Monday, August 9, 2010

The Myth of Stupid Ancient Man... as Baseless as a Flat Earth

There is a tendency in modern culture to exalt our own achievements at the expense of our ancient forefathers. Theories of evolution have further damaged this understanding of the historical evidence in the general culture. We like to think of ourselves as wise and enlightened and previous generations as rather superstitious and stupid in comparison.

The archaeological facts just do not support this view. With far fewer technological tools ancient men achieved marvelous developments that should not be brushed over. A quick example would be the Great Pyramid of Khufu which was built around 2560 BC. The structure is aligned to within 4 minutes of arc to earth's True North, the passages are straight to within 0.013 inches per 100 feet of travel, and its 13 acre foundation remains almost perfectly level to this day (about 0.8 inches off).

Lets also consider things like the great Library of Alexander which existed centuries before the birth of Christ. Consider some of the names associated with this university and their mind-blowing achievements. All of these existed nearly 2,000 years ago. You should be humbled.

Aristophanes of Byzantium is credited with the creation of the accent system for the Greek Alphabet that assisted readers with pronunciation. He is also the inventor of basic concepts of punctuation for the western languages such as the period, comma, colon, and semi-colon. He was also an accomplished lexicographer that complied large collections of rare, archaic, and unusual words.

Callimachus compiled a 120 volume catalog that chronologically arranged all of the works in the library. He did this by hand without a computer.

Zenodotus practically invented textual analysis. He gathered various copies of Homeric works and compared them to eliminate dubious passages, transposed lines, and copy errors.

Hero of Alexandria invented the first known wind-driven machine and used his knowledge of thermodynamics to create the first automatic door in history. He invented the first vending machine that dispensed a controlled amount of water after a coin was deposited. In physics, he accurately described Fermat's Principle which states that a ray of light will always travel in a path that takes the least amount of time... 1,600 years before Pierre Fermat refined it.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene invented geography--literally! He is the first to apply the basic principles that we use today and is the first to use the term "geography". Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth (which he knew to be round). He was off by less than 1% of the actual number. He deduced the tilt of the Earth's axis and was off by one degree. Not to be a one-trick-pony, he also invented a simple algorithm for calculating prime numbers.

Despite the fire in Alexandria that destroyed the library, these teachings actually lived on and helped to bring us to where we are today. A man named Posidonius lived 150 years after Eratosthenes and he argued that his calculations were too large. This was not unknown to the people of the middle ages. Most scholars of the day held to Eratosthenes' numbers, but Christopher Columbus used Posidonius' research to argue his case for a path to the Indies. The argument of the 1500s was not about the roundness or flatness of the earth. That matter had been settled thousands of years ago. It was a debate over size.

It turns out that almost no credible scholars of the middle ages believed the earth was flat. It is a 19th century modern myth that everyone now believes because that's what they are told to think with no supporting evidence as proof. It was a myth driven by the ideological need of the philosophy of modernity that seeks to pit the correctness and superiority of modern science against the errors of all past belief systems.

The image to the left is a 14th century illustration of Europeans walking on the round earth. The second image in the picture shows men being drawn to the earth by gravity rather than falling off. That's historical evidence folks. In spite of this, our image of them is a total fantasy: the backward establishment pointing to maps with dragons on them and a giant waterfall out past Europe with Christopher the rogue genius claiming something that was so unheard of that he was some kind of crazy radical. This was not the case at all.

The evidence points to a more scientific debate between Columbus and his rivals about the location of east Asia on the globe in terms of degrees based on the debated diameter of the Earth. Everyone at the table knew it was possible in theory. That was not the debate. Some just thought that ship technology would not cover the calculated distances using the numbers proposed over a thousand years ago by Eratosthenes. This historically accurate view means that science and religion can coexist (even cooperate) and we can't have that. It points to smart ancestors and we can't have that either. So... we believe total fiction instead.

(For the record Christopher's calculations were wrong and his critics back in Europe had been right all along because Eratosthenes was far more accurate than Posidonius. Had the Americas not been there to save him, Columbus would have run out of supplies and died... just as his opponents had predicted.)

I quote historians David Linberg and Ronald Numbers: "there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even knew its approximate circumference." How about Jeffery Russell who says that "with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century BC onward believed that the earth was flat."

3rd Centruy BC. So... Christ lived in a time where the educated were so advanced that they knew that they lived on a round earth by pure mathematical calculations, observational physics, and the scientific method.... any of you higher critics or old-earth theologians out there have any thoughts on that? ...nobody?

We were all taught that "middle ages thought the earth was flat" myth in school by our substandard education system. Like dopes we just ate it up and didn't do any study to test what we were told by the powers that be. We took it on blind faith. It is as false as gods living on the mountain of Olympus. Now who is the ignorant savage that is living in a dark age filled with baseless superstition and ideologically motivated errors? hmmm? :)

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