So to Part 6, then, in our quest to examine one-by-one the 101 scientific facts to be found in the Bible. We’re half way through, and unfortunately for the people at Eternal Productions – a Creationist outfit – things don’t seem to be going that well: we’ve had 24 disqualifications, and goalposts that appear to move as to which bits of science is acceptable (see posts passim).
51. The sun goes in a circuit (Psalm 19:6). Some scientists scoffed at this verse thinking that it taught geocentricity – the theory that the sun revolves around the earth. They insisted the sun was stationary. However, we now know that the sun is traveling through space at approximately 600,000 miles per hour. It is literally moving through space in a huge circuit – just as the Bible stated 3,000 years ago!
Which scientists, I wonder, did the scoffing? Modern science is at best three hundred-odd years old, and Galileo – a pioneer of the scientific methodology – suffered for his scientific conclusions at the hands of religious authorities – not scientific authorities – and it was they if anyone who did the “scoffing”.
The sun takes one galactic year to make one complete orbit. That’s 220 million years, roughly. Whereas the impression one gets from verses 4 to 6 of Psalm 19 is distinctly earth-bound: “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. In them he has set a tent for the sun. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” [My emphasis]. It takes an awful lot of imagination to read anything useful about a galactic year here.
Moreover, if these verses actually refers to the galactic year, one wonders whatever Pope Paul V was worried about regarding Gallileo’s defence of the heliocentric view of solar system. On balance, we have to say that the claim here is false – the Bible does not say anything about a galactic year, as understood by modern science.
52. Circumcision on the eighth day is ideal (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3; Luke 1:59). Medical science has discovered that the blood clotting chemical prothrombin peaks in a newborn on the eighth day. This is therefore the safest day to circumcise a baby. How did Moses know?!
Presumably by trial and error – they kept cutting the penises of newborns, and found that the blood clotted quicker after eight days. Prothrombin does reach a peak after eight days from the time of birth, which does aid blood clotting – that’s the science. But nowhere in Genesis, Levicitus or Luke is this offered as the reason; rather, it’s simply stated as an injunction from God to cut off a male child’s foreskin at eight years old. Scientific claims, remember, explain something about the world around us. An instruction from a deity does no such thing, and consequently does not advance human knowledge at all. It is false to claim that there is any science, or any indication of any scientific understanding in these verses; nothing about blood clotting, for example.
53. God has given us just the right amount of water to sustain life (Isaiah 40:12). We now recognize that if there was significantly more or less water, the earth would not support life as we know it.
The verse asks simply ‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand [...]?‘. It says nothing about having enough water to sustain life.
The claim advanced here makes little or no sense – science has not set a specific volume of water that is critical for ‘life as we know it’ (whatever that means) to be supported. No theory or fact has been obviously referred to, so I can only conclude that it is not a scientific claim that has been tested here.
54. The earth was designed for biological life (Isaiah 45:18). Scientists have discovered that the most fundamental characteristics of our earth and cosmos are so finely tuned that if just one of them were even slightly different, life as we know it couldn’t exist. This is called the Anthropic Principle and it agrees with the Bible which states that God formed the earth to be inhabited.
Inhabited by what, though? For three gigayears of earth’s 4.5 gigayear history, microrganisms were the only living thing. Humanity – Homo sapien sapiens – has only been around for 200,000 years. A blink of the proverbial eyelid.
The temptation is to move onto the tired arguments about “fine tuning” and the “Anthropic Principle”, which are as discredited as the original Argument from Design is (but for a recent, robust, refutation of these variants, see Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion).
However, this would be a mistake: we need to focus on the job at hand, which is 1) examine the scientific claim and 2) examine the claim made for the Bible to see if the two match.
To begin with, no ‘fundamental characteristics’ are actually cited. But it is a truism to say that if the environment on earth was ‘different’ in some way (how much different?), then life well may be different, or may not even exist. But, however banal it is, one has to concede that this a claim that science would agree with. However, science does not say anything at all about God creating the universe, and would not ‘agree’ with any literal reading of the accounts of Creation in the Bible, as suggested. (For this reason, Creationism and Intelligent Design “Theory” is not science – the claims made are religious ones and not ones that you find in science).
Thus – taken overall – the claim advanced is not a scientific claim.
55. The universe is expanding (Job 9:8; Isaiah 42:5; Jeremiah 51:15; Zechariah 12:1). Repeatedly God declares that He stretches out the heavens. During the early 20th century, most scientists (including Einstein) believed the universe was static. Others believed it should have collapsed due to gravity. Then in 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that distant galaxies were receding from the earth, and the further away they were, the faster they were moving. This discovery revolutionized the field of astronomy. Eisntein admitted his mistake, and today most astronomers agree with what the Creator told us millennia ago – the universe is expanding!
To be fair to Einstein, he simply could not accept the conclusion of his own work, that the Universe was expanding, and fiddled the figures so that his equations fit in with the static view of the Universe. Actually, Hubble’s work verified Einstein’s theories, and Einstein is on record as regretting not trusting his own equations.
The verses state very clearly that either God ‘stretched’ or ‘stretches’ the heavens: indeed, ‘He’s the only one who can spread the heavens out’ (Job 9:8). Science, however, does postulate the existence of God in the ever-expanding Universe; the astonishing thing about science is the way in which it explains naturally occurring phenomena without recourse to any god or divine intervention at all. Clearly, the claim advanced on behalf of science above is not a scientific claim.
56. Law of Biogenesis explained (Genesis 1). Scientists observe that life only comes from existing life. This law has never been violated under observation or experimentation (as evolution imagines). Therefore life, God’s life, created all life.
Evolution is an observable fact and imagines nothing. The theory of evolution says nothing about where life comes from, but merely explains the observable fact of evolution (the fact being the appearance of change over time).
Science does not say that life on earth started with an act of creation by any god, so the claim here is false, with wholly inaccurate comments regarding evolution thrown in for good measure.
57. Animal and plant extinction explained (Jeremiah 12:4; Hosea 4:3). According to evolution, occasionally we should witness a new kind springing into existence. Yet, this has never been observed. On the contrary, as Scripture explains, since the curse on all creation, we observe death and extinction (Romans 8:20-22).
Another scientific claim which apparently does not meet the requirement of a scientific claim that has been prefigured in the Bible, and only much later verified by modern science. I would love to know the criteria by which such scientific claims chosen or discarded.
Nevertheless, science does not claim that new species of animals and plants ‘spring’ into existence ‘occasionally’: evolution claims a continuing process, day-by-day, that in some cases ultimately results in the emergence of distinctively new species. The entire fossil record and living DNA evidence are testimony to this – the latter utterly unknown to Darwin, of course.
Some observed examples of speciation with full citations can be found here and more here, but, again, so-called “fact” 57 is an attempt to contradict scientific claims, and consequently, no scientific claim has been made.
58. Light travels in a path (Job 38:19). Light is said to have a “way” [Hebrew: derek, literally a traveled path or road]. Until the 17th century it was believed that light was transmitted instantaneously. We now know that light is a form of energy that travels at ~186,000 miles per second in a straight line. Indeed, there is a “way” of light.
The verse asks the “way to” the source of light in a number of translations, rather than describes the nature of light. Examples include the New International Version (which has the verse read ‘What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?‘ – my emphasis), New American Standard Version, King James Version, 21st Century King James Version, English Standard Version, etc. But the New Century Version uses the word “path”, thus ‘What is the path to light’s home, and where does darkness live?‘. But in case we’re not clear that the verse is asking for directions, rather than describing the nature of photons, the New International Readers’ Version has ‘Where does light come from? And where does darkness reside?‘ I don’t think you need a degree in theology to work out what that verse is asking.
However, to be clear, light does not have ‘a path’. It exists either as a particle or as a wave – something that the word “path” utterly fails to capture, but it’s nevertheless one of the intriguing insights into the nature of light in the last century.
So not only is there no scientific claim being made, but the Biblical one is decidely questionable, too!
59. Air has weight (Job 28:25). It was once thought that air was weightless. Yet 4,000 years ago Job declared that God established “a weight for the wind.” In recent years, meteorologists have calculated that the average thunderstorm holds thousands of tons of rain. To carry this load, air must have mass.
The New International Version – and others, such as the New Living Translation – suggest that it’s the force of the wind that’s being talked about, rather than weight.
Moreover, in the intepretation given, it is not clear whether one is talking of air mass (an area of uniform temperature and pressure), and which may have some bearing on the creation of thunderstorms (cf. Job 18:26); or the mass of air (molecular mass), alluded to above, but which plays no role in the formation of thunderstorms.
Again, no scientific claim is really being advanced here of which can be sensibly talked about.
60. Jet stream anticipated (Ecclesiates 1:6). At a time when it was thought that winds blew straight, the Bible declares “The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit.” King Solomon wrote this 3,000 years ago. Now consider this: it was not until World War II that airmen discovered the jet stream circuit.
Jetstreams (plural) exist 10-15 kms up in the atmosphere, and certainly do NOT go ‘south’ and ‘turns around to the north’ and ‘whirls about continually’. The major jetstreams flow west to east. Moreover, there is nothing in the verse to indicate that an usual wind phenomenon is being talked about, but, rather, wind (singular) in general. Hence, in a previous verse, it incorrectly states that: ‘The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.’ It doesn’t hurry back anywhere, of course: it’s the earth that moves around the sun. But asides from that, the idea – that things repeating and returning back to where they started – is the same one repeated in the subsequent verses, 19:6 and 7. Note the other astonishing insight offered in Eccl. 1.4, that the earth will last forever. Er, no, it won’t.
Anyhow, the claim that jetstreams are anticipated in this verse is clearly false.
And that’s another ten examined; four false claims, and six “facts” dismissed.
Back soon with 61-70.