Flat earth-Hiding the truth

In looking at the discussion, I thought this might apply:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siphonaptera is a rhyme by the mathematician Augustus De Morgan,[1] named for the biological order of the flea.

Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.
And the great fleas, themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.[2]
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A flat earth? Seriously? It’s 2018 and people still don’t know that the Earth is in the shape of a trapezoid?


Don’t you mean pear-shaped?

Did NASA tell you that? Anyways, I have scientific proof the Earth is a trapezoid. See:


In the interests of intellectual property protection, de Morgan filched his idea (which I learned at my father’s knee!) from an earlier doggerel of Jonathan Swift, from “On Poetry, A Rhapsody,” which runs:

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him that comes behind.

I can maybe make a vague link to the matter in hand, about scientific advances, by pointing out that it was based on Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, which had opened up the microscopic world to the educated public. And here is the very flea…

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Let me also add here a gentle warning against piling on the “ignorant superstition” bandwagon, in the form of an investigation I did a while ago on a fascinating 6th century flat-earther, Cosmas Indicopleustes.

Indeed, his case does teach about the dangers of excessive biblical literalism - and especially relevantly how the shape of that literalism is conditioned by ones own culture. But it also shows the dangers of scientific mythmaking (in that Cosmas has been held up by skeptics as a typical stupid Christian anti-scientist, whereas he was, like today’s flat-earthers, a vanishingly small, even a courageously individual, minority).

And also, he had a few things going for him, like (a) challenging current science on things to which they had no answers, and which in some case proved to be as wrong as he had said, (b) being one of the most accurate geographers of his time, despite his wacky cosmology, and © discovering the cosmic temple theology of Genesis 1500 years before folks like Biologos’s own John Walton and Richard Middleton rediscovered it and made it mainstream in OT studies. How did everybody else miss that?

Remember, those who believe that the Bible teaches a literal flat earth as historical truth, and that it is right, are taking the same attitude to Scripture as those who say it teaches a literal flat earth as “ancient science”, but is wrong. Both are equally in error in failing to step outside their own materialistically-conditioned worldview and failing to try and think like the ancients - centuries before the Greeks conceived the idea of “world” or “cosmos” as a discrete entity that could be considered either flat or round as a totality.


This made me laugh out loud.

Even funnier to realize some minutes later that what you have in the photo isn’t even a trapezoid but a parallelogram!

They didn’t miss it. The cosmic temple motif can be found in Second Temple Period literature. In fact it’s quite likely that Cosmas drew on Jewish sources.


I make similar claims here:

Now that being said, some early Jewish texts such as the Book of Enoch ‘do’ teach a Flat planetary earth, where the earth simply drops off into nothingness. But by now, the Greeks ‘did’ have the concept of a Cosmos. I suspect however, that the belief in a flat earth was only ever held by the very ignorant in times of antiquity.

Very interesting, can you give some links?

I found this:

Ahh – but all parallelograms are trapezoids, when you use the correct (i.e. inclusive) definition of a trapezoid!

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NASA lies about the definition of a trapeziod.

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But once you start down that slippery slope where will it all end? Next you will be saying that a good solid square is a trapezoid! Where will the madness end?

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Here’s a description of Cosmas’ schema.

“The drawings depict the Cosmos, the Tabernacle, and the Ark of the Covenant using a schema of a rectangular structure crowned with an arch and a line separating the rectangle from the half-circle above it (fig. 1). In other diagrams in the book the seven-branched menorah symbolizes the celestial bodies, the showbread table represents the produce of the Earth, and the Ark of the Covenant with its cherubim in the Holy of Holies symbolizes the upper Heavens.” [1]

The author goes on to describe how Cosmas’ schema is similar to the existing Jewish traditions.

“Surprisingly, a similar schema of the Tabernacle can also be found in Jewish art from earlier periods. We find a visual pictogram of the Tabernacle/Temple running through Jewish artifacts for centuries—from the Bar Kochba coins dated from 132 to 135 CE (fig. 2) to the third-century Dura-Europos synagogue (fig. 3) to third- and fourth-century Jewish funerary art, and to fourth- to seventh-century synagogue art, as well as examples from later periods, such as depictions in a fourteenth-century illustrated Sephardi haggadah.” [2]

This understanding of creation as cosmic temple theology was widespread throughout Byzantine Christianity.

“Similar ideas expressed visually and verbally concerning the link between the Tabernacle and Creation are also found in such other Byzantine Christian works as the Octateuchs, which date from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. The Octateuchs, a collection of eight biblical books of the Septuagint, consists of the five books of Moses, the “Pentateuch” generally known to both Hellenized Jews and Greek-speaking Christians as the Law (Torah), Joshua and Judges, the two books that continue the narrative of Deuteronomy, and the short Book of Ruth, which is set in the period of the Judges (Ruth 1:1).” [3]

The author goes on to point out the reliance of Christian texts on the existing Jewish tradition of the creation as cosmic temple.

“Interestingly, the unique exegetical method found in these Byzantine Christian works seems to rely heavily on early Jewish sources, especially in its description of the universe and the way it was formed in the act of Creation.” [4]

There is masses of literature describing cosmic temple theology from texts in the pre-Christian era right through to the late Byzantine. It’s all over the place (including the New Testament of course, in particular Hebrews and Revelation). Josephus gave it a nod as well.

"…for if anyone do without prejudice, and with judgment, look upon these things, he will find they were every one made in way of imitation and representation of the universe. When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts,c and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.

And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the Decani, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number.

The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the purple signified the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shell fish; the blue is fit to signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire." [5]

[1] Shulamith Laderman, Images of Cosmology in Jewish and Byzantine Art: God’s Blueprint of Creation, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 26 (Boston: Brill, 2013), 3.

[2] Shulamith Laderman, Images of Cosmology in Jewish and Byzantine Art: God’s Blueprint of Creation, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 26 (Boston: Brill, 2013), 3.

[3] Shulamith Laderman, Images of Cosmology in Jewish and Byzantine Art: God’s Blueprint of Creation, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 26 (Boston: Brill, 2013), 4.

[4] Shulamith Laderman, Images of Cosmology in Jewish and Byzantine Art: God’s Blueprint of Creation, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 26 (Boston: Brill, 2013), 4.

[5] Antiquities 3.180–183, Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 90.


Philo of Alexandria also recognised the link between the Menorah and the Heavenly bodies.

Yes, it’s in Philo and quite a few other Second Temple Period works. The idea that Cosmas “discovered” it, or that everyone else missed it, has no actual basis in fact. It’s just that a lot of people today don’t know about it.

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