The Earth is round. All the evidence going back thousands of years is undeniable. Despite the myth that it wasn’t until Columbus sailed the ocean blue when it was proven, scientists and philosophers had known this fact since ancient times. In fact, Columbus’ belief in the size of the Earth and not its shape was found to be incorrect when he discovered the New World. It turned out to be much bigger than he had anticipated. And yet in modern times there is a small, but growing, number of people who believe that the Earth is flat. The reasons behind this are much more than simple ignorance or mental disorder.
How much they actually believe their own theories is up for debate. It is hard for the majority of “civilized” people to get their head around why someone would ignore all evidence to the contrary. These are the very questions that drive the movement. They represent more than an uneducated few, but a new vision of the future returning to the simplicity of the past. One that never actually existed, but still a past that was mythologized by the educated that now mock them. They are almost a metaphor for how the world has progressed in science and technology, but regressed in social cohesion to fractured tribalism.
Flat Earth believers are characterized as the stereotypical Christian Evangelical Young Earth Creationist Fundamentalist. A starting point for the belief in a “pancake planet” is the Biblical description of the Earth with a domed sky. However, quick Internet research of those who are part of the group quickly dispels such a narrow categorization. They may use the Bible as evidence, but not always for the same reasons. It can be anywhere from religious devotion to a recognition that it is one of many ancient sources untouched by a modernity that has lost its way. It doesn’t matter if the individual’s politics is left or right. What they all seem to have in common is conspiracy theories about population manipulation by government elites. The flat Earth theory is secondary.
As a hint that “flat Earth” isn’t the real issue, it was interesting to see what one believer said when asked what they thought of a round Earth when given a replica to hold. They started listing all the horrible, destructive, violent, almost monstrous actions of the human race. It wasn’t about the physical shape of the planet at all. What they are trying to do, it seems, is control the narrative of the future for themselves. In a world that has gone completely insane to them, knowing a “fact” that the “sheep” have been “force-fed” by the all powerful governments and elites keeps them separated from the chaos surrounding them. They don’t have only science issues. They have trust issues.
Some polls (if you believe in such things) have indicated that almost half of the U.S. population believes not just in the existence of alien life, but that they have or continue to visit the Earth. A popular series with multiple seasons is based on the idea that ancient people were visited by Extra-terrestrials, while modern society rejected them. There is also a large number of people who believe things like Bigfoot and ghosts despite those who try hard to debunk them. Those who believe in the flat Earth, small in size as they may be, often fall in the same category. They feel there is knowledge about to be discovered that will open the eyes of a sleeping and propagandized population. They distrust modern scientists. They distrust what the government tells them.
All of this could be dismissed as an anomaly in the modern world with no basis in fact or coming from far afield. That is the consensus, but it isn’t the reality. The governments have lied to the people. They have experimented on unsuspecting citizens. They do start and continue unnecessary wars. Scientists are often more concerned with politics than education and discovery. Popular science supporters argue against bad science while propping up transgenderism and the 32 and counting genders. They still insist global climate change (that used to be global cooling, then global warming) exists because of 50 years (among millions of years) of arguable hockey stick computer models where none of the predictions have come true. Elites do look down on the masses as dupes who must be controlled for their own good. God is dead. Life has no meaning. It is enough for a few, and growing, to find the biggest stick an average person can have and use it as a trolling tool of rebellion.
The point of all this, besides the fascination with a small mostly insignificant group, is that governments no longer have moral authority. They may have a huge armed military with legions of in-the-pocket scientists, lawyers, and public relations media giants. What they no longer have is unchallenged control. When feelings and political correctness instead of facts, unless those facts are able to prop up the feelings, are the basis of “truth” then it isn’t surprising others will challenge the very nature of truth. It happened against the traditionalism of the past. It is starting to happen toward the politicism of today. The flat Earth movement is the canary in the coal-mine. Those in power and public opinion makers have distorted the world and the Earth will be made flat.
There are a few things to learn from the misguided flat Earth believers. Religious people have an opportunity to reassert themselves in the public imagination as a challenge to, rather than a part of, the slow disintegration of elite society. They shouldn’t turn to conspiracy level arguments, but they can become a counter culture. Be proud and embrace subversive traditionalism based on ancient moral codes and ideals. Point out the destructive coercion of modernity and point to a better future built on the fight against the control of the powerful. Don’t be afraid. Be unique.