The Cellular Cosmogony by Koresh [pseud. Cyrus Reed Teed] [1922]


We start our series of texts of alternative theories of the shape of the earth with this masterpiece of pseudoscience by Cyrus Teed. Why Teed was so adamant about our entire universe being inside an ’inside-out’ sphere is unknown. Martin Gardner, in Fads and Fallacies, has suggested that it was based on a desire to return to the womb, and that this psychological aspect was key in recruiting new members to Teed’s belief system.

Teed, born in 1839 in upstate New York, served with the Union Army, and later became a herbalist and studied alchemy. In 1869 Teed had a vision in his laboratory, in which a beautiful woman spoke to him and revealed that he was to become a messiah, and reveal the true cosmogony to the world. Teed took the name Koresh (not to be confused with David Koresh of Waco). He preached that belief in the concavity of the Earth is equivalent to godliness. He proclaimed, "All that is opposed to Koreshanity is antichrist". After touring widely preaching Koreshanity, he settled in Chicago, and started a communal society, as well as a periodical, The Flaming Sword. Koreshanity, at its height, had a few thousand followers. In the 1890s Teed founded the town of Estero, Florida, near Ft. Meyers, and declared it the coming capital of the world. His followers prepared for eight million believers to show up. Only two hundred did.

Teed wrote a book called The Immortal Manhood, in which he taught that after his death he would rise to heaven and take all of his followers with him. Alas, when he died in 1908, nothing of the sort happened. After weeks, the county health officer finally had to step in to force the colony to bury the rotting body of their leader. Teed was buried in a tomb which was later washed out to sea in a hurricane in 1921. The Flaming Sword continued to be published until 1949, although it never mentioned that Teed had died. As a matter of fact, nowhere in this book is it mentioned that the author had been dead for fourteen years when it was published.

The Cellular Cosmogony was Teed’s magnum opus. Teed propounded that the surface of the earth is concave, not convex, and that the entire universe is contained within the 25,000 mile circumference of the inside-out earth. The Sun is in the exact center of the ’cosmic egg,’ 4,000 miles away, and is actually a helix. However we never see this directly, only some kind of reflection of it. The Sun is dark on one side, which produces day and night. The moon is a reflection of the Earth, and Teed believed he could see outlines of the Earth’s continents and seas on it! Other astronomical phenomena are essentially optical illusions. Besides geology, he also denounces the scientific method, the Copernican theory, the atomic theory, modern chemistry, conventional surveying techniques, and last but not least, optics. Truly, ’everything you know is wrong.’

Teed and his followers devoted much time and energy to practical experiments to prove the concavity of the earth. Whether there was some deception involved, or self-deception, it is difficult to tell at this late date. Their surveying methodology and the device they used to take the measurements with (the ’rectilineator’) have both been called into question.

The obvious problems with his cosmology are either not covered at all or brushed aside with a flurry of invented (and often semantically null) polysyllabic words. Why does the sun rise and set each day? What is the horizon and why is it about five miles away at sea level? How come we can’t see locations hundreds of miles away just by looking up a bit? And what the heck is outside???

--John Bruno Hare, June 7, 2005.

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