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Flat Earth

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It's basically this.
The fault in our stars
Icon pseudoastronomy.svg
Adding epicycles
Tila TequilaWikipedia's W.svg also believes that the planet is flat and one rule of life is to believe the exact opposite of what Tila Tequila believes...I know that Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted a lot of fancy science shit, but it’s the “Duude” that got me. That’s straight guy talk for “Bitch, I can’t!”
—wpl, Michael K.[1]

Flat Earth (also known as the Flat Earth myth, flat-earthism, less commonly platygeism, and intelligent geography for parodists of intelligent design) is the belief that the Earth — which the vast, vast majority of the population imagine in their heads as this big spherical thing (or oblate spheroidal thing, pedants) is actually flat. (Or, at least, cyclindrical.)

Yes, people do believe this.

Before we even begin[edit]

As you're listening to flat Earthers spew their nonsense, keep in mind that all variants of flat Earthery fail a priori, for one simple reason:

YouTube cranks hate him!

Flatlining brain activity[edit]

Flat earthers rely almost exclusively on the rhetorical tactic known as Gish galloping, simply because their entire "method" consists of horking up ad hoc technobabble ad nauseam.[2] Even so, it's still simply impossible for a flat Earther to explain away the problems with flat-Earthery while maintaining internal consistency, because the "evidence" flat Earthers provide is not just entirely circumstantial, but generally pulled out of their asses as well.

As such, to believe in a flat Earth is to assume that NASA, the government and the entire scientific community are part of a major conspiracy to delude everyone, that the Moon landings never happened, and that NASA spends most of its budget on fabricating evidence of other celestial objects rather than actually exploring space. The Big Bang theory, along with most of physics, would go out the window as well. And that's not even half of it.

Of course not only NASA and the scientific community would need to be in on the conspiracy. All shipping companies and airline companies along with most of their employees also need to be involved. In fact every transnational company whose goods were moved around the world would need to be involved. And of course you would need the telecommunications companies to be deeply involved. For that matter every government on the planet along with large numbers of their employees and the military would have to be keeping quiet about it - for some reason which never seems to be fully explained.

Further still, considering that even something as basic as gravity gets called into question when assuming a flat Earth, it really goes to show how big of a tinfoil hat you'd have to be wearing in order to block out that much of reality.

Relativity of wrong[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Wronger than wrong

Isaac Asimov used the idea of a flat Earth in his essay The Relativity of Wrong to make a point about the progress of scientific knowledge.

He pointed out that the notion of a flat Earth is wrong, but the idea of a spherical Earth is also wrong, as the shape of the Earth is better described as an oblate spheroid. Asimov went on to mention how these theories aren't equally wrong (and believing such a thing as a flat Earth is "wronger than wrong") but that they do have use.

An architect working on a small building site would have no use for "Spherical Earth Theory" and would assume the ground is flat, a designer of novelty globes wouldn't need to compensate for the oblateness of the Earth, but those sending satellites into orbit do (in fact the distortion has quite a dramatic effect on inclined orbits).

Modern flat Earthery tends to be not even wrong, however.

Flat Earthery is plane-ly false[edit]

One can falsify the flat-Earth concept on any clear night an hour or two after sunset by observing satellites in the sky,[3] provided one accepts either Occam's razor or common sense as valid stances. Plus sanity. Unless lots of people with lots of spare money are launching one-shot rockets every night to maintain the conspiracy, or using holograms to project satellites onto the night sky (or something equally insipid), a flat Earth simply won't support a constellation of orbiting objects. They'd fall right over the "edge" of the world, giving you nothing but blurry images of a stack of turtles.

The Flat-Earth hobby-researchers should always get their local NWO stooge land surveyor to join them — most of their instruments are pointing downwards 1 to 3 degrees.[4]

Worth noting is that spherical trigonometry and astro-trigonometry are exact sciences, which only work in a spherical environment.[5][6]

The earth's shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse looks round [7] and two sticks at two different latitudes produce two different-length shadows at the exact same time of day. A spherical Earth can account for these phenomena.[8] And people have known this since antiquity. As Carl Sagan explains:

Flattening their arguments[edit]

Pythagorean proof of curvature for a ball with a radius of 3,959 miles (Using AutoCAD 2015 with 15 digit precision)

Here's the situation: either all of established science is completely wrong, or all of time cube flat Earth theory is completely wrong.

Note that this isn't a false dilemma — the two mutually exclude one another!

So, which one could it be? Well, take a wild guess.

Arguments for a flat Earth[edit]

But roads are flat![edit]

A common trope in flat-Earther literature is that roads, canals, etc. are built flat — not taking into account the curvature of the Earth.[9]

  • Surveyors ignore curvature when surveying a project because the error from ignoring curvature is minuscule.
  • For a 1 mile baseline the drop will be 8 inches. The length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle with one leg of 5280 feet and the other leg of 8 inches is 5280.00004209 feet. The error is 0.013 millimeters.
  • This error is so small that if you built a road that went all the way around the Earth using one mile long baselines the total error in length would amount to 1.05 feet.

But star trail photography proves that the Earth doesn't move![edit]

Although flat Earth isn't necessarily geocentrist (as one can technically still adopt a heliocentric worldview while holding to a belief in a flat Earth), flat earthers almost always fall into that camp.

One particular claim is that long-duration star trail photographs do not show any movement of the stars other than that caused by the Earth's rotation, the flat earther's reasoning being that, if the Earth is moving so fast around the Sun, the stars should appear smudged. This claim is symptomatic of all flat earthers' false assumptions about the distance between us and celestial objects, or their inability or lack of willingness to perform basic math.

  • Assume a star trail photograph of the nearest star is taken for 12 hours on a 10,000 wide pixel camera. The Earth would travel about 1,287,000 km during that time. The nearest naked-eye visible star is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.34 light-years (41 trillion kilometers) away. The star would appear to move 0.018 pixels.

Arguments against a round Earth[edit]

So where's the curvature?[edit]

A lot of flat Earthers attempt to disprove the globe model by using pictures taken from high above the earth with a flat horizon, thereby "proving" that the Earth is flat: After all, if the earth is round you should see the curvature of the Earth. In actuality, no matter where you are and how high you are on the surface of the Earth, the horizon does indeed look like a flat line no matter where you look: A curvature should appear if the Earth were cylindrical instead. Indeed, the fact that there even is a horizon to begin with should prove the Earth to be round by itself, since if the Earth were truly flat, then a sufficiently advanced telescope ought to be able to see all the way to the edge of the earth. But don't get started on that track in a debate, otherwise you're going to spend your whole afternoon talking about perspective, light refracting from air, the parallax effect, mirages or GoPro cameras, or how even something as basic as a video of a ship disappearing bottom-first beneath the horizon is supposedly faked.

So why are there no REAL photos of the Earth?[edit]

One common argument used by flat earthers is that there are no real photos of the earth.

This is simply not true, there are many photos of the earth including photos which predate the equipment required to create fake images .[13]

So why did Neil DeGrasse Tyson say the Earth was pear shaped?[edit]

This argument is used often by flat earthers to claim that NASA is lying. In fairness, calling the Earth pear-shaped is rather stupid, as it is very nearly a sphere—much closer in shape to a sphere (or even an apple) than a pear.

Technically speaking, the Earth is an oblate spheroid; the reason it appears perfectly spherical in most photos is because the difference is very small (less than 1%). [14] additionally there are images that show the earth is not perfectly spherical [15]

So why don't rivers flow uphill?[edit]

A common argument used by flat Earthers is — believe it or not — that if the Earth was actually round, rivers would have to flow uphill. No, really.[16]

In reality, "up" on a spherical planet where gravity is accounted for actually means "away from the core" — and due to gravity's effects on water, it actually flows downhill.[17]

So why is travel banned to Antarctica?[edit]

This argument is used by many flat earthers as "proof" that Antarctica surrounds the earth. [18]

In reality travel is not banned to Antarctica and there are commercial cruise ships that travel there.[19]

Flat Earth memes and propaganda[edit]

We're not sure, either.

Why the confusion?[edit]

This picture brought to you by Wikipedia. And Photoshop.
14th-century copy of L'Image du monde (ca. 1246) depicting a spherical or cylindrical Earth.

On certain length scales, the Earth certainly is flat — the ground on what we like to call flatland certainly doesn't look like it has any significant curvature in everyday life. In a mountainous region, the local geography is so variable that discerning a curve would be even more difficult. As a result of this, a common sense interpretation of a flat Earth can be reached pretty quickly.

In ancient history[edit]

Very early Egyptian and other Middle-Eastern civilisations portrayed the Earth as flat land suspended in an ocean, and with a "roof" of some kind over it. This is particularly reflected in some of the prose that made its way into the Bible and has been used to justify flat-Earth beliefs today.

Ancient Chinese astronomy makes no mention of any roundness of the Earth; indeed some depictions made it square. In Siam, now Thailand, the flat-earth idea was part of Buddhist scripture until the 1800s, as part of the Traiphum cosmography.[20] However, most religious scholars considered it as a metaphorical description. It's unlikely that this was ever taken painfully literally in Siam, even before King Mongkut (the one of The King and I fame) officially introduced more modern geography during his reforms and westernization of the country.

In Western science and theology, the notion that the entire world really was flat was discredited the moment it was properly considered and looked at, and had faded by the time of classical Greek philosophy. Pythagoras suggested that the Earth was round, and Aristotle provided convincing evidence for it in Ancient Greece, although the main source to suggest that Greeks before Aristotle thought the world was flat is Aristotle himself. Around 240 BCE, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth to an impressive degree of accuracy. By the Middle Ages, even the Catholic Church's most beloved of scientific theologians, Thomas Aquinas, was advancing the Earth's roundness as a fundamental of logic.

In ancient pseudohistory[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Pseudohistory

The idea that everyone used to believe that the Earth was flat until only very recently, mostly due to the influence of religion, is essentially a complete myth. A Greek Egyptian by the name of Eratosthenes not only proved the world was round, but calculated its circumference with an error of less than 2%, and did it in the third century BCE. This is often brought up as an example of how secular enlightenment has triumphed over unfounded religious dogma; indeed, some theories state that this is the reason the myth is so popular.[21] Another possible reason for the myth may be the existence of various Flat Earth Societies in the 19th century.

In the Anglophone world, the myth is believed to originate with the novel The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Washington Irving, which perpetuated the idea that Columbus sailed around the globe to prove that it was round. In reality, all that was at stake with Columbus' journey and those of his contemporaries was the size of the Earth — it was Columbus' egregious underestimation of the Earth's size in combination with an overestimation of the length of Asia by 5,000 miles by Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli in 1474[22] that led him to theorize that reaching the Indies from the west was feasible. The Spanish Court's reluctance to fund his voyage was based on an estimate of the Earth's circumference that much more closely agreed with modern measurements, but was substantially larger than the figure Columbus had come up with. In other words, it was the King and Queen who were right, and Columbus who was wrong.

To be fair to Columbus even with the Earth the correct size Toscanelli's map put Cippangu (Japan) near where the western part of Mexico was in the real world; so even with the Earth the correct size Columbus was still working from erroneous data. It was only by a stroke of luck that Columbus found a "New World" where he had thought Cippangu was; otherwise, he and his crew would have died of starvation. Umberto Eco paradoxically summarized this point in his essay "The Force of Falsity": because Columbus's critics were right, they were wrong, and because Columbus was wrong, he was right—but only thanks to the serendipity of America.

It was widely known that it would be physically possible to get to Asia by going west (disregarding the then unknown Americas), if you could carry sufficient supplies. What prevented anyone before Columbus from trying to go around the world was uncertainty regarding the circumference of the Earth and Toscanelli's measurement of Asia. If either of those calculations were off in the wrong direction the ships were not large enough or fast enough to get from Europe to Asia by traveling west before the food and fresh water supplies on board ran out. Furthermore, with Bartolomeu Dias sailing around the tip of Africa in 1488 the Europeans already had passage (albeit a long and tedious one) to Asia.

In modern history[edit]

Logo of the modern Flat Earth Society. Note their apparent lack of belief in New Zealand.

Given this history, it should come as a surprise to anyone that any human being existing in the developed world right now should still consider the idea of a flat Earth probable. Since the mid-1800s, notably via the Flat Earth Society, modern pseudoscientists have been trying to prove that the Earth is flat. As evidence continues to mount against the Flat Earth (such as the fact that we can now orbit the planet and view it from a distance or circumnavigate the globe ourselves in an aircraft), the idea is beginning to take a turn for the silly.[23][24]

Q: "Why do you guys believe the Earth is flat?" A: Well, it looks that way up close.[note 1] Ok, mostly Also, because God tells us!

Q: "What is underneath the Earth?" A: This is unknown. Most FE proponents believe that it is generally composed of rocks.

Q: "Why aren't people falling off the edge of the Earth?" A: Antarctica forms the edge of the Earth, and at the very rim there is a giant, impenetrable wall of ice.[note 2] Follow-up Question: So what's behind the wall of ice?

Q: "If the Earth is flat, how can people travel all the way around the Earth in one direction and return to the same place?" A: In the model currently accepted by Flat Earthers, the North Pole is located at the very center of the disc, and all cardinal directions are relative to it. Thus, circumnavigating the Earth simply means making a complete circle around the center of the disc. Follow-up Question: So, why are ships and airplanes not constantly required to turn left or right to make this circle? Second follow-up Question: How do ships and airplanes achieve the fantastic velocities needed to fly from Australia to South America in the observed travel time?

Q: "If the Earth is flat, what about the Sun, the Moon and the stars in the sky? Or the sky itself?" A: Flat Earthers generally assume the sky to be a dome that covers the entire Earth. Whether the Sun, the Moon or the stars are celestial objects in their own right or just projections on the dome is undetermined, but Flat Earthers do agree that the Sun is roughly six thousand miles above the surface of the Earth. Goes with the six thousand years since the Earth was created, presumably.

Q: "How are time zones possible on a flat Earth? Shouldn't the Sun be visible from every part of the world at all times?" A: The Sun works like a spotlight, illuminating only some parts of the disc at one time, and rotates around the globe on the equator. Beyond the wall of ice, one can assume.

Q: "Doesn't our current understanding of gravity make a disc-shaped model of the Earth impossible?" A: Flat Earthers generally either reject the idea of gravity as a scientific constant outright, or maintain that gravity as we understand it is incorrect. Instead, the forces that keep people on the ground are either electromagnetic or caused by the Earth accelerating through space.[note 3]

Q: "How can satellites and GPS be explained by flat-thinkers?" [25] A: They are hung on balloons.

Q: "Aurora Borealis OK but please explain the Aurora Australis?" [26] A: They are projected holograms.

Q: "Explain annual meteor showers please?" [27] A: They are just fireworks.

Q: "Heard of Coriolis force?" A: Nope. Alt: It's caused by currents in the Aether

Q: "Are the other planets flat?" A: No. Would you expect the fifth of the several pieces of furniture in your room to be a chair even when the other four are?

Q: "But weren't they all formed in the same way?" A: Ummm...... Well, nobody knows how everything was created.

Q: "Why is the southern jet stream so similar to the northern one, speed and shapes?" [28] A: Oh, sure, you give a government source. There's no real evidence for a southern "hemisphere" jet stream.

Q: "Is Space Junk a myth?" [29] A: Yes, invented by the world's space agencies to discourage people from trying to get into space and prove their lies!

Q: "Isn't this an awful lot of mental hurdles to jump over just to insistently back up the idea of a disc-shaped Earth, when assuming a ball-shaped Earth answers all the above questions in a much simpler manner, and with much more scientific evidence to back it up?" A: You tell me.

English inventor Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1884) published a 16-page pamphlet, which he later expanded into a 430-page book, Earth Not a Globe, expounding his views based on his literal interpretation of several Biblical passages. Under the model proposed by this book, the Earth is a flat disc with the North Pole at its center and the south "pole" extending all the way around the outer edge. However, the alternate theory that the North Arctic is the surrounding ice wall is a similar idea. This outer edge is also guarded by a 150-foot-tall wall of ice. (Remember, at the time this was written, no expedition to Antarctica had yet reached the South Pole.) After his death, his followers founded the Universal Zetetic Society which published a magazine Earth Not A Globe; however, the society slowly declined after World War I.

The Flat Earth Society (also known as the International Flat Earth Society or International Flat Earth Research Society) was founded by Englishman Samuel Shenton in 1956.[30] Shenton initially accepted the globe theory of the Earth, and indeed suggested his own innovation on how to make use of the Earth's rotation.[31] This involved raising an airship into the sky and then holding it stationary. After a few hours of the Earth's rotation, the airship would be over America. It could then be lowered, making transatlantic transport extremely fast and cheap, in one direction at least. He went as far as to write to the British government, urging them to use this method. The ridicule and indifference that he received persuaded him that perhaps the atmosphere might rotate with the planet, as suggested by the lack of constant thousand-mile-an-hour winds at the equator, or at any altitude above it.

No, only kidding. Actually, Shenton concluded that the Earth could not be rotating, and that there was a conspiracy (for no defined reason) to hide this fact.

This conspiracy blossomed to include everyone in every government, civilian pilots (post-war) and/or GPS manufacturers (1960s), everyone in every telecommunications industry, everyone in the southern hemisphere (the difference between the currently-accepted globe and Flat Earth map are so massive below the equator that they would be difficult to ignore) and anyone using an odometer on a trip between any four landmarks. Also included in the conspiracy are thousands of supersoldiers keeping ordinary citizens from witnessing the Ice Wall, which surrounds the Flat Earth. As for what lies beyond the Ice Wall, the Flat Earth Society has this to say:

Beyond the 150 foot Ice Wall is anyone's guess. How far the ice extends; how it terminates; and what exists beyond it, are questions to which no present human experience can reply. All we at present know is, that snow and hail, howling winds, and indescribable storms and hurricanes prevail; and that in every direction "human ingress is barred by unsealed escarpments of perpetual ice," extending farther than eye or telescope can penetrate, and becoming lost in gloom and darkness. Some hold that the tundra of ice and snow stretches forever eternally."[32]

The FERS is now defunct, but was still active in 1980 under the leadership of (the now deceased) Charles K. Johnson.[33] There is another modern Flat Earth Society with Daniel Shenton as its president, mainly notable for having its first member be synthpop musician Thomas Dolby, whose chief/only real qualification for such is that he made a rather good album called The Flat Earth. In fairness, unlike anything else one might provide to support the notion of a flat Earth, at least the album exists.

Current FES president Daniel Shenton on the other hand accepts modern science such as evolution and global warming, yet somehow reconciles them with his flat earth beliefs.[34][35]

Online resurgence[edit]

Sadly, the flat Earth model is gaining popularity — or at least more vocal proponents — via the Internet, especially on various nutcase-enabling platforms like YouTube. It seems to be rooted in complete and active suspicion of all authority and an assumption that Mainstream Science™ is just one big, faceless monolith — spreading lies to keep the public in the dark about, er... Some nefarious end!

NASA, being part of the Illuminati according to the flattards, is possessed of infinite money and control while at the same time being so incompetent they leave easily-spotted mistakes in their propaganda that expose the whole thing. Flattards like Jeranism make videos filled with a mix of Gish Gallop and creative misunderstanding, willful ignorance, and flat (hah!) denial of facts and evidence to the contrary.

Fundamentalist endorsements[edit]

Map of the Square and Stationary Earth by Orlando Ferguson (1893).[36]

Motives for advocating a flat over a round earth despite evidence to the contrary vary. (Even typical young-earth creationists who think it's 6000 years old don't go so far as to say that it's not round.[37][38]) Modern geocentrists make a point of distancing themselves from the flat-earth belief. Charles K. Johnson based his flat-earth belief on a hyper-literal interpretation of the Bible (asserting that Jesus' ascent "up" into Heaven is proof of a flat earth, since a round earth would have no "up" or "down").[39]

A flat-earth movement also exists within fundamentalist Islam, based on a literal interpretation of several Qur'anic verses (see the "Religious views" section below).

Celebrity endorsements[edit]

The rapper B.o.B., who has had several hits including "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes", outed himself as a flat-earther in 2016 and released a diss track called "Flatline" aimed at astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Tyson's nephew, who is also a rapper, released a counter-diss track in response.

Confusing their ball game proficiency with an understanding of spheres in general, 4 NBA players have also come out as flat-earthers — including Shaq.[40] (He was joking.)

Tila TequilaWikipedia's W.svg has also endorsed flat Earthery[41] — which seems contradictory, considering she's also endorsed Hitler,[42] whom we don't think was a flattard.

Christian flat Earth apologetics[edit]

Even a layperson today can observe that the Earth is not flat.
Answers in Genesis (even they look smart next to flat Earthers!)[43]

Many Biblical literalists claim the Bible disproves evolution and other scientific theories prima facie. Since there is no real debate about the shape of the Earth, these passages call Biblical literalism into question. The irony of Flat Earthers encouraging people to stop blindly accepting what they've been taught and do their own research has not gone unnoticed, considering that the primarily cited origin of flat earth ideas is indeed the Bible.

In numerous passages, the Bible claims that the Earth is a flat disk and/or rectangular, usually implicitly. Whether or not the Bible "really" says this is often debated — but if the Bible was written by people who lived in societies who were unaware that the Earth is a more or less spherical object which orbits the Sun, then we would expect this ignorance to be reflected in their writings.

Biblical flat-earthism is very rarely accepted. Wilbur Glenn Voliva even offered $5000 as a prize for anyone who can prove that Earth is not flat. Of course, his predictions about Earth ending in 1923, 1927, 1930, and 1935 also failed.[44] Teaching about spherical Earth was banned in the schools of Zion, Illinois, at that time.

Former President of the United States Jimmy Carter mentioned flat-earthers in passing (though he was actually speaking against mandatory teaching of creation science):[45]

There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.

Appeals to the Bible[edit]

The king seeing all the earth[edit]

  • "Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king “saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth… reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth's farthest bounds.” Only with a flat Earth could a tall tree be visible from "the Earth's farthest bounds" — this is impossible on a spherical earth, or the tree is a rocket?

Theological rebuttal: The strength of Daniel 4:10-11 as an argument for a flat Earth is considerably reduced by the fact that this part of the Book of Daniel recounts a dream experienced by the Assyrian king of Babylon. Thus, it does not necessarily refer to an actually existing tree or make any statements about real cosmology. This fact would seem to indicate that biblical literalists do not even know how to read the Bible properly.

Jesus seeing all the kingdoms[edit]

Shows why you couldn't see all the kingdoms. To be fair, you can suggest that those outside of lines of sight are not kingdoms.
  • Matthew 4:8: "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain [spaceship?], and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world"
  • Luke 4:5: "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time."

Theological rebuttal again: The strength of using Matthew and Luke as flat Earth claims is reduced by the fact that "kingdom" is a human construct. If you classify all the places on Earth that you can't see from that particular location as "not kingdoms", such as barbaric tribes and non-monarchies, it can be fitted within that description. However, how the devil knows that those places are not ruled by kings (again, the concept of "king" is also a human concept) is not exactly clear.

The earth is a circle[edit]

  • Isaiah 40:22: "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth (earth’s orbit?), and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy (map), and spreads them out like a tent to live in."

Jews and Christians use this quote to "prove" that the Bible implies that the Earth is spherical, although the word is "circular", and may refer to the perception of a 360 degree panoramic view. Some scholars point out that Isaiah never uses the Modern Hebrew word for sphere Kadur, anywhere.[46] It is not clear to Theists whether this is relevant, because the interpretation of the word Kadur in the Bible is disputed by Theists.[47]

"Four Corners"[edit]

  • Isaiah 11:12 "And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners [north, south, east and west] of the earth."
  • Revelation 7:1 "And after these things I saw four angels standing on four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."

As with the Daniel quote, modern Jews and Christians, who have been educated by Science, don't take this literally; to them the events described in Revelation are a series of visions, rather than an accurate description of the world (which would indicate that you shouldn't take the Holy Bible literally). Another interpretation of this verse is that four corners of the earth don't refer to literal four corners but to cardinal directions, which is further supported by the description of the four winds which are commonly referenced by their cardinal direction. Also, considering that Leviticus 19:27 refers to the "corners of the head", either the ancient Israelites looked like Minecraft characters or the Bible has no problem with using "corners" non-literally about round things.

Islamic flat Earth apologetics[edit]

Some Islamic fundamentalists possibly believe the earth is flat, using a literal interpretation of several Qur'an verses. Iraqi astronomer Fadil Al-Sa'd declared that the Earth is flat, and that the Sun is much smaller than the Earth and revolves around it.[48]. In 1966 the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, is rumored to have declared "The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment." However historians such as Robert Lacey believe that this quote was misinterpreted (and that Ibn Baaz was actually asserting that the Earth doesn't orbit around the Sun — but not that the Earth was flat).

Mohammed Yusuf, founder of terrorist group Boko Haram, stated that the Theory of Evolution as well as spherical Earth teachings should be rejected because they are against Islam.[49] In a 2007 TV debate, an Iraqi Astronomer, Fadil Al-Sa'd, tried hard to push the ideas that the Earth is flat and Qur'anic verses also support that the Sun (also flat) is much smaller than Earth and revolves around it.[50]

As in all cases of proof-via-scripture, it's just a question of making flat Earthery fit by cherry picking the most vague translation.

Appeals to the Qur'an[edit]

Qur'an 18:47

And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust), and you will see the earth as a levelled plain, and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind.

The Muhsin Khan and Shakir translation seem to use "levelled plain"; other translations, apart from Yusuf Ali, which says "level stretch" rather than "levelled plain", suggests this is just seeing the Earth prominently. Or something.

Qur'an 20:53

Who has made earth for you like a bed (spread out); and has opened roads (ways and paths etc.) for you therein; and has sent down water (rain) from the sky. And We have brought forth with it various kinds of vegetation.

Translations again disagree on this. Like a "carpet" and like a "cradle" are also popular.

Qur'an 43:10

Who has made for you the earth like a bed, and has made for you roads therein, in order that you may find your way.

Other translations of this "like a bed" indicate that it's metaphorical, with "resting place" being the most popular use. The Dr. Ghali translation still uses "cradle" in place of bed.

Qur'an 43:38
Till, when (such a one) comes to Us, he says [to his Qarîn (Satan / devil companion)] "Would that between me and you were the distance of the two easts (or the east and west)" a worst (type of) companion (indeed)!

One presumes that this is a tacit admission that there is an absolute point marked "east" and a point marked "west" which isn't possible on a globe because it wraps around. It's not entirely possible on a flat Earth, either as there is no fixed reference. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, set on a flat disc, they use radial co-ordinates of "hubward" (meaning toward the centre) "rimward" (towards the outside) and "turnwise" and "widdershins" for clockwise and counterclockwise respectively. Analogous with east and west on a globe, there are no fixed points on this reference frame.

Qur'an 78:6

Have We not made the earth as a bed,

Only Muhsin Khan says "bed". The rest are "expanse" or variations of it. Dr Ghali continues with "cradle". One has to ask, if the Earth is like a bed, one usually thinks of beds as small, warm, comfortable things you sleep in. Flat is usually quite far down the list of words associated with beds.

Qur'an 79:30

And after that He spread the earth;

Ironically, the flat Earthers would have been better off with Dr Ghali here, as he is less ambiguous about it: "And the earth, after that He flattened it (for life)."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. This is shamelessly quote mined, but the bit that follows isn't much better!
  2. Please pay no attention to the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of a globular Earth, but not one photograph of this supposed ice wall.
  3. This assumes that the disc-shaped Earth is accelerating directly upwards through the cosmos at one gravity (about 9.8 meters per second per second), and that is what keeps people on the ground. Yes, really.


  1. "Rapper B.o.B Is A Flat Earth Truther", DListed 1.15.16.
  2. Vsauce provides a decent explanation of why.
  3. A handy way of knowing when and where to look for them is Heavens Above or any other website or software supporting satellite tracking.
  10. Geodetic Survey Work on High Intensity Proton Accelerator Facility TU004_PPT.PDF
  11. Geodetic Survey Work on High Intensity Proton Accelerator Facility 010.PDF
  12. [1]
  17. Look outside, dummy.
  20. Thongchai WinichakulWikipedia's W.svg, Siam mapped: a history of the geo-body of a nation (1995), pp. 20-43
  21. Stephen Jay Gould. The Late Birth of a Flat Earth. In Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History
  22. "Point of View" The Day the Universe Changed
  23. Flat Earth Society FAQ
  30. SF Hub — The Flat Earth Society Archive Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  31. Flat Earth — The History of an Infamous Idea, Christine Garwood, MacMillan (2007)
  36. Ingenious 'Flat Earth' Theory Revealed In Old Map by Natalie Wolchover (June 23, 2011 02:59pm ET) LiveScience.
  38. "They Think the Earth is Flat?". Answers in Genesis. 2008-08-09. "Unlike young-earth creationism, flat-earthism is not scriptural and has no profound theological implications. There are (mostly poetic) passages that could be cited by flat-earthers, such as Revelation 7:1, which refers to the 'four corners of the earth'—but these are most clearly interpreted as figurative." 
  39. Compare: Schadewald, Robert J. (July 1980). "The Flat-out Truth: Earth Orbits? Moon Landings? A Fraud! Says This Prophet". Science Digest. ISSN 0036-8296. "Johnson's beliefs are firmly grounded in the Bible. Many verses of the Old Testament imply that the earth is flat, but there's more to it than that. According to the New Testament, Jesus ascended up into heaven." 
  40. "So, apparently Shaquille O'Neal is a flat-Earther, too". 
  41. "Neil DeGrasse Tyson Gets Into A Rap Battle With B.o.B Over Flat Earth Theory". 
  42. "Yikes! Tila Tequila Was Removed From Celebrity Big Brother for Pro-Nazi Views". 
  44. Gardner, Martin (1957). "Flat and Hollow". Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Second Edition ed.). 
  45. Carter slams Georgia's 'evolution' proposal
  46. In His Name by E. Christopher Reyes, p. 568
  49. Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma
  50. Iraqi astronomer goes on TV to explain why Earth is flat