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Role of Religion in Determining the Earth's Shape

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Role of Religion in Determining the Earth's Shape

The Greek geographers of the later Roman period developed

systematic calculations for the mapping and shaping of the earth. However,

what would come to replace these systematic calculations? Why were the

ideologies of a flat earth accepted and why were those of a spherical

earth ridiculed? The answer to this question is very simple and can be

answered by one clear and concise word: Religion.

"Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of

the nations and countries that are round about her." (Ezekiel 5:5)

This verse from the of book Ezekiel simply states that the city of

Jerusalem should be in the center of all maps created. This eliminated the

need for any latitude or longitude. Before hand, there had been more than

six hundred maps created, not one having this holy city as the center.

There was nothing new about putting "the most sacred place at the center"

says Boorstin. The Hindus placed Mount Meru, a mythological 70,000 foot

high mountain at the center of their map. In the Muslim faith, the Ka'bah

in Mecca was the highest point on earth and the polestar showed the city

of Mecca to be opposite the center of the sky. As one can clearly see,

many maps, had different centers. Each map had a different center, each

based on a different religion.

Many years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Greeks theorized

that the earth was a globe. But after that, there was a period in history

called "The Great Interruption." This period was categorized by a complete

silence where people in general, forgot about the issue of whether the

earth was flat or whether it was a globe. Another reason that brought the

theories of a globular world to rest was because the priests told the

general public that the earth was flat. Priests such as St. Augustine and

others invented the Antipode theory, which stated that a world shaped like

a globe is impossible because objects would be hanging downwards and

growing backwards. Once again, religion played a major part in this

argument that would rage on for many years to come.

To conclude, much like the theories of the priests in the first

400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, who said that Jerusalem was the

center of a flat earth, one might be able to relate this period in time to

a much more recent and modern one. Prior to the French Revolution in 1789,
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