The flat earth myth: still alive and kicking — and it’s no accident

Some secular myths are almost impossible to kill off.  A prime example is the flat earth myth, which I was reminded of a few evenings ago while watching, of all things, the film Men in Black on television.  “Five hundred years ago,” the Tommy Lee Jones character informs the Will Smith character, “everyone believed the earth was flat.”

Well, no they didn’t.  One thousand years ago they didn’t either.  In fact, almost every educated person from about the third century BC onward knew that the earth was round.  Evidently this highly trained man-in-black gets his historical information from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The reason why such secular myths persist is, of course, because they continue to serve a useful propaganda purpose.  Laying Holywood ignorance aside, those who wish to disparage Christianity find great value in the flat earth myth and will happily continue to use it as long as a trusting secular public will continue to believe it.

Which seems to be a very long time indeed.  Evidently they are just not hearing the secular ideologues’ other message: go and find things out for yourself and don’t believe popular folk wisdom without empirical evidence to support it.

In the age of Google, finding out for yourself has never been easier.  Here are some places to start:

The standard book to refute the flat-earth myth is Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians.  There are also some excellent resources online: see herehere, here, here, herehere, and here, for example.  Science historian James Hannam has blogged about a recent book promulgating this claim which indicates a new trend: using the “flat earth myth” to impugn Christianity and make Islam look better by comparison.

The flat earth myth isn’t just a past historians’ mistake that has become an urban legend; it’s propaganda – deliberate misinformation that is presented in order to denigrate Christianity without presenting any factual evidence for such criticisms.  As one commentator put it, “It doesn’t bode well for your worldview if you have to change reality in order to make it fit.”

More posts on history here:


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