Did the Ancients Really Believe the World Is Flat?

Posted By on February 5, 2011

The mind has lost its cutting edge, we hardly understand the Ancients. — Grégoire de Tours, AD 500s [Hamlet’s Mill, pg 10]

The lazy word “evolution” had blinded us to the real complexities of the past. — authors of Hamlet’s Mill, pg 69.

Over at Untwist History, we discuss the “vulgar error” that Columbus finally enlightened Medieval man that the world is round. [See Feb 2011 archives] Here at TCFB, we address the following question: Didn’t the earlier civilizations believe the Earth was flat, surrounded by water, sitting on pillars (or a turtle) and covered with a dome? (Or variations thereof)

John Byl, Ph.D. in astronomy, notes at his bylogos blog that such a diagram is:

more a reflection of the ignorance of modern scholars than of ancient civilization. Ancient man was a much keener observer of the night sky than modern desk-bound scholars. They were well aware that the stellar sky rotates daily. Hence it cannot be a solid hemisphere held up by pillars fixed on the earth. Further, they were well aware of months and seasons. Hence the sun and moon were not fixed in a stellar shell. They were also well aware that the sun and moon were much more distant than flying birds. [See Dr. Byl’s interesting post on this subject at bylogos.blogspot.com in “Genesis and Ancient Cosmology”]

Men of all sorts, times, and places have never ceased to descend into all manner of ignorant and/or idolatrous ideas. However, in general, the flat-Earth myth is one that serves the minds of evolutionists who demand that ancients be unevolved and moderns be much more highly evolved. The issue of earliest man’s intelligence and knowledge of the Cosmos was something we tackled head-on in our 1994 work They Came From Babel.

We found that an ever-growing number of scholars, biblical and evolutionist alike, continue to demonstrate the impressive knowledge and abilities of those ancients who designed and built the Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, and a host of other megalithic, astronomically sophisticated sites found around the globe. The expanding file of evidence has caused not a few evolutionist-minded researchers to reorder their thinking, some quite radically. The discipline of archaeoastronomy has grown from the 1890s observations of British astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, who detected complex astronomical alignments in ancient archaeological sites.

Egypt is one of the oldest of civilizations and the Great Pyramid one of man’s oldest artifacts. In TCFB, we presented evidence that the Great Pyramid is (among other things) a “sophisticated reference map of the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere” using spherical projection. Egypt’s mathematical system came from an even older Babylonia. They had an accurate figure for the circumference of the Earth. How could any of that possibly reflect any belief in a flat Earth?

As for mythologies and cosmologies, in Hamlet’s Mill (1969), Professors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend demonstrated that the roots of ancient mythology are actually a very real, accurate, and sophisticated cosmology — a record of the heavens. They identified ancient references to a “quadrangular Earth” with four corners or pillars as a coded picture of “the ideal plane going through the four points of the year, the equinoxes and the solstices,” which was “by no means ‘believed’ to be quadrangular by ‘primitive’ Chinese, and so on….” (pg 62) It is the ecliptic, and they complain about the repeated necessity to explain “what this ‘earth’ is that modern interpreters like to take for a pancake.” (pg 235)

The Hamlet’s Mill authors also note a Finnish folktale that “repeats the well-known Babylonian story of Etana and the Eagle,” with analogous similes that depict the Earth as “‘no bigger than a pea.'” (pg 114) A pea is certainly a sphere.

The point here is the vast amount of evidence available to show that “ancient” man was highly intelligent and skilled, whether or not one believes that the biblical record is accurate history. [We believe the Bible is revealed Truth; Hamlet’s Mill authors do not.] Elsewhere, we will address the question of whether the Bible supposedly teaches a “flat Earth.” What do you think?


4 Responses to “Did the Ancients Really Believe the World Is Flat?”

  1. Thomas Lowe says:

    Excellent article! How can folks help you guys out to complete Volume 2? Are you still wanting to publish it? Is S.A. Cranfill still alive or has she gone home to glory? I have alot of friends at my church who want to know, as they all want to get a copy of They Came From Babel for their libraries.

  2. editor says:

    Thanks for asking, Thomas. I’m still kicking. As you can see, I tried to get back into this a year ago but got sidetracked by other businesses. Still intend to get back to it. Glad you enjoyed the book. A lot more material available these days.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am also interested in seeing Volume II of They Came From Babel come to print. I have the first one and have read it through at least three times; anxiously awaiting the next installment over the years, to no avail. Thomas asked how he can help and I would like to know too.. Thank you for being here and God bless you.

  4. Sandy Lopp says:

    I have enjoyed TCFB ever since 1994, when I got it at the “Creation Evidences Museum” in Glen Rose. Dr. Baugh is a fan also. I had to search for quite a while on the internet to find you but since I did, I posted your site on facebook for my friends. I am very impressed by your ability to take threads from research and weave it into a coherent tapistry. I appreciate your copious footnotes, it shows you are not just pulling information out of thin air. Keep up the good work, and I am so glad that you are still kicking!

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