While this isn’t strictly a apologetics issue, it is loosely related, since the Old Testament has numerous passages that only make sense if interpreted within a flat Earth paradigm. And no small number of flat earthers justify their fierce defense of their bizarre beliefs, by pointing to the Bible. But to be clear:
- The vast majority of Christians and Jews reject the flat earth nonsense.
- Flat Earthers are by no means limited to the ranks of religious zealots.
But I’ve added this post here because of that loose relationship, and frankly, because this is my forum, so it is my prerogative to do so.
Flat Earthers have, in numerous forums, published various “proofs” that the earth is flat. All of those, as far as I know, have been soundly refuted. Certainly none of the many flat Earth “proofs” I’ve looked at hold even a little bit of water. Therefore I won’t in this post, discuss the reasons that we know that the Earth is, in fact, (roughly) spherical. Instead, I’ll focus on the conspiracy theory that flat Earthers claim is behind the spherical Earth. Frankly, even if one didn’t have the slightest understanding of the actual science, the utter absurdity of the conspiracy theory alone, should be sufficient cause to reject all their nonsense.
Flat Earthers, reject virtually everything NASA has done. In their view, there was no moon landing. All the space photos of the Earth have been faked. On top of that, GPS is rigged, to make pilots think they are flying in straight lines around the globe, when they are actually flying curved paths above a disc. Likewise, any other evidence against the flat Earth has been faked. The motives for the conspiracy are presumed to be financial in nature.
My background – I have a B.S. in Physics, an M.S. in Systems Engineering, and retired in 2017 after 34 years as a Systems Engineer, working for a defense contractor. During that career, I served as Chief Engineer on two programs.
The programs I worked on included a missile system, a passive radar detection and location system, and two airborne active radar systems. And I consulted on several others. All of these systems were designed to work with a roughly spherical Earth (henceforth, I’ll refer to it simply as a “spherical Earth” for simplicity, though in fact, the systems actually depended upon much more accurate ellipsoidal Earth models). Since the systems were designed for a spherical Earth, they would have performed horribly on a flat Earth. They would have been dismal failures, and would never have made it into production, let alone be successfully employed. But they all performed as expected, and as required by our customers.
So the flat Earthers, would no doubt declare that (as with the folks at NASA), I and hundreds of of other engineers who worked on these systems must be part of the cabal that is behind the conspiracy. And if that’s true, the same must also be true for tens (or hundreds) of thousands of engineers who work on other defense, aeronautics, space, navigation systems, etc. in the US, Russia, China, France, the U.K., India, ETC.
Of course, to do so, we’d have to design these systems to work with flat Earth geometry and Physics, but convince all those who didn’t have a “need to know” that we were using spherical earth geometry and physics. So that would require that we have some way to know who’s part of the cabal, and who is not, lest we slip up and reveal the truth to the general public. That alone would be a daunting challenge.
Most of us kept textbooks on our shelves at work. As a Physics major, I naturally had some Physics texts. But clearly, I could not leave flat Earth Physics books out in plain sight. Rather, these would have to be the “phony” spherical Earth Physics books. We’d have to be experts in spherical Earth Physics, which we were taught in school, and which we’d discuss in open meetings, conferences, etc. But we’d obviously also have to be experts in the “real” flat Earth Physics, in order to design systems that actually worked. So that would necessitate having some publishers in the cabal, who would print the flat earth physics books for us, along with flat earth books on GPS, radar, etc. These would have to be distributed with extraordinary care, to assure that none of them were ever seen by the wrong people. And we also would therefore require Ultra Top Secret vaults, to store them, and in which to read them.
The above challenges don’t just apply to the contractor engineering staffs. Contractors work closely under the oversight of their customers, who have their own engineers and scientists.
And of course, universities and research institutes around the world would also be involved. Physicists around the world would have to be part of the cabal, most of them spending entire careers, advancing the state of the phony spherical Earth Physics. Any who are not part of the cabal, would have to be watched closely, to make sure they didn’t stumble across the truth. Others in the cabal would labor in secret, on advancing the real flat Earth Physics. Other disciplines be similarly involved – geology, climatology, etc.
So when all is said and done, this cabal would have been in existence for many decades, involving multiple generations of scientists and engineers in universities, as well as aerospace and defense contractors, DoD agencies, universities, research institutes, etc. throughout the world, with numbers likely in the hundreds of thousands of members. Not one among those hundreds of thousands has leaked any flat earth textbooks or design documents.
Obviously the extraordinary efforts to develop, perpetuate, and protect this conspiracy would have staggering costs. The presumed financial motivation for the claimed conspiracy clearly holds no more water than any of their supposed proofs. It’s beyond absurd.
And somehow, the ranks of flat Earthers are conspicuous in the absence of disgruntled former engineers. Instead, the various flat Earth groups are populated by those who are scientifically illiterate, or at best, semiliterate. They are poster children for the Dunning-Kruger effect.
For reference, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence.