vendredi 7 février 2014

Is Flat Earth Belief Heretical?

1) Newspeak in Nineteen - Eighty ... er Sorry ... Ninety-Four, 2) Mark Shea Recommended David Palm Who Misconstrues Bible Commission of 1909, 3) Would GKC have Agreed with MkSh that KH was a Bible Idolater?, 4) Correspondence of Hans-Georg Lundahl : With Jonathan Sarfati PhD on Fall and Inquisition, 5) New blog on the kid : Quarterlife is a Bad Term, 5b) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Answering Bill Nye, the Science Guy on a few points, 5c) New blog on the kid : Phil Provaznik/Dalrymple on Potassium-Argon and on Principle, more on Fission Track and Isochrons (a debunking of...), 6) [Back to Creation vs. Evolution :] Scenario impossible, 7) Karl Keating Out of His Depth?, 8) Three Kinds of Proposition, 9) Is Flat Earth Belief Heretical?, 10) HGL's F.B. writings : Between Palm and Sungenis, 11a) HGL's F.B. writings : On Helios in Christian Geocentrism, 11b) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Rivers Clapping Hands, Anaximander, Greek Philosophy at time of Ecclesiasticus ... , 12) Assorted retorts : ... on Geocentrism with Raymond Doetjes and "Imdor"

It would seem to be the case that no. It is not. Neither is believing the correct position, that it is round, as a globe and not as a round disk.

Here is where Talkorigins detail partial Patristic Support for a flat earth:*

Claim CA662:
It is not true that the church used to teach that the Earth was flat. Only two Christian theologians (Lactantius and Cosmas Indicopleustes) taught it, and they were largely ignored and uninfluential. The flat earth myth is a product of Darwinism meant to make it look like religion was the enemy of science when it was not so.

Wells, Jonathan, 1999 (Oct. 20). "Evolution: Teaching the Controversy", debate at Burlington-Edison High School, sponsored by Skagit Parents for Scientific Truth in Education.


1. Wells, who has a PhD in theology, is ignorant of Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephraim Syrus, Athanasius of Alexandria, Diodorus of Tarsus, Epiphanius of Salamis, Hilary of Poitiers, and Severianus of Gabala. It is true that flat Earthism was never a majority or official position of the early church, and that it became practically nonexistent among the educated during and after the Middle Ages, but many of the early Fathers were flat Earthers (Schadewald, 1999).

2. One need not manufacture myths to show a hostility of religion towards science. The church's reaction to heliocentrism is another well known example, as is Wells himself.

Let me highlight a very important passage:

It is true that flat Earthism was never a majority or official position of the early church, and that it became practically nonexistent among the educated during and after the Middle Ages, but many of the early Fathers were flat Earthers (Schadewald, 1999).

What is mythical is not saying there were Christian Theologians and even Church Fathers supporting a flat earth. I have not checked all of the mentioned, but I googled this because I wanted to check if the St Cyril I had heard of was the one of Jerusalem or the one of Alexandria (since there are two Saint Cyrils among the CHurch Fathers).

Of course, some of the cited Church Fathers might not have been taking a position for the flat earth.

But nevertheless they may well have thought it correct and the opposite incorrect, if they had heard of it.

St Cyril thought that it was against the Bible to believe in a round Earth. St Augustine of Hippo was against this and said it was not, while St Basil in Hexameron declared neutrality and that the Bible had no information supporting one or other side sufficiently.

We need to agree with the Church Fathers where all of them agree. Even Luther - as I heard from a convert to Catholicism - appealed to Patristic consensus in favour of the True Presence. If Christ had meant his words purely symbolically, "at least one Church Father among so many" would have dropped even just one word about it. Thus he rejected Zwingli. And in that respect he was closer to Catholic truth than the other reformers of 1517. In that respect the Council of Trent as well as the Councils of Iasi and Jerusalem confirmed a truth taught by Martin Luther. But they also confirmed as a general principle what he used for one purpose.

Now, unlike the Rabbis of Judaism after they rejected Christ and also Hellenistic Jewry and Septuagint, the Church Fathers had both positions as well as neutrality about earth being round or flat.

But they did not have both positions about Earth being still. Indeed, Palm cites one Church Father who in one passage does cite such a Pagan astronomer as having "discovered that the Earth moves around the sun". But the context in the Church Father is not Cosmology as in Genesis, it is rather a book about Mathematics as in general cultural history.

Nor did they have two minds about earth having been created between five and six thousand years before Christ, and the rest of the Universe along with it.

It has been cited as St Augustine's position that one must be prepared to prove a passage of the Bible not in conflict despite appearances of wording to the contrary, with a clear scientific or as he said philosophical discovery. But it must also be taken into account that this was not his general theory about exegesis, it was his comment on one problematic passage. It must also be held in consideration that he equally insisted that a defender of the faith must be rpepared to prove a philosophic, that is scientific, discovery or theorem ill founded if it has been clearly shown in conflict with the Bible. But furthermore, it must be held that St Cyril advocated only that part of the matter.

Catholic Heliocentrics and Millions-of-Yearsists claim to be agreeing with St Augustine's principle, even if disagreeing with his concrete assessment. But they are then disagreeing with St Cyril even in principle and not just in his assessment.

A Catholic Young Earth Creationist and Geocentric, on the other hand, agrees with St Augustine or St Cyril or both in principle, but also with both and with all of them in the assessment of place and duration of earth (still within and contemporary to the rest of the universe) and at least with some - like St Augustine if not St Cyril - as to its shape.

That is why, as I find agreement with Church Fathers obligatory, I am indeed a Round Earthist, but also a Young Earthist and a Still Earthist. I agree with some Church Fathers in principle, and if I appear to be more on St Cyril's side, I may feel myself as being more on Saint Augustine's side. That for principle, but as for assessment in connexions like exegesis of Fourth Day, I am with all of them.

Now, some might point to Papal Infallibility as deciding over the Church Fathers. Not so. Bible and CHurch Fathers are sources for the Magisterium, which can only decide what is unclear about them. Not go against what is clear and has been so for all centuries about them.

Now, the site Talkorigins may feel the position shows hostility to science. But in reality it shows hostility to three things, which though mistaken for scientific attitude are really not so:

  • 1) posing science over the Bible. Science is a manmade attempt at getting to know truth, often successful, but not infallibly so. The Bible is, as Pope Leo XIII and the Council of Trent (it condemned Socinianism as much as Lutheranism, or more) the Inerrant Word of God as to original manuscripts and as to agreement of all extant manuscripts, and infallible as to doctrine when it comes to the version commonly used by the Church. It is not hostility to science to say that science cannot trump thus. It is not science to say it can.

  • 2) posing Uniformitarianism as last word in science. When it comes to effects of causalities not directly wielded by wills, yes, there is pretty good uniformity in growth of plants or falls of stones. But there is no such thing as uniformity in handwriting between all men who can write, not even a uniformity of words in every written message by the same writer. And Christianity claims God is to the Universe and to its story not just as the most general principle or cause of all unconscious causes, but also as a very conscious writer and himself a cause not unconscious, though he uses such.

  • 3) posing Secondary Causes or Natural Causes or generally speaking Non-Divine and even Non-Spiritual causes for all observed phenomena at all levels observable or even reachable by reflection. A very visible effect may have for a very immediate cause no natural one, but only God himself.

So no, Christianity is not inimical to science, but it is inimical to posing science over the Bible, to posing Uniformitarianism as last word in science and to posing Secondary Causes as the only ones one need consider for any effect observable to us as a phenomenon.

CMI will contend that Evolutionism is based on these mistakes, but Heliocentrism is not. I make the contention that Heliocentrism also makes that selfsame mistake about these matters, that the daily round of universe around earth has God for immediate cause and once you accept this "mechanism" as possible for the daily round of the universe around earth there is no way you can disprove it on purely phenomenal grounds. I thus contend that both the latter cases differ from considering the earth flat, and we would even have Patristic authorisation for joining flat earth society if we liked. As - thank you, Talkorigins! - has been shown.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Romwald

* The Talkorigins Archive : Index to Creationist Claims,
edited by Mark Isaak,
Copyright © 2004
Claim CA662

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