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Messages - Daniel

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Announcements / Re: Moderator !
« on: May 10, 2005, 04:49:35 AM »
Quote from: "Goodfriend"
Dear Forum Moderator,

I strongly object against the state this forum is in. No clear picture is given anywhere here on this forum as to how shoddy and limited the evidence for the Round Earth Hypothesis really is. The recent scientific evidence and progress in Flat Earth Science in the world's most prestigious scientific journals is nowhere outlined, and not even a basic explanation of amorphic diperiphoralism, which explains why earth resembles round from a certain altitude, is provided.

In the hope that you will increase your efforts, sincerely,


Forum moderator here!  And I agree.  I apologize for not doing more on the forums.  I've been caught up with work and school for the past few weeks and I've been neglecting the site.

There's been a surprising burst of activity on here in the past week or two.  Last time I checked it, there were 5 members and practically no actual posts apart from FlatEarthBoy's lame attempts at trolling.  Now there are 11 members (ok, not a huge number, but getting better!) and lots of posts -- only about 50% of which is profanity-laden tirades about how stupid the site is!  I was expecting more like 90%, so we're off to a good start. :)

Flat Earth Information Repository / Flat Earth (Wikipedia, April 2005)
« on: April 28, 2005, 02:43:47 PM »
This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for "Flat Earth".  This is only the text of the entry.  For the full entry, complete with links, please refer to the Wikipedia entry.

The flat Earth theory is the idea that Earth is flat, as opposed to the view that the Earth is very nearly spherical (see Spherical Earth).

People from early antiquity generally believed the world was flat, but by the time of Pliny the Elder (1st century) its spherical shape was generally acknowledged. At that time Ptolemy derived his maps from a curved globe and developed the system of latitude and longitude. His writings remained the basis of European astronomy throughout the Middle Ages.

A small number of early Christian writers questioned and even opposed Earth's sphericity on theological grounds. With the astrolabe, Arab astronomy reached Europe in the 11th century, and by the 1100s at the latest, the geocentric model had supplanted it in the minds of the learned people of Europe.


Belief in a flat Earth is found in humankind's oldest writings. In early Mesopotamian thought the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean, and this forms the premise for early Greek maps like those of Anaximander and Hecataeus.

By classical times an alternate idea, that Earth was spherical, had appeared; this required ignorance of the fact that light travels in curved lines. This was espoused by Pythagoras apparently on aesthetic grounds, as he also held all other celestial bodies to be spherical. Aristotle provided physical evidence for the spherical Earth:

    * Ships actually recede over the horizon, disappearing hull-first. In a flat-earth model, they should simply get smaller and smaller until no longer visible, assuming that light travels in a straight line.
    * Travelers going south see southern constellations rise higher above the horizon. This is only possible if their "straight up" direction is at an angle to northerners' "straight up". Thus the Earth's surface cannot be flat.
    * The border of the shadow of Earth on the Moon during the partial phase of a lunar eclipse is always circular, no matter how high the Moon is over the horizon. Only a sphere casts a circular shadow in every direction, a circular disk casts an elliptical shadow in most directions.

Earth's circumference was estimated around 240 BC by Eratosthenes, who knew about Syene (now Aswan) in Egypt where the sun was directly overhead at the summer solstice and used geometry to come up with a circumference of 252,000 stades, which, depending on the estimate of the unit stadia, is within 2% and 20% of the actual circumference, 40,008 kilometres.

Middle Ages

It is certain that a few isolated Christian writers explicitly argued against the spherical Earth. Lactantius (245–325) calls it "folly" because people on a sphere would fall down; Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (315–386) saw Earth as a firmament floating on water; Saint John Chrysostom (344–408) saw a spherical Earth as contradictory to scripture; Severian, Bishop of Gabala (d. 408) and Diodorus of Tarsus (d. 394) argued for a flat Earth; and Cosmas Indicopleustes (547) called Earth "a parallelogram, flat, and surrounded by four seas" in his Christian Topography, where the Covenant Ark was meant to represent the whole universe. Cosmas, however, wrote in Greek, and since he was not translated until the 17th century, he could have had no influence on the thought of western intellectuals in the Middle Ages, who read and wrote, for the most part, in Latin. There are relatively few historical records of the period between 600 and 1000 for either spherical or flat-Earth thinking (owning to the general scarcity of records from that time). Saint Basil (329–379) argued that knowledge about Earth's shape was irrelevant.

Several of these writers are not thought to have been influential in the middle ages due to a scarcity of references to their work in mediaeval writings. Different historians have argued either for very high (e.g. Andrew Dickson White) or very low (e.g. Jeffrey Russell) influence. Russell, a professor of history at Santa Barbara who has written widely on mediaeval religion, heresy and witchcraft, explored the issue in Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians. Russell claims that the Flat Earth theory is a myth used to impugn pre-modern civilisation, especially that of the Middle Ages in Europe. Andrew Dickson White's work is not taken seriously by modern historians of science because of his serious historiographic flaws including using a fictionalised history of Christopher Columbus as a source. Today essentially all professional mediaevalists agree with Russell that the "mediaeval flat earth" is a nineteenth-century fabrication, and that the few verifiable "flat earthers" were the exception.

One critical part of this dispute, first known through Cicero (106-43 BC) and remaining popular throughout the Middle Ages (to as late as the 16th century1), is the belief in antipodes, that is, people living on the opposite side of a spherical Earth, with their feet faced against ours. The earth was in five zones (two icy poles, a hot zone in the equator and two temperate regions). Along the equator was a belt of deadly heat through which no one could pass separating the temperate regions north and south. Some of the most important mediaeval scholars such as Saint Augustine (354-430) argued against antipodes and called them a "fable". However, Augustine explicitly pointed out that the belief in a spherical Earth did not directly imply a belief in antipodes:
"Those who affirm [a belief in antipodes] do not claim to possess any actual information; they merely conjecture that, since the Earth is suspended within the concavity of the heavens, and there is as much room on the one side of it as on the other, therefore the part which is beneath cannot be void of human inhabitants. They fail to notice that, even should it be believed or demonstrated that the world is round or spherical in form, it does not follow that the part of the Earth opposite to us is not completely covered with water, or that any conjectured dry land there should be inhabited by men. For Scripture, which confirms the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, teaches not falsehood; and it is too absurd to say that some men might have set sail from this side and, traversing the immense expanse of ocean, have propagated there a race of human beings descended from that one first man." (De Civitate Dei, xvi, 9)

The phrase "even should it be believed or demonstrated that the world is round" indicates that this was certainly not the consensus of the time, and possibly not even believed by Augustine. This is in clear contrast to the pre-Christian period. Procopius of Gaza (491-518) argued that "if there be men on the other side of the Earth, Christ must have gone there and suffered a second time to save them; and therefore there must have been, as necessary preliminaries to his coming, a duplicate Adam, Eden, serpent, and Deluge!" Saint Boniface (d. 755) accused Vergilius (d. 784) of "teaching a doctrine in regard to the rotundity of the Earth, which was 'contrary to the Scriptures.'" (Catholic Encyclopedia). Pope Zacharias decided that "if it be proved that he held the said doctrine, a council be held, and Vergilius expelled from the Church and deprived of his priestly dignity." Vergilius believed "that beneath the Earth there was another world and other men, another Sun and Moon." Bede (d. 735), another significant theologian, wrote that the Earth was round, and clearly indicated that it was round in the sense of a ball or sphere, rather than a flat disc. It is known that the most important and widely taught theologian of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, believed in a spherical earth. In addition, Dante's Divine Comedy portrays the earth as a sphere.

The primitive level of mediaeval cartography also makes it difficult to estimate the degree of flat-Earth thinking. Most mediaeval maps served as encyclopedias rather than navigational aids. The question whether average people in the Middle Ages believed in a flat Earth may yet be completely separate from the surviving manuscripts, given the low literacy of the time and the fact that it was probably the priests in the churches, not the few noted theologians, who defined public opinion on the matter. The fact that the Elucidarius (c. 1120), an important manual for the instruction of low order clergy in the middle ages, explicitly refers to a spherical earth supports the contention that belief in a spherical earth was widely held. In learned circles, the spherical shape of the earth was well established by the 11th century. Hermannus Contractus is among the earliest Christian scholars to estimate the circumference of the earth with Eratosthenes' method.

Modern times

As of the beginning of the 21st Century, there remain populations within rural cultures which, unexposed to technological civilisation, consider the world to be flat. With no long-distance communication requirements or other technological endeavours, their beliefs appear to suffice.

From a European perspective, Portuguese exploration of Africa and Asia in the 15th century removed any serious doubts, and Magellan and Drake's circumnavigations any remaining ones. The myth that Christopher Columbus's sailors feared they would fall off the edge of the world is false: they were understandably uncertain about a voyage into the unknown, and were also worried that food supplies would run out. In fact Columbus did not provide sufficient supplies to reach China or the East Indies, his original destination, and if America had not existed then those on the voyage might have died of starvation.

Some Christians in England and United States tried to revive Flat Earth thinking in the 19th century. Modern people who do not accept the spherical Earth and base this opinion on Scripture do not represent a continuing school of Biblical exegesis, although some small groups such as the Flat Earth Society work hard to keep the concept alive, and have claimed a few thousand followers [1]  ( Charles K. Johnson ran the Flat Earth Society from his home in California until he died in 2001.


    * Note 1: It was against this theory that George Best wrote his chapter entitled "Experiences and reasons of the Sphere, to prove all parts of the worlde <sic> habitable, and thereby to confute the position of the five zones" (A True Discourse, 1578).

This is taken from the entry for "Flat Earth Society".  I've only included the text of the entry.  If you're interested in reading the article complete with lots of good links, I recommend reading the article on Wikipedia.


Origins: Zetetic Astronomy

A renewed belief in a flat Earth was popularized in the 19th century by the Englishman Samuel Birley Rowbotham, who, after his 1849 publication of a 16-page-pamphlet, Zetetic Astronomy: A Description of Several Experiments which Prove that the Surface of the Sea Is a Perfect Plane and that the Earth Is Not a Globe!, spent the next 35 years publishing and lecturing about his beliefs. He supported his statements both with observational claims and scriptural references. For example, Rowbotham believed that observations of lighthouses by mariners at considerable distances defied the theory of the Earth's rotundity. However, it was shown by his contemporaries that he selectively chose only data from lighthouses that supported his view (about 1.5% of the sample), and ignored that which did not (lighthouses which were no longer visible); the remaining deviation could be explained with atmospheric refraction. He also uses biblical references as Revelation 7:1 where it refers to the "four corners" of the earth, though "circle of the earth" appears in Isaiah 40:22. Rather than take the common view that this was "language of appearance", he interpreted it as a literal flat earth teaching. Regardless, Rowbotham's devotion paid off as the Universal Zetetic Society was founded with branches in Britain and the United States (New York, 1873).

Flat Earth from Space

In 1956, Samuel Shenton renamed the American UZS to International Flat Earth Society. With the advent of the space program, the Society found itself confronted with pictures of Earth made by orbiting satellites and, eventually, by astronauts who had landed on the Moon. When confronted with first NASA photographs of Earth from deep space, Shenton reportedly remarked: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye." The society took the position that the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax, staged by Hollywood and based on a script by Arthur C. Clarke (see Apollo moon landing hoax accusations).

Charles K. Johnson: The Last Flat-Earther?

In 1971, Shenton died and Charles K. Johnson became the new president of the Flat Earth Society. Under his leadership, over the next three decades, the group grew in size from a few members to about 3,000. Johnson distributed newsletters, flyers, maps etc to anyone who asked for them, and managed all membership applications together with his wife, Marjory, who was also a flat-earther. Membership inquiries came from several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and India.

The last world model propagated by the Flat Earth Society holds that we live on a disc, with the North Pole at its center and a 150ft high wall of ice at the outer edge. However, even if the disc theory were true, this would actually contradict a literal interpretation of Revelation 7:1 where it refers to the "four corners" of the earth. Curiously, the resulting map is basically the symbol of the United Nations, something Johnson used as evidence for his position. In this model, the Sun and Moon are each a mere 32 miles in diameter.

A newsletter from the society has been digitized. It gives some insight into Johnson's mindset (all errors original):
   Aim: To carefully observe, think freely rediscove forgotten fact and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions. To help establish the United States...of the world on this flat earth. Replace the science religion...with SANITY

    The International Flat Earth Society is the oldest continuous Society existing on the world today. It began with the Creation of the Creation. First the water...the face of the deep...without form or limits...just Water. Then the Land sitting in and on the Water, the Water then as now being flat and level, as is the very Nature of Water. There are, of course, mountains and valleys on the Land but since most of the World is Water, we say, "The World is Flat." Historical accounts and spoken history tell us the Land part may have been square, all in one mass at one time, then as now, the magnetic north being the Center. Vast cataclysmic events and shaking no doubt broke the land apart, divided the Land to be our present continents or islands as they exist today. One thing we know for sure about this world...the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World.

    We maintain that what is called 'Science' today and 'scientists' consist of the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, the 'Priest-Entertainers' for the common people. 'Science' consists of a weird, way-out occult concoction of gibberish theory-theology...unrelated to the real world of facts, technology and inventions, tall buildings and fast cars, airplanes and other Real and Good things in life; technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory. ALL inventors have been anti-science. The Wright brothers said: "Science theory held us up for years. When we threw out all science, started from experiment and experience, then we invented the airplane." By the way, airplanes all fly level on this Plane earth.

Charles Johnson died on March 19, 2001, leaving the fate of the Flat Earth Society uncertain.

The Flat-Earth Belief of Bible Writers
by Adrian Swindler
The Skeptical Review: 1990: Number One

 All Christian sects recognize the Bible as the primary source of revelation. This compiled material was allegedly inspired by God and written by chosen authors to reveal him and his will to man. The Bible, then, is the foundation of the Christian religion. To Christian fundamentalists who believe in verbal inspiration, the Bible is an infallible foundation. They claim that "the Holy Spirit so dominated and guided the minds and pens of those who wrote (the Bible) as to make their writings free from mistakes of any and all kinds, whether it be mistakes of history or chronology or botany or biology or astronomy, or mistakes as to moral and spiritual truth pertaining to God or man, in time or eternity," (Wilbur F. Tillett, "The Divine Elements in the Bible," The Abingdon Bible Commentary).

Despite the obvious sincerity of those who so view the Bible, the inerrancy doctrine has no basis in fact. That the Bible contains mistakes in every area mentioned by Mr. Till is a truth widely recognized by reputable Bible scholars. One of the most consistent scientific errors that Bible writers made concerned their misconception of the earth's shape. In Psalm 24:2, for example, it was said that "the world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his. He built it on the deep waters beneath the earth and laid its foundations in the ocean depths," (GNB).

This passage and others like it in the Bible make no sense until they are interpreted in terms of the ancient Hebrew conception of the world as represented in the graphic illustrations on the following page that were published in the New American Bible and The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. (Similar ones appear in other Bible dictionaries.) If you will study the graphics and then read the above quotation again, the psalmist's meaning will become quite clear. He thought the earth rested on foundations or pillars that God had set in the ocean depths. Needless to say, modern science knows better.

Here are just a few of the many other passages that prove Bible writers were ignorant of Earth's spherical shape:

Daniel 4:7-8, "I saw a tree of great height at the center of the world. It was large and strong, with its top touching the heavens, and it could be seen from the ends of the earth." This was allegedly an inspired dream, yet it conveys a flat-earth concept, because no matter how tall a tree would be, people on the other side of a spherical earth could not see it.

Matthew 4:8, "The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and displayed before him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence...." The only plausible reason for the "very high mountain" was that the altitude would make it possible to see to the ends of the earth. Only on a flat earth would this be remotely possible, so the New Testament writers were as ignorant as the Old.

In Genesis 11:4, the people wanted to build a tower up to heaven. If you look at the graphics above, you can see their concept of heavenly bodies under the dome, not all that far away. Presumably, the Lord was afraid they would be able to accomplish their plan, so he caused them to speak various languages. This, of course, is not the reason people speak different languages, but nothing is too fantastic for the ignorant to believe.

The following references show that Bible writers thought there was water above a solid dome with floodgates (look at the graphics again) that could be opened to make it rain:

Job 38:22, "Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, and seen the treasury of the hail?" Look at items two and three in the graphic from the Interpreter's Dictionary, and the intended meaning of this statement becomes very clear.

Psalm 104:3, 13, "You stretch the heavens out like a tent, you build your palace on the waters above.... You water the mountains from your palace." Here God dwells in a palace above the waters over the firmament or dome. To water the mountains, he opens the floodgates. Quite unscientific!

Genesis 1:6-7, "Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places... and it was done. So Godmade a dome, and it separated the water under it from the water above it." So the NAB and The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible are quite correct in their graphic representations of what the Bible writers believed and taught. How many of you readers believe the earth is flat? The Bible teaches it is!

Christian fundamentalists have used various scriptures to try to prove that Bible writers knew the earth was round. Since I have already shown that these writers thought the earth is flat, if some verses actually do teach that it is round, then there is a contradiction in the Bible and the fundamentalists lose anyway.

Job 38:13-14 is sometimes quoted as a round-earth text: "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment." Claim is made that the statement about the earth "turn(ing) as clay to the seal" was a reference to the earth's rotation, but this passage has nothing to do with movement. The word used was haphak, which meant "to convert, to change, or to make clear." It is the same word that was used in Exodus 7 in reference to Aaron's rod turning into a serpent and the waters of Egypt turning to blood, so rather than the word meaning turning in the sense of movement, it meant turning in the sense of changing. The GNB clarifies the meaning in Job 38:14: "Daylight makes the hills and valleys stand out like the folds of a garment, clear as the imprint of a seal on clay." So, far from teaching the revolution of the earth, this was merely a reference to the effects of sunlight in the morning. Notice also that the KJV refers here to "the ends of earth." This would indicate a flat earth, since there are no ends to a globe.

Job 26:7 has also been cited as proof that the writer of this book knew that the earth was a sphere: "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place and hangeth the earth upon nothing." An NAB footnote at this verse says, "The North: used here as a synonym for the firmament, cf. Is. 14:13," (emphasis inserted). Thus, we read, "He stretches out the dome (firmament) over the empty space." In other words, the dome was unsupported in the middle. The reference in Isaiah 14:13 says, "You (King of Babylon) were determined to climb up to heaven and place your throne above the highest stars (see the graphics). You thought you would sit like a king on that mountain in the north where the gods assemble." The "north" was indeed used as a synonym for the heavens or firmament, so the passage was actually speaking of a "mountain in the heavens where the gods assemble."

"He... hangeth the earth upon nothing" simply expressed a Hebrew belief that the flat earth, although supported by pillars, did not rest on the back of Atlas or a turtle or an elephant, as their pagan neighbors believed. In this Job was right but not because he was inspired; otherwise, he wouldn't have said in the same context, "The pillars of the heavens tremble (see the graphics) and are stunned at his thunderous rebuke," (26:11). He thought the thunder was God's voice!

Fundamentalists use Isaiah 40:22 to argue that Earth's rotundity was known to the writer: "It is he (God) that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." They misunderstand the first half of the verse, which is clarified by the placement of "God's throne" in the NAB graphic, and they avoid the second half. The NAB gives us a proper translation of the verse: "He sits enthroned above the vault (dome) of the earth.... He stretches out the heavens like a veil, spreads them out like a tent to dwell in." See the graphic illustrations again and check the Hebrew concept of firmament as explained in Eerdmans and other reliable Bible dictionaries.

The Hebrews were inspired by nothing more than their political and religious motivations. Thus, being ignorant of scientific facts, they thought the earth was flat, that sick people were possessed by demons, and that essentially everything was caused by either gods or demons. Unfortunately, many people are still just as ignorant.

The Flat-Earth: Still an Embarassment to Bible Inerrantists
by Adrian Swindler
The Skeptical Review: 1990: Number Three

 As I proved in an earlier article ("The Flat-Earth Belief of Bible Writers," Winter Issue, 1990, pp. 9-11), the Hebrews conceived the world as a three-storied structure that included a flat-earth belief. That they believed in such an unscientific concept should not surprise us, because they were surrounded by pagan cultures much older than theirs whose cosmologic views were very similar. The Hebrews had simply borrowed this concept from their pagan neighbors. In Man and the Cosmos, Lars Thunberg described the pagan cosmology of two of those pagan neighbors:

The Babylonians thought of heaven as a great vault, immobile and solid, whose foundations rested on a vast ocean (apsu, meaning "the deep"). Above the vault (dome, firmament) was the "dwelling of the gods" from which the sun comes through a door every morning and returns every evening through another door. The earth was supposed to be a mountain, hollow underneath, also supported by ap-su. The abode of the dead, sheol, the land of darkness and the shadow of death, was just above the hollow interior but inside the earth' crust. The Egyptians held similar ideas. As fanciful, and even naive, as these ideas appear now, they represented the thinking of the day" (1985, pp. 26-27).

The similarity of these pagan ideas to the Hebrew conception of the cosmos should be apparent to everyone who is familiar with the Old Testament scriptures.

In the lead article of this issue, however, Jerry McDonald, a Church-of-Christ preacher in Oskaloosa, Kansas, took exception to my first article on this subject. In so doing, he said that no scholar who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible would take the position that there are mistakes in the original autographs of the Bible. That was a rather simplistic observation. It states the obvious and needs no comment. It is a lot like saying a theist would never say that God does not exist.

But what is this "original autographs" business? There are absolutely NONE, so how could anyone know that there were no mistakes in them? The copies we do have are obviously not the same as they once were. In 1958, Professor Morton Smith of Columbia University discovered in a monastery near Jerusalem a letter containing a missing fragment of the Gospel of Mark that had been deliberately suppressed by Bishop Clement of Alexandria. It originally followed Mark 10:34 where Jesus, after predicting the approaching death of the "Son of man," said, "... and after three days he will rise again":

And they came unto Bethany, and certain woman, whose brother had died, was there. And coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me." But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days, Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence arising, he returned to the other side of Jordan," (Secret Gospel, p. 14ff).

In present versions, this same young man is apparently mentioned in Mark 14:51: "And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked."

This secret gospel was suppressed by Clement because the Carpocratians were using it to prove that Jesus approved of homosexual activity. This fragment was about the raising of Lazarus, and, like most accounts of the gospels, it varies from John's version. Professor Smith thinks that homosexuality was probably not involved here but rather the description of a typical mystery school initiation--a ritualized and symbolic death and rebirth of the sort so prevalent in the Middle East at that time. The point is clear, however, that we don't have all of the old copies now, so how much more has been excised, added, and altered? No one can tell.

A similar case concerns what the voice in Luke 3:22 said after the baptism of Jesus. Justin Martyr quoted it as, "Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee." He said that this was in the "Memoirs of the Apostles," (Dialogue with Trypho, p. 190 & ciii 6). The Codex Bezae, the Old Latin, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and other western authorities quoted it the same. But is it that way in your copy? No! So is the Bible complete? Infallible? Inspired of God? The fact is that we can determine very little about who wrote and when they wrote most of the Bible.

In Harmony of the Gospels, A. T. Robertson, M. A., LL. D., Litt. D., one of Jerry's old fundamentalist scholars whom the Church of Christ has used for years, said this about the Bible writer Luke:

Luke is the first critic of the life of Christ whose criticism has been preserved to us. Others had drawn up narratives of certain portions of Christ's work. Others still had been eyewitnesses of the ministry of Jesus and gave Luke their oral testimony. Luke sifted it all with care and produced an orderly and reasonably full narrative of the earthly ministry of Jesus. We cannot reproduce all the sources Luke had at his command, but it is clear that he followed in the main our gospel of Mark, as anyone can see for himself by comparing the two Gospels in this Harmony. Both Matthew and Luke made use of Mark. But they had other sources too.

So here is your scholar, Jerry! He admits that Luke and the writer of Matthew were about as inspired as you are. The very fact that Luke wrote his gospel shows that he considered all others questionable and that he was going to give the straight dope to Theophilus. If Luke had thought the other gospels were correct and complete, all he would have had to do was point to them as faithful accounts of the story.

So with the theory of "inerrant original autographs" put to rest, we can now turn to Jerry's views on scholarship. He didn't care too much for my scholars. Ian Wilson and Richard Friedman are indeed two of them, but others would include the 100+ translators of the New American Bible and The Good News Bible. To these can also be added the ones who gave us The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible and the 74 who compiled the New Jerome Bible Commentary. And that is only a start. My scholars are the professors of philosophy and religion at the major universities in this country and Western Europe. These are honest people in their fields, who will not sell out to ignorant and prejudiced fundamentalists. On the other hand, Jerry's "scholars" are the old manipulators who are adept at using possibility answers to "explain" the insurmountable inconsistencies, contradictions and absurdities in the Bible. Possibly this, maybe that, it could be, it might be--this is their strength. My! My! It's so easy to pull the wool over the sheep's eyes.

Jerry's 19th century scholars have presided over nearly 300 fighting fragments of Christianity that cannot agree on much of anything. Of course, even the scholars disagree on a multitude of interpretations. The Church of Christ has been relying on characters like these for almost two hundred years and has at least 10 divisions, all of which claim to be the "one true church." The "doctors" of this church are constantly at one another's throats, with J. D. Bales (Harding College) and Thomas B. Warren (Freed-Hardeman College) disgreeing vehemently over marriage issues and other interpretative matters. As editor of The Spiritual Sword, Warren tried with pontifical pronouncements and "definitive" treatment of all subjects to write the creed for the church. It didn't work!

Jerry even quoted three 19th century scholars whom, if they were still alive, he would not even allow in his pulpit on Sunday morning, men who believed that baptism is not essential, that babies should be baptized, that pouring and sprinkling in baptism is acceptable and that a 1000-year literal reign of Jesus is coming. Jerry loves them when he can use their deceptions, possibilities, and perversions, but he would never give them the right hand of fellowship.

As for the opinion of scholars, I think even Jerry has heard of Bultmann. He, knowing of the three-tiered structure of the world taught by the Bible, made this cogent observation:

The whole conception of the world which is presupposed in the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament generally is mythological, i.e., the conception of the world as structured in three stories, heaven, earth, and hell; the conception of the intervention of supernatural powers in the course of events; and the conception of miracles, especially the conception of the intervention of supernatu- ral powers in the inner life of the soul, the conception that men can be tempted and corrupted by the devil and possessed by evil spirits. This conception of the world we call mythological because it is different from the conception of the world which has been formed and developed by science since its inception in ancient Greece and which has been accepted by all modern men, (Jesus Christ and Mythology, 1958, p. 15).

The pre-scientific character of the Bible is obvious to all who will read it objectively.

Jerry spoke of "faulty translations," yet he uses the KJV. "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God...." What? "Wot ye not...." This is the nearly 400-year-old language of the KJV. There are thousands of words that are either mistranslated or obscurely rendered and several others that are now obsolete. Besides this, the KJV was too highly colored in many places with the party opinions and ideas of those who translated it to be considered a faithful record. In the words of Dr. Macknight, "It was made a little too complaisant to the king in favoring his notions of predestination, election, witchcraft, familiar spirits, and kingly rights, and these, it is probable, were also the translators' opinions. Their translation is partial, speaking the language of and giving authority to one sect." And he imparted this not to the translators alone but to those who employed them, for even some of the translators complained that they could not follow their judgment in the matter but were restrained by "reasons of state." So the KJV is not a translation from the oldest MSS--there are no originals--but merely a revision of the versions then in use. Those versions had only eight MSS available, whereas there are about 700 Greek MSS now available. What do these facts say about the reliability of the KJV?

With Jerry's complaints and quibbles about inerrant original autographs, liberal scholars, and faulty translations out of the way, I can now address the "rebuttal" arguments in his article. Space will allow us to reprint only one of the graphics from my first article, so if you have saved the first issue of TSR, you might want to keep it close at hand for reference purposes as I analyze Jerry's "counterarguments."

PSALM 24:1-2. Jerry didn't seem to understand why I cited this passage. My point here and throughout was to show that the graphic illustrations of the NAB and The Interpreter's Bible were accurate in depicting the Bible writers' conception of a three-tiered universe, with heaven, hell, and a flat earth. A verse that touches on any one of those three tiers, as these do, confirms the graphics that contain all three. Jerry said nothing about this.

But one of his scholars has tried to circumvent the obvious embarrassment of this passage. Scholar Barnes said, "As the earth appeared to be surrounded by water, it was natural to speak of it as founded also upon the waters...." Natural indeed to the pre-scientific, ignorant primitive mind but absolutely false nevertheless! In fact, Barnes' statement is an admission that the writer was wrong and was basing his statements on appearance rather than fact. Furthermore, Barnes himself is in error in this statement: "The earth has been elevated above them (the seas)...." That is absolutely incorrect. The earth is not built upon the seas; it contains the seas. The vast majority of the land is under the water with some rising above it. The Bible is wrong; the earth (Barnes' and Strong's "globe") is NOT founded upon the seas! Anyone should easily recognize that Jerry's scholars lived recently enough to know from science that the earth is round, and that they simply inserted scientific knowledge into their definition of tebel as meaning "the earth" and by extension "the globe." By their extension, the earth is a globe, but their extending the meaning of the word results in a vicious lie! There is absolutely NO Hebrew word for globe in the sense of Earth, because those ancients thought the earth was flat. By their extensions, Barnes and Strong simply lied. They extended the truth, and that constitutes lying. Young's Analytical Concordance has every instance where the words translated earth are used, and NOT ONCE does the root mean globe. Jerry's fundamentalist scholars have been clearly discredited.

DANIEL 4:10. The dream and interpretation of it in this passage were, according to the story, inspired by God. This was not like one of Jerry's dreams, which is caused by something he eats, but was a sensible dream with a sensible interpretation. That dream clearly presented a flat earth with a tree at the center that could be seen from the ends of the earth. This expression was used over and over in the Bible, as it was here and in Job 38:13-14, and Bible writers used it because they thought the earth was flat and had ends, just as most people did at the time of Columbus and before. Jerry said, "We still use that language, even though we know the earth has no ends." That's true, but the expression originated in a time when people did think the earth had ends. Our language is filled with unscientific expressions, such as sunrise and sunset, that originated when people thought they conveyed scientific fact. They are in our language, because we have a tendency to retain such idioms long after we know them to be erroneous.

MATTHEW 4:8. The only reason for taking Jesus to an "exceedingly high mountain" was for a visibility factor that would show him ALL the kingdoms of the world, just as taking him to the highest point of the temple was to give falling distance. Jerry appealed to Dungan and the hermeneutic principle of word substitution. I agree wholeheartedly with this principle and will, to Jerry's embarrassment, shortly use it myself. However, Jerry wants to substitute Palestine for the world in this passage, so let's look at the consequences of this substitution. The same word kosmos was used in Mark 16:15: "Go into all Palestine and preach the gospel...." Well, well, well!

On this verse, Jerry had his scholars contradicting each other and himself. Barnes said, "... we need not suppose that there was any miracle when they (the kingdoms) were shown to the savior." But Boles said, "The devil may have had supernatural power and presented Jesus with a mental vision of 'all the kingdoms of the world....'" So Jerry goes along with Barnes who claimed only a tiny world was involved and therefore no miracle happened, but then he quoted Boles who gave the devil credit for a miraculous showing of all kingdoms of the earth in a vision! This is a fundamentalist nightmare. Their own scholars disagree with each other, and all they can propose is maybe, possibly, could be, perhaps, it is possible, ad infinitum and ad nauseam. So please explain something, Mr. Boles et al. Why take Jesus to an "exceedingly high mountain" only to show him a MENTAL VISION? Hogwash and balderdash! Barnes, Jerry, et al, how much could you tempt a person by showing him the glory of Palestine? Glory? What glory? A depressed, primitive, third-worldlike area! You and your pitiful scholars are batting exactly zero, and you don't get any better.

GENESIS 11:4. The language and context here clearly shows an anthropomorphic god was afraid that, if he left the people to their own devices, they would reach heaven where his throne was. Yes, Jerry, those writers were just like you were in your childhood, but they had no one to teach them science as you had. The only reason you don't feel the same way about the distance to the stars now is because you have been taught scientific facts. It isn't because you're an adult but because you have been taught that the earth is not flat and that the stars are billions of miles away. Science is your teacher and not the Bible. Hold to the Bible and you, like the Amish and the people of Zion City, Illinois, will believe the earth is flat. We can at least credit them with honesty. They believe this because they believe the Bible, but you are trying to explain these things away.

Jerry's scholar Leupold carried no weight at all with his foolish comment: "It cannot but work harm to let this situation continue." How ridiculous! Those people couldn't have hurt a thing with their ziggurat. Many of them were built in that area at this time. Language didn't come from a god confounding their speech; it developed from grunts and growls and has been changing ever since. The English of 500 years ago was so different from ours that, if we were taken back in time, we wouldn't be able to understand it.

JOB 38:22. This Bible writer had no idea how snow and ice are formed, so he had his god pose this as a problem for Job. Jerry's Barnes gives us another idiotic and unsupported statement, but the scholars who translated the NAB, The Interpreter's Bible, and MATC understood clearly that god was telling Job that he stores up the snow and hail. But we know very well how hail and snow are formed; it is no mystery at all. Job's god lied to him and told him he kept the snow and hail "ready for times of trouble, for days of battle and war." We know, of course, that there was no god involved, merely an uneducated, pre-scientific writer.

Let's look, for example, at the questions this god allegedly asked Job. They are either questions that little children in school could easily answer or those that are based on erroneous conceptions. "What holds up the pillars that support the earth? Who laid the cornerstone of the world?" (v:6). ANSWER: There ain't any, and nobody! "Who closed the gates to hold back the sea?" (v:8). ANSWER: Nobody, because there are no gates. "Have you walked on the floor of the ocean?" (v:16). ANSWER: People have, so what? "Do you know where light comes from or what the source of darkness is?" (v:19). ANSWER: What a question! It reminds me of an old "little moron" joke. In a class discussing the relative importance of the sun and the moon, the teacher asked, "Which is more important, the sun or the moon?" The little moron answered, "Why, the moon is more important! It gives us light at night when we need it; the sun is there in the daytime when it's already light." This entire chapter in Job is laughable to anyone educated in science.

GENESIS 1:6-7. Jerry quibbled over the meaning of dome, expansion, firmament, and vault and then quoted Leupold again, who said that the firmament surrounding the earth is simply an air space. Now where did Leupold get that? Ipsi dixit will not do. What scripture did he rely on? It is simply an explanation without evidence. As fundamentalists are so prone to do, Jerry accepted it and then said that this air keeps the mist, fog, and rain apart from the earth. So Jerry is still a child. I've seen all of those elements in very close connection with the earth but never at all separated.

To test the soundness of his theory, let's use Jerry's hermeneutic trick and substitute air for firmament:

And God said let there be lights in the air of the heavens to separate the day from the night... and let there be lights in the air of the heavens to give light upon the earth.... And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the air of the heavens to give light upon the earth, (Gen. 1:14-17).

Now isn't that something? All of those heavenly bodies up there in the air! That means they are all within 200 miles of the earth. Does this mean the moon is not 238,000 miles away? The sun is not 93 million miles out in space? How do our space vehicles get past that vast array of bodies that are all up there in the air?

Let there be air in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. And God made the air and separated the waters which were under the air from the waters which were above the air. And it was so. And God called the air heaven, (vv:6-8).

Now isn't that a shocker? Is there actually water above the AIR? Mind you, that is not in the air but above the AIR! Not water in the firmament but water above the firmament! Are the sun and moon and all the stars up there in the AIR? Jerry's Dungan (a real scholar) and hermeneutics are very useful, eh?

My use of Psalm 104:3, 13 was misunderstood by Jerry (so what else is new?). Check the NAB graphic illustration again, and you will see that the throne of god is above the dome and the floodgates (sluices) need merely be opened from god's palace. Also, the expression "who lays the beams of his chambers in the waters" has reference to his throne established on the waters above the dome. Since this language supports the graphic illustrations I referred to, it teaches the three-tiered structure, including the flat earth.

Job 38:12-14. Jerry tried to justify the Bible writers for saying "the ends of the earth" on the grounds that people still say this. Just a tiny bit of thought should have suggested to him that the expression originated in a time when people did believe the earth was flat. In my comments on Daniel 4:10, I addressed the issue of unscientific idioms. The same principle applies here, so nothing more needs to be said about it.

Job 26:7. Apparently, Jerry didn't realize I was answering an argument that claims this verse teaches a global earth. It teaches no such thing, and my statement on this should be read again with that context in mind.

Job 26:11. The fact that the writer speaks of the "pillars of the earth" proves again that my graphic illustrations are correct. Jerry hangs in there with his discredited Barnes who speaks of "mountains which seem to support the earth," (emphasis, AS). Can you believe an adult of even average intelligence would make a statement like that? Job 38:6 asks, "What holds up the pillars that support the earth?" I suppose Barnes would have said the pillars "seem" to support the earth. Barnes adds to what is written and deserves the condemnation of Revelation 22:18.

Isaiah 14:13. Jerry misunderstood my use of this passage, even though my argument was clearly directed against those who use it to prove the writer thought the earth was round. My original statement should be reread with that context in mind.

Isaiah 40:22 was used for the same purpose as above. I showed that this verse does NOT teach a round earth. Poor Jerry thinks the old King James per-Version is the correct one, even with its 20,000 errors. I wonder if those translators were right when they substituted easter for passover in Acts 12:4? The NAB and GNB translators made Isaiah 40:22 quite clear: "He sits enthroned above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; he stretches out the heavens like a veil, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in." Isn't that exactly what the graphic illustrations showed? Of course it is! Isn't it nice to know that the heavens are spread out like a tent? All the tents I have seen were domed over a flat surface. My, my, what you can learn from the Bible! This is the very verse medieval churchmen quoted to prove the earth was flat! Now comes Jerry McDonald to tell us it teaches the earth is round.

Those old churchmen understood the Bible much better than Jerry and his deceptive, shifty, sly, and crooked commentators. Consider, for example, this quotation from Man and the Cosmos:

We now come to the "dark ages" in the development of cosmology. From Aristotle and Ptolemy until Copernicus thirteen centuries later, no apparent advance had been made. It even took until A.D. 1000 for the West to accept a round earth and Ptolemy's system. However, to understand the background of the Copernican revolution that was to follow, we should know the important factors of those intervening, nonproductive years, which included political and religious considerations affecting the study of cosmology.... In its desire to stamp out any pagan influence, the church soon adopted a rigid interpretation of Scriptures and rejected anything that might even remotely challenge her influence. Lacantius (A.D. 240 ca.- 320), writing on the false wisdom of the philosopher, ridiculed the belief in a round earth. His arguments were the ancient ones about the impossibility of walking upside down and places where the rain and snow fall upward. He quoted Isaiah 40:22, "It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; he stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in," (pp. 64-65).

Strange, isn't it, that Jerry and Lacantius quoted the same verse, one to prove the earth is flat and the other to prove it is a globe? Lacantius had a better understanding than Jerry, because the idea in this verse was the ancient one in which God sat enthroned above a dome (vault, firmament, expanse) that he had stretched out as a tent to dwell in.

Jerry alleged that Farrell Till is not sure of his position and assumes that I take the same position. Well, he assumes far too much. I know Farrell quite well, and both he and I are very sure of our position. Also, I am very sure the Bible is inspired but not by a god. No god would make those horrendous mistakes.

Jerry bragged that he has shown my position to be false, but in fact he has failed most miserably in this regard. That kind of attitude reminds me of the little boy whistling to cover his fear as he goes by the graveyard.

I have clearly established the correctness of the graphic illustrations of NAB, The Interpreter's Bible, and Man and the Cosmos. A dome over a flat earth, which was built on the seas, with pillars reaching into the seas to support the earth and sheol deep in that flat earth--this was the three-tiered world of the Hebrews, the world their writers described in the Bible.

(Adrian Swindler's address is P. O. Box 695, Elmwood, IL 61529.)

Flat Earth Information Repository / The Plane Truth
« on: March 15, 2005, 02:48:32 PM »

Charles K. Johnson, president of the International Flat Earth Research Society

By Michael Yockel

The Plane Truth

In the wild 1978 Hollywood thriller Capricorn One, jittery federal officials foist a faked manned mission to Mars on an unsuspecting American public, then claim that the space capsule, including its three astronauts, tragically incinerated upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere. An unwitting nation mourns. After playing along with the charade for months in seclusion, the trio of still-very-much-alive fly guys–James Brolin, Sam Waterston and (gulp) O.J. Simpson–correctly deduce that, given their recent "deaths," the sand in their respective hourglasses is really about to run out. The astronauts' continued existence contravenes the "truth," and therefore they must be rubbed out. So begins a hyperkinetic 90-minute chase, with Brolin, Waterston and O.J. attempting to outwit space agency lizard Hal Holbrook and his cadre of helicopter-flying assassins.

The film's revelations came as no cosmic slap upside the head to Charles K. Johnson, who, as president of the International Flat Earth Research Society, realized from day one that all of NASA's projects were choreographed hoaxes. For example, Johnson contended that the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and moon walk were filmed secretly at Meteor Crater in central Arizona, with a script written by science fiction behemoth Arthur C. Clarke. "It's all one big lie," Johnson sniffed to the Augusta Chronicle in 1998. "It's nothing more than a piece of clever, stage-managed, science-fiction trickery."

Back in the fall of 1980 a then-56-year-old Johnson similarly pooh-poohed the impending maiden voyage of the space shuttle, built and tested at Edwards Air Force Base, a mere six miles north of his remote five-acre spread in Southern California's Mojave Desert. "Do you know what they're doing at Edwards right now?" he rhetorically asked Science Digest at the time. "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is made right where they claim they're going to land the shuttle. Edwards is strictly a science-fiction base now. Buck is a much better science program, considerably more authentic. In fact, I recommend that the government get out of the space business and turn the whole thing over to ABC, CBS, and NBC. The tv networks do a far superior job. They could actually pay the government for rights, and it wouldn't cost the taxpayers a penny."

Typical Johnson humor. From his tumbleweed-pummeled hillside home in the community of Hi Vista–20 miles east of Lancaster, a half-mile from his nearest neighbor, and light-years from a world inhabited almost exclusively by sphere-deluded "globularists"–Johnson, along with his wife Marjory, secretary of the Flat Earth Society, devoutly carried the flickering torch for the world's dwindling "planists," people who adamantly insist that our planet resembles a pancake, an LP record, or a pizza pie (take your pick). No winking postmodernists, the Johnsons were entirely, forgive the expression, on the level, basing their beliefs on a curious mix of Biblical scripture–the most oft-cited entry being "the four corners of the earth," from Revelation–and copious empirical experimentation.

"The facts are simple," Johnson declared to Science Digest. "The earth is flat. Nobody knows anything about the true shape of the world. The known, inhabited world is flat. Just as a guess, I'd say that the dome of heaven is about 4000 miles away, and the stars are about as far as San Francisco is from Boston."

Resolutely precise at times, Johnson's cosmology also asserts: (1) An Earth of indeterminate dimensions, with a centrally located magnetic north (North Pole), plus a wall of ice believed to be 150 feet tall at the perimeter. No one has yet reached the edge.

(2) The sun and moon, each 32 miles in diameter, circle Earth at a height of 3000 miles at its equator, located midway between the North Pole and the ice wall. Each functions as a "spotlight," with the sun radiating "hot light," the moon "cold light." Their apparent rising and setting are caused by optical illusions.

(3) Gravity doesn't exist: "It's like some weird religious doctrine that you can't explain."

Surrounded by Joshua trees and creosote bushes, the Johnsons' outpost functioned for nearly 30 years as world HQ for the Flat Earth Society, run out of their house's spare bedroom. The couple moved to the desert in 1972 after Charles assumed presidency of the society. Previously he worked for 25 years as an airplane mechanic in San Francisco, where in 1959 he met Marjory, an Australian. (Johnson never grew weary of repeating this jibe: "My wife was born in Australia. You'll have to ask her, 'Did you ever hang by your feet when you were in Australia? How was it?'") In the Mojave they made do without a conventional electrical line (a generator provided power) and running water (they hauled it uphill from a tank), but allowed a telephone. Both Johnsons practiced vegetarianism. An inveterate animal rescuer, Johnson took in and cared for a pack of dogs and a handful of cats, not forgetting the gaggle of chickens that roamed the premises.

They certainly looked the part of central-casting fringies. A photograph in the 1984 book Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions freezes them in an American Gothic-gone-Dogpatch pose, with a gray-bearded Charles dressed in his polyester Sunday best. "We're two witnesses against the whole world," Johnson admitted to Science Digest. "We've chosen that path, but it isolates us from everyone. We're not complaining; it has to be. But it does kind of get to you sometimes."

To stave off periodic loneliness, he attended to his flat-earth ministry: replying to queries mailed in from all over the world ("Everybody who writes gets an answer"), serving a constituency he claimed topped out at 3500, and devotedly cranking out Flat Earth News, the organization's quarterly newsletter. Chain-smoking his own exquisitely hand-rolled cigarettes and mainlining liters of coffee, Johnson composed fractured prose chockablock with capital letters, boldfaced type, and exclamation points for articles whose headlines screamed "WORLD A STRETCHED OUT PLANE" and "CHALLENGER BLOWN UP BY GOD" and, finally, the resolute "GOD SAYS EARTH IS FLAT."

With complete disregard for orthodox punctuation and syntax, these stories proclaimed the most recent findings regarding government scheming, or fervently reiterated the planist worldview. A representative passage from a 1988 issue about the space shuttle program reads: "[M]edia moguls went to ask Mr. Bush–was the earth flat? BUSH as well as Reagan. So he used the same praise about the phonie the Carnie ANTI-CHRISTS the slobbering foul degenerate dogs, the 'astronauts' in Discovery, he said to the Degenerate anti-christs, YOU made us proud, etc... BUT he then went on to say, EARTH IS FLAT, GOD EXISTS. HE IS IN HEAVEN, A PLACE, THAT IS UP ABOVE EARTH, ABOVE THE USA. THAT HE BELIEVED AT DEATH OUR SOUL GOES TO HEAVEN ABOVE THIS FLAT EARTH!"

In addition to former Presidents Bush and Reagan, Johnson often pointed out that history teems with many flat-earth notables, among them Jesus, Moses, George Washington, Columbus, and the triumvirate of FDR, Churchill and Stalin.

Once wound up Johnson could claim just about anything, occasionally weaving at-the-moment newsmakers into wide-eyed conspiracy theories: The "Space Shuttle Caper," as he termed it back in 1984, functioned as a cover for airlifting John De Lorean's cocaine; and the 1994 arrest of O.J. Simpson could be traced to his appearance in Capricorn One–"They're finally going after O.J. because he helped unmask the space hoax."

To help such hard truths go down easier, Johnson sprinkled into the newsletter personal doggerel ("Why God Made Little Girls"), reprinted excerpts from William Carpenter's 1885 manifesto One Hundred Proofs That the Earth Is Not a Globe, and ceded the editorial floor to Marjory.

Born July 24, 1924, in San Angelo, TX, Charles Kenneth Johnson caught on to the globular fraud as a schoolboy while contemplating a lake near his west-central Texas home. "Obviously water's flat, isn't it?" he snorted to the Los Angeles Times in 1992. "They're trying to tell you this water's bent." He made his first official flat-earth inquiries in 1942, contacting planist mullah, ardent creationist and apocalyptic windbag Rev. Wilbur Glenn Voliva just prior to the latter's death in Zion, IL, ground zero for the movement. Guruship then fell to Englishman Samuel Shenton and his wife Lillian, who founded the International Flat Earth Research Society in 1956; before Samuel died in Dover in 1971, he requested that Johnson succeed him. And so it came to pass.

The mantle carried with it a rich history dating back to the sixth century, when Greek businessman and geographer Cosmas Indicopleustes wrote Christian Topography, the first documented planist work. But flat-earthers enjoyed their widest sway in England from the end of the 18th to the turn of the 20th centuries. Foremost among them was Samuel B. Rowbotham–he called himself "Parallax"–who in the mid-19th century conducted experiments along a straight six-mile length of canal in Cambridgeshire known as the Old Bedford Level. He recorded his data in Earth Not a Globe and Zetetic Astronomy (zetetic derives from the Greek verb zeteo–to seek, to inquire), thereby setting in stone the cosmology mouthed by all subsequent true believers, including Charles Johnson. Buoyed by such evidence, adherents banded together to form the New York Zetetic Society in 1873 and the internationally minded Universal Zetetic Society in 1892.

A persuasive lecturer, Parallax converted many to the cause. Perhaps his most passionate disciples were John Hampden and the aforementioned William Carpenter, who in 1870 represented the planists in a disputatious £500 wager with a prominent globularist based on refereed observations at the Old Bedford Level. The participants wound up in court. Following an ambiguous ruling, Hampden hounded and slandered his adversaries, while Carpenter proselytized in the U.S.

These men gave way to Elizabeth Anne Mould Williams, who in 1874 became Lady Blount upon her marriage to Sir Walter de Sodington Blount. Taking control of the Universal Zetetic Society, Lady Blount wrote, edited and published its house organ The Earth; authored countless planist polemics in other magazines and pamphlets; dashed off flat-earth verse set to music; and in 1898 published the zany novel Adrian Galileo, which features as its heroine a crusading zetetic who closely resembles herself. She, too, repaired to the Old Bedford Level to prove the earth's flatness, this time via photographs.

The zetetic scene shifted to the U.S. in the early 20th century, led by Rev. Voliva, general overseer of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of Zion, IL, a town located north of Chicago on Lake Michigan just south of the Wisconsin border. A refuge for moral zealots, Zion was founded in 1901 by spiritual healer Rev. John Alexander Dowie, who in 1906 was thrust aside as its patriarch by his assistant Voliva. The new boss ran Zion as a theocratic dictatorship, with the flat earth as one of its numerous tenets.

In her 1994 book Kooks, Donna Kossy quotes Voliva as laying down the zetetic law to his votaries in December 1915: "I believe this Earth is a stationary plane; that it rests upon water; and that there is no such thing as the Earth moving, no such thing as the Earth's axis or the Earth's orbit. It is a lot of silly rot, born in the egotistical brains of infidels. Neither do I believe there is any such thing as the law of gravitation. I believe that is a lot of rot, too. There is no such thing! I get my astronomy from the Bible."

No less colorful, Charles Johnson lived up to this legacy when he inherited leadership of the Flat Earth Society. In addition to his ALL-CAPS exhortations in the group's newsletter, he spoke before local Elks, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, dispensed quotable interviews to eager reporters on significant anniversaries of Columbus Day and the Apollo 11 moon walk, and even appeared in an ice cream commercial. (Although dead serious in his beliefs, he did not lack a sense of humor.) And together with Marjory he revived an honored zetetic tradition by measuring the surfaces of Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea near the Mexican border. Conclusion: Earth still flat.

But by 1994 Marjory's declining health–a semi-invalid, she required supplemental oxygen–forced Charles to place Flat Earth News on hiatus so he could care for his wife. He barely hustled her to safety when a fire swept through their home in late September 1995, destroying everything, including the society's membership rolls, records and back issues of the newsletter. The Johnsons relocated to a dilapidated trailer on their property, but Marjory deteriorated further, eventually dying in mid-May 1996.

Their Hi Vista neighbor Jill Fear signed on as Flat Earth Society secretary, and she and Charles, who moved in with his brother Jackie near Lancaster, began republishing Flat Earth News while gradually rebuilding the organization. By the time Johnson died in his sleep, age 76, on March 19, the group boasted more than 100 members. Speaking over the phone from her home, Fear promises to "follow in his footsteps" by continuing to put out the newsletter (P.O. Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93539, or call 661-727-1635).

In the aftermath of the fire that leveled his home five and one-half years ago, Johnson graciously encapsulated his mission for the Arizona Republic. "We're not enemies of America," he explained. "But we don't believe the hoax that the world is a globe. The average person goes along with it because they haven't given much thought to it. If you like the spinning ball, stay with it. But we just want to give people an opportunity to get out of the herd and think for themselves."


MOJAVE DESERT, California - For the employees of Scaled Composites, for founders Burt Rutan and Paul Allen, and for pilot Mike Melvill, today is a day that will be remembered for generations to come. "Our hope is that this will be a benchmark for a lot more people to not only have fun but to reap the benefits that we believe might be there," said Rutan after SpaceShipOne's successful landing. But for the members of the Flat Earth Society, today was just "another day of lies". So said Monterrey, Mexico's Flat Earth Society Meetup group organizer Jose Ortiz, "This is another crafty ploy to... make us accept ... foisted on us by... THERE IS A GOD... scientists with their... more like SPY-ence..." His speech after the alleged flight was available in transcript and RealAudio format on the group's web site.

"I have actually read much of what Chaz Johnson wrote," admitted Burt Rutan, "Not for enlightenment of course, more out of amusement. But I did read his work. It reads much like Mr. Ortiz speaks." Charles K. Johnson was the president of the International Flat Earth Society until his death in 2001. Though the reins of the organization were never officially passed on, and his newsletter "The Flat Earth News" has not been published since 1994, his beliefs are still carried by literally scores of people around the globe.

"Johnson was not the first president, nor was Flat Earth the first such society," related Professor Hubert Warnsforth, a senior fellow of the Institute for the Study of Alternative Science, "He succeeded Samuel Shenton, previously of the Universal Zetetic Society, who held the post until his death in 1971. Admittedly though, the organization enjoyed a much larger audience under Johnson, seeing its membership soar into the lower 200's in the late 80's."

The pilot's comments about the trip, "It's an awesome thing to see. You can see the curvature of the Earth," only serve as fodder for the Flat Earther's. "Mr. Johnson would love this guy," said Armin Delayah, of the Monterrey group, speaking of the SpaceShipOne pilot, "All this 'curvature of the earth' baloney is exactly the sort of thing he lived to debunk. I can almost hear him now, saying 'They still can't touch the Dome of Heaven!' What a man!"

Despite any fears of crashing into the Dome of Heaven, Rutan's group will make a second attempt on October 4th to seal their bid for the Ansari X-Prize, and the lucrative private space tourism market that will surely open up soon afterward.

A very interesting look into the past and present of loyalists of the flat earth in "Eccentric Lives And Peculiar Notions" by John Mitchell.

The flat-earth movement became dormant in Britain in the early 1970s with the death of its last active promoters, Samuel and Lillian Shenton of Dover. They blamed its decline on the 'anti-God, globe-earth indoctrination' of modern education. Yet there are always a few Zetetics who take their own view of things and will dispute orthodoxy down to its very roots. One of the most obstinate was William Edgell of Radstock, Somerset, head of the well-known buillding firm still active in that town. In his book, Does the Earth Rotate?, he complained that whenever he asked his teachers at school for proof of the round-earth theory, all he received was smiles. The object of his book was to persuade authority to reform the education system in accordance with reason, by which he meant the flat-earth doctrine. He described simple experiments by which to disprove the theory of the earth's rotation. These included the usual throwing of balls aloft from moving trains, cars and liners, and he also showed how to convince oneself with a telescope that the Pole Star is a mere 5,000 miles distant, not the fantastic 3,680,000,000,000,000 miles given in textbooks.

    Like many independent thinkers, Mr Edgell was an inventor. He discovered such useful devices as the automatic weighing machine and the free-wheel for bycicles, and he also invented the airless tyre at a time when everyone else was concentrating on a pneumatic version. His much repeated motto was 'Truth will always win'.

    America, the haven of heretics, still boasts a Flat Earth Sosciety, energetically managed by Mr Charles K. Johnson and his wife Marjory of Lancaster, California. It incorporates the remnants of other organizations, such as the Zetetics, the Shentons' group and the followers of Wilbur Glen Voliva of Zion, Illinois. That city was long the headquarters of American flat-earth loyalists, several thousands of them, who largely populated it. They were members of the Christian Apostolic Church, founded in 1895 by John Alexander Dowie, a Scotish prophet and faith-healer. His rejection of the spherical earth followed, as is usually the case, from his literalizing the Bible. Ten years later he himself was rejected by the sect in a revolt led by Voliva, who ruled Zion until he died in 1942. His was a strict government, based of the code of the Scriptures, as he interpreted them. Much of the city's income was from the fines of unwary visitors for crimes such as smoking in the street, driving at more than five miles an hour and whistling on Sunday. There were also profits from Zion Industries, a highly successfull manufacturing business run by Voliva on behalf of the community.

    Voliva also ran a powerful radio station, daily proclaiming the flatness of the earth and prophesying its imminent destruction. In this respect he was like Rowbotham, who believed that the earth would shortly be consumed by fire. Voliva set several successive dates for the cataclysm, and their uneventful passing did nothing to weaken his authority over the people of Zion. He used to offer $5,000 to anyone who could prove that the earth was not a flat plane, and since he was impervious to anyone else's arguments he never found it necessary to pay out.

    Charles Johnson, heir to all the flat-earth kingdoms of the west, is very religious and patriotic. He and Marjory live in a lonely house with many dogs, cats, chickens, but without piped water or electricity. They regard themselves os the last bastion of true Christian orthodoxy in a world corrupted by socialism, atheism and the heresy of a revolving earth. They blame it largely on Britain where these evils were nurtured and where, so they say, the Church of England first established the round-earth dogma. But they are hardly less scornful of the Bible-belt fundamentalists of their own country, who, while holding the line against Darwinism and the anti-scriptural theory of evolution, have given way on the basic issue about the shape of the earth.

    Modern photographs of the earth from space, showing it as a globe, present a challenge to the Johnsons which Parallax, Blount and Voliva never had to face - though no doubt they would have been equal to it. The Johnsons simply deny that the space program ever took place. The whole thing is a hoax. On their outspoken journal, Flat Earth News, they say that the NASA scientists and the world's rulers are all well aware that the earth is flat, but the British Government prevents them from revealing that fact. Arthur C. Clarke was hired to write the script for the first moon landing, and the valuable rights to the production were allowed to America at a Kennedy-Khrushchev meeting in return for Cuba. Hollywood was well able to simulate Armstrong's historic walk on the moon's surface. As proof of this, the Johnsons have dug up a 1950 film, Destination Moon, which closely prefigures the NASA effort nineteen years later. They are well aware of the conspiracies going on around them, nor are they alone in their scepticism. Quite a number of books have been published in America which question the authenticity ot the 1969 moon landing. Charles Johnson claims that the majority of people do not really believe in it. 'There's a certain lurking sanity in everyone's mind,' he says.

    There are very few instances where a person with decided views on whether the earth is flat or spherical has ever been converted to the opposite belief. a notable case was President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic. In 1900, while on his way into exile on board of Dutch man-of-war, he was invited by the captain to step onto the bridge and watch the process of navigation. As a member of the fundamentalist Dutch Reformed Church, Kruger believed literally in the pillars and corners of the flat earth. He learnt from the captain that the ship was navigated on the basis of the earth being spherical, inspected the sextant and other instuments, and then went below for his Bible and threw it into the sea. If the earth was really a globe, he said, then the Book was untrue and of no further interest to him.

by Francis Graham

Early in the history of civilization, peoples in the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates valleys developed an interest in astronomy and a concern about the nature and condition of the Universe they found themselves in. The earliest such models of the Universe developed there depicted a flat Earth, surrounded by high mountains, and a solid dome of a sky upon which stars were placed, and through which water canopies poured their rainfall. Planets, and the sun and the moon, were comparatively small
bodies controlled by divine forces. This model, in place at the time of the Akkadian Empire, and the cities of Ur, and Sumer, is called the Mesopotamian Model.

Other civilizations who adopted it modified it. The center of the flat Earth in became the capital of the adopting civilization. The divine forces behind the motions of the sun, moon and planets were caused by the god(s) and goddess(es) of the adopting civilizations. Sometimes the metallic canopy was personified, such as the Egyptian goddess Nuit becoming the sky.
The model is also presented in the Bible, as discussed by Robert Schadewald in an insightful article. There we find a water canopy, a great Deluge, and a flat earth depicted, with the sun and moon small objects that could stop over valleys (as in Joshua 10) and a tabernacle where the sun was placed at night (Psalm 19). It is particularly meaningful that Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew culture, is said to have been born in Ur.

The Greeks adopted the Mesopotamian model originally, and had their god Helios, and later Apollo, drive the sun chariot across the sky, over a flat Earth. This is clear in a reading of the Iliad, and the myths of Phaeton. However, the Greeks began to develop higher mathematics, particularly geometry, and logical reasoning. These two twin pillars enabled them to make discoveries which caused the Hellenistic Culture to reject the Mesopotamian model.

Earlier Hellenistic natural philosophers had suspected the Earth was a globe by analogy with the sun and moon, but Aristotle seems to have been the first to know this with certainty. Aristotle had gained reputation as the person who wrote down for the first time the comprehensive rules of logical analysis, rules which by and large stand today.  He also was the tutor of no less a person than Alexander the Great. Aristotle noticed that, during a lunar eclipse, the shadow of the Earth on the moon was a
section of a circle, no matter where the moon was in relation to the shadow:to the north, south, east or west. Hence the conclusion was inescapable, after observing many eclipses, that the Earth cast a circular shadow.  While circular flat objects can also cast circular shadows, Aristotle further noted that the shadow of the Earth was circular no matter in which direction the eclipse took place--in Aries, Capricorn, Gemini or Sagittarius-- it was circular in every orientation.  The only object that can
cast a circular shadow when illuminated in any direction is a sphere.  Hence Aristotle was led to the inescapable conclusion that the Earth is sensibly a sphere.

Aristotle's logical reasoning allowed him to postulate, with Eudoxus, that the spherical Earth was at the center of the Universe, with the sun, moon, planets and stars all circling around it on concentric crystal spheres. But the logical reasoning was based on premises developed from a faulty sense of physical processes and falling bodies and motion, which he
regarded as self-evident starting points. Hence, Aristotle was totally wrong about the nature of the Universe and the station of the Earth in it.

The multiple concentric shells of Aristotle and Eudoxus were by no means universally accepted, but became a majority view of most Hellenistic natural philosophers.

The next step in the development of Hellenistic science came from more precise observations of celestial bodies, using essentially moveable sighting holes on large protractors (the telescope was not invented, of course, until 1609) and marked sticks. This was possible with the creation of a large scientific institution, the Library and Museum at Alexandria.

Alexander the Great's conquering army had spread Hellenistic culture as far as India, and had subdued Persia, Babylonia, Palestine and Egypt. When he died young in Babylon, the vast empire was divided among his generals, and the general that received Egypt, was Ptolemy I. Ptolemy provided support for the founding of a large library and museum in Alexandria, a city founded by Alexander the Great.  In this scientific and literary arena, scientific accomplishments were examined and performed.
Eratosthenes measured the size of the Earth correctly. And astronomical observations were performed, Hipparchus, for example, making his large star catalog.

The results of this sequence of observations produced a paradox which was inconsistent with the concentric spheres of Eudoxus. The moving celestial bodies, the moon, the sun, the planets, exhibited an irregularity in motion that the uniformly moving concentric spheres would not explain. Particular among them was retrograde motion of the outer planets, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were unknown in pretelescopic times). Planets exhibit retrograde motion when they seem to stop their usual apparent motion from west to east along or near the ecliptic, reverse direction and for a while go from east to west among the "fixed" stars, and then stop and proceed prograde again.

Two explanations arose in ancient Hellenistic science to explain this phenomenon. The first, by Aristarchus of Samos,placed the sun at the center of the Universe and the Earth as one of the planets going around it, each planet completing its revolution around the sun in a shorter time period than the next planet farther out. As an inner planet, such as the Earth, passed a less speedy outer planet, such as Mars, the outer planet would be seen to lag behind and even move backwards relative to the
much more distant stars. As the Earth rounded the curve of its orbit, however, the outer planet would be seen to move forward again. Also, in Aristarchus' system, the fixed sun only appears to rise and set each day because of the rotation of the Earth.

Aristarchus' system explained retrograde motion well and was, as we now know, the correct choice. Other irregularities in the motion of the planets around the sun could be explained in Aristarchus' system by adding additional circular motions (heliocentric epicycles, as was done by Copernicus) or by assuming the planets orbit on ellipses (the correct choice, as was done by Kepler). However, another system was proposed which also explained retrograde motion.

Claudius Ptolemaeus, or Ptolemy (no relation to the earlier King Ptolemy) proposed such an alternative system around the year 60. In his view, the Earth was essentially near the center of the Universe, and exhibited no motion of any kind, the stars,sun and moon going around it every day. Retrograde planetary motion was explained by adding epicycles, or circles on circles. The main concentric crystal sphere of Eudoxus was preserved in the deferent, centered near the immobile Earth. The epicycle, or
circle on the circle, rotated backwards with respect to the deferent's motion and carried the planet imbedded in its circumference.

The inner planets (Mercury and Venus) in Ptolemy's system orbited on deferents with the same period of revolution as the sun. Their epicycles were large, and allowed them to be taken some angular distance from the sun corresponding to their points of greatest elongation. This was a necessary contrivance to explain why the planets Mercury and Venus can never be seen in opposition. In the Aristarchus (heliocentric) model, it is
obvious: they are inner planets, and cannot get on the opposite side of the Earth than the sun is on.  

Ptolemy first announced his system in a manuscript called the "Planetary Hypothesis". His full-blown theory, however, is found in his much more comprehensive work, "The Mathematical Syntaxis", more commonly called "The Almagest". Although Ptolemy's manuscripts are in Greek, and the "Planetary Hypothesis" only survives in an Arabic translation, you can read an English translation of Ptolemy's Almagest in Volume 16 of the Britannica
Great Books series, which most American libraries have. If you have learned geometry in high school you'll find it very readable.

Ptolemy's system had some early advantages over the Aristarchus system which facilitated its acceptance by Hellenistic natural philosophers. First, it preserved the idea of the Earth's immobility and the erroneous physics of Aristotle ; acceptance of the Aristarchus' system would have necessitated a renewed look at the underlying assumption of that physics. 1st -
Century natural philosophers were apparently unwilling to make those severe changes. Secondly, although there is evidence that Ptolemy fudged some numbers to make his system look more accurate, it could nonetheless be made accurate to any required degree by the addition of epicycles upon epicycles, as some Arabic scholars attempted to do.  This is because of a mathematically permissible technique, Fourier Analysis, which is based on the fact that ANY periodic motion can be described in
terms of a sum of a series of circular motions. In essence, then, Ptolemy's system Fourier-analyzed the Universe.

The last advantage was that, in Aristarchus system, a moving Earth would give a slightly different viewing angle to the stars when they were observed at points on the Earth's orbit six months apart. This effect, called parallax, was not observed by the ancient peephole-tubes and protractors used by the pretelescopic astronomers. The ancient astronomers could have observed parallax if the parallax angle were as large as 2 minutes of arc. For the parallax angle to not be detected, and Aristarchus' system to be true, the stars would have to be over 40 million times the Earth's radius in distance. The natural philosophers of classical times could not believe this; Ptolemy's much smaller, walled in Universe, had the star sphere only 20,000 times the Earth's radius. Much later, of course, in 1838, parallax was measured on the nearest stars, using a split-lens fitted with micrometers for which all previous errors, e.g. flexure, temperature expansion, etc., had been determined and subtracted. A parallax of three
quarters of one arc-second was thereby measured for the nearest star beyond the sun, and that corresponds to a distance of 6.3 billion Earth radii.

As the Roman Empire and Hellenistic civilization collapsed in western and central Europe, the Hellenistic scientific learning fell into the hands of the Christian Church, where it, as well as all other classical learning and mislearning, was filtered through a doctrinal filter. There was intense debate whether the flat-Earth depicted in the Bible was correct or not among the early Church fathers, Lactantus and Cosmas Indicopleustes
proposing a T-map of a flat Earth with Jerusalem at the center and Asia, Africa and Europe in the sections divided by the T, as the only cosmological view in literal accordance with scripture. However, in the revival of logical analysis and scholarship in Church Universities beginning in the 11th century, Aristotlean physics and Ptolemaic cosmology won out. Because the flat-earth cosmography was not explicitly spelled out in the non-Apocryphal works (and some Hellenistic elements creeping in the Canonical works, such as the "circle" of the Earth in Job) it was possible
for the Church to allow the spherodicity of the Earth, with some stipulations. For example, since ,it is said, upon Christ's return, all eyes are to be able to see him at once, St. Augustine considered that, although the Earth was spherical, nobody lived on the other side.  This is also in accordance with the story of Satan taking Christ to a high place and showing him all the Kingdoms of the world. While this statement is easily reconciled with a flat-earth cosmography, it can also be reconciled with a
spherical earth cosmography if there are no kingdoms on the hemisphere opposite Jerusalem.

With such compromises, the Church Universities were able to absorb Classical learning and generate new scholarship with a vigor unmatched in the earlier Middle Ages. William Occam developed Aristotlean logic, and used it to falsify Aristotle's own axioms about falling bodies. If a heavy body falls faster than a lighter one, he questioned, would a heavy body chained to a lighter one be buoyed up by the lighter body or together
constitute still a heavier body which would fall faster? The paradox was the crack in a movement which would shatter the erroneous physics that enabled Ptolemaic cosmology, as did Occam's Razor: "We cannot admit entities without necessity". The simplest model is the best ,it says, and that turned out to be Copernicus' reintroduction and elaboration of Aristarchus'.
But the universities also generated doctrinal justifications of the classical learning, for example, the immobility of the Earth is entirely justified by the literal meaning of Joshua 10 and Ecclesiastes 1:5 : it is the sun that is moving,not the Earth. "The Earth is stablished that it cannot be moved." says the King James translation of Psalm 93.  St. Thomas Aquinas knew this, and in his "Summa Theologia" he not only discusses the nature of
angels, and makes careful and cogent distinctions concerning the nature of sin, but, knowing the Ptolemaic system and no other, also tells us that the Earth is the center of the Universe.

The Copernican reintroduction of the heliocentric Universe, though itself with minor flaws, satisfied Occam's Razor over its competitor, the Ptolemaic System. The relationship between the sidereal period (the time from its presence at one longitude on the Celestial sphere to its return) and the synodic period of a planet (the time from opposition to opposition) could be demonstrated as a necessity from the heliocentric Copernican
model; in Ptolemy's model it was merely coincidental that all of the planets should have this relationship.  In Copernicus,outer planets must be nearer (and hence brighter) at opposition and farther (and hence dimmer) in conjunction. No such restraint exists for the Ptolemaic system; yet this relationship is observed to always be true.  Finally, with the invention of the telescope, the observation of the full phase of Venus (impossible with the Ptolemaic system as described in the "Almagest") and the satellites of Jupiter shattered the crystal spheres of Ptolemy forever.

The Church, however, reluctant to expose itself as capable of error in the teachings of its universities (if not centrally its doctrine), and also motivated by a theoretical cautiousness, used its powers of judicial process, policing, and censorship to attempt to stifle the teaching and acceptance of the Copernican view.  Well after Newton, the Cassinis, a family of Catholic astronomers, habituated themselves to think in a dual mode, both Copernican-Newtonian and Ptolemaic. Finally, with the
demonstration of the Foucault pendulum , and the impending discovery of parallax, the church rescinded its ban on Copernican thought in 1830. The Ptolemaic system was no more.At the present time, there are modern astrophysicists working at the new Vatican Observatory on Mt. Graham. Catholic education has by comparison become very progressive.

Today, there are still some adherents to the old views on religious grounds. W.G. Voliva wrote extensively favoring a flat earth in the newsletter of the Holy Apostolic Church in Zion in the 1930's. Prof. Hanson of Cleveland State University has spoken and written favorably on the Ptolemaic system, also on religious grounds, and the Tychonic system has a substantial body of religiously-inspired adherents. But these views are well outside the mainstream of science, since there is an enormous abundance of evidence that the Earth is, to a high approximation,
spherical, rotates, and revolves around the sun.

This is a chapter taken from Sir Patrick Moore's book, "Can You Speak Venusian", published in 1972.  It's a great bit of Flat Earth history and is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject.  It's quite long, though, and has some illustrations, so I've converted it to Adobe Acrobat PDF format rather than cut/pasting tons of text here.

Can You Speak Venusian: Better and Flatter Earths

Footballer arrested to hide faked moonwalk
The Independent (London)
July 22, 1994, Friday


WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Apollo moonwalk 25 years ago may have been an illusion. That's the belief of 9 per cent of Americans surveyed in a recent poll. The survey, published in the Washington Post, found that black people were the most sceptical: 20 per cent said it is possible the Apollo moon landing never took place on 20 July, 1969, while 16 per cent were unsure.

"It was a way for the government to hide some more of the money they've blown," 40-year-old Debbie Dunham told the newspaper. "Of course, blacks are going to be more sceptical. They have probably less reason to believe the government than anybody."

Some sceptics believe there is a broader government plot to fool the public.

Charles Johnson, president of the anti-space Flat Earth Society, said the hoax was exposed in the 1978 film Capricorn One, in which the United States fakes a Mars landing. One actor in that film was the former football star O J Simpson, who is now accused of two murders. According to Mr Johnson, the
film "proved the entire government space programme is a hoax. They're finally going after O J because he helped unmask the space hoax."

Obituary: Charles Johnson
The Independent (London)
March 30, 2001, Friday
by Tim Bullamore


CHARLES JOHNSON was for almost 30 years president of the Flat Earth Society, an American organisation that dissented from the widely held belief that the earth is round.

As a boy he had examined a globe at school and learnt about gravity from his teachers but, notwithstanding the work of Copernicus (whom he dubbed Copernicious), Galileo, Newton et al, Johnson had grave misgivings. From his ranch in the Californian desert - where, admittedly, the world does at
times look flat - he published a quarterly newsletter packed with "proof" that mankind has been duped by a scientific conspiracy.

The earth, he claimed, is a flat disc floating on primordial waters, with the North Pole at its centre and Antarctica its circumference; the sun and the moon are each 32 miles in diameter and hover some 3,000 miles overhead - with heaven a further 1,000 miles in the distance; and Australians, he
maintained with unassailable logic, "do not hang by their feet underneath the world" - as his antipodean wife was only too happy to testify. According to the Flat Earth Society's teaching, sunrises and sunsets are optical illusions and Nasa's space programme is a hoax.

Numerous historical documents and contemporary studies were called upon to support Johnson's thesis. Even Christ's ascension to heaven purportedly lent the Flat Earth Society credibility: if the earth was in fact a ball spinning in space, there would be neither up nor down. According to detailed and complex calculations undertaken by Johnson and his followers, a round world would throw up a 1,700ft-high hump in the Suez Canal, while the Mediterranean Sea would be 60 miles deep towards the middle. "Obviously
water's flat," he told one interviewer. "They're trying to tell you water's bent?"

The society's literature pulls no punches. Its aims are to carefully observe, think freely, rediscover forgotten fact, and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions; to help establish the United States of
the World on this flat earth; and to replace the religion of science with sanity.

Charles Kenneth Johnson, who dubbed himself "the last iconoclast", was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1924. For 25 years he served as an aeroplane mechanic in San Francisco. During that time he was in contact with an Englishman, Samuel Shenton, who was president of the Flat Earth Society, previously known as the Universal Zetetic Society. Before his death in 1972, Shenton decreed that Johnson should inherit his work. Entrusted with this lonely task, Johnson moved to a remote ranch near Edwards Air Force Base and picked up the mantle with enthusiasm. At one time the society could boast some 3,500 members, each paying an annual membership fee of $25.

Although the world at large was slow to accept his work, Johnson remained cheerful and unruffled. He enjoyed smoking a cigar while watching the sun set over the flat desert. He was regularly interviewed by curious journalists and was often invited to speak about his subject. He received large quantities of mail, not all of it ridiculing his work, and on one occasion he starred in an ice-cream advertisement.

In 1995 Johnson's home burnt down, destroying most of his records. His wife died the following year and the society became a shadow of its former self. But his work continues both in America and also in Australia, where a local society, run by people standing upright, has been in existence for 14 years.

Charles Kenneth Johnson, mechanic and campaigner: born San Angelo, Texas 24 July 1924; President, International Flat Earth Society 1972-2001; died Lancaster, California 19 March 2001.

Obituary of Charles Johnson He believed the Earth was flat
The Daily Telegraph (London)
April 06, 2001, Friday


CHARLES JOHNSON, who has died aged 76, was the most prominent advocate of the theory that the Earth is flat; he was president of the Flat Earth Society for 30 years.

Flat-earthers dissent from the more widely held view that the world is a spherical, spinning ball - an idea that stretches back to Pythagoras, Hipparchus and Ptolemy. "We have studied the Earth," declared Johnson, "and found it flat."

The Flat Earth Society evolved in 1956 out of the Universal Zetetic Society - founded in early Victorian England by Sir Birley Rowbotham. At its peak, it claimed 3,500 members. The previous president, the Englishman Samuel Shenton, decided before his death in 1972 that Johnson should inherit his mantle. So after 25 years working as an aircraft mechanic in San Francisco, Johnson moved to a cabin in the Mojave Desert near Lancaster, California, to assume his responsibilities.

Johnson perceived the Earth as a disc of unknown size floating in primordial waters, with the North Pole at the centre and a wall of impenetrable Antarctic ice, 150ft high, surrounding its outer edge. "Nobody knows what lies beyond the ice," he said. "Nobody has ever crossed it."

He described the equator as a circle halfway out from the centre of the disc. The Sun and Moon, both 32 miles in diameter, circled above it at a steady height of 3,000 miles; "the heavenly dome" lay a further 1,000 miles up.

Charles Kenneth Johnson was born at San Angelo, Texas, on July 24 1924. "When I was in school," he recalled, "the first maps I saw were flat. Then Roosevelt flooded all the classrooms with globes. Well, I didn't believe it."

He became an aircraft mechanic with Pan Am in California, keeping his heretical thoughts to himself until he discovered a like-minded group of people at Zion, Illinois, and began to correspond with them.

Like geo-centrists, whose world view has Earth at the centre of the universe, and fundamental "scientific creationists", flat-earthers base their beliefs largely on a literal reading of the Bible, and not only on the Book of Genesis. The New Testament, they point out, tells of Jesus ascending up to heaven but "if the Earth were a sphere, there would be no up nor down in the universe".

Johnson and his followers also cited the evidence before their own eyes. Looking out from the porch of his desert home to the straight horizon miles away, he would say: "Any fool can see that it's flat".

Nearby was Nasa's Edwards Air Force Base, where the space shuttle lands after orbiting the Earth; Johnson called the shuttle a "very ludicrous joke".

As for awkward phenomena such as sunrise, sunset, satellites orbiting in space, moon landings and lunar eclipses - Johnson maintained that he had answers to them all. Sunrise and sunset, he described as "merely optical illusions, tricks of perspective". The moon landings were faked in an
aircraft hanger, to a script by Arthur C Clarke.

Johnson's theories brought him a degree of ridicule, but he remained resolute and enthusiastic, with a cheerful sense of humour. As well as writing and publishing Flat Earth News, he was often invited to speak about his beliefs; he also once appeared in a television ice cream advertisement.

Johnson met his Australian-born wife Marjory in 1959, when they were both buying the same Acker Bilk record in a San Francisco shop. She too was a keen believer in a flat Earth, and later became secretary of the society.

"Marjory has always known that the Earth is flat," said Johnson. He added with irrefutable logic that Australians "do not hang by their feet underneath the world" and recalled how shocked and offended his wife was on her arrival in America to find people speaking of Australia as being "down

In 1995 the Johnsons' cabin home caught fire. Johnson managed to pull his wife to safety, but everything else was destroyed, including the society library, archives and membership lists.

Marjory Johnson died the following year. There were no children.

Obituary: Charles Johnson
The Guardian (London)
May 8, 2001
by Christopher Reed


When Charles Johnson looked out of his window, the view of California's Mojave desert stretching to the horizon neatly confirmed his beliefs as president of the International Flat Earth Society. But what of the frequent arrivals of Nasa space shuttles at the nearby Edwards air force base, and the photographs of earth as a globe that astonauts brought back?

Johnson, who has died aged 76, scoffed. "It's just a stupid old airplane carried piggy-back and dropped over Lancaster (the town where he lived). It hasn't orbited earth, that we know."

The congruence of these two - America's pioneers into the cosmos, and the white-bearded Johnson with his crackpot theories - were further proof, if any is needed, that California rivals England as the home of eccentrics. Through his quarterly Flat Earth News, which once had 3,500 subscribers, Johnson maintained that our planet was a disc of unknown dimensions, with the North Pole in the middle.

For him, the sun and moon, each 32 miles in diameter, circled the disc at a constant height of 3,000 miles. So-called sunsets, which he liked to watch from his porch as he smoked a cigar, were optical illusions. And the 1969 televised moon landing was really filmed in Arizona with a script by science-fiction writer Arthur C Clarke.

Before chuckling at Johnson's wrongheadedness, it should be noted that his society was an English invention. He took over in 1972 from the late Samuel Shenton of Dover, and the society traced its origins to the Universal Zetetic (investigating) Society, founded in England in 1832 by Sir Birley Rowbotham, who wrote a tract called Earth Not A Globe. In 1888, the even more gloriously named Sir Walter de Sodington Blount conducted a series of experiments on the Old Bedford Level canal, proving, he said, that the earth did not curve.

This, at least, was Johnson's account of his society's origins. He and his late Australian wife, Marjory, measured the surface of Lake Tahoe, in northern California, to arrive at the same conclusion. Furthermore, Johnson insisted, his wife did not hang by her feet when she was young -in a place that should never be called Down Under.

Johnson was only eight, and living in Texas, when he became committed to flat earthism. He recalled spinning a globe in class, listening incredulously to his teacher talking about gravity, and then looking out of the window at a lake, where he observed no curvature. He was an articulate defender of his beliefs and, although not highly educated, was a forceful and fluent writer.

He always insisted that the globe theory was invented by scientists - "the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, and priest entertainers" - attempting to obliterate Christian beliefs. Johnson was convinced that Jesus believed in a flat earth because he "ascended" into heaven, and "if earth were a ball, there would be no up or down."

Born in San Angelo, Texas, Johnson graduated from the local high school, and moved to San Francisco, where he was an airplane mechanic for 25 years. He began corresponding with Shenton, who specified before his death that Johnson should replace him at the society's head, and, by the mid-1990s, its membership had grown to nearly 4,000.

Members paid Dollars 25 a year and were given a map of the flat world. This was also, Johnson pointed out, the insignia of the United Nations, demonstrating that its founders were, at heart, flat earthers.

His last years were marrred by a near-fatal mishap, when his house burned down in 1995. He managed to rescue Marjory, who was, by then, in a wheel chair and needed oxygen to breathe. All his records were burned, and Marjory died the following year.

Johnson moved into a caravan next to the ruin of his home, but local authority officials evicted him because it did not have the required wooden foundations. He moved in with his brother, his only survivor, on the outskirts of Lancaster, and began to rebuild the society. It now has about 100 members.

Charles Kenneth Johnson, flat earther, born July 24 1924; died March 19 2001



Weaker Arguments

Flat-earthers also offer some scriptural arguments that are (in my view) weak, ambiguous, erroneous, or irrelevant. (Ironically, it is these that apologists for sphericity usually choose to deal with in their rebuttals to the flat-earthers!) The weak and ambiguous arguments can help support a cumulative picture but are insufficient on their own.

One of the weaker scriptural arguments is that the sky literally has openings (windows) which God can open to let the waters above fall to the surface as rain (see Genesis 7:11, Genesis 8:2, Isaiah 24:18-19, Jeremiah 51:15-16, and Malachi 3:10). While the idea and scriptures are certainly consistent with the flat-earth cosmology, they could (for instance) refer to openings in a spherical shell surrounding a spherical earth. The same applies to the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11:4, often cited as an attempt to literally reach the heavens.

Likewise, flat-earthers frequently cite the numerous Old Testament verses referring to the earth's foundations (see 2 Samuel 22:16, Job 38:4, Psalm 18:15, Proverbs 8:29, Isaiah 24:18, and numerous others). Foundations are, however, fairly well-covered by geocentricity. No one would argue for a flat-earth solely on the basis of “foundations” quotes.

Another less-than-conclusive argument that the Bible is a flat-earth book is its references to the earth's “corners.” For example, “After this, I saw four angels stationed at the four corners [gonia] of the earth holding back the four winds...(Revelation 7:1).” Spherical apologists are quick to point out that the Greek gonia can refer to regions rather than points. Most translations of the Bible opt for points (the King James version says “on the corners of the earth”), implying that the writer viewed the habitable earth as a four-cornered area. (This was indeed the way many early churchmen interpreted it [Cosmas, 548]. The modern flat-earth model doesn't have literal corners.) The corners could, however, be those regions at the ends of the earth referred to by Jeremiah: “[H]e brings up the mist from the ends of the earth, he opens rifts for the rain and brings the wind out of his storehouses (Jeremiah 51:16).” We shall return to the ends of the earth.

The Biblical view of the universe is relatively clear and consistent. Biblical statements bearing on cosmology are (with one possible exception yet to be discussed) consistent with the well-known flat-earth cosmologies of the ancient Near East, but they are often flatly con- tradicted by modern science. How do spherical apologists reply?

Spherical Apologetics

Those who claim Biblical support for a spherical earth typically ignore this forest of consistency and focus on one or two aberrant trees. Some take refuge in audacity. Henry Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, cites one of the more explicitly flat-earth verses in the Old Testament Isaiah 40:22, the “grasshopper” verse quoted earlier as evidence for the sphericity of the earth. Quoting the King James version “he sitteth upon the circle of the earth” Morris ignores the context and the grasshoppers and claims “circle” should read “sphericity” or “roundness” [1956, 8]. This divide and conquer strategy is poor scholarship and worse logic.

Heroic efforts have been made by apologists to explain away the firmament, which encloses the celestial bodies, has waters above it, and is a masterpiece proving the Creator's craftsmanship. The late Harold W. Armstrong argued that it is empty Newtonian space, and that the “waters above” still surround the edges of the universe, though perhaps not in liquid form [1979, 26]. This simply ignores difficulties and invents evidence. Gerardus Bouw tried to identify the firmament as a mathematical plenum [1987]. In my view, it is a grave error to reinterpret ancient documents to force their authors to speak with modern voices. Gary Zukov [1979] and Fritjof Capra [1976], for instance, read modern physics into the teachings of eastern mysticism. I consider all such attempts equally suspect.

Perhaps the scripture most frequently offered as evidence of the earth's sphericity is the King James version of Job 26:7, “He stretcheth out the north [tsaphon] over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing [beliymah].” (The New English Bible translates it, “God spreads the canopy of the sky over chaos and suspends earth in the void.”) It is not clear what this means. The Hebrew tsaphon literally meant hidden or dark, and it was used in reference to the northern regions. Beliymah literally means “nothing.” That would contradict all of the scriptures which say the earth rests on foundations, but that interpretation is not necessary. We will return to Job 26:7 later.

Speaking of foundations, Gerardus Bouw, in an undated paper entitled “The Form of the Earth,” cites a barrage of scriptures about the foundations of the earth or world as evidence for sphericity. All (or nearly all) of these verses have traditionally been used by flat-earthers to prove the earth flat. If one views the earth as an architectural structure with floor, curtain walls, and a roof, it is natural to assume it has foundations (and, I might add, a cornerstone). Why a sphere would have foundations escapes me. Bouw's argument that these scriptures refer to the earth's core seems strained at best. Also strained is Bouw's interpretation of “the ends of the earth” as the points most distant from Jerusalem, and his identification of the Chukchi Peninsula of the Soviet Union, Alaska, Cape Horn, and the southeastern tip of Australia as the “four corners” of the earth.

Bouw's most interesting argument for sphericity is based on the gospel of Luke. He compares the King James version of Luke 17:31 and 17:34. The former says “In that day, he which shall be upon the house top...” and the latter “in that night there shall be two men in one bed...” (italics added). Bouw then cites 1 Corinthians 15:52 to argue that the events are simultaneous, claiming simultaneity is possible only on a spherical earth. First of all, the latter claim is wrong. The modern (though not the ancient) flat-earth model has day and night occurring simultaneously at different points on earth. Second, the Greek hemera was used much like the English “day.” It could mean the daylight hours, a 24-hour day, or (figuratively) an epoch of unspecified length. Third, Luke appears to have been writing figuratively, and citing Paul to prove otherwise begs the question.

One more spherical argument deserves notice. The 1985 National Creation Conference in Cleveland ended with a formal debate on the relative merits of heliocentricity and geocentricity. Richard Niessen of Christian Heritage College, defending the Copernican view, remarked that the Bible teaches a spherical earth because it treats north and south as absolutes, but east and west as relative. As evidence of the latter, he cited Psalm 103:12 which says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our offences from us.” Again, the modern flat-earth model holds that north and south are absolutes, but east and west are relative. In the ancient flat-earth model, however, east and west were about as far apart as you could get, which seems to be the image Psalm 103:12 was intended to invoke.

In my view, all arguments to prove the Bible teaches a spherical earth are weak if not wrong- headed. On the other hand, the flat-earth cosmology previously described is historically consistent and requires none of the special pleading apparently necessary to harmonize the Bible with sphericity.

The Book of Enoch

The cosmology previously described is derived from the Bible itself, following the 19th century flat-earthers. Some of the evidence is more ambiguous than we would like. Ambiguities in ancient documents can often be elucidated by consulting contemporary docu- ments. The most important ancient document describing Hebrew cosmology is 1 Enoch (sometimes called the Ethiopic Book of Enoch), one of those long, disjointed, scissors and paste jobs beloved by ancient scribes. For a dozen or so centuries, European scholars knew 1 Enoch only from numerous passages preserved in the patristic literature. In 1773, the Scottish adventurer James Bruce found complete copies in Ethiopia.

Numerous manuscripts of 1 Enoch have since been found in Ethiopian monasteries. Turn of the century scholars concluded that parts of the book are pre-Maccabean, and most (perhaps all) of it was composed by 100 B.C. [Charles, 1913]. These conclusions were largely vindicated when numerous fragments of 1 Enoch were found among the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. There have been two major English translations of 1 Enoch, the 1913 translation of R. H. Charles and the 1983 translation by E. Isaac. All of the quotations that follow come from the newer translation.

The importance of 1 Enoch is poorly appreciated outside the scholarly community. Comparison of its text with New Testament books reveals that many Enochian doctrines were taken over by early Christians. E. Isaac writes:

    There is little doubt that 1 Enoch was influential in molding New Testament doctrines concerning the nature of the Messiah, the Son of Man, the messianic kingdom, demonology, the future, resurrection, final judgment, the whole eschatological theater, and symbolism. No wonder, therefore, that the book was highly regarded by many of the apostolic and Church Fathers [1986, 10].

The cosmos as described in the book of Enoch.
Picture © 1992 by Robert Schadewald.

First Enoch influenced Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, and several other New Testament books. The punishment of the fallen angels described in 2 Peter seems to come directly from 1 Enoch, as does much of the imagery (or even wording) in Revelation. The Epistle of Jude contains the most dramatic evidence of its influence when it castigates “enemies of religion” as follows:

    It was to them that Enoch, the seventh in descent from Adam, directed his prophecy when he said: “I saw the Lord come with his myriads of angels, to bring all men to judgment and to convict all the godless of all the godless deeds they had committed, and of all the defiant words which godless sinners had spoken against him (Jude 14- 15).”

The inner quote, 1 Enoch 1:9, is found in the original Hebrew on a recently-published Qumran fragment [Shanks, 1987, 18]. By attributing prophecy to Enoch, Jude confers inspired status upon the book.

First Enoch is important for another reason. Unlike the canonical books of the Bible, which (in my view) were never meant to teach science, sections of 1 Enoch were intended to describe the natural world. The narrator sometimes sounds like a 2nd century B.C. Carl Sagan explaining the heavens and earth to the admiring masses. The Enochian cosmology is precise- ly the flat-earth cosmology previously derived from the canonical books.

The Ends of the Earth

The angel Uriel guided Enoch in most of his travels. They made several trips to the ends of the earth, where the dome of heaven came down to the surface. For instance, Enoch says:

    I went to the extreme ends of the earth and saw there huge beasts, each different from the other and different birds (also) differing from one another in appearance, beauty, and voice. And to the east of those beasts, I saw the ultimate ends of the earth which rests on the heaven. And the gates of heaven were open, and I saw how the stars of heaven come out...(1 Enoch 33:1-2).

(The sharp-eyed reader will note what I suspect is an editing error in the Isaac translation. The earth resting on the heaven makes no sense. R. H. Charles has “whereon the heaven rests.”)

Again, Enoch says, “I went in the direction of the north, to the extreme ends of the earth, and there at the extreme end of the whole world I saw a great and glorious seat. There (also) I saw three open gates of heaven; when it blows cold, hail, frost, snow, dew, and rain, through each one of the (gates) the winds proceed in the northwesterly direction (1 Enoch 34:1-2).” This accords well with Jeremiah 51:16 which says, “he brings up the mist from the ends of the earth, he opens rifts for the rain and brings the wind out of his storehouses.” In subsequent chapters, Enoch journeys “to the extreme ends of the earth” in the west, south, and east. In each place he saw three more “open gates of heaven.”

There were other things to be seen at the ends of the earth. Earlier, we deferred discussion of the King James version of Job 26:7, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” On several occasions when Enoch and the angel are out beyond the dome of heaven, Enoch comments that there is nothing above or below. For instance, “And I came to an empty place. And I saw (there) neither a heaven above nor an earth below, but a chaotic and terrible place (1 Enoch 21:1-2).” Could this be the kind of nothingness referred to in Job?

An angel also showed Enoch the storerooms of the winds (18:1) and the cornerstone of the earth (18:2).

The Sun and Moon

And what of the sun and moon? Psalm 19:4-6 (quoted earlier) suggest that the sun holes up at the ends of the earth until it is time to rise. Enoch expands upon this idea. In 1 Enoch 41:5, he “saw the storerooms of the sun and the moon, from what place they go out and to which place they return...” Further, “they keep faith one with another: in accordance with an oath they set and they rise.”

Enoch discusses the solar and lunar motions at length, explaining why the apparent azimuths of their rising and setting varies with the season. The explanation, found in the section called “The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries,” begins thus:

    This is the first commandment of the luminaries: The sun is a luminary whose egress is an opening of heaven, which is (located) in the direction of the east, and whose ingress is (another) opening of heaven, (located) in the west. I saw six openings through which the sun rises and six openings through which it sets. The moon also rises and sets through the same openings, and they are guided by the stars; together with those whom they lead, they are six in the east and six in the west heaven. All of them (are arranged) one after another in a constant order. There are many windows (both) to the right and the left of these openings. First there goes out the great light whose name is the sun; its roundness is like the roundness of the sky; and it is totally filled with light and heat. The chariot in which it ascends is (driven by) the blowing wind. The sun sets in the sky (in the west) and returns by the northeast in order to go to the east; it is guided so that it shall reach the eastern gate and shine in the face of the sky (1 Enoch 72:2-5).

The openings in the vault of heaven in the east and west are matched to the seasons. On the longest day of the year, the sun rises and sets through the northernmost pair. On the shortest day, it rises and sets through the southernmost pair. The return routes of the sun and moon are outside the dome. Perhaps they rest in their “storerooms” during their time off.

The Stars

Like the Bible, 1 Enoch typically depicts stars as living, anthropomorphic beings. The Sons of the Gods are also dealt with in 1 Enoch, and they are associated with stars. This is consistent with Job 38:7, which says that when the earth's cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud.”

As mentioned earlier, Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:13 deal with stars that fall to earth. The image comes from Enoch, but Matthew and John omit some details. In 1 Enoch 88:1, a star that fell from the sky is seized, bound hand and foot, and thrown into an abyss. A few verses later, other stars “whose sexual organs were like the organs of horses” are likewise bound hand and foot and cast “into the pits of the earth (1 Enoch 88:3).”

Most stars just go through their motions night after night. Some stars never set, and Enoch was shown their chariots (1 Enoch 75:8 ). Stars that do rise and set do so through openings in dome, just like the sun and moon. God, according to 1 Enoch, runs a tight universe, and stars that do not rise on time are thrown into the celestial slammer. Showing Enoch a hellish scene, the angel Uriel explains:

    This place is the (ultimate) end of heaven and earth: it is the prison house for the stars and the powers of heaven. And the stars which roll over upon the fire, they are the ones which have transgressed the commandments of God from the beginning of their rising because they did not arrive punctually (1 Enoch 18:14-15).

Enoch was not told the sentence for tardy rising, but Uriel later shows him other stars “which have transgressed the commandments of the Lord,” for which they were doing ten million years of hard time (1 Enoch 21:6). Enoch also was shown an even more terrible place, a fiery prison house where fallen angels were detained forever (1 Enoch 21:10).

1 Enoch deserves study for its cosmology, but there is much more of interest. It profoundly influenced Christian eschatology, and it is necessary reading for anyone trying to understand Hebrew religious thought at the dawn of the Christian era.


From their geographical and historical context, one would expect the ancient Hebrews to have a flat-earth cosmology. Indeed, from the very beginning, ultra-orthodox Christians have been flat-earthers, arguing that to believe otherwise is to deny the literal truth of the Bible. The flat-earth implications of the Bible were rediscovered and popularized by English-speaking Christians in the mid-19th century. Liberal scriptural scholars later derived the same view. Thus, students with remarkably disparate points of view independently concluded that the ancient Hebrews had a flat-earth cosmology, often deriving this view from scripture alone. Their conclusions were dramatically confirmed by the rediscovery of 1 Enoch.


Armstrong, Harold, 1979. “The Expanding Universe and Creation.” In Repossess the Land (essays and technical papers from the 15th Anniversary Convention of the Bible- Science Association, August 12-15, 1979), pp. 22-27. Minneapolis: Bible-Science Association.

Bouw, Gerardus, n.d. “The Form of the Earth.” Contributions of the Northcoast Bible-Science Association No. 2. Cleveland: Northcoast Bible-Science Association.

Bouw, Gerardus, 1987. “The Firmament.” In Bulletin of the Tychonian Society, n. 43 (April 1987), pp. 11-20.

Capra, Fritjof, 1976. The Tao of Physics. Reprint. New York: Bantam Books, 1977

Charles, R. H., 1913. “Book of Enoch.” In The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, v. 2, edited by R. H. Charles, pp. 163-281. London: Oxford University Press.

Cosmas Indicopleustes, 548. Topographia Christiana. Translated by J. W. McCrindle. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1897.

Darms, Anton, 1930. “The Teaching of the Word of God Regarding the Creation of the World and the Shape of the Earth Fifty Questions and Answers,” Leaves of Healing, v. 66, n. 9 (May 10, 1930), pp. 176-179, 182-184.

Isaac, E., 1983. “1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, edited by James H. Charlesworth, pp. 5-89. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Morris, Henry M., 1956. The Bible and Modern Science. Revised edition. Chicago: Moody Press.

Rowbotham, Samuel Birley, 1873. Earth Not a Globe. London: John B. Day. 2nd edition.

Shanks, Hershel, 1987. “Don't Let the Pseudepigrapha Scare You,” Bible Review, v. 3, n. 2 (Summer 1987), pp. 14-19, 34-37.

Strong, James, 1894. The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Reprint. Nashville: Abington Press, 1978.

Zukov, Gary, 1979. The Dancing Wu Li Masters. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Taken from
The Flat-Earth Bible
© 1987, 1995 by Robert J. Schadewald
Reprinted from The Bulletin of the Tychonian Society #44 (July 1987)


When I first became interested in the flat-earthers in the early 1970s, I was surprised to learn that flat-earthism in the English-speaking world is and always has been entirely based upon the Bible. I have since assembled and read an extensive collection of flat-earth literature. The Biblical arguments for flat-earthism that follow come mainly from my reading of flat-earth literature, augmented by my own reading of the Bible.

Except among Biblical inerrantists, it is generally agreed that the Bible describes an immovable earth. At the 1984 National Bible-Science Conference in Cleveland, geocentrist James N. Hanson told me there are hundreds of scriptures that suggest the earth is immovable. I suspect some must be a bit vague, but here are a few obvious texts:

1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”

Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”

Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”

Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”

Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”

Suffice to say that the earth envisioned by flat-earthers is as immovable as any geocentrist could desire. Most (perhaps all) scriptures commonly cited by geocentrists have also been cited by flat-earthers. The flat-earth view is geocentricity with further restrictions.

Like geocentrists, flat-earth advocates often give long lists of texts. Samuel Birley Rowbotham, founder of the modern flat-earth movement, cited 76 scriptures in the last chapter of his monumental second edition of Earth not a Globe. Apostle Anton Darms, assistant to the Reverend Wilbur Glenn Voliva, America's best known flat-earther, compiled 50 questions about the creation and the shape of the earth, bolstering his answers with up to 20 scriptures each. Rather than presenting an exhaustive compendium of flat-earth scriptures, I focus on those which seem to me the strongest. I also comment on some attempts to find the earth's sphericity in the Bible.

Scriptural quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New English Bible. Hebrew and Greek translations are from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. The Biblical cosmology is never explicitly stated, so it must be pieced together from scattered passages. The Bible is a composite work, so there is no a priori reason why the cosmology assumed by its various writers should be relatively consistent, but it is. The Bible is, from Genesis to Revelation, a flat-earth book.

This is hardly surprising. As neighbors, the ancient Hebrews had the Egyptians to the southwest and the Babylonians to the northeast. Both civilizations had flat-earth cosmologies. The Biblical cosmology closely parallels the Sumero-Babylonian cosmology, and it may also draw upon Egyptian cosmology.

The Babylonian universe was shaped like a modern domed stadium. The Babylonians considered the earth essentially flat, with a continental mass surrounded by ocean. The vault of the sky was a physical object resting upon the ocean's waters (and perhaps also upon pillars). Sweet (salt-free) waters below the Earth sometimes manifest themselves as springs. The Egyptian universe was also enclosed, but it was rectangular instead of round. Indeed, it was shaped much like an old-fashioned steamer trunk. (The Egyptians pictured the goddess Nut stretched across the sky as the enclosing dome.) What was the Hebrew view of the universe?

The Order of Creation

The Genesis creation story provides the first key to the Hebrew cosmology. The order of creation makes no sense from a conventional perspective but is perfectly logical from a flat-earth viewpoint. The earth was created on the first day, and it was “without form and void (Genesis 1:2).” On the second day, a vault the “firmament” of the King James version was created to divide the waters, some being above and some below the vault. Only on the fourth day were the sun, moon, and stars created, and they were placed “in” (not “above”) the vault.

The Vault of Heaven

The vault of heaven is a crucial concept. The word “firmament” appears in the King James version of the Old Testament 17 times, and in each case it is translated from the Hebrew word raqiya, which meant the visible vault of the sky. The word raqiya comes from riqqua, meaning “beaten out.” In ancient times, brass objects were either cast in the form required or beaten into shape on an anvil. A good craftsman could beat a lump of cast brass into a thin bowl. Thus, Elihu asks Job, “Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal (Job 37:18)?”

Elihu's question shows that the Hebrews considered the vault of heaven a solid, physical object. Such a large dome would be a tremendous feat of engineering. The Hebrews (and supposedly Yahweh Himself) considered it exactly that, and this point is hammered home by five scriptures:

    Job 9:8, “...who by himself spread out the heavens [shamayim]...”

    Psalm 19:1, “The heavens [shamayim] tell out the glory of God, the vault of heaven [raqiya] reveals his handiwork.”

    Psalm 102:25, “...the heavens [shamayim] were thy handiwork.”

    Isaiah 45:12, “I, with my own hands, stretched out the heavens [shamayim] and caused all their host to shine...”

    Isaiah 48:13, “...with my right hand I formed the expanse of the sky [shamayim]...”

If these verses are about a mere illusion of a vault, they are surely much ado about nothing. Shamayim comes from shameh, a root meaning to be lofty. It literally means the sky. Other passages complete the picture of the sky as a lofty, physical dome. God “sits throned on the vaulted roof of earth [chuwg], whose inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the skies [shamayim] like a curtain, he spreads them out like a tent to live in...[Isaiah 40:22].” Chuwg literally means “circle” or “encompassed.” By extension, it can mean roundness, as in a rounded dome or vault. Job 22:14 says God “walks to and fro on the vault of heaven [chuwg].” In both verses, the use of chuwg implies a physical object, on which one can sit and walk. Likewise, the context in both cases requires elevation. In Isaiah, the elevation causes the people below to look small as grasshoppers. In Job, God's eyes must penetrate the clouds to view the doings of humans below. Elevation is also implied by Job 22:12: “Surely God is at the zenith of the heavens [shamayim] and looks down on all the stars, high as they are.”

This picture of the cosmos is reinforced by Ezekiel's vision. The Hebrew word raqiya appears five times in Ezekiel, four times in Ezekiel 1:22-26 and once in Ezekiel 10:1. In each case the context requires a literal vault or dome. The vault appears above the “living creatures” and glitters “like a sheet of ice.” Above the vault is a throne of sapphire (or lapis lazuli). Seated on the throne is “a form in human likeness,” which is radiant and “like the appearance of the glory of the Lord.” In short, Ezekiel saw a vision of God sitting throned on the vault of heaven, as described in Isaiah 40:22.

The Shape of the Earth

Disregarding the dome, the essential flatness of the earth's surface is required by verses like 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.” If the earth were flat, a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to “the earth's farthest bounds,” but this is impossible on a spherical earth. Likewise, in describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Matthew 4:8 says, “Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world [cosmos] in their glory.” Obviously, this would be possible only if the earth were flat. The same is true of Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye shall see him...”

The Celestial Bodies

The Hebrews considered the celestial bodies relatively small. The Genesis creation story indicates the size and importance of the earth relative to the celestial bodies in two ways, first by their order of creation, and second by their positional relationships. They had to be small to fit inside the vault of heaven. Small size is also implied by Joshua 10:12, which says that the sun stood still “in Gibeon” and the moon “in the Vale of Aijalon.”

Further, the Bible frequently presents celestial bodies as exotic living beings. For example, “In them [the heavens], a tent is fixed for the sun, who comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. His rising is at one end of the heavens, his circuit touches their farthest ends; and nothing is hidden from his heat (Psalm 19:4-6).” The stars are anthropomorphic demigods. When the earth's cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud (Job 38:7).” The morning star is censured for trying to set his throne above that of other stars:

    You thought in your own mind, I will scale the heavens; I will set my throne high above the stars of God, I will sit on the mountain where the gods meet in the far recesses of the north. I will rise high above the cloud-banks and make myself like the most high (Isaiah 14:13-14).

Deuteronomy 4:15-19 recognizes the god-like status of stars, noting that they were created for other peoples to worship.

Stars can fall from the skies according to Daniel 8:10 and Matthew 24:29. The same idea is found in the following extracts from Revelation 6:13-16:

    ...the stars in the sky fell to the earth, like figs shaken down by a gale; the sky vanished, as a scroll is rolled up...they called out to the mountains and the crags, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One who sits on the throne...”

This is consistent with the Hebrew cosmology previously described, but it is ludicrous in the light of modern astronomy. If one star let alone all the stars in the sky “fell” on the earth, no one would be hollering from any mountain or crag. The writer considered the stars small objects, all of which could fall to the earth without eradicating human life. He also viewed the sky as a physical object. The stars are inside the sky, and they fall before the sky opens. When it is whisked away, it reveals the One throned above (see Isaiah 40:22).

(continued below)

Flat Earth Information Repository / "The Flat-out Truth"
« on: February 23, 2005, 04:35:27 PM »
Taken from
The Flat-out Truth: Earth Orbits? Moon Landings? A Fraud! Says This Prophet


The idea of a spinning globe is only a conspiracy of error that Moses, Columbus, and FDR all fought...

Copyright 1980 Robert J. Schadewald
Reprinted from Science Digest, July 1980

"The facts are simple," says Charles K. Johnson, president of the International Flat Earth Research Society. "The earth is flat."

As you stand in his front yard, it is hard to argue the point. From among the Joshua trees, creosote bushes, and tumbleweeds surrounding his southern California hillside home, you have a spectacular view of the Mojave Desert. It looks as flat as a pool table. Nearly 20 miles to the west lies the small city of Lancaster; you can see right over it. Beyond Lancaster, 20 more miles as the cueball rolls, the Tehachepi Mountains rise up from the desert floor. Los Angeles is not far to the south.

Near Lancaster, you see the Rockwell International plant where the Space Shuttle was built. To the north, beyond the next hill, lies Edwards Air Force Base, where the Shuttle was tested. There, also, the Shuttle will land when it returns from orbiting the earth. (At least, that's NASA's story.)

"You can't orbit a flat earth," says Mr. Johnson. "The Space Shuttle is a joke--and a very ludicrous joke."

His soft voice carries conviction, for Charles Johnson is on the level. He believes that the main purpose of the space program is to prop up a dying myth--the myth that the earth is a globe.

"Nobody knows anything about the true shape of the world," he contends. "The known, inhabited world is flat. Just as a guess, I'd say that the dome of heaven is about 4,000 miles away, and the stars are about as far as San Francisco is from Boston."

As shown in a map published by Johnson, the known world is as circular and as flat as a phonograph record. The North Pole is at the center. At the outer edge lies the southern ice, reputed to be a wall 150 feet high; no one has ever crossed it, and therefore what lies beyond is unknown.

The sun and moon, in the Johnson version, are only about 32 miles in diameter. They circle above the earth in the vicinity of the equator, and their apparent rising and setting are tricks of perspective, like railroad tracks that appear to meet in the distance. The moon shines by its own light and is not eclipsed by the earth. Rather, lunar eclipses are caused by an unseen dark body occasionally passing in front of the moon.

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.

"The whole point of the Copernican theory is to get rid of Jesus by saying there is no up and no down," declares Johnson. "The spinning ball thing just makes the whole Bible a big joke."

Not the Bible but Johnson's own common sense allowed him to see through the globe myth while he was still in grade school. He contends that sensible people all over the world, not just Bible believers, realize that the earth really is flat.

"Wherever you find people with a great reservoir of common sense," he says, "they don't believe idiotic things such as the earth spinning around the sun. Reasonable, intelligent people have always recognized that the earth is flat."

He pauses for a sip of coffee, his eyes sparkling with animation. At 56, Charles Johnson is a bearded, distinguished-looking man who drinks coffee seemingly by the gallon. He chain-smokes, hand-rolling cigarettes so skillfully that they seem factory made. Unlike the stereotypical prophet, he has a wry sense of humor and a booming laugh. Fond of plays on words, he consistently pronounces Nicolaus Koppernigk's Latinized surname as "co-pernicious."

The Flat Earth Society's presidency descended upon Charles Johnson in accord with the last wishes of its founder, Samuel Shenton, an Englishman who died in 1971. The society, which will round out a quarter-century next year, is a spiritual inheritor of the Universal Zetetic Society, which flourished in England in the last century.

The cosmos of the Zetetics.
Picture © 1992 by Robert Schadewald.

Under Johnson's full-time presidency, the society's paid-up membership has grown from a few persons to a few hundred. Membership is open to anyone who is regarded as sincerely seeking the truth; prospective members must sign a statement agreeing never to defame the society. Part of the $10 annual dues pays for a subscription to the Flat Earth News, a marvelously outspoken four-page tabloid quarterly with an editorial style reminiscent of 19th-century rural journalism.

Johnson's office is barely controlled chaos. Books, papers, and files are everywhere; his desk is covered with correspondence. The flow of letters, still increasing, now runs around 2,000 a year, or a half-dozen every day. Some are properly addressed (Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93534), but he receives any mail that reaches Lancaster with "flat-earth" on it. And such letters sometimes come from the far edges of the world (an expression which Johnson and his membership accept quite literally). Rummaging in a box on the floor, Johnson produces inquiries from Saudi Arabia, Iran, India.

"Everybody who writes gets an answer," he reports. "An application or whatever is called for. We serve our purpose in keeping it alive. Whosoever asks, receives." The "we" includes his wife, Marjory, who is a native of Australia. The Johnsons met by chance in 1959, when they both went into a San Francisco store to buy the same record, Acker Bilk's haunting "Stranger on the Shore." They discovered that they had more in common than their tastes in music. They're both vegetarians, for one thing, but the overriding interest is geography

"Marjory has always known that the earth is flat, too," says Charles Johnson. "As far as she knew, everybody in Australia knew it. She was rather shocked when she arrived here and found people speaking of Australia as being 'down under.' It really offended her. She would get in quite heated arguments with people who seemed to accuse her of coming from down under the world." Ultimately, Marjory Johnson swore in an affidavit that she had never hung by her feet in Australia.

As secretary of the Flat Earth Society, she assists in running it, and writes a regular column in the News. She has also helped her husband perform experiments to determine the earth's shape. If it is a sphere, the surface of a large body of water must be curved. The Johnsons have checked the surfaces of Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea (a shallow salt lake in southern California near the Mexican border) without detecting any curvature.

Their home is a half-mile from the nearest neighbor. Friends drop by now and then, but their primary companions are a half-dozen dogs, several cats, a flock of chickens, and a myriad of sparrows roosting in a Joshua tree just outside the door. No electric-power line runs to the house, for which water must be carried up the hill. The physical isolation is the ultimate in privacy--but another kind of isolation proves to be less desirable.

"We're two witnesses against the whole world," observes Charles Johnson. "We've chosen that path, but it isolates us from everyone. We're not complaining; it has to be. But it does kind of get to you sometimes."

In spite of the loneliness and the frustrations, they press on. Charles Johnson claims that most of the people who shaped our modern world were flat-earthers, and some of them didn't have it easy, either.

You weren't aware that flat-earthers have played an important part in history? Well, conventional histories don't make that clear. But inasmuch as revisionist history is in vogue, Charles Johnson should be recognized as one of the leading practitioners.

"Moses was a flat-earther," he reveals. "The Flat Earth Society was founded in 1492 B.C., when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai."

Conventional biblical chronology dates the Ten Commandments to 1491 B.C., but it may be imprecise. Perhaps Johnson prefers 1492 for the symmetry. It was, after all, in 1492 A.D. that another famous flat-earther made history.

Have you heard the story about Columbus's problems with his crew? As some tell it, the crew nearly mutinied because they regarded the earth as flat, and feared they might sail off its edge.

"It was exactly the reverse," explains Johnson. "There was a dispute out on the ship, but it was because Columbus was a flat-earther. The others believed the earth to be a ball, and they just knew that they were falling over the edge and couldn't get back. Columbus had to put them in irons and beat them until he convinced them they weren't going over any curve, and they could return. He finally calmed them down."

Johnson believes that the ball business--though it goes back to the Greek philosophers--really got rolling after the Protestant Reformation.

"It's the Church of England that's taught that the world is a ball," he argues. "George Washington, on the other hand, was a flat-earther. He broke with England to get away from those superstitions." If Johnson is right, the American Revolution failed. No prominent American politician is known to have publicly endorsed the flat-earth theory in the past two centuries. Nevertheless, Johnson contends that this nearly happened right after World War II, not for the U.S. alone, but for the entire world. Consider the United Nations:

"Uncle Joe (Stalin), Churchill, and Roosevelt laid the master plan to bring in the New Age under the United Nations," Johnson discloses with confidence. "The world ruling power was to be right here in this country. After the war, the world would be declared flat and Roosevelt would be elected first president of the world. When the UN Charter was drafted in San Francisco, they took the flat-earth map as their symbol."

Why declare the world flat? Johnson responds that a prophesied condition for world government (Isaiah 60:20) is that the "sun shall no more go down." This could be fulfilled by admitting that sunrise and sunset are optical illusions. The UN did adopt for its official seal a world map identical with the one on Johnson's office wall. But Franklin Roosevelt died coincident with the UN's birth, and the other imminent events described by Johnson never came about.

What did happen, according to conventional historians, was that Russia and the U.S. began space programs. After the Russians sent up Sputnik in 1957, the space race was on in earnest. The high point came in 1969, when the U.S. landed men on the moon.

That, according to Johnson, is nonsense, because the moon landings were faked by Hollywood studios. He even names the man who wrote the scripts: the science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. But he acknowledges that the moon landings were at least partly successful.

"Until then," he says, "almost no one seriously considered the world a ball. The landings converted a few of them, but many are coming back now and getting off of it."

Perhaps the Space Shuttle is intended to bolster the beliefs of these backsliders. Whatever its purpose, Johnson is convinced that it is not intended to actually fly. Because it was built and tested almost in his back yard, he knows many people who worked on it. What they've told him about some aspects of its construction only reinforces his convictions.

"They moved it across the field," he sneers, "and it almost fell apart. All those little side pieces are on with epoxy, and half fell off!"

The Shuttle had other problems besides heat resistant tiles that wouldn't stick. For instance, when the testers tried to mount it on a 747 for its first piggy-back test flight, it wouldn't fit.

"Can you imagine that?" chortles Johnson. "Millions of dollars they spent, and it wouldn't fit! They had to call in a handyman to drill some new holes to make the thing fit. Then they took it up in the air--and some more of it fell to pieces."

If the Shuttle ever does orbit on its own, it's supposed to return to Edwards Air Force Base. To Johnson, that's appropriate enough.

"Do you know what they're doing at Edwards right now?" he asks. "'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century' is made right where they claim they're going to land the Shuttle. Edwards is strictly a science-fiction base now.

"Buck is a much better science program, considerably more authentic. In fact, I recommend that the government get out of the space business and turn the whole thing over to ABC, CBS, and NBC. The tv networks do a far superior job. They could actually pay the government for rights, and it wouldn't cost the taxpayers a penny."

Flat Earth Society members are working actively to bring the Shuttle charade to an end. They hope to force the government to let the public in on what the power elite has known all along: the plane truth.

"When the United States declares the earth is flat," says Charles Johnson, "and we hope to be instrumental in making it do so, it will be the first nation in all recorded history to be known as a flat-earth nation.

"In the old days, people believed the earth was flat, because it's logical, but they didn't have a picture of the way it was, as we have today. Our concept of the world is new.

"Marjory and I are the avant garde. We're way ahead of the pack."

-- The end --

Postscript: Much has changed since I wrote this article, both in the world at large and in Charles Johnson's life. In late September 1995, the Johnsons' venerable high-desert home caught fire. Charles managed to pull Marjory, by then a semi-invalid on supplemental oxygen, to safety, but everything else in the house was destroyed--their personal possessions, the Flat Earth Society library and archives, the membership list, everything. Having no fire insurance, the Johnsons were unable to rebuild. A dilapidated old house trailer, bought as a storage shed, survived the fire, and they took refuge there. A few months later, Marjory fell and broke a hip. She survived hip replacement surgery but never recovered her strength. On May 16, 1996, she died.

The Flat Earth Society lives on, still doing business at Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93534. Charles Johnson has immersed himself in rebuilding the membership roster. Publication of the Flat Earth News, in hiatus since 1994, will resume with the December 1996 issue.

R.J.S. (10/6/96)

Postscript: Robert Schadewald, author of this essay, died March 12, 2000. Charles Johnson died March 19, 2001. He was 76. For nearly 30 years Charles fought the lonely and futile battle to "restore the world to sanity."

Taken from

Documenting the Existence of "The International Flat Earth Society"
Copyright © 1993 by Robert P. J. Day

DISCLAIMER: This article is not advocating flat-earth theory, nor is it attempting to show that most or even many creationists believe in a flat Earth. It simply illustrates that there are still real people who interpret the Bible so literally that they think Earth is flat. The TalkOrigins Archive does not support or endorse the views of the International Flat Earth Society.
Please do not send us feedback to tell us that the Earth is a sphere; we are already aware of this fact.

 Because our feedback system has been overburdened with disgruntled readers who apparently must complain to someone, we have taken the liberty of disabling the feedback links from this page


Someone writes: Contact the Flat Earth Society (I don't have the address handy, but I posted it a while ago). They will provide you with materials and show you how to fight the evil humanistic belief that the earth is round with true evidence and Biblical information that shows otherwise.

Someone else responds: Funny, my Bible says "He compasseth the day from the night" indicating that the earth is a sphere (round).

 All this proves is that one can support virtually any statement imaginable from Scripture. Precisely the opposite viewpoint is expressed by the reference to the "four corners of the earth," and by the parable of Jesus being shown "all the kingdoms of the earth" from the top of a mountain -- clearly impossible for a sphere, but reasonable for a flat surface. See how easy it is? One can play dueling Scriptures all day, and settle nothing.

Anyway, if you really want to know about the Flat Earth Society, it's run by Charles K. Johnson, Box 2533, Lancaster, CA, 93539-2533., phone 805-727-1635. This group is not a joke; it is deadly serious and manages to publish some of the most anti-intellectual and vicious (not to mention illiterate) prose I've seen in a while.

For example, in the Sept 1988 issue, we have the tasty little excerpt:

"IN USA today, as in Russia in '20s and NAZI Germany in '40s full scale campaign to create USA ALSO A BEAST NATION... no God... no right no wrong no up no down 2 added to 2 is whatever scientists say it is... Adults today either jailed or shot down... at own homes for even teaching their own children... GOD EXISTS and Right and Wrong exists (State of Utah)... bells have been tolling for so long... for the helpless pitiful innocent 'animals' as they are tortured to death by priests of the State Religion 'GREASE BALL SCIENCE'... now ... 1988 ... no use, too late... to send to see for whom the bell tolls... THE BELL TOLLS FOR THEE!" [Sic. Totally sic, as in word for word, character for character.]

The Flat Earth News, at least back then, had a regular column, "One Hundred Proofs Earth is Not a Globe." Number 34, in that issue,

"If the Earth were a globe, there certainly would be -- if we could imagine the thing, to be peopled all around-'antipodes:' 'people who,' says the dictionary, 'living exactly on the opposite side of the globe to ourselves, having their fee [sic] opposite to ours' - people who are HANGING DOWN, HEAD DOWNWARDS while we are standing head up? But since the theory allows to travel to those parts of the earth where the people are said to hand head downward, and still to fancy ourselves to be heads upwards, and our friends whom we have left behind us to be heads downwards, it follows that the WHOLE THING IS A MYTH - A DREAM - A DELUSION - and a snare, and, instead of there being any evidence at all in this direction to substantiate this popular theory, it is plain proof that the Earth is Not A Globe."

The following is the flyer that the Flat Earth Society sends to people interested in them. I have entered it verbatim. All typos, punctuation errors, etc are theirs. Enjoy.

International Flat Earth Research Society known as FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

Charles K. Johnson, President
Marjory Waugh Johnson, Sec.
Telephone: (805) 727-1635
PO Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93539

Aim: To carefully observe, think freely rediscove forgotten fact and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions. To help establish the United States...of the the world on this flat earth. Replace the science religion...with SANITY

The International Flat Earth Society is the oldest continuous Society existing on the world today. It began with the Creation of the Creation. First the water...the face of the deep...without form or limits...just Water. Then the Land sitting in and on the Water, the Water then as now being flat and level, as is the very Nature of Water. There are, of course, mountains and valleys on the Land but since most of the World is Water, we say, "The World is Flat." Historical accounts and spoken history tell us the Land part may have been square, all in one mass at one time, then as now, the magnetic north being the Center. Vast cataclysmic events and shaking no doubt broke the land apart, divided the Land to be our present continents or islands as they exist today. One thing we know for sure about this world...the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World.

We maintain that what is called 'Science' today and 'scientists' consist of the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, the 'Priest-Entertainers' for the common people. 'Science' consists of a weird, way-out occult concoction of jibberish theory-theology...unrelated to the real world of facts, technology and inventions, tall buildings and fast cars, airplanes and other Real and Good things in life; technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory. ALL inventors have been anti-science. The Wright brothers said: "Science theory held us up for years. When we threw out all science, started from experiment and experience, then we invented the airplane." By the way, airplanes all fly level on this Plane earth.

Our Society of Zetetics have existed for at least 6,000 years, the extent of recorded history. Extensive writing from 1492 b.c. We have been and are the Few, the Elite, the Elect, who use Logic Reason are Rational. Summed up, we are Sane and/ or have Common Sense as contrasted to the "herd" who is unthinking and uncaring. We have absorbed the Universal Zetetic Society of America and Great Britian, ZION U.S.A., the work of Alexander Dowie 1888, Wilber Glen Voliva 1942, Samuel Shenton, Lillian J. Shenton of England 1971. Zetetic: from Zeto, to seek and search out; Prove, as contrasted to theoretic which means to guess, to hope, to suppose, but NOT to 'prove'. Science 'proves' earth a 'ball' by 'scripture' words. We PROVE earth Flat by experiment, demonstrated and demonstrable. Earth Flat is a Fact, not a 'theory'!

Our aim is not to 'disturb the herd' or wreck the Government, but rather to be an aid to the Elite Human Being in coming to KNOW earth then FREE his or her mind from such blind unreasoning 'theory-superstition' and so go on "to carefully observe...think freely...rediscover forgotten facts and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions." As Sir Fields, owner of newspapers in England, has said about us, "They are the Last pocket of individual Thinkers in English speaking world."

I sometimes call myself the Last Iconclast. Science is a false religion, the opium of the masses. I myself count it as a begining of Sanity to confess 'the creation proves there was a Creator' so a God or Creator...Exists. From a life-time of study, of seeking out a proving things, from the study of 6,000 years of recorded history, from observation, from experience, from Common Sense Observation, have concluded the 10 Commandments are in fact good Laws of Living and Behavior for oneself and all in contact with you...truley 'Laws of Physics for Living.' That is my opinion. The Fact the Earth is Flat is not my opinion, it is a Proved Fact. Also demonstrated Sun and Moon are about 3,000 miles away are both 32 miles across. The Planets are 'tiny.' Sun and Moon do Move, earth does NOT move, whirl, spin or gyrate. Australians do NOT hang by their feet under the world...this is a FACT, not a theory! Also a Fact the Spinning, Whirling, Gyrating Ball World Planet, Globe Idea is Entirely 100% now and at all times in the Past, a RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE...a Blind Dogmatic Article of Faith in the Religion for the Blind unreasoning beast of prey. No earthly reason for a Sane, Upright Member of the Elite Elect Humans to subscribe to it. Also a Fact, today the Elite of Earth ALL live on the Flat World. Only the illogical, unreasoning "herd"...prefers the way-out occult weird theology of the old Greek superstitution earth a spinning ball! Both Copernecious and Newton, the inventors of the "modern" superstitions (400 year OLD modern) have said: "It is not possible for a Sane reasonable person to ever really believe these Theories." Thus sayeth Newton-Copernecious. What sayeth THOU?

Associate Membership contribution of $10.00 a year, includes four (4) issue of FLAT EARTH NEWS and Membership Card. An 8 x 12 Color Certificate of Membership is $5.00 extra. Sustaining Member $25.00 a year; Patron $100.00 and up. One year of the quarterly (4 issues) FLAT EARTH NEWS and Membership Card and Certificate. $5.00 single copy. Each issue contains further proofs of the fact - earth IS flat. People of goodwill who seek the truth also known as the Facts are Welcome! We do not want members who are stupid, mindless, brute beasts with two feet whose only aim is to scoff or in some way 'harm' our work -- Facts, Logic, Reason, Sanity also known as commonsense, is our aim.

In 30AD JC said... seek and find the Truth and it will set you free. Free from the Pathological Liars...the great pretenders who mislead all flesh and blood.

Age ______ RACE ______ Sex ______

Occupation ______

Are you a teacher of any kind in the education system? ______
Minister? ______
Priest? ______
Rabbi? ______

I hereby affirm my aim in joining is not to harm, degrade, damage or defame this Society

signed ______
date ______

How did you hear of us?

SPECIAL: FLAT EARTH MAP (as featured in Newsweek, 7/2/84) $6.00 postpaid; Membership, Certificate, and Map $20.00.

Announcements / Welcome to!
« on: February 13, 2005, 02:16:48 PM »
The site is brand new, so please bear with me if this place has some growing pains in the near future.

As you probably know by now, these forums are dedicated to the discussion of Flat Earth theory.  I've always found the subject really interesting and I was sad to see that the Flat Earth Society has either fallen into tremendous disrepair or disappeared completely.  There's not a lot of information on the internet about it and what little there is indicates that Charles Johnson, the previous head of the organization, passed away some time ago.  I'd like to get it started again and figured this was the most efficient way to do so.

There won't be a lot of rules for the forums unless it becomes absolutely necessary.  I don't care if people argue, but try not to act like a complete ass while you're doing it.

If anyone has suggestions for new forums or whatever, please let me know!


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