Introduction – Introduction
In this eBook, we tried to present both sides of the debate regarding historical flat earth thinking. In some areas, we’ve drawn our own conclusions, but remember that these are just our conclusions. Hopefully, this material will be a valuable resource to you and others in reaching your own conclusions.There can be no doubt that in early human history, many people viewed the earth as flat. At different times, it took various flat geometric shapes including a circular disc, a rectangle, a parallelogram, etc. Therefore, the question at hand is not whether it was ever viewed as flat, but when people ceased to hold this view. The minor reappearance of flat earth thinking mainly in Pre-Medieval times was driven by a fundamental, literal interpretation of the Scriptures by Christians. These strict interpretations trapped a few of the very early Church Fathers into a position of opposing a spherical earth. In other areas, such as earth-centric beliefs (earth as center of universe), planetary motion and concepts of the universe in general; the historical record may be viewed as much more critical of the Church.
We are always open to new evidence and, as with all views, we will try to keep on open mind on the issue.
Our Summary of Findings can be found in Chapter 2. Our conclusions from this research are summarized as follows:
- A strong flat earth view was held in Sumerian and Babylonian times.
- Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and astrologers made great advances in astronomy and spherical views.
- Some flat earth thinking was present in pre-medieval and early medieval times. The primary opposition to spherical views was due to theological arguments and scriptural interpretations by the early Church Fathers. They were cornered into their positions by their own beliefs and possibly by fear of reprisals. Fortunately, this view did not prevail!
- Medieval astronomers, after some delay (!), continued the work of the ancients and made great advances in geography and cartography which culminated in discovery of the New World. The most recent evidence of verifiable, provable flat earth thinking in Medieval times we found was approximately 550 A.D.
- From the 1800’s to present day, we find contemporary historians writing faulty accounts of flat earth thinking during Medieval times. The error of some of these authors is due to misinterpreting historical quotations. We’ve provided these controversial quotations in CHAPTER 5 – Analysis of 7000 Years of Thinking Regarding Earth’s Shape so that readers have an easily accessible resource of quotations from which to make their OWN conclusions.
- We do not subscribe to the claims made by some authors that the flat earth ‘myth’ was created, and continues to be promoted, by ‘secular writers’ in their ‘incessant attacks on Christianity’. We also do not subscribe to the claim that flat earth thinking was invented by ‘evolutionists and Darwinists’ as ‘ammunition against the creationists’. Nor are we convinced of evil collaborative conspiracies by American Washington Irving and Frenchman Antoine-Jean Letronne.
- Still today, we have a handful of people and societies promoting flat earth thinking. It is hard not to view these present-day flat earthers as pure lunatics. On the other hand, maybe they’re just after publicity and want their ’15 minutes of fame’.
As we discussed previously, the term ‘Dark Ages’ is often misused in a derogatory way, misaligned from the meaning it originally held. Look on the bright side! Regardless of what may have happened, curiosity and the human spirit prevailed. Despite the many bad things that happened in medieval times, it was actually a period of enlightenment. Scientific discoveries and rediscoveries occurred throughout the age and laid the groundwork for advances in periods that followed. Some who have studied the Medieval Ages for decades and are aware of the many advances made during this time would rather refer to it as “The Mighty Age of Wonderfulness” (thanks Tim!). 
– Ethical Atheist
[Revision history can be found at end of References page.]