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Historically, there have been five main Western beliefs about the layout, shape, size, movements, etc. of the earth, moon, sun and the rest of the universe:
Pre-scientific view: Ancient Pagan religions in the
Mediterranean area and throughout the Middle East taught that the universe was
small. These religions included those of ancient Egypt, Babylonia,
Canaan, etc. The Earth was
viewed as being more or less flat, like a dinner plate. Mountains around the edges held up
a canopy in the shape of a rigid metallic dome which formed the sky. Angels pushed the sun, moon, planets and stars
the underside of the dome of the sky on a daily basis. God sits on his
throne in Heaven, which lies above the
canopy. Doors or windows in the dome could be opened through which water (and in the
case of Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone) could be poured. This is the view of the universe that the writers of the Bible
appear to have adopted from these Pagan religions, if one interprets their writing
Earth centered view: The ancient Greeks introduced the concept
that the Earth is a sphere at the center of the universe. The moon, sun
and stars are all embedded in transparent spheres which revolved around the
earth. Heaven and God were believed to be located at a great distance
from earth. They were
even beyond the outermost sphere, which contains the stars.
Muslim view: One English verson of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, states in section 39.5 that Allah: "... overlaps the night over the day and overlaps the day over the night, and enslaved the sun and the moon. All ... move to a prerecorded destiny. Is He not the Exalted, the Forgiver?
The Arabic word translated here as "overlaps" has the meaning of to make into the shape of a ball. The passage also says that the Earth, Moon and Sun all move through space.
Qur'an 55:33 refers to the "diameters of the Heavens and the Earth." This supports the belief that the Earth is a sphere.
Modern view: The Earth near spherical in shape. Actually it is a nearly perfect oblate spheroid -- a near-sphere shape that bulges at its equator.
It rotates on its own axis once a day and revolves once around the sun each year of about 365.2422 days. (To be precise, the Earth and Sun each revolve around their mutual center of gravity.) The Gregorian Calendar, which is now in widespread use around the world, considers every fourth year to be a leap year with 366 days. By itself, this would be a perfect match to a year lasting exactly 265.25 days.
A "century year" is a year like 1900, 2000, or 2100 that is divisible by 100. To increase the accuracy of the calendar, only those century years that are divisible by 400 are considered to be leap years. Thus the years 1600, 2000, and 2400 were or will be leap year, while 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 were or will not be leap years.
Modern "Flat Earth Conspiracy" view: Most "Flat Earthers" believe that the Earth is actually disk-shaped and about 24,900 miles in diameter. The sun is a tiny sphere only about 32 miles in diameter, located about 3,000 miles above the Earth. All of the photographs of the Earth that have allegedly been taken from outer space clearly show it to be roughly spherical in shape. However, Flat Earthers believe the images are all forgeries created by people on Earth -- many by NASA forgers. Many also believe that nobody has ever landed on the Moon. It is all a NASA hoax, perpetrated by insiders in order to keep federal money flowing.
The North Pole is at the center of the Earth, in the white ice patch shown in the image below. The South Pole does not exist as a point. Antarctica is not a roughly circular continent as has been surveyed and photographed, and appears on world globes. Rather it is a narrow ring of land roughly 80,000 miles long, around the entire edge of the Earth. It keeps the oceans of the world in place and prevents ships from sailing off the globe into oblivion. There is a dome over the Earth, as described in the Bible. The following map is often shown by flat-Earth supporters.
Shape of the Earth according to many Flat Earth believers
Jeffrey P. Bezos' company, Blue Origin, plans to start flying tourists into space, reaching a maximum of 62 miles (about 100 km) above the surface of the Earth. The capsule is equipped with five large windows which will allow the passengers to both view and photograph the Earth. ... For about four minutes ... [the passengers] will experience the thrill of weightlessness and be able to see the shape of the Earth." 3
This will provide a great opportunity to prove with photographic evidence that the Earth is not flat but close to a sphere in shape. However adequate arrangements would have to be made in advance to convince doubters that the pictures that will be taken are real, undoctored, images of the Earth. That would probably be an impossible task.
Richard Branson's company, Virgin Galactic, also plans future flights of tourists into space in their SpaceShipTwo.
Finally, modern airplanes often fly high enough so that the curvature of the earth can sometimes be seen from their windows under ideal viewing conditions.
|Two Pagan views, one modern view, one hoax-conspiracy theory:
|How conservative and liberal Christians interpret these passages|
It shows the construction of a scale model of the solar system in a desert area:
No drawing of the solar system to scale is possible because if drawings of the sun and planets from Mercury to Neptune were to be placed on a page or shown in a video, the planets would be so small that they would not be visible. A very large model that is navigated by automobile is needed to show the solar system in a meaningful way.
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