The Square and Stationary Earth
I’ve been really fascinated with this thing lately. (Click the image for a much larger, more legible view). It’s the incarnation of a lot of things I’m thinking about lately– most significantly the propensity of some people to substitute their own facts for those of others that they find somehow inconvenient. As the saying goes, we’re each entitled to our own opinion, but not to our own facts. And this substitution of facts, this manufacturing of reality, is the basis of religious delusion, woo-based alternate medicine, and political dogma. It’s a big problem for our society, especially now that fact-free insanity has encroached on our political process to such a degree (I’m looking at you, Michelle Bachmann).
At any rate, this map was conceived and devised by one Professor Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, South Dakota, who, three and a half centuries after Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, long after intercontinental travel had become routine, came to the conclusion that not only was the Earth more or less flat (and everyone else in the world wrong) but that it was square and completely stationary as well. This is all based on a single source– you guessed it– the Christian bible. In fact, running along the bottom of the map is a whole host of bible verses that support his condemnation of the “globe theory”. (Notice how the spherical earth is only a “theory”, in the same way that evolution is only a “theory”).
One of the most interesting things about this model is his conception of solar and lunar motion. Apparently the North Pole is literally a giant pole, with the North Star on top, holding up two curved spars, thousands of miles long, on the ends of which are perched two lamps, one of which is the golden sun and the other of which is the silver moon (if you’re thinking this sounds a lot like Tolkien’s Silmarillion, you’re not far off).
The placement of the two lights, and the fact that his Earth is not really flat, but shaped like a roulette wheel, apparently explains how the sun is overhead at the Equator and nearer the horizon in the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. But of course it doesn’t begin to explain the seasonal variation in day length because of the Earth’s annual wobble. Oops. Not to mention that in Orlando-world, there would be no horizon at all in the Southern Hemisphere…
But of course if we were looking for logical consistency we wouldn’t even have to look that far. How is it that all the water doesn’t just slide down to the Equator? Why is it that the “Four Corners of the Earth” are all in Antarctica? We could go on, but that’s beside the point. The bible is full of all kinds of contradictory, wrong, and nonsensical information about the nature of the Earth and the good Professor has done a marvelous job reconciling it all into a single model that fits neatly into a poster. Surely this a great accomplishment from an Evangelical perspective.
And then there’s this:
Send 25 Cents to the Author, Prof. Orlando Ferguson, for a book explaining this Square and Stationary Earth. It Knocks the Globe Theory Clean Out. It will Teach You How to Foretell Eclipses. It is Worth Its Weight in Gold
Unfortunately no copies of the book seem to have survived. It certainly would have been worth its weight in comic gold. The sad thing about it, however, is that the Christian Creationist tripe being fed to so many millions of young people in this country, in 2011, is every bit as laughable. Every bit. But most of our Presidential candidates are forced to at least pretend fealty to it, and State School Boards of Education across the country are being infiltrated by a lunatic fringe intent on peddling the same nonsense to all of us, whether we like it or not.
You can read more about Professor Ferguson here on The History Blog.