Bronze-level article

Science Confirms the Bible

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Light iron-age reading
The Bible
Icon bible.svg
Gabbin' with God

Science Confirms the Bible is a short poster full of imagined "proofs" that the Bible is scientifically accurate. In an effort to show this it quote mines the Bible and then compares what it says to science "now" and "then". The intended effect is to demonstrate that the Bible was right long before science was while, in fact, the Bible is rife with scientific error.

It is a part of Evidence Bible, a website and book related to Ray Comfort's Way of the Master website. Science Confirms the Bible also has a part in Scientific Facts in the Bible which mostly rehashes the same arguments but in a more mundane manner.

The somewhat bizarre claims are reproduced below before being roundly rebutted. A text version of the original can be found here.[1]

Science Confirms the Bible (bear in mind that the Bible is 2000-3000 years old!)
The Bible Science now Science then
The Earth is a ROUND sphere (Isaiah 40:22) The Earth is a sphere The Earth is a flat disk
Incalculable number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22) Incalculable number of stars Only 1100 stars
Free float of Earth in space (Job 26:7) Free float of Earth in space Earth sat on a large animal
Creation made of invisible elements (Hebrews 11:3) Creation made of invisible elements (atoms) Science is mostly ignorant on the subject
Each star is different (1 Corinthians 15:41) Each star is different All stars were the same
Light moves (Job 38:19,20) Light moves Light was fixed in place
Air has weight (Job 28:25) Air has weight Air was weightless
Winds blow in cyclones (Ecclesiastes 1:6) Winds blow in cyclones Winds blew straight
Blood is the source of life and health (Leviticus 17:11) Blood is the source of life and health Sick people must be bled
Ocean floor contains deep valleys and mountains (2 Samuel 22:16; Jonah 2:6) Ocean floor contains deep valleys and mountains The ocean floor was flat
Ocean contains springs (Job 38:16) Ocean contains springs Ocean fed only by rivers and rain
When dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water (Leviticus 15:13) When dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water Hands washed in still water

The Earth is a sphere[edit]

The Bible

Isaiah 40:22
Hebrew English
הַיֹּשֵׁב֙ עַל־ח֣וּג הָאָ֔רֶץ וְיֹשְׁבֶ֖יהָ כַּחֲגָבִ֑ים הַנֹּוטֶ֤ה כַדֹּק֙ שָׁמַ֔יִם וַיִּמְתָּחֵ֥ם כָּאֹ֖הֶל לָשָֽׁבֶת׃ He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Although nitpicking with geometry, a circle is a 1-sphere, which means a circle has the same topological properties in 2-D as the sphere (as the common meaning would refer to) in 3-D. To be really pedantic, sphere and circle only refers to the boundary, not the spaces within (those are called balls and disks respectively). If the passage could potentially be interpreted in such ways, it may be intended to be interpreted as a flat circle, since interpreting "circle" as "sphere" would be an embellishment unsupported by the use of the word in other places in the Hebrew corpus.

The rest of the passage is a little metaphorical as people aren't grasshoppers and the earth isn't a tent. With this in mind, it is likely that the meaning of "circle of the earth" is more to mean "encompassing the earth" or "the whole earth" rather than a comment on its shape. The Hebrew reads עַל־חוּג (ʿal-ḥûg̱; Strong's H5921-H2329). The word חוּג is also translated as "vault", i.e. an arch or a dome, in the specific context of a fixed idiom describing the sky (the "vault of the sky"), and the sky was not perceived to literally be a circle, but this doesn't imply that the word refers to a sphere and there is no good reason to believe that it is being used in this particular way here.

Furthermore, Isaiah 41:9 reads: "I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you." If we are to take this literally, then corners requires a square, cube, tetrahedron, or other decidedly non-spherical object.

An interesting coincidence, of no significance, but curious, is that the first of the Greek thinkers that we know of to challenge the flat earth was the 6th-century-BCE Pythagoras; and the Bible verse in question is from Deutero-Isaiah, also of the 6th century.

A view of the "flat earth", which is mostly a cultural invention.

Science now

To nitpick further, the Earth is not even a sphere. It's a (slightly) oblate spheroid,Wikipedia due to the bulging in the equatorial region caused by its rotation. The difference in mean diameter from pole-to-pole and from opposite sides of the equator is a small, but not negligible, 21 km (~13 miles). Even so, it's not entirely regularly-shaped because slight anomalies in the mass and density of the Earth (over water for instance), change its shape by minute but measurable proportions. This has recently been measured with incredible precision by the European Space Agency's satellite GOCE.[2] "Science now" is ever progressing and refining the answer to the question of what shape the Earth is, and we now have this information in unprecedented detail.

Science then

Extremely ancient cultures probably did believe in a flat earth. This had nothing to do with any form of science but merely casual and short range observation. The belief was not very long lasting, however, once true interest in astronomy began. Observations that point to a rounded or spherical Earth pre-date most of the Bible. Very, very early observations clearly show that the hull of a boat or ship disappears over the horizon before the sails (indicating curvature) while experiments performed by the ancient Greeks calculated the curvature of the Earth and estimated its diameter to a reasonable accuracy. The idea that people widely held the belief that the Earth was flat is mostly a myth, generated in the 19th century. In any case, only cultural belief rather than any scientific observation or experiment supported the view that the Earth was flat.

Incalculable number of stars[edit]

The Bible

Jeremiah 33:22
Hebrew English
אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־יִסָּפֵר֙ צְבָ֣א הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְלֹ֥א יִמַּ֖ד חֹ֣ול הַיָּ֑ם כֵּ֣ן אַרְבֶּ֗ה אֶת־זֶ֙רַע֙ דָּוִ֣ד עַבְדִּ֔י וְאֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֖ם מְשָׁרְתֵ֥י אֹתִֽי׃ I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.

This verse is a clearly poetic one with some fairly funky grammatical features along with the very common structure of parallelism, where the same point is made using two different turns of phrase. The key phrase in this verse as far as this point is concerned is "לֹֽא־יִסָּפֵר֙", which very literally means something like "will not count itself" or "will not get counted". In grammatical jargon, יִסָּפֵר is the niph'al third-person masculine imperfect form of ס־פ־ר, and one of the functions of the niph'al is to denote a kind of passive. What is important here is that, understood using the same literal interpretative apparatus that the Biblical foreknowledge claims rely upon, the verse is not saying that the stars are countless, which is straightforwardly a quality, it is saying something subtly different: they will not get counted or aren't going to get counted, which is a plainer predictive statement. This renders verse a lot more trivial, since it's ultimately just saying that the stars are hard to count, which is relatively obvious. (Understanding it as a "modal imperfect" can plausibly render this as "could not get counted" or similar instead, but this would require non-literal analysis and is still different from making a scientific claim of incalculability.)

The Bible is being poetic rather than scientific. The Bible also states here that sand is as equally innumerable as the stars. However, that idea is clearly absurd as there is only a finite amount of sand on the planet. While difficulties may be found in defining "sand", a reasonable estimate is 7.5 x 1018 grains. Even taking into account the rock cycle of sand and stone, it is very much a finite resource and far from countless. Abstract mathematics does feature "uncountable" numbers, but that's something different and clearly not alluded to in this Biblical passage.

Science now

Science estimates that, far from incalculable, there are approximately 9 × 1021 stars in the observable universe. While it really is difficult to put an exact figure even on the number of stars in our own galaxy,Wikipedia the number is far from "incalculable" and just requires a few assumptions and honesty about the potential errors in calculation.[3]

As far as the number of "descendants of King David", the present population of the earth is less than 1010, which is very small compared to the number of stars. To take the promise in Jeremiah literally, the number of descendants of David is not "countless" nor "measureless", as well as being far from the number of stars.

Science then

As with most stuff like this, the "1100 stars" thing isn't referenced to anything specific, so it is difficult to track down. It is probably a reference to Ptolemy, who catalogued just under 1100 stars in The Almagest.[4] These were just the stars that Ptolemy said he was able to see and catalogue properly - that there are more than 1100 stars can be shown by even a casual glance at the sky on a clear night.[note 1] This is decent enough science, but is quoted very heavily out of context.

The Greek mathematician Archimedes wrote a treatise, The Sand Reckoner,Wikipedia which took off from the concept of counting the number of grains of sand, not merely "on the seashore" but in the universe, to introduce a notation for very large numbers rather than just giving up. In brief, the "sand on the seashore" is not "measureless" and such things were thought of by early mathematicians.

Free float of Earth in space[edit]

The Bible

Job 26:7
Hebrew English
נֹטֶ֣ה צָפֹ֣ון עַל־תֹּ֑הוּ תֹּ֥לֶה אֶ֝֗רֶץ עַל־בְּלִי־מָֽה׃ He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.

While fairly accurate this is contradicted by Psalm 104:5 "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved" and is open to some wild interpretations - it's hardly the Bible accurately describing Kepler's laws. This passage, taken as literally as possible, describes that there is nothing under the Earth, hardly compatible with the above which states that the Earth is definitely a sphere. Translations also differ, the New King James Version as well as many others states that he "hangs the world on nothing" (as if to say, that there isn't a hook to hang it on). As it's clear, even to ancient peoples that the Earth (as a disk or sphere) is not a giant hanging basket, it doesn't particularly say much.

Job also goes on to say in the same set of verses that "He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it" but we don't see clouds on the moon unless this simply referred to earthly clouds covering the full Moon. At least those peddling Scientific Bible based woo have the option of cherry picking what can and can't be shoehorned into looking like reality. In fact, the entire chapter seems to be more like a bad trip.

Finally, the passage in the Bible was spoken by Job. When the Lord arrived to deliver his soliloquy, the Lord declared that he laid the foundation of the earth, implying that the Earth is not freely-floating.

Science now

Well, "free float in space" is hardly the right description at all. The Earth is very well held within the gravity of the Sun and influenced by the gravity of the other planets in the solar system. Orbital mechanics are quite well understood things; a free-floating planet would have to lie outside the Sun's gravitational field as a Rogue planet.Wikipedia

Science then

The idea of the disk-like earth standing on the back of a turtle was a feature of Hindu (i.e., religious, not scientific) mythology. There are many "world turtles" or similar creatures that hold the world on their backs but they all have one thing in common - they're of religious and cultural origin and in no way scientific. Even by the standards of science "then".

The science then should instead mention how Greek scholars determined that the Earth was spherical, along with one scholar managing to determine the circumference of the earth based on the measurement of a shadow during noon.

Creation made of invisible elements (atoms)[edit]

The Bible

Hebrews 11:3
Greek English
Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι. 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.

Faith is the antithesis of the Scientific method.

Looking at the whole of Hebrews 11 we see that the chapter is about faith, and not really concerned about the actual factual content. What the verse may allude to outside of the context of talking about "by faith we believe x, y and z" is debatable. Whatever it means, it certainly makes no direct mention of atoms or elements or molecules or anything vaguely resembling structural chemistry or biology. It is also clear that the "invisible" that is being referred to is meant to be divine influence, not material parts.

Science now

When moving from the macroscopic to the microscopic - atomic and molecular - scale, visibility changes its meaning somewhat. Individual atoms are indeed too small to be seen with light that is visible to the human eye (they're much smaller than the wavelength of visible light), but their detection with spectroscopic methods demonstrates their presence and structure just fine. Atoms and elements are hardly invisible as in undetectable. X-Ray diffraction and neutron diffraction indicate the location of nuclei within a molecule with extreme precision, generating the closest to a "picture" of a molecule that we can reasonably expect given the physics of the molecular world.

Brownian motion can only be explained though the description of matter in discrete molecular or atom forms. This effect - the apparent random motion of dust in the air or coloured dye that is dropped into clear water - was used as one of the first pieces of evidence to indicate the existence of such "invisible" atoms and molecules.

Science then

Science was hardly ignorant on the subject, although the theories have come a long way in 2000 years. The theory of "four elements" and the concept of atoms dates back to the ancient Greeks (atom is Greek for "indivisible"), and similar theories date even further back, although none were universally accepted. Although largely an inaccurate description of reality at the atomic scale, these ideas were a phenomenologicalWikipedia description of the world.

Each star is different[edit]

The Bible

1 Corinthians 15:41
Greek English
ἄλλη δόξα ἡλίου, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα σελήνης, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα ἀστέρων· ἀστὴρ γὰρ ἀστέρος διαφέρει ἐν δόξῃ. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

The original quote seems to imply that the Bible says that all stars will have a different chemical make up, characteristic of whether they are first generation or second generation, or their age. The actual Bible passage itself refers to "splendor" (or "glory" in other translations), this quality is not a quantifiable amount or remotely scientific. Given poetic license, it can be said that stars differ from each other in splendor or glory, while in more objective ways they are all just balls of gas. Likewise, this claims both the splendor of the Sun and the stars is different which is false since the Sun is also a star and if it appears so different to them is because it's much closer than even the nearest one, and that the splendor of the Sun and the Moon is also different -also false, since moonlight is mostly sunlight reflected by the Moon.-

It would be a very dubious translation indeed that changes "splendor/glory" to "spectral type" to make this more closely resemble what is claimed.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this is a hell of a lot of stars...

Science now

All stars, in principle, are slightly different in terms of mass or chemical make up. This is just the way the universe works on a macroscopic level. But they are broadly grouped together in spectral classes. This is done through many methods; by analyzing the spectrum that is emitted by stars to identify the key elements contained in them, or by their size or brightness.[5]

Science then

To someone who lives in a modern urban setting and doesn't pay much attention to the skies, it might seem plausible that if you've seen one star, you've seen them all. Such an ignorant modern might guess that in ancient times, people were just as ignorant; but those who did observe the sky would readily see that stars are different in brightness and color. The earliest star catalogs, from all over the world, described the differences between the stars.[6] And, of course, there were those special "wandering stars", that is, the planets, with their individual movements described by peoples from Mesoamerica to China (and in the Bible too, but just two and in passingWikipedia).

Light moves[edit]

The Bible

Job 38:19-20
Hebrew English
אֵי־זֶ֣ה הַ֭דֶּרֶךְ יִשְׁכָּן־אֹ֑ור וְ֝חֹ֗שֶׁךְ אֵי־זֶ֥ה מְקֹמֹֽו׃
כִּ֣י תִ֭קָּחֶנּוּ אֶל־ גְּבוּלֹ֑ו וְכִֽי־ תָ֝בִ֗ין נְתִיבֹ֥ות בֵּיתֹֽו׃
What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

Far from explicitly stating that light moves, this paragraph suggests that both darkness and light dwell somewhere (so, maybe it's implied, but it's still hardly a good description of light). It also suggests that darkness is an actual thing, rather than just the mere absence of light; this is true on Discworld, where darkness must be faster than light because it can get out of light's way, but not in reality. It is also possible that the words 'light' and 'darkness' in this passage are being used as metaphors for knowledge and ignorance. While this makes more sense, it renders it irrelevant as evidence of scientific support for the modern concept of light.

Science now

The modern scientific view on light is tied up in Quantum Electrodynamics (QED). In this highly successful branch of quantum theory, light is described as a packet of energy in the form of a photon. Photons have both the properties of particles (that they can be counted in specific quanta as shown in the photoelectric effect) and the properties of waves (that they can interfere constructively or destructively and possess wavelength and phase). A more thorough description is beyond the scope of this article, but to say that "science says light moves" is a ridiculous simplification.

Science then

Wikipedia lists numerous historical beliefs about light,[7] the earliest being Hindu and Greek ideas. In the former, light was treated as if it was an element. In the latter, Empedocles suggested that the eye itself sent out a ray which allowed people to see (like sonar, radar or more relevantly, lidar), a mysterious interaction between this ray and the sun was used to explain why it was impossible to see in the dark. Shortly after this, the theory was revised to say that light was produced not by the eye, but by light sources and the eye only received and interpreted the light. Even as far back as 1000 AD/CE, light was agreed as having a finite, although impressively large, speed.

"Light is fixed in place" has little meaning (if it was fixed in place, how would it work, exactly?), but has no basis in either ancient ideas or semi-modern science.

Air has weight[edit]

The Bible

Job 28:25
Hebrew English
לַעֲשֹׂ֣ות לָר֣וּחַ מִשְׁקָ֑ל וּ֝מַ֗יִם תִּכֵּ֥ן בְּמִדָּֽה׃ When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters.

Quite how this translates to "air has weight" is unknown. The term "force" suggests mass, but F=ma is nowhere in the Bible anyway. However, let's look at other translations: the "Amplified Bible" (whatever that means) has this passage as "When He gave to the wind weight or pressure and allotted the waters by measure", the King James version says "To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure". The Contemporary English Version merely states "When God divided out the wind and the water". The Skeptics Annotated Bible features no footnotes, cynical or otherwise. So, indeed, the Bible does say that the air has "weight", but the wording of the translation is somewhat disputed and it doesn't say much else.

Science now

Science now does indeed say that the wind has weight. The weight of the air above you at sea level is what produces 1 atmosphere of pressure. Science can go one further than the Bible. It can say how much weight, or how much mass, and do so quite accurately. It can tell us what gives the air its weight (molecules of gas) and the proportions of these that contribute to the weight of "air". And more, because the composition of air changes with altitude, its local mass density also changes with altitude. Air does have weight, and modern science can tell us far more about it than that.

Science then

Because we can't see clean air (N2, O2 and the major gases that comprise it are largely transparent to visible light) it's easy to think that it isn't there. However, wind clearly exerts a force, you can certainly feel it, and when it blows over a tree you can certainly see its effects. Fairly old science has talked of "ether", a weightless medium in which light travels, but this is not air and no one ever said it was. In short, this section is a complete lie.

Winds blow in cyclones[edit]

The Bible

Ecclesiastes 1:6
Hebrew English
הֹולֵךְ֙ אֶל־דָּרֹ֔ום וְסֹובֵ֖ב אֶל־צָפֹ֑ון סֹובֵ֤ב ׀ סֹבֵב֙ הֹולֵ֣ךְ הָר֔וּחַ וְעַל־סְבִיבֹתָ֖יו שָׁ֥ב הָרֽוּחַ׃ The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
One schematic of a cyclone according to modern observations shows that it's a little more than "round and round it goes".

What is quoted here is that the wind has a pattern; it can for all intents and purposes blow from any direction. The Bible here is describing a very weak cyclic pattern, but nothing concrete. No mention of the causes of cyclones or depressions or even the direction (which changes on opposite sides of the equator). There is no actual science in this passage, it may be a good observation but so is saying "the sky is blue".

Science now

Atmospheric science and meteorology is one of the most important scientific disciplines in the world. Predicting the weather is vital not just to make sure you pick the right day to go to the beach, but for harvesting crops, preparing transport networks for snow and boarding up houses and evacuating areas in the paths of hurricanes. Some of the world's most powerful supercomputers are dedicated to modeling the atmosphere and what it does and this requires precise reported data (from satellites, balloons and ground based stations) to be entered into an extremely complex modeling program. The level of complexity in the wind and atmosphere is immense and indescribable in a short paragraph. As seen previously, science knows quite a lot now.

Science then

No one has ever claimed that winds just blow "straight". This would be a foolish statement in conflict with even the most casual observations; releasing a leaf into the wind shows it is jostled about in many directions as it is carried along, winds in a tornado clearly move in a very tight, curved path. Winds change direction easily and commonly, but how would that be possible if they could only blow straight? Whoever stated that winds only blow straight - if Evidence Bible ever say where they're getting these ideas from - was certainly no scientist.

Blood is the source of life and health[edit]

The Bible

Leviticus 17:11
Hebrew English
כִּ֣י נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַבָּשָׂר֮ בַּדָּ֣ם הִוא֒ וַאֲנִ֞י נְתַתִּ֤יו לָכֶם֙ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־הַדָּ֥ם ה֖וּא בַּנֶּ֥פֶשׁ יְכַפֵּֽר׃ 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.
Life is in the blood, unless it's clogged with fat. Then death - fatty, greasy death - is in the blood.

"For the life of a creature is in the blood", well this is very true. Except for plants. And jellyfish. And sponges. And sea stars. And bacteria. And fungi. And most insects. But other than that, for animals that have blood it is immediately obvious that blood is very important. Most "dumb" animals do react badly to their own blood, knowing without even having the higher intelligence associated with (most) humans that it is deadly to bleed. The fact that the Bible states this fairly obvious point is nothing special.

A number of myths and half-truths around blood have appeared throughout the ages and recording such is not restricted solely to the Bible, Wikipedia has a list that should keep any interested individual entertained for some time.[8]

Science now

Before reading further, ask just one question: are there any documented cases of blood transfusion reviving someone already dead?

Blood is far from the "source" of life. For those living things that have blood it functions primarily as a delivery system between cells for oxygen and nutrients (and also a transport network for the immune response). Cells are perfectly able to survive in the absence of blood (a fortunate fact, as the vast majority of laboratory cell research is done without using blood), provided that the nutrients they need are readily available near them (typically via some nutrient-rich agar base).

Many living things do not actually have blood. Most insects lack a circulatory system, instead they rely on being small enough to absorb oxygen directly from the atmosphere. Plants also lack blood, although some plants are able transport nutrients dissolved in water via a process known as transpiration. Single-celled organisms such as amoeba and bacteria obviously do not require any means of "inter cellular transportation".

Ignoring plants and other non-animals when discussing life is a common theme in literature, even in the modern day. Countless works of science fiction feature explorers arriving on a lush green planet who do not consider it inhabited by life until they come across an animal. However, if intended as a scientifically accurate statement, it fails at that mission.

The statement that "blood is the source of life" is analogous to saying that delivery trucks "are the source of life", in the sense that these trucks deliver essential supplies to the regions that need them. Vertebrates need a lot of things to live (i.e. oxygen, nutrients, temperature regulation, light) and deprive a living thing of any one of them and death will tend to follow. If blood truly was "the source of life" it arguably follows that you could improve your health simply by injecting some into you.

Science then

At the time the Old Testament was written, there really wasn't any 'science' about blood to speak of. The Hellenistic theory of humorism (where blood was one of the four 'humors') was still a good few centuries away, and most attitudes towards blood (Israelite or otherwise) were rooted in myth and superstition. The idea that "blood is the source of life" was certainly not unique to the bible or the Hebrews - pretty much every tribal group ever studied has some variation on this theme. It can be presumed that even cavemen would have noticed that "loss of blood leads to death" and what happens with women's menstruation, and from there it is a short journey to the idea that "blood must be the source of life". There was certainly no concept of "blood as a nutrient transport system", the idea that blood circulates was not even suggested until the 12th century, and was not established until the 17th century (by William HarveyWikipedia). The role of blood in the immune system was not established until the late 19th century.

Ocean floor contains deep valleys and mountains[edit]

The Bible

2 Samuel 22:16
Hebrew English
וַיֵּֽרָאוּ֙ אֲפִ֣קֵי יָ֔ם יִגָּל֖וּ מֹסְדֹ֣ות תֵּבֵ֑ל בְּגַעֲרַ֣ת יְהוָ֔ה מִנִּשְׁמַ֖ת ר֥וּחַ אַפֹּֽו׃ 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.
Jonah 2:6
Hebrew English
לְקִצְבֵ֤י הָרִים֙ יָרַ֔דְתִּי הָאָ֛רֶץ בְּרִחֶ֥יהָ בַעֲדִ֖י לְעֹולָ֑ם וַתַּ֧עַל מִשַּׁ֛חַת חַיַּ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽי׃ To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

The passage from Jonah mentions only mountains, but in a wider context, Jonah is at the bottom of the sea at this point. However, is this science? It would certainly be difficult to produce a topological map with the technology available 2000-3000 years ago. Realistically, there are only two choices for predicting the appearance of the ocean floor; it's either flat or mountainous. Getting it right from a 50/50 chance is hardly impressive, particularly as common sense can inform this opinion quite easily.

Science now

One of the many deep trenches under the ocean floor, mapped by the US Geological Survey

The ocean floor is the least explored area in the world. It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean, and the abyssal plain at the bottom of it. It is tremendously difficult to access to view and practically every deep excursion discovers something new. Real science is constantly being used to add to the knowledge known about the ocean floor. If the Bible had any real foreknowledge to predict for us, this would be an ideal subject for it to contribute to. Does it explain ocean floor chemistry or list any species we haven't observed yet? No. In that respect, the Voynich manuscriptWikipedia has a better chance of predicting what we will discover at the bottom of the sea.

The ocean floor is now well mapped. Sonar on ships and remote sensors on satellites are both used to precisely map the elevations of the sea floor without the need to visit it. These methods are extremely accurate and present some of the most advanced science and technology that we have developed thus far. The latest editions of Google Earth now feature ocean floor topography in quite extensive detail which can only improve as the project moves forward.

Science then

The idea that the ocean floor is flat was made up, in a similar manner to the prevalence of the flat earth. Any observation of the ocean floor, no matter how casual will reveal that its structure is far from flat. Casual swimmers in the Mediterranean are easily be able to spot the underwater cliffs and large rock formations that are abundant in its coastline, and Homer informs us that ancient Greek sailors were well aware of the many dangers that rocks posed, especially around Greece and Italy (qv. Google Maps).

Ocean contains springs[edit]

The Bible

Job 38:16
Hebrew English
הֲ֭בָאתָ עַד־נִבְכֵי־יָ֑ם וּבְחֵ֥קֶר תְּ֝הֹ֗ום הִתְהַלָּֽכְתָּ׃ Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Most of the Bible can be read as metaphorical or poetic, but we will waive this point again. This passage mentions springs. Nothing else. Where is the mention of "underwater lakes" made of far more dense salt water, or the deep sea vents that have temperatures well over 100°C? Where does it mention the life that grows by these springs? Again, this is hardly a scientific finding. The rest of this section of Job is also a bit weird, mentioning a lot of things that make no sense, from putting garments on clouds to putting the oceans behind doors, truly this is cherry picking at its finest.

Science now

As with the previous section, the ocean floor is at the forefront of exploration. We journey to the ocean floor in very well constructed submersible vehicles to study these things and new facts appear all the time.

Science then

Strangely this is actually fairly accurate. Has science changed for the worse? No, clearly. There is only a finite amount of water (H2O) on the planet. This is cycled through in what is rather unimaginatively titled the Water Cycle. Water evaporates from the ocean surface (specifically, only the very top layer that is barely a few meters deep, exchanges with the deeper ocean below this top layer are on a much greater timescale), clouds form, it rains and this rain feeds rivers (or the ocean directly), the rivers feed the ocean and the cycle continues. Contrary to what the interpretation of the Biblical statements and the "science" seem to imply, there are no magic springs below the ocean feeding water into them from nowhere.

When dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water[edit]

The Bible

Leviticus 15:13
Hebrew English
וְכִֽי־יִטְהַ֤ר הַזָּב֙ מִזֹּובֹ֔ו וְסָ֨פַר לֹ֜ו שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֛ים לְטָהֳרָתֹ֖ו וְכִבֶּ֣ס בְּגָדָ֑יו וְרָחַ֧ץ בְּשָׂרֹ֛ו בְּמַ֥יִם חַיִּ֖ים וְטָהֵֽר׃ 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.

This seems fine advice! Wash your hands in fresh water, and the freshest water is always at the source where it's running. But let's take Leviticus 15 in a wider context for a moment. The verses immediately after states:

On the eighth day he must take two doves or two young pigeons and come before the LORD to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and give them to the priest. The priest is to sacrifice them, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement before the LORD for the man because of his discharge.

...nothing particularly "science-like" there. Let's also look at what this "discharge" is by skipping to the end of Leviticus 15:

These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen.

The "discharge" is semen and the entire chapter is devoted to sex and the "issue", also called masturbation nocturnal emission. The chapter also goes on and mentions female periods and that anyone touching the woman is "unclean" - that's touching the blood or just the woman. This is Biblical foreknowledge at its best, because the medical literature is so obviously inundated with articles and papers on cooties.[9]

Ignoring the actual context of Leviticus and focusing solely on the instruction about bathing, this can be interpreted as potentially decent advice regarding hygiene. Regardless it certainly wasn't interpreted that way by anyone until well after the discovery of modern antiseptic practices in the 19th century. (See Ignaz Semmelweis).

Science now

Water is fresh at the source because it has usually just been put there by rain, which tends to be clean, or even better, is a spring fed by an aquifer. It is filtered through rock and gravel which pull out all the usual shit that's suspended in it. The water at the source also hasn't passed by fields full of animals (or worse, people) so hasn't been contaminated by their waste or, in the modern context, their fertilizers and chemicals. Fresh spring water is about as close to clean as you can get (ignoring, for the moment, underground plumes of man-made contaminants).

Modern medicine has many antibiotics, disinfectant and sterilizing solutions, and treatments for cleaning and dealing with disease. "Science Now" therefore, would be unlikely to recommend plain, fresh water for anything other than cleaning one's eyes.[10] At the very least, "soap" would be part of the recipe, and the water would either be highly purified distilled water or similarly clean saline.

Science then

Whatever the source for the statement that one should wash in still water, it was certainly not scientific in origin. Most cultures throughout history have learned the hard way that stagnant water can easily harbour dirt and infection. The odds are that this statement is derived from the Greek tradition of bathing, something not particularly liked by all cultures of the ancient world.[11] As with most "science" of ancient times, facts and figures were mostly bullshit, pulled out at random because the important thing was not to have evidence but to have a vaguely sensible idea.


Science in the Bible

The idea of fideism is that faith is the most important thing of all, above evidence, above reason, above logic. It essentially states that you just have to believe, and ignore the evidence against you; these are just tests of faith, after all. However, for some, this faith is not enough, they need to prove it, and they want to prove it desperately. This is where things like this come in.

Documentaries called "Proving The Bible True" or books like "Evidence Bible" play on the fears that people having their own faith in religion isn't strong enough. The result is that these people are then fed a pack of complete and utter lies and misrepresentations in order to back up their prejudices and pre-existing beliefs. The actual original meaning of "prove" is "to test", so if you want to go out and prove something, you need to be prepared to disprove it too. This is how science works, you test and you find out what is right and what is wrong - and then you test it again.

Without this ability to say that you are wrong, or that your data was misleading, or that a new theory is better, science is nothing. And this is what we see here, with things like "Evidence Bible", they try to put it forward as scientific, but forget that the evidence can disprove their notions rather than back them up. Faced with this massive dilemma - accept the evidence and lose the beliefs, or keep the beliefs and just ignore the evidence as a test of faith - they take the option to misconstrue the evidence, lie, cheat and quote-mine their way out of an unwinnable situation.

This poster and card set titled "Science Confirms the Bible" is extremely simple and things like it are extremely common. Anyone with any specialty in the subjects mentioned can see the problems with it immediately, where the errors are, where the misrepresentations lie. Anyone with access to a Bible can also see the problems immediately, problems with translations or dubious interpretations.

It's not difficult to debunk, but it is time consuming so why do it? The answer is simple: the key to the success of "Science Confirms the Bible" and similar efforts by fundamentalists is its simplicity. These things are given to school children who will take what they are given as fact and will understand it because of the ease of the language.

This is a distortion, a caricature or parody of real science and these simple statements are outright wrong and devalue what science has actually given the world. Such things cannot go around completely unrefuted or even worse, merely laughed off as silly. The latter, especially, gets you nowhere; why just say that someone is wrong when you can prove it?

This also considers people of ancient times were ignorant. While it's true they knew far less than us in some subjects, especially those that required complex instrumentation (up to far) beyond the technology available in those times even if they had known how to build such instruments and the physical principles behind them, they as noted above could have inferred some facts by observation (people die if they lose so much blood, washing hands in water helps to prevent some illnesses, etc).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Actually some thousands. See here.


  1. "Science Confirms the Bible". 
  2. - Earth's gravity revealed in unprecedented detail
  3. Stars v sand
  4. - Ptolemy's Catalog of the Stars
  5. Atlas of the Universe - The Classification of Stars
  6. See the Wikipedia article on Star catalogue § Historical catalogues.
  7. See the Wikipedia article on theories about light.
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Cultural and religious beliefs about blood.
  9. ISI's Web of Knowledge indexes two articles about cooties. "The Cooties Complex" Samuelson, S., Western Folklaw. 39, 3, 198-210 (1980) and "Nit-picking - Confusion and controversy continue over cooties" Goldsmith, J., American Journal of Nursing, 103, 9, 22-23 (2003)
  10. WebMD by Lisa Fields (reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD), August 27, 2020.
  11. Times Online - An unsanitised history of washing