Ancient Wisdom

Where did the flat earth theory come from?

The flat Earth theory, which posits that the Earth is a flat disc rather than a sphere, has a long history and can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In ancient times, it was natural for people to perceive the Earth as flat based on their limited observations of the horizon. Additionally, some religious and mythological beliefs supported the idea of a flat Earth.

Ancient civilizations, including the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, had knowledge of the Earth’s round shape. They were able to deduce this through various observations and reasoning.

The belief in a flat Earth persisted among some cultures during the Middle Ages, particularly in Europe. It is important to note that this belief was not universal and did not represent the entirety of human understanding during that time. The common misconception that people in the Middle Ages universally believed in a flat Earth emerged in the 19th century and is inaccurate.

One influential figure in the development of the flat Earth belief during the Middle Ages was Lactantius, an early Christian author who argued for a flat Earth based on literal interpretations of biblical texts. However, his views were not widely accepted among the educated elites of the time.

The prevailing belief in a spherical Earth was reaffirmed and strengthened during the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration, thanks to scientific advancements, circumnavigation, and the work of astronomers like Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei. Their observations and theories further solidified the understanding that the Earth is a sphere.

In summary, while there have been individuals throughout history who believed in a flat Earth, it is incorrect to attribute the widespread belief in a flat Earth to a specific person or point in time. The knowledge of the Earth’s spherical shape has been well-established for centuries.

It’s hard to imagine someone actually believing the earth is flat but for arguements sake here’s their side.

Argument: The horizon appears flat.

Justification: When we look out at the horizon, it seems flat and level. There is no visible curvature to the naked eye. If the Earth were truly a sphere, we should be able to see a noticeable curvature when looking at the horizon.

Counterpoint: While the Earth is indeed a sphere, it is very large in relation to our size. The misconception that the Earth must be flat because it looks flat to us arises simply because the Earth is big. The height of an adult is much less than one millionth of the Earth’s radius. In order to see the curvature of the Earth in a single field of view, you would need to be perched above the surface a sizable fraction of that radius, and one millionth wouldn’t be considered “sizable.”  This means that the curvature is subtle, and it’s not discernible with the naked eye over short distances. However, if you observe distant ships or buildings, they disappear bottom-first over the horizon due to the Earth’s curvature.

Argument: Gravity doesn’t make sense on a round Earth.

Justification: Flat Earth proponents often argue that gravity does not explain how people and objects stay “stuck” to the underside of a globe. They claim that gravity is merely an illusion, and objects fall because of other forces.

Counterpoint: Gravity is a fundamental force of nature, and its effects have been extensively studied and confirmed by scientific experiments. It’s the force that pulls all objects towards the center of mass, giving us a sensation of “down.” Gravity is not an illusion but a well-established scientific principle.

Argument: The absence of visible curvature in high-altitude photos.

Justification: Some flat Earth proponents argue that photographs taken from high-altitude weather balloons or airplanes do not show any curvature, suggesting that the Earth is flat.

Counterpoint: While these photographs may appear flat due to the limited perspective, images taken from very high altitudes do indeed show the curvature of the Earth when analyzed properly. Many astronauts, space tourists, and scientific missions have provided extensive visual evidence of the Earth’s curvature from space.

Sorry, but the earth is round.  Can’t argue with them anymore.

The overwhelming scientific consensus, supported by extensive evidence from various fields such as astronomy, physics, geology, and satellite imagery, is that the Earth is an oblate spheroid—essentially round but slightly flattened at the poles and bulging at the equator. This shape has been confirmed through centuries of observations, measurements, and scientific experiments.

The concept of a flat Earth has been debunked by scientific understanding and empirical evidence. The spherical shape of the Earth is well-established and is not a matter of opinion or belief. It is crucial to rely on scientific knowledge and evidence when discussing the shape of the Earth or any other scientific topic.


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