Sunday, October 19, 2014

... Some Notes on Dr Thomas Woods' Debunking of Flat Earth Myth

1) ... on Historical Capacity of Understanding, 2) ... Some Notes on Dr Thomas Woods' Debunking of Flat Earth Myth, 3) ... Some Notes on Thomas Woods' Orderly Universe Argument, 4) ... to Thomas Woods on the School of Chartres, Mainly, 5) ... following Thomas E. Woods Jr. from Bacon to Boscovich

Was the Catholic Church the Builder of Civilization?
up to end of intro episode of video at about 24 - 25 minutes.

I 16:41

I am not saying EVERYBODY believed in a flat Earth, but some did.

St Augustine posed on looking at the Northern axis around which stars circle every day the question whether there was a similar one to the South. I e, he considerd it at least thinkable that Earth was either flat or only semispherical - though he favoured the spherical model.

Pope St Zachary on hearing one bishop Virgil believed in a round Earth posed some questions about how he considered possible Antipodes. Virgil was thus suspect of believing in non-Adamite Antipodes, which the Pope of course condemned. And Virgil was of course innocent. But if a spherical Earth had been entirely universal, Virgil would hardly have been suspect in the first place.

II 16:58

Lactantius having no influence on anybody is of course wrong. He was a great writer. Otherwise, not being a saint, his writing would hardly have survived.

His speaking allegorically in the text as a whole does not mean every detail in it is supposed to be true in allegory only, and sth he did not literally believe in. Our Lord did not literally disbelieve what he allegorically considered credible, that fathers get happy when lost sons turn up or that housewives get happy when finding coins they had lost.

III 17:07

Yes, I have heard ALL about Cosmas and his opponent John Philoponus!

When I studied Greek there was the lady Baptist pastor (I was in love with her daughter at the time and wanted to convert her to Catholicism) who was doing her theses on these guys. OK, ALL is exaggerated but all she would say in my presence and Cosmas being such a prohibitive example for fundies I have heard.

Besides, you underestimate Greek literacy of Latin West.

I am pretty sureone could find references to Cosmas Indicopleustes and John Philoponus in St Thomas Aquinas - at least the commentary on Aristotle.

IV 19:57

[why does the flat earth myth continues] "it fits the Englightenment stereotype"

Not only with Secularists, but also with Fundamentalists, since they essentially hanker back to Locke. CMI - Creation Ministries International - is not supporting the flat Earth stereotype, but they are whenever it is brought up supporting a story in which Catholic Church had mixed up its teaching with Pagan Aristotelic Geocentrism and Biblically they had no leg to stand on against Galileo.

On the other hand Secularists may more than once repeat typically Protestant stereotypes like "Catholic Church can't be the Church of Christ since it is idolatrous" (referring to iconodulia and honouring of the BVM and the Saints who have been canonised) or even "since it sold indulgences" (repeating a lie about selling involved and a Protestant stereotype about indulgences as such being anti-Biblical).

V 20:34

[If one invented something about what a known person said or thought:] "it would last about three seconds"


  • CSL never admitted he was philosophically defeated after the Anscombe debate, only he had been stumped on a point (he reworked a chapter of Miracles) and he felt he was over and done with as specifically a philosopher.

  • Pacelli never endorsed Nazi ideology, he penned what Pius XI signed as Mit brennender Sorge. Still, he is pretty often portrayed as Hitler's Pope (when he became Pius XII), because he was a Nuntio while the concordate was signed.

  • Alojzije Stepinac never endorsed Ustashi persecution of Serbs or other non-Croats. He is said to have told Nikolaj Velimorivc of some Serbian see he was not wanted, but that might have been an attempt to save Velimirovic. Yet Stepinac is pointed out as having given his blessing to killing of Serbs in Jasenovac.

  • For my own part, I have readers of my blogs in more than one country. I have been pointed out as endorsing specifically racialist excuses for Southron slavery, when I have simply said slavery is - unlike slave hunt - sometimes permitted. Freeing a bought person from slavery is fitting to a Christian buyer, but not a natural due to the person bought (and that the black man bought had often enough been sold by black slave hunting kings in Africa). I have been pointed out as endorsing total submission of wife to husband, when I said they have to submit to each other in bed, and wives have to submit if disagreeing on decisions concerning the family (two persons cannot decide by majority vote, and marriage must survive disagreements). I have been pointed out as wanting to lower the life expectancy because I want to get certain aspects back to Middle Ages - and because I insist life expectancy was not really low then.

But, in these cases too, the lies have served a purpose.

VI 24:19

Before going on to "next time", one other guess about persistence of "Flat Earth was believed in Middle Ages" myth.

18th C everyone really knew the Earth was a sphere. By 19th C. everyone all over Europe expluding Eastern Europe and Spain was also learning it in near compulsory schools.

So, a 19th C scholar finds even one Patristic or Medieval author saying Earth was flat, he is so used to the theme being culturally a one option theme he imagines that was the case in Middle Ages and that then the one option was flatness.

Moreover, 19th C starts getting an interest in Norse Paganism. One side issue would be "pagan origins" attacks on Christmas, imagining Midwinter was celebrated at winter solstice (which was not the case, it would seem, and which would have brought the feast into Advent rather than Christmas - at one point Winter Solstice was feast of St Lucy, before the Ember Days) and that this was the origin not just of many Northern European Christmas customs, but of Christmas celebration itself. But another side issue thereof would be, since Pagan cosmology of Odinists placed Middangeard/Midgárd as a disc under the disc of Ásgárd and above the broader disc of Utgárd, when were the people supposed to have transited to a spheric Earth position? There is no trace of this being any kind of big issue during Christianisation. My guess is Swedes, Danes, Norsemen adopted spheric Earth cosmology very gradually as more and more of them came back from Sorbonne as clergymen.

You mentioned "educated" Europeans. Presumably you think, as I, a lot of farmers or peasants still thought the Earth flat up to geographic discoveries. But non-farmers did not all have same education.

Clergymen had a scholastic or monastic education (not quite same thing) and at least the scholastic one clearly thought a spheric Earth. Noblemen had for long time little letters beyond poetry and novels. Or perhaps that is a 19th C stereotype. Anyway, it is a condition ending about 1400. Up to Camoes poetry/epic was not quite spheric Earth oriented. Burghers tended to enjoy vulgarised versions of both clerical, specifically scholastic, and noble culture. They would know the Earth was not flat, by at least 1300, or so. But Spain was not typical, it had recently been liberated from Moors. If I heard any evidence from relevant epoch (like Christopher's diaries) that his sailors worried about falling off the edge, or one of them, I wouldn't throw it out.

However, I think main objection was that, just as equatorial zone would be too hot (wrong) a Western zone would be too stormy to pass (wrong again). Besides, Columbus really did calculate diameter of Earth erroneously, since he thought he was a few miles off East Asia. So, the "Earth is too big" objection had something going for it.

VII a personal note

I have been accused more than once of holding to a flat earth myself, when that also is simply not true.

I do believe there are "four corners" and that you can fall off them - but then it is into the sea you fall. The four corners do not imply a "strictly Euclidic" - i e flat, two dimensional - surface between them. The four corners might for instance be considered as being those of the then known landmass, i e of Eurasia and Africa or of "Old World". Roughly UK would be NW corner, Sachalin-Koreas-Japan NE corner, Singapore-New Gunea-Australia the SE corner and the SW corner would be Cape of Good Hope.

Of course, Euclid would not deny you can take an apple or a spheric Earth globe and choose 4 points and draw lines between them, he would just not have called that a square or a rectangle (or their Greek counterparts), since he had reserved those words for other, flatter, usages./HGL

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