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Is the Earth Flat, Hollow or even Inside Out?

©06 The Media Desk

"The facts are simple, the earth is flat."
Mr. C. Johnson see below

[NOTE: This article is part of the Desk's Mystery Series. The Desk means no undue disrespect to those that adhere to the beliefs or their organizations. Far from being an exhaustive thesis on the subject, this article continues the series of overviews and briefs on the various subjects. In that light- Enjoy ]
[See note about sources and links below- Thank you]

In Brief. Those that believe in the-
      Flat Earth hold to exactly what it says. Those that adhere to the belief of a flat Earth state and have some observational and Scriptural (and Quran-ic) verses to back up their point of view. They also claim their ideas are supported by Medieval writings and the Church, and to a limited extent, they are.
      Hollow Earth people say there is more to our planet than meets the eye. The driving force here is as much from the Science Fiction realm as it is anything else. Jules Verne and many others have written extensively on life under the Earth. This idea was partially formed by the Antipodes of the classical Flat Earth teachings of the Church and others. At least one group will take you to tour the Kingdom Inside the Earth through a hole in the North Pole- for a price. Others claim that the hole in the Arctic is an access point for a UFO base inside the planet.
      Inside Out Earth: The belief is that the world is indeed round, but what we see as the surface of the Earth is actually on the Inside of the Universal Sphere with the stars and planets over our heads extending to the middle of the orb of heaven. And there is NOTHING outside the sphere which is somewhere on the order of twenty thousand miles in diameter.

      Most people have at least heard of the unique and interesting group that 'seriously' propounds the idea that the world is flat. The Flat Earth Society has been the punch line in jokes or the poster child for almost hopeless causes for years.
      The Society's use of everything from a very narrow reading of a few select Bible versus and even the flag of the United Nations as evidence is as good a place to start our World View Tour as any so.....

The World Isn't Round...

      It is something everybody has known, or at least thinks they know, since Magellan and crew circumnavigated the globe in 1520.
      But the history of the Earth as more or less a sphere goes back much further than that.
      Eratosthenes in ancient Egypt did his thing with his shadows at high noon and calculated the curvature of the planet to within an amazingly small error percentage for the Third Century BC. In about the year 50 AD in Rome Caius Plinius Secundus (aka Pliny the Elder) wrote extensively on the shape of the Earth, but without a clear understanding of the nature of gravity he assumed that the people on the 'antipodes', the opposite side of the earth, would live upside down, walking on their hands or something.
      A few of the Church Fathers wrote and spoke passionately on the subject, mostly defending the idea of a flat Earth as being the only doctorinely correct view given they were expounding a literal and very narrow interpretation of several Biblical passages. One of these writers was Lactantius from Africa who lived from about 245 to 325 AD. Lactantius dismissed the idea of a round Earth to eliminate the problem with the ancestry of any people living in the Antipodes.
      Another classical Church writer Cosmas Indicopleustes (about 500 AD) declared the world a flat rectangle surrounded by an impassable ocean under an arched ceiling that made up heaven and Heaven, including the idea that the stars were carried by angels flying through the firmament. The majority of the ranking hierarchy of the Church ignored or dismissed his assertions and all but excommunicated him. But later writers inside and outside of the Church took his statements as official teachings and passed it on for nearly a thousand years.
      It is worth noting here that the Church did little if anything to correct the misunderstanding until after that little stink with Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1742) in the Seventeenth Century when the official teaching that the Earth was the center of the Universe was officially questioned. It is reasonable to assume that the Church's Official Earth at the Center of the Universe was a flat rectangle surrounded by an ocean. The astronomer died under house arrest after having spent a few years writing some of his most influential works that are still used as reference books today.
      The Church 'rehabilitated' Galileo a hundred years after his death and accepted his position and the scientific evidence associated with it. Pope John Paul II apologized for the entire mess in 1992.

      From the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages the idea that the Earth was indeed round was accepted by most artists and academics, although the idea of the Antipodes and their mysterious inhabitants remained an article of contention in some circles. Other views, as with the classical round maps with three regions of land (Asia, Europe, Africa) separated by the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by a large round area of the Ocean, and variations thereof in what are called 'T & O maps', seemed to indicate that much of the public either didn't care or didn't think about it.
      Of the artwork going back to Egypt and other ancient cultures through the Dark and Middle Ages there would seem to be about an even split in whether the Earth was shown as flat or round depending on the needs of the scene. As with modern artistic license, if the artist showed a local scene the world was flat, if they were indicating the vast expanse of the entire planet, it was often a globe or sphere. Royal accouterments often included a sphere with a royal seal on it indicating that the crowned head holding it 'Ruled the World', whether they did or not was irrelevant.

      Western Science has been more or less comfortable with the idea that the Earth is indeed a Globe since around the year 1000 AD (CE) regardless of the official position of the Roman Catholic Church which eventually came around and joined everybody else.
      Various models of the Universe showed the Earth at the center of the universe, then the revised idea that the Sun was the center, then the concept that perhaps the Universe HAS no center advanced from there. But always the Earth was a ball in the models. As was the moon, sun and indeed the Cosmos as a whole.

      The Flat Earth Society states that they are at war against the five hundred years of misinformation which they claim was started by Grigori Efimovich whom they claim is really Christopher Columbus. Grigori appears to be the Mad Monk- Rasputin of Russia, and that, indeed, the world itself is flat, centered at the North Pole (the map on the flag of the United Nations), with nothing at all beyond.

[NOTE: While Grigori Efimovich Rasputin was indeed an interesting character he was born 250 years after Columbus died. There is no evidence that Columbus ever used the name Efimovich while in Spain or anywhere else, even though there is open speculation that instead of an Italian named Cristoforo Colombo the sailor was actually a Portuguese Jew named Zarco, which isn't Russian in any case. end note]

      The Society also never explains how 'hundreds of mirrors and a few burlap sacks' were used to fake Columbus's voyage as they claim in their mission statement. Nor do they propose anything substantial to explain the various features of observed astronomy or the calculations of cosmology and astrophysics.

      And now the question. Are the members, however many there are, of the Flat Earth Society serious about all this? Do they really believe the world is flat and all the rest?
      Well. It depends on exactly who we are talking about.
      Of the Society itself- probably not. Most of them, or at least many of them, are approaching it with their tongue firmly planted in their cheek. A great deal of their material is obviously satirical and some of it is downright funny.
      But there ARE others who are serious about rejecting everything scientific and expound a view based on observation and a few deep conspiracy theories encompassing almost everything this side of the Lincoln Assassination (and even before in some cases).
      Some of these also stand on that absolute literal view of the Bible we mentioned earlier. They dispute anything that smacks of 'evolutionism' and that may even include the formation of the planet itself. While some fringe groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church cult from Kansas never actually claim to cling to Flat Earth Theory, it probably wouldn't surprise anybody familiar with their teachings to hear that they did. However, mainstream denominations and even local churches that claim to have very conservative views of the Scriptures seem to draw the line at claiming the Earth is Flat, even if they privately believe it is.
      However, Scientific Creationism does support and accept the concept of a Spherical Earth and hasn't taken Flat Earth Theory seriously in a very long time.

      It would seem to be a widely accepted fact- the Earth is a large, round, solid rock in space.
      Maybe not so widely accepted after all.

... oh yes it is...

      As was previously stated, the idea that the Earth is as flat seems to be younger than the concept of it being curved, or even round.

      Edmund Halley, of comet fame, seriously and scientifically proposed the idea that the Earth was both round and hollow in 1692. What's more, he also proposed that civilizations may thrive in the interior space. Besides predicting the return of the comet which bears his name Halley also designed a diving bell, investigated the Earth's magnetism, discussed the theory of gravity in relation to planetary motion with Sir Isaac Newton (and eventually paid for the publication of Newton's treatise on the laws of motion) and was a general all around scientist. But of all of his greater works, which later landed him the position of the Royal Astronomer, the one most people would like to forget was his idea about the structure of the Earth.
      Halley's Earth is a series of hollow spheres inside each other like a set of Russian Matryoshka (nesting or stacking) Dolls. A famous portrait of a then elderly astronomer shows him holding a sketch of his hollow planet with ring inside ring.
      Part of the theory of the nested Earths that didn't hold a lot of credibility was the source of light for the interior worlds. Halley stated that the atmosphere itself between the worlds within the world was luminous and it was some of this luminous vapor escaping from within that causes the Northern Lights (the Aurora Borealis), but he never explained what caused the atmosphere within to glow to begin with.

      A later theory (about 1800) put forth by John Cleves Symmes invoked the nested Earths as well, but added the detail that all were open at the top and bottom and a voyage could be made through the Hole in their North Poles to visit the various realms.
      While he never wrote a book that was directly attributed to him, several were inspired by his teachings and produced volumes detailing his idea of what lies beneath our feet. Many also credit his world idea as the inspiration for much of the science fiction tales along this line that come later, including Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

      A monument to Mr. Symmes and his ideas was erected in the park where he is buried. Described as a 'donut on a post' it hardly does justice to the man or his theory. See Symmes Park just outside of Cincinnati. Ohio under Parks and Recreation at

      One thing Halley and the others never addressed was whether or not we are on the 'final surface' of the Earth or are we too on a sphere within a sphere and what we see as the heaven's are simply the atmosphere and space inside another even larger sphere.... inside another sphere... ad infinitum.
      Maybe they were better off NOT pursuing that idea too far.

      The last idea of what Earth really is almost totally excludes the other two views.
      Resembling a natural Dyson Sphere of science fiction fame the postulators of an Earth that is 'painted' on the inside surface of a basketball-type of universe say everybody else's view of the cosmos is wrong.
      Depending on the theory you are reading the Sun is either at the center of the sphere with a huge dark cloud drifting around to cause day and night or our star is very small, in some models only thirty miles across, and is in 'orbit' inside the sphere of the Earth.
      In many ways this view of the Earth mirrors many of the flat earth theories with their 'Vault of Heaven' and the angels carrying the stars around... but without the angels.

      The most famous promoters of the idea that the world is inside out was Dr. Cyrus Teed (later- Cyrus Koresh) who founded a religious cult to expound his ideas. At one time the former physician had about four thousand followers in small churches around the country (although estimates differ as to how serious some of them were about it). He moved his act and his camp, with about 250 of the faithful, to just south of Fort Myers, Florida on the Gulf Coast in the 1890's and declared that the small town of Estero would be the 'New Jerusalem'.
      Newspaper man Ulysses Grant Morrow was of a similar mind as Teed and developed a way to prove which of the competing world views was true after several other disappointing experiments. His final device was a series of enormous frames called a 'rectilineator' which was supposed to be capable of detecting even the slightest curvature to the surface of the Earth. Morrow proposed and Teed sponsored an expedition to a very level section of beach in Florida where Morrow and his crew took all sorts of measurements over the course of several miles. In the end, the Naples Experiment was inconclusive given the complexity of the measurements and the calculations involved.

[Sidenote: Koresh is the Hebrew form of the name Cyrus the Persian King. The most recent use of the name was David Koresh, born Vernon Howell, of the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas.
      There is no record of any kinship between Cyrus Teed (Koresh) and Vernon Howell (David Koresh) other than the fact they were both given to 'slightly unusual' religious ideas.
End note]

      Today Dr. Teed's settlement is a park which was given to the People of Florida by the last four survivors of the Koreshan Unity group in 1961. The park and historic site offers boating, hiking and camping on a large tract of land along the Estero River as well as several of the commune's preserved buildings and artifacts. Koreshan Park, Florida

      And there are still those today that are very serious about the Hollow Earth, and they have plans to have tea with the King of the Inner World as well!
      Steve Currey is better known for guiding rafting trips to remote rivers in the US and abroad. But that's not all he does. Mr. Currey and associates are now booking a trip on a Russian Icebreaker and selling tickets for a trip next year to the opening in the Arctic Ocean where they will sail through it and embark on a sight seeing tour Inside the Earth.
NOTE: Mr. Currey passed away in the summer of 2006. As of late 2006, has taken down Mr. Currey's hollow earth expedition pages. However, the group has reformed and is still planning the trip under other leadership. See links below.
      From their published itinerary in mid-2006:

Days 15 - 16: Take a monorail trip to City of Eden to visit Palace of the King of the Inner World.
      Currey has been planning this for several years, and after a few false starts and postponements it seems he's really going this time. There is also no way to tell how many people have forked out twenty grand for the chance to go with him.
      Is he likely to find the opening to the inner world and pass through so they can keep their date with the King? We'll let their own site answer that:
GUARANTEES: By joining Our Hollow Earth Expedition, expedition members agree that there are NO GUARANTEES that this expedition will reach Inner earth. The expedition will make a good faith effort to locate the North Polar Opening and enter therein, but worst case scenario is that we visit the geographic North Pole, explore the region, and continue on to the New Siberian Islands. At all times the expedition will also be at the mercy of the weather, ice and sea conditions.

      While there is a certain comfort factor in an universe that is self contained, the nagging question about what is 'out there' is simply reversed. Now instead of 'out there' the unknown would be under our feet- how far 'down' would the Earth go?

Final Note:

      One site which is trying to sell their pet theory of the configuration of the Earth has a quote crawling across the top of the page. It's a translated phrase from Hericlitus, an almost forgotten Greek philosopher who lived about 500 BC (just before the Golden Age of Greek Philosophy).

"Unless you expect the unexpected, you'll never find the truth"

      The complete quote is: "Unless you expect the unexpected you will never find truth, for it is hard to discover and hard to attain."

      The quote is from the first known Westerner to develop a complete philosophical view of the world at large and is a fair statement about the entire subject of alternative 'worlds'. He also said the original version of 'you cannot step in the same river twice' as: "Everything flows, nothing stands still."

He also said:

"The fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random."

      We'll leave it at that.

LINKS Outside links will open in new window.

Flat Earth

Hollow Earth
  • The page on Check out their page about the cities too.

  • Another Hollow Earth group
    Their trip page, - has been removed. (2011)

    This is their current trip page: (current July 2011)


    "APEx has decided to conduct a good-faith effort sea-based scientific expedition aboard an icebreaker rated for this voyage to the North Pole to test the hypothesis that the Earth may be hollow."
    from their NPIEE trip page
    But then they took their page down too. (2011)
Inside Out

[NOTE: The Desk is not affiliated with any of the above outside sites or entities. Mention of a particular document, belief, or organization is not to be taken as an endorsement by or of the Desk. No infringement or disrespect is intended or is to be assumed. thank you ]

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