Who really discovered that the Earth is round?

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someone_else

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I have heard that the ancient Egyptians knew (or at least suspected) that the Earth was a sphere as early as 2600BC, but I can find no evidence to back that claim. Anyone know of any evidence to support that claim?
 
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someone_else

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Funny you should provide that link. That was the same one I was trying to validate. I cannot find anything else, and certainly nothing more concrete, to back that claim. All it says is that people knew it was round back then. But who? And where can I find information on their observations?
 
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someone_else

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Thanks for posting the link but this does not validate that the ancient Egyptians (2600-2550 BC) put forth the first notion that the Earth was round. Everyone know that Pythagoras is credited with making it a popular notion but I want to either validate or debunk the claim that the ancients knew this 2000 years earlier. Sorry if I am being too persistent. I am new here! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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Leovinus

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The second link says that earlier civilizations may have known it, but they didn't write it down. Without anything written down, there is no way to validate that the Egyptians knew it. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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someone_else

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Yeah, that's kind of what I was afraid of. I wish there was some way to prove one way or another. Thanks for your help!!!
 
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Leovinus

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I'm afraid you'll have to invent a time machine. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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someone_else

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I have a creationist trying to convince me that Moses was the first to describe the Earth as round. The most I can find him saying is that the Earth is a circle...vastly different than a sphere of course. But I still wanted to see if there was evidence, either pro or con, to say that someone else said it first.
 
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Leovinus

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Given all the translations the Bible has been through, Moses may well have said the Earth was round. Note that "round" and "spherical" can mean different things depending on how many dimensions you're considering. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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someone_else

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Good point about the difference between round and spherical. But if in fact the Bible has been translated so many times as to possibly change a sentence that is so significant, how is one expected to believe it has any historical or scientific base whatsoever? It is my understanding that the Creationists use the Bible for the proof of everything. I do not see how it can be viewed as anything but a short story collection; it certainly could not be used in the scientific arguments. At least not from what I have seen so far...
 
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Leovinus

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Nevertheless, if the Bible says the Earth is round, even if just a story, you can make the case that it is a documented ancient statement of the idea. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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someone_else

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Except I think the verse actually says something like " the circle of the earth" which is not the same as being round.
 
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heyscottie

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Say what you will about the Bible, but don't make the mistake of dismissing it due to multiple translations. All the best translations are taken directly from the most ancient and widespread texts available. This means that generally speaking, the Bible verses you read are direct translations from the source material.<br /><br />And while I emphatically disagree that the Bible is nothing more than a "short story collection", I just as emphatically agree that it should never be used in scientific arguments or pursuits. Nevertheless, many people seem to fall into that trap.<br /><br />Scott
 
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someone_else

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Scott - I am not attacking the Bible. I am just trying to get to the bottom of a question posed to me by a Creationist. I find it interesting that you both believe in the Bible as truth, but do not incorporate it into your scientific endeavors. Fascinating...is that a policy that is held widely in the Christian church? Don't mean to sound impertinent, just trying to get to the crux of this debate with my friend.
 
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Leovinus

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All I'm saying that if the Bible says the Earth is round, it does not prove anything except the someone had the idea when it that part of the Bible was written. It does not prove that they were able to prove it or that they believed it. Nor can it be used to prove that the Earth is round. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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heyscottie

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I would have to say it depends on the Christian! Strict creationists will tend to look to the Bible as a source of scientific knowledge. Armed with it, they can "disprove" old earth theories, evolution, etc.<br /><br />I would have to say that a very large number of Christians, however, do not look to the Bible for this reason. They (and I) would say that the Bible was never meant to communicate the type of information that the Creationists are trying to pull out of it.<br /><br />In my opinion, the first couple of chapters of Genesis communicate only two very important ideas.<br /><br />1) God created the Earth, the universe, and mankind. Although it gives a method and a timeline for creation, I see no reason to accept the story as literal truth. It was written to be understandable to those who were reading it 4000 years ago. The day 1 through day 7 sequence is not important. What is important is that one God did the work.<br /><br />2) Man turned away from God. It does not matter if there ever was a real place on this planet called Eden or even a real person named Adam. What matters is that man rejected God as the source of life, goodness, etc.<br /><br />I hope this helps!<br /><br />Incidentally, I'm not even sure why it matters to your friend whether Moses came up with the idea that the Earth was round, unless you were trying to argue with him that the Bible is not a good source of science, and he was responding with various examples to try to prove that it is so he could then extrapolate to Creationism from that...
 
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Leovinus

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Knowing that the Earth is round and knowing how to calculate the size (or even caring what the size is) are two different things. I submit that any sea-faring nation would know of the Earth's curvature if they watched a boat slip over the horizon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Leovinus

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I imagine that the Mediterrean Sea can be very calm at times. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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askold

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Other boats are not the only thing you see on the horizon.<br /><br />As you approach a distant island - one with a high peak - you first see the peak, then the base of the island.<br /><br />This is the case in clear or cloudy days (different atmospheric conditons) and under different sea conditions.<br /><br />This must have seemed to be curious to somebody in ancient times.
 
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newtonian

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someone_else - Yes, the Bible does say the earth is round.<br /><br />Isaiah was written c. 732 BCE (in Hebrew):<br /><br />(Isaiah 40:22) "22 There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell,"<br /><br />The Hebrew word translated circle is hhug, and means circle in 2 dimensions and sphere in 3 dimensions.<br /><br />We don't need to rely on translators, btw - we still have the Hebrew text:<br /><br />transliterated:<br /><br />Isaiah 40:22 Hayosheb`al- chuwg ha'arets. Wyoshbeyha kachgabiym. HanowTeh kadoqshamayim. Wayimtachem ka'ohel lashabet. <br /><br />The operative word here is chuwg, or hhug.<br />Earlier, Moses referred to the terminator on earth as a circle, which means earth must be a sphere.<br /><br />Moses wrote the book of Job about 1513 BCE:<br /><br />(Job 26:10) ". . .He has described a circle upon the face of the waters, To where light ends in darkness."<br /><br />Since the terminator moves the only way the terminator can remain a circle is if earth is a sphere.<br /><br /><br /><br />
 
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askold

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stevehw33: I've sailed to Catalina Island from Los Angeles (33 miles) on a 34 foot sail boat. The top of Catalina is about 1500 feet which you can usually see from the deck of the boat. But you can't see the bottom of the island - there's a narrow istmus between the east and west ends of the island and from LA, it looks like two seperate islands. As you get closer, you can see the narrow istmus.<br /><br />
 
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Leovinus

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istmus => isthmus It's from the Greek word "isthmos" <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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