Cultural ViewpointMain article: Earth in culture
The standard astronomical symbol of the Earth consists of a cross circumscribed by a circle.
Unlike the rest of the planets in the Solar System, humankind did not begin to view the Earth as a moving object in orbit around the Sun until the 16th century. Earth has often been personified as a deity, in particular a goddess. In many cultures a mother goddess is also portrayed as a fertility deity. Creation myths in many religions recall a story involving the creation of the Earth by a supernatural deity or deities. A variety of religious groups, often associated with fundamentalist branches of Protestantism or Islam, assert that their interpretations of these creation myths in sacred texts are literal truth and should be considered alongside or replace conventional scientific accounts of the formation of the Earth and the origin and development of life. Such assertions are opposed by the scientific community and by other religious groups. A prominent example is the creation-evolution controversy.
In the past there were varying levels of belief in a flat Earth, but this was displaced by the concept of a spherical Earth due to observation and circumnavigation. The human perspective regarding the Earth has changed following the advent of spaceflight, and the biosphere is now widely viewed from a globally integrated perspective. This is reflected in a growing environmental movement that is concerned about humankind's effects on the planet.
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“Quite apart from any conscious program, the great cultural historians have always been historical morphologists: seekers after the forms of life, thought, custom, knowledge, art.”
—Johan Huizinga (18721945)