Hate to break it to you, but the Earth IS flat. Now, I’ve said it.
Hate to break it to you even more, but the Earth is round too.
How come, you asked? It’s either flat, or round, make up your mind, Dragos!
It All Depends On The Context
It all depends on how far out you zoom from your current point of view.
If all you can zoom out is just a few dozens of kilometers, the Earth is indeed flat, no question about that. I would say even if you zoom out for a few hundreds of kilometers, like being on top of a really big mountain, the Earth will still be flat.
But should you ascend to 40-50km, something will change: you will start seeing the edges curbing down. The Earth will suddenly cease being flat and it will become round.
Every truth is bound by its context. There is no absolute truth, just the most “adapted to the current context” truth.
For millennia, Earth was ok being flat, sitting on top of a huge tortoise. For that context, it was ok. It didn’t actually create any problems. Even the broader context, like the sun, the moon, the stars, all was decently predictable. Stars and planets ephemeris calculated thousands of years ago are still accurate today. Back then, I remind you, the Earth was flat, planets and stars were gods and we didn’t invent flying yet. In that context, Earth flatness or roundness was simply insignificant.
But things changed. We were able to zoom out more. We were able to enlarge our points of view. We learned that it’s not the Sun circling around the Earth, but the other way around. We learned that if we keep sailing West, eventually we will appear back to the same place, this time coming from East. Suddenly, our predictability of the world was challenged by the assumption that the Earth is flat. It just didn’t click anymore. We needed a different truth. So, we eventually learned that in the new context, with the new information that we acquired, reality was different.
In the initial, minimal context, Earth continues to be flat, that truth is still holding on, but in the broader, enlarged context, Earth can’t be anything more than round.
There’s No Ultimate Truth
It’s just truth that we can infer with the information we have. Accepting this will generate a few surprising consequences:
- you will not deem “stupid” people believing partial truths, because you will (hopefully) understand they are reasoning from a limited place, they didn’t zoom out yet (for reasons that we may not be aware of). For their knowledge, their current truth is enough.
- you will understand your truth is not “complete”, it’s just as “complete” as the total knowledge of your current context. Should that knowledge change, the truth will change too. Just imagine how mind boggling was for those sailors to realize they came back from were they left, without falling down the edge at any point of their journey. Imagine that “a-ha” moment.
- there is always room to zoom out. Even if you are at a point where you feel in balance, where the current reality doesn’t cause any problems, it doesn’t mean “this is it”, and your shit will be predictable for ever. It just means you’re in a simplified context, where all your knowledge clicks, and everything else is insignificant, just like Earth flatness our roundness was insignificant in a minimal context, thousands of years ago. But hey, there are things we’re still not aware of, that will soon be significant, the more we expand our circle of knowledge.
So, be prepared to be outsmarted. It will happen, eventually.
Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay
Initially published on my blog.