Religion and science
Cosmology: Pagan, Biblical,
Qur'anic, & modern Science.
37 Proofs of a Spherical, not flat Earth.
Resolution to the
"Cosmology" involves the study of the origin and structure of the universe,
including such topics as the shape of the earth, the the locations and paths of the sun, moon, planets and
stars, the age of the
universe, the evolution of stars, etc.
Cosmological belief systems from ancient times until now:
Historically, there have been five main Western beliefs about the layout,
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
much smaller than it really is. 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 overhead. 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 version 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.
Section 55:33 of the Qur'an refers to the "diameters of the Heavens and the Earth." This supports the belief that the Earth is a sphere.
Modern scientific view: The Earth is nearly spherical in shape. Actually
it is closest to being an oblate spheroid: a perfect sphere that has a slight bulge at its equator.
Its radius at the equator is 6,378Â km or 3,963 miles.
- Its radius around the poles is 6,357Â km or 3,959Â miles.
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 years, while 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 were not -- or will not -- be leap years.
Our Sun is a somewhat average-sized star in a fairly typical,
slowly rotating galaxy.
Our galaxy, commonly called the Milky Way, is on the order of 120,000 light years across. (A light-year is a measure of distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in a year: 5.88 trillion miles or 9.5 trillion kilometers.) Our galaxy contains at least 100 billion stars. There are perhaps 170 billion galaxies in the universe. One astronomer speculated that the total number of stars in
the entire universe is approximately equal to the number of grains of sand on all
the world's beaches. Most stars have planets. However, only a minority of planets are located in their sun's "circumstellar habitable zone" -- sometimes called the "Goldilocks" region -- where liquid water can exist in liquid form at least in some places and some times during the year.
Modern "Flat Earth Conspiracy" view: A "Flat Earth" movement has gained many members in recent decades, particularly among conservative Christians who believe that Bible text as inerrant -- without error. They are sometimes called by derogatory names, like Flatters. FE people, Flattards, or Flat heads. Many "Flat Earthers" believe that the Earth is actually disk-shaped, about 24,900 miles in diameter. They typically view the North Pole as being at the center of the Earth as shown in the image below. Most of them believe that the sun is a tiny sphere only about 32 miles in diameter, located about 3,000 miles above the Earth. The moon is similar in size and location, and is believed to be self-luminous; that is, it emits light. Some Flat Earthers believe that the Moon's light has cooling properties.
All of the photographs of the Earth that have allegedly been taken from outer space clearly show the Earth to be roughly spherical in shape. However, Flat Earthers believe that every one of these images is a forgery created by scientists on Earth -- many of them employed by NASA . Many also believe that no human has ever landed on the Moon. Moon landings are all NASA hoaxes, perpetrated by insiders in order to keep federal money flowing.
The North Pole is believed to be 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 believed to be 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. Some believers in a flat earth also believe that there is a meta firmament -- a dome over the Earth -- as described in the Bible in which the stars and other planets are embedded.
Shape of the Earth according to many Flat Earth believers
Simple resolutions to the conflict between belief in a flat or spherical Earth:
The original method of proving that the Earth is spherical was to observe a ship sailing away from port. When it is close to shore, one can see the ship's shape from the waterline to the highest point on the ship. As it sails away, less and less of the ship near its waterline can be seen. Eventually, even the masts on the top of the ship dissapear below the horizon. This was probably the first method by which people determined that the Earth is spherical, not flat.
Once an airplane exceeds an altitude of 50,000 feet one can usually detect a very noticable curvature in the Earth's horizon if weather permits. Unfortunately, airliners typically cruise at 31,000 to 38,000 feet (about 5.9 to 7.2 miles), where seeing the curvature is far less likely.
Passengers had a much better chance of seeing the curvature of the Earth in a Concord; they often fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet (about 18 km or 11 miles).
During 2019, Emirates Airlines announced that they would be putting Concordes into regular service during 2022. Unfortunately, the date of the announcement was APR-01 -- April Fools day. 6 We hope that they were not fibbing.If/when they fly again, the number of people who have seen the curve in the Earth will increase much more rapidly.
Jeffrey P. Bezos' company, Blue Origin, plans to fly tourists into space "soon" -- perhaps 2021. Their vehicle will reach a maximum altitude of 62 miles (about 100 km) above the surface of the Earth. The capsule will have five large windows which will allow the passengers to both view and photograph the Earth. ... [The passengers] will experience the thrill of weightlessness and be able to see the shape of the Earth." 3 As of 2020-MAY, one could reserve a seat on a future flight for U.S. 1,000. The full cost to fly will be "only" about $250,000.
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 might be an impossible task.
Richard Branson's company, Virgin Galactic, also plans future flights of tourists into space in their SpaceShipTwo, probably during 2021.
There are dozens of other methods to determine the shape of the earth, as described in this section.
Topics on cosmology covered in this section:
A fascinating seven-minute video by Wylie Overstreet:
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.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Eric Dubay, "Flat Earth Star Trails Explained," You Tube, uploaded on 2015-SEP-16, at: https://www.youtube.com/
Wylie Overstreet, "To Scale: The Solar System," Vimeo, at: http://archaeoastronomy.com/
Christian Davenport, "Jeff Bezos shows off the crew capsule that could soon take tourists to space," The Washington Post, 2017-APR-05, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
"Earth," Miracles of Quran, undated, at: http://www.miracles-of-quran.com/
"Concorde aircraft," at: https://www.britannica.com/
"Emirates Airlines To Relaunch Supersonic Concorde Service in 2022, video at: https://www.aerotime.aero/
Jeff Foust, "Virgin Galactic delays SpaceShipTwo commercial flights to 2021," Space News, 2020-AUG-03, at: https://spacenews.com/
Copyright © 2001 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-JAN-28
Latest update: 2020-SEP-15
Author: B.A. Robinson