• The Bible: An Exposé: The Bible and Science


    Most Christian apologists these days do not commonly argue that the bible is scientifically accurate, however, there are some who do. One of the most well-known of this type is apologist Ray Comfort. Several years ago I examined several of these claims by Comfort about science and the bible in my refutation of his Evidence Bible, but I will also cover arguments by others as well.

    Does Genesis Describe How the Universe Got Here?

    Many Christians believe that Genesis describes the actual origin of the universe as described by the Big Bang theory. One such Christian apologist is David Marshall who argues,

    The Book of Beginnings says the universe came from nothing. We have tried alternative theories: everything from an egg, elephants all the way down, “cosmic crunch,” “steady state”- but the biblical idea of a cosmic origin has now been vindicated.

    I’m sorry to burst Marshall’s bubble but in 1988 Stephen Hawking, in A Brief History of Time, explained that at the quantum level general relativity is unable to describe the behavior of matter on such a small scale and so quantum mechanics are used in its place. When this is done there is no singularity, or beginning, and causes Genesis to be wrong. Hawking said,

    […] I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account. (emphasis mine) [1]

    As I explained in a previous piece the creation story is actually based upon various myths and not any form of scientific investigation.

    Unlike how Christians often portray Genesis as being similar to the scientific theory of the “big bang,” this creation myth actually describes a world in which there is a dark ocean below (Genesis 1:2: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”) and these waters are “divided by a firmament, creating heaven, after which God commands ‘waters’ to be ‘gathered together’ under the newly created heaven.” [2] This creation story is absolutely nothing like the scientific observations that have been made which confirm the rapid expansion of our universe which precedes a very long span of time before the matter in the universe began to form stars, planets, and finally, life.

    The Bible Describes the Earth as Round Before Modern Science

    In Ray Comfort’s Evidence Bible he makes the following argument,

    The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: ‘It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth.’ (Isaiah 40:22) This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptics maintain, but to a sphere. Secular man discovered this 2,400 years later. (715)

    On the contrary, this is in reference to a flat disk. In Isaiah 40:22 the word “circle” in Hebrew was chug, which does mean “circle,” and not sphere. The bible borrowed from ancient Mesopotamian cosmology which depicted the world as being flat. This makes even more sense when you consider the fact that other biblical verses support a flat earth. The phrase “the ends of the earth” is used often, such as in Isaiah 40:28 (“[the Lord is] the Creator of the ends of the earth”) and Job 28:24 (“He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.”). [3] It would not be possible to “look to” the “ends” of the earth if it was round. Clearly, the writers of the bible thought the earth to be a flat disk.

    The Bible Says That the Earth Orbits the Sun

    In Ray Comfort’s Evidence Bible it says,

    [Referring to Psalm 19:6: “Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end.” (NKJV)] In speaking of the sun, the psalmist says that “his going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” For many years critics scoffed at these verses, claiming that they taught the old false doctrine of geocentricity (i.e., the sun revolves around the earth). Scientists thought the sun was stationary. Then it was discovered in recent years that the sun is in fact moving through space at approximately 600,000 miles per hour. It is traveling through the heavens and has a “circuit” just as the Bible says. Its circuit is so large that it would take approximately 200 million years to complete one orbit. (15)

    If Ray is trying to argue that the bible doesn’t teach that the earth is in the center of the universe his attempted counter-argument makes no sense. There are many verses that clearly refer to geocentrism in the bible, where the earth is immobile and the sun is not. In Psalm 93:1 and Chronicles 16:30 it says, “The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.” Also in Psalm 104:5, “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” The bible got it all wrong.

    Just because the ancients told how the sun moved isn’t anything revolutionary. Just by looking at the world the sun does appear to move so the fact that the ancients mentioned this is nothing special. Even Ecclesiastes 1:5 says, “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” This verse points out the mistaken belief that the sun “rises” and “sets” due to a person’s earthbound perspective, but it’s actually the earth that is moving, not the sun.

    Modern Medical Knowledge in the Bible?!

    Ray Comfort argues in his book God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists that,

    God told Abraham that on the eighth day newborn males were to be circumcised (Genesis 17:12). Why the eighth day? This is the day that the coagulating factor in the blood, called prothrombin, is the highest. Medical science has discovered that this is when the human body’s immune system is at its peak. (78-80)

    First of all, babies commonly get circumcised on the day of their birth or one day after without any complications. There seems to be no reason to circumcise a newborn on the eighth day. Second, not withstanding a very small decrease in a very rare type of cancer of the penis and a slightly lower likelihood of becoming infected with an STD, there are no real medical benefits to circumcision. These “benefits” are not even statistically significant. [4] Third, a baby’s immune system is actually strongest right after birth due to the mother’s antibodies via the placenta. After birth the levels of antibodies drop and the immune system only fully develops after about six months. Circumcision is only done because of social stigma and religious dogma, with no real medical benefits.

    A Global Flood?

    Many Christians take Genesis literally and believe that there was a global flood that engulfed the earth. The problem is that there is not one shred of evidence for this story. Not only is the flood narrative based on a Hermoplitan Creation myth, as I discussed in a previous post, this story has also been falsified by science.

    Within ice cores from Greenland, which have been dated back more than 40,000 years, there is no evidence of any flood. A massive flood would have left layers of “sediments, noticeable changes in salinity and oxygen isotope ratios, fractures from buoyancy and thermal stresses, [and there is] a hiatus in trapped air bubbles […].” However, none of these signs of a flood appear. [5] Another method of looking back in time is by examining tree rings and, despite the fact that tree ring data goes back more than 10,000 years, there is absolutely no evidence of any flood. [6] In addition to these methods, when examining the geologic column itself there is no evidence of any massive flood. Deep within the layers of the geologic column there are many things that would not be there had a flood swept over the earth. Examples include: rain drops, river channels, burrows, in-place trees, footprints, meteorites and meteor craters, and soil. [7] Finally, if a flood had taken place, why is there such an orderly layering of sediments? A violent flood would create a very hectic settling process, not an orderly one with definite layers. [8]

    These, and countless other arguments, are trotted out again and again by certain Christians. The above is only a very small sample of the kinds of claims about alleged “scientific facts” in the bible. It is true that humans are pattern seeking animals and this is more than apparent when looking at these arguments. Most of these arguments hinge upon vague bible verses that could be interpreted in several different ways but do not definitively state any scientific facts. There is not a shred of evidence that any of the verses say anything that could be referring to facts the ancients could not have already known from life experience. Either this, or a verse is simply too vague and Christians are taking advantage of this and misinterpreting the passage.

    1. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, Bantam Books, 1996; 67

    2. Babinski, Edward T. The Cosmology of the Bible. The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Edited by John W. Loftus. Prometheus Books, 2010. 122

    3. Ibid.; 125-126

    4. WebMD: Circumcision Basics – accessed 1-25-12

    5. The TalkOrigins Archive: Problems with a Global Flood, Second Edition, by Mark Isaak – accessed 1-25-12

    6. Ibid.

    7. Ibid.

    8. Ibid.

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    Article by: Arizona Atheist