Talk:Flat Earth/Archive 4

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5

Book of Job

The Book of Job is very late within the Old Testament, dating to the 4th if not the 3rd century BC. It is therefore in principle possible that the Book of Job already reflects the knowledge of the spherical Earth as suggested here -- even though the translation cited is rather tendentious.

If literature can be cited that discusses the point, it would be interesting to include it, not here but at the Biblical cosmology section. --dab (𒁳) 13:33, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Are you serious? Job has some of the better flat earth passages in the OT. Consider Job 38:4-14. It talks about the earth's foundations and footings, the edges of the earth and even "the earth takes shape like clay under a seal" - most seals I know of are flat! Now one may well argue whether this is just poetry or meant to be taken as a literal description, but I don't think you'll find any learning from Greek science in that book. Chris55 (talk) 13:21, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Merger Proposal: Shape of the Earth

The Shape of the Earth article is incomplete and misleading, since it discusses in detail only Greek thought on the shape of the Earth. All of the information I would like to see added there is already presented quite well here. I think we should merge what is there into this article and either redirect or leave Shape of the Earth as a stub with links to this article and Spherical Earth. Clconway (talk) 13:49, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Alternate Proposal: Merge into Shape of the Earth I had been thinking along the same lines, and offer this alternate proposal which I had been developing in my sandbox.
It might be worthwhile to consider merging Flat Earth, Spherical Earth, and Shape of the Earth into a single article discussing the development of concepts of the shape of the Earth in different cultures and historical periods. From its earliest versions, the Flat Earth article was involved with nineteenth-century claims that medieval people believed the earth was flat, but that discussion was wisely moved into the article Myth of the Flat Earth. However, as a consequence of these discussions, the article Flat Earth still contains extensive discussions of ancient and medieval discussions of the spherical earth, which were soon duplicated in the article Spherical Earth. More recently, Shape of the Earth was created an extended disambiguation page was created which has come to discuss various interpretations of the Shape of the Earth.
Since these pages are have come increasingly to overlap, I suggest that we consider consolidating all the material in Flat Earth and Spherical Earth (omitting duplications) into the existing article on the Shape of the Earth, reducing the old articles to redirects. The non-historical material in Spherical Earth can be deleted as it duplicates (in abbreviated form) a discussion already found in Earth radius.
Before merging these articles, we should also consider how such an article should be structured. My preference is to arrange it historically as the present articles are, with further divisions into cultural areas. Some may prefer to separate out discussions of the flat earth models from discussions of the spherical earth models, but I think the historical / cultural organization would allow for better discussions of how advocates of these models interacted at specific times and places. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 20:50, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
I've recently notified past active contributors to these pages about this discussion. I will be away for a while and won't be able to participate actively, but my preferences are presented above. I look forward to seeing the outcome when I return. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 21:24, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Not to proliferate proposals without bound, but my observations: The Flat Earth article and the Spherical Earth articles are extensive. While they overlap some, they are largely distinct, and merging them would result in a massive article. I do not favor merging them. Instead, Shape of the Earth (which at this point is redundant, as User:Clconway points out) should be rewritten entirely as a summary of human conceptions of the earth’s shape, from ancient to modern, directing the reader to Flat Earth, World Turtle, World-elephant, Spherical Earth, Geoid and Figure of the Earth as appropriate.

Thanks for opening this much-needed discussion. Strebe (talk) 22:14, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

I would support this proposal. Clconway (talk) 13:23, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I do believe that "flat Earth" and "spherical Earth" are two models which both deserve a standalone article, just like heliocentric model and geocentric model.

The problem is just to keep each article on track because their scopes overlap. As we have seen, the "flat Earth" article attracts undue detail on how the spherical model was developed. Instead, it should focus on the actual flat Earth model (or myth) as held before 500 BCE, and as held in indigenous cosmologies until first contact.

The section on how the spherical model emerged belongs moved to the spherical Earth article, with only a brief summary here.

An article on the shape of the Earth is an entirely different animal, discussing the actual (irregular) shape and models describing it, such as WGS 84. --dab (𒁳) 06:59, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Nice comments dab, but there already is an article on the actual (irregular) shape and models describing it called Figure of the Earth. If you compare the two, Figure of the Earth is more mathematical while Shape of the Earth seems to focus more on changing historical understandings. That's why I came to think that it was an appropriate home for an integrated discussion of the historical development of Flat Earth and Spherical Earth models. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 12:33, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I realize this. Shape of the Earth used to be a redirect to Figure of the Earth. The separate article was created last April, by Ed Poor (talk · contribs). It was never made clear how "Shape" refers more to a historical angle than "Figure", and how a line should be drawn between the two topics, if indeed they are two. In my opinion, it should just be merged back the way things were. --dab (𒁳) 13:23, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I would be sad if modern models of the earth were not included in the history of the development of the human conception of the shape of the earth. We like to think of our present models as the “actual shape”, in contrast to the archaic notions of flat or perfectly spherical models, but the truth is we still use models. Ellipsoids are models. Geoids are models. We use both. We never use the “actual shape”.
Meanwhile the actual shape is not expressible except in gross terms. Controversies over the actual shape of the earth persist even subtracting out local topography; see, for example, the section on triaxial ellipsoids. How we model the earth depends upon our cultural needs, and it will change in the future. Those changes will be much less than the leap from flat to spherical, but the demand for a “model” requires us to make semantic choices in how we generalize the actual shape. Perhaps we will move to a triaxial ellipsoid. Perhaps we will move to a higher-order nurbs approximation. Perhaps we will move to something not even invented yet.
The truth is we do not know the actual shape of the earth. What we know are surface topography and the effects of gravity on the motion of satellites, and these facts allow us infer a shape subject to our understanding of the physics involved. These approximations will change as our understanding of the distribution of mass inside the earth changes, and could change in response to refinements in the value of the gravitational constant, which at this point is still woefully imprecise.
All of this unfolds in a continuum of history. Meanwhile we cannot write an article about the actual shape, since we cannot describe it to the precision required to call it the “actual” shape. Five hundred years ago it would have been fair to call the actual shape spherical.
Strebe (talk) 20:19, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree with this. May I summarize the proposal thus: merge Shape of the Earth into Figure of the Earth, adding a section to the latter article (perhaps "Beliefs about the shape of the Earth") that links to Flat Earth, Spherical Earth, World Turtle, etc? Clconway (talk)
Alternative Proposal: Make it into a disambiguation page. The Shape of the Earth article is odd: its current lead section is about modern concepts in Geodesy and the rest of the article is about traditional beliefs. I don't think that a merge into a geodesy article is a good idea: many people will be thinking in much more simple terms, e.g. flat or sphere.
Better to make it into a disambiguation page: send people to Flat Earth, Spherical Earth, Figure of the Earth, etc. Then it doesn't need to get involved in the relative merits of all of these. Chris55 (talk) 20:13, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
To clarify, my proposal is to retain the Shape of the Earth article. It need not replicate much of what is in the other articles, but would have a distinct purpose as a narrative of human conceptions of Earth’s shape. This information is not aggregated elsewhere. Converting the article into a disambiguation page, as proposed by Chris55, is a reasonable start (and perhaps a reasonable end as well if no one cares to take on the project). It need not be elaborate; the details are in the other articles. They just need tying together.
Strebe (talk) 20:59, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm not seeing a clear consensus about what to do, but nobody seems to be defending the status quo. So I've been bold and turned Shape of the Earth into a dab-style page linking to the more mature articles. I moved a bit of information about the Greeks from the Flat Earth section of Shape of the Earth to the Flat Earth article, but the rest of the article appeared to be redundant. Clconway (talk) 23:07, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for being bold. I'll look over this article and see whether it contains anything that Spherical Earth doesn't and transfer it over there. Rwflammang (talk) 19:58, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

“Flat-earther” vs “Thinks the world is flat”

Edit dispute concerning Flat_earth#Cultural_references. Original text read, “The term "flat-Earther" is often used in a derogatory sense to mean anyone who holds views so antiquated as to be ridiculous.” User:Swarm changed it to “A sarcastic allegation that someone believes the Earth is flat is often used in a derogatory sense to refer to someone who holds views so antiquated as to be ridiculous.”

The amended text lacks incisiveness both in verbiage and in purpose. “Flat-earther” is a recognized, pithy term (see [[1]], [[2]], [[3]]) used often (try a Web search on that versus “thinks the earth is flat”, subtracting out the 99% of it referring to the literal meaning). While the amended text is not wrong, it is less informative: Anyone would understand a reference to or even independently invent the analogy of thinking the world is flat. Meanwhile it is important that the term “flat-Earther” specifically is in wide circulation. Please respect the original intent. Strebe (talk) 20:49, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Please ignore "thinks the Earth is flat", as it was meant to be an example, not a proposed alternative to the term.
The point is, you don't need to use the term "flat-Earther" to sarcastically allege that someone is a flat-Earther. The sentence currently reads as if it's only the term "flat-Earther" that can be used in a sarcastic, derogatory sense, while in reality, any direct or indirect allegation that someone is a "flat-Earther" can be used to state the same thing. "Flat-Earther" may well be a recognized term, but that doesn't mean it MUST be used to make that sarcastic allegation. Swarm X 01:13, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Strebe that the original version is more incisive and is the most common derogatory term. Clearly it can be said in many different ways and I think most people would understand that.
Thinking the earth was flat hasn't always been an insult. I've just come across a quotation from Herodotus, the "Father of History", mocking the idea of a spherical earth. But then he was writing in the 5thC BC :) Chris55 (talk) 12:15, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
When I hear “thinks the world is flat”, I hear an allegation of stupendous ignorance of modern modes of thought, whereas when I hear “flat-Earther”, I hear an allegation of delusion or willful contrarianism. I have no citation for this distinction, though.
I do not disagree with User:Swarm; I only disagree about the importance of the more diffuse ways of saying the same thing. Perhaps we can find a terse way to note both. It is not correct as written in any case; the use of “anyone” is semantically discordant with the rest of the sentence. Perhaps something along the lines of, To say someone believes the world is flat, or to call someone a "flat-Earther", is to say that the person holds views so antiquated as to be ridiculous. Perhaps? Strebe (talk) 19:40, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Alright, I understand where you're coming from. I'd say your proposed sentence is more than fair. Swarm X 07:38, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Vergilus & Boniface

Until I just now amended the section of the article on Vergilius and Boniface it had opened as follows:

There were a couple of problems with this:

  1. The use of the quotation marks seems to imply that the words were Boniface's own, whereas the first part of the quotation is from the letter of Pope Zachary's;
  2. Neither the words "regarding the sphericity of the earth", nor anything like them, appear in the text of Zachary's letter. Until at least the middle of this year, this quotation had been properly closed after the word "soul", and the words "regarding the sphericity of the earth" formed part of the article's own text. Some time since then the closing quotation mark has inexplicably been shifted to the end of the passage—as quoted above—apparently without any source being consulted to verify the accuracy of the revised version of the quotation.

I have therefore rewritten the passage so that it accurately reflects what is contained in the sources cited, of which I have also added several more.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:34, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Islamic section

As part of an attempt to separate out the Flat and Spherical Earth articles I've deleted most of the Islamic section in the "Decline" part - much of which was copied from the Spherical article - including the reference to Suyuti. The reference given there was untraceable even using the Wayback machine and most of the Google references are hearsay discussions. I presume the Suyuti referred to is Jalalu ‘d-din as Suyuti referred to in . This would tie in with the reference to the Jalalan in though I'm reluctant to quote an anti-Islam site without some corroboration. Does anyone have access to these sources (presumably Tafsir al-Jalalayn) in translation? Chris55 (talk) 13:18, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

And what does "impeccably Islamic" mean?Ninahexan (talk) 03:35, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Great resource, available on-line.

To the editors of the article, Id like to suggest this book: Ronald L. Numbers (ed.) Galileo Goes to Jail, and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). It is work by leading scholars, listing 25 myths that currently distort the science and religion debates. The first dispelled myths are related to medieval and renaissance science. Chapter 3 deals with: Myth 3. That Medieval Christians Taught That the Earth Was Flat. Better yet, it is available on-line, (together with chapters 1 and 2). The text is not lengthy, but brings much information relevant to this article. You should get your copy, for I don't know how much time the Harvard website intends to keep the resource on-line. Good editing. --Leinad-Z (talk) 13:53, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

we already have a full article about this, Flat Earth myth. In fact, while this may have been popularly believed 40 or 30 years ago, it has been so thoroughly debunked that hardly anyone is under this impression any more. On the contrary, it now seems to be a more common urban myth that "flat earth belief is a myth" and we get people disputing that the Hebrew Bible supposes a flat Earth. --dab (𒁳) 15:30, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the last bit, but I've run into an editor this month insisting that the Church believed in a flat earth up to the time of Columbus. The book does look useful for other purposes. Dougweller (talk) 16:41, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
Actually, the content from the book is more related with the content in this article than with the content in Flat Earth myth. It has a wealth of information that can be used for improving the medieval and "early Christian church" sections. --Leinad-Z (talk) 18:02, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
The problem with articles (and books) about "myths" is they tend to give an airing to the most extreme views about a given subject. I see that you've introduced into the Hypatia article the allegation that her murder was a blow against "science" which wasn't there before and last seems to have been heard in the time of [[|Edward Gibbon|Gibbon]] according to Lindbergh's article. [Recent references don't speculate on the reason for her murder.] Since it's now called a myth presumably it will go on reverberating along with a million and one other urban myths that circulate on the web.
But to Leinad - have you read the whole Flat Earth article? It covers most of the same ground as Cormack. Chris55 (talk) 18:16, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
I am familiarized with the content in this article. Maybe latter I can show specific examples of interesting info that can be found in the resource.
Regarding Hypatia, the idea of her murder as a blow against "science" is still alive and well in popularized accounts of her life. Ignoring the myth will not make it go away... But it seems like my edit there should be amended to make clear that no serious contemporary work make this assertion. --Leinad-Z (talk) 19:42, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
Maybe you need to distinguish causes and effects. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica puts the cause as her supposed intimacy with Orestes, but says "Whatever the precise motivation for the murder, the departure soon afterward of many scholars marked the beginning of the decline of Alexandria as a major centre of ancient learning" although this may have started earlier with Theodosius I's decrees. So it looks like the murderous Christian monks did achieve a "blow against science" whether or not that was their intention. If you have other contemporary accounts they need to be sourced. Chris55 (talk) 12:12, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Humm... this is a difficult topic to edit. One needs to be careful not overstating what the sources say. Many areas of ancient learning were not related to natural philosophy. It would be much better to use a source specifically addressing science (and written by an historian of science). Until I find time to make a more thoroughly review, I'll leave the edit as it is. Now, this topic should go back to discussions about the flat earth. --Leinad-Z (talk) 15:43, 20 December 2010 (UTC)


The article presently cites Lactantius’s opposition to the habitability of the Antipodes as evidence of his opposition to a spherical earth. That is non sequitur. A better citation needs to be found, one in which he opposes earth’s sphericity. Strebe (talk) 20:37, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Although the quotation given in the body of this article does not include this language, it is present in the text of the citation given: "that the crops and trees grow downwards? that the rains, and snow, and hail fall upwards to the earth? And does any one wonder that hanging gardens are mentioned among the seven wonders of the world, when philosophers make hanging fields, and seas, and cities, and mountains?" TomS TDotO (talk) 22:00, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
So it's not enough to say there aren't any people in the Antipodes, that the Antipodes is uninhabitable, that it's a stupid idea, you need someone to say "the earth is flat" before you will believe them?? Chris55 (talk) 22:22, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
If Lactantius was using the argument that the Antipodes were uninhabitable as an argument that the earth were flat, then cite it. Otherwise it’s just an argument that the Antipodes are uninhabitable, which in fact was a major controversy even where the sphericity of the earth was not. As far as I know, Lactantius did argue that the earth is flat, but this passage demonstrates no such thing. Let us find one that does, or else remove it. The controversy of the Antipodes and the flatness of the earth were two distinct matters and must be considered distinctly if these articles are to be credible. The scholarly literature does not treat them as the same matter; we must not either. Strebe (talk) 23:13, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand your difficulty. The quotation I gave above is available online, and the footnote gives the url. Speaking of trees growing downwards at the Antipodes, and rain, snow, and hail falling up, and seas and mountains hanging - all of that sounds to me like a list of things that Lactantius thought were demanded by a spherical earth, but unbelievable, not merely conditions that made the Antipodes uninhabitable. TomS TDotO (talk) 23:35, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
And I do not understand your difficulty. The article entry assumes that Lactantius argues for a flat earth because he argues against the habitability of the Antipodes. The argument against the habitability of the Antipodes is not necessarily an argument against the sphericity of the earth. Assumptions are unwarranted, both as a logical argument and as Wikipedia policy. I do not accept the assumption. Scholars do not accept the assumption. Plenty of medieval scholars believed in a spherical earth but did not believe the Antipodes could be inhabited. As far as I know from what I have read, Lactantius did in fact argue for a flat earth. Why are we not citing a passage of Lactantius that illustrates directly that he advocated a flat earth? The cited passages argue no such thing. It is non sequitur. Strebe (talk) 00:45, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
Lactantius says that on the other side of the earth, if there is another side to the earth, rain falls up. The problem with rain falling up is not that it makes the land unfit for habitation, but that it's wrong. Rain can't fall up to the land. TomS TDotO (talk) 03:11, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
You are confusing an argument about gravity to an argument about a flat earth. Just because people understood the earth to be spherical does not mean they understood that gravity pulls toward the center. If Lactantius advocated a flat earth then we are obliged to (a) Give a quotation where he states he is arguing for a flat earth or against a spherical earth; or (b) Cite the scholarly works that show the modern consensus that Lactantius believed the earth to be flat. The quotation in the article is about the habitability of the Antipodes and a confusion about gravity. It does NOT indicate Lactantius’s belief in a flat earth. Strebe (talk) 04:21, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I can't see anywhere in the article where it says, implies or "assumes" that Lactantius argued that the Earth was flat, or that it could not possibly be spherical. The article does cite Lactantius as an example of someone who "directly opposed the round Earth". It seems to me, as it apparently does to TomS TDotO and Chris55 that the passage cited provides a perfectly reasonable justification for that assessment. It is simply not true that Lactantius did no more than argue against the habitability of the antipodes. He also—as TomS TDotO has already indicated—explicitly ridiculed the arguments that had been proposed to support the notion of a spherical Earth, including the idea that objects fall towards the centre of the Earth rather than the "bottom" of the universe. In my opinion, that's quite sufficient justification for classifying him as an "opponent" of the notion of a spherical Earth, which, as far as I can see, is all the article currently does.
One could reasonably argue that the article's classification of Lactantius as an opponent of the idea of a spherical Earth relies on an "interpretation" of a primary source and consequently needs to be supported by a reliable secondary source. But I can cite you any number of good secondary sources which support that "interpretation". Bede and Genesis (p.30) by Calvin Kendall, for example, is one. Others are very easy to find.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 04:03, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
Oh my god. What is so difficult about this? I AGREE that Lactantius thought the earth is flat. I AGREE that his arguments were tendered in the context of demonstrating that the earth is not spherical. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the evidence in the article for Lactantius’s belief does not demonstrate to the casual reader that Lactantius believed in a flat earth. The most you can deduce from the citation is that Lactantius did not believe the Antipodes could be inhabited and that he was confused about gravity. Where is the statement from Lactantius that THEREFORE the world is flat? The article needs LACTANTIUS’S deduction that THEREFORE the world is flat, not OUR insinuation that he believed it and not quotations that can be interpreted other ways. Strebe (talk) 04:21, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
Have you actually read what I wrote? Can you point to anywhere where I (or the article for that matter) say or imply that Lactantius believed the Earth to be flat? One can oppose the notion that the Earth is spherical without necessarily having any coherent belief about what its shape actually is.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 04:31, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
That does not change the debate at all. Where is the conclusion from Lactantius that THEREFORE the world is not spherical? Strebe (talk) 04:39, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
If you read Lactantius III XXIV in any of the online versions you will see that it is a sustained argument, too long to include in the article, as Tom points out. Perhaps his key statement in this regard is "Thus the rotundity of the earth leads, in addition, to the invention of those suspended antipodes." That's why he rejects the premise. Chris55 (talk) 08:41, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
Then that is the quote that belongs in the article, not some random snippet from which a passing reader could draw other conclusions. Something like, “But if the earth also were round, it must necessarily happen that it should present the same appearance to all parts of the heaven; that is, that it should raise aloft mountains, extend plains, and have level seas. And if this were so… there would be no part of the earth uninhabited by men and the other animals. Thus the rotundity of the earth leads, in addition, to the invention of those suspended antipodes. …But I should be able to prove by many arguments that it is impossible for the heaven to be lower than the earth.” Strebe (talk) 09:22, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
I'd be happy with that. It's also useful mentioning the issue of heaven not necessarily being "above" the earth. Chris55 (talk) 09:27, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I would be just as happy (happier, in fact) to do without a quotation altogether, and simply replace the current one with a citation to a good secondary source. As far as I can see, there's no single brief quotation you can give that will not allow "a passing reader" to "draw other conclusions" (to quote Strebe above), and I really don't see that the quotations suggested as replacements for the current one will do any better job in that regard. The reference in the first sentence of the current quotation to the concepts described in the preceding paragraph as "these marvellous fictions" is about as close as Lactantius comes to explicitly denying that the Earth is spherical, and this is echoed in its final sentence where he accuses his targets of "defending one vain thing by another". Nevertheless, I don't see the role of such a quotation as being in any way to prove that the assertions made in the article are correct. So if we must have a quotation I don't really care all that much about what it is.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 22:25, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

This seems quite reasonable to me, as long as we retain the link to the text of Lactantius, for those who want to see what he wrote, rather than relying exclusively on interpreters. 23:27, 29 December 2010 (UTC) Sorry, I forgot to add my signature here. TomS TDotO (talk) 00:51, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely. I'm very much in favour of citing the primary sources relied upon by any cited secondary source, and of including a link to an online copy whenever one is available.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 00:21, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
I, too, prefer an authoritative secondary source. Experts know how to read the primary sources; lay people do not. And yes, a link to primaries, both in English and Latin, would be the right thing to do. Strebe (talk) 01:12, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Ancient China

While the Ancient China section cites Joseph Needham in the argument that the Chinese believed the world was flat, at least one other article on Wikipedia citing Needham as a source suggests that Shen Kuo believed in 1088 that the world was round ( Dream_Pool_Essays#Astronomy ). Additionally the Wikipedia article on Chinese Astronomy cites more contradictory evidence in the section on eclipses ( Chinese_astronomy#Lunar_and_solar_eclipses ). Furthermore, that article cites foreign influences to Chinese astronomy, such as that from India where the earth was believed to be round from at least the Gupta Dynasty before 500 CE ( ), well before the Tang Dynasty in China (after 618 CE) when Chinese astronomers incorporated Indian Astronomy ( Chinese_astronomy#Indian_astronomy ). Toomuchhiking (talk) 08:18, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

The quotations you cite are interesting in that they show that Shen Kuo understood perfectly well the reason for lunar eclipses. However they don't explicitly infer from that that the earth is a ball, as well as the moon and the sun. A great deal is made of the curved shadow of the earth on the moon, although because the earth's diameter is 3.6 times that of the moon the effect is subtle, and certainly less than the normal phases of the moon, and he doesn't draw attention to that.
It's an odd thing that they worked out independently the idea of a rectangular grid for latitude and longitude in the same way as Marinus and Ptolemy but used it to support the idea that the earth was square. To my mind the only explanation is the compartmentalised nature of Chinese thought: only at one or two periods did they seriously become a sea-faring nation and the knowledge of the sea was not part of their culture, unlike the Greeks to whom the seas were second nature. Chris55 (talk) 09:50, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
You're right. I still struggle with the idea of China's knowledge of the earth lagging 2000 years behind the west, but it sounds like if at times in Chinese history it was known that the world was round, there isn't much (at least English language) evidence floating around to support that. Toomuchhiking (talk) 09:17, 13 January 2011 (UTC)


the fact they even have this page is unbelievable we all know for a fact that its round of course i know at the time they dint but since about 1786 we all know that the world is round!--Zed127 (talk) 17:00, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

The Flat Earth idea is notable, and should be included in Wikipedia. And if you had read the article, you would know that even the Greeks knew the Earth was round, well before 1786. Harutsedo2 (talk) 02:38, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Ancient Near East section

I am very new to wikipedia so I will do my best follow community guidelines and explain my issue with this section. While doing some research, I came across this article. Unfortunately, due to the awkward wording:

"The Hebrew Bible carried forward the ancient Middle Eastern cosmology"

the article gives the impression that the writers of these verses of scripture intended to reflect the idea of a "flat earth." However, because of the age of these passages, the poetic nature of some of them, and the simple fact that they are of scripture, the intent, or rather, the interpretation of such becomes a complicated issue. Indeed, theologians, scholars, and common-people alike agree that the majority of the Bible's content can be interpreted in various different ways to support virtually any viewpoint one has. Thus, to ensure that the scope of the article remains of a completely historical nature and not a theological one, I feel it is best to either remove this portion or revise it to only state that

the early church used

some feel these portions of scripture support the idea

to defend their view

of a "flat earth." TonyaFL (talk) 18:16, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

A fair point, and welcome to Wikipedia. Note that “some feel” is “weasel-wording”; we’d want to avoid that and we’d want to cite sources, particularly given the contentious nature of the topic. Please contribute if you have citations to offer. Strebe (talk) 20:04, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Islamic view

In Sura 79 Ayat 30 the Quran states that God shaped the Earth like a sphere, as the term "Dahaha" in the Ayat could bear that meaning. Here is a source could someone add that to the article please? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lexmlo (talkcontribs) 18:00, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Can you not add that yourself? Except that you'll probably have to find a better reference than that, as sites like blogspot don't usually meet the criteria for WP:SOURCE. Tim PF (talk) 19:34, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Jagged 85 cleanup

As some of you may be aware, following the RFC/U last year, there is now finally a serious Cleanup underway and it is a Herculean task. I know this article has always been attended to by quite a few attentive and knowledgeable users, so I'd like to ask you whether there are still any issues left from Jagged's editing. Below are all of Jagged 85's edits. Please check them and whatever is problematic or might only appear problematic should be removed immediately:

Following is a summary of above. Each item is a diff showing the result of several consecutive edits to the article by Jagged 85, in chronological order.

Johnuniq (talk) 04:02, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

View of a spherical Earth - Origin

Cnrwil004 (talk) 13:11, 21 June 2011 (UTC)In [rl1 1] it is stated on pg 1 that the "notion that the earth is essentially spherical dates back at least to the sixth century B.C., when Anaximander and Thales of Miletus, two of the earliest classical Greek geometers, recorded their belief... Pythagoras in the fifth century B.C., further propounded this idea..." This appears to contradict the statement that "[t]he paradigm of a spherical Earth was developed in Greek astronomy, beginning with Pythagoras (6th century BC)..."

  1. ^ Feeman, Timothy G. (2002). Portraits of the Earth: a Mathematician Looks at Maps. American Mathematical Society. ISBN 0-8218-3255-7. 
Thank you for pointing out potential inaccuracies in the article. However, in this case I believe the article and the sources it cites are accurate, while the source you have cited is not. It's very well attested in numerous authoritative secondary sources (some of which are cited in the article) that Anaximander thought that the Earth was shaped like a drum and Thales thought that it floated on water. These secondary sources will tell you that the ancient primary sources containing the evidence for these philosophers' opinions on the matter are Aristotle's Metaphysics and On the Heavens in the case of Thales, and the Miscellanies of pseudo-Plutarch in the case of Anaximander. I have read modern English translations of the relevant passages from these ancient sources and there appear to me to be no problems whatever with the standard scholarly interpretations of them.
The author of your source would appear to have either repeated a simple mistake from the reference he cites (viz. The Mathematical and Astronomical Foundations of Geography by Charles H. Cotter), or perhaps just misread it. In any case, I can't see any evidence of a genuine academic controversy about the matter, so I don't think the disagreement between these one or two sources and the vast majority of authoritative scholarly opinion justifies any change to the article.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 00:59, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

link to Lady Elizabeth Blount is wrong person

This person is credited with creating Universal Zetetic Society in 1893. When clicking on her name's hyperlink to go to her article, she is credited with having an affair with Henry VIII in 1515. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:28, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Many thanks for pointing this out. We don't appear to have an article on the correct Elizabeth Blount, so I have simply removed the hyperlink from the article.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 11:20, 20 September 2011 (UTC)


This helped heaps with my assignment. Thanks heaps :) (talk) 19:18, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

T and O maps

Concerning this reversion: Given that the article is about the flat earth, it is not appropriate to get into multiple terminology about T and O maps. The main article on the topic settles on T and O terminology; that’s what should be used consistently elsewhere. The aside about how many T and O maps have survived from the middle ages is also irrelevant to the topic. Furthermore what does they are almost all flat even mean? All maps are flat. I just cannot see how the massive insertion into an already large paragraph contributes to the topic. The point that the maps are intended only to show a portion of the earth seems relevant, but it would be best to quote the specific page from Russell. Strebe (talk) 23:31, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the article should coninue to use the term "T and O" to refer to these maps unless someone can present a convincing argument for changing it.
There is also one other problem with the quotation from Russell's book. The oekumene (i.e. the "circle" of inhabited lands) is not T-shaped as asserted in the quotation. The "T" in a T and O map doesn't represent the oekumene but the various bodies of water that were regarded as dividing it up into the three continents—Europe to the left of the T's stem, Africa to its right, and Asia, above the T's cross-bar. According to Wikipedia's article on these maps the T's stem represents the Mediterranean, the left half of its cross-bar represents the river Don and the right half represents the Nile.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 01:21, 31 October 2011 (UTC)


Greetings, The section that you removed was indeed a quote from Russell P.17-18.

This was a relevant quote because it was meant to give context to how these flat maps were used and seen as in the medievl period. Look at the following sentence which was before it (an is still in the article).

"Isidore's disc-shaped map, essentially unchanged from its predecessors of 1,200 years previously, continued to be used through the Middle Ages by authors, e.g. the 9th century bishop Rabanus Maurus who compared the habitable part of the northern hemisphere (Aristotle's northern temperate clime) with a wheel."

Whoever wrote this phrase is not giving the context of how these maps were seen as - as small sections of the sphere of the earth like maps today, not as wheel of flat disc. Before I added other references, this section was completely unjust to Isidore since his views are diverse. I have read Isidore's works on this topic. His map "T and O" (also called "T in O" like Russell called them and also how this university uses it should probably be replaced as (T-O) if you guys are going to get butt hurt over it. This will be more neutral. Type "T in O" and you will find other uses of "T in O" by other universities.

What can we do here? All I wanted to add was that these T-O maps were seen as small sections of a sphere like today maps, in the medieval and ancient worlds, not as a flat disc. Also Russel notes: "In the ancient and medieval world the term "antipodes" may mean lands on the opposite side on the planet or , more commonly, "human inhabitants" of lands on the other side of the planet. Several varieties of views on the antipodes existed, some placing them in the southern hemisphere, others in the northern sphere opposite the known world. To distinguish, it will help to call the inhabitants "antipodeans" P.20.


"Oikoumene" means known inhabited world see a Greek dictionary or Ecumene. The reference by from Russell was not incorrect. Here is his complete quote P.17-18:

"About, 1,100 maps of the earth from the eighth through the fifteenth century survive; they are almost all flat - as are maps in a modern atlas. Medieval world maps - mappaemundi - came in several varieties. Most are circular; many are oval or rectangular. The common circular maps called "T in O" (T-O) show the T-shaped oikoumene surrounded by the O-shaped sea. One could interpret these maps as a flat wheel or disc, but most were intended to represent only a portion of the sphere - known world - just as a modern flat map of Europe or Africa is intended to to represent only part of the planet."

The T shaped known inhabited world is not talking about the T itself.

What can we do here?

Ramos1990 (talk) 02:34, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

I am (and was) perfectly well aware of what "Oikoumene" means, however it is spelt, and neither the "known inhabited world" it refers to nor its representation on a T and O map can properly be called "T-shaped" by any reasonable definition of that term.
My take on the issue of "T and O" vs "T in O" or "T-O" is that "T and O" is perfectly common and acceptable term for the maps being referred to, and as far as I can see neither of the other terms is noticeably more common, or has any other particular advantage to recommend it. In these circumstances it is simply basic common courtesy to retain the terminology chosen by the original editor, rather than changing it to something else for no other reason (apparently) than that you would prefer it. If any editor—you, for instance—were to create a new article which referred to these maps, I personally couldn't care less which of these terms that editor chose to refer to them, but I would normally defend his or her choice against any busybodies who wanted to change it to something else.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:38, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Like I said, "T and O" is perfectly fine with me. I don't really care about either term. All I wanted to insert was that (T-O) maps, which is the map type from Isidore's etymologies, were seen as a small section of a sphere by ancient and medieval people.
That's it. The antipodes seems to be addressed well. Probably won't need this anymore. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ramos1990 (talkcontribs) 20:48, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
I like your latest addition, which seems to me to be a very neat and concise way of addressing the issue you're concerned about. I think the wording could be improved a little by inserting the word "representing" between "seen as" and "a small part", so that the phrase read "which was seen as representing a small part of a spherical Earth".
David Wilson (talk · cont) 23:18, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Cool glad we could work together. I fixed it. Thanks for the suggestions.Ramos1990 (talk) 05:07, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Modern biblical literalists

I am not at all happy about this paragraph: Some modern biblical literalists reject flat earth interpretations. For example, the Biblical Astronomer website, while supporting a geocentric model of the cosmos, is clear on earth’s sphericity: "In summary, the Bible teaches that the earth is basically a sphere in shape; that there are pillars which undergird the world and which we conclude to be the crystalline rock corresponding to what we commonly call the mantle."

The paragraph is original research and synthesis. In point of fact, millions of literalists do not believe in flat earths or geocentrism either one; they consider the language involved to be figurative. Literalism does not mean a belief that every word in the bible is to be taken literally. The paragraph needs scholarly sources. We cannot just be linking to random fringe websites and putting them up as examples of whole schools of thought. Strebe (talk) 05:49, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Yup. Of course, in that case "literalists" is the wrong word. We should call them what they call themselves: advocates of the inerrancy of Scripture. A literalist would be someone who doesn't believe in metaphor, and I doubt if such people exist. --Doric Loon (talk) 23:08, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Right on, Doric. The problem is that the biblical literalists do not believe that the Bible contains metaphor. Metaphor introduces a subjective element which cannot be the Word of God. Chris55 (talk) 22:44, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Chris55, can you identify any group of people that fits your idiosyncratic definition of literalist? Strebe (talk) 23:21, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Good challenge. Most of the discussions of metaphor in theological circles don't come from the fundamentalists, to give them their normal name, but from people like Karen Armstrong. I'll have a think. Chris55 (talk) 09:27, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Ok, here are a couple of examples from the above named. 1. "Miller assumed that such narratives as the Book of Revelation were accurate predictions of imminent events, which could be worked out with scientific and mathematical precision" and which led him to an exact date for the return of Christ. 2. "The Higher Criticism would become a bogey of Christian fundamentalists, because it seemed an assault on religion, but this was only because Western people had lost the original sense of the mythical and thought that doctrines and scriptural narratives were logoi, narratives that purported to be factually accurate and phenomena that could be investigated scientifically.". (One should note that she uses the term logos in a rather special sense. The Battle for God, pp91, 95)
These don't relate at all to the belief in a flat earth but they do derive from the era in which it became popular. My comment about metaphor is not that fundamentalists don't accept the existence of such, but that given a metaphorical interpretation of a biblical passage and a literal one, they will invariably choose the literal one. The Biblical Astronomer example you were discussing takes it to another level. There, scientifically literate people are trying to square the circle by producing a literal reading which is consistent with a modern scientific understanding. Chris55 (talk) 10:24, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Miller is already disqualified by his use of the day-year principle. The Higher Criticism is a bogey to some fundamentalists not because they reject literary devices in the bible, but because the principle calls into doubt any particular reading, even highly traditional ones. In any case, I meant any group that is presently active. There are a few individuals with whack-job websites out there, but they are not examples of literalists. They are examples of whack jobs. Nor are they even groups, from what I can tell—unless husband-wife team makes a “group”. This Flat Earth article had linked to a whack-job site and proceeded to describe how inventive literalists had become in order to interpret the bible as NOT representing a flat earth. Several problems:
  • Whack jobs are not representative of literalists;
  • Literalism does not mean what this article implied;
  • This article is about the theory of a flat Earth, not about people who don't believe it is flat.
  • The comment was WP:ORIG and WP:SYNTH, unsupported by secondary authorities.
Strebe (talk) 19:38, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Macrobius was not from the Early Middle Ages

Early middle ages starts in the 5th century, while Macrobius is from the 4th century (end of antiquity). So it is not appropriate to cite him in the section on the Early Middle Ages. The diagrams that were produced later (during the early middle ages), supposedly representing his work, have a distinct two dimensional character to them. Macrobius would have been well aware of Ptolemy, and thus would have likely taken a projective or coordinate approach in his own maps. My guess is that the two dimensional nature of his maps came a result of middle ages influence, not his own original contribution.

Qed (talk) 21:19, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Macrobius is (apparently) from the 5th century (early 400s), not 4th century. The Middle Ages didn’t start at any specific time. It’s convenient to delineate it as Zeno’s formal abolition of the Western Roman Empire in 480, but the social and political climate for most of Europe did not thereby change; it had already evolved into the early Middle Age structures by then. Macrobius’s influence was over the medieval world, not over the ancient world. I don’t see any problem listing him as early medieval.
As for your speculations, I don’t see how they’re relevant or credible. The authors of the medieval T-O and related were well aware of Ptolemy, just as Macrobius would have been. Those diagrams are not intended to be literal nor to compete with literal maps. Strebe (talk) 22:04, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, certainly, I would not take the middle ages as starting before the fall of the Western Roman Empire. But more to the point as to *why* the middle ages was so delineated, it was supposed to represent a time when pagan philosophy was no longer being actively practiced by anyone in Europe. Macrobius himself, was a pagan. Thus his active influence would correctly be considered part of ancient Greek antiquity. Qed (talk) 15:31, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Not much of what you wrote there makes sense to me. Are you proposing some change in the article, or are you just debating?
The article does not assert that Macrobius was from the Early Middle Ages. It refers to "manuscripts of Macrobius" in the Middle Ages - and they were as common as "editions" of later printed authors, and had as many if not more variations. Chris55 (talk) 22:22, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's precisely the point. The surviving "Macrobius manuscripts" are clearly not written by him, but have been copied, especially including the maps. So there is no evidence that Macrobius himself drew flat, unprojected, non-coordinate based maps (being projected was the standard set by Ptolemy hundreds of years earlier.) At least no evidence presented *here* to that affect.
You’ll have to cite something scholarly if you wish to state anything of the kind in the article. I don’t find your arguments remotely convincing for reasons already given. Strebe (talk) 19:59, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
The view that the maps appearing in mediaeval manuscripts of Macrobius's Commentary on the dream of Scipio represent a flat disc is simply untenable. The eponymously named Macrobian maps which appear in these manuscripts are of the climatic zonal type—i.e. they depict the Earth's five climatic zones separated by the arctic and antarctic circles and the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The theory on which the representation of these zones is based presumes that the Earth is spherical, and the diagrams make no sense whatever if they're interpreted as representing a flat disc. Moreover, the text which the diagrams accompany quite clearly and unequivocally says that the lines denoting the tropics and arctic and antarctic circles do represent circles on a spherical Earth. Here is a scholarly source describing how the form of these diagrams developed from the 8th to the 11th centuries. Apparently the earliest surviving manuscripts of the Commentary either contain no diagrams, or only incomplete ones. The complete diagrams which appear in the later manuscripts were apparently either reconstructed from the descriptions given in the text, or reincorporated from earlier copies of the work—now lost—which contained them.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:42, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Your link is fascinating, but the diagrams contained therein show neither longitudinal lines, nor any attempt at projective correction. The text contains things such as "let there be drawn a circle of earth on which the letters ABCD are inscribed ... etc". Circle? That's a different word than sphere or globe. The only place I see "sphere" written in there is when the author is presenting his own analysis. Again, I have no doubt that Macrobius knew the earth was spherical, but there is still no evidence that his medieval audience did. Qed (talk) 05:47, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I suspect everyone in this thread agrees with that, David Wilson. I interpret Qed’s objection to be not that the diagrams attributed to Macrobius represent a flat earth, but that Macrobius would not have drawn them the way the medieval manuscripts portray them. Rather, he would have drawn them using some Ptolemaic projection scheme. To which I respond, Nonsense. Ptolemy himself would not have used the projections attributed to him for the purposes put to the Macrobian maps. The Ptolemaic projections were biased for the northern hemisphere. The Macrobian diagrams needed to portray the whole earth, or at least a hemisphere bounded by meridians. Strebe (talk) 16:37, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Your statement: "Ptolemy himself would not have used the projections attributed to him for the purposes put to the Macrobian maps. The Ptolemaic projections were biased for the northern hemisphere." That's just plain wrong. I have a direct translation of Ptolemy's "Geography" on hand (translated by J. Lennart Berggren and Alexander Jones) and it shows three projective methods, of which the first two have a northern hemisphere bias. The "third method" basically is just a fish-eye projection of a globe, so it can show a vertical half slice of the earth (ibid pg. 39-40) -- certainly no worse than the Middle Ages depictions of Macrobius' maps. I don't have Macrobius' text in front of me, so I can't say for sure what he was describing, but if it has to with geometry of the earth, Ptolemy both could have and most certainly would have used a projective map -- that's what he did; it's one of his contributions to society. Your contention is that Macrobius, a man born into a Pagan society would have ignored the world's most famous and reputable astronomer and cartographer who gave specific instructions on how to draw the globe in a projective manner in order to depict a 3D globe in the pathetic 2D flat way we see Mappa Mundi being drawn, and then was perfectly copied by middle ages people which is why they drew all their other maps with an apparent 2D flatness to them. Middle ages people had no idea how to draw perspective (and the closely related "projected") until the 13th century. Your contention is not parsimonious. Qed (talk) 04:46, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
“ The "third method" basically is just a fish-eye projection of a globe, so it can show a vertical half slice of the earth (ibid pg. 39-40) -- certainly no worse than the Middle Ages depictions of Macrobius' maps.” No worse than? Your thesis is that Macrobius’s maps would be much better than. You’re not making any sense. You say Macrobius “certainly would have used a projective map” but the medieval Macrobian maps are projective maps. Your personal dislike of them is irrelevant. You have simply made up “apparent 2D flatness” because that is how you choose to see them. They’re perfectly reasonable hemispheric representations. “Perspective” is irrelevant. Perspective has nothing to do with most map projections. Do you understand that several other map projections were invented and used before Ptolemy, and are still in use today, unlike Ptolemy’s? Do you understand that nothing obliged Macrobius to fixate solely on Ptolemy the way you have? Do you understand that your diagnosis of the medieval portrayal of Macrobius’s diagrams as “pathetic” is itself pathetic when those diagrams parsimoniously show exactly what they intend to show and no more? You go on below about the lack of meridians, but meridians were unnecessary to the portrayal of the subject. To portray meridians would lack parsimony. Do you understand that the Macrobian diagrams without meridians are indistinguishable from any number of perfectly normal, reasonable hemispheric map projections such as orthographic and Roger Bacon’s globular projection? I’m quite done with this discussion; it has nothing to do with improving the article. Strebe (talk) 07:17, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I meant no worse in terms of its "Northern hemispheric bias". Remember that every projection and mapping compromises some aspect of geometry, area, scope or something. You say: "but the medieval Macrobian maps are projective maps" -- No they absolutely are not. Projective maps maintain some kind of coordinate mapping of latitude and longitudes. This is the difference between cartography and simple artistic depictions. Only medieval apologists who are completely ignorant of geometry would dare to say that any European medieval map was a projective map. You need to show me evidence of latitude and longitudinal measurements (these "pseudo-Macrobius drawings" are missing longitudes). That's the whole point. These drawings, supposedly faithful to Macrobius, are missing the sort of accuracy that had been established hundreds of years earlier in a culture continuous to his from a book that definitely existed (since I have a copy of it on my bookshelf, without the use of time machines.) My contention is that those drawings essentially represented 9th century medieval Europeans who had completely lost any ability to understand how to draw a cartographic map. So when they tried to draw what Macrobius was describing, they essentially did it through a filter of their limited understanding, which was basically not the same as the way Macrobius would have done it. You continue: "Do you understand that several other map projections were invented and used before Ptolemy, and are still in use today, unlike Ptolemy’s?" I find it hard to believe (especially uncited) that more advanced projective methods were known before Ptolemy, but is non-sequitur to the point. I only point out Ptolemy for an existing level of skill and understanding about how to do cartography, including a directly known superior method of drawing globes. You continue: "Do you understand that nothing obliged Macrobius to fixate solely on Ptolemy the way you have?" Macrobius may have been aware of superior or alternative methods to Ptolemy (he had the advantage of potentially centuries of progress, so I don't doubt this) but he certainly would under no circumstances choose an inferior method that could not be used for navigation as these depictions clearly are. You again: "Do you understand that your diagnosis of the medieval portrayal of Macrobius’s diagrams as “pathetic” is itself pathetic when those diagrams parsimoniously show exactly what they intend to show and no more?". No, you are working backwards from a conclusion. You think he's intentionally dumbing down his maps because that's what the maps look like, yet you produce no support for this conclusion. You have no idea what the word parsimonious means. Let me explain to you how parsimony works: 1) *Every* map (numbering in the hundreds) including these ones produced by a medieval European is flat, lacks projective properties, and cannot be used for even estimating distances for any appreciable navigational purposes whatsoever. 2) Ptolemy clearly gives instructions in his "Geography" for drawing 3 kinds of projective maps, as well as heavily details longitude and latitude coordinates (even with a few errors, demonstrating that this wasn't post-facto filling in from later eras.) 3) Macrobius was a pagan who lived in the same hellenistic pre-scientific culture that Ptolemy lived in and was clearly doing original work in ways not seen in the medieval European culture (so he was no intellectual weakling) 4) There is a well known and recognized intellectual break between the hellenistic pagans and the medieval Europeans. These 4 things are absolutely not in dispute. So if a medieval European reads Macrobius, but not Ptolemy, then draws maps that look two dimensional, the most parsimonious explanation (because it requires absolutely no extra theories) is that the maps were drawn in 2D because that's the only way the medieval European knew how. Your explanation that Macrobius was dumbing down his own drawings intentionally, requires an extra theory as to why he would do such a thing. This is a text book demonstration of using parsimony to demonstrate that my theory is more likely than yours. And you compound your error: "Do you understand that the Macrobian diagrams without meridians are indistinguishable from any number of perfectly normal, reasonable hemispheric map projections such as orthographic and Roger Bacon’s globular projection?" If you take the meridians away, then it is no longer a projective cartographic map. It becomes, essentially, symbolism. You: "I’m quite done with this discussion; it has nothing to do with improving the article." Fine, go take your ball and go home. I, however, am not done. This is the change I am proposing:
From: "Still, many textbooks of the Early Middle Ages supported the sphericity of the Earth. For example: some early medieval manuscripts of Macrobius include maps of the Earth, including the antipodes, zonal maps showing the Ptolemaic climates derived from the concept of a spherical Earth and a diagram showing the Earth (labeled as globus terrae, the sphere of the Earth) at the center of the hierarchically ordered planetary spheres.[82] Further examples of such medieval diagrams can be found in medieval manuscripts of the Dream of Scipio."
To: "Some texts survived from antiquity into the Early Middle Ages that described the earth as spherical. However, none of the arguments for supporting this survived, and none were produced by any medieval Europeans. When medieval Europeans read Macrobius and attempted to draw maps he described, the results lacked essential cartographic elements. Rather than using three dimensional projections that would be well known to any Hellenistic philosopher after the time of Ptolemy, they produced two dimensional flat depictions ((ref: Dream of Scipio)). In maps such as one rendered by Beatus, regions such as antipodes were not depicted on the other side of the earth in a spherical sense, but rather shown in the same view on the other side of a flat circle. In the classical period, the philosophers contended that the earth spherical because they argued about it with the inclusion of empirical observations ((I can find a citation for this)). These arguments and astronomical observations don't find their way back into Europe until the 13th century ((I can also find a citation for this))." Then continue with something along the lines of: "Some authors contend that the medieval Europeans generally did know that earth was a sphere because of the existence of Globus cruciger, and Bede's use of sun, moon and earth models to derive a calendar. But these arguments are made without documented intellectual justification or wide-spread depictions of the earth's surface as a convex shape."
This needs some work and would obviously require sympathetic changes to the rest of the text. But it has more of a NPOV in absence of better data rather than simply buying into a particular theory.Qed (talk) 00:17, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
No, sorry; you cannot make those changes because they are WP:OR and WP:SYNTH. You need to cite this stuff from scholarly works, not promote your personal musings. Strebe (talk) 00:41, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
My apologies to Qed if I have misinterpreted the intended implications of his statement about there being "no evidence that Macrobius himself drew flat, unprojected, non-coordinate based maps". But in any case, the text of the Commentary which the climatic zonal maps were intended to accompany contains a description of them which is sufficiently detailed to reconstruct most (if not all) of their features. Whatever form these maps took in the original manuscript, it must have been very similar to the mediaeval reconstructions; otherwise, the accompanying text would have made no sense.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 23:48, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Of course! I have no doubt that the text is very adequate for describing the earth's regions under the assumption that the reader was familiar with the spherical nature of the earth, and may even know how to draw Ptolemaic projection themselves. Macrobius himself might even have been capable of drawing something like this. But I don't believe that an educated pagan would suddenly draw crap like this. But if a non-educated reader is *not* familiar, then why wouldn't their confusion lead them to think a circle was a realm, and the sphere was used in the sense of influence? Then "zones" could be flat island regions just as easily as half rings wrapping a sphere. Qed (talk) 05:32, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Qued, this is a map from a late seventeenth century manuscript of a book written in the 1349: do you think that who drawed this map viewed the earth flat? or do you tink that who did this map believed in the XVI century that the earth was supported by animals? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:57, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
This diagram, from a 12th-century manuscript of Macrobius's Commentary, and which you have dismissed as "crap", is, on the contrary, a quite adequate and accurate illustration of the passage which it accompanies. On the other hand, regardless of whether Macrobius would have been capable of reproducing something like Steve McCluskey's 21st-century impression (after Luther Stevenson) of Crates's globe, that would have been perfectly useless as an illustration of the passage in question. Also, contrary to your implication that the 12th-century illustration is not a "projection", it is one, and of precisely the same type—namely orthographic—as that used in Steve McCluskey's depiction of Crates's globe. The difference is that the central point of the projected hemisphere lies on the equator in the case of the former, while it is at or near the intersection of the tropic of Cancer and the Greenwich meridian in the case of the latter.
For reference, here is William Harris Stahl's translation of the text accompanying the diagram:
Macrobius, climatic zones.jpg
"Here again a diagram will be easier to understand than a discussion. Let us draw a circle to represent the Earth with the letters ABCD inscribed. On either side of A inscribe the letters N and L; beside B inscribe M and K; beside C, G and I; and beside D, E and F. Draw straight lines connecting the letters just mentioned, that is, from G to I, from M to N, from K to L, and from E to F. The two spaces at the extremities, one extending from C to be line GI and the other from D to the line EF are to represent the regions perpetually stiff with cold, the upper one being the northern and the lower the southern extremity. The middle belt from N to L is to be the torrid zone. As a result, the belt from I to N is tempered by the heat beneath and the cold above it, and the zone from L to F is tempered by the heat above and the cold beneath it. The lines drawn for our diagram must not be thought of as straight lines, for they are the circles mentioned earlier, the arctic and the antarctic circles and the two tropics."
Note that without Macrobius's very clear explanation of how the diagram was intended to represent the climatic zones on a spherical Earth, there would be sufficient ambiguity in its description that one would be unlikely to obtain the proper orientation of the various points and lines from that alone. Therefore, given the accuracy of the 12th-century illustration, I see no reason to doubt that the illustrator responsible for it knew perfectly well what it represented.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:56, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
P.S. I see that I have repeated precisely some of the same points made by Strebe in his response—which I had not read when I wrote the above—to some remarks that had been interleaved between two earlier comments of his and mine. My apologies for the duplication.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 22:17, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
P.P.S. I see from another of Qed's earlier interleaved comments that he has tried to make much of the absence of the word "sphere" from Alfred Hiatt's translation of the above-quoted passage from Macrobius's Commentary. But the explanation of the climatic zones given on the preceding page and a half of Stahl's translation makes it quite clear that Macrobius was describing Plato's universe (N.B. not Ptolemy's), with a spherical Earth resting at the centre of the celestial and seven planetary spheres. There's simply no way that the words "sphere" and "spherical" which are scattered throughout this explanation could be reasonably interpreted as referring to anything other than literal geometric spheres, and there's no earthly reason whatever to suppose that the 12th-century illustrator would have interpreted them in any other way (regardless of what his own views were about the shape of the Earth).
David Wilson (talk · cont) 23:30, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Ok, but this is still missing the word "sphere". Did T and O maps continue this description of diameter and radial cuts as actually circles or half-circles? It's easy for you and me to see that a straight like becomes a circle by being projected on a sphere, because we already know the right answer. However, small chords from really large circles will also appear very close to straight lines. We are still missing evidence for the conceptual leap to being a sphere. The obvious way is by projection or by latitude + longitudinal mapping. But he could have shaded, drawn a second circle for the "other side", even done something as simple as drawing text or features upside down at the bottom versus top. You are sill arguing for an inference for which there is no evidence. When you demand that it *is* a projection, you can only mean that in the modern (or at least Renaissance) sense of *is*. Because today, in hindsight, we can easily figure out what Macrobius was trying to depict. But for an early medieval scribe, you can't point to any concrete thing that demonstrates that "sphere" was anywhere in their head. Qed (talk) 00:54, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
our Medieval scribe knew the Latin and he could read in the same commentary "terram... circumdatam cingulis", "terram cingulis suis redimitam atque circumdatam", "terrenae sphaerae globositatem ", "terra globositas sphaeralis", "partem alteram quae ad nos habetur inferior", "esto enim terrae sphaera cui ascripta", etc etc. But if someone thinks that Medieval people were 'downright idiots' the same could think that our scribe did not understand Latin! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:22, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)
"Ok, but this is still missing the word "sphere"."
What is still missing the word "sphere"? I presume you're here referring to the description of the diagram I quoted above. But as I have just pointed out in my PPS, that word is not missing from the three preceding paragraphs, where Macrobius gives a very clear description of what the diagram is intended to illustrate, including unequivocal statements that the Earth is spherical. No "hindsight" whatever is needed to know that Macrobius's words "terra nona et ultima sphaera est" mean "the Earth is the ninth and lowest sphere" or that his words characterising a description of Cicero's as "terrenae sphaerae globositatem" mean "of the rotundity of the terrestrial sphere". All one needs is a sufficient comprehension of the appropriate Latin vocabulary, grammar and idiom. The same goes for the rest of Macrobius's description of the Earth's climatic zones, and all the other numerous passages where he refers to the Earth as a sphere and describes its geometrical relationships to the rest of the universe.
Thus, I conclude that the diagram under discussion is intended to represent a spherical Earth because the text tells me unequivocally that that's precisely what it does represent. There's absolutely no reason to expect that anyone who understood Macrobius's Latin, including Macrobius himself, would have drawn the diagram any differently from the 12th-century version reproduced above. And indeed, the diagram given in William Stahl Harris's English translation is essentially the same, lacking only the colour scheme and the green annular border.
Your argument appears to be that the 12th-century (N.B. not an "early medieval") scribe responsible for producing the diagram might have been so befuddled by his own conviction that the Earth was a flat disc that he would have been incapable of understanding what Macrobius wrote. That seems extremely unlikely to me, and unless you can produce a modern reliable source to support the conjecture, I see no point in discussing the matter further.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:48, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm really baffled by what you all are arguing about. Nobody disputes that Macrobius understood the world was spherical. But the disc representation of the earth is basically ambiguous and that was probably its great strength. Those that understood the science could live with it, and those that didn't weren't baffled by it. Most of the drawings in the early middle ages (500-1050 say) show that the drawers had little if any conception of the spherical nature of the earth. There were exceptions (e.g. Bede) but in this period all that mattered was the Word of God and almost no science was practiced or taught - at least in Christendom. The early enlightenment of the 11th & 12th century was largely due to the Arabs, who hadn't yet become dogmatic in the way some of them later did but had rather picked up the Greek ideas and run with them. The idea that most T&O diagrams are intended as spheres is a non-starter. Chris55 (talk) 18:02, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Ibn Baz

I remember reading several times over the years about the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia who made headlines around the world in the 1990's for issuing a flat earth fatwa. Not finding it in the article, I searched through the talk archive and came across this. Ibn Baz now has his own article in English WP, but information about his cosmological views is limited. Some of his works are available online, in Arabic. Zip-x (talk) 18:08, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

  • Ibn Baz didn't say that the Earth is flat, He said the Earth was static, but please note that Ibn Baz doesn't represent the views of Muslims as he said himself. Al-Albany, another famous Islamic scholar, agreed that the Earth is not static.--BelalSaid (talk) 22:50, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

St. John Chrysostom again

I support Wekn reven i susej eht's deletion of the John Chrysostom material. The source given does not support a flat-earth interpretation. John Chrysostom writes about how the earth is supported, not its shape. A globe can float on water. Unless scholarly opinion supports a flat-earth interpretation directly, this material does not belong. Strebe (talk) 22:41, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

The claim being referenced, according to the text now in the article, is "that the Earth floated on the waters". Editor2020 (talk) 01:07, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Why is that relevant to the article? Strebe (talk) 03:13, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Hebrew Bible using flat-earth terminology as "poetic language"? Oh, please.

In Chaucer's canterbury tales (From the 11th centuary, i think?) there is a churchman who has a theory that the moin, sun and earth are spheres (he uses the term spheres) held by god on strings (talk) 22:03, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

I challenge anyone to provide one single shred of evidence that the authors of the Bible meant those descriptions figuratively and did not believe the Earth was literally flat. In the whole of the Bible there is not one mention of the Earth being spherical. Every single reference to its shape points to a belief in its flatness. Combine that with the prevailing beliefs on the matter in those times and there emerges almost zero possibility that the authors were being merely "poetic" in their descriptions. Surely that was put there by a Judeo-Christian attempting to cover for the glaring inaccuracies of the Bible and thus its inadequacy as a source of truth. Succubus MacAstaroth (talk) 14:02, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

The article does not claim that the language is merely poetic or figurative. Given that there is nothing in the article that argues for a spherical conception of the earth in the bible, it’s difficult to understand what incited your diatribe. This matter has been hashed and rehashed and argued and flamed about for years here, as you might well imagine. Strebe (talk) 19:14, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
If that were the case, then there would be no need for that adjective at all, since the language would be just language whose intent cannot be determined. "Poetic" clearly implies that the intended use of the language was artistic metaphor as opposed to literal description and, as such, this usage is deceptive. Succubus MacAstaroth (talk) 09:22, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Including biblical passages that are supposed to be figurative is no demonstration of a belief in a flat earth, and therefore wouldn’t appear in this article. Hence I don’t agree with your assessment. A more reasonable reading is that the biblical language is poetic (which philologists agree on) but also describes a belief in the flat earth, which, while by no means universally agreed upon, at least describes the modern scholarly consensus. If the reader wishes to interpret the poetic designation as merely poetic, then at least the reader can comfort “himself” with the possibility. The matter is not cut-and-dried, so we best not try to make it cut-and-dried. Attempts to do so have only resulted in grief in this article. Strebe (talk) 18:50, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Fine, you know what? Keep it. If the majority wants to keep Wikipedia a source of wishful thinking and bias, what can I do about it. My objectivity has no place here. LOL. Who needs Conservapedia? We have all the pandering to irrational opinion you could ever ask for. <3 Succubus MacAstaroth (talk) 06:53, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
If we make earth spin fast enough it will go flat! And the best part, it will break in pieces! <3 (talk) 02:31, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Era: BC or BCE?

WP:ERA says, in part: "Do not change the established era style in an article unless there are reasons specific to its content. Seek consensus on the talk page before making the change. Open the discussion under a subhead that uses the word "era". Briefly state why the style is inappropriate for the article in question. A personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not justification for making a change." This article has 20-some instances of "BC", and a recent editor changed the only two instances of "BCE" to "BC". This seems to me to be merely a case of making the style uniform, not changing the established style. I suggest that that editor's changes be reinstated. TomS TDotO (talk) 17:30, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

India - flat earth until Gupta period

Totally wrong. The word for the earth in Sanskrit was Bhu-gol which clearly implies that the Ancient Indians knew that the earth was a sphere. Early Indian astronomers had already found the diameter of the earth around the same time (or before) the Greeks. The assertion that India took the concept from Greek astronomy are pure nonsense pervaded by colonial mindsets. There are verses in the Rigveda that talk about an oblate spheroid earth.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:24, 18 December 2012 (UTC) 

Jewish views

The one line summary of the Jewish position on the earth's shape is simplistic and incorrect: Ancient Judaism is replete with references to a spherical world. The Jerusalem Talmud, for example tells a story: Alexander the Great (who besides being a world leader, was also a sorcerer) came to the Rabbis and asked them whether the world was flat, round, etc... So they made a test. First, they starved an eagle. Then they took a stick with a worm in front of it and hung it in front of the eagle, just out of reach. Alexander the Great hopped on the eagle's back, and, hungering after the worm, the eagle flew and flew and flew, until Alexander the Great was so high that he could confirm the earth was indeed round. The Jerusalem Talmud was edited about 350 CE. See also Tractate Avoda Zara p41, where it states the shape of the world is spherical. This is without mentioning Maimonides of around 800 years ago and many medieval scholars who write very clearly that the earth is round. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

It’s not clear to me how this is relevant. By 350CE we’re talking about Hellenistic views, and that era is not “ancient Judaism”. The Tractate Avoda Zara is also from that era, and the Maimonides is even later. None of that is the ancient world. Strebe (talk) 22:40, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Hebrew bible: sources

The article says: "The Hebrew Bible presumes a circular earth with a solid roof, surrounded by water above and below,[13][14] as illustrated by references to the "foundations of the earth" and the "circle of the earth" in the following examples:

  • "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."[15]
  • "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world."[16]
  • "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."[17]"

The introductory sentence is well sourced - Seeley's papers on this subject are frequently cited in the literature. I have a problem with the three examples. They're correct in themselves, but they're sourced to the bible itself, which is a primary source. This is always dangerous - as non-scholars we aren't in a position to interpret ancient texts. If examples are needed at all, a modern secondary source is the preferred option - but in fact I'd be happy to leave it at the Seeley footnotes. PiCo (talk) 09:32, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree. The particular selection of passages and their interpretation is essentially WP:OR. Strebe (talk) 21:51, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Likewise. Also, the inclusion of the quotations seems to me to give undue weight to the beliefs of the ancient Hebrews, who were apparently just one of several peoples of the ancient middle and near east with similar views.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:03, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Egg-shaped Earth in the Koran

I have just removed another re-addition to the article of the assertion that according to the Koran the Earth is "egg-shaped", but accidentally saved my edit before properly completing the edit summary. This has been discussed before. For this assertion to have any hope of satisfying Wikipedia's criteria for inclusion, it needs a citation to a good scholarly reference where it is convincingly shown that those translations which render the relevant text as meaning "extended" or "spread out" (rather than "egg-shaped") must be erroneous. If the original Arabic is genuinely ambiguous, then Wikipedia should not favour either interpretation over the other.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:03, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Accuracy of Hebrew Bible wording fixed

Near the start of this article I found an inaccurately universal wording that the Hebrew Bible presumes a flat Earth; I've changed this to: "Some interpret the Hebrew Bible as presuming a circular earth with a solid roof, surrounded by water above and below..." It is only an interpretation that the words in the verses cited literally mean a solid roof is the case, and none of them state that Earth is literally a flat Earth. Pointing out that it is poetic language admittedly does not prove that this interpretation is not meant, but neither does it prove that it is the only interpretation. The myth that the Bible teaches a flat Earth comes from compromises with pagan teachings of that in the past, by the church. It's correct to say that Christians have in the past interpreted it as teaching a flat Earth, but by the same token, other Christians (like myself) believe it does not.

Also I would advise adding detail explaining what is believed to be the actual meaning of those source verses but I don't have sources handy for that at the moment so I didn't add it now. It may help to add that verse that apparently defines it as a sphere to point out that the flat interpretation doesn't hold up in the whole context of the Bible: Job 26:10. Basically if poetic language must be taken literally, then other verses that mention "corners" would define Earth as a square (this is also a problem with the literal interpretation of the verses that call it a circle), and this one specifically tells us that this circle is on the surface of the waters, not an "edge". This geometry only fits with a spheroid Earth. Note that Job is one of the earliest written books, and the Bible (in historical, rather than poetic, sections) teaches that humans of the past were highly intelligent, and also lived much longer, so it is believed by biblical Christians that the Earth's spheroid shape was common knowledge that was later lost as cultural knowledge decayed.

Not sure how to incorporate this into the actual article, but just making it clear that flat is just one interpretation may be enough. :) Bonesiii (talk) 02:32, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

This gets discussed here periodically. There is no scholarly support for a Hebrew bible interpretion of the earth as a sphere. The Hebrew bible’s cosmology fits right in with the broader ancient Middle Eastern cosmology. We can’t be debating bible versus here. That’s not our job. Strebe (talk) 03:26, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Even if it were true that all scholars see it as literally depicting Earth as a flat circle, "some interpret" still describes that. Remember the POV policy; we are not here to judge one interpretation as correct but to describe sourced and relevant interpretations. But more importantly, that's not true that all scholars see it that way; likely not even most nowadays... It should be pretty obvious that modern scholars do not universally accept the claim that the Bible is wrong on this detail. The view of most conservative scholars is that it does not literally speak to the issue one way or another, in fact. Remove the false universal statement, and as a result there is no need to debate Bible verses here. ^_^

Incidentally, the verses cited, when interpreted literally, do not even support the flat circle theory over the sphere one. A sphere is circular (as opposed to rectangular), and Earth does have foundations, etc.; the foundations are inward rather than downward from a plane. Those verses do not speak for themselves on this matter, unlike if one had said "Earth is flat"; they have to be interpreted. So by phrasing the description of that interpretation absolutely you are actually doing just what you agreed is not our job. Bonesiii (talk) 08:16, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

If you want to be careful about NPOV you should have avoided the word 'some' and instead written The Hebrew Bible's portrayal....has been interpreted... - I've fixed that. Dougweller (talk) 09:37, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Good point; I'm fine with that wording. Bonesiii (talk) 21:27, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

The recent text is still weasel wording. I have changed the text to match the article at Biblical cosmology and removed the biblical quotes as per the earlier discussion. This article isn’t about biblical cosmology, so we’re not going to debate it here. Go over there and debate it with the experts, like it’s been debated countless times before. When you get a consensus for some other wording there, we can change it here. And, Bonesiii, you are still presenting WP:OR arguments, which have no place here, and your interpretation of WP:NPOV is, well, “creative”. Strebe (talk) 11:24, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Removing the quotes is good, but your edit is still POV as it pretends to claim that the opinion of some scholars is the only interpretation (even if there was a consensus, articles are supposed to make it clear that they portray the views of a consensus, not just absolute fact, re: NPOV). I've just changed the "is" to "has been interpreted as", re: Dougweller's point. :)

OR is irrelevant here as nobody has proposed here to add any into the article. As I said, those things I would also suggest adding would have to be sourced, and it's because I didn't have any handy that I didn't add those (but they do exist and obviously would be relevant to add if anyone finds the time). Anyways, I think a good fix for the original infraction has been reached now; the extra stuff can be added if yall want to work on it yourselves, mainly just wanted to correct that error. :)

As for the other article, I don't have time right now to look at it, just correcting an error I stumbled across. :) [Edit: Looking at it, it's the same wording, so just used the same solution there. :)] Bonesiii (talk) 21:27, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Claiming someone else should do your homework is not a way to be taken seriously. The citation given is a tertiary source. It is authoritative. Just like the assertions about Mesopotamian, Babylonian, native American, and any other cosmology, we state as fact that which is agreed upon by scholars using scholarly methods. “Blah blah has been interpreted…” is flaccid, uninformative, and weaseling. Has been interpreted by whom? Furthermore, everything has been interpreted, so to say something has been interpreted without more information is just superfluous. The only reason there’s even a question here is because the bible has a fervent constituency that those other cultural sources do not have. If you want to state that some people believe something else, go argue it at the Biblical cosmology page and back it up with credible citations, not just expecting someone else is going to do it for you. Strebe (talk) 21:58, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

To add on to previous points, I looked up the actual source that is linked in the article. Here's what that source says on this matter, and I think it's pretty definitive on my side here: "What did the universe look like to the biblical authors? The most common picture is [it goes on to describe the interpretation that was mentioned in the WP article]...a completely literal acceptance of traditional imagery... a virtual impossibility... general consensus is that the biblical account of creation is to be read for its moral and religious message rather than for its scientific meaning."

There are many problems with this source, including being out of date on some scientific issues regarding the time of creation. But that's not the issue in this article, and biblical creationists universally agree with the statement at the end of this quote in terms of the physical design of the Earth. :) So this source itself does not support the idea that the literal disk Earth is absolutely literally what was meant.

So, whoever wrote the wording that was in the original article was in fact guilty of OR or an unsourced claim as the source linked to for it does not support it. In any case, just making it clear that it's an interpretation should be enough of a fix for now. :) (Now as I type I see your latest post. Since you view the linked source as authoritative, it appears you have no recourse now to insist on the absolute wording since the source itself does not claim that. :)) Bonesiii (talk) 22:04, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

I cannot make any sense of what you are talking about. The question is the earth’s shape to biblical writers. The creation account is irrelevant, so why are you talking about that? The passage in the source is, verbatim, in context:

What did the universe look like to the biblical authors? The most common picture is a three-storied cosmos. The earth is a flat disk floating on an expanse of water, with another expanse of water above it. The sky, or firmament, is an arched structure, a dome, with the celestial bodies fixed in it and with openings through which rain, from the upper watery expanse, falls to earth. Occasionally a four-story universe is implied, with the underworld as the lowest level.

It states, plainly, that the earth is a flat disk floating on an expanse of water. There is no qualification to this statement. It is the scholarly view. If you want to suggest that some people somewhere believe differently, you can, but you have to cite it, the citation has to be reliable, and it has to be according to due weight. I am not going to debate this any further; if you change the text back to weasel wording, I am going to ask that the page be reverted and locked. Strebe (talk) 23:19, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Strebe, the issue is that you are claiming that this is absolutely meant literally, even though the cited source does not actually state that, and it DOES qualify it, as I just quoted: "a completely literal acceptance of traditional imagery... a virtual impossibility". It's also in that context that the final line is given in the source. "No qualification" doesn't help the absolute case because there is also no qualification to that final line; it does not say "except for the cosmology part" or "except that the flat Earth part is literal". If you could find a source to say that, then okay (though other sources obviously disagree), but you have not.

I don't want an edit war, so let's just see if you will accept the fix here. There's no need for bias or emotions to play a role here; the logic of this is clear.

As for weasel wording, it's been a consensus on many articles in the past (and there is a policy for it) that a neutral point of view is not weasel wording; making it clear that an opinion is opinion is proper. More to the point, the claim that the Bible teaches that that imagery is meant as literally true is not supported in the source. It does not state that it is literal; it states the opposite at the end. The part you are quoting merely describes the imagery; there is no comment given on whether it is literal, until a few paragraphs later where that is denied, as I cited.

So... no hard feelings? :) Are we agreed? ^_^ Bonesiii (talk) 00:01, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Also, that quote itself points out that this is only the most common imagery, not universal throughout the Bible (such as the corners thing). But anyways, maybe a different wording that does not appear to be absolutely literal, but also avoids the word "interpretation" which you seem not to like (am I reading that right? :)) would be better? The word "imagery" is good and comes from the actual source. Would you approve of something using that term? Bonesiii (talk) 00:25, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

No, I'm afraid we're not agreed. Our source is the Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, and it says nothing along the lines of a flat earth being an "interpretation" of the picture in the OT - it says quite explicitly that "the earthis a disk floating on an expanse of water." I can quote you dozens of leading scholars saying the same thing - this "interpretation" is as certain as the idea that the earth goes round the sun, rather than vice versa (which, strictly speaking is also an interpretation). PiCo (talk) 01:16, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

It does use the word "imagery", however. I can agree with objecting to the word "interpretation"; that was just the first solution that came to mind when I noticed the violation of NPOV. My source is that dictionary, too. ;) I think Strebe is misrepresenting that source, and I've shown why... Maybe not as well as I could have, so my apologies if so, though. ^_^ Bonesiii (talk) 03:06, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Your argument, Bonesiii, is a mishmash of misquoting, misinterpreting, and misattributing. It’s unsupportable. You quoted from Berlin: “…A completely literal acceptance of traditional imagery... a virtual impossibility.” You state from that, More to the point, the claim that the Bible teaches that that imagery is meant as literally true is not supported in the source. It does not state that it is literal; it states the opposite at the end. The actual quotation is

Modern science rendered a completely literal acceptance of the traditional imagery, and of biblical cosmography of creation in seven days in particular, a virtual impossibility. There are still literalists and fundamentalists in Orthodox circles, but the general consensus is that the biblical account of creation is to be read for its moral and religious message rather than for its scientific meaning.

Berlin is clearly stating that modern science refutes the biblical cosmology and therefore it’s virtually impossible for modern people to take what the bible says on the topic literally. He is not saying that the bible’s words on the topic were meant by their authors as merely figurative. You have completely warped that passage to suit your agenda.

The logic of this is clear. Apparently we do not agree on the meaning of “logic”.
You have not presented any sources to defend your position. Berlin is a proper tertiary source. While there are other opinions, you cannot say or imply that without proper citations. Your mangling of WP:NPOV does not mean what you claim it means. Go back and read WP:WEIGHT. What you believe and what the general public believes or even what a bunch of biblical apologists believe is not relevant. You need a cited source whose reliability can be assessed so that we even know how much weight to give it. As WP:WEIGHT states,

Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views as much of, or as detailed, a description as more widely held views. Generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all, except perhaps in a "see also" to an article about those specific views. For example, the article on the Earth does not directly mention modern support for the Flat Earth concept, the view of a distinct minority; to do so would give undue weight to the Flat Earth belief. …Keep in mind that, in determining proper weight, we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors or the general public.

Does that mean we should say in the Earth article, “It has been interpreted that the earth is spherical,” in order to avoid implying that everyone believes the world is spherical? No. Facts are to be presented as facts. There is no such thing as 100% certainty in facts; only degrees. For the purposes of an encyclopædia, the scholarly consensus is fact. The biblical shape of the earth or that it is meant literally is not in question amongst scholars. That the biblical notion of the earth’s shape was literally a flat disc floating on water is a “fact”. It does not matter that some people question that fact. People question every fact. It’s fine that they question facts. It’s not fine that they corrupt encyclopæedias. If you have reliable sources to support your assertion then bring them in; otherwise you have no leg to stand on.

Then you argue, “Also, that quote itself points out that this is only the most common imagery, not universal throughout the Bible (such as the corners thing).” Another unsupportable statement. Read it again. The most common imagery applies to the three tiers of the cosmos, not to the the shape of the earth. This is clear at the end of the same paragraph, which states, “Occasionally a four-story universe is implied…” The paragraph is coherent. It follows this pattern: “The most common model is this one: Blah blah blah. Occasionally it’s this one: Blah blah blah.” Once again, you have completely warped what you’re reading.
You are wasting everyone’s time, Bonesiii. I have requested a revert and lock. Strebe (talk) 01:36, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

"Berlin is clearly stating that modern science refutes the biblical cosmology and therefore it’s virtually impossible for modern people to take what the bible says on the topic literally. He is not saying that the bible’s words on the topic were meant by their authors as merely figurative. You have completely warped that passage to suit your agenda."

Strebe, why are you being argumentative? The point is that while the source doesn't say the intended meaning of the authors was figurative (you're correct), neither does it positively state that the intended meaning was literal. That's all I'm saying. :) This is why we have a policy against putting personal bias such as yours into the articles themselves. It's fine that that's your opinion, and I respect it as that (though obviously I disagree), but that's irrelevant to this question. You should be able to put your personal bias aside on this and simply accept a neutrally worded statement. :)

Also, there's no need to lock it; if a moderator agrees with allowing an unsourced and non-neutral implication that the Bible's intended meaning was wrong, despite the beliefs of many Christians, including many scholars, to the contrary, then there's nothing I can do about that and I would let it be. But WP's policies give us rules that protect multiple viewpoints from being discriminated against by putting personal bias like yours into an article. NOTE that I am NOT arguing for MY opinion or bias either to be presented as fact. Just make it neutral. :)

Incidentally, I'm well aware of the weight section, Strebe. In case you didn't notice, the example there is supporting a spheroid Earth just as I do and as the cited source does not contradict. As for the source thing, I have shown how the same source you are using supports my view, so your points seem to be irrelevant. Look at the sentence about science there. An "and" separates "imagery" from "cosmography":

"a completely literal acceptance of the traditional imagery, and of biblical cosmography of creation in seven days in particular, a virtual impossibility"

This shows that both the imagery and the timescale are in mind here in the final paragraph of that entry. This is from the encyclopedic source, which you agree is authoritative. This cannot be taken as a statement of positive support for a literal meaning by the Bible's authors. I read the whole section and nowhere is there such a claim.

In fact, this is a mixed section more about creation in general; it only mentions the imagery about the Earth's form in passing; in the main part you quoted, and with the word "imagery" in the end here where it affirms that the majority view is that it is not literal. :) This is really not the ideal kind of source to prove that the majority of scholars believe it was intended literally, as that question is not the point of that entry, and the only time it brings up the question of literalness, it denies a rigid universal literalism. To claim otherwise is simply unsupported. It IS a good source to describe the biblical imagery (without comment on its intent), so simply avoiding an implication of literal intent will fix the NPOV violation; I don't see what there is to argue about there.

And your analogies seem to be irrelevant -- the actual shape of the Earth is not an interpretation of words in a book; it's a proven fact that virtually everybody obviously agrees on. That is not fairly comparable. Incidentally, speaking of logic, I am a logician, so I know what I'm talking about there. You've used several logical fallacies, in fact; that one is argument from analogy (a non-apt analogy).

" The biblical shape of the earth or that it is meant literally is not in question amongst scholars. That the biblical notion of the earth’s shape was literally a flat disc floating on water is a “fact”."

You have not sourced that statement, Strebe. That is your opinion. I have pointed you to where in the actual source that was already linked to in the article it contradicts your claim. You keep making such a big deal out of providing sources (and you know full well I agree with that; I mentioned it to begin with up there, and more to the point, it's WP policy!), yet you are not providing any for this dogmatic statement. How is that consistent or fair? And really, why must you be so emotional about it? It seems like you have a strong personal agenda yourself and you hope to use WP to spread it. I'm glad I stumbled across it; we'll see what the moderators think. :) Bonesiii (talk) 02:33, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Bonesiii, please read the source carefully. Adele Berlin (a woman, by the way), says this: "What did the universe look like to the biblical authors? The most common picture is a three-storied cosmos [in which] the earth is a flat disk...Occasionally a four-storied cosmos is implied..." I've taken out the sentences in the middle of the paragraph to make the sense clear: the most common picture is a three-storied universe, but sometimes the universe has four stories. She's talking about the number of stories in the universe, not the shape of the earth, which is flat in both. (See this: [4]).
Also read what Aune has to say in his entry on biblical cosmology in the Westminster dictionary of NT and early Christian literature. On page 119 hes talking about the beginnings of the belief in a spherical earth, which he says was a Greek idea based on science and introduced for the first time between the 6th and 4th centuries BC: he contrasts this with the older "mythological" universe, which he calls the "archaic" cosmology (meaning that it was older than the new scientific one). This archaic view saw the world as a three-tiered cosmos "consisting of the earth as a flat disk in the middle..." etc etc. ((See here, and type "cosmology" into the search bar on the left: [5]
And I could direct you to many more. The point is that there's nothing tentative or new about this, it's bog-standard in biblical studies, you'll be taught it in the first year of any course in OT in any decent tertiary institution. I really do urge you to read more on this subject, and not let your own preconceptions get in the way. PiCo (talk) 07:26, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
The point is that while the source doesn't say the intended meaning of the authors was figurative (you're correct), neither does it positively state that the intended meaning was literal. That's all I'm saying. If that’s all you’re saying, then why are you saying it at all? The article itself doesn’t say one way or another.
This is why we have a policy against putting personal bias such as yours into the articles themselves. My bias is not in the article. The article says nothing about literal or figurative. How have you deluded yourself into thinking otherwise?
I have shown how the same source you are using supports my view. You’ve done no such thing. You’ve taken a passage that states modern science makes a literal acceptance of the bible’s cosmology practically impossible, and are pretending that means modern science (somehow magically retrospectively) makes accepting a literal intent on the part of the bible’s authors impossible. That’s nothing but sophistry.
I am a logician, so I know what I'm talking about there. If you were a logician, you’d have recognized the supreme irony of the fallacy of that utterance.
That is not fairly comparable… You've used several logical fallacies, in fact; that one is argument from analogy (a non-apt analogy). An inapt (not non-apt, Mr. Logician) analogy is one in which essential elements of the analogy and its reference differ qualitatively. In this case the differences are quantitative. How strongly is the fact known? In the case of the spherical earth, the fact is contested by only a few people. In the case of whether the bible’s authors intended words you (now) know (long after they were written) can’t be literally correct (unlike the people who lived during Old Testament times), maybe more people contest that fact, but the difference is one of degree, not quality. In other words, your call of an inapt analogy is fallacious. Wikipedia makes no distinction between extremely hard facts and much softer facts; you made that up. For Wikipedia’s purposes, as described in WP:WEIGHT, it is the scholarly consensus that is fact. If there are substantial dissenting scholarly opinions, then they too can be noted. But you have not provided any evidence of scholarly dissent; you have only asserted it, like every single thing you have said.
I will not engage you any further unless and until you can provide some source. Meanwhile the article’s text is faithful to the cited source, contains no content, intent, or interpretation of anyone else’s, and contains no weasel words (whose presence, by the way, reinterprets the source by hinting at positions that have not been demonstrated, violating WP:YESPOV's and other policies’ injunction, “Further, the passage should not be worded in any way that makes it appear to be contested”). Strebe (talk) 19:02, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

You know, I've been thinking this over, and I have to admit that since the current wording in the article does not explicitly state the inaccurate, unsourced claim I was objecting to from your post -- that the vast majority of scholars believe the depictions of Earth's shape are intended by God literally to mean Earth is flat -- since that's just in your post here, I really shouldn't be complaining. My apologies for reading too much into that. The new wording can be interpreted as non-literal, and the OR has been removed, so I guess we're good now. :)

You do raise some good points in this latest reply too. But anyways, let's not waste any more space here; a good solution has been reached for the actual article, so further discussion really should belong elsewhere. Thanks for helping. ^_^

NOTE: I do think it might be helpful to add a note of doubt how literal the imagery in the Bible and possibly in other sources is (I've seen such statements in other articles where there is uncertainty, and I don't think this is the same as weasel wording technically), but this would have to be sourced from a clear statement to that effect, and this particular source isn't super crystal clear on it, it just implies it. But I won't actually put that in; just an idea for the rest of you to consider if you like it. :) Bonesiii (talk) 21:44, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, and apologies if I came off as surly. It’s just that articles like this one see a lot of tendentious edits along with debates over them, and so it gets wearing. If we just insist there be clear, reliable sources, then most of the problems go away. I think it’s plausible there are other scholarly opinions on the this particular matter, and of course when we find sources for them, they would be appropriate to add at least into the Biblical cosmology article. I’m not sure much more needs to be said in this article, given that it already takes no position on the literal versus figurative question, and given that the article isn’t about the bible or any other historical document or culture specifically. Strebe (talk) 22:50, 29 December 2012 (UTC)