Cat. 1: Christianity and the Dark Side/Article:15
Lucius Lactantius
Many Were Convinced That
The Earth Was Flat
  As early as the 3rd and 4th centuries well-known writers and churchmen – not all the most educated of men – are quoted as believing in a flat-earth concept. 

  Lucius Lactantius (245-325), an early Christian author and religious advisor to Constantine the Great, is quoted by the English writer and philosopher, William Whewell, as openly mocking those who believed in a spherical world. 
  The early 4th Century writer (pictured top) was in turn criticised by Copernicus in ‘Di Revolutionibus,’ a major work published in 1543.   Notably he referred to him as speaking “quite childishly about the Earth's shape, when he mocks those who declared that the Earth has the form of a globe.”

Augustine's Conflicting Viewpoints

   While Bishop Augustine of Hippo knew the Earth was spherical and commented on it in the correct circles, publicly he peddled a flat-earth doctrine to keep the masses ignorant and in fear of Hell.
  Seventeenth Century French dramatist and duellist, Cyrano de Bergerac, quoted Augustine as stating that “the earth was as flat as a stove lid and that it floated on water like half of a sliced orange.” However, writing for the upper classes, the cleric claimed otherwise in his work, ‘De Civitate Dei.'
  He wrote:“… although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled.”  (The peasantry could not read and write in those times, while those who could were denied access to such literature). (Continue ... ) Go Back

William Whewell
The Fourth Century writer Lucius Lactantius (above) and his critics Copernicus (below) and British writer William Whewell (bottom)
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