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It is not true that the church used to teach a flat earth (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (It is not true that the church used to teach a flat earth (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA662:

It is not true that the church used to teach that the Earth was flat. Only two Christian theologians (Lactantius and Cosmas Indicopleustes) taught it, and they were largely ignored and uninfluential. The flat earth myth is a product of Darwinism meant to make it look like religion was the enemy of science when it was not so.

Source: Wells, Jonathan, 1999 (Oct. 20). "Evolution: Teaching the Controversy", debate at Burlington-Edison High School, sponsored by Skagit Parents for Scientific Truth in Education.


CreationWiki response:

Note that throughout his response the author of Talk.Origins never really disputes the fact that the church never used to teach a flat Earth. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

Wells, who has a PhD in theology, is ignorant of Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephraim Syrus, Athanasius of Alexandria, Diodorus of Tarsus, Epiphanius of Salamis, Hilary of Poitiers, and Severianus of Gabala. It is true that flat Earthism was never a majority or official position of the early church, and that it became practically nonexistent among the educated during and after the Middle Ages, but many of the early Fathers were flat Earthers (Schadewald, 1999).

This is rather irrelevant, and there is really no point in the author mentioning this at all as it does not mean anything to the claim that the church never taught a flat Earth. That the Earth was flat was never a mainstream view and was never taught by the church.

In any case, Schadewald, who lacked any qualifications in history, science or theology, was quite wrong about what the Fathers taught, as shown by the monumental work by historian Jeffrey Burton Russell, Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus & Modern Historians (ISBN 027595904X) (see Dr Russell's summary).

One need not manufacture myths to show a hostility of religion towards science. The church's reaction to heliocentrism is another well known example, as is Wells himself.

Talk.Origins conveniently forgets that, ironically enough, by rejecting Galileo the Church was agreeing with the science of its day, the exact same thing evolutionists want it to do today. To state that Wells is hostile toward science is to assume that evolution is science in the first place.

Talk.Origins provides a link to a site called "Ethical Atheist". The site tries to show that the flat-earth theory was accepted by the early Church. How? By saying that the early Church Fathers must have taught a flat Earth because he thinks that the Bible teaches a flat Earth, based on his own personal hyper-literal interpretation. However, the Ethical Atheists had to retract their original version of the book, and had to concede that flat-earth belief was extremely rare in the Church leaders, and talk.Origins has yet to catch up with this retraction, e.g.:

A misunderstanding of Antipodes may be the primary reason that many contemporary authors misinterpret historic quotations as proof of a flat earth belief. This was certainly true in our original version of this eBook!
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