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Month 10:13, Week 2:5 (Chamashee/Teruag), Year:Day 5941:279 AM
2Exodus 4/40
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 31 December 2017
Ultimate Challenge
Questions Flat-Earthers
are Afraid to Answer

    Why I Do This

    Many of my friends wonder why I spend so much time reaching out to flat-earthers and I have already given many reasons in previous articles. The most important one is, of course, that I love them and I hate to see anyone living a delusion and leading others thereby into delusion. Equally important is my care for the unbelieving community whom I want to witness to, especially the scientific community since I, myself, am a scientist (Biochemist & Systems Analyst) as well as a minister. It grieves me to see atheist scientists making excellent scientific videos debunking flat-earthism and then using that emet (truth) to mock flat-earth Christians as primitive fools because the criticism is valid. Flat-earthism simply stokes more prejudice against the Besorah (Gospel) when we, as believers, should be using science as an important tool in enhancing evangelism which it does when used rightly.

    The First Principle: The Freedom to Explore

    The first principle of the Besorah (Gospel) is the freedom to expolore and make personal choices. Yahweh has given mankind that right as a free agent so if:

    • 1. A southsea islander committed to the myths of his ancient culture wants to believe the earth is lying flat on a giant turtle's back; or
    • 2. A New Ager, Hindu or Christian 'Scientist' wants to believe that physical universe is just maya, an illusion or a hologram having no objective reality; or
    • 3. An atheistic Big Bang evolutionist wants to believe that nothing made everything out nothing; or
    • 4. A Moslem wants to believe that the sun sets in a puddle every evening; or
    • 5. A modern flat-earther wants to believe the earth is a pizza-shaped disk with an ice wall around it covered by a fixed dome; or
    • 6. A lunatic wants to believe he is a fried egg sitting on a piece of toast when he's a human sitting on a chair,

    then I, as a libertarian committed to this first principle of free agency, must grant all these people the right to believe what they want, and to do so without trying to force them to believe in another way. BUT if any of these people claim that any of these belief systems are:

    • A. Biblical; or
    • B. Scientific (classically-speaking),

    then I feel duty-bound to vigorously refute such notions, in love, with all the intellectual faculties the Creator has bestowed upon me, and to be granted the freedom to do so.

    The Discipline of Science

    Having stated my approach wearing my philosophical hat, I now substitute it for my scientific hat. What follows is not theology but scientific reason. Science is a discipline with rules and it is that discipline and those rules we shall follow. In my experience, flat-earthers refuse to do proper science and follow any integrated sort of discipline or follow any rules because their sole motive is to defend a pre-conceived doctrine. Find me any flat-earther who started as a round-earther, was 'doing science' according to scientific methodology, and stumbled on conclusive scientific evidence that the earth is flat and not spherical quite by accident, and I will show you someone who has been walking on their feet all their lives and suddenly discovered he had been walking on their hands all along.

    Origins of Flat-Earthism and Calvinism Compared

    This is the thing - no rational scientist, following an integrated scientific method, where all evidence was taken into consideration - has ever, or will ever - become a flat-earthist. All flat-earthers were converted (usually on social media) by believing in a model presented to them by someone else in the same way that all Calvinists were converted to Calvinism, not by reading the Bible alone and letting it speak for itself, but because they heard another Calvinist present a 'doctrine' which they were persuaded chose to embrace. In the path to flat-earth conversion, science is used ad hoc or piecemeal to support the theory of some flat-earther, in the same way the Bible is used by Calvinists to support a pre-existing human doctrine. THOSE WHO DO SCIENCE WITHOUT PRECONCEIVED IDEAS BECOME ROUND-EARTHERS IN THE SAME WAY THAT THOSE WHO DO BIBLICAL THEOLOGY WITHOUT PRECONCEIVED DOCTRINES BECOME ARMINIANS. This behaviour I have consistently noted. (I am not here saying, incidentally, that Calvinists are all flat-earthers - the point is the approach to objective reality).

    What are Flat-Earthers Afraid Of?

    To be a proper scientist you have to be neutral as possible and go where the facts lead you (a reason why evolution is to scientists like flat-earthers to Christians). What, then, is the scientific method which flat-earthers fear so much? We need to answer this thoroughly so that the flat-earther can honestly conclude whether he is being scientific or not in his approach to data about our world and universe. The technology that is all around you has come about because of the application of rigorous scientific methodology.

    The Scientific Method Explained

    The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed 'scientific', a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford Dictionaries Online defines the scientific method as "a method or procedure that has characterised natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses". Experiments are a procedure designed to test hypotheses. Experiments are an important tool of the scientific method.

    The method is a continuous process that begins with observations about the natural world. People are naturally inquisitive, so they often come up with questions about things they see or hear, and they often develop ideas or hypotheses about why things are the way they are. The best hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested in various ways. The strongest tests of hypotheses come from carefully controlled experiments that gather empirical data. Depending on how well additional tests match the predictions, the original hypothesis may require refinement, alteration, expansion or even rejection. If a particular hypothesis becomes very well supported, a general theory may be developed.

    Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, they are frequently the same from one to another. The process of the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments or empirical observations based on those predictions. A hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while seeking answers to the question. The hypothesis might be very specific, or it might be broad. Scientists then test hypotheses by conducting experiments or studies. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, implying that it is possible to identify a possible outcome of an experiment or observation that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested.

    The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from a hypothesis. Experiments can take place anywhere from a college lab to CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

    The scientific method as a cyclic or iterative process

    Flat-Earthers Don't Do Proper Science

    Flat-earthers simply do not do this which is why I am firm in my statement that flat-earthism is not science but a quasi-religion. For the flat-earther who refuses to subject his model(s) to rigorus scientific scrutiny, or to accommodate what is absolutely provable, there is no answer and you are dealing with religious fanaticism. Remember, we are dealing with physical reality here (not religion) that is analysable and that this is why we are not living like cave men today. That is not to say that scientists aren't assisted by inspiration, for many undoubtedly are, but the important thing is that their findings can be testable.

    Kerkulé, Benzene and Inspiration

    Thus the German organic chemist, Friedrich August Kekulé, who discovered the structure of the cyclical benzene molecule (C6H6), did so as the result of having a dream in which a snake was swallowing its own tail, all previous attempts at trying to arrive at a structural formula having failed. However, following his moment of inspiration, scientists have been able to subsequently verify the cyclical nature of this compound by the scientific method. My point here is this: if you are claiming revelation for a physical arrangement like the earth, be it through your fallible understanding of the Bible or through a prophetic dream (for example), because it's a physical phenomenon, it can - and must - be tested using the scientific method. The fact that a physical object like the earth is believed by you to be flat does not excuse you from subjecting your claim to proper scientific scrutiny. The earth and heavenly bodies can be studied and measured accurately, unlike 'evolution' or 'creation' which cannot be subjected to the classical scientific method even if 'best-fit' models can be postulated to see how well the evidence fits.

    Erik Dubay's Pseudo-Science

    If you are a flat-earther reading this and agree with me so far, then I can help you, because you are a rationally-orientated man or woman. Moreover, we can both subject each other's models to the test and so have a level playing field. True science does not 'take sides' because it has no ax to grind - it simply presents cold evidence. We can either accept reality or reject it. That is what this exercise is all about. Nothing more. If all you're going to do (for example) is wave Eric Dubay's video, 200 Proofs Earth is Not a Sphere around, then we're not going to get very far because this is not a proper scientific study based on the scientific method but simply cherry-picked, disorganised, unintegrated, ad hoc pseudo-science full of inaccuracies not to mention full of duplications (actually, there are only 20 included concepts, not 200).

    Flat Earthers Could Not Exist Without Heliocentrism

    Nearly all flat-earth claims are based, not on empirical science, but upon claims against round earth, much as atheism consists of claims against theism. Thus virtually all flat-earthism bouces off round-earth ideas: 'If the earth is round, why this? If the earth is round, why that?' seems to be the methodology of flat-earthism. Flat-earthers pose a lot for questions for others but don't like having questions posed to themselves. Do you see the problem here - the inherent bias? If there was no round-earthism there wouldn't be any science because flat-earthism would simply revert to being what it was originally - a religion - until some curious scientists turned up and started challenging the Flat Earth status quo and you'd have the Inquisition all over again.

    Virgin Galactica's Promise of Resolution

    Of course, when Virgin Galactica gets up and running and passengers can book tickets 361,000 feet up can clearly see the curvature of the earth, the debate will be over, save for those ultra-fanatics who will probably claim the passengers were hypnotised, never actually went, or the flat-earthers on board were abduced and brainwashed by the UN. Until then - and even if Virgin Galactica never makes it - we can still do rigorous science and establish, beyond a shade of a doubt, that the earth is an oblate spheroid.

    THE ULTIMATE 11 QUESTION CHALLENGE

    What we are going to do now is ask 11 questions which are thoroughly understood in the round earth, heliocentric model of the solar system, and the current udnerstanding of the current model of physics. These are not complex questions that require a Doctorate to explain and can be answered in a few sentences by the accepted models. To date, no flat-earth proponent has been able to answer these questions because they refuse to, and the reason why they refuse to is perhaps the ultimate question that has to be answered at the end of this essay.

    What Flat-Earthers Must Do to Overthrow Heliocentrism

    Flat-earthers want the flat-earth model to supplant the standard heliocentric globe model but in order to do that they have to do three things:

    • 1. It has to have answers to all the questions that have already been answered by the current heliocentric models;
    • 2. It has to answer them better than the current heliocentric models; and
    • 3. It has to answer questions that the current heliocentric models don't have answers for.

    The following 11 questions have never been answered by flat-earthers, questions that are so fundamental that you cannot ignore them unless you are making a conscious choice to avoid physical reality. And most flat-earthers have never been asked these questions so they have not had to grapple with uncomfortable truths. Answers, when usually given by flat-earthers, tend to deflect away from these questions by addressing peripheral (i.e. non-fundamental) questions (like questions about atmospherics and curvature).

    1. Where is Venus Hiding?

    Q1. Where is Venus right now? On 5-6 June 2002 Venus was observed by thousands of scientists and lay-people transiting (going across the visible side of) the sun over a 15 minute period of time. You can find reports online and contact the many people who verified these observations. According to the current model, Mercury and Venus have orbits within the orbit of the earth around the sun, so periodically they pass between the earth and the sun. Mercury will transit again in 2019 so if you can get a good camera with filters (so as not to burn out the camera) you will be able to observe it yourself. (You can also watch the International Space Station transiting across the sun at certain times).

    So my first question to flat-earthers is this: Where are Mercury and Venus right now?

    2. Explaining Sun- and Moon-Rise

    Q2. Why do the sun and moon rise and set the way they do? Both the sun and the moon trace paths across the sky and then disappear over the horizon, bottom-edge first, then rise top-edge first on the opposite horizon. They do this at different times for different viewers, and those times direcly correlate with the longitude of the viewer on earth.

    So my second question to flat-earthers is this: How does the flat-earth model explain this? Indeed, why does anything vanish over the horizon?

    3. Explaining Daylight Patterns

    Q3. Why does daylight on earth have the pattern that it does? The sun illuminates half of the earth in a very specific pattern. There is a very brightly lit area that drops off quickly leaving an inverted area - the other half - that's very dark. If we flatten the earth out into a rectangle it looks like the image below (it will be inverted at other times depending on the season):

    Noting the illuminated areas and marking them out on a flat-earth model that is often used, we get light projected in a strangely distorted shape. The diagram to the right shows how the flat-earth model would have been illuminated on the summer solstice of 2015 based on all the observational data. More than half of the earth is in daylight in this model (it's the reverse at the winter solstice). You can easily check this out by getting several hundred contacts around the world and asking them whether it's light or day at certain times. The internet makes this very easy indeed.

    So my third question to flat-earthers is this: How does the flat-earth model explain this pattern of daylight and night?

    4. How Do the Flat-Earth Sun and Moon Work?

    Q4. What holds the sun and moon in place and moves them? If the sun and moon are smaller than the earth, as flat-earthers claim, and travel in a pattern above its flat surface, what keeps them from falling to the earth and what moves them in their paths? That's my fourth question to flat-earthers.

    5. Mystery of the Identical Moon Phases

    Q5. Why do you see the same face and phase of the moon no matter where you are on the earth? Here is some basic geometry: if the moon is close to the earth, people at different locations on the earth's surface would see a different view of the moon, seeing both a different face and different phases.

    So my fifth question is: Why do all people around the earth see the same phase of the moon at any one time?

    6. Mystery of the Lunar Eclipse

    Q6. Why does a lunar eclipse happen? How does the earth's shadow go across the face of the moon? And if it isn't the earth's shadow, what is it? That's my sixth question to flat-earthers.

    7. Mystery of the Solar Eclipse

    Q7. How does a solar eclipse happen? All models that I have seen of the flat-earth that have the sun and the moon in them make them the same size and put them on the same plane. How does the moon pass in front of the sun, and so close, without interacting with it? (see diagram in Q4). Why does the shadow of a solar eclipse cover such a small area?

    Area of the USA covered by the solar eclipse of 21 August 2017

    The closer an object gets to a light source, the bigger and more diffuse (less crisp) the projected beam or shadow is. If the light source is very tiny and concentrated in one place (a point source) only a sharp shadow is formed - an umbra. If the light source is broader light from the top of the source causes a lower shadow than that from the top. You therefore get partial shadow or penumbra as well as umbra.

    So my seventh question to flat-earthers is: Why don't solar eclipses cover a much wider area of the earth than they in fact do since the sun is supposedly so much closer?

    8. Why are the Sun and Moon Balls?

    Q8. Why do the sun and moon have spherical shapes? If you don't think they have spherical shapes, then please explain how lunar phases work? (see image in Q5). The standard model of physics requires large gravitational forces to hold the spherical shapes of the sun and moon. What forces keep the sun and moon in their shapes and why do those forces not apply to the earth? That is my eighth question to flat-earthers.

    9. The Physics and Chemistry of a Tiny Sun

    Q9. What powers the sun? What forces are at work to keep it going? The standard model requires a large body of fuel and mass to sustain the reaction that is the sun. To understand how the sun works you need scientific knowledge in fluid mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, special relativity, chemistry, nuclear physics and quantum mechanics.

    We know a great deal about the structure and dimensions of the sun

    There is a complex push-pull of gravity and kinetic forces at work at all times in stars like the sun which have been established to have the same sort of chemistry and nuclear physics at work.

    What we know about the nuclear chemical combusion processes in the sun

    All flat-earth models have a small sun. So my nineth question to flat-earthers is this: What is powering and sustaining that sun and can they explain the chemistry and physics of so small a body?

    10. The Back Side of the Disk

    Q10. Why has nobody gone to the other side of the earth? What natural (not imaginary, conspiratorial) forces are at work to prevent that journey?

    Some flat-earthers believe the sun travels behind the flat earth and is not therefore confined within a dome. They do this to explain why the sun sets at the horizon (see Q2):

    Either way my tenth question to flat-earthers is: What forces are in operation and how do they work?

    11. Let's See a Scientifically Testable Flat-Earth Model

    Q11. Where is the definitive model of the flat-earth system? Is there an accepted model that encompases the size of the earth, and the sizes, positions and paths of the sun and the moon? Without an accepted model, flat-earthers will always have an excuse to dismiss criticism by saying things like, 'That's not a true model - that's just a simplification!'

    So my eleventh and last question to flat-earthers in this essay: What is the most sophisticated model you have?

    Now obviously there are diferent levels of sophistication to these models. The elementary school model of the heliocentric system is just the sun at the centre of concentric circles, each with a planet sitting on it.

    Elementary model of heliocentric solar system

    A more sophisticated level would better represent the scale of the orbits and show that the orbital paths are not circular but that some of them cross one another, and including values of mass and distance.

    A more sophisticated model taking into account orbital distances,
    shapes and the movement of the whole system through space

    Our most sophisticated models have specific moment to moment orbital path data in 3D showing gravitational influences and enough data to predict the pathways of space probes.

    Very sophisticated models plotting space probe travel

    So to repeat one final time to flat-earthers: What, in your opinion, is the most sophisticated model of a flat-earth system and where can I find it?

    Conclusion

    I have been searching, in vain, for some kind of Flat Earth Unified Scientific Theory with accompanying observation to back it up. All I find, for the most part, is poor damage control pseudo-science that answers none of the fundamental questions raised here, and sometimes mysticism is added that takes the whole narrative into the occult. Typical of the mystical mumbo-jumbo that is offered - conjured up no doubt in desperation for lack of any concrete evidence, and against the overwhelming evidence for the heliocentric model of the solar system - is nonsense like postulating an 'invisible moon' to explain lunar eclipses and a secondary 'inner sun' that would only fool the fanatical and impress the illiterate disposed towards science fiction. The 'best Flat Earth 'Science' source I have come across so far is Flat Earth Science.org and that has not impressed me at all - it answers none of the fundamental questions raised here. So I await a Flat earth answer, and especially to Question 11.

    Typical of flat-earth damage-control pseudo-science and mysticism

    For more articles, go to the Flat Earth website

    Comments from Readers

    [1] "Well, you are a good Christian. However, Flat Earthers are a lost cause - focus on those that can influence their friends and relatives without causing family feuds. Some folks will never get it as it disturbs their sense of balance and security, part of our human behaviour" (WL, USA, 1 January 2018)

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