A flat earth, and other nonsense
Debunking ideas that would not exist were it not for the Internet
Published: 13 September 2016, last updated 27 September 2017
Table of Contents
- The earth and the moon
- Things disappearing over the horizon
- Sunrise and sunset
- Parallax problems
- Time zones
- Different stars
- Stars rotate around celestial poles in opposite directions
- Variable speed of the stars through the heavens
- The missing South Pole
- Circumnavigation of the globe
- Astronauts in space
- Earthquakes and seismic waves
- Prove it to yourself
- Why does the earth superficially look flat?
Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
It perplexes us to see that belief in a “flat earth” is gaining traction, despite being thoroughly debunked for thousands of years. This idea was almost non-existent until recently, yet this particular branch of pseudoscience is making inroads. It’s notable that the article The Flat Earth Myth, busting the myth that the church taught a flat earth, written as recently as 2013, did not receive any negative comments from flat-earth believers. Why? Because there were hardly any people back then who believed it! Rather, readers were grateful to see that the church had never taught this nonsense. Several honest atheists have even slammed people from their own side who have pushed a bad pseudo-history that accuses the church of teaching a flat earth.1
So, if almost nobody believed it back then, why do some people believe it now? This includes several who commented on an article published earlier this year: Isaiah 40:22 and the shape of the earth. Most of the influence today is coming from a series of online videos that have been shared widely. These were created by charlatans and, sadly, are deceiving many. Even more sadly, some Christians are being caught up in the hype.
It is not our business to warn people about each and every false idea that comes up, but only when the idea directly impinges on a straightforward biblical teaching. Thus, we steer clear of 9-11 conspiracies, but directly engage with people who attempt to claim the moon landings were a hoax on our Arguments Creationists Should Not Use page. Why? Because the first, even though it deals directly with physics, is enmeshed in too much conspiratorial gobbledygook. The second, however, gets into how we see the world, how the universe works, how science proceeds, and how we can tell what is true and what is not.
Even though we have addressed the Flat Earth Myth multiple times (see Related Articles, below), and even though we have gone into the biblical and scientific arguments against it, people have recently started to ask us about it (or criticize us for our firm global-earth view). Our only conclusion is that the Internet is breeding people who have trouble thinking through important ideas.
By necessity, this paper aims to be very thorough to demonstrate how wrong flat-earthism is on so many levels: biblically, historically, and scientifically. But readers can skip to some of the main points below.
The case for a spherical2 earth
We can use observation and reason to figure this out. It is so easy to see even ancient civilizations understood it. There are several evidences we think are impossible to refute:
The earth and the moon
The shadow of the earth, when cast on the moon during a lunar eclipse, is round. This was known in ancient times. But note that lunar eclipses do not always happen when the moon is in the same position in the sky. If the earth were flat, the earth’s shadow would not have the same shape when the moon is directly overhead as it would when the moon is closer to the horizon. Since it is possible to observe multiple full and partial lunar eclipses during an average lifetime, this would not have been lost on any observant person, even in the distant past (note that this is assuming one model of a flat earth, the one where the sun and moon cross under the earth as they travel back to the east). Also, if the sun and moon were orbiting overhead, as in some recent flat earth models, then how could the earth ever get in between them to cast a shadow in the first place?
The moon’s phases are also proof that it’s orbiting a global earth. In real life, at any given part of the moon’s cycle, all people on earth see the same phase, and the moon is always about the same size. This makes sense if it were orbiting the globe from a distance far greater than the earth’s diameter. If it and the sun were always orbiting above a flat earth, as per a recent flat earth scenario, then they would both change size drastically, and people in different areas would see different moon phases. Someone looking toward the moon would be presented with a different view than someone looking at it from the other end of the earth.
Instead, a person with a telescope can actually watch the shadow creep across the moon’s surface and someone on the other side of the earth can then pick up watching the shadow creep when the moon drops below the horizon of the first person. There are human eyeballs all over this globe of ours, and the progress of the moon (and sun) represents a continuum.
Also, by watching the shadows creep across the craters and plains of the moon, it is clear that the moon is a sphere. Also, the crescent and gibbous phases, which have curved boundaries, are possible only on a spherical moon, not a disk.
And we can watch sunspots migrate across the face of the sun and they behave as if they are moving across a spherical surface. There is also the phenomenon of limb darkening, where the sun (and other stars) appear darker and redder towards the outside, which proves a spherical sun, not a flat disk. We have overwhelming evidence that the other bodies in the solar system are spherical. And we have overwhelming evidence that the earth is also a sphere.
Note also, if the moon and sun were flat disks, then their apparent shape would become more elliptical as they moved lower in the sky. The fact that a full moon and sun always look circular from any angle shows that they are spheres, not disks.
Things disappearing over the horizon
People have often noted that ships coming up over the horizon appear sail-first. That is, the highest portion of the vessel comes into view while the lower parts are still hidden by the bulge of the earth. It’s so well known that there is an old naval term for it: ‘hull down’. Sailors could even roughly estimate distance from their own height and how far down the other ship was. And the same happened in reverse, with observers on ships seeing objects on land. Also, higher observers could see further, hence the advantage of the ‘crow’s nest’ (see for calculations, box, below). Indeed, this was explained well back in the Middle Ages by John Sacrobosco (c.1195–c.1256) in his Tractatus de Sphaera (Treatise on the Sphere, i.e. the earth):
That the water has a bulge and is approximately round is shown thus: Let a signal be set up on the seacoast and a ship leave port and sail away so far that the eye of a person standing at the foot of the mast can no longer discern the signal. Yet if the ship is stopped, the eye of the same person, if he has climbed to the top of the mast, will see the signal clearly. Yet the eye of a person at the bottom of the mast ought to see the signal better than he who is at the top, as is shown by drawing straight lines from both to the signal. And there is no other explanation of this thing than the bulge of the water. (Tractatus 1:11)
Flat-earthers often produce photos of things that are visible even though they are so far away they should be below the horizon. However, these are almost always over water, which on rare occasions (usually in the Spring) can produce a temperature inversion, i.e. cold air below warmer air. This, in turn, causes refraction, bending light around the curve, so we see things we normally wouldn’t, in what is called a superior mirage. This is quite uncommon, and photos of the same area under most conditions would not show the mirage, even on the clearest days. Also, mirages can be minimized when the object and viewer a few metres high, so the line of sight mostly avoids the inversion layer.
Importantly, videos, as opposed to still photos, show that the images change rapidly (they tend to shimmer, flip, duplicate, triplicate, etc.), thanks to fluctuations in the air, as we would expect from a mirage. We wonder why flat earthers almost never show videos of these below-the-horizon features.
We also wonder why they do not time the passing of the sun, for when it is rising and setting we are not actually seeing it in the place we would expect it. It ‘rises’ a little earlier and ‘sets’ a little later than we would expect because of atmospheric lensing. In essence, every sunset is a mirage!
Distance to the horizon from different heights
The distance to the horizon (d) from an observer at a height above sea level (h) on a sphere of radius R can be worked out by Pythagoras’ theorem. It comes to √(h(2R + h)). Since most observers’ heights are much, much less than the earth’s average radius of 6,371 km, this formula approximates to √(2Rh). That is, horizon distance is proportional to the square root of the observer’s height, e.g. a lookout on a crow’s nest with eyes 8 m above sea level would see twice as far as observers on a deck with an eye level 2 m above. In particular, if horizon distance is in km and observer’s height is in m, this comes to d ≅ 3.57√h. For distance in miles and height in feet, the formula is d ≅ 1.22√h.
The reverse is true: if you were sailing in a low yacht with eyes at sea level on a clear day, you could see the top of hill 100 m high from 35.7 km, but mounds only 1 m high could not be seen until 10 times closer: 3.57 km away.
To calculate the distance (D) at which an object at h₂ will be visible to an observer at height h₁, just add the horizon distance from h₁ to the horizon distance from a hypothetical observer at h₂. So the formula for km and m is D ≅ 3.57(√h₁ + √h₂). For example, a lookout at 9 m high could see a 100-m-tall tower from a distance up to 3.57 (3 + 10) km = 46.41 km. (There is even an online Distance to the Horizon Calculator that works for both sets of units, and even with nautical miles, for varying h₁ and h₂.)
Note also, since the horizon distance is proportional to the square root of the height, the amount the surface drops away due to the earth’s curvature (c) is proportional to the distance squared. That is, c ≅ (d/3.57)² for km and m, and c ≅ (d/1.22)² for miles and feet (which gives a rule of thumb: c ≅ ⅔d²). For example, many have correctly heard that the earth curves 8 inches (⅔ foot) in 1 mile. But to curve 6 feet or 72 inches, nine times as much, it doesn’t require a distance of nine times further but only three (√9) times.
But there is much more observational evidence that shows the curvature of the earth. Anyone standing on a shore can see that there are points along the shore that are not visible. But if that person walks along the shore to the edge of what they could see at the starting point, new things appear in front of them and things that were once visible in the other direction have since disappeared. The simplest explanation for this is that the earth is curved. You can do this yourself. Just take a drive along a shoreline on a clear day and take photos of what you can see at different points along your journey.
Sunrise and sunset
Furthermore, the sun rises every morning, and the sun sets every evening. We can clearly see the round disk appearing and disappearing piecemeal. Its apparent diameter stays almost the same, as does the moon’s—it doesn’t get smaller in diameter, which it would if it was getting further and further away. This applies especially to a modern flat earth model where the sun orbits in a plane overhead that is parallel to an earth disk. By simple trigonometry, its apparent size would be proportional to the sine of its angle to the horizon. So it would appear to be about half the size at 30° (sin30° = ½) as it is directly overhead (sin90° = 1), and the vertical sun would appear almost six times as big as it would appear at 10° (sin10° = 0.173).
Note also, if the flat earther claims to be a biblical literalist, this sun perpetually overhead contradicts the passages about the sun rising and setting, e.g. Ecclesiastes 1:5 and Psalm 113:3. These are compatible with a global rotating earth, using the earth as a reference frame (see Biblical phenomenological language), but not with this new flat earth model.
Relative sizes and distances of sun and moon
Furthermore, such modern flat earth models absurdly claim that the sun is much smaller than the earth, although in reality the sun is much larger. In fact, even back in the 15th century, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) correctly deduced from the shadows of the eclipse that the earth is smaller than the sun and larger than the moon, and he was far from the first to do so.3
The order of sizes was known least as far back as Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310 – c. 230 BC), who wrote On the Sizes and Distances (of the Sun and Moon). By his time, Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) and Plato (427–347 BC) had taught a spherical earth, and Plato’s best pupil Aristotle (384–322 BC) provided reasons. Eratosthenes (276–194 BC) had yet to measure the circumference of the earth, but Aristarchus knew that it must be big. So how did he work out relative sizes?
First, from observation, he knew that the moon and sun have the same angular size in the sky (about 31 arcmin (′) or ½°), so their relative sizes would be proportional to their relative distances (using similar triangles). Second, the moon blocks the sun in a solar eclipse, so the moon must be closer, so smaller. Third, how much smaller? He used what would now be called trigonometry (see diagram): at the first or third quarter of the lunar cycle, where it appears like a half-moon (semicircular), the earth-sun-moon angle must be 90°. Therefore the ratio of the earth-moon distance (L) to earth-sun distance (S) is the cosine of the moon-earth-sun angle (φ). Aristarchus measured this angle at 87°, and cos87° is about 1/19. So the sun, he thought, was 19 times further away, so 19 times larger. Actually, it wasn’t easy to be so precise, because it was hard to measure from the centres of the sun and moon, and also to know when the moon was exactly in a quarter phase. Now we know the angle is 89°51′10″, meaning that the sun is actually 389 times further away, and precise measurements show that the sun is 403 times the diameter of the moon.
By analyzing the geometry of lunar eclipses, he could also provide a rough estimate of the distances in terms of earth’s radius. And because the sun was clearly the biggest of all, Aristarchus thought that it was the centre of the solar system. Most astronomers after him agreed with the relative sizes, but it took almost two millennia for astronomers to agree with his conclusion.
Also, how many people have witnessed sunlight striking a high mountain either just before sunrise or just after sunset? This is possible only because the earth’s curvature does not block the light ray from the sun to the mountain, while it does block the view of the sun from low ground.
There is also the phenomenon of noctilucent clouds, meaning clouds lit up at night. These are too faint to be seen during daylight, because they are actually very high-altitude (~80 km) clouds composed of tiny ice crystals, but can be seen when the rest of the sky is dark. They are easily explained by the rays of the sun below the horizon reflecting off the ice, while lower-altitude clouds are blocked from the sun by the earth’s curvature.
Also, it doesn’t matter how strong a telescope you use, you will never be able to see the sun at night. That’s because you can’t see through the earth! And no, despite what these mendacious videos claim, the sun does not “behave like a spotlight”; the sun is a sphere, which is why it always appears as a disk, no matter what direction it’s viewed from.
The absurd ‘spotlight’ sun
To try to evade the severe problems with time zones (see below), a common ‘modern’ flat-earth idea is that the sun is like a spotlight, floating a few thousand miles above the earth and shining down in a localized area. Added to the simple observational contradictions above, everybody who has ever seen a flashlight/torch in use at night knows you can see it from the side. But even if the light coming from the sun was perfectly uniform in its starting direction, as soon as light hits air it begins to scatter (indeed, studying of light scattering was part of the doctoral dissertation of one of the authors [JS]). This is the reason the sky is blue whenever the sun is up, even at the far side of the sky from the sun. If the sun was above the earth ‘but not visible because the sun is like a spotlight’ a huge portion of the sky would still be blue.
There is another difficult puzzle they cannot solve. This has to do with the shape of the area in the sunlight portions of the earth and the way this changes though the seasons. Let’s test this by looking at what is being illuminated during January, June, and March/September. That is, at the solstices and equinoxes. For those who do not know what these terms mean, the solstices occur in the winter and summer when the sun’s apparent path is highest in the sky (the summer solstice) or lowest in the sky (the winter solstice)—‘solstice’ comes from Latin meaning ‘sun standing still’, i.e. its path is neither rising nor sinking. There are two equinoxes every year, in the spring and fall, when all portions of the earth receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness (‘equinox’ comes from the Latin meaning ’equal night’, i.e. equal to the day). How does this look on a flat earth?
In the northern hemisphere summer, the north pole receives 24 hours of light, the famous ‘midnight sun’. In fact, anything within the Arctic Circle is bathed in sunlight for an entire day during the summer solstice—the day the sun does not set. At the same time, Antarctica gets essentially no light at all as the sun is below the horizon across approximately 99% of the continent. Everywhere in the Antarctic Circle, the sun remains below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year even at noon. If you were to plot the area of the earth that is experiencing daylight at noon in Africa, for example, it would look something like the figure.
Three months later, however, everything is radically different. As we said above, at the spring and fall equinoxes, all places on earth receive 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. This is not debatable. But if you look at the time the sun rises and sets on the equinoxes in different places, it becomes quite clear that a round sun could not produce the necessary effect on a flat earth. Take a line drawn due north from southern South America. Sunrise happens simultaneously in Patagonia (southern South America), Colombia (northern South America), and Nunavut (in the North American Arctic), while at the same time it is setting at Lake Baikal (east central Asia) and the Knox Coast of Antarctica.
How could a round spotlight produce a straight line like this on a flat earth? The ‘beam’ of sunlight should be at least roundish, but instead it illuminates fully one-half of the flat-earth map with a perfectly straight line between light and dark. Why does Columbia not see the edge of the sun’s circle first, and why does it not get more hours of daylight, since this is where the fat part of the sun will pass overhead? The answers to these questions is simple: the earth is actually a globe, and the sun is actually very large and very far away.
Three months later, the situation is clearly impossible for a round ‘spotlight’ sun. During the northern hemisphere winter solstice, nothing within the Artic Circle receives any sunlight for at least 24 continuous hours. But at the same time, the sun does not set in Antarctica—it’s now Antarctica’s turn for the midnight sun. If you were to display what areas of the earth are lit, it would look something like the figure. Not only did the approximately circular area at the first winter solstice turn into a half-watermelon shape at the equinox, but it kept changing until the sunlight areas wrapped around the entire earth and overlapped at Antarctica.
And if this ‘spotlight’ sun were radiating light in a cone, then the base of a mountain would be lit before the peak at sunrise. It’s easy to confirm that the peak is lit first, because the curve of the earth blocks the sunlight from the base.
‘Spotlight’ sun? No! Spherical earth? Yes!
One of the worst aspects of the flat-earth claim is that to believe it you also have to deny simple trigonometry. You see, if two people standing at different places on the earth, but a known distance apart, simultaneously measure the angle to the sun (from a theoretical chord drawn through the earth), they get approximately the same answer. Why? Because the sun is so far away that parallax is almost non-existent. It amounts to just over 8″ of angle (0.000407°.
What happens if the earth is flat and two people try this? Let’s say someone measures the angle to the sun at sunrise. At the exact time someone else on the other side of the world measures it at their sunset. They both get an angle of zero. This means that the sun must be sitting on the earth! In the north-south direction, stars that appear overhead at night to an observer on the equator would appear to be sitting on the ground to an observer at the north pole, and v.v. Yet, both parties would claim those stars are very far above their heads indeed.
Due to the nearly featureless face of the sun, it is difficult for two obsvaervers in different places to pick out the (to less than 4/10,000th of a degree) same spot to observe. We had to wait until the 1700s to accurately determine the distance to the sun, and then only after multiple parallax measurements were made of the transit of Venus across the sun in 1761 (we wrote about this in our article against geocentrism). Multiple measurements of the time it took Venus to cross the plane of the sun were made, but all the measurements had to be timed to the nearest second in order to be useful. They were, and the measured distance (153 million km) was more than 97% accurate (modern measurement is 149.6 million km). The real, measurable distance to the sun is far too great for flat-earth models. Thus, they also have to reject math, or claim that even more people are liars.
You can, however, use parallax to measure the distance to the moon. Hipparchus did this in the 2nd century BC (thus, you could do it too). He was less than 10% off and must have assumed a spherical earth to do the calculations. Today, we know the moon is 384,400 km away. This is not debatable. Or trigonometry is a lie. Like the sun, the moon is also too far away for flat-earth models.
And the moon and the sun have almost the same angular size (about half a degree), making total solar eclipses possible. From similar triangles, it follows that the sun must be as many times the moon’s size as it is far away (400 times). Flat earthers (as well as some geocentrists) deny the clear trigonometric evidence for the vast size of these bodies, especially the sun.
When most people think of a flat earth, they think of the sun going under the earth at night. This would mean the entire surface would be illuminated as long as the sun was up, and all parts of the earth would experience the same sunrise time and sunset time. However, we know that different longitudes have different time zones. John Sacrobosco pointed out:
That the earth, too, is round is shown thus. The signs and stars do not rise and set the same for all men everywhere but rise and set sooner for those in the east than for those in the west; and of this there is no other cause than the bulge of the earth. Moreover, celestial phenomena evidence that they rise sooner for Orientals than for westerners. For one and the same eclipse of the moon which appears to us in the first hour of the night appears to Orientals about the third hour of the night, which proves that they had night and sunset before we did, of which setting the bulge of the earth is the cause. (Tractatus 1:9)
Remember he is writing in the 13th century!
However, now that we have the ability to communicate across the earth, this argument is even stronger. Many of us have had to be careful when calling someone in another country, in case we catch them in the middle of the night, and they become irate at being woken up! Also, when CMI-USA staff have Skype meetings with their colleagues in CMI-Au, it’s usually evening in America and morning in Australia (and the Americans know quite well that the Aussies get to have meetings during normal working hours!).
Jesus, the Creator, clearly knew of this phenomenon. Speaking of His second coming, which will be in an instant, He said:
I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34–35).
I.e. in one place, it would be night, with people in bed; while in another place, at the same time, it would be during the morning when women ground grain. And in the parallel passage of Matthew 24:40, there is allusion to a still different time zone, the main part of the day: “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.”4
The different time zones are clear proof that the earth is curved at least in the east-west direction. (See Sunrise and sunset above for refutation of the modern flat earth fudging about the sun orbiting above the plane of the earth). But the earth is not a barrel. There is abundant and clear evidence that it is also curved from north to south.
One thing astronomically inclined northern visitors to the southern hemisphere love to do is see the Southern Cross. This constellation is not exactly at the southern celestial pole, but it cannot be seen in most of the northern hemisphere. People in Europe and North America can’t see it no matter how powerful their telescopes. Yet this constellation features on the flags of two countries with CMI offices, Australia and New Zealand. Brazil’s flag features the Cross and more stars visible only from the southern hemisphere.
But as consolation, northerners can see Polaris, the North Star. People can never see this from the southern hemisphere, even with the best telescopes, and no matter how far north they look. This even applies to countries in the same time zone. For example, South Africa and Germany share the same time zone, South Africans can see the Southern Cross at night while at the same time Germans are seeing Polaris.
Also, on the FE model, people in countries six hours apart who both point southward would be pointing 90° from each other (6⁄24 × 360°). So at night, people from such countries in the southern hemisphere looking due south should see different stars when they are looking simultaneously. But in reality, people in both South Africa and Western Australia, which are six hours apart, looking due south will both see the south celestial pole, and with good eyes or binoculars will see Sigma Octantis aka Polaris Australis.
This was well known to the ancients as well, although they didn’t come as far south as many people have today, e.g. John Sacrobosco:
That the earth also has a bulge from north to south and vice versa is shown thus: To those living toward the north, certain stars are always visible, namely, those near the North Pole, while others which are near the South Pole are always concealed from them. If, then, anyone should proceed from the north southward, he might go so far that the stars which formerly were always visible to him now would tend toward their setting. And the farther south he went, the more they would be moved toward their setting.
Again, that same man now could see stars which formerly had always been hidden from him. And the reverse would happen to anyone going from the south northward. The cause of this is simply the bulge of the earth. Again, if the earth were flat from east to west, the stars would rise as soon for westerners as for Orientals. which is false. Also, if the earth were flat from north to south and vice versa, the stars which were always visible to anyone would continue to be so wherever he went, which is false. Also, if the earth were flat from north to south and vice versa, the stars which were always visible to anyone would continue to be so wherever he went, which is false. But it seems flat to human sight because it is so extensive. (Tractatus 1:10)
Conversely, the diagram below shows how a flat earth would produce observations contrary to what we see. E.g. navigators in the northern hemisphere have long known that the angle of Polaris to the horizon equals the latitude. However, on the flat earth, the angle could never be less than 45°.
Furthermore, New Zealand is almost in the opposite time zone, so is day while South Africa is night, but they see the same constellations every night. In the flat–earth model, New Zealand and South Africa are almost diametrically opposed, so should have different constellations overhead.
When employees of CMI’s US office in Atlanta visit their colleagues in Brisbane, Australia,5 and v.v., they have to lean over backwards when looking at the stars to get things into their normal perspective. Atlanta is about the same distance above the equator (33.7°) as Brisbane is south of the equator (27.4°). Due to the curvature of the earth, if you are used to seeing the moon, planets, and stars in one setting, everything looks upside-down in the other setting! Why? Because if you look ‘straight up’ from either place you are looking at a very different place in the sky.
A well known example is the constellation of Orion the Hunter. In the southern hemisphere, Orion looks like he is standing on his head, so his ‘shoulder’ (Betelgeuse) is down, and Rigel on the bottom of his tunic is ‘up’ and is the first bright star to appear as this constellation rises in the sky. Also, in the original constellation as understood by the ancient Greeks in the northern hemisphere, the stars are meant to picture Orion holding his club above his head, but in the southern hemisphere, his club looks like it’s digging something.
The sun, moon and planets move along a line called the ecliptic, but the ecliptic is toward the south at that latitude in the northern hemisphere and toward the north at that latitude in the southern hemisphere. Why? Because the earth is a sphere! Another disconcerting aspect of living on a sphere is that after the sun rises in the northern hemisphere it moves diagonally up to the right, but it moves diagonally up to the left in the southern hemisphere.
Stars rotate around celestial poles in opposite directions
Another illustration of the same phenomenon is using time-lapsed photography to see the stars in the northern hemisphere revolving anticlockwise (counterclockwise) around Polaris (or more precisely, the Celestial North Pole). In the southern hemisphere stars appear to revolve clockwise around the Celestial South Pole. See the time lapse videos below (left: northern hemisphere; right: southern hemisphere).
Speaking of rotation, in tropical cyclones or hurricanes, the powerful winds blow anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, because of the Coriolis effect on a sphere. They would rotate in the same direction if the earth were a spinning flat disk.
Variable speed of the stars through the heavens
From our vantage point on the earth, the following three points are not debatable:
The North Star does not move. It is too close to what is called the northern celestial pole [apart from the ‘precession of the equinoxes’ (axial precession) which has a theoretical period of about 25,000 years].
The further from the northern celestial pole you go, the further the stars must visually travel each day to get back to where they started. Stars close to the North Star trace out little circles. Stars farther away trace out larger circles.
This trend continues until you reach stars circling above the Celestial Equator, at which point the flat earth and spherical earth theories diverge.
Here, we are defining the Celestial Equator as an imaginary east-west line through the heavens that is directly above someone at 0° latitude. Flat-earthers do not believe it actually exists, but this definition works for both parties (on the global earth view, it’s a great circle of the ‘celestial sphere’ on the same plane as the equator).
The discussion so far might seem unfair for flat-earth supporters in the Southern Hemisphere, so just flip the argument around, if you like. This sets up an interesting test. If the earth is flat and if the stars are circling the earth on a dome-shaped heavenly vault, the visual speed of the stars will continue to increase until you reach the edge, which we assume will be past the supposed “Antarctic ice wall”. Like kids on a merry-go-round, the stars near the center of rotation travel a smaller distance per revolution than the stars at the edge.
However, if the earth is a spinning sphere, the velocity of the stars will begin to decline past the Celestial Equator until they stop moving at what we will call the South Celestial Pole.
Except for the North and South Poles, from any other point in either hemisphere, you can see stars on the other side of the Celestial Equator. CMI-US has an office in Atlanta, GA, at 33.7°N. We can see a lot of stars past the CE. In fact, the stars we see are exactly the ones we would expect to see given our latitude north on a spherical earth. The North Star is also exactly at the correct angle above the horizon, given our location on a spherical earth. But, we can leave these two points aside for the time being and simply focus on the visual speed of the stars through the night sky. The stars past the CE (fully ⅔ of the stars we see!) should be moving more slowly across the sky, and the visual speed should decrease as we look closer to the horizon.
CMI also has an office in Brisbane, Australia, at 27.5°S, meaning they can see more of the Northern Hemisphere stars than we in Atlanta can see of the Southern Hemisphere stars. We also have an office in Auckland, New Zealand, at 36.8°S, almost mirroring the Atlanta office. If the South Celestial Pole exists, our people in these two places should see be able to see it, and it should be closer to the southern horizon for our Brisbane people.
CMI also has an office in Singapore, at 1.4°N. This is the best place to be for this test. We will have to ignore the fact that the stars do NOT trace a semi-circular path through the heavens like they should if they were on a dome spinning above a disk. Instead, at any time of year, any star that is due east rises straight up, passes overhead, and descends straight down, to the point where it intersects the horizon once again. Actually, the fact that the stars always travel parallel to the Celestial Equator is a direct disproof of the flat earth. Putting this also aside, someone at the equator should be able to see stars moving most quickly when they are following the east-west line that passes directly overhead. But the further north or south they look, the stars should move more slowly. This continues to the point where trees, buildings, or haze on the horizon obscures the view of the stars.
Note, both of us have spent time at the Equator (JS in Singapore; RC in Ecuador), the Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand), and the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, North America, and Asia). Flat-earth supporters with limited geographic exposure beware!
OK, so which model do you think fits what we see?
The stars ‘past’ the equator do indeed travel in smaller circles. You can see this yourself no matter where you live. We have seen this with or own eyes. How about you?
The South Celestial Pole does indeed exist. Look for videos or time-lapse photos online, or travel south of the Equator yourself. We have seen it.
- Add to this these facts:
- Two celestial poles exist, one in the north and one in the south.
- The height of the North or South Celestial Poles exactly matches your latitude.
- The field of stars you see at night exactly matches your latitude.
- Stars you cannot see are not too far away to see;, the earth is blocking them from view.
- Stars do not trace a curving path you would expect them to if they were fixed onto a rotating sphere.
- In fact, stars always travel parallel to the Celestial Equator.
Why are points 1–3 and subpoints a–f true? Because the earth is a spinning sphere!
The missing South Pole
Another problem lies with the modern flat-earth claims that the earth is encircled by an enormous Antarctic ring ‘due south’ from everywhere. And what do we make of the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station? It was built by the United States and is manned year-round, and has a web camera that’s accessible anywhere in the world via the Internet. There is no south pole on a flat earth.
Circumnavigation of the globe
While it was a myth that Columbus was the only spherical-earther of his day, he (and of course everyone else) did realize that if you sailed west far enough, you could make it back to where you came from (barring land masses in the way). In fact, this was well known at least a century before him in the fictional work The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. One of the stories involves such a journey, and the author expected his readers to know that the earth is a sphere.
I have often thought of a story I have heard, when I was young, of a worthy man of our country who went once upon a time to see the world. He passed India and many isles beyond India, where there are more than five thousand isles, and travelled so far by land and sea, girdling the globe, that he found an isle where he heard his own language being spoken… He marvelled greatly, for he did not understand how this could be. But I conjecture that he had travelled so far over land and sea, circumnavigating the earth, that he had come to his own borders; if he had gone a bit further, he would have come to his own district.
Later, the expeditions of Ferdinand Magellan6 (1480–1521) and Sir Francis Drake (1540–1596) did circumnavigate the globe, as did the HMS Beagle with the young Charles Darwin aboard as the gentleman-companion of Captain Robert Fitz Roy (a devout Christian who later became a creationist). Now of course we have airliners doing this. Two of the board members of CMI-US are pilots; so are they also lying when they say they fly across the globe (to say nothing of their thousands of passengers)?
Astronauts in space
The International Space Station has now gone around the earth over 100,000 times, carrying with it more than 220 different astronauts over the past 15 years. One astronaut, Col. Jeff Williams has recently returned from his fourth trip to space. Not only has Col. Williams set the record for cumulative days in space (534) but he is also an outspoken Christian!7 He and other astronauts have taken thousands of pictures and hundreds of hours of videos of the earth from space, many of which are available online. You can patch these together seamlessly to make a montage of the entire earth, and it is demonstrably a sphere. All of these scientists and astronauts are not lying!
Earthquakes and seismic waves
Earthquakes are often very powerful events, and their waves can travel enormous distances. Geophysicists have learned much about the earth from such seismic waves, which travel at known speeds. The most important for our purposes are the two major categories: body waves and surface waves. The first go through the earth, while the second stay close to the surface.
And as expected, if the waves are strong enough to be detected by seismographs at a great distance from the site of the earthquake, the body waves will arrive quite a long time before the surface waves, even though the surface waves from powerful earthquakes can travel around the world several times. The reason for this is simple: body waves have less distance to travel.
But here’s the key: On a globe, the ratio between the surface distance and the through-the-earth distance increases as points become further apart. This is because the through-the-earth distance is a chord of a circle and the surface distance is an arc (see diagram). On a flat earth, the ratio would be the same for shallow earthquakes and almost the same for deeper earthquakes (the distance to the detector can be treated as the hypotenuse of a very flat right-angled (or right) triangle).
This presents us with yet another test of the flat-earth model. For a detector close to the source of an earthquake, the body and surface waves arrive together in both models. If the detector is further away, the surface waves arrive later. Surface waves travel about 90% of the speed of body waves, but if the earth is flat they will always arrive just behind the body waves and always with a ratio of 0.9 no matter how far away the detector is. If the earth is a sphere, however, the body waves will arrive proportionally faster than the surface waves as the distance between earthquake and detector increases. The greatest test would be if the detector is at the antipode of the earthquake focus, because by definition the body waves would travel the diameter of the earth, while the surface waves must travel a distance π/2 times this, i.e. 57% further.
Seismologists have been recording earthquakes from all around the world since the last decade of the 19th century, and of course their results have been consistent with a global earth. Again, this is information known long before NASA. It is a simple fact that body waves arrive earlier than surface waves, and this ratio changes with distance from the epicenter. This can only be true if the travel distances are proportionally different, i.e. the earth is not flat.
Yet another test involves only the surface waves. If you have an array of detectors at various points on the earth, you can time how long it takes for the surface waves to travel between the points. The flat-earth map puts places like Australia and South America on opposite sides. But the time is takes for surface waves to travel between them is proportional to a much smaller distance. In fact, if you network the times between the thousands of stations currently positioned around the earth, after accounting for various slight discrepancies, the only way to make any sense of the data is if you project them onto a spherical surface.
Furthermore, the different types of body waves can even tell us about the earth’s interior. The primary (p) waves (called that because they are the first to arrive) are pressure waves or longitudinal waves, basically sound. The secondary (s) waves are shear or transverse waves. The p-waves can travel through both solids and liquids, but the s-waves can’t go through liquid. Seismologists soon worked out that there was a “shadow zone” for the s-waves—we can’t detect any from a seismometer over about 104° from the earthquake. So they realized that deep inside the earth, there must be a liquid core about 2,890 km deep. And because the earth is a sphere, the core must also be a sphere of smaller radius (3,480 km) than the earth. An earthquake shadow zone can’t be explained on a flat earth, even one with a deep liquid layer deep down. And this shadow zone exists at a certain surface distance from the earthquake (about 12,000 km or 7,200 miles) in all directions, no matter where the earthquake occurs. This means the earth has a uniform shape with no edges, i.e. a sphere.
Also, boundaries between different layers can cause partial reflection of the waves, and refraction can occur if the waves can be transmitted into the next layer. Both types of wave travel in gentle curves as well, caused by refraction as the earth changes consistency at different depths. This is similar to the reason you cannot hear a rocket blasting off beyond a certain distance—the sound waves bend as they travel through the surface air layer that cools with altitude. This means that there is also a shadow zone for p-waves,8 between 104° and 140°. However, the Danish scientist Inge Lehmann (1888–1993) analyzed the devastating 1929 Murchison earthquake in New Zealand (7.3 on the Richter scale, 17 people killed). She was surprised that p-waves were detected in the shadow zone, so she realized there must be a solid inner core off which they reflected. Its radius is obviously smaller than that of the outer core: about 1,220 kilometres, about 70% of the moon’s.9
So in summary, seismologists all around the world long ago showed that the earth must be a sphere—indeed, a sphere layered in spherical shells, or spheres within spheres. There is simply no other way to make sense of the data.
Prove it to yourself
Anyway, you don’t have to believe us. For the (mostly northern hemisphere) people who have been taken in by these videos, find a person on social media who claims to be from the southern hemisphere, and set up a video conference with them (using something like Skype). Ask them what time it is, have them point their camera outside, ask them what stars are visible, ask them where the moon is, and what phase it is in. This is a simple experiment and can be done by just about anyone with friends online. For even more fun, interview multiple people in different places in the world on the same day/night. Unless everyone in the other hemispheres are independently lying to you about all these things, this will show that the earth is a globe.
The differences in the stars are clear proof that the earth is curved in the north-south direction. Combine these two categories and we have proof that the earth is curved in both the east-west and the north-south direction. Now what sort of shape can do that—as well as leave a circular shadow on the moon when the shadow comes from any cross–section of the earth? Exactly, a sphere.
Why does the earth superficially look flat?
It’s a very simple explanation: if we look at a tiny part of a circle, it approximates a straight line. Another way of thinking about this: the larger the circle, the smaller the curvature. One well known illustration comes from unfortunate hikers who have lost their sense of direction and wander around in circles. They think they are walking straight ahead, but in reality, they are turning very slightly. Eventually, this small curvature adds up to coming full circle. The earth is just so huge compared with structures on it that the curvature is very low. But it is real!
But the apparent flatness is only local. You can make a reasonable map of an area just a few kilometers square with little fear of distortion at the edges. But since the dawn of cartography, mapmakers have been struggling with how to depict the continents on world maps without significantly distorting high-latitude landmasses like Greenland or Antarctica.
Also, if you go to a very flat place (e.g. Hay, Australia, one of the flattest places on earth) and turn in a circle, the horizon will appear almost perfectly flat. Why? Because you are standing on a sphere and can only see a small portion of that sphere. If you took a round fruit (like an orange) and tangentially sliced off a small section of the edge, that would be a good representation of what you can see – and the slice would be an almost perfect circle.
Who are the major flat earth proponents?
As we have pointed out, a global earth was an almost universal teaching by all leading church scholars throughout its history. We could count the flat earthers on one hand, and none of them were major figures. So, who are the modern flat-earthers? Here are a few examples of prominent flat-earth proponents. This is not meant to be exhaustive, but it should be revealing.
Daniel Shenton resuscitated the defunct Flat Earth Society in 2004. One evolutionist reports: “The Flat Earth Society is an active organization currently led by a Virginian man named Daniel Shenton. Though Shenton believes in evolution and global warming, he and his hundreds, if not thousands, of followers worldwide also believe that the Earth is a disc that you can fall off of.” As late as 2014 his society has as few as 500 members, but that was before the flat-earth YouTube phenomenon caught on.
Eric Dubay has produced lots of flat earth videos. He describes himself on his website as “a 35 year-old American living in Thailand where I teach Yoga and Wing Chun part-time.” Other articles on his site show that he is a rabid anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and thinks Hitler was a peace-loving good guy who has been wrongly vilified (and he thinks dinosaurs never existed). Dubay is thus a New Age neo-Nazi, not a Christian, and he makes money peddling conspiracy theory through online advertising. He is not a neutral party on this issue.
Rob Skiba is another major YouTube player. He has questionable theology. He claims to believe in the Trinity, but when probed further, he denies that the Holy Spirit is a person. This is not something new—it is called the pneumatomachian heresy (meaning spirit-fighters). He calls the creedal (and biblical) view, i.e. one God in three Persons, heresy. He says that, if you believe in what Christians have believed about the Trinity for the past 2,000 years, you are a heretic. But this means he’s not a Christian, by definition. Misusing words like this, where the speaker intentionally means something different than what receiver thinks he is saying, is a classic mark of a cult. Beware!
Michael Heiser is a compromising theologian who does not believe in a flat earth, but argues that the Old Testament cosmology describes a flat earth—he just thinks they got it wrong. He argues that because “the Bible was not produced to give us science” we can reject its cosmology while maintaining belief in “things that the Bible does in fact ask us to believe.”10 Sadly, many of those arguments are identical to those of Bible haters like the atheist and anti-creationist Robert Schadewald (1943–2000), and thus he doesn’t really believe in biblical inerrancy (but compare Does the Bible really teach a three-storey cosmology?). And in arguing that the biblical authors taught a flat earth, he has given support to people who use his arguments about Hebrew cosmology, but have a more consistent view of the Bible’s perspicuity.
Note, exposing the above is not committing the genetic fallacy. We are not attacking the man in order to discredit the theory. Rather, we are making an appeal to Christians that we have no reason to trust people who deny the very authority of Scripture to which they are supposedly appealing; they are not our friends and allies. Christians should certainly not allow anti-Christians to dictate to us about what the Bible says, and we should be wary of those calling themselves Christians who attack the very foundations of our shared faith. We should also not allow the flat-earth myth, derived as it was from atheistic attacks on the Bible, to influence our understanding of Church history.
Why would we trust them over all the Bible-believing Christians throughout church history who affirmed a spherical earth? Remember, these are the people who affirmed the Biblical canon, and who fought for, and often died for, the foundational doctrines Christians hold dear, and in whose footsteps we walk today.
This is a matter for discernment and we would encourage anyone researching these issues to be very careful. It is not always easy to spot an error, especially when presented by slick marketers, and in this case one can fall so far down the rabbit hole that it can become difficult to climb back out.
Discussion (major problems with a flat earth)
If the earth is flat, we cannot use physics to explain how things work. Essentially, the universe becomes a place of magic where things happen that simply defy explanation. We would have to go back centuries and reject just about everything we have learned about physics. This includes the great discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (who gave us the Three Laws of Motion and the Theory of Gravity), Johannes Kepler (who gave us the Three Laws of Planetary Motion), and the works and discoveries of many other Bible-believing scientists.
What do we do with the work of Dr Mark Harwood, who retired from a long career in the aerospace industry and who specialized in the design of geostationary satellites? These satellites appear to be stationary in the sky but they are actually orbiting at around 3 km per second to keep pace with the rotation of the earth. This principle only works because the earth is a sphere. If the earth were flat, the stationary satellites would either plummet to the earth if they were not actually moving or sail off into space if they were. And how can we explain the work of Dr John Hartnett, whose cryogenically cooled, sapphire-crystal clocks generate the most precise microwave signals on earth, and who has used both GPS satellites and geostationary satellites to transfer his time and frequency signals between cities?
Flat-earthism also impugns almost all the great Christian leaders of the past and present who affirmed a spherical earth. Flat-earthers should ask themselves why they instead trust the videos of avowed enemies of the Gospel such as Dubay.
Actually, we note with some irony the modern ‘moon landing hoax’ nonsense tends to accompany flat-earthism (and geocentrism, but that is another story). Back in 1969, although there was appropriate rocket technology that could take us to the moon, the video technology was totally inadequate to fake this.11 Nevertheless, there are people who believe that the faking was somehow managed. Yet they are totally oblivious to the fact that the video technology of 2016 could easily fake a flat earth! Also, one of the main arguments against the moon landings is that the moon is too far away (384,399 km, 238,854 miles) for rockets to reach. But modern flat-earth models claim that both the sun and moon are only 3,000 miles away, so they undercut their own argument.
Clearly, the Internet easily radicalizes people. It is trivially easy to present someone with a series of things that are obviously true and slip something false into the mix. Pollsters have known for a long time that if you can get someone to answer a series of questions in the affirmative they are more likely to answer “yes” to the one question you really want to ask.12 In today’s world, it is easy to find someone trying to defend just about any opinion you can imagine. Some of these are very professional looking and they provide interesting and often true facts (mixed in with fallacies). But sometimes the arguments seem very complicated and you can’t quite figure out what the person is saying. This makes the presenter look very smart, to the novice, but slick presentations that are just on the edge of understanding actually make it harder to think through the issues.
We have been wondering what is motivating people to go down this road. Some might simply be fooled by the tricky nature of the ‘facts’ being presented. Some might have the conspiratorial idea that ‘science’ equals evolution, so therefore they must reject science in general. Others might have a pseudo-pietistic mindset, that by rejecting science and embracing what they see as the ‘plain’ teachings of the Bible they are being more holy. We saw some of this in our rebuttal of geocentrism. It is as if some people believe that God will bless them more if they embrace really nutty ideas, even when those ideas directly clash with both the Bible and sound logic.
There is a tragic flaw in human psychology. It deals with the trouble people have when presented with facts that are contrary to some belief they hold. People don’t change their mind like they change their socks. No, they usually take a long time to come to a different view. Why? Because they have to think through a number of different issues. In the case of the flat earth, people have been fed a line of false reasoning that takes a while for some people to ‘unthink’. With this in mind, we encourage people to put on their thinking caps and take a serious look at what the Bible and science have to say.
You could probably think up a few bits of supporting evidence for any theory, and that’s one of the difficulties we as people face. But no amount of evidence can prove something. Instead, science is all about falsification. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” For every piece of evidence that seems to point to a flat earth (and there really are not that many), there are many more pieces of evidence that show it cannot be true. Are you trying to figure out if the earth is spherical or flat? We encourage you to think of things that disprove the idea. Likewise, try to think of something that disproves a spherical earth (if you can!).
If the earth is flat, one has to reject mountains of clear observational evidence. From the shadow of the earth on the moon to the fact that people in the northern and southern hemispheres see different stars, none of it can be true. You have to reject experimental science, and nearly all physical science going back centuries. You have to reject Christian scholarship, going back to the beginning of the religion. You have to reject the testimonies of thousands of scientists, and the personal observations of billions of people who happen to live on the other side of the world from you.
Nothing we observe in science contradicts Scripture. Not only that, but Scripture does not teach a flat earth, neither has any serious Christian scholar throughout the entire Christian era. We have written about this several times (see Related Articles, below), pointing out how clear it is that not only is the earth round but that at least for the past 2,000 years no scholar of any repute believed in a flat earth. Still, the question keeps coming up, and more frequently, and from different quarters, thus there was need to address it here.
Watch Dr Henry Richter, Dr Robert Carter, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, and CMI-US CEO Gary Bates discuss flat earth teaching and geocentrism.
Some easy-to-understand main points
CMI—and you, the reader—should be pro-Bible first and foremost, not anti-establishment just for the sake of it. We should oppose the establishment only when it contradicts the Bible.
As a corollary, the creation/evolution issue is about historical science, while the shape of the earth is operational science, which CMI affirms.
The Bible does not teach the flat earth. Atheists and their compromising churchian allies claim this, but in reality, some passages in the Bible lean towards global, and other passages are not teaching anything about the shape of the globe at all.
Despite the widespread myth of Columbus vs. flat-earthers, almost every theologian and scholar throughout church history who commented on the earth’s shape affirmed that it is spherical. So evidently they never saw the Bible as a flat-earth book. So flat-earthism is actually a theological novelty, contrary to almost universal church teaching. So it’s not surprising that the leading flat-earth video makers are anti-Christian.
Things really do disappear piecemeal down the horizon as they are hidden by the earth’s bulge. Seafarers have used the term hull-down for centuries. It was no accident that their lookouts were high on the mast so they could see further past the earth’s curvature, and they knew full well that hills came into view before beaches.
Flat-earth agitprop often shows pictures of things that should be below the horizon. However, these are rare occasions when a large, cool water surface on a warm day produces an inversion layer that curves light around the curve of the water, producing a ‘superior mirage’. Videos of the same scene (which flat-earthers won’t present) show much movement and distortion per a mirage. And at most times, even on the clearest days, you will not see these below-horizon objects.
Anyone who phones or Skypes internationally knows the problem of different time zones. On a global earth, this is easy to understand: the sun shines on some parts of earth, producing daytime; while the other side of the globe is blocked from the sun so is at night.
Jesus affirmed different time zones when He said that His return would be instantaneous, but some people would be asleep at night, others working early in the morning, and still others late in the day.
Modern flat-earthers try to get around this by claiming that the sun is circling over a disk-earth about 3,000 miles above, but:
They must abandon any pretense of taking the Bible straightforwardly, because this has numerous passages about the sun rising and setting. A global geokinetic model can affirm that the sun rises and sets in the earth’s reference frame.
They must ignore simple observations: the sun’s apparent size is almost constant, not getting smaller and smaller as it gets further away, and you can see it disappearing piecemeal over the horizon, just as ships do.
Constellations are very different for the southern and northern hemisphere. On a flat earth, why shouldn’t southern hemisphere dwellers all see Polaris (the ‘North Star‘), but on a globe, the earth gets in the way! Similarly, most northern hemisphere dwellers can’t see the Southern Cross, which is on the flag of several southern countries.
Also, northern hemisphere dwellers observe stars in the north apparently rotating counterclockwise (anticlockwise) around the north celestial pole, while southern hemisphere dwellers sees different constellations rotating clockwise around the south. A flat earth model with the north pole at the centre just doesn’t have any south celestial pole at all!
Every major creationist organization rejects the flat earth idea, and always has. We are all about science, good observational science. Science is not ruled by the majority (or we would still believe in phlogiston!), yet one must walk carefully when they decide to reject common views in science.
CMI absolutely rejects the theory of evolution, but we have done so after carefully scrutinizing both the biblical and scientific records. We did not do this lightly. After critically examining what we can learn through operational science and comparing that to the historical philosophy called evolution, too many lines of evidence point away from evolution and toward biblical creation for us to not accept the latter. In this case, however, the sphericity of the earth is one of the simplest aspects of operational science one could wish for.
References and notes
- O’Neill, T., The New Atheist Bad History—Great Myths 1: The Medieval Flat Earth, historyforatheists.blogspot.com, 31 May 2016. We acknowledge this paper for the medieval writers cited here. For an original translation of one source, see The Sphere of Sacrobosco: An early 13th century treatise on astronomy, by Iohannes de Sacrobosco, translated by Lynn Thorndike, 1949, esotericarchives.com. Return to text.
- We are using ‘sphere’ for the shape of the earth, even though the sphere is not perfect. It is a good approximation, however, being accurate to one part in 300. The earth is closer to an oblate spheroid, meaning that it’s flattened at the poles. Sir Isaac Newton, a creationist, was the one who first predicted oblateness from the earth’s rotation on its axis. But although the earth’s polar radius is indeed shorter, at 6,356.8 km (3949.9 miles) there is only 21.3 km (13.3 miles) difference. This is a mere 0.3% deviation from a perfect sphere. Scale this down to the size of a ball close to the size of a baseball or cricket ball: if the ball were 6.3781 cm in one radius and 6.3568 cm in a perpendicular radius, one could safely call its shape a ‘globe’ or ‘sphere’. It would take a sharp eye indeed to notice that a ~6⅓-cm ball bulged a bit in the middle, by merely a fifth of a millimetre. Actually, there is an online calculator for working out the earth’s radius at a given latitude. Return to text.
- Nicholas of Cusa (Nicholas Cusanus), On learned ignorance (Latin: De docta ignorantia), 1440: “And though the earth is smaller than the sun, as is known to us from its shadow and the eclipses …. Nor is the earth the smallest star, for it is larger than the moon, as we are taught by the experience of the eclipses.” Cited in I. The Sky and the Heavens: Nicholas of Cusa and Marcellus Palingenius, sacred-texts.com. Return to text.
- As N.T. Wright is fond of pointing out, whatever Jesus taught, He taught hundreds of times, with minor variations. The Gospels had to be selective about which version they quote; compare John 21:25. Return to text.
- CMI has offices in seven English-speaking countries worldwide: Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, UK, South Africa, and Singapore. We are just using these two countries as examples. See our events page to see if there is an event near you, or contact us to request an event in your church. Return to text.
- Various village-atheist websites attribute the following words to Magellan: “The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church.” But he never said this, simply because the Church never said the earth is flat! This quote is not found earlier than 1873, by the atheopathic propagandist Robert G. Ingersoll, who probably just made it up. See O’Neill, T., How the Middle Ages Really Were, Huffington Post, 8 November 2014. Return to text.
- See: Stamp, M., ISS Commander Returns from Space, Acts and Facts (Institute for Creation Research) 45(9):9, Sep 2016; icr.org/article/9521. Return to text.
- There is one strange idea that the earth is hollow. But in that case, most of the earth would be a shadow zone for both types of body waves, which obviously could not pass through any hollow part. Return to text.
- This page has clear diagrams and explanations: “Inge Lehmann: Discoverer of the Earth’s Inner Core”, American Museum of Natural History, amnh.org. Return to text.
- Heiser, M., Modern flat earth theory exposed, part 1, drmsh.com, 9 September 2016. Return to text.
- Collins, S.G., Moon Landings Faked? Filmmaker Says Not! 29 Jan 2013, youtube.com. Return to text.
- See this video clip from the brilliant 1980s British satire Yes Prime Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby demonstrates the use of leading questions to skew an opinion survey to support or oppose National Service (Military Conscription). Return to text.