There’s something romantic about the ancient idea that the world is flat.
A thousand stars watch us through a veiled curtain that shields us from the unknown. That curtain is shaped like a dome that traps our dreams for other people to tap into and see the visions we once saw.
Then there’s the sun and the moon orbiting our flat earth from above, chasing each other, keeping half the world in sunlight and the other in moonlight. And with the right map of our flat world, you can see the similarities between how our sun and moon circle us and how the Chinese yin and yang symbol mirrors this pattern.
But this is an idea from the past.
In one of my favourite films, Agora, the real life 4th century astronomer and philosopher, Hypatia, stumbles upon an idea that also put Italian astronomer Galileo in danger when he realised the same thing many centuries later. The heavens don’t move above us, we move instead. When Galileo tried to tell the Catholic church, they weren’t impressed. God is above and Hell is below. That was that.
Why has this concept reemerged?
I first heard about this theory from a friend and it was tied in with more weird conspiracies. Then to my surprise I found heaps of others on the web who believe this. But I can choose not listen to their nonsense.
At a party several weeks ago, two twenty-something guys were arguing that the world is flat. When I questioned one of them to explain the phases of the moon, my query was ignored and the orbit of the sun and the moon above the flat earth was re-explained. Then I asked why the moon is sometimes seen during the day. I was questioned about this. “When?” he asked, vehemently. This guy was old enough to see the moon during the day many times during his life. Yet all facts took a backseat.
There’s a whole lot of stupid going on.
Once upon a time, graffiti wasn’t art. It was a clever one liner that made people think or laugh, or both. Commercial television gave you real news stories from around the world, keeping the population well educated on current events. Celebrities weren’t celebrities unless they had a talent, and they only made the news if they died. And the right wing would never emulate late 1930’s German political values, as if it’s a good thing.
So imagine if today’s technology was around forty years ago. Imagine we were having conversations with strangers through social media, slowly getting to know the parts of themselves they wished to divulge online, at a time when we were all watching the same shows and getting the same news. Would we have become as fragmented as society is today? Would we be finding our own groups of ‘friends’ that bolster our beliefs, rather than challenging them?
It’s something I can’t answer. Perhaps we would have accelerated our need to stay indoors and communicate at a safe distance.
But coming from a time where society was better educated, would we ever come to a point where some believed the earth was flat?