Flat-Earthers Are Evolutionists
Let’s get our facts straight: It’s not Christians who are promoting the most absurd conspiracy theory of all.
How can you say more about flat-earthers than “they’re crazy”? Natalie Wolchover at Live Science found enough to fill a 1,700-word article. She decided to take a deeper look at the Flat Earth Society, which boasts a growing membership, to try to understand their motivations. Her 2012 article was republished with updates on May 30, 2017 with some additional news.
They also accept evolution and most other mainstream tenets of science
First question: Are they being serious? Are they just trying to stand out of the crowd? Are they being provocative, so they can express pride at their membership certificates on their cubicle walls? It’s all a joke, isn’t it? The surprising answer Wolchover finds is that some of them are dead serious. We at CEH won’t give them publicity by linking to their website, but suffice it to say, their conspiracy theory that NASA is covering up the truth is backed up by an impressive array of scientific-looking data, flawed though it may be.
The world is obviously filled with wackos of all stripes, but claiming the earth is flat in the space age, where astronauts daily orbit the spherical earth, is like claiming people don’t breathe. Most rational people use “flat earther” as a pejorative label, essentially calling someone stupid, illogical, or willfully ignorant – basically a zombie from the dark ages. Such rebuke is only partially justified, relying on flawed conceptions of medieval Europe.
According to popular misconceptions, flat-earth notions came from religious folk in medieval times, and were overturned by Columbus when he didn’t sail off the edge of the earth as forewarned. Such mistaken history has been soundly refuted by scholars (see article on creation.com); the Bible taught a spherical earth (e.g., Isaiah 40:22, Job 26:10), and the roundness of earth has been known since ancient times (e.g., by Eratosthenes, who proved it by experiment and even inferred earth’s diameter with remarkable accuracy). Until Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, medieval churchmen trusted the Ptolemaic System, but that included a spherical earth. Suffice it to say that Christians never taught that the earth was flat. Some Asian myths may have envisioned a flat world supported on a pile of elephants or turtles, but the flat earth conspiracy did not emerge from medieval Christian Europe.
Which leads to our headline: the modern flat-earthers are evolutionists! Look what Wolchover says after talking with Michael Wilmore, one of the true believers:
Wilmore counts himself among the true believers. “My own convictions are a result of philosophical introspection and a considerable body of data that I have personally observed, and which I am still compiling,” he said.
Strangely, Wilmore and the society’s president, a 35-year-old Virginia-born Londoner named Daniel Shenton, both think the evidence for global warming is strong, despite much of this evidence coming from satellite data gathered by NASA, the kingpin of the “round Earth conspiracy.” They also accept evolution and most other mainstream tenets of science.
In fact, Wolchover gives no indication the Flat Earth Society claims any connection to any Christian or religious tradition. Rather, they trust in their own philosophical discombobulations:
The theory follows from a mode of thought called the “Zetetic Method,” an alternative to the scientific method, developed by a 19th-century flat-earther, in which sensory observations reign supreme. “Broadly, the method places a lot of emphasis on reconciling empiricism and rationalism, and making logical deductions based on empirical data,” Flat Earth Society vice president Michael Wilmore, an Irishman, told Life’s Little Mysteries. In Zetetic astronomy, the perception that Earth is flat leads to the deduction that it must actually be flat; the antimoon, NASA conspiracy and all the rest of it are just rationalizations for how that might work in practice.
Finally, Wolchover reports that these people don’t rely on unseen spirits or invisible forces of any kind, as would be expected if they had religious motivations:
Most conspiracy theorists adopt many fringe theories, even ones that contradict each other. Meanwhile, flat-earthers’ only hang-up is the shape of the Earth. “If they were like other conspiracy theorists, they should be exhibiting a tendency toward a lot of magical thinking, such as believing in UFOs, ESP, ghosts, the Devil, or other unseen, intentional forces,” Oliver wrote in an email. “It doesn’t sound like they do, which makes them very anomalous relative to most Americans who believe in conspiracy theories.“
From these descriptions, it appears that flat-earthers are rationalists, empiricists, and materialists who heartily embrace the ideas of Charles Darwin.
Audio version of this article:
Evolutionists, you own the Flat Earth Society. It’s your bag now. It always has been.
“He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.” Job 26:7