The Flat Earth Convention is taking place this week, and members from all over the globe (see what we did there?) have flown to Birmingham, England, to discuss how and why they still believe that the Earth is flat (see this companion Inquisitr report for more about the convention).
And if you’re wondering how and why people still believe in a Flat Earth in 2018, well, you’re about to find out.
It Started As A Religious Movement
The notion that the Earth is flat, and that the Bible backs it up, goes back to turn-of-the-century Illinois preacher Wilbur Glenn Voliva. Sort of.
There were probably Christians before Voliva who believed in a Flat Earth, but Wilbur was the one who got the ball rolling (see what we did there?) on an international movement. Also, there may very well be other religions, ancient and modern, that proclaim a Flat Earth as part of their dogma. But since the Inquisitr is not a theological journal, we’ll skip that discussion.
Anyway, back to Voliva: back in 1906, Voliva took over the northern Illinois town of Zion, Illinois, and essentially turned it into a miniature, Flat Earth theocracy. Schools in Zion taught that the Earth is flat, preachers without Voliva’s approval were kicked out of town, and so on.
As all fringe religious movements eventually do, Voliva and Zion went the way of the Model T (OK, so Zion is still a city in northern Illinois, but it is no longer a Flat Earth theocracy). But the Flat Earth Movement never really went away.
There’s Still A Religious Component (Somewhat)
Most modern adherents to the Flat Earth Movement hold their beliefs not because of religion, but for other reasons (more on that in the next section of this article). But, there remains a small number of believers who continue to claim that the Bible backs them up.
Flat Earther Philip Stallings, for example, is a Christian who says there’s no room for a globular Earth in his book.
“As a Christian, the flat earth begins and ends with Scripture. While the evidence continues to mount, and has, for the flat earth, I must begin by saying, ‘the Scriptures told you so.'”
And again, as mentioned above, there may yet be some religious people outside of Christianity who hold that their own dogma teaches a Flat Earth – but that is outside the scope of this report.
Nowadays It’s A Conspiracy Theory
While there may be religious people among modern Flat Earth-ers, the new face of the movement is not unlike that of believers in the Illuminati or the Moon Landing Hoax. That is, they’re conspiracy theorists who believe that, for reasons that would take thousands of words to “explain,” world governments are hiding the truth from us.
So, all of those satellite photos of the Earth that have been published since the dawn of the Space Age? Doctored by NASA. GPS? Rigged to make airline pilots think they’re flung in an arc above the Earth when really they’re flying in a straight, flat line.
And like so many conspiracy theories, the Flat Earth Conspiracy has caught some fringe “celebrities” in its net. According to Live Science, rapper B.o.B even wrote a track about it. Similarly, according to People, NBA star Kyrie Irving and whatever-her-claim-to-fame-is Tila Tequila also both believe in a Flat Earth.
So why is the Flat Earth movement a thing again? Call it a combination of the Internet, which gives everyone in the world a voice, plus strict adherence to religious dogma against all reason and sanity, and the ever-growing popularity of conspiracy theories, and you have the perfect mix for a revival of an old idea that’s been considered ridiculous for centuries.