If there is one subject that is guaranteed to bring out the very worst in people, especially on the Internet, it is whenever the small matter of the ‘Flat Earth’ is discussed.
It has, in some cases, caused such angry online debate, that a number of websites have had to resort to removing the facility to comment on the FE articles they subsequently publish.
It’s not as if belief in a Flat Earth is an entirely ‘new’ idea either, as has been alleged in some corners of the www …. as the belief that the earth was flat has been around since humankind began to walk upright.
A belief that the earth is at the centre of all celestial bodies in the universe, and a model that has served as the predominant system since the heavens were first mapped by Aristotle and Ptolemy in Ancient Greece.
The Sumerians, Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, early Hebrews and most Greeks believed in a flat earth.
Towards the Flat Earth
Some ancient Greek scientists, and a number of church fathers, however, like the Venerable Bede, Albertus Magnus and St Thomas-Aquinas did support the round earth model, and in late medieval times, Bacon, Corpernicus, Galileo, Columbus and Magellan also held that view.
Of the above, it was Nicolaus Corpernicus (1473-1543) who is widely believed to have ‘discovered’ that the earth was in fact, spherical, and according to Wikipedia: “was the first astronomer to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the earth from the centre of the universe.”
However, Corpernicus was not an astronomer.
Astronomy was only a hobby of his, his real expertise lay in languages, law and medicine, and it could be argued that it may have been that as a Catholic Jesuit, and a Freemason to boot, that his heliocentric hypothothes was promoted and sustained by those networks.
After all, it was Francis Bacon, in an unfinished article from that period entitled ‘The New Atlantis’, who wrote about the infiltration of the Freemasons into all things scientific and religious, and acknowledged that “subversive members of the order controlled all of medicine, science and astronomy/astrology.”
It was Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), with his invention of the telescope, that was historically, the person who’s own heliocentric theory helped to ‘prove’ Corpernicus’ sun-centred theory, thus gaining universal recognition for the round earth model, a belief which still dominates the greater majority of scientific teaching today.
The majority of modern scientific textbooks still state that Galileo proved the Corpernican theory, despite the very real and often overlooked fact, that neither Galileo or Copernicus , proved anything of the sort.
Bernard Cohen in ‘Birth of a New Physics’ (1960) certainly didn’t agree with either of them when he wrote: “There is no planetary observation by which we on earth can prove the earth is moving on an orbit around the sun.”
And Friedrich Wilhelmina Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), who attempted to gather the known facts into a uniform conception of nature in his multi-volume work, ‘Kosmos‘, a century earlier, spoke with honesty when he stated: “I have already known for a long time that we have no proof for the system of Corpernicus … But I dare not be the first one to attack it.”
Humboldt, who his contemporaries considered to be the most famous man in the world after Napoleon, has the unique honour of being the person that has had more plants, animals, minerals and places named after him than any other human being – alive or dead.
In California alone, there is a County, a bay, a college and a state park that bear his name, and he is one of the founding fathers of environmentalism, yet he has been almost forgotten in the English-speaking world.
His most famous work was the aforementioned ‘Kosmos’, which was translated into more than a dozen languages, and within its pages could be found subjects as diverse as the journeys undertaken between outer space and earth, distant nebulae, landscape painting, terrestrial magnetism, poetry, ecology, botany and even erupting volcanoes.
There was scarcely a single subject, that concerned the natural world, which was left out.
‘Kosmos’ was unlike any other work before it, and very few books that have been produced since can surpass it. It has graced the libraries of many of history’s greatest thinkers, philosophers, artists and poets, and it’s influence, even today, is difficult to overestimate and is understandably, unique.
So would it be fair to describe a man such as Alexander von Humboldt as a ‘Flat Earther’?
After all, he has been credited with saying ‘that no proof existed, [in his lifetime at least] for Corpernicus’ Heliocentric hypothesis’, which was, if you recall, backed up by Galileo Galilei’s own scientific findings, and is what the ‘Spherical Earth‘ belief has been based on ever since.
But a lot has changed since Humboldt’s death in 1859, and although it is true that the modern proponents of the natural sciences have moved on from the romantic perspective Humboldt presented in his seminal work, ‘Kosmos’ is still widely considered to be a remarkable scientific and literary achievement which advanced scientific understanding and progress beyond measure.
With that in mind, would it still be seen as foolhardy to base ones own belief in the existence of a Geocentric earth model on such a work?
A surprising number of people do, although it must be said that the majority of them are probably not even aware of Humboldt’s existence, but elements of his work have certainly found their way into the beliefs of the various Flat Earth groups and societies that have existed in one form or another, ever since.
I read somewhere online fairly recently, that the idea of a Flat Earth was introduced only a few months ago, as ‘a Psyop designed to split the truth movement and to discredit all the conspiracy theorists who promote the idea’, which apart from being grossly innacurate, has lead some to believe that the basis of the recent in-fighting and online arguments that accompany any FE discussion, could stem from the introduction of something which could indeed be viewed as a type of ‘Psychological Operation’, and of the type favoured by the various ‘Change Agencies’ that manipulate and steer public opinion, in many ways.
Personally, I do not believe the earth is flat – nor do I believe that it resembles the ubiquitous ‘Round Blue Marble’ which NASA freely admits is a ‘composite image’, therefore not an actual photograph …. I lean more towards the earth being something in between the two, and has been depicted since the 17th century as being a perfect sphere, simply because it’s actual shape was viewed as being too much of a ‘leap of faith’ and something that people would simply not understand.
TO BE CONTINUED ….