Friday, March 20, 2009

Ancient and Medieval Christian Fundamentalist Geography Explained

Biology education in the United States and elsewhere has been turned into a battleground between evolutionists and Biblical/Qu'ranic creationists. As this battle goes on most may think that Geography is thankfully not involved in it (besides Geomorphology and our brother science Geology). This has not always been the case. The above video, done as a training tool for Christian educators, shows how Geography was once a battleground.

It may seem hard to believe but the existence of antipodes, lands outside the knowledge of Eurasia, was once thought as heretical. How could God create lands and people who never had a chance to hear the Gospel? Great thinkers such as Saint Augustine dismissed any possibility of undiscovered lands. When new lands were discovered, this erroneous thought had unfortunate consequences. A few thought the natives of the New World could not be people because they had no chance of hearing the Gospel. So instead some labeled the natives as Pre-Adamites who were no better than animals and deserving of no special treatment. While groups like the Jesuits worked for humane treatment of the newly colonized people the damage was already done.

The video's second half deals with why Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei's belief of Heliocentrism was so controversial. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches were concerned about Biblical passages that had the stars and sun move or stop and not the Earth. Greek thought about the heavens being perfect and separate from the Earth, viewed as fallen in Christianity, were also critically at stake.

Today the current physical geography of the world is not in question except by a few nuts. Meanwhile geographers can just sit back and watch the biology debate rage on.

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