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Biblical Science Again

Entry 1787, on 2016-05-04 at 12:49:56 (Rating 4, Religion)

Before I move on to a new topic I would like to finish off the discussion of the remaining "proofs" that the Bible contains scientific knowledge unknown to other people of the time. Despite Richard's opinion that this is pointless (he's probably right) it would be untidy to leave the rest of this material unanswered.

I don't have the time or space to go into the same level of detail as before but I will quickly list the claims, give the Bible verse involved (I use the NIV because it's the easiest to understand), and say why I don't find the claims convincing.

I did a fairly thorough analysis of the first claim in my previous blog post so refer back to that if you are interested. All of the remaining claims follow the same general form. Here they are...

2. Bible says: Incalculable number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22). Science says: Incalculable number of stars. What was known: Only 1,100 stars.

The actual verse: I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.

My comment: Clearly this is meant as a poetic statement rather than any precise mathematical fact and nothing of any relevance can really be drawn from it. I also can't find any reliable statement on how many stars were recognised at the time, except that Hipparchus made a catalog of over 1000 of them.

3. Bible says: Free float of earth in space (Job 26:7). Science says: Free float of earth in space. What was known: Earth sat on a large animal.

The actual verse: He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.

My comment: There were some cultures whose beliefs involved the Earth being balanced on various animals but there are many others with different views, including many involving the Earth being suspended in a void, so the description seems misleading.

4. Bible says: Creation made of invisible elements (Hebrews 11:3). Science says: Creation made of invisible elements (atoms). What was known: Science was ignorant on the subject.

The actual verse: By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

My comment: To claim that this is referring to atoms is rather disingenuous. The idea seems to be more to say that God used nothing to create the world and that humans should accept this on faith.

5. Bible says: Each star is different (1 Corinthians 15:41). Science says: Each star is different. What was known: All stars were the same.

The actual verse: The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

My comment: This seems to simply refer to the fact that different stars have different brightness. This would be apparent to anyone who bothered to look.

6. Bible says: Light moves (Job 38:19,20). Science says: Light moves. What was known: Light was fixed in place.

The actual verse: What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? What was known: Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

My comment: I can't see how this can be possibly construed as saying that light moves, and I also can't find any reference to say that anyone thought light was fixed in place anyway.

7. Bible says: Air has weight (Job 28:25). Science says: Air has weight. Air was weightless.

The actual verse: When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters,...

My comment: Everyone knew the wind has force. This would seem to imply that air has weight, but if it does then that knowledge was shared by everyone.

8. Bible says: Winds blow in cyclones (Ecclesiastes 1:6). Science says: Winds blow in cyclones. What was known: Winds blew straight.

The actual verse: The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.

My comment: I can't find any definitive evidence on what people thought about this subject but it only seems to make sense that if the wind blows in all directions that some sort of circulation is occurring.

9. Bible says: Blood is the source of life and health (Leviticus 17:11). Science says: Blood is the source of life and health. What was known: Sick people must be bled.

The actual verse: For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.

My comment: What was known is that "sick people must be bled" and this verse is suggesting a blood sacrifice. This is science how, exactly?

10. Bible says: Ocean floor contains deep valleys and mountains (2 Samuel 22:16; Jonah 2:6). Science says: Ocean floor contains deep valleys and mountains. What was known: The ocean floor was flat.

The actual verse: The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

My comment: There is evidence that people were diving under the sea surface about 4500 BCE (yes, that's before the world was created according to the "scientific Bible") so it seems likely that they noticed that the sea floor wasn't flat. Where the claim that people thought that it was flat came from is anyone's guess.

11. Bible says: Ocean contains springs (Job 38:16). Science says: Ocean contains springs. What was known: Ocean fed only by rivers and rain.

The actual verse: Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?

My comment: The word "springs" here is better translated as "source" or "origin" so the claim is again rather dubious.

12. Bible says: When dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water (Leviticus 15:13). Science says: When dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water. What was known: Hands washed in still water.

The actual verse: When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bathe himself with fresh water, and he will be clean.

My comment: This is clearly a reference to some sort of religious ceremony which was made if the person had recovered from a disease (probably leprosy) after 7 days. So you don't wash your hands until the 7 days are done?

It seems fairly obvious that all of these claims are completely fatuous. The author really only succeeds in doing the opposite of his presumed intention. Instead of making the Bible and Christianity look credible it makes them look ridiculous.

Why is it necessary to justify the (alleged) truth of the Bible by using such obvious poor reasoning and flawed information? And (as I said above) why aren't there genuine pieces of previously unknown knowledge in a book inspired by God?

The obvious answer is that the Bible is a book written by bronze age desert nomads and contains no special knowledge beyond their limited understanding of the world at the time.

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