Saturday, 24 March 2012

Things Christians Say, part 8: The bible is totally scientific!

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

The bible is totally scientific!


It has become a favourite ploy of some preachers to claim that the bible contains a lot more science than we thought.

Typically they will make a claim, and then give a reference to a bible verse, which naturally the listeners do not have time to look up and consider.  This means that even the most fair-minded member of the congregation will not have a chance to examine the claims.

Now obviously whatever claims I choose to 'debunk' you could say that, yes, obviously that one is stretching things beyond the bounds of credulity, but I invite you to suggest a few examples in the comments if you can.

Now of course the bible does contain some scientific observations.  I say scientific in that any observations of the real world are the beginning of science.  However, when I last looked I found no equations in the bible.  Whenever I have actually looked at any of the examples that I have heard cited, the 'science' of the scriptures is dressed up as metaphor in such a way that it could mean something deep.  On the other hand it could just be poetic.

I respectfully invite my fair minded readers to provide any proof that the bible's science is above kindergarten level.

Few examples of claims that I have heard, and comments about them:
The world is round: Isaiah 40:22.  In saying "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth" it entirely neglects the three dimensional nature of a sphere.  Science: 1/10
Stars too numerous to count: Jer 33:22's "All the innumerable host of heaven" surely means beings, not stars.   Besides that we know how many stars there are in the galaxy, and it would be pushing it to suggest that this text mentions any knowledge of other galaxies at all.  Science: 1/10
Gravity: Job 26:7. "Suspending the earth in the void" means something about gravity?  To me it says the opposite.  Science 1/10
Stars emit sound:  Ps 19:3 "Their music" means nothing and anyway might not refer to stars, and Job 38:7's "when the morning stars sang together" is obvious poetry.  Oh yes, by the way - stars do not make a noise as such.  They are in the vacuum of space which does not carry sound.
The hydrological cycle.  Eccl. 1:7 neglects to mention the word 'rain' at all (science 1/10), but at least Job 36:27  does a fair job of recognising that mist forms over the sea and that mist is wet.  This is about the best and I give it a score of 5/10!



Let's face it!  Claims that the bible is the source of all science are pretty risible aren't they.  Even if you can find examples better than the ones given above, the biblical texts are at best vague, unsystematic and entirely non-mathematical.  I would contend that they could barely be represented as science with any honesty or integrity to a child of age greater than about 10.

Worse than that, while putting myself through the 'pain' (and amusement) of listening to a few Youtube sermons that claim verses of the bible to explain science, I actually put myself to the trouble (and further amusement) of looking up the references in two respected translations.  (Obviously everyone has their favourite bible which spins 'the word' in the way that they like best, but I chose KJV and New English.)  When you actually look up the verses you find that roughly 50% of the time they refer to nothing that resembles the claim whatsoever.

When you hear a preacher claiming biblical science, just look up his references.  Decide for yourself whether they mean anything with a deeper understanding of science than you would expect to have had in the bronze age.  Do not underestimate the technology of the bronze age - wheels had barely been invented - but you should seriously question whether any of it is science in the modern sense.

Last week: You're SO closed-minded
Next week: So does that mean you worship Satan or something?

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