Monday, December 20, 2004

Flat Earth Fun

Believe it or not, there are still people on this planet that believe the world is flat, or at least not a sphere. It isn’t just the individuals in the Flat Earth Society (founded in 1993). There are fundamentalists in various religions teaching this myth as fact as well.
One religion teaches the world is on the back of a turtle. Under that turtle is another turtle. Under that turtle is another turtle, etc forever. There are modern people that choose to interpret those statements in their ancient texts as literal fact. They turn off their critical sense and refuse to understand that the ancient texts simply provide metaphors for unknowable facts in ancient times. In effect, it’s easier for these modern people to believe in infinitely huge turtles walking on each other’s backs, rather than believe the world is a sphere in space.
Western Culture has understood that the Earth is a sphere for a very long time. The idea that people in Columbus’ time, during the Renaissance, believed in a flat Earth is actually a modern myth perpetuated by American ignorance of other cultures (i.e., our arrogance). I’ll call this the Columbus Myth. Ancient Greeks knew the world was a sphere by the Fourth Century B.C.E (over three hundred years before Christ was born). In that time, Aristotle reasoned that the world must be a sphere because the Earth’s shadow on the Moon during lunar eclipses was always round. By the time that Columbus set sail on his first voyage to the Americas, Westerners already had known, for about 2000 years, that the Earth was a sphere.
Unfortunately, The Columbus Myth spawned the recent rebirth of the belief that the Earth is flat. The some Columbus Myth believers reasoned that if ancient people knew the world was flat as recent as 1500’s, then it must be so. They then further reasoned that modern observations of a spherical Earth are skewed by some global conspiracy to hide the fact that the Earth is flat. Of course, this is all just myth compounded upon myth.
Links of note:
Flat Earth Society - They have a Great Springfield theory (from watching too many episodes of the Simpsons, I think).
Another Flat Earth Society - I love their complete ignorance of how a little thing called gravity works in their "Why a Flat Earth" section. These guys take the Columbus Myth to heart!
Flat Earth Bible - Here the author shows various statements in the Bible that show the flat-earth mentality of it's many writers. The Qu'ron makes similar statements as well.



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