Biblical scientific foreknowledge
| Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
“”It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Biblical scientific foreknowledge is the idea that the Bible can accurately predict scientific knowledge that was supposedly unknown before the (multiple) times of its writing. The intent behind this is to try and prove that an all-knowing entity penned the book with knowledge that we at the time could not understand. In effect, this is an effort to wrap biblical statements about how the world works around modern science, reinterpreting the language in such a way that would make fortune tellers jealous.
“”Like any high-school algebra student knows, one must “show their work” – getting the conclusion right is less than half the battle. In the long run, the creationist assertion that the Bible is an almanac of scientific facts – albeit without explanation – proves the Bible’s limited application as a factual guide to today’s world.
A few generic faults plague effectively all "scientific foreknowledge" in sacred texts:
- Scientific knowledge necessarily must detail every process as accurately and precisely as possible, propose an explanation for the results that makes falsifiable predictions and reproducible tests, refine the explanation, and make all information public to allow others to repeat the cycle. It is not scientific merely to make vague assertions, such as, "the body is made of the same things as the earth," or "rain falls and waters our crops".
- Very few religious texts actually aim to provide detailed, scientific knowledge about the world. The vast majority of statements from the Bible, and most other religious texts, are religious messages to followers, moral rules, or statements aimed at converting heathens.
- Even if some of the claimed "scientific foreknowledge" is true, there are a vastly greater number of statements in the Bible with no basis whatsoever in scientific fact. Even if every one of the claims below were correct (which they manifestly are not), they would still be vastly outnumbered by the scientific absurdities.
- It's also interesting that scientific discoveries are very rarely "predicted" by the Bible until after science has made the discovery. One would imagine that a book so full of scientific foreknowledge would be used to predict future scientific discoveries, especially those that require highly complex technology far beyond the one available to its writers, while it appears that the Bible can only vaguely predict currently existing science.
Criteria for actual foreknowledge
In order for a statement to be Biblical scientific foreknowledge, it must fit five criteria:
- It must be correct. A statement cannot be scientific foreknowledge if it is incorrect, because the scientific method necessarily eschews incorrect data.
- It must be in the Bible. A statement cannot be Biblical scientific foreknowledge if it isn't in the Bible, because the only possible source of Biblical scientific foreknowledge is the Bible.[note 1]
- It must be unambiguous. A statement cannot be scientific foreknowledge if it is ambiguous, both because science is necessarily precise and because ambiguity allows modern science to be shoehorned into ancient religion when none is present.
- It must have been outside of contemporary knowledge. A statement cannot be scientific foreknowledge if it was already known, because this makes the "foreknowledge" into merely "knowledge" and makes divine intervention unnecessary.[note 2]
- It must have been outside of contemporary technology. A statement cannot be considered scientific foreknowledge if it was knowable with the technology of the time, because this makes divine intervention unnecessary.
Natural Artificial selection described in the Bible
Ironically, the Bible contains what some hold is a description of artificial selection (also known as selective breeding). Specifically, in the book Genesis, Jacob affects the mating habits of goats that he is tending,(Genesis 30:31-39) as part of a scheme to take ownership of his father-in-law Laban's herd. As the goats multiply, a larger and larger percentage of the offspring become dark colored, spotted, and speckled, and as a consequence, the property of Jacob. The creation of the Genesis account occurred a little before Darwin was born. Of course, the Genesis account does not explain the biological mechanisms of this process, or how it occurs naturally.
On the other hand, the Bible states that Jacob watered his flocks in front of dark colored sticks, and "And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted..." (Genesis 30:37-39). Which would suggest that Jacob did not use artificial selection, but rather magical thinking, making the Bible 0 for 0 on scientific foreknowledge on this point.
Rotation of the Earth
Several fundamentalists claim that the Bible predicts the rotation of the Earth. They're incorrect. In fact, the Bible supports an unmoving Earth with the Sun revolving around it.
There are several fundamentalist collections of supposed Biblical scientific foreknowledge:
- Science Confirms the Bible
- Modern Science in the Bible
- Scientific Facts in the Bible: 100 Reasons to Believe the Bible is Supernatural in Origin
- 101 Scientific Facts and Foreknowledge
- Gaps between science and the Bible
- And for our next trick, I'll predict yesterday's lottery numbers!