A critic of the flat earth
Note: From time to time, as many of you know, I post old flat earth articles. The purpose of this are several: it saves this information for posterity, it shows that there were people in the past that believed in the flat earth, that these flat earthers were primarily Christians, and how these the flat earthers of yesteryear handled and responded to critics. Photos, of course, were not in the original article. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this and future articles. Grammar and any spelling errors are as it originally appeared. Richard
FROM THE “LEICESTER DAILY
Letters to the Editor
Continuing in the old publication of Coming Man, there is a letter to the editor of someone who does not believe in gravity. Read the accusation and the response by flat earther – “Zetetes.”
Sir, – There are still a few old-fashioned persons left who profess to believe that the world is flat and that the stars are mere points of light, situated in the heavens solely to illuminate this earth. Probably your correspondent, “Zetetes” is one who entertains these curious ideas. He tries to explode the law of gravitation, than which nothing more certain has been proved to exist. If “Zetes” had ever carefully studied a handbook on the subject I am inclined to think he would not have written the letter on “Modern Astronomy” which appeared in the Daily Post of the 26th inst. Gravitation is no “hypothesis” or assumption. It is an established fact, and its proofs are almost innumerable. Gravitation controls the moon as it revolves around our earth; our earth, as it revolves around its centre of attraction, the sun; our sun as it, in its turn, revolves around some other greater sun. to attempt to prove that gravitation exists in the limited space at my disposal is unnecessary, since explicit proofs are to be found it every work on astronomy. Again, is the account which Moses gives us of the creation of the world to e taken literally? Are we rally to believe that the world was formed in seven days? Might not a “day” in this case be a period of time extending over countless ages? Doubtless it was so. That this globe was millions upon millions of years in its formation, from the time that it was a nebulous mass to the time that God created the first man, is acknowledged by the wisest men of our day, and I fail to see that it is opposed to bible teaching.
Astronomy does not tend to raise man in his own estimation, and make the Creator seem less glorious in the eyes of mankind. The more we learn of this most fascinating science, the more we feel our insignificance and the stupendous greatness and wisdom of the Most High, who ever rules every body which exists in the infinity of space, yet deigns to care for the poorest and meanest of mortal upon this earth – I remain, yours, &c., GERARD WARNE.
Sir, – Your correspondent Gerard Warne has not even attempted to answer my questions. He refers me to handbooks on astronomy for proof of solar gravitation. He thinks I cannot have read one or I should not question the existence of what is called “gravitation.” He is mistaken. It is because I have failed to find any proofs there that I appeal to your readers. It is all assumption. Sir John Herschell says: “We shall take for granted, from the outset, the Copernican system of the world:” and if we turn to Copernicus he admits that his theory of the universe is founded upon hypothesis or assumption rather than actual fact. He says: “IT is not necessary that hypotheses should be true, or even probably: it is sufficient that they lead to results of calculation which agree with calculation…Neither let anyone, so far as hypotheses are concerned, expect anything certain from astronomy, since that science can afford nothing of the kind.
The hypothesis of terrestrial motion was nothing but an hypothesis, valuable only so far as it explained phenomena and not considered with reference to absolute truth or falsehood.” Yet your correspondent says, “Gravitation is no hypothesis or assumption.” I am afraid I must ask him to take his own advice and study some handbook on the subject. However, if the proofs of solar attraction are, as he says, “almost innumerable,” will he kindly give your readers one? One will be sufficient, if a good one; and out of so many there should surely be one suitable for your pages. He says: “Gravitation controls the moon as it revolves around our earth; our earth, as it revolves around its centre of attraction, the sun; our sun, as it, in its turn, revolves around some other and greater sun.” But why does he stop there? Why not say this “greater sun” resolves around “some other and greater sun” still; and this around another larger than that, ans so on ad infinitum, until you get the last sun of the series (pardon my “bull”) large enough to fill the universe, and so stick fast.
This would be the logical outcome of this central gravitating theory; but we will, for argument’s sake, stop with the first three centres give – moon, earth, and sun. my critic says that gravitation compels the moon to go round the earth, and the earth round the sun, and the sun around some sun greater. He does not off this assertion as proof, but simply sets forth the modern and now popular theory. I ask for proof, not now of the whole system, but of its fundamental and underlying assumption – gravitation. The theory is that every atom of matter in the earth acts on every other atom of matter in the heavenly bodies – sun, moon, planets, and starts. I own that I cannot understand how bodies can act at a distance without some connecting medium, an I want to know what the connecting rod, or coupling, is between the sun and the earth for instance, and between atom and atom. How many hands or “bonds” has each atom to enable it to lay hold of and “pull” every other atom in the universe? And how are all these connecting lines or ropes attached? And do they cross and interest each other? Yet this tangled mass “is an established fact” forsooth, and its proofs “almost innumerable!”
But let us briefly view the question from another point presented by our astronomical friend. The moon goes circling around the earth; the earth revolves in a greater orbit around the sung; the sun in a vaster orbit still rushes away with both around some greater, say, Sirius; and Sirius – but no! I have promised to sop there. Well, what, on the above assumption, would be the path of the moon? And how if the moon’s path be not exactly known, would it be possible to calculate her exact position months beforehand? Let me use a homely illustration. Suppose a gentlemen has a dog circling around him at some distance in play; the owner of the dog is on horseback and galloping at a greater distance around some railway track and the train is rushing along and making a loop around the city; what would be the curvilinear path of the dog? Would it always have to run at the same speed? And would it be possible for anyone to predict when and where the dog might be seen in a straight line with horse and engine and city? I do not say this problem would be impossible of calculation, but I do say that to calculate it would be mere child’s play compared with the defining the path of the moon according to the theories of modern astronomy. Yet for thousands of years before these theories were believed or formulated by Newton, astrologers could predict eclipses of the moon with nearly as much precision as astronomers can now.
As I cannot obtain any proof of the theory of solar or stellar gravitation so essential to modern astronomy, I will ask your correspondent to kindly furnish us with some proof that the earth, with all its inhabitants, has the prodigious speed it must have if the popular theory be true? Or to put it more modestly, I will ask him to give us one good proof that the earth has any motion at all. He need not refer me to the text books; they assume terrestrial motion as well as solar attraction down to our School Board primers. I ask for proof; and as I only ask for one proof my request cannot be considered unreasonable. The Psalmist said, “He hath founded the earth upon her bases, that it should not be removed for ever.” And Joshua thought that it was the motion of the sun, not that of the earth which was the cause of the day and night; yet our friend can see no discrepancy between Bible teaching and the theories of the astronomers! I do not expect Mr Warne to say that Joshua was right; but I shall require, at least, something more than assumption before I believe he was wrong. I am old-fashioned enough yet to believe the Bible to be true, and I think I am sufficiently modernised to know the difference between a fact and a hypothesis, between the true science and mere sound, between the teachings of Moses and the theories of Laplace. If, as the latter writer supposed, all matter was originally nebulous, how long was it in this state, and what had gravitation been doing to allow it to get into that lose condition? When did the impulse begin to act, and the taunt atoms begin to pull all together? And if they are all still pulling each other to a common centre, how is it they are so long in arriving at it? And what has prevented them from forming one vast central globe, leaving neither sun, moon stars, nor nebulae to be seen in the surround heavens? These baseless speculations are leading men into doubt and infidelity, and it behoves all faithful Christians to withhold their assent to them, at least until some decent proof can be offered on their behalf. August 28th ZETETES.