The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The media frequently relate the theory of a flat Earth to “fundamentalist Christianity”. Scientists Antoine Bret and Antonio Cruz explain the lack of credibility of a theory that has no scientific or theological support.
Could the earth be flat like a pizza?
Despite going against scientific observations, the theory of a flat Earth has managed to gain followers in recent years.
An example of this was the conference recently held in Denver, in which around 650 ‘flat earthers’ gathered to talk about these issues.
The Guardian published a report about it, and it reached the media in Spain, which immediately related the conference to “biblical fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist Christians”, and even said that this belief would be sustained by the evangelical faith.
However, the reality is that the support in churches to this type of theories is negligible.
Antonio Cruz, biologist, writer, and lecturer on issues of science and apologetics, explains that the flat Earth theories “are very minority approaches that do not represent the average American believer”.
“If this conference in Denver managed to gather 650 ‘flat earthers’, in a country with more than 300 million inhabitants, this obviously represents a very small proportion”, Antonio Cruz points out.
Additionally, “they are not even represented in the main annual conferences of apologetics that are celebrated in the USA, where Christian creationists of the young Earth, of the old Earth, supporters of Intelligent Design or theistic evolutionists, among others, meet each year”.
“Conspiracy theories always tend to attract people but, of course, they are not representative of the general population. To defend today that the Earth is flat is a nonsense, as well as saying that the sun revolves around the Earth, although some people in our country still believe it”, explains Cruz.
CONSPIRACY ON RISE
How has a theory with so little scientific support managed to gain followers?
The physicist Antoine Bret believes that it is due to two aspects: “The diffusion of ideas that has grown with modern technology, and a rejection of everything that resembles ‘official science’”.
“30 years ago it was very difficult to get in touch with flat Earther theories. Today, they are two clicks away” , Bret says.
“‘Flat earthers’ distrust NASA, the other space agencies of the world, governments, universities; that is, everything that could have, with or without reason, the ‘official seal’” .
Bret believes that the press plays an important role “starting by not promoting this distrust, but promoting a pedagogy in which science can be adequately explained to the general public”.
THE BAD USE OF THE BIBLE
Among those who defend flat Earth theories, there are some who say that the Bible supports this idea.
“The Bible does not say clearly anywhere that the Earth is flat. Rather, terms that can be perfectly translated by roundness or sphericity are used. So everything depends on the quality of the hermeneutics used, and not on the fact that the Bible contains errors”, Antonio Cruz says.
“The ‘Flat earthers’ take to the extreme a simplistic and mistaken hermeneutics”, concludes the biologist.
Antoine Bret also opposes the literalist readings that are applied in other theories, such as young earth or geocentrism. “The problem is not the Bible, but the reading that some people make of it”.
“Unfortunately, these excesses contribute to discredit it, since many non-Christians will think: if the Bible says this, I will not waste my time reading it”. Sixteen centuries ago, Augustine of Hippo commented exactly the same (From Genesis to the Letter, XIX 39).
FAITH AND SCIENCE
Nowadays, the media is quick to label as “fundamentalist” any aspect of Christianity that does not conform to what they consider acceptable.
According to Antoine Bret, evangelicals should review, however, how and why these attacks occur: “Sometimes they will make fun of us because we follow Christ. But, as it is suggested in 1 Peter 4:15, we can also be mocked simply because we deserve it”.
Bret believes that, those in the theological field, should respect the work of scientists more.
Antonio Cruz believes that it is very important to be rigorous both in the scientific field and in dealing with the biblical text, being aware that “misinterpreting texts has always been the main source of heresies and doctrinal aberrations”.