So, there’s this group that holds to and advocates beliefs about the universe that you probably won’t find in any modern science text books. Why is that? Because these particular beliefs really fit much better with how ancient people viewed the world.
“No,” you say. “Surely not! Full grown, educated adults should know better than to try to make modern science support an ancient cosmology.” What about the scientific evidence? What about all the discoveries we’ve made since ancient times? How could they still believe such things with all we now know about the universe?
Well, from what I can gather, they tend to rely pretty heavily on three fallacies to support their view…
- Casting doubt on evidence – There is certainly a lot of evidence against holding to an ancient cosmology (at least in terms of science). So, what do proponents of these ancient beliefs do with this evidence? One of the main ways they deal with it is by trying to cast enough doubt on the validity of the evidence so that people will end up thinking it is perfectly reasonable to disbelieve what science has demonstrated. “Yes, there is evidence X,” they will say. “But, just because evidence X seems to mean our beliefs are false, there are all sorts of reasons that the evidence might not be as convincing as modern science says it is.” You see, the idea isn’t to refute the evidence outright, but just to cause enough doubt to make someone second guess what science teaches.
- Conspiracy theories – Instead of addressing the evidence itself (or even the reasons to disbelieve the evidence), proponents of ancient views of the universe will sometimes just say, “Well, there’s a conspiracy to perpetuate the lies of modern science.” Since sometimes advocates of ancient cosmologies simply can’t refute evidence (which happens quite often), they will instead cry foul play by accusing scientists and governments (or whoever) of having a conspiracy to dupe people into believing the “crazy” claims of modern physics, geography, astrology, etc. Why would these entities engage in such an underhanded scheme? Well… you know… money, and power, and any other ambiguous reason that proponents of ancient cosmologies can think of.
- Shifting the burden of proof – This is sort of the last ditch effort made to argue in favor of unscientific ancient cosmologies. The idea is, “I don’t have to prove that ancient science is valid. Instead, modern science has to prove that it’s not!” And since it is nearly impossible to prove anything beyond any extreme shadow of a doubt, it is almost always a losing effort to accept this burden of proof. This move is entirely based on the idea that the most basic, simple, face-value (and child-like) understanding of the world around us is inherently correct. Therefore, we should always default to a simplistic understanding of the universe unless the intelligentsia can prove (absolutely) that it is not that way. And, like I said, if someone wants to believe a childish and ancient view of things, they will always find some excuse to disbelieve any evidence you present them.
And should a proponent of these terribly unscientific views need some sort of divine validation, there are plenty of proof texts from the Bible at their disposal.
Oh! I just realized that I haven’t mentioned what crazy beliefs these people hold exactly. Well, I’m sure you probably guessed it already, but I’ll just go ahead and say it. They believe that the earth is flat (along with some other crazy ideas – like the north pole is the center of the earth-disk, Antarctica is a wall that protects us from the unknown beyond, and there is no such thing as gravity). If you’re at all curious about these wild and crazy beliefs and how proponents of this view rationalize it, feel free to check out their website.
….. Wait. Who did you think I was talking about?