This book is a great read.
The author traces the history of how people viewed the shape of the earth from the earliest recorded times to the present day.
Firstly from the belief it was flat to the measurements of the ancient Greeks who determined it was spherical in the 4-3 century BCE.
Then to the next great challenge to the globularists in the 18th Century CE, via early christianity where only a few literalists took issue with the Greek model to finally arrive in the present.
She puts to rest a few myths about dark age christian beliefs and the worry amongst Columbus’s men that they would fall off the edge of the world, a globular world was accepted then.
The author also illustrates the role of the literal reading of the Bible in the rebirth and promulgation of Flat Earth beliefs from the 1700s onwards. A strict, fundamentalist, protestant, literal reading of the bible drove the formulation and proselytisation of flat earth beliefs in much the same way that modern creationists do with their anti-evolution theories. (Except one group in Canada). In fact the author compares and contrasts the activities of both movements and finds that they exist to respond to exactly the same issues as each other, involve pretty much the same mindsets and use similar tactics. These include:
- Taking opponents’ words out of context and sometimes out of order to make it seem as though their experiments support the opposite to which they really do.
- Ignoring any evidence that contravenes your point of view regardless of how well any experiment was conducted.
- Preferring to address those who have no idea how to critically appraise your claims.
- Dressing up the claims in science-like language to make it seem convincing.
- Lieing when it suits.
- Running away when things get out of hand.
The flat earth proponents are more literal in their biblical reading than the creationists who refuse to believe all the bible says because even they think the idea of a flat earth is ridiculous. The bible is only inerrant to some folk when they can ignore the bits they don’t like. At the least the planoterrestrialists are consistent in their delusions.
The Canadian group were not interested in saving god from disrepute and facts were not reinterpreted or ignored to fit the biblical pov by these guys. These guys were a fall out from the counter culture of the 60s and really used the idea to encourage people to not accept ideas blindly and to ask questions when presented with assertions. They annoyed the more religious group in California and enjoyed being a nuisance to the more pompous at universities.
It is an easy read for the most part and shows that religion really does motivate people to acts of very irrational behaviour, and a true beliver can never really allow themselves to be persuaded by rational discourse or even exposure to irrefutible facts.