Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Did China Discover America First?

The Chinese have been claiming for some time (and on certain friends' blog sites) that they discovered America back in 1418, during the Ming Dynasty, more than 70 years before Columbus. Now they say they have a map that helps back up the claim.



The map in question was actually made in 1763, during the Qing Dynasty, but it is said to be a copy of a Ming original. If it is authentic, the level of detail is remarkable. It does have some errors; California is represented as an island, and Australia is small and a bit misplaced. However, the fact that the Chinese knew all of the continents and understood the concept of a round Earth decades before Europe got over their flat-Earth hangup boggles the mind.

So...is it real, or is it like one of those low-cost DVDs?

Correction: After an extremely drawn-out and rather convoluted debate, one anonymous poster finally provided a weblink that could have ended it all at the start. It turns out that the flat Earth comment was mistaken, as the whole flat Earth business was likely a myth started in the 19th century. We regret the error. (In fact, we regret that whole debate even took place for reasons to be discussed later.)

57 comments:

Pa've said...

Certainly coudl be real. Lets look at the facts, or rather, the lack of facts. Most of history has really only been recorded since the invention of the printing press. Until then, if there was a document, it was only copied if someone else had an interest in it, and at great expense of time and labor.


snjiu

Sneezing in Chinese...

Goemagog said...

No. Chinese ships were known to have wrecked along the pacific coast, but the story of the map is that one famous chinese explorer gathered all of the information on it firsthand. there may be remnants of an original map in there, but it's been heavily augmented since that time.

And most people in europe knew the world was round before columbus, the greeks even managed a fairly accurate measurement of it's size.

Goe, meh.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Hmm...if the Greeks knew that, what made the Romans and their progeny forget it?

Oops, I forgot: THE R-WORD!!!!

DewKid said...

Rogelstad?

Vulgarius said...

Thats R-r-r-r-r-r-o-g-g-g-lsta-a-a-ad!

ezooula- The virtual Missoula!

Vulgarius said...

I'm certain that it was them! Their kids left their primitive glass beach balls laying all over the beach.

Goemagog said...

They didn't forget. Most people knew the world was round, but thought it too far around to sail without running out of supplies and starving to death en route. Columbus tried it because he thought the world was smaller than everyone else believed.

Goe, knower of things.

Pa've said...

GO GO GOE!

The Moody Minstrel said...

I thought it was common knowledge that everyone thought Columbus was a total moron and few sailors were willing to sail with him because they thought, if they went too far, they'd fall off the edge of the Earth.

The Catholic Church even insisted that Biblical doctrine proved the world was flat.

Anonymous said...

Goe, confuser of history

Goemagog said...

Most science approved of by the Catholic Church at the time was not based on the bible, but based on Greek Philosphy. Columbus went off of information by someone who re-did the math, and did it poorly. The belief that his crew thought the world was flat is a myth made popular by Washington Irving (read Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History, it's chock full of info and sources).

Goe, cause 'biblical science' is new.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I suppose you're going to tell me next that the church didn't really believe in an Earth-centered universe, or that they never thought Copernicus and Galileo wrong to the point of heresy.

I dunno...basing your entire view of reality on one book seems dangerous to me.

Anonymous said...

Goe, away.

Goemagog said...

They did believe in an earth centered universe, but that had far more to do with their science being based on the greeks than the bible. Early scientists were punished for contradicting the church's science, not for contradicting anything the bible said. The church was just as touchy about people questioning it's science as they were about people questioning the bible, both infringed on the church's self-declared authority as conveyers of truth and wisdom.

Goe, not anonymously going away.

Anonymous said...

hi there
u got a really nive blog. ill definitely read this regularly. u can see mine at here

Vulgarius said...

If I read Gallileo correctly, (a collection of his manuscripts) this is how Gallileo described it. You are absolutely correct Goe! Yes much of what was "doctrine" was Greek Philosophy and very well respected. In fact Gallileo had recieved several grants from the Pope. Who found his work quite interesting. He did however have enemies. Even fellow "Copernicans". Seems like doctrine was secondary to grant and power preserving politics.

Curious... Were the other Copernicans Inquisiated?

Vulgarius said...

Well have a good weekend all. I only have a few left here in Oregon.

Pa've said...

Some anonymous poster just might be surprised at Goe's level of book smarts.

Pandabonium said...

I confess. Some friends and I made that map as hoax when we were in college. We never thought it would come to this.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I'm aware that "science" in that era was mainly based on the Greeks. However, I hear modern fundamentalists almost trying to justify the "Earth-centered" view by pointing out that the Creation story mentions the Earth (or at least "the deep" on the "formless" Earth) being created before light came about...and was then separated from dark. That would mean the Earth existed before the sun.

Islam describes the same story a little differently, but I won't bother getting into that.

Don Snabulus said...

The guy I was sharing some whale blubber with in his igloo the other day laughed and laughed when I told him about this debate.


V - Pls send me a private e-mail letting me know what is happening and your mobile address so we can send you Richie Rich comics and cans of spam.

Don Snabulus said...

He also told me most people don't yet have their "Be(a)ring(s) Strai(gh)t" when discussing the discovery of North America.

Pandabonium said...

Well put, Snabby. Spanish, Vikings, Celts, Chinese, even Egyptians may have reached the Americas. But even if so, all of them were late comers.

Vulgarius said...

"I'm aware that "science" in that era was mainly based on the Greeks. However, I hear modern fundamentalists almost trying to justify the "Earth-centered" view by pointing out that the Creation story mentions the Earth (or at least "the deep" on the "formless" Earth) being created before light came about...and was then separated from dark. That would mean the Earth existed before the sun."


I havent heard that from fudementalists but you seem be metioning it a lot? Something you are not telling us?

Pa've said...

Relatively speaking, which is the only way to look at things in a universe with no known temporal anchor, you could call the end of your finger the center of the Universe, and everything else revolves around that.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I havent heard that from fudementalists but you seem be metioning it a lot? Something you are not telling us?

Oh, really? I've read articles in at least two major news publications (written by or about fundamentalists), seen more than one (fundamentalist) web site, and had a few statements flung directly in my direction by (fundamentalist) individuals to the effect of, "The Bible says specifically that the Earth was created before the Sun." I've also heard it said by more than one source that the whole universe was obviously created around the Earth (though the Bible doesn't really say that).

That line of thinking was what was mainly used to attack Copernicus and his "followers". Even Martin Luther went so far as to say (of Copernicus), "The fool would destroy all astronomy. Besides, the Bible clearly states that the Sun goes around the Earth."

Loud arguments for an Earth-centered universe? Yes. Arguments for a flat Earth? Not really, at least not directly. Please note that I used the word "almost".

Goemagog said...

the "bible science" of the modern fundamentalist differs greatly from the "science" advocated by the catholic church at the time of copernicus. science at the time was mostly philosophical in nature, and there were few attempts to find practical science in the bible. that's mostly a newer thing as various christian factions follow the martin luther example of trying to prove their version more adherent than the others.

Goe, watching what passes for local news.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Well, Goemagog, considering scientific research was a punishable offense in Europe up until the Renaissance (and even then done largely under wraps until much, much later), I'd say you definitely have a point.

Vulgarius said...

"considering scientific research was a punishable offense"

Again there is a stereotype that needs to be challenged. I'm no great fan of Ancient Catholic history, but the Church itself issued many grants for scientific research and richly rewarded many pioneers for their contributions. Including Galileo. Who was actually paid a regular salary by the very same Papacy that later convicted him.
I used to beleive that line about The Church making science illegal. Its actually by and large a popular myth.In fact Galileo was not the only Coperincan around.

Vulgarius said...

"Oh, really? I've read articles in at least two major news publications (written by or about fundamentalists), seen more than one (fundamentalist) web site,"

Fundementalist website? More than one means what... 2? Im sure you can find a website out there that will tell you anything you want to hear... ANYTHING.

Major news publications?....

How about Major Credible news publications. Conservative or otherwise... Oxymorons again?

"I've also heard it said by more than one source that the whole universe was obviously created around the Earth (though the Bible doesn't really say that)."

Its a highly convoluted claim. Oxymoronic at best since...

...Fundementalists will likely not say that the world was formed around the Earth... If it isnt actually said in the Bible. Which any fundementalist worth their fundementals will tell you ... it was not.

The idea of fudementalism is taking what the Bible says as what it says... not adding new scripture or skipping things which are deemed as not politicaly corrrect.


But in any case there are still a-religious kooks out there who still believe that the world is flat.


LOL! You play a confusing game Moody.

Goemagog said...

science wasn't restricted by oppression but by disinterest. philosophy was seen as having a practical application (in the sense that warfare and theology were considered the only practical applications of knowledge). having no history or comprehension of practical benefits of physics, chemistry, biology, or monkey-poo-flinging, they saw them not as bad things to be outlawed, but colossal wastes of time that could be spent pondering the depths of their religion. for example, the question of how many angels can dance on a pinhead was an important question for a long time. we know it as a physics question with no practical application, but to them it was worth exhaustive study because the nature of angels was more important to them than the speed of gravity.

Goe, posting again

Pavel Andreievich Chekhov, Navigato said...

America and China are both Russian inventions.


twxbihm - abbreviated instruction to "beam him up" utilizing archaic "TWX" machine technology. Often fatal.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Fundementalist website? More than one means what... 2? Im sure you can find a website out there that will tell you anything you want to hear... ANYTHING.

And Pa've seems to be good at referring me to them.

Major news publications?....

How about Major Credible news publications. Conservative or otherwise... Oxymorons again?


"Credible news publications" seems to have become a relative term these days. Well, let's see...there was an article in my Japanese newspaper, the Daily Yomiuri (Japan's leading paper)that quoted evangelists insisting the Sun was created after the Earth. There was one in the weekly American news insert, meaning it was either the Chicago (Herald) Tribune, the L.A. Times, or the Washington Post, that quoted dominionist preachers in Colorado Springs as insisting the whole universe was created around the Earth, and that said universe would all spontaneously end on Judgment Day. There was an article in the Independent from Europe that spoke of the same thing (quoting dominionists in Colorado Springs).

"I've also heard it said by more than one source that the whole universe was obviously created around the Earth (though the Bible doesn't really say that)."

Its a highly convoluted claim. Oxymoronic at best since...

...Fundementalists will likely not say that the world was formed around the Earth... If it isnt actually said in the Bible. Which any fundementalist worth their fundementals will tell you ... it was not.


Oh, by all means, say that to the fundamentalists that said it to me! It wouldn't be the first time I've had to deal with evangelical types that take personal liberties with biblical interpretation.

Frankly, I think everyone should have a look at that open letter Ladybug recently sent out a link to via SnabbyNews. I'm talking about the one from a collective of priests saying that science and religion do not need to be mutually exclusive. Providing it's not a hoax, I'd say it hits a great many nails on the head.

LOL! You play a confusing game Moody.

Fight fire with fire, I always say.

Now that I've said that, don't start getting into that stereotypical "win your argument by insulting your opponent's character" line. It accomplishes nothing.

The Moody Minstrel said...

science wasn't restricted by oppression but by disinterest.

Well, that depended on the content of said science. It was one thing to go to exhaustive lengths to view celestial bodies and chart their movements, produce mathematical formulae, or analyze chemical reactions. However, some things weren't to be touched. I can't produce a name off the top of my head, but I remember hearing (in a college science class) that there was a scientist who got into trouble with the church because he dared to suggest that the Moon showed evidence of eruptions from its craters (i.e. he implied that it was imperfect). Medical and biological research of any kind was largely conducted in secret, partly because tampering with life was seen as "playing God" (much like we hear nowadays regarding genetic research) and partly because experimenting on living beings...and even moreso on cadavers...was seen as witchcraft (i.e. punishable by death).

I'm learning a lot from this. Keep up the good work, Goemagog.

Goemagog said...

Actually, you seem to still be rooted in an inaccurate view of history.

http://cnx.rice.edu/content/m11945/latest/

There's no point in continuing this since you'll revert to your position that the church frightened everyone out of looking around them no matter how much evidence is provided to the contrary.

Goe, ending this.

The Moody Minstrel said...

He don't know me very well, do he?

I'm looking at your evidence, sir. You've gotten me interested. Why are you suddenly backing out now with a such a "holier-than-thou" attitude?

What is your real motive?

Goemagog said...

Maybe because you keep repeating your premise with no evidence to back it up and, when confronted with evidence to the contrary, repeat your premise with no evidence to back it up?

Your position is best summed up as a pathological hatred of religion, and it's not useful to try to reason someone out of something that they weren't reasoned into.

Goe, cited 2 sources, which is 2 more than you.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Okay, now that I've sufficiently de-moodified myself...

Well, Goe, if you think I have a pathological hatred of religion you really don't know me very well at all. Religion actually plays a very significant role in my life. However, I will readily admit that I have some issues with institutionalized religion, particularly when said institution becomes more important than the faith it supposedly represents. I feel even worse about it when it's dogmatic and/or authoritarian.

You're right; I didn't provide sources. My first "premise" was, last time I checked, common, grade school knowledge. (No sources needed for that, I believe.) After that I went largely from my university education, particularly from the three years I spent as a science major before I got better. (I have no web address for that, I'm afraid, and, yes, it's quite possible that my professors did have a pathological hatred of religion. They were science professors, after all.)

On the other hand, Goe, if I'd said nothing, you wouldn't have replied, and we wouldn't have learned anything. If we're all in agreement, there's nothing to discuss. I have to say I especially appreciated that last link you provided (about study of the Moon). It was shocking how much it matched what I learned in college while, at the same time, providing additional details that rather changed the perspective. That's why I engage in these sorts of debates. Sometimes they get ugly, but I think we all (hopefully) come out a bit wiser.

Your attitude in those last two comments has me a bit worried about your true motives. If you really are out to set the record straight, and you have plenty of valid info at your disposal that you are able to pass along, I say, "Keep it coming." I'm appreciating it a lot more than you think (or I am probably willing to admit publicly).

Goemagog said...

"Oops, I forgot: THE R-WORD!!!!"
- You.

Goe, pointing out your dishonesty.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Um...that was the S-WORD!!!!!!

You know....SARCASM?????

I'm sure Pa've and Vulgarius understood that.

Goemagog said...

But you've repeated the same position, that religion blocked science, in every post since then. you've held to the same premise despite evidence. the link i gave showed that jesuits accepted that the moon had craters, and that the greeks believed the moon had been disfigured by it's proximity to the earth.

"there was a scientist who got into trouble with the church because he dared to suggest that the Moon showed evidence of eruptions from its craters (i.e. he implied that it was imperfect)."

Aristotle claimed it was imperfect, and he couldn't see the craters. the jesuits accepted the craters as real almost as soon as telescopes came into use for astronomy. your argument is nonsense, your evidence is nonsense, and you claim that evidence that disproves your claim is proof of your claim's validity. in short, you're arguing to argue, not because you care about evidence, reason, or fact.

Goe, still believes the map to be newer than claimed.

The Moody Minstrel said...

This is becoming tedious, and I'll accept the larger share of the blame.

The site about the Moon also said that it was accepted as common knowledge among astronomers that the Moon was imperfect, but that they didn't publish their findings. Therefore, it was NOT common knowledge among the general public. You'll probably say it was lack of interest, but there are obvious other possibilities, and it all goes back to "common knowledge" pertaining to that era. Again, the problem was not God, but it could very well have been the institution.

Why did Copernicus only circulate his views anonymously until right before he died, when he finally publicized De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (his treatise)? Why did Giordano Bruno, a 16th century follower of Copernicus (and Plato) have to spend much of his life more or less on the lam before being arrested and burnt at the stake? Not because of God, but because of the institution that was in power at the time.

Galileo was supported by Pope Urban VIII because the latter had been an admirer of his before being elected. (The fact was that the previous pope had ordered Galileo to stay away from Copernicanism after Cardinal Bellarmine had condemned it.) His later trial and recanting happened after he had published a work comparing the theories of Brahe and Copernicus, and it was the Inquisition that was behind it rather than the Pope himself.

Once again, it was not God, but the institution that was the problem.

On the other hand, consider the case of John Dee (who was imprisoned and then had all his property and sources of income stripped away by Catholic Queen Mary because he was doing "calculations", i.e. math, which was considered black magic). After being "rescued" by Queen Elizabeth, he wanted to revise the Gregorian calendar to bring it in line with the astronomical year, but he was struck down by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Ironically, the Catholics in mainland Europe had already accepted such a revision.

At that time the Catholic institution seemed a bit more enlightened, eh? And, again, God is not the problem here.

Let us not forget that great scientists of the age, such as Newton and Kepler, were very fervent in their belief in God. They also didn't let that belief inhibit or blind them. Far from it. It was a chief source of motivation for them.

So you see, Goe, you really don't need to resort to rash accusations or childish insults. There is no hatred of religion here.

By the way, your last closing line confuses me. I believe I said in the post that I wasn't sure of the authenticity of the claim concerning the age of that map. Is that what this whole exchange is really about?

Don Snabulus said...

I can vouch for the honesty of Pa've, Vulgarius, Dewkid, and Moody because I've known them for years and nothing they've written here falls outside the belief systems they earnestly believe in as I understand them.

Dishonesty would be an inaccurate characterization of any of those folks. My feeling is that the other contributors are earnest as well, but do not know them well enough to feel solid in that.

It is from this landscape that discussions ought to viewed from.

Goemagog said...

So you hold that evidence that the catholic church believed the surface of the moon to be cratered, the only known source of craters at the time being volcanos, and supporting the belief in a connection, is logically compatible with the church prosecuting people for advocating essentially the same position? That's what moody minstrel did, and you're vouching for them.

Goe, not a big believer in grand conspiracies.

Don Snabulus said...

Yes. Yes I do if Moody tells me I should. I also hold my pecker at a certain angle when urinating in the forest because Moody believes this helps my chi.

Seriously, you started off well, but you've devolved into troll-hood. Moody took the time to expand on his perspective and take blame for his debate approach and you respond by trying to twist his words.

Neither of your sources are primary source material either. One appears to be an unbibliographied student project and the other is a book written by a TV reporter that is criticized by several people at Amazon as being weak on sources (not that I would read an entire book to try to confirm a fact in a blog entry).

Sad, really.

Thanks for pumping up my comment count though.

Goemagog said...

which would show your ignorance.

http://www.utpjournals.com/product/chr/734/earth48.html

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/reference/flat_earth

"Today essentially all professional mediaevalists agree with Russell that the "mediaeval flat earth" is a nineteenth-century fabrication, and that the few verifiable "flat earthers" were the exception."

from the second link.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=lang_en&safe=off&q=flat+earth+columbus&btnG=Search

or is google too hard?

Goe, more likely to be right than popular.

The Moody Minstrel said...

And now the argument somehow suddenly returns to flat Earth.

*sigh*

For what it's worth, Goemagog, I do concede that I was mistaken on that point.

In fact, I admitted that I was changing my views before, including in my comments about the Moon link you provided. Somehow, you completely twisted my words around and turned it into yet another baffling attack.

The evidence you've shown indicates church inhibition of science was less than I originally thought (or was originally led to believe by my [I repeat] university education [which I did NOT fabricate, contrary to what you seem to be trying to claim]). However, it in no way shows that there was NO church inhibition of science, as you appear to be trying to claim. On the contrary; my own research uncovered plenty, including Galileo being specifically ordered to stay away from the "heresy" of Copernicus' work by the predecessor of Pope Urban VIII and then arrested and tried by the Inquisition when he dared publish a work comparing the theories of Copernicus and Brahe. (The links are on my last comment.)

I think Don is right. You made a few statements of fact, named one book (I obviously don't have, but intend to check out) and one website as your sources, and then put all your effort into a very mean-spirited character assassination attempt. Even worse is the fact that said attack seems to be based on a very stereotyped view of my persona.

I noticed that you deleted my comment from your blog, too. He who dishes out should be prepared to take it, too, lest he be branded a hypocrite.

And you accused me of pathological hatred?

So, are you out to set the record straight, or are you just out to snipe at people using your ready rack of rote knowledge as if that were the sole measure of a person's worth? If your ego really is that sensitive, I'm disappointed, but not really surprised. At any rate, it's a game I'm not interested in playing, no matter how useful your battery of knowledge might be.

By the way, thanks again for the info, and I do intend to read Legends, Lies, and Cherished American Myths if and when I get a chance. Have a nice day.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Oh, and one more thing:

That interesting, little site you directed me to about the Moon does NOT say that the Jesuits accepted that the Moon was "cratered". Rather, it says that over time (and over the objections of the stubborn Aristotlians), they accepted that it was "uneven", had "spots", and, by the time of Galileo, was "mountainous".

It's a small point, I realize, but it makes a big difference in terms of your argument and especially your conclusion stated in your last post:

...evidence that the catholic church believed the surface of the moon to be cratered, the only known source of craters at the time being volcanos...

That is your own hypothesis which has no basis in fact. Actually, the discovery of the fact that the Moon had "craters" is still officially attributed to Galileo. You might also note the fact that Galileo was born 72 years after Colombus "discovered" America.

You accused me of not sticking to the facts. That is ironic. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Goe, neither right nor popular.

Goemagog said...

it wasn't a gradual shifting of opinion as you describe it. the jesuits were contemporaries of galileo and developed their own opinions based on their own use of their own telescope. They did this within a year of Galileo publishing his drawings of the moon. and one link and one book is still more supporting evidence than you bothered with when you claimed that the link and book i gave weren't enough. you've neither disproven or offered any evidence to the contrary of what i've said, but kept repeating your position that you'd heard the contrary so the contrary must be true despite all given evidence.

Goe, not wrong.

Anonymous said...

Goe, enuff.

Don Snabulus said...

I don't need to assert anything and have not asserted anything about this particular topic. I showed that your sources would be unacceptable for any college term paper because they are not peer-reviewed for accuracy nor do they contain primary source material, instead relying on other materials by other people (some of whom might even be historians).

The fact that Moody is willing to give these items credence is immaterial. I am not. Find a scholarly work that uses people who actually studied the materials and then we may be enlightened. Until then, it is merely yappin'.

As such, I will leave this thread to the yappers and concentrate on more important things.

Corn Cob Bob said...

I don't believe I've seen this many comments to a post on Snabulus, since I made my debut last July!

CornCobBob, drinkin' lemonade.

Goemagog said...

That would have been Russell's book, which is cited in most of the links you get if you google columbus and flat earth. I was making a point, and provided evidence to support that point, not writing a research paper, and as such expect sources i give to be actually looked at and judged on their own merits, not ignored off-hand because they're not in someone's style guide.

Goe, meh.

The Moody Minstrel said...

you've neither disproven or offered any evidence to the contrary of what i've said, but kept repeating your position that you'd heard the contrary so the contrary must be true despite all given evidence.

Goe, still hasn't read my comment which actually provided links to evidence (more than two, most if not all peer-reviewed). They provide plenty of evidence that the church did limit science during the Renaissance period.

It's all moot now anyway considering your original point was about flat-earth theory, and I've already conceded on that one.

t.M.M., realizing there are far more productive things to do.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia could have saved about 50 comments here, but I suppose it was all about the arguing anyhow so probably not.

Pa've said...

It was about the enjoyment of arguement. The topic could have been whether or not footballs should be considered balls because they aren't round either!