Flat Earth Society & Theism

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Flat Earth Society & Theism

I just listened to RRS show #40 interview with Brian Trent on his book, “Remembering Hypatia.” I thought this show was exceptionally good.

His book website: http://www.rememberinghypatia.com/

One issue that Trent brings up in his interview is the existence of the “Flat Earth Society.”

I thought this was unbelievable, so I decided to do some research on the internet.

The first link I would recommend is the Wikipedia entry:

Secondly, I enjoin you to read this article from 1931 that discusses a $5,000 reward given by the leader of this group for any evidence proving the world is not flat (still in existence in 2006).


I simply find this utterly and completely disturbing. Read the article in its entirety. You have to look at each image of the original text to get the whole effect. This author genuinely tries to create scientific proofs that the world is a disc encircled by an ice wall, the sun is 27 miles across traveling in a circular pattern over the flat earth, and that there is a massive real world conspiracy to cover up the truth. (Is it any wonder that their belief in a flat earth was based on a Biblical passage? I’ll talk about this later.)

Now, I thought post moon landing, NASA, etc., perhaps the Flat Earth Society would lose a few members. NOT SO!

They have a maintained website and forum here!:

The debate looks quite lively. I found an interesting post called “The Conclusive Categorical Conspiracy Compendium.”


This is crazy, delusional, nutjob nonsense. I can’t help but go ad hominem on these looney toons. Perhaps the most ridiculous idea is that there are government guards covering the 60,000 miles of the supposed antarctic “ice wall” preventing people from flying or sailing off the edge of the Earth.


Here’s my point: This can be used as an example of irrationality and the ability of people to create all sorts of ad hoc explanations to justify their irrational beliefs.

I often ponder why it is that something that is so obviously false (ie Christianity) can be justified by VERY SMART people (see Michael Shermer’s “Why People Believe Weird Things”). It would appear that when people feel both committed to, dependent on, and fearful of alternatives, they will use all sorts of seemingly logical arguments to them that are NOT reasonable. (I would say that Blaise Pascal and Thomas Aquinas were very smart, but also very delustional.)

I wonder if we could use the 1931 article that I have referenced with theists to show them an example of irrationality. Then ask them WHY the Flat Earth model is wrong… If you covertly use the Socratic method of questioning (rather than making an argument), perhaps you can persuade them that they use specific rational tools to refute the Flat Earth Model that they somehow neglect to use the same rules with regard to both Intelligent Design AND belief in God/Christianity.

Something tells me that they would be very offended, however.

How do we refute the Flat Earth model and support the Spherical/Round Earth model? Logic, Observation, and The Scientific Method.

If you use questions to show them how they refute the Flat Earth model, perhaps an atheist could use the theist’s reasoning to both dispute ID and Christianity/God.


Finally, I completely disagree with theists that belief in God or Christianity exists in some other realm that is not approachable with science. Stephen Jay Gould, an evolutionist, actually argues for the idea of “non-overlapping magisteria,” saying that religion and science do not overlap. Christians will say things like, “you can’t observe God because he is supernatural,” or “you can’t look for God in a test tube because, then he would cease to be God.” I think Gould is simply wrong, and Richard Dawkins has an excellent argument against this kind of thinking in “The God Delusion.”

Firstly, there is MORE to rationality than the scientific method. In fact, logic is a tool that has really nothing to do with observation. Logic and reason are a priori, that is, independent of experience. This is in contrast to a posteriori knowledge that is based on experience.

Thus, we can use logic and reason to attack Christian beliefs. So what if they claim supernaturalism? They also claim innerrancy of the Bible! As such, the Bible should be non-contradictory, which is a logical claim. We need no experience to attack the beliefs of Christians. We simply need laws of logic.

So if you can get a theist to concede certain laws of logic and science, perhaps you can show them the inconsistency of being a “Round Earther” and a Creationist OR a “Round Earther” and a theist.

I would argue similarity between theism and the pathological mind dysfunction that allows people to be “Flat Earthers” and justify their beliefs with -crappy- evidence despite STRONG evidence to the contrary.

There are two kinds of evidence: crappy evidence and good evidence. What possesses theists to accept crappy evidence for belief in theism despite much good evidence to the contrary? And what possesses theists to create mountains of crappy evidence for theism despite so much good evidence to the contrary staring them in the face?

I wonder if using the flat earth debate as a springboard for discussion on rationality, logic, and science would essentially get the theist to start thinking WITH YOU instead of against you. There is a principle in Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” in which he outlines the tactic of getting people to agree with you -- on things that are either in their best interest or incontrovertibly true. When they start agreeing with you, they tend to CONTINUE agreeing with you if you can lead them along slowly.

So if you could discuss how absurd the flat earth model is -- over a long process, get them agreeing with you, perhaps you can step towards contstructing a framework for both logic and science that they agree with and feel like they have created themselves.

Once they create their own framework (that you have teased out), you slowly introduce theism vs. atheism or evolution vs. creationism back into their minds.

In any event, it would be an interesting experiment to try.

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Interesting point... Yeah,

Interesting point... Yeah, they are completely irrational. So much so most people hearing of them think its a joke.

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I refuse to believe that

I refuse to believe that anyone in a civilized country actually believes that the earth is flat. I don't believe that they believe it, and nothing they say on that forum can make be change my mind. It has to be a joke, it simply has to be.

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There is always Reggie's

There is always Reggie's (IG) new show, The Debate Hour, and it's episode about The Flat Earth Theory. There is some more about it in that show.

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.

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L Ron Hubbard comes to

L Ron Hubbard comes to mind when seeing this kind of site.

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Actually, now that I'm

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I remember offering to prove it for them personally. I was just going to require a significantly greater amount of money, since $5000 wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket of the financial cost to prove the curvature in the earth to someone who refutes it in the face of mathematics and science..

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.