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The Earth is Flat. Isn't It?

Updated on September 2, 2015

Flat Earth Society

In ancient times it was believed the world was flat. That’s completely understandable being there was no advanced scientific methods to prove otherwise. However, what if there were still people in today’s modern, technologically enlightened world, who still believed the world was flat. You would think society, in general, would probably label them “crackpots”, would you not?

But, wait a minute! There is an organization that believes just that. It's called the International Flat Earth Society. The Society is an organization promoting the belief the Earth is flat despite scientifically proven fact.

The original Flat Earth Society dates back to the early 1800s, when it was founded by Samuel Birley Rowbotham, an English inventor. Rowbotham’s Flat Earth conceptions were established largely on his interpretation of certain Bible passages.

His system, called Zetetic Astronomy, proposed the earth was “a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth.” Rowbotham and his followers gained publicity by engaging in public debates with leading scientists of the day.

Samuel Shenton

In 1­956, Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society, founded the modern day version of the Flat Earth Society, renaming it the International Flat Earth Society theorizing the Earthwas flat. He founded his belief upon personal common sense and observation. Shenton claimed scientific evidence for a spherical Earth was "dogmatic," meaning scientists had insufficient data to make their claims.

But, that’s not all. They also believe the moon is only 32 miles in diameter with the sun being only slightly larger. Supposedly they both orbit the Earth. In other words the Earth is stationary while the heavenly bodies revolve around it.

Later, Shenton was confronted with pictures taken by satellites. He declared the photos were fakes and part of a conspiracy to hide the truth. Shenton remarked: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."

However it was not until manned spaceflight Shenton attracted widespread publicity, being featured in the New York Times in 1964, when the term "Flat Earther" was coined. The society also believed the Apollo Moon Landings were hoaxes, a position also held by others not aligned with the Flat Earth Society.

Shenton died in 1971 and Charles Johnson took over. Johnson actively promoted the Society and its membership increased to over 3,000. His wife Marjory participated as well, contributing articles to the Flat Earth Society Newsletter. The society began to decline in the 1990s and a fire at the house of Charles K. Johnson destroyed all of records of the Flat Earth Society. Johnson’s wife, who helped manage the database, died shortly thereafter. Johnson led the society until his death on March 19, 2001. Without a leader the society disintegrated and lay in hibernation for a time.

A society newsletter gives some insight into Johnson's thinking:“The International Flat Earth Society is the oldest continuous Society existing on the world today. It began with the Creation of the Creation. First the water...the face of the deep...without form or limits...just Water,” one of articles read. “Then the Land sitting in and on the Water, the Water then as now being flat and level, as is the very Nature of Water. But since most of the World is Water, we say, The World is flat. One thing we know for sure about this world...the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World.”

The Society gets part of its inspiration from the Holy Bible. Specifically 1st Chronicles 16:30. "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable." And also Psalm 93, "Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm."

The Mission Statement of the current Flat Earth Society is to “promote and initiate discussion of Flat Earth theory as well as archive Flat Earth literature.

After several years of inactivity, the Flat Earth Society surfaced again in 2004. It remains active today online at The Society officially reopened to new members on 30th October 2009.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I googled "old world maps" and found several to download. There are stores like office supplies or specialty map stores that may sell them. But you can probably find some stores on the internet

    • profile image

      tre 6 years ago

      hey JY.. maybe you can help me find (if there is one) that layout of the earth being flat on top of this page.. i want to know where can i buy it.. got an idea for it and i need for my place

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I think that's what I said H P LOL! Thank you trndr. You 2 are becoming regular readers. I appreciate it. Please remember to vote up though. Thank you both.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Apparently it looks “Earth is flat”. It is only after- thought and scientific proof, could prove the earth is not flat.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 6 years ago

      One of the things I really appreciate about your hubs is your objectivity. This is an interesting, well written read.