The Value of the Flat Earth

Where do YOU place your faith?

James Leroy Wilson

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What the Flat Earth might look like on a map. The white that encircles it is an ice wall. (Creator: Trekky0623.)

Last week I watched the documentary Behind the Curve (2018) about people who believe that the surface of our planet Earth is flat. It’s an interesting watch with extensive cooperation from the Flat Earthers themselves, who even let some of their failed experiments be filmed. The documentary also interviews scientists who refuse to use ridicule and shame but are concerned about this belief.

I suppose I’ve believed the planet is a sphere for as long as I remember, as there was a globe in our house. I still believe it because secondary sources overwhelmingly agree and, although I’ve spent comparatively little time on the subject, I’ve seen videos arguing for the globe that are far more compelling than flat earth arguments.

That said, I couldn’t tell you why I believe the Earth is a sphere except that that’s what I’ve been told. One thing I did check a few years ago: nonstop flights are made from South Africa to Australia, Australia to South America, South America to South Africa; the distances would be too far for a nonstop on a flat earth. But as for the science, don’t remember all the details about sun shadows, moon positions, etc. I wouldn’t know how to prove the Earth is round all by myself, and in my day-to-day living, it doesn’t seem to matter at all.

That said, I am sympathetic to contrarians, those who have a minority or even fringe view of things. (Most notably, I believe Jerry Sandusky is innocent.) I started questioning all my beliefs after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Once I realized that the State is founded on violence, then all its works seemed to be based on lies.

And so I understand the feeling that “we’ve been lied to the whole time.” I just don’t believe the shape of the Earth is one of lies.

My disagreement with Flat Earthers, however, is probably more existential. As I understand it, their belief comes from passages in the Bible. To some people, the Bible must be literally and factually correct in all things for their Christian faith to be valid.

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James Leroy Wilson

Former activist. Writer with a range of interests from spirituality to sports.