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, France was ruled by an absolute divine right monarchy. The institution that had the most power at the time was the Catholic church. No one in France would ever dare question the word of the Church.
Everything the Church said had to be true and that was that. This is further reinforced by the church’s persecution of Copernicus who later again theorized that the earth was not the center of the solar system. This illustrates that 1000 years later, religion remained the backbone of society, and to a lesser extent, the same still holds true today in certain societies