The crazy logic of Biblical literalists and flat earthers

I am cursed, it seems. This morning in my bath, rather than enjoying pleasant morning thoughts like most people, I lay contemplating the strange logic of Biblical literalists. It occurred to me that flat earthers are mostly Biblical literalists, just like Young Earth Creationists, and left me wondering about two things:

  1. Do Young Earth Creationists also believe the Earth is flat?
  2. How similar is the logic of the two groups?

It didn’t take two seconds to answer the first question. A quick Google of “answers in genesis is the earth flat” led me here, where they explain that the planet is spherical. I love how they manage to convey a veneer of rationalism. It makes everything on that site hilarious. (Update… That article is well written, up to a point. It diverges from reality when it comes to the section explaining how Christianity does not teach the Earth is flat and that this idea is a myth, and then presents some solid arguments for a spherical Earth after that. I suppose they do some “good” apologetics. One must mix real science and facts with the Christian dogma in order to appear rational. However, reading their Bible literally for some things but not others, such as the age of the planet, seems more than a little disingenuous. I find it disturbing that the writer understands science and clearly studied astronomy in some form, but also ignores other science. His writing will surely fool many readers who cannot see the blurred line where facts end and dogma begin.)

Of course, they don’t believe in evolution. They don’t believe in gradual changes over millions of years, but do believe in a god that poofed us into existence as we are now, and do not realize that we are obviously still evolving. They do believe a man could survive for two days in the belly of a giant fish, a worldwide flood, dinosaurs were on the planet at the same time as humans, and all kinds of other crazy things that never happened. But they don’t believe in a flat earth. So even those nutjobs cherry pick what to believe and what not to believe. It honestly baffles me.

But their beliefs that conflict with reality have to be explained. To make sense of them, they must use motivated reasoning, mostly ad hoc reasoning, to explain how it can make sense. In fact, their beliefs create huge problems for their worldview, so this kind of reasoning is required for anyone who holds views that clearly contradict reality. A 6000 year old Earth must mean that dinosaurs were not here 66 million years ago, but shared the planet with us. That means that the fossil record needs to be denied, because it can’t be true to someone who accepts (that part of) their Bible as literal truth. To do that, they invent their own “science” which is all about denying real science and providing ad hoc explanations to explain why reality does not conform to the Biblical mythology they hold as fact.

Similarly, flat earth views lead to a worlview that conflicts with reality. They must invent explanations for why nobody has photographed the edge of the world, and they don’t even believe in satellites. Yet they use technology like GPS (Global positioning system), and cellphones. They must explain how those things work without satellites. Besides the convoluted explanations (Cellphone towers must use some kind of magic?), this of course requires a massive worldwide conspiracy.

So that answers the second question… They do, of course, use similar logic to hang on to their worldviews.

The late, great, Carl Sagan explained how this kind of logic works. Since I don’t have his book, I’m copying this from RationalWiki here.

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle–but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.”

And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

He could have gone on, of course. He could have explained that to know the dragon was there, one must have faith. Of course, the obvious question to that kind of claim, at least from me, is this: If there is no way to detect the dragon (or the god), how do you know it’s there? To which he would probably respond that it revealed itself to him. Sound familiar? You can’t ever win in an argument with this kind of logic that makes the claim unfalsifiable, but you can see through it and know that it is not valid.


Edit: Any relation between this post and the comment on my recent post about mind control is no coincidence. When I mocked the idea of mind control, the commenter who believes in conspiracies involving it was quick to move the goalposts, using motivated reasoning to redefine what mind control is such that it includes the effects of advertising and propaganda, and then went on non sequitur style to assert that chemtrails are real. Similarly to today’s topic, there is no way of reasoning with conspiracy theorists, because they use similar crazy “logic” to hold on to beliefs that contradict reality.

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Don’t be fooled by this hoaxed image. This dog is FLAT!

I’ve seen this floating around on Facebook, so I had to point this out to those who are so easily taken in…

Shake up, weeple! Don’t be fooled. Clearly this image was taken with a cateye lens!

RoundDoggo

I’ve shared this especially because of that guy who took offense when I (quite rightly) called flat earthers “morons”. By his logic, this conclusion makes perfect sense… Remember fuckaroos, reality is perceptually subjective; therefore dogs are flat! (Non sequitur borrowed and conclusion changed without permission, but the logic is identical.)

Edit: I refer above to the logic of this comment.

Somebody ought to teach these Flat Earth morons about Occam’s Razor…

This is hilarious. I’m copying and pasting the meme and quoted text from this Facebook photo

ThesePeopleAreMorons

Generally, those who ask before researching raise questions based on ignorance of the true Earth model. This image illustrates one of these questions.

No, flying straight will not make anyone end up “in space”, first of all because space doesn’t exist. In addition to the ice circle (known as Antarctica), there are boundaries of the Firmament which are the side walls of the dome. The center of the plane is north, following clockwise direction is west and following counterclockwise direction is east. No planes have any routes that go beyond Antarctica where they could run the risk of hitting the dome. All plane routes are within the dome. If a plane “flies straight” it will follow a compass that will just make it follow clockwise or counterclockwise above the plane and inside the dome.

Now, if we had actually been living on a ball in a vacuum, a plane flying straight would indeed go off into “space”… but it’s good thing that there are magical forces like “gravity” to bail out space-fiction fans and keep their planes going upside-down around a ball. Logic? Forget it. There are theories that explain it away!

Their “logic” is insane. Space doesn’t exist. Satellites aren’t real. Instead we have a dome and a ring of ice around a flat planet.

My comment to them (and I don’t care to read their reply) was this:

So how do satellites, and thus GPS technology, work? Magic? Like Uber has a secret contract with Jesus and he powers their maps?

You realize if you believe this crap, it excludes you from a whole bunch of normal jobs that intelligent people do.

But even if we pretend the problems of satellites and GPS technology don’t exist, and accept that GPS should have been called JPS for Jesus Positioning System, and actually read what they’re claiming, they still have problems… According to their logic, the Earth looks flat; therefore it is flat. (That’s what it comes down to really. That’s what the Flat Earth belief system is about, until you involve religion.) But, and try to get your head around this strange bit of nonsense that’s so contrived and complex it violates the very premise (simplistic thinking) of their belief… when you fly a plane dead straight, you actually go around in circles.

And that’s where Occam’s Razor comes in. The simpler explanation for something is generally correct. In this case, in order for their logic to make sense, they redefine flying straight to mean to fly around in circles. That’s right, without angling the plane, but by flying dead straight, somehow you end up going round and round in a circle, sideways. This redefinition is necessary because otherwise they’d have to explain why nobody flies into the magic dome. If your logic includes making shit up to explain why things don’t work the way you’d like them to work, well, I don’t need to elaborate, do I?

Also, for no planes to follow routes that involve crashing into their imaginary dome, AKA firmament, there needs to be an enormous conspiracy, and a whole bunch of people working for air traffic control need to be colluding to hide the “truth” of the flat Earth. Not to mention everybody who understands how GPS – Global Positioning System – works.

I’ve read that people who believe in conspiracies are actually intelligent, and believing conspiracies makes them feel safer somehow – safer because there are people out there in control. It’s not all chaos. But I struggle to accept that anybody who believes the earth is flat can be intelligent in any way. They can’t be.

The world is not flat, and nobody needs to say that.

Even in this day and age, there are still people who believe the world is flat. To say that such a person is not the brightest crayon in the box, is an understatement. Their box is empty! Empty vessels make the most sound, and the internet is their echo chamber for this flat Earth madness.

These people, who don’t accept gravity and don’t believe in satellites, read and write on the world wide web, often connecting and sharing their locations via GPS technology on their smartphones. GPS – Global Positioning System. Let that sink in.

GPS isn’t the only navigation system that requires knowledge that the planet is not a fucking disk, but I figured it’s a good example to use, since it depends on connecting to satellites that convey coordinates (geolocation) and time data, which allows us to position ourselves, or navigate to, anywhere on the planet. To deny the existence of satellites while using technology that depends on them is, well… fucking stupid. There is no polite way to phrase it. A flat Earth, despite such technology working (and let’s pretend that satellite TV doesn’t exist, OK) would mean that every engineer, every university and college lecturer, every student, was in on the conspiracy. There’d have to be some other explanation for why such technology works, and millions of people would have to be involved, motivated for reasons that I cannot imagine, to hide the truth and perpetuate the hoax of a spherical planet. To think this, you must be mind-bogglingly stupid, and are implicitly unable to work in any one of many fields that requires understanding some pretty basic concepts.

They call us normal people globe heads. Well, even when I smoked meth for nine years out of a globe, I didn’t believe that the planet was a fucking disk. It’s difficult for me to imagine how anyone could think this.

I was going to go on, and explain how they hang on to dogma written thousands of years ago, and compare their beliefs to that of religions in general, but I won’t go there today. Suffice to say, if you are a flat earther, this post was not written to convince you of the truth; it was written to call you an idiot.