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The Flat Earth Myth
by Albert Persohn
I owe the Middle Ages an apology! So do my teachers. Perhaps yours as well. The article posted here moves to debunk the long held position that Religious scholars in the middle ages thought the world was flat.I owe the Middle Ages an apology! So do my teachers. Perhaps yours as well. The article posted here moves to debunk the long held position that Religious scholars in the middle ages thought the world was flat.The Flat Earth Myth
The real myth is the idea that anyone ever believed in a flat earth
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
In the course of promoting my new book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, I have made the point that major historians of science today no longer hold the simplistic position that "religion" has been nothing but an obstacle to "science." This contention doubtless comes as a surprise to some people, since most of us have gone through life hearing and being taught that very idea.
The standard view was given its classical expression by Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) in his two-volume History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). Yet it is safe to say that scarcely any serious historian of science today views White’s work as anything but quaintly risible. (That doesn’t stop hostile e-mail correspondents even now from dutifully quoting him to me, as if the past century’s revolution in our understanding of the history of science had never occurred.) And while the claim of Pierre Duhem and Stanley Jaki that certain Christian theological ideas were indispensable to the rise of Western science (see, for instance, Jaki’s discussion of inertial motion – and, indeed, his entire thesis – in Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe) has not become the dominant view, the opposite position – the one drilled into the heads of 99.9 percent of American students at all levels, from elementary school onward – has for all intents and purposes been abandoned.
This just can’t be true, say my critics. After all, didn’t the Church teach that the world was flat?
Actually, no. Essentially no one during the Middle Ages believed the world was flat. Of the many myths about the Middle Ages this one is perhaps the most widespread, and yet at the same time the most roundly and authoritatively debunked.
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