Gordon Clark on the Flat Earth

“The practical mind that loves facts and distrusts theory should acquire some patience and pause a while over the theory of facts. There may at first be reluctance to face the question, What is fact? Yet, if facts are unyielding absolutes, it ought not to prove too difficult to show what a fact is. Let us try.

Is it a fact that the Earth is round? In the Middle Ages the common people thought it was flat. Since then, evidence has accumulated (considerable evidence was known to astronomers during the Middle Ages) and has been disseminated, until today everyone takes it as a fact that the Earth is round. But strictly, is it the Earth’s roundness that is a fact, or is it the items of evidence that are facts on which the conclusion of the Earth’s roundness rests? For example, the shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse has a round edge: Perhaps this is a fact, and the roundness of the Earth is a theory. Of course, it is not a fact that the Earth is a sphere: it is flattened at the poles. But if it is not a fact that the Earth is perfectly round (spherical), what is the fact? Is it a fact that the Earth is an oblate spheroid? But this term embraces a variety of forms and proportions. Which form exactly is the absolute unchangeable fact? -though science does not pride itself on sticking to facts such as this.

Above, it was said that the shadow of the Earth in a lunar eclipse is a fact-on which the roundness of the Earth is erected as a theory. But is even the shadow a fact? Is it not rather the fact that a certain darkness on the Moon has around edge, and is it not a theory that this darkness is the shadow of the Earth?

This type of analysis seems to lead to the conclusion that all, or at least many, alleged facts are theories developed out of simpler items of perception. The problem naturally a rises whether there is any fact that is not a theory. Is there anything seen directly as what it is? No doubt many people in Atlantic City on a fine summer’s day have seen an airplane high in the air pursuing an even course; and as they have watched the plane so high and so small, it has flapped its wings and dived to get a fish. Was it a fact that it was an airplane, or was this a theory about a small object in the sky? What is a fact?”

http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=19

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5 thoughts on “Gordon Clark on the Flat Earth”

  1. In your video about scientific skepticism you say that scientific “truths” have a 1in million possibility of being true. I wanted to know does the also apply to the existence of God -if not why.

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  2. how does taking the bible as an axiom avoid the 1 / infinity problem ? don’t you have to make an inference from all infinite possibilities as to which axiom you take? (forgive me if this sounds amateurish)

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    1. “how does taking the bible as an axiom avoid the 1 / infinity problem ?”

      >>>It is a totally different statement. A postulate and a hypothesis are not the same thing.

      “don’t you have to make an inference from all infinite possibilities as to which axiom you take? (forgive me if this sounds amateurish)”

      >>>I fear you are not understanding what a postulate is.

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    2. After chewing on your question for a minute I would also deny that there are infinite worldviews. I will wait for your argument to prove that there are an infinite number of worldviews because there are an infinite number of decimals after a measurement. Or that there are an infinite number of cosmological models that can be deduced from given observations.

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