Author Topic: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?  (Read 4930 times)

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Offline Jaynek

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Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
« on: November 27, 2017, 03:58:21 PM »
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  • In another thread, Meg made the astonishing claim that Catholics before the Reformation believed in FE.  Usually, when I see such claims, they are made by enemies of the Church in an attempt to discredit her.  It is simply not true.

    Here is an explanation from James Hannam:

    Quote
    It is not difficult to see how the story of Columbus was adapted so that he became the figure of progress rather than a lucky man who profited from his error. According to Jeffrey Burton Russell here, the invention of the flat Earth myth can be laid at the feet of the nineteenth century writer Washington Irving, who included it in his historical novel on Columbus, and the wider idea that the everyone in the Middle Ages was deluded has been widely accepted ever since.

    The myth that Christians in the Middle Ages thought the world was flat was given a massive boost by Andrew Dickson White's weighty tome The Warfare of Science with Theology published in 1896. This book has become something of a running joke among historians of science and it is dutifully mentioned as a prime example of misinformation in the preface of most modern works on science and religion. The flat Earth is discussed in chapter 2 and one can almost sense White's confusion that hardly any of the sources support his hypothesis that Christians widely believed in it. He finds himself grudgingly admitting that St Clement, Origen, St Ambrose, St Augustine, St Isodore, St Albertus Magnus and St Thomas Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe - in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt. Although an analysis of what White actually says suggests he was aware that the flat Earth was largely a myth, he certainly gives an impression of ignorant Christians suppressing rational knowledge of its real shape.
    Quote
    Anti-clerical history of science writers have promulgated the myth so that even today, in his book , Daniel Boorstin manages to produce a totally misleading account (although he eventually gets Columbus right). His bias shows badly when he castigates Christians for thinking the world was flat when they did not and then praises the erudition of Chinese geographers who actually did believe it. The myth is so prevalent that the blurb on the back cover of the UK version of Umberto Eco's book .  He finds all educated people in the Middle Ages were well aware the Earth was a sphere. Perhaps today we can at last dispense with this patronising belief about people who lived in the past.

    http://jameshannam.com/flatearth.htm

    Let me repeat this bit:  "St Clement, Origen, St Ambrose, St Augustine, St Isodore, St Albertus Magnus and St Thomas Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe - in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt."

    St. Augustine explicitly wrote against spreading this sort of nonsense:

    Quote
    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]
    If one does not object on principle to Wikipedia, they have a decent article on this citing more sources that show that educated Catholics have always believed the earth is a globe.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_flat_Earth
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is

    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #1 on: November 27, 2017, 04:12:02 PM »
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  • In the other thread Meg spoke mockingly of the "distress" and "anxiety" of those who disagree with FE.  We can see, however, that we share the concerns of St. Augustine.  He did not dismiss this as harmless kookery.  He said

    "Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn."

    St. Augustine explains exactly why this is so serious:

    The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? 

    According to St. Augustine, this behaviour can be an obstacle to salvation.  This is no joke.
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is


    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #2 on: November 27, 2017, 04:15:19 PM »
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  • Even if everyone believed in FE for a certain period of time in Church history, that doesn't rise to the level of Magisterium, much less a teaching of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

    Hey, for a long period of time, people also believed that it was permissible for a husband to subject his wife to corporal punishment.    :P

    Offline Neil Obstat

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #3 on: November 27, 2017, 04:18:00 PM »
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  • .
    Once you recognize it for what it is, you don't have any more problem with it. Flat-earthers are simply sucked into the ridiculous nonsense that the Church's enemies have stirred up making false accusations against the facts of history.
    .
    The bottom line is, anyone can see first hand that the earth is a globe just by paying attention to the moon.
    .
    Yesterday as the moon crossed the sky directly overhead it was approaching its first quarter moon phase. Looking at its appearance from high in the sky in the early evening and then from time to time later toward midnight, the illumined side of the moon was clearly facing downward, and since we know that the sun is shining at a right angle to our line of sight to the moon, we can see that the sun is located far away, directly below our feet at 10:00 pm. This is in direct contradiction to the nonsense flat-earth claim that "the sun never sets."
    .
    Our ancestors were not stupid. And trying to impose stupidity on them only to justify being deliberately stupid today is just, well, stupid.
    .
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    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #4 on: November 27, 2017, 04:19:25 PM »
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  • Even if everyone believed in FE for a certain period of time in Church history, that doesn't rise to the level of Magisterium, much less a teaching of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.
    We need not imagine this contrafactual situation.  There was virtually no authoritative teaching, magisterial or otherwise, to suggest that the earth was flat.
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is


    Offline Neil Obstat

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 04:21:51 PM »
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  • Even if everyone believed in FE for a certain period of time in Church history, that doesn't rise to the level of Magisterium, much less a teaching of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

    Hey, for a long period of time, people also believed that it was permissible for a husband to subject his wife to corporal punishment.    :P
    .
    But nobody ever did believe in flat-earthism. It's just a fable, made up to pretend the Church was wrong. They did the same nonsense with the Inquisition. Ancient Romans accused Catholics of being cannibals.
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    Offline Meg

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 04:27:35 PM »
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  • In another thread, Meg made the astonishing claim that Catholics before the Reformation believed in FE.  Usually, when I see such claims, they are made by enemies of the Church in an attempt to discredit her.  It is simply not true.

    Here is an explanation from James Hannam:
    http://jameshannam.com/flatearth.htm

    Let me repeat this bit:  "St Clement, Origen, St Ambrose, St Augustine, St Isodore, St Albertus Magnus and St Thomas Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe - in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt."

    St. Augustine explicitly wrote against spreading this sort of nonsense:
    If one does not object on principle to Wikipedia, they have a decent article on this citing more sources that show that educated Catholics have always believed the earth is a globe.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_flat_Earth

    Where, in that quote from St. Augustine, does it say anything about the flat earth? I'm not seeing it at all. And I'm not going to pay any attention to that Hannom fellow. He's just a lay person, like the rest of us.

    You'll have to provide specific quotes from the Church Fathers in proper context to prove your point about Catholics not believing in a flat earth before the 16th century. I'm talking about what regular every day Catholics believed. The man in the pew.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #7 on: November 27, 2017, 04:31:11 PM »
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  • Great citation from St. Augustine ... but, then, you know what I think of him from the other thread.  I made a few edits ... in brackets.

    Quote
    ...[W]e should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a [Traditional Catholic] and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside [Traditional Catholicism] think [Traditional Catholics] held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, [Traditional Catholics] are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they [hear] a [Traditional Catholic] ... maintaining his foolish opinions about our [faith], how are they going to believe [them] in matters concerning [Traditional Catholicism], when they think their [positions] are full of falsehoods ...? Reckless and incompetent expounders of [Traditional Catholicism, such as those here on CI] bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not [already persuaded of Traditional Catholicism].

    Traditional Catholics are prone too do this kind of thing a lot ... such as when they advocate wife-beating.   :furtive:


    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #8 on: November 27, 2017, 04:32:43 PM »
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  • And so what if some Catholics believed that the earth was flat?  So did many of their non-Catholic contemporaries.

    Offline Meg

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #9 on: November 27, 2017, 04:44:21 PM »
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  • And so what if some Catholics believed that the earth was flat?  So did many of their non-Catholic contemporaries.

    Ultimately, it doesn't matter all that much. Whatever we may believe the shape of the earth to be believe probably won't affect our salvation. I'm not sure that the matter would even have to be brought up, if we still lived in a culture that believed in Christ the King. But our society has long since moved away from any religious context, and that's why the discussion may be important. 




    Offline Meg

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #10 on: November 27, 2017, 04:56:39 PM »
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  • Two of the Church Fathers, regarding the shape of the earth:

    St. John Chrysostom, commentary on Hebrews 8:1:

    "Who are those who say that the heaven is in motion? Where are those who think it is? Where are those who think it is spherical? For both these opinions are here swept away."

    Quoted by Cosmas.
    ----------

    St. Jerome, commentary on Isiah:

    "God [had] established the great mass of the land and had gathered it together above the seas and the rivers, so that the heaviest element [earth] hangs over the lighter weight waters by the will of God, who, like a king sits above the circle of the earth. There are some who assert that this mass is like a point and globe....What, then, will the land be over....?"

    ----------

    Link to quotes here:

    http://flatearthtrads.forumga.net/t60-pertinent-quotes-from-fathers-and-tradition


    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #11 on: November 27, 2017, 05:32:05 PM »
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  • Ultimately, it doesn't matter all that much. Whatever we may believe the shape of the earth to be believe probably won't affect our salvation. I'm not sure that the matter would even have to be brought up, if we still lived in a culture that believed in Christ the King. But our society has long since moved away from any religious context, and that's why the discussion may be important.
    The whole point of that St. Augustine quote is that it matters a great deal.  By destroying the credibility of Christianity, people espousing FE can lead to the loss of salvation.  He is saying that it is disgraceful and dangerous nonsense with eternal consequences.

    This matter does not need to be brought up.  It does nothing to further the reign of Christ the King.  On the contrary, it endangers souls.  
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is

    Offline Meg

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #12 on: November 27, 2017, 05:34:12 PM »
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  • The whole point of that St. Augustine quote is that it matters a great deal.  By destroying the credibility of Christianity, people espousing FE can lead to the loss of salvation.  He is saying that it is disgraceful and dangerous nonsense with eternal consequences.

    This matter does not need to be brought up.  It does nothing to further the reign of Christ the King.  On the contrary, it endangers souls.  

    How does the flat earth destroy credibility? And....St. Augustine doesn't say anything about the concept of the flat earth destroying the credibility of the Church, or Christianity, or salvation.

    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 05:55:10 PM »
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  • Where, in that quote from St. Augustine, does it say anything about the flat earth? I'm not seeing it at all. And I'm not going to pay any attention to that Hannom fellow. He's just a lay person, like the rest of us.

    You'll have to provide specific quotes from the Church Fathers in proper context to prove your point about Catholics not believing in a flat earth before the 16th century. I'm talking about what regular every day Catholics believed. The man in the pew.
    St. Augustine was writing about the danger of going against the accepted science of his day which included the fact that the earth is a globe.  You have no problem accepting information from lay people who say that the earth is flat.  Hannam is a perfectly reasonable source of information.  If there are any errors you should point them out, not dismiss him automatically.

    The regular everyday Catholics of that time were mostly illiterate so they did not leave records of what they thought.  The claim that they believed in a flat earth does not come from evidence but was made up by the Church's enemies.

    By the time St. Thomas wrote the Summa, knowledge that the earth was a globe was so taken for granted that he merely mentions it in passing to illustrate another point:
    Quote
    The physicist proves the earth to be round by one means, the astronomer by another: for the latter proves this by means of mathematics, e.g. by the shapes of eclipses, or something of the sort; while the former proves it by means of physics, e.g. by the movement of heavy bodies towards the center, and so forth.
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is

    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: Did Catholics before the "Reformation" believe in FE?
    « Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 05:59:47 PM »
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  • How does the flat earth destroy credibility? And....St. Augustine doesn't say anything about the concept of the flat earth destroying the credibility of the Church, or Christianity, or salvation.
    You are claiming that the Church teaches something stupid.  It makes the Church look stupid and it makes you look stupid. Then when we want to talk about important things pertaining to salvation, people aren't listening because they have already decided we are stupid.
    Flat earth is exactly the sort of stupid thing that St. Augustine was writing about.
    Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is

     

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