Falling off the edge of the world: And we’re all in the same boat

I was simply looking for a way to use this intriguing piece of art:

Flat earth

(Source: Ancient Aliens Debunked, produced by Chris White.)

I call it Flat Earth. By the way, if you believe in ancient aliens, don’t.

So I thought, “Why not write a blog post on the idea that the Earth is flat? Then I can use this intriguing piece of art.” I always think in logical, complete sentences like that.

Let the research begin. I googled “flat earth.” And all hell broke loose.

It’s a flat, flat, flat, flat world, and NASA sucks

I soon found that the flat Earth theory is like a thread connected to almost everything idiotic and annoying about the past century or two. Not that I have first-hand experience with all of these things.

Let’s start with the belief that the Earth is flat. Turns out that, in the Western world, no educated person since about 300 B.C. has really bought into the idea that the Earth is flat. The concept of a spherical Earth emerged in Greece in the 6th century B.C., but it wasn’t until Aristotle adopted the spherical-world model in about 330 B.C. that the idea began to spread.

Over the centuries to the present day, isolated pockets of idiots clung to the idea of a flat Earth. The best-known flat Earth believers were members of a small, zealous, Christian group headed by John A. Dowie. Dowie, born in 1847, was founder and Grand Poobah of the town of Zion, Illinois, until he was overthrown in 1906. He died the following year, but his group stumbled onward until 1942.

A couple of flat Earth societies lived and died between the 1950s and the present. One of the “major” players in this pancaked universe was the International Flat Earth Society, led by Charles K. Johnson, of Lancaster, Calif., from 1972 until his death in 2001. Johnson, born in 1924, claimed that the Apollo moon landings, and space exploration in general, were faked to lead people away from the biblical truth that the world was flat.

John Dowie  Charles Johnson of the Flat Earth Society

Breaking free of the “polluted” Roman church, John A. Dowie (left) founded a Catholic cult in 1896. Charles K. Johnson and his wife, Marjory Waugh (right), appeared on the front page of the September 1979 issue of Flat Earth News, which he published four times a year. Both men believed the Earth was flat, and both also may have had earwigs burrowing through their brains, respectively.

The Flat Earth Society’s world model, established under Johnson, is that humanity lives on a disc, with the North Pole at its center and a 150-ft high wall of ice (Antarctica) at the outer edge. The resulting map resembles the flag of the United Nations, which Johnson used as evidence to support his position that the world was flat (of course he did). In this model, the Sun and Moon are each 32 miles in diameter.

640px-Flag_of_the_United_Nations.svg 480px-Flat_earth

The Flat Earth Society was much inspired by the United Nations flag (left), which they took as evidence of a flat Earth. The map of their flat world (right) has Antarctica as a wall around its circumference.

480px-Flat_Earth_Society_Logo

The Flat Earth Society’s logo as of 2013 includes Sun and stars, which presumably are also flat, and in the case of stars, diamond-shaped. (Source: “Flat Earth Society Logo” by Blanko http://wiki.tfes.org/File:Flat_Earth_Society_Logo.png. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

Don’t call me a flat Earther, dammit!

Interestingly, modern Christians who believe the creation story (ie, creationists) become quite irate if they are likened to “flat Earthers.” The concept of a flat Earth, they say, is idiotic and annoying. From the website of Creation Ministries:

Christianity has often been held responsible for promoting the flat Earth theory. Yet, it was only a handful of so-called intellectual scholars throughout the centuries, claiming to represent the Church, who held to a flat Earth. Most of these were ignored by the Church, yet somehow their writings made it into early history books as being the “official Christian viewpoint.”

On the other hand, Creation Ministries owns the domain creation.com, which is pretty cool.

The bottom line, though, is very weird. The folks who reject Darwin see flat Earther as a term of derision. Go figure.

And that leads us to Congress

Keep pulling the flat Earth string and you’ll find that the United States has one of the highest levels of public belief in biblical or other religious accounts of the origins of life on earth among industrialized countries. And the number of Republicans who believe in creation over evolution is trending…(wait for it)…up. According to the Pew Research Center:

In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points…[In 2013], 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.”

paulbroun

Paul Broun (R-GA), ex-member of the House science committee, ran for senator in 2014. He lost.

Remember Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee? In 2012 Broun shared his theological insights:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

Broun was cosponsor of the so-called personhood legislation in the House—backed by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)—that would have given a fertilized egg the same constitutional protections as a fully developed human being. Remember Akin, the legitimate rape guy, also on the House science committee?

Broun has averred that “Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community.” Broun is a physician and has an MD and a BS in chemistry. He drew national attention in 2010 for saying he did not know if President Barack Obama was an American citizen. In 2008, one week after the 2008 presidential election, Broun drew national attention when he criticized President-elect Obama’s call for a civilian national service corps. In an interview with the Associated Press, Broun said, “That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did.” Broun once laughed when an audience member asked him who was going to assassinate President Obama.

But don’t insult him by calling him a flat Earther.

Akin also is now out of Congress. Yet is there any chance that there are fewer Republicans now in Congress who have similar beliefs about evolution, global climate change, and perhaps the entire U.S. space program? Don’t call them flat Earthers, either.

To start pulling the string of the flat Earth theory and end up where we end up is beyond annoying. Frankly, at one point I think I might have fallen off the edge of the world. Or jumped. Not sure. Hard. To think now. In complete sentences.

KJC dingbat-thumbnail

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About Keith Croes

Nice to meet you. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted on June 9, 2015, in Cultural observations, history, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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