Thursday 17 March 2016

189) “The Bible, Koran, Srimad Bhagavatam, and many other holy books describe and purport the existence of a geocentric, stationary flat Earth. For example, 1 Chronicles 16:30 and Psalm 96:10 both read, “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” And Psalm 93:1 says, “The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” The Bible also repeatedly affirms that the Earth is “outstretched” as a plane, with the outstretched heavens everywhere above (not all around) giving a scriptural proof the Earth is not a spinning ball.”

 I don't propose to go into questions of biblical inerrancy, or to list the many inconsistencies and contradictions in various holy texts.  here and now. In the words of that great authority, George Gershwin 
"It ain't necessarily so
 The t'ings dat yo' li'ble 
 To read in de Bible,
 It ain't necessarily so."

As Daimonie writes:

"So? There's also a story that a turtle, carrying the world on its back, crawled from the primeval soup. The Aztec believed a man's beating heart had to be ripped from his chest, every morning, to make the sun rise (I don't know how true that is, but human sacrifice did feature there).
There's religious people out there that think the lot of us should die. At the moment of writing, the world is in uproar because of several religious terrorist attacks (November 2015 Paris attacks and Beirut attacks), mostly the first and the second as a fashion statement. 
And you think that there is such a thing as 'scriptural proof'? That it has any credibility beyond the church?"

The world view of the old testament and of other religious scripts from more than 2000 years ago certainly assumed a flat earth in most cases. It was the Greek and Hellenistic world that first studied the realities of the universe as we see closely enough to question those assumptions.

Pythagoras (6th century BC) was among those said to have originated the idea, but this may reflect the ancient Greek practice of ascribing every discovery to one or another of their ancient wise men.[10] Some idea of the sphericity of the Earth seems to have been known to both Parmenides and Empedocles in the 5th century BC,[15] and although the idea cannot reliably be ascribed to Pythagoras,[16] it may, nevertheless have been formulated in the Pythagorean school in the 5th century BC[10][15] although some disagree.[17] After the 5th century BC, no Greek writer of repute thought the world was anything but round.[14]

Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer from Hellenistic Libya (276–194 BC), estimated Earth's circumference around 240 BC. He had heard that in Syene the Sun was directly overhead at the summer solstice whereas in Alexandria it still cast a shadow. Using the differing angles the shadows made as the basis of his trigonometric calculations he estimated a circumference of around 250,000 stades. The length of a 'stade' is not precisely known, but Eratosthenes's figure only has an error of around five to fifteen percent.[22][23][24] Eratosthenes used rough estimates and round numbers, but depending on the length of the stadion, his result is within a margin of between 2% and 20% of the actual meridionalcircumference, 40,008 kilometres (24,860 mi). Note that Eratosthenes could only measure the circumference of the Earth by assuming that the distance to the Sun is so great that the rays of sunlight are essentially parallel.

Seleucus of Seleucia
Seleucus of Seleucia (c. 190 BC), who lived in the city of Seleucia in Mesopotamia, wrote that the Earth is spherical (and actually orbits the Sun, influenced by the heliocentric theory of Aristarchus of Samos).

Posidonius (c. 135 – 51 BC) put faith in Eratosthenes's method, though by observing the star Canopus, rather than the sun in establishing the Earth's circumference. In Ptolemy's Geographia, his result was favoured over that of Eratosthenes. Posidonius furthermore expressed the distance of the sun in earth radii.

By the middle ages, few educated people expressed any doubt that the earth was a sphere. 
During the debates about the size of the world before Columbus sailed, and over heliocentrism at the time of Copernicus and Galileo , nobody said "hang, on, isn't the world flat?" 

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