Next time you hear a theory that initially strikes you as “crazy,” ask yourself why experts reject it, and why the idea appears to be picking up steam, and among whom, and what holes exist in that idea. Just be a critical thinker.
Don’t be like Robbie Davidson, who ignored his initial instinct that a flat Earth was “crazy” and eventually went all out and joined the Flat Earth Society. He became so invested in the movement that he organized a convention in Denver, Colorado.
“I thought the idea of a flat Earth was ridiculous,” said Robbie Davidson, a slim, hyper Canadian sporting a ginger goatee and loose fitting suit while sitting in the lobby of a Denver hotel.
But not any more. The hotel is hosting the second annual Flat Earth International Conference — an event that Davidson himself founded and organized.
“I’d first heard it in the Bible and thought ‘this can’t be true,’” he recalled, speaking with rapid excitement. “I mean, I believed everything else, that the Earth was created in six literal days, but what about all this other stuff [about a flat Earth]? To be consistent as a biblical literalist, I can’t pick and choose.”
Even biblical literalists don’t believe the Earth is flat. (And they’ll believe almost anything.) More broadly, though, you don’t have to be a biblical literalist to call yourself a Christian. In fact, it’s highly recommended among many pastors and theologians that you don’t take the Bible at face value like that. That method of reading Scripture ignores the many different types of writing styles the Bible employs, from poetry to parable.
Literalism is, to put it frankly, an intellectually immature way to read Scripture.
It’s bad enough when Creationists do it, but to cite the Bible in justification of a flat Earth makes you a laughingstock even among other laughingstocks.
Even the writer of the Guardian‘s article about him took an amusing shot as his absurd beliefs:
David’s conversion to believing in a flat earth was only a few years ago, yet in that time he and scores of others around the globe — including a few celebrities — have subscribed to the idea that the Earth is shaped like a pancake.
“Around the globe,” indeed. Well done, Josiah.
The theories splinter off from there, with varying ideas about who is propagating misinformation about the Earth’s shape and why, but there are a number of unifying touchstones: Nasa, Freemasons, the “faked” moon landing, globalists, Elon Musk.
But perhaps the most common thread is the Bible, and the conviction of its fundamental truth. That makes evangelical Christians one of largest and most enthusiastic groups who embrace the theory, but they are also one of the least reported on and one that causes immense controversy in their own community.
Yet walking the halls of the conference — where 650 people from around the world paid up to $350 to attend lectures about their horizontal idea of the planet — it’s not uncommon to see people praying over one another, discussing apocalyptic theories about “end times”, or swapping Bible verses that describe the Earth in a non-spherical fashion.
It should cause controversy, since it’s an easily disprovable theory — and just one more unnecessary way that some Christians use to move the goalposts to decide who is a “true believer” and who isn’t. Not that it matters, but Jesus never used belief in a Flat Earth as a litmus test among his followers.
Davidson is also quoted as saying that the most “persecution” he has faced for his belief has come from other Christians. While it’s tempting to urge atheists to step up their game, the statement isn’t all that surprising. At a time when so many Christians are in the news for all the wrong reasons, the last thing some believers want is for someone even more foolish to represent them in the public eye. It’s just one more thing that pushes the faith further into irrelevance.
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