FLAT BELIEFS OR ROUND SCOPE
Christopher Columbus, knowing the Earth is round, sailed from Spain westward and guess what he found. New places that he thought was the Asian mainland, and the discoveries led to a new marauding band.
Copernicus, Bruno, Galilei, and Newton all have something in common: they dare to say the earth moved and is a sphere end up life not spared or living in fear.
My little poem above was written to set the stage for a meandering review or swipe at how belief in a round earth that moves can lead to discoveries and new exploration (Columbus) but can also lead to persecution and death (Bruno) or a twist of fate from heretic to hero (Galileo).
Indeed, the Galileo melodrama touches a very important point. What is Truth? Yesterday’s fallacy can be today’s fact and today’s fact may be tomorrow’s fiction. Yeah, history is not necessarily fair in its representation of truth as it is invariably written from the perspective of the victor and not the victim. Regrettably, many times the suppressed victim’s view is the right view as will see in Galileo’s case.
In the 21st century, fortunately or unfortunately, kids are now taught in kindergarten that the earth is spherical, does move but is fixed in its plane, orbits around the sun and doesn’t move under their feet because of gravity.
Of course in the 21 st century, there are also many folks who believe that such teaching is nonsense. This is understandable as most major ancient religions from Mesopotamia to Egypt to the Greeks and to the Hebrews were built on a perception of a flat fixed earth that is at the centre of the universe. This tenet was so important to religion and power, that to believe otherwise could get you persecuted or killed.
THE EARTH: EVOLUTION OF THE FACTS
Based on the literature, the idea of a flat geocentric earth was the first common and ordinary understanding of the universe. Many of the major ancient religions, from the occultism of Mesopotamia (Sumer), to the religion of Babel and Hindu, to the myths and legends of Egypt, to the conquest of Greece and Persia, to the might of the Romans, all had a common underlying thread of the creation of gods in man’s own image and likeness and the belief in a flat geocentric universe. .
The manufacturing of idols such as Ra, Osiris, Isis, Tammuz and Ishtar coupled with a flat geocentric universe was necessary for ” manageable and duly” control of the populace. Religion was authority and determine facts. It also ensured the perpetuation of nepotism and hereditary power. Of course, absolute power, absolute corruption.
In early Mesopotamian mythology, the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean with a hemispherical sky-dome above, and this formed the premise for early world maps like those of Anaximander.
Needless to say, the neighbouring Hebrews adopted and assimilated these occultic thoughts and precepts into their religion as well. Indeed one of the months of the Jewish Calendar is Tammuz, named after Tammuz, Sumerian Mesopotamian god of fertility embodying the powers for new life in nature in the spring. Do you also recall how King Solomon adopted the pagan religions of his over 700 wives to the chagrin of the Hebrew God, Jehovah.
The flat earth dogma prevailed for thousands of years until it saw its first major opponent in the 6th century: Pythagoras (570 BC). His idea was proposed using constellation observations, by studying the earth’s circular shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse and also his belief that every thing could be explained mathematically prompted him to feel that the sphere was a perfect shape.
Pythagoras (570 – 495 BC) also made the astronomic observation that the evening star and the morning star were in fact the very same object (Venus). He was more pragmatic than religious and his studying of astrology, numbers and metaphysics was ironically considered as occultism by occultists. His famous Pythagoras Theorem is an old Sumerian principle. He was caring to nature and was believed to be a vegetarian.
To compound maters, not only was Pythagoras using occultism ideas, he founded the Brotherhood of Pythagorean (who coined the term mathematics) which many argue, was the world’s first Secret Society and the forerunner of Free Mason. The Pythagorean Cult was infamous and Pythagoras was excommunicated by the Greeks. Pythagoras coined the term philosophy.
Philolaus 390 B.C , another Ancient Greece philosopher and student of Pythagoras, promulgated the moveable spherical earth view. He believed that there is a “central fire” that everything else in the universe revolved around, including the moon, earth, and the other planets. However, in his theory, the “central fire” wasn’t the sun itself. The sun is said to have revolved around the “central fire”, as well.
Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)
Aristotle refused to buy the moveable earth idea but he was sold on the the fact that the Earth is a sphere. According to Aristotle, the shadow of the earth on the moon during an eclipse suggested that it was a sphere. Indeed, both Plato and Aristotle adopted the spherical earth notion but rejected the moveable earth tenet component. This muddled philosophy since Aristotle is one of the most quoted philosopher. This meant that Plato and Aristotle were endorsing aspects of the Pythagorean Cult: a spherical earth.
Aristarchus (310 BC – 230 BC)
Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer and mathematician, is famously known as the first person to have proposed the new heliocentric idea of the solar system – that the earth rotated and revolved around a stationary sun. Like Galileo many years later however, his sun centred ideas were dismissed as most people found it easier to believe the views of Aristotle and Ptolemy, that it was the earth that was at the centre of the solar system.
Eratosthenes (276 BC – 195 BC)
Aristotle’s confused view of a spherical but stationary earth prevailed until,
the father of Geography, Eratosthenes, became the first person to accurately calculate the circumference of the earth. Fortunately or unfortunately, his ideas were not abound and Aristotle’s view was still preferred and continued for the next millennium, until the “trouble maker” Nicolaus Copernicus was born.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) came on the scene and blurted, “We revolve around the Sun like any other planet.” He formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the centre of the universe and the world as not been the same since. Though similar to Pythagoras, Copernicus however, believed the planets orbit the sun and not a circle of fire.
Literature had it that Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), the founder of Protestant Christianity, commented on Copernicus’ theory that the Earth orbits the sun:
“This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth (Psa xciii. I). […] Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” Martin Luther, Quoted in Bertrand Russell (1946). Science has since decided who was the fool.
For meddling purposes, let’s share an alleged statement by Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), Portuguese navigator of the same period, who did not necessarily support the authority of the Church:
“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church” –
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) observation of Jupiter’s moons in 1610 confirmed the Copernican’s heliocentric view of the universe but it destroyed Aristotles geocentric cosmos and horrified the Church. He too was persecuted and he died under house arrest in 1642 after being arrested in 1633.
At about the same time, German mathematician Johannes Kepler was publishing a series of laws that describe the orbits of the planets around the Sun. Still in use today, the mathematical equations provided accurate predictions of the planets’ movement under Copernican theory.
In 1687, Isaac Newton put the final nail in the coffin for the Aristotelian, geocentric view of the Universe. Building on Kepler’s laws, Newton explained why the planets moved as they did around the Sun and he gave the force that kept them in check a name: gravity.
Well, the flat earth theory is still alive and has its following.
SPHERICAL EARTH: PERCEPTION AND PERSPECTIVE
After all that bookish meandering and heady stuff, it is timely to close this blong (blog long) on some more mundane and contemporary happenings. Albeit, still a bit controversial but easier to conceive and digest. Remember Aristotle’s tenet – it is all a matter of perception. Here goes:
- Observing Lunar eclipses: Round shadow, round earth?
A few folks such as Pythagoras and Aristotle, (570 – 495 BC) and (384–322 BC) respectively taught that the round shadow of Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse meant that the earth is a sphere. Aristotle supported his belief by observing “there are stars seen in Egypt and Cyprus which are not seen in the northerly regions.” Since this could only happen on a curved surface, he believed the Earth was a sphere “of no great size, for otherwise the effect of so slight a change of place would not be quickly apparent.” (De caelo, 298a2–10).
Flat Earthers reasoned that the round shadow on the moon could be produced by a flat disc that always faces the Moon head-on during the eclipse. That is true, but the Moon is only rarely directly overhead during an eclipse and a given lunar eclipse is only visible from half of the Earth at a time. Problem?
Nope, Flat Earthers dismiss this empirical evidence of the shadow by simply saying that the moon is a hologram and not a solid. By extension, the visits to the moon by the Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna 2 mission on 13 September 1959, and the United States’ manned Apollo 11 mission on 20 July 1969 were impossible. Of course, January’s 2019 landing of an unmanned Chinese space craft on the far side of the moon was also a HOAX. Preposterous. It is simply a NASA conspiracy.
Suffice to say, not only did Galileo noticed the moons of Jupiter, he also saw mountains on the moon suggesting a solid.
- Visits to Antarctica as a tourist? Normal but expensive.
It’s not a crazy idea? Simply put the craziest thing about going to Antarctica is the cold. Don’t be daunted by Flat-Earthers that claim Antarctica is a giant impenetrable icy wall encircling the Earth to keep us from falling off our disc-shaped world.
Antarctica is the world’s southernmost and 5th largest continent. It is bigger than the European Continent and twice the size of Australia.
An interesting fact is that Polar bears live only in the Arctic, and penguins live only in the Antarctic. It is also where the South Pole is situated which has 6 months of sunshine and six months of darkness with only one sunrise and sunset per year.
Is surface circumnavigation of Antarctica really possible?
The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 2 March 1958 led by British Explorer Vivian Fuchs and New Zealander Edmund Hilary (the first man to climb Everest) successfully completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole.
Flat Earthers insist that no one has ever crossed Antarctica. They propose that the world is a north-pole-centered disc and Antarctica is an impenetrable ice wall that encircles the planet and hides any edges. The explanation is that east-west circumnavigation is simply moving around the disc in a circle. (This is true as East-West paths form a circle in both disc and spherical geometry).
However, Flat Earthers believe it is possible in the disc model to traverse the North Pole, but it is not possible to perform a circumnavigation that includes the South Pole, which it posits does not exist in any event.
The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 2 March 1958 provided empirical evidence that Antarctica is a continent that can be traversed via a south pole that exist. Also, since the 1500s, many people have sailed or flown completely around the world in all directions, and none have discovered an edge or impenetrable barrier. As seen above, even tourists go to Antarctica.
- There is a North and South Pole? True or False?
According to Flat Earthers, the South Pole does not exist. They do believe in a North Pole which is at the centre of the flat earth. However, how can there be North and no South? Can there be up without down or top without bottom? Is it perspective or perception?
Indeed, the South Pole does exist. It is also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole. It is one of the two points where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. It lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole, at the centre of the Southern Hemisphere, on the continent of Antarctica.
The south pole is the only inhabited place on the land surface of the Earth from which the Sun is continuously visible for six months and is then continuously dark for the next six months. The South Pole sees the Sun rise and set only once a year.
- Satellites Pictures of the Earth. Fake News?
Satellites (Artificial) have been known to been in space and have taken mind boggling pictures suggesting a curved earth. Indeed, it was as early as October 4, 1957, that the Soviet Union launched SPUTNIK-1 into an elliptical low Earth orbit. This made its flight path to cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth.
Flat Earthers say this is impossible as Artificial Satellites do not exist despite data showing that there are more than 40 countries have launched more than 4,000 satellites. According to Flat Earthers, GPS is operated by fibre optic cables running under the sea from continent to continent and by towers. There are no satellites. Fake News and conspiracy theory.
Claims by countries to have sent satellite into space is considered as conspiracy theory facilitated by NASA. One might understand NASA falsifying information but a conspiracy between the Soviet Union and NASA during the cold war era needs much thought.
SPHERICAL EARTH: HERETIC OR HEROIC?
The Mesopotamia is considered as the cradle of civilization and our perception of the world is shaped by their culture. Sumer is also famed for being the home of occultism and mysticism. These meaningful yet satanic rituals were adopted by Egypt and the subsequent world powers, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Rome and the Anglo Saxons (Britain). The Hebrews were also tainted.
According to Aristotle and behavioural studies, our approach to life is basically perception: how we make sense of the world. This is no easy task since the evolving of facts and the idea of an uncommon common sense make us note that even nonsense has sense in it. “Indeed, normal has become abnormal and abnormal has become normal”. By extension, today’s heresy can be tomorrow’s heroic deed.
A great example was in 1992, when Galileo Galilei went from heretic to hero. Pope John Paul II declared that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from “tragic mutual incomprehension.” Seems Galileo was right all along: heliocentric universe?
This embarrassing situation is creating a possible debacle for religion as we know it. It could affect the establishment’s need to keep people in line with dogma. The Church had argued that if the earth is not at the centre of the universe (geocentric) it could undermine the notion of man’s special relationship with god. Also, since scripture seemed to support a fixed earth, any attempt to prove otherwise could make the earth seem insignificant.
The critical thing to note is that the Truth exists and being special lies in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe, the time and effort being spent delving in astrology, science, metaphysics and religion could be best spent seeing that the hungry is fed; the naked clad and the sick given a bed. Man, be thy brother’s keeper.