Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Flat Earthers Exist?!?!?!

A few years ago, I used Google and Altavista to see if I could find real life examples of Flat Earthers. My searches came up with mostly hoax sites (or so I thought at the time time). So, like many, I ascribed the term "Flat-Earther" to a fictional group of idiots that didn't really exist.

Apparently I was wrong. They do exist!

The most fascinating aspect of this article was the following:

Christine Garwood, author of Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea, is not surprised that flat-earthers simply write off the evidence that our planet is globular.

"Flat earth theory is one of the ultimate conspiracy theories," she says.

"Naturally, flat earth believers think that the moon landings were faked, as were the photographs of earth from space."

Perhaps one of the most surprising things in Garwood's book is her revelation that flat earth theory is a relatively modern phenomenon.

Ms Garwood says it is an "historic fallacy" that everyone from ancient times to the Dark Ages believed the earth to be flat, and were only disabused of this "mad idea" once Christopher Columbus successfully sailed to America without "falling off the edge of the world".

In fact, people have known since at least the 4th century BC that the earth is round, and the pseudo-scientific conviction that we actually live on a disc didn't emerge until Victorian times.

Theories about the earth being flat really came to the fore in 19th Century England. With the rise and rise of scientific rationalism, which seemed to undermine Biblical authority, some Christian thinkers decided to launch an attack on established science.

Samuel Birley Rowbotham (1816-1884) assumed the pseudonym of "Parallax" and founded a new school of "Zetetic astronomy". He toured England arguing that the Earth was a stationary disc and the Sun was only 400 miles away.

In the 1870s, Christian polemicist John Hampden wrote numerous works about the Earth being flat, and described Isaac Newton as "in liquor or insane".

And the spirit of these attacks lives on to the present day. The flat-earth myth remains the outlandish king in the realm of the conspiracy theorist.

Its funny how religion (and it seems Christianity in particular) causes people to reject science and to follow false beliefs: Creationism, Inteligent Design, blood is sacred, vaccines are bad, etc. etc. etc.

You might state that, "they already believe in an invisible god, so why do you find this strange?"

Well, I was raised a Christian. I didn't find science ever contradicted the belief in a divine God. I did leave the faith, that is true. And maybe it is because I try to employ critical thinking that I wound up leaving the faith over its own inconsistencies (and not because of scientific evidence). Maybe that's the larger point. For many of the faith, allowing critical thought threatens their faith, exposing it as weak. Many people do not have the internal fortitude to hold on to their faith in the face of scientific evidence that challenges their assumptions.

Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on that topic too much.

But we now have proof that creationists and their ilk are direct descendants of thought of the "Flat Earth Society".

And that makes me smile.

No comments: