Another chapter of history has been written with the compilation of the data gathered by the WMAP team in 2008. All the data confirms that the universe is flat!
Ah! you will say but mankind before Columbus believed the earth was flat too.
That is not true!
Let’s review the facts.
With extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.
A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters–Leukippos and Demokritos for example–by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity (ball shape) of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.
Ah but you will say Christianity changed that. That is not true. A few–at least two and at most five–early Christian fathers denied the sphericity of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view as described in Isaiah 40:22 which discribes the earth as a circle dwelling in the heavens as a man dwells in a tent; throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise. Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 80 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense.
I know what you’re thinking. What about Copernicus or Galileo or their followers? Their challenge was not that the earth was spherical but had to demonstrate the superiority of a heliocentric (sun centered) system over a geocentric (earth centered) system. NO EDUCATED MAN OF HISTORY BELIEVED THE EARTH WAS FLAT!
Well if no one in history believed the earth was flat then why do we believe they did?
It began with the writings of two men.
One a Frenchman Antoine-Jean Letronne whose book On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers printed in 1834 said the church fathers believed in a flat earth.
The other an American who is no other than our beloved storyteller Washington Irving (1783-1859), who loved to write historical fiction under the guise of history. His misrepresentations of the history of early New York City and of the life of Washington were topped by his history of Christopher Columbus printed in 1828. It was he who invented the indelible picture of the young Columbus, a “simple mariner,” appearing before a dark crowd of benighted inquisitors and hooded theologians at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed, according to Irving, that the earth was flat like a plate. Well, yes, there was a meeting at Salamanca in 1491, but Irving’s version of it, to quote the distinguished modern historian of Columbus, Samuel Eliot Morison, was “pure moonshine. Washington Irving, scenting his opportunity for a picturesque and moving scene,” created a fictitious account of this “nonexistent university council” and “let his imagination go completely…the whole story is misleading and mischievous nonsense.”
What does this have to do with computers? absolutely nothing! I have other interests, my world isn’t flat. 🙂