections can be made.
When I first heard the phrase “Hollow Earth”, my mind immediately thought of Journey to the Center of the Earth – not the classic novel by Jules Verne, but the most recent movie adaptation of the novel by the same name. You know, the one with Brendan Fraser in it? Well, maybe you don’t know because the movie itself wasn’t that good; but it did have some really cool visual effects. While I think the idea of a hollow earth sounds really cool, to be perfectly honest I am very skeptical of it and think it is something that makes for really fun science fiction stories. Living in our modern day, 21st century, with all its scientific technology including satellites, radar technology, sonar technology, magnetic monitoring, and a host of other ways to analyze and measure our world, if the Earth really was hollow I would expect that by now it should be common knowledge.
That being said, I don’t think that this concept should be dismissed in its entirety; rather, I think some distinctions should be made and some terms/concepts should be clarified. When I hear the term “Hollow Earth” my immediate response is to think of it from a purely physical and natural standpoint. In other words, I think dirt, rocks, magma, water, metal, etc. From this standpoint comes my skepticism about the Hollow Earth Hypothesis. However, as a Christian, I believe that we live in a universe that consists of more than just natural/physical elements that we can see and observe with our physical senses. We live in a universe that also contains a spiritual element that we cannot directly observe with our senses but is also very real nonetheless. Typically, from a Christian worldview we refer to this as the Spiritual World, Second Heaven, or Angelic/Demonic realm. Viewed from this perspective I could see the Hollow Earth Hypothesis having some more validity.
So, let’s start by talking about this from a physical standpoint. When I hear the word hollow, I tend to think “empty”. As such, my immediate response to hearing about the idea of a Hollow Earth, is to think of an empty Earth underneath the surface of the planet. From this point of view, it would appear that there is just no way that the Hollow Earth theory could be valid because it would be scientifically impossible. For example, based on the gravity of our planet, if there was nothing underneath the surface, the gravitational pull would cause the surface to collapse and implode.
Another example is something I would compare to doing a sonogram. When a mother gets a sonogram done, soundwaves are directed down into the woman’s uterus and bounced back outwards off the internal objects inside. Thus, a sonographic image emerges showing a picture of what’s inside. When it comes to our planet, there are several different methods of doing a similar procedure such as sending seismic waves through the planet or sending electromagnetic waves through the planet, etc. to paint a picture of the internal contents of the Earth. Now I am not a scientist and don’t profess to be one, so please forgive my very simplistic explanation of describing these types of scientific tests. However, the point is that based on all the different tests we currently have available, science does not show evidence of a hollow planet. Quite the contrary: there is a lot of scientific evidence showing much lies below the surface of the Earth.
That being said, this is also an area where I think some clarification is needed. While it may be that the Earth does not appear to be a hollow shell that’s empty inside, it also doesn’t mean that the inside of our planet is solid either. For decades it has been widely accepted by the scientific community that vast amounts of the Earth’s interior exist in a liquified state such as liquified metals and minerals. Additionally, just last year in 2014 an amazing discovery was made that vast amounts of water reside deep below the Earth’s surface. So vast is the amount of water inside the Earth that many news sites and magazines were writting articles claiming that a “second ocean” had been found deep within our planet. Here’s an example from Smithsonian Magazine.
With this in mind, here’s where we can make one of our first connections to Christianity. In my opinion, this recent discovery of vast amounts of water below the Earth’s surface is pretty groundbreaking because it would seem to support the Biblical account of the Great Flood of Noah’s day. In the book of Genesis, we read:
Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Genesis 8:2-3 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.
Based on these verses in the Bible it’s easy to understand why people for generations may have believed the Earth is hollow. For those who understand the Great Flood as being a literal event, it would naturally be assumed that the Earth would be hollow to some degree in order for all that water to have come out and flood the Earth and then have a place to retreat to.
Now thinking about this from a spiritual perspective, I think this Hollow Earth Hypothesis takes on much more significance. Is it possible that inside of the Earth exists a non-physical place/realm that has its own unique characteristics? I would argue that the answer is absolutely, yes!
There are several diferent passages in the Bible that make reference to a spiritual realm existing below the surface of the Earth. Perhaps one of the most well known passages comes from Revelation chapter 9 that speaks about the “Abyss” or “Bottomless Pit”:
Revelation 9:1-3 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
Pay attention to a few things here. While it may not be known what eactly the botomless pit is, we do know from the passage above that it’s sealed up somehow based on the fact that some kind of key is required to open it. Again, nobody knows for sure what kind of key is required. Some think it could involve opening a diensional portal. (See my pervious blog titled, Some Doors Should Never be Opened) Regardless of whatever the bottomless pit and key to open it may be, notice that when it is opened up at some point in the future, smoke will ARISE and darken the sun and air of the Earth. Additionally the locusts that come out will come upon the Earth. Thus, it is implied that the bottomless pit resides somewhere within the Earth.
Again, let me be clear. When I read this passage, I am conceptualizing it from a spiritual perspective – a spiritual realm or abode that contains locust type creatures within the heart of the Earth. Because it is a Spiritual realm or dimension, it does not rquire the Earth to be physically hollow in order to reside in the heart ot the Earth. It is only when the pit is opened that there will be an intersection between the physical & spiritual worlds.
One last remark on the bottomles pit… How is it even possible for a pit to be bottomless? How is it even conceivable that some sort of large hole could continue on without end for eternity? Well, the answer is actually quite simple if you think about it differently. If the bottomless pit was located at the center of the Earth which, as you know, has the shape of a sphere, then every direction you could look would be up. There is no bottom at the center of a sphere. Thus, we again find more evidence for some sort of spiritual place located within the Earth.
Additional Biblical support for the idea of some sort of spiritual realm residing below the surface of the Earth lies in the concept of Hell, the temporary abode of punishment for those who did not place their trust in Jesus, whether it be a forward looking hope in the Messiah before Jesus was born, or a backward looking hope in Christ after His death, burial, and resurrection. (Not to be confused with The Lake of Fire – the eternal punishment for sinners who rejected God’s grace given through Jesus).
There are many verses in the Bible that support the idea that the location of hell is within the center of the Earth, though there is debate among scholars on this topic. Personally, I fall into the camp that believes hell is located below the Earth’s surface, at least spiritually speaking and fully acknowledge that some may disagree. Because my intent for this blog post is to discuss the Hollow Earth Hypothesis, I will save discussion about the debate on the location of hell for another time. What I will point out is this – the Scriptures do offer support for the concept of a spiritual place called hell or “sheol”, the abode of the dead as it is referred to in the Old Testament, residing within the Earth.
In Ephesians it’s written that Jesus led captivity captive by descending into the lower parts of the Earth:
Ephesians 4:9 Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
And in 1 Peter speaking about Jesus speaking to the imprisoned spirits:
1 Peter 3:18-19 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison
This view that Jesus descended into hell to set captives free is further bolstered by the Apostle’s Creed set forth by the early church:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Additional verses offering support of the view that hell resides within the Earth include the following:
Psalm 55:15 Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.
Ezekiel 31:14-16 ‘So that no trees by the waters may ever again exalt themselves for their height, nor set their tops among the thick boughs, that no tree which drinks water may ever be high enough to reach up to them. ‘For they have all been delivered to death, To the depths of the earth, Among the children of men who go down to the Pit.’ “Thus says the Lord God: ‘In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of it. I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back. I caused Lebanon to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth.
As you can see these are but a few eamples that lend support to the location of hell as being in the center of the Earth. As you may have also seen, the concept of hell and the bottomless pit appear to be synonymous. There is certainly debate on this topic as well. Personally, I do lean towards the view that the two are one in the same, though there are some important areas of clarification that should be considered when talking about hell, sheol, & the Lake of Fire. Again, I’ll save that conversation for a future post.
Okay, getting back to the main focus of this post – the Hollow Earth Hypothesis… Considering all I’ve laid out above, here is my final (and much more succinct) view of the subject: Is the Earth hollow? No, not in the physical/natural sense of our universe. Is it solid? No. There is much scientific evidence supporting the existence of various types of liquified matter within our planet. Does this mean that only physical matter resides in the heart of the Earth? No. From a Biblical worldview, we live in a universe that includes a spiritual/supernatural component. (Some use the term “Multiverse”). How the physical & spiritual elements of this “multiverse” interact and overlap remains a mystery. However, it is possible for one to make a case that hell/the bottomless pit do reside within the center of our planet. So, from that standpoint could it be argued that the Earth is hollow? I suppose so, but it is an awful big stretch of the concept.
What difference does any of this make in the end? None really, in my humble opinon. Whether or not the Earth is hollow doesn’t change the reality of heaven or hell and the need to put one’s faith in Jesus for salvation to secure one’s eternal residence. God didn’t intend for any human to be sent to hell regardless of where it may be located. As Christians, we need to do all we can to share God’s love and the truth of the Gospel to help prevent that from happening for as many people as possible.