When I was a child, we lived in Central Florida not too far from Cape Canaveral. On May 5, 1961 we were all marched out onto the school playground and looked to the east. Then we saw it! A very small, shiny object went up into the sky. It was astronaut Alan B. Shepherd, the first American to go into space. He went up and then splashed down just as planned.
We were part of space program history!
Another really big event was when Americans landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Flat-earthers say it never happened. Along with other moon landing conspiracy theorists, flat-earthers claim that it was a hoax.
Moon Landing Hoax Conspirators
A few years later, I worked a part-time job while attending college in Tennessee and met my first moon landing denier. I ask him where the photos were taken if not on the moon. ‘Copper Hill,’ he said. I could see his point; Copper Hill was an old copper mine nearby and was a very barren landscape. But I was unconvinced.
Flat-earthers represent only a small minority of those who consider the first manned moon landing to be a hoax, so not all the arguments are the same because flat-earthers also reject moon landings for different reasons. Wikipedia has a good article on moon landing hoax conspiracy in general, but we will focus on what flat-earthers believe about the sun, moon, and stars.
The Vault, Dome, or Firmament above the Earth
Both flat-earthers and Young Earth Creationists (YECs) are science deniers and depend heavily on biblical inerrancy. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that flat-earthers tend to be YECs as well.
An important biblical passage that guides flat-earthers is found in Genesis 1:
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it…
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.
According to this passage, the vault separates the rain from the surface water on the earth but it also houses the sun, the moon, and the stars. They are not a great distance away but right there just above us. And they all rotate around a central point over the North Pole.
One of the most surprising beliefs is that the sun is a sphere with a diameter of 32 miles located about 3000 miles above the surface of the flat earth. It rotates around the North Pole. It seems to ascend to noonday and then descend because of the law of perspective.
The moon is also said to be a sphere with a diameter of 32 miles located about 3000 miles above the earth. So the sun and moon are essentially the same size and distance away. What appears to be the phases of the moon are caused by a natural shadow from the sun illuminating half the spherical moon. A New Moon is when the moon is below the sun’s altitude and the moon is dark; a Full Moon is when the moon is above the altitude of the sun and is fully lit.
A Solar Eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, but a Lunar Eclipse happens when an invisible satellite of the sun, about five to ten miles in diameter, passes between the sun and moon.
Stars are thought to be very small objects a few thousand miles above sea level. Sometimes stars are seen to pass in FRONT of the moon.
The planets are also said to reside in the vault of the flat earth—and they are spheres! But this does not suggest that the earth is a sphere because the earth is not a planet. The planets revolve around the sun.
How Flat-Earthers Understand Gravity
You might remember my comment earlier about Australian flat-earthers down under who claimed that they were not hanging from the earth by their feet. This statement shows the flat-earther denial of gravity pulling from the center of a spherical earth. They do believe in gravity. However they believe gravity is created by the constant and stable upward motion of the flat earth.
Two different models are offered to explain this phenomenon. One involves a Universal Accelerator, which sits underneath the Earth and accelerates anything it touches, while the other involves Dark Energy, which accelerates all celestial bodies. It does not appear to me that the same flat-earther would embrace both explanations, but all deny that gravity is produced from the center of a spherical earth.
This is Only an Introduction to Flat Earth Theory
These four articles are a mere introduction to flat earth theory. There are many more issues and much more detail to their views. If you wish to pursue the subject further on your own, you may wish to check these sources:
Flat Earth Fully Explained: video (6 minutes; 34 seconds)