Bible Science Debunked

 

A Brief Introduction To Biblical Cosmology

It is not uncommon for biblical apologists to make the claim that the Bible miraculously revealed advanced scientific principles long before they were discovered by modern science.  If true, this would lend credibility to the notion that the Bible is divinely inspired (or that the Bible authors were incredibly astute).  But can these claims really be substantiated through an objective analysis of the biblical citations that are presented to support this premise?  In order to find out, I searched the Internet for Christian apologetic websites that tout the Bible as a source of revelatory scientific insight and settled on one developed by a Mr. David Pyles entitled, “Scientific Facts and Accuracy in the Bible.”  I chose Mr. Pyles’ website because it contained more citations than most and included claims that routinely appear on other such websites. 

Before examining Mr. Pyles’ claims for the Bible’s amazing scientific accuracy, it is helpful to first set the stage by providing an overview of the ancient Hebrew concept of the universe.  According to the Harper's Bible Dictionary,

“The ancient Hebrews imagined the world as flat and round [disk], covered by the great solid dome of the firmament which was held up by mountain pillars, (Job 26:11; 37:18). The blue color of the sky was attributed to the chaotic waters that the firmament separated from the earth (Gen. 1:7). The earth was thus surrounded by waters above and below (Gen. 1:6,7; cf. Psalms 24:2; 148:4, Deut. 5:8). The firmament was thought to be substantial; it had pillars (Job 26:11) and foundations (2 Sam. 22:8). When the windows of it were opened, rain fell (Gen. 7:11-12; 8:2). The sun, moon, and stars moved across or were fixed in the firmament (Gen. 1:14-19; Ps. 19:4,6). It was also the abode of the birds (Gen. 1:20; Deut. 4:17). Within the earth lay Sheol, the realm of the dead (Num. 16:30-33; Isa. 14:9,15)."

Yes, those Bronze Age science wizards whose creation folktales were collected in the Old Testament really did believe that the earth was covered by a solid dome.  The Hebrew word translated as firmament in Genesis is "raqiya."  Strong's Lexicon (searchable at the Blue Letter Bible website) translates the word as "extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament."  In keeping with the notion of solidity, the dome was thought to be impervious to water, i.e., it separated the waters above it from the waters below, to contain windows that regulated precipitation, to serve as a surface across which the sun, moon, and stars traveled, and to serve as a sub-floor for the mythical reservoirs of snow and hail (Job 38:22).

The concept of a solid dome in the sky is also exemplified by Job 37:18 which describes God as spreading out the heavens and making them "as strong as a cast metal mirror." (NKJV)   In Isa. 40:22, the heavens are likened to the fabric of a curtain or tent.  And in a footnote to "raqiya," Strong's Lexicon states, "...considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting "waters above."

A depiction of this archaic concept of a dome-covered universe and further discussion on the subject can found here.

Incidentally, the sky is not blue because a make-believe firmament partially transmits the color of “chaotic waters” confined above it.  It is blue because of a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering.

 

Examining the Claims

 

In consideration of the foregoing, it is difficult to identify anything that might come close to qualifying as cutting-edge science.  Truth be told, the ancient Hebrew concept of the universe is manifestly unscientific and something that any Typical Scientifically-Ignorant Bronze Age Goat Herder (TSIBAGH) might be expected to have dreamed up.  Be that as it may, in what follows, let’s see how Mr. Pyles’ claims stand up to scrutiny.  (It appears Mr. Pyles has used the KJV Bible for most of his biblical citations.  I have done likewise, unless otherwise specified.)

Claim 1.

Genesis 1:1,3 (written 3,450 years ago): "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth . . . And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

Science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power and motion. "In the beginning (time) God created (power) the Heaven (space) and the earth (matter) . . . And the Spirit of God moved (motion) upon the face of the waters."

My Response:

Genesis gets off to a rather dubious start in the science department because it violates one of the principal tenets of the scientific method, i.e., it invokes supernatural causation.  Science deals exclusively with natural causes and effects.  (See here.) God, a supernatural entity, cannot be invoked as a scientific explanation for the origin of the universe (or anything else for that matter).  Scientific theories dealing with the origin of the universe do not include reference to any creator gods because to do so would render them utterly unscientific.

According to an earlier understanding of  “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe (based on general relativity factors), time started when matter/energy originated and was set in motion through space.   The thinking was that the process began with a so-called singularity in which matter/energy was compressed to an incredibly high density (similar to the condition that is thought to exist at the center of black holes).  Now, taking into account additional factors relating to quantum mechanics, it is the consensus of cosmologists that there was no singularity at the start of the Big Bang. This means that time did not necessarily begin with the Big Bang and that the universe could extend back in time with no limit, i.e., it may have existed in one form or another forever.  In other words, and in contradiction to Genesis, there may well not have been a beginning of the universe for anyone or any thing to cause.  The Genesis creation story provides none of this insight and consists of nothing that a TSIBAGH could not have dreamed up.  More to the point, it is precisely the type of mythical folktale a TSIBAGH would be expected to dream up.

Although Genesis 1:1-3 makes general statements about what God supposedly did, it provides no information regarding how He did it.  Scientific explanations include information not only about what happened, but also about how (using only naturalistic mechanisms) it happened.  Not only does Genesis get virtually everything wrong, it also leaves out far too many details to qualify as a source of useful scientific information on the origin of the universe.

Arbitrarily assigning scientific meanings to words in ancient documents does not automatically lend any scientific credibility to the stories they tell.  One can play the same word game with a number of ancient creation stories.  Consider the following from a part of a Chinese creation story:

In the beginning (time), the heavens and earth were still one and all was chaos.  The universe was like a big black egg, carrying Pan Gu inside itself.  After 18 thousand years Pan Gu woke from a long sleep.  He felt suffocated, so he took up a broadax and wielded it with all his might (power) to crack open the egg.  The light, clear part of it floated up (motion) and formed the heavens (space), the cold, turbid matter stayed below to form earth (matter).

I have inserted the words "time," "power," "motion," "space," and "matter" using the same logic (or lack thereof) that Mr. Pyles used in his example above.  Does this lend any scientific credibility to the creation story of Pan Gu?  I don’t think so.  Neither do I think it does so when Mr. Pyles uses the same specious approach with the Bible.

Claim 2.

Genesis 2:1 (after creation): "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."

The Hebrew word used here is the past definite tense for the verb "finished," indicating an action completed in the past, never again to occur. The creation was "finished" -- once and for all. That is what the First Law of Thermodynamics says. It states that neither matter nor energy can be either created or destroyed. There is no "creation" ongoing today. It is "finished" exactly as the Bible states.

My Response:

Many creation myths describe the creation event as a onetime occurrence.  (See here.)  There is nothing unique about the Bible in this regard.  Since the ancient Hebrews did not observe any further acts of creation in the heavens or on earth, it would be only natural for them to conclude that God was finished with the process.

Not only does the Bible fail to specifically address the concepts of matter and energy, it neglects to mention one of the most fundamental aspects of the relationship between them, i.e., that they are inter-convertible.  Now if the Bible had included the fact that E=mc2 (something that science did not discover until the Twentieth Century), Mr. Pyles would have something to write home about.  That would have been a revelation that would have given serious credence to the claim that the Bible was divinely inspired.  As it is, again we are left with nothing that a TSIBAGH could not have dreamed up.

Gen. 2:1 implies that God created a specific number of stars, that the creation process is completed, and that the number of stars will remained fixed forever.  While the amount of matter and energy in the universe is constant, there is still a great deal of “creation” occurring at present.   For example, new stars and star systems are forming naturally on a regular basis.  (See here for more information.)   

Claim 3.

Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

This verse reveals that a female possesses the "seed of life." This was not the common knowledge until a few centuries ago. It was widely believed that the male only possessed the "seed of life" and that the woman was nothing more than a glorified incubator.

My Response:

The Hebrew word in this passage translated as seed is “zera.”  A common usage of this word in the Bible is to denote “offspring, descendants, posterity, children.”   Consider, for example, Gen. 9:9 – “And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;”

The word "zera" in Gen. 3:15 is translated as “offspring” in the Living Bible and the NLT, NIV, ESV, and HNV Bibles.  The verse makes little sense if it is interpreted as meaning there will be enmity between a sperm and an ovum.  Again there is nothing in this divine threat that a TSIBAGH could not have dreamed up.  It is simply the story of a vengeful god who supposedly punished Adam and Eve by causing dissention among their descendants.

Claim 4.

Genesis 17:12: "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed."

Why was circumcision to be carried out on the eighth day? Medical science has discovered that the eighth day is the only day in the entire life of the newborn that the blood clotting element prothrombin is above 100%.

My Response:

Which is more likely?  That God magically transmitted the message that baby boys should not be circumcised before eight days.  Or, that it was learned the hard way that whacking off the ends of the penises of boys younger than eight days causes them to bleed to death.  Again there is nothing here that a TSIBAGH could not have discovered by trial and error.  Nonetheless, it is sobering to contemplate how many babies they must have had to kill before the eight-day time limit finally dawned on them, assuming the claim is true? 

Furthermore, assuming the claim is true, what about the fact that the blood-clotting systems in different newborns would be expected to mature at different rates?  What about those newborns whose clotting factors had not reached the proper concentrations by day eight?  Presumably they were just another accepted casualty of the penis trimming business.

More to the point, I can find no support for this eight-day optimal prothrombin level in the medical literature.  This claim only appears on some apologetic websites and appears to originate from an apologetic book written by one apologetic doctor.  According to a reliable medical source (See here.), "The newborn coagulation system matures to adult concentrations and functions over 6 months..." and "prothrombin levels lag behind adult concentrations by 20% into childhood..."  If prothrombin concentration is such a big deal, why not wait until these babies had reached adulthood at which time the clotting system would be fully mature and they would have the added benefit of deciding for themselves whether they wanted their penis carved or not? 

Claim 5.

Leviticus 17:11 (written 3000 years ago): "For the life of the flesh is in the blood."

The Scriptures declare that blood is the source of life. Up until 120 years ago, sick people were "bled", and many died because of the practice. We now know that blood is the source of life. If you lose your blood, you will lose your life.

My Response:

Even a TSIBAGH, after observing numerous animals die as a consequence of losing substantial amounts of blood, should have been able to make the obvious connection that blood is somehow related to the maintenance of life.  The animal is wounded, the blood drains out, and the animal dies. Therefore, blood is somehow involved in keeping animals alive.  Again, there is nothing indicative of supernaturally transmitted wisdom here.

Just for the record, blood is not the sole “source” of life.  Blood is just one of a number of body fluids that are essential for life.  Others include: lymphatic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, and urine. They are all necessary for survival.

If the Bible authors were such hotshot anatomists, why didn’t they have a clue about the function of the brain?  They always associated thought processes and emotions with the heart (See here.) and the kidneys (See here.), and never associated any metal processes with the brain.  There is not a single instance in the Bible where it talks about the heart pumping blood or having anything to do with blood.  Nor is there any mention of the brain being the seat of consciousness or thought.  In fact, the Bible never mentions the brain at all.  Why would a God who supposedly gave them the lowdown on the “source of life” keep them in the dark about the true functions of such vital organs as the heart and brain?  Sounds suspiciously like these stories were written by a bunch of TSIBAGH’s to me.

Claim 6.

Leviticus 15:13 (written 3000 years ago): "And when he that has an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean."

The Bible said that when dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water. Up until 100 years ago doctors washed their hands in a basin of still water, resulting in the death of multitudes. We now know that doctors must wash their hands under running water. The Encyclopedia Britannica documents that in 1845, a young doctor in Vienna named Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was horrified at the terrible death rate of women who were dying after giving birth in hospitals. As many as 30% of those giving birth died. The Doctor noted that doctors would examine the bodies of those who had died, then, without washing their hands, go straight to the next wards and examine expectant mothers. This was their normal practice, because the presence of microscopic diseases was unknown. Doctor Semmelweis insisted that doctors wash their hands before examinations, and the death rate immediately dropped down to 2%.

My Response:

If God was so all-fired concerned about people’s health 3000 years ago, why didn’t he inform them that many diseases are caused by very small living organisms that can spread from one individual to another?  That way they could have avoided direct contact with infected individuals.  Why didn’t he instruct them how to make soap for cleansing (or better yet, antibiotics), which would have greatly reduced the spread of infectious diseases?  It is generally agreed that the disease under discussion in Lev. 15:13 is leprosy.  Why would God give them false information and tell people they would be free of the disease if they simply washed their clothes and took a bath?

Does the Bible really teach sound hygienic and disease prevention principles?  Consider the Bible’s foolproof method for eliminating leprosy from a dwelling. (See Lev. 14:36-54)

To summarize the process, it involves a priest entering the house in which an infected individual had lived.  If he sees red and green stripes/spots on the walls under the surface, he closes the house and returns after seven days.  If, when he returns, he sees the spots have spread, he orders removal of the affected parts of the wall.  After that, he orders all the walls to be thoroughly scraped and the removed section to be replaced.

But, if after this procedure, the spots appear and spread again, the priest concludes that the infected person had leprosy and the house is “defiled.”  In this case he orders it to be destroyed. However, if the spots have not reappeared, the priest declares the house clean and the leprosy to have been eliminated.  And now the fun begins. 

If the house is pronounced clean, he next performs a cleansing ceremony which involves the use of two birds, cedar wood, scarlet thread, and hyssop branches.  He kills one of the birds over a bowl of water.  Then he dips the living bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop branch, and the scarlet thread into the bloody water from the killed bird.  Then he sprinkles this concoction on the walls of the house seven times, and poof, the house gets the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.  But wait, there’s more.  He then releases the living bird into the boondocks as a gesture of atonement.

(I am not making this up, read it for yourself.)

Does this suggest that the biblical authors had a firm understanding of the causes of diseases like leprosy and the proper procedures for eradicating it?  Does this treatment regimen suggest that God was channeling divine wisdom of the medical sciences to them?  Again, it sounds like the ramblings of a TSIBAGH to me.

Things had not measurably improved by New Testament times.  Jesus is said to have cured one blind man by spitting on the ground, making a mud pie, and smearing the mud on the man’s eyes.  (See John 9:1-15)  Another blind man was claimed to have been cured when Jesus spit directly into his eyes. (See Mark 8:23-35)  These stories about magic spittle have all the hallmarks of having been dreamed up by a typical 1st century witchdoctor.  According to Jas. 5:14-15, people who are sick should just ask church elders to slather them with oil and pray.  I wonder, if someone in Mr. Pyles’ family contracted a serious illness, would he look to the Bible for medical advice or would he consult a certified physician?

Claim 7.

Job 26:7 (written 3500 years ago): "He stretches out the north over the empty place, and hangs the earth upon nothing."

Less than 200 years ago, through the advent of massive telescopes, science learned about the great empty space in the north. Also the Bible claimed that the earth freely floated in space, but science then thought that the earth sat on a large animal. We now know that the earth has a free float in space.

(The first scientist having this understanding would appear to be Copernicus around 1500. Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles)

My Response:

The laughable view of the earth sitting on a large animal is a product of pagan religious mythology, not science.  You can’t blame that 
kind of thinking on scientists because there were no formally-trained scientists around 3500 years ago who thought such a thing.  
Although the ancient Greeks had a quasi-scientific approach to reality, true science (the method of learning based on observation,
hypotheses, experimentation, and more observation) did not reach full development until the Renaissance period (the 14th – 17th 
Centuries).  No true scientist, who practices the scientific method, has ever claimed that the earth is sitting on anything.
 
The word “north” in this passage is used synonymously with “firmament.”  (See here.)  What this passage is describing is the stretching
of the dome-shaped firmament over the earth with no supports in the middle.  To the ancient Hebrews, the earth was unattached to the
center of the dome (i.e., the earth hung on nothing) just like the floor of a building is unattached to the center of a dome that covers it. 
 

It is no secret that the Bible often contradicts itself.  In this case, the notion that the earth hangs on nothing is contradicted by other verses.  For example, 1 Chron. 16:30 “...the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.”  Psa. 93:1 “...the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” Psa. 96:10 “...the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved:”  Psa. 104:5 “[Who] laid the foundations of the earth, [that] it should not be removed for ever.”  Job. 26:11 "The pillars of heaven tremble..."  2 Sam. 22:8 "...the foundations of heaven moved..."  Rather than hanging on nothing, these verses depict the earth and heavens as being firmly fixed on some kind of solid foundation or pillars.

Of course, we now know the author of Job was wrong when he said the earth hangs on nothing.  It “hangs” on the gravitational fields 
of the sun, moon, and other planets in its vicinity.  It is, of course, this attraction that keeps the earth in orbit around the sun.  Not only did 
the author of Job not know that the earth revolved around the sun (or rotated on its axis for that matter), he did not know anything about 
gravitation fields because they are invisible and God apparently neglected to tell him about them.  He surmised the earth hung on nothing 
because, when he looked at the "dome of heaven" there appeared to be nothing that attached the earth to it.  Again, his observations were
consistent with what a TSIBAGH would be expected to have dreamed up.
 
Claim 8.
 Job 28:25 To establish a weight for the wind, And apportion the waters by measure. 

The fact that air has weight was proven scientifically only about 300 years ago. The relative weights of air and water are needed for the efficient functioning of the world’s hydrologic cycle, which in turn sustains life on the earth. 

My Response:

Job is largely a book of poetry.  It is reasonable, therefore, to assume the author was using “weight” in a poetic sense in this passage to indicate that the wind had a force associated with it.  In fact, the NIV, HNL, and World English Bibles do just that and translate the verse as: “…he established the force of the wind…” The NLT and Living Bible versions translate it as: “He made the winds blow…”

There is nothing in this passage to indicate the author had the foggiest idea that air was composed of a mixture of gasses that
have mass.  The passage is describing the air in motion, i.e., wind, which does feel as if it has a weight to it.  Any TSIBAGH who felt the 
force of a violent wind such as a sandstorm would consider it to have a definite heft or weight behind it.  No divine scientific insight
is evident here. 
 
Claim 9. 

Job 38:12, 14, (written 3500 years ago) God Himself says: "Have you commanded the morning since your days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It [the earth] is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment."

Modern science has come to understand that the earth's rotation on its axis is responsible for the sun's rising and setting. The picture here is of a vessel of clay being turned or rotated upon the potter's wheel -- an accurate analogy of the earth's rotation.

My response:

As is so often the case, this argument is based on a questionable translation of the verses in question.  Rather than having anything to 
do with rotation, Job 38:14 is best translated as referring to the visual transformation the earth undergoes as the sun rises.  The ESV Bible 
translates the passage as: “It is changed like clay under a seal and its features stand out like a garment.”  The words “changed” and 
“changes” are also used in translating this passage in the NASB, RSV, ASV, HNV, and DBV Bibles.  The NIV Bible translates it as: 
“The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment.” 
 
This passage is not talking about rotation.  It is describing the fact that the earth’s features begin to reveal themselves (like a seal in 
clay or features in a garment) as the morning sun begins to shed light on them.  Again, nothing that a TSIBAGH poet could not have 
dreamed up.  And what about this nonsense having to do with grabbing the earth by its “ends” and shaking people out of it?  How does 
that comport with the modern scientific understanding of a spherical earth?
 
Claim 10.  

Job 38:16 speaks of springs in the sea. It is now known that there are indeed such springs on the ocean floor.

The earliest literature indicating an understanding of hydrological cycle was apparently around the third or fourth century BC. However, the essential details of this cycle were all revealed in the Bible well before this time. This may be seen from the following texts:

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. - Eccl 1:6,7

For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. - Job 36:27,28

It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name. - Amos 9:6 (Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles)

My Response:

Job 38:16 –   From this site:

“Freshwater submarine springs occur all over the world – from New York to California, from Bahrain to Barbados.  Water pushing to the surface of the sea shows the boil of the spring and can be spotted easily when the tides are low.”

As the article states, these springs arise when fresh water is transported in rocky conduits out into the ocean.  No divine wisdom necessary here - just the ordinary observational skills of a typical scientifically-ignorant Bronze Age sea captain.

Eccl. 1:6  -  The Hebrew word translated as “circuits” in Eccl. 1:6 is “cabiyb.”  It is translated in the AV Bible 252 times as “round about,” 26 times as “on every side,” and 24 times as “about.”  Eccl. 1:6 is the only time in the Bible it is translated as “circuits.”  Rather than specifying any miraculous knowledge of high atmospheric jet streams, this passage, if the common translation is used, more accurately describes winds that simply blow around or about. 

Some Bibles do provide a translation that is in keeping with the standard meaning of the word.  For example, the NLT Bible and the Living Bible translate the passage as: “The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere.”

Again, nothing here that a TSIBAGH would not be aware of.

Eccl. 1:7  -  Well duh!  Since the rivers run into the sea and the sea never fills up, even your TSIBAGH might guess that somehow the water gets back from the sea to the rivers.  Of course no indication is given by this author how this transference might occur.  Now if he had informed his readers that water evaporates from the ocean and forms clouds, and that those clouds are blown over the land where they eventually are cooled to produce rain by condensation, he might have revealed some sort of unique knowledge of the hydrologic cycle.  As it is, no divine insight is evident in this passage.

Job 36:27-28  -  This purported example of scientific insight in the Bible has been thoroughly rebutted here.  (See the section on the Hydrologic Cycle)  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I will simply note that this is a again a matter of dubious translation and quote the author’s conclusion:  “Thus the only 'fact' that can be unambiguously ascertained from this passage is that rain pours down from the clouds as drops of water abundantly upon people.”  Nothing that a TSIBAGH would not be aware of.

Amos 9:6  -  This is the description of a supernatural being who builds his palace above the firmament and places its foundations on the earth and speaks to the water causing it to move through mysterious channels from the seas to the sources of the rivers and streams from whence it pours out onto the land.  There is nothing of scientific merit here.  Just the pious and farfetched ramblings of a TSIBAGH .

To gain a better understanding of how the ancient Hebrews understood these texts, it is helpful to look at that the targum of Ecclesiastes.  (A targum is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible which better represents how the verses would have been understood at the time they were written.)  The targum of Eccl. 1:7 (Grossfeld translation) reads as follows:

“And the sun rises in the day from east, and goes down in the west by night, and hastens to its place, and goes down through the path under the sea, and rises the following day from the place where it rested yesterday; it goes all the side of the south in the day, and goes round to the side of the north by night, through the path under the sea; it turns round and round to the wind of the south corner in the revolution of Nisan and Tamuz, and returns its circuits to the wind of the north corner in the revolution of Tishri and Tebeth; it comes through the windows of the east in the morning, and goes into the windows of the west in the evening. All the rivers and streams of water go and flow into the waters of the ocean which surround the world like a ring, and the ocean is not full, and to the place where the streams go and flow there they go again through the channels of the sea.”

In this description, we see that the ancient Hebrews thought that there were some kind of channels in the oceans that transported the water back to the sources from which it came.  There is no indication in this verse that evaporation or cloud formation had anything to do with it.  Note also the belief that the sun completes its daily circuit by passing under the sea at night.

Claim 11.

Job 38:19 (written 3500 years ago). "Where is the way where light dwells?"

Modern man has only just discovered that light (electromagnetic radiation) has a "way," involving motion traveling at 186,000 miles per second.

My Response:

Not surprisingly Mr. Pyles left off the second half of this verse which reads, “…and darkness, where is the place thereof.”  This passage is not dealing with the motion of light.  It is dealing with the question the ancient Hebrews asked regarding where light and darkness reside.  They thought that light and darkness were two independent entities that “dwell” in different locations.  This interpretation is further supported by the next verse, Job 38:20, which reads, “That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths [to] the house thereof?

Alternative translations of Job 38:19 are provided by the NLT Bible ("Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go?”) and the NIV Bible ("What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?”)  In other words, the TSIBAGH who wrote this stuff didn’t have a clue about the true nature of light and darkness – let alone that light is electromagnetic radiation that travels 186,000 miles a second.  He was asking, where is the path that leads to the light's dwelling place.

Claim 12.

 Job 38:22 (written 3,500 years ago). God says: "Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?"

It wasn't until the advent of the microscope that man discovered that each and every single snowflake is uniquely a symmetrical "treasure."

My Response:

Talk about playing word games!  The Hebrew word translated as “treasures” in this passage is “owstar.”  According to Strong’s Lexicon, the word is used 79 times in the Bible: (treasure(s) 61, treasury 10, storehouse(s) 3, cellars 2, armoury 1, garners 1, store 1).  “Owstar” derives from the root word meaning to store up, save, and lay up.  In speaking of these “treasures,” Job 38:23 reads, “Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?”  Cleary the intent of these passages is to depict a storage place for frozen forms of water. There is no rational basis for inferring that this word is describing the intricate shapes of snowflakes.  It refers to the mythical storehouses of the snow which the TSIBAGH thought existed above the equally mythical firmament.  Accordingly, most Bible versions translate this phrase as “storehouses” or “treasuries” of the snow.

Furthermore, and not surprisingly, Mr. Pyles left off the second half of Job 38:22.  I reads, “or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,” What is so remarkable about hail that it would be called a “treasure” in the same sense as a snowflake?

Claim 13.

 Job 38:35 (written 3,500 years ago. God Himself speaking): "Can you send lightnings, that they may go and say unto you, Here we are?"

The Bible here is saying a scientifically ludicrous statement -- that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves move at the speed of light? This is why you can have instantaneous wireless communication with someone on the other side of the earth. Science didn' t discover this until 1864 when "the British scientist James Clerk Maxwell suggested that electricity and light waves were two forms of the same thing" (Modern Century Illustrated Encyclopedia, Vol. 12).

My Response:

Finally a point of agreement: "The Bible is saying a scientifically ludicrous statement."  This passage is referring to average run-of-the-mill lightning (the Hebrew word “baraq”) not electromagnetically coded messages.  The ancient Hebrews thought that God could hurl lightning bolts at will and that they “spoke” back with thunder. (See 2 Sam. 22:15; Psa. 18:14, 77:18, 135:7, 144:6; Jer. 10:13; and Zec. 9:14)  That is all this passage is conveying; nothing that a TSIBAGH could not dream up.

Claim 14. 

Psalm 8:8: "And the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas."

What does the Bible mean by "paths" of the seas? The sea is just a huge mass of water, how then could it have "paths?" Man discovered the existence of ocean currents in the 1850's, but the Bible declared the science of oceanography 2,800 years ago. Matthew Maury (1806- 1873) is considered to be the father of oceanography. He was bedridden during a serious illness and asked his son to read a portion of the Bible to him. While listening, he noticed the expression "paths of the sea." Upon his recovery, Maury took God at His word and went looking for these paths. His book on oceanography is still considered a basic text on the subject and is still used in universities.

My Response:

There is nothing in this verse to indicate it is speaking specifically about continent-spanning ocean currents.  (In fact the TSIBAGH didn’t know most of the earth’s continents even existed.)  There is no reason to think it is speaking of anything other than the routes that animals and humans take as they traverse the waterways in the Mediterranean area, where biblical authors lived.  Ancient seafarers were aware that routes had to be chosen carefully to avoid dangerous shoals, local currents, rock outcroppings, etc.  Hence it would not be unexpected that they might speak of paths in the sea. 

Any experience the Old Testament authors would have had about sea travel would have been confined primarily to the Mediterranean Sea area.  There is a current in the Mediterranean Sea that is caused by the outflow of warm saline deep water across Gibraltar, which is compensated by an inflow of a less saline surface current of cold Atlantic oceanic water.  If this verse is actually referring to currents, there is no reason to assume it is referring to anything other than this current in the Mediterranean Sea.  However, it would not take divine inspiration discover such a current.  A few boat trips in the affected area would soon make it evident. 

Regardless where Matthew Maury got his inspiration, he was not the first to recognize the significance of ocean currents.  As we are informed at this site,

Mariners have known for many centuries that the ocean contains currents that flow along generally consistent paths. The Spanish galleons transporting gold and silver from Mexico to Spain made use of the Gulf Stream to help them return home, while Benjamin Franklin used ships' log books to draw a map of this current in 1772.”

If Maury had studied Franklin’s writings, instead of relying on the Bible, he would have learned about “paths in the seas” considerably sooner than he did.  No divine insight from a holy book was necessary to discover what Franklin and early seamen had already discovered through normal observational skills.

Claim 15.

Psalm 19:4-6: "In them has He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. His [the sun's] 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."

Bible critics have scoffed at these verses, saying that they teach that the sun revolves around the earth. Science told them that the sun was stationary. Then they discovered 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. It is estimated that its circuit is so large, it would take 200 million years to complete one orbit.

My Response:

Which is more likely?  The ancient Hebrews knew that the solar system is located in an immense galaxy and that everything in the galaxy revolves around the galactic center.  Or, is it more reasonable to assume the ancient Hebrews believed that the sun rose in the morning, moved across the firmament during the day, and set in the evening, and that it completed this “circuit” once every day.  Isn’t it more reasonable to assume that they were simply describing what appeared to them to be a sun that rises, moves across the half-dome of the sky, and then returns (makes a circuit) to its starting point by the next morning?  Based on their rudimentary understanding of a dome-shaped (tent-draped) structure of the universe and the notion that the sun traveled under the water at night returning to its starting point, it is entirely reasonable to argue that it does.  (See also my response to Claim 10 regarding the targum of Ecclesiastes.)

The sun does not travel across a stationary “heaven” as the verse implies.  The sun and all other objects in the galaxy revolve together around the center of the galaxy.  The sun is moving in unison with the other sun systems in galactic space.  If anything, the sun and the so-called “heavens” move as a continuous unit.  Be that as it may, these verses are not talking about the sun rotating around the galactic plane once every 200 million years.  They are, when considered in context, talking about the sun rising and setting and returning to its starting place, i.e., making its circuit, on a daily basis.

If it is argued these verses imply knowledge of the fact that that the sun revolves around the galactic center, then it follows that the Bible should also teach that the earth is moving in unison with it.  But that is not what the Bible teaches.  Various scriptures teach that the earth is fixed and immovable.  (See, for example, 1 Chron. 16:30, Psa. 93:1, 96:10, and 104:5 in my response to Claim 7.)  There is a clear distinction in the Bible between a moving sun and an immovable earth.   A fixed immovable earth is seriously at odds with any suggestion that Psalm 19:4-6 is describing the movement of the sun around the galaxy since the sun and earth move together in that respect.

Bible critics are not the only ones who maintain that this verse teaches that the sun revolves around a stationary the earth.  Bible thumpers who believe the sun actually does revolve around the earth also hold that position.  For example, this site lists 67 Bible verses that “tell us it is the sun and not the earth that moves.”  Three of the verses they cite are Psalm 19:4-6. Too bad God, in his infinite wisdom, did not see fit to inspire the authors of the Bible to express themselves in a coherent manner that did not lead to so much confusion. Even the gung ho Bible believers have trouble agreeing on what it says.

Claim 16.

Ecclesiastes 1:6 The wind goes toward the south, And turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, And comes again on its circuit.

The Bible describes the circulation of the atmosphere.

 The Bible includes some principles of fluid dynamics.

My Response:

Mr. Pyles' creative exegesis notwithstanding, the major wind systems on earth do not blow latitudinally north and south in circuits around the earth.  Although the jet streams have north and south components in each hemisphere, they do not blow around the earth in a north/south direction.  The overall circulation is longitudinally from the west to the east (in a circuit around the earth) driving the earth’s weather systems along with them.   A more sensible reading of this verse would be that sometimes the wind blows north in a localized area and sometimes it reverses direction (in that same area) and blows south, i.e., it appears to blow in circles. 

See also my response to this verse under Claim 10.

If this verse shows the Bible includes some principles of fluid dynamics, then the “The Little Engine that Could” is a scientific masterpiece on thermodynamics.

Claim 17.

Jonah 2:6 (written 2,800 years ago): "I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet have you brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God."

When Jonah was in the depths of the ocean, he spoke of going down to the "bottoms of the mountains." Only in recent years has man discovered that there are mountains on the ocean floor. The greatest ocean depth has been sounded in the Challenger Deep of the Mariana's Trench, a distance of 35,798 feet below sea level. Mount Everest is 29,035 feet high.

(Genesis 10:25 speaks of one Peleg whose name means division. The text then explains that he was so named because in his days the earth was divided. It is now commonly believed that all continents of the earth were once combined into a single continent called Pangaea. This belief is based upon the fact that present continents appear somewhat as pieces out of a puzzle. There are also other evidences, including several geological similarities on matching continental edges. {Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles})

My Response:

Jonah 2:6  -  Are we really supposed to believe that a story about a man who supposedly survived three days under the ocean in the belly of a whale is a reliable source of scientific information?  Apparently Mr. Pyles thinks so.  But what about the lack of oxygen and the corrosive effects of the whale's digestive juices?  Why, it would require a miracle to survive such an ordeal.  However, if Mr. Pyles uses a miracle to explain it, he is no longer talking science because miraculous explanations are verboten in science.

This verse speaks of Jonah descending to the roots/foundations of mountains that are visible from the surface.  There is nothing in this verse that suggests it is referring to submarine mountain ranges.  It would have been obvious to any TSIBAGH that mountains extend down into the water to depths often further than they could see.  It would also not have been beyond their comprehension that the mountains must be attached to a bottom somewhere and that, if they went deep enough, they could see them.  Furthermore, Jonah's far-fetched journey to the "bottoms of the mountains" is consistent with the Bible's erroneous view that the earth rested on some kind of foundations.  No divine insight was necessary in composing this verse.

Gen. 10:25  -  Firstly, this verse could not be accurately referring to continental drift because the continents in one form or another have been moving continuously for billions of years, not just during the limited time span of one man’s life.

Secondly, there is considerable disagreement among Bible scholars about what this verse actually means.  Some think the division refers to land, some think it refers to language, and some think it refers to people.  For example, the NLT Bible translates the verse as:

Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg--"division"--for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups and dispersed. His brother's name was Joktan.” 

One of the more thorough analyses of the verse (See here) concludes the following:

“Strong linguistic and scientific arguments oppose the two interpretations of

Genesis 10:25 commonly taught: (1) a division of people by multiplication of languages,

and (2) the beginning of continental drift. Instead, these studies point to an earth being

divided by rising water in the days of Peleg.”

 

Mr. Pyles’ attempted correlation of this verse with continental drift does not survive rigorous linguistic and contextual analysis.  He does, nonetheless, spin a whale of a tale.

 

It is amusing how Mr. Pyles habitually selects a rather mundane biblical verse, warps it out of context, and then attempts to equate it with some significant modern-day scientific achievement.  Equating Jonah 2:6 with the discovery of oceanic trenches that are tens of thousands of feet deep and Gen. 10:25 with the discovery of continental drift are cases in point.

 

Claim 18.

Amos 9:6 (written 2,800 years ago): "He . . . calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth; the Lord is His name."

The Mississippi River dumps over six million gallons of water per second into the Gulf of Mexico. Where does all that water go? That's just one of thousands of rivers. The answer lies in the hydrologic cycle, something that was not fully accepted until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 2500 years after the Bible said that God takes the waters of the sea, and pours them upon the face of the earth.

My Response:

See my previous discussion of this verse under Claim 10.

Claim 19.

Jeremiah 33:22 (written 2500 years ago): "As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured."

The Bible claimed that there are billions of stars ("host of heaven" is the biblical term for the stars). When it made this statement, no one knew how vast the numbers of stars were as only about 1,100 were observable. Now we know that there are billions of stars, and that they cannot be numbered.

(The Bible asserts that the stars are innumerable (Gen 15:5, Gen 17:7, Heb 11:12). This does not necessarily mean that we are incapable of mathematically expressing their number. It means that no human has the ability to count them individually so as to achieve their sum. It is claimed that there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone. If stars were counted around the clock at one star per second, then it would take over 3000 years just to count these. Add to this the fact that there are as many as 100 billion galaxies. However, there were many scholars prior to Galileo who believed that the stars could be counted, and several attempts were made to do so. Many of these counts arrived at around 1000 stars. Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles).

My Response:

Jer. 33:22 does not say there are many hundreds of billions of stars.  It just says that there are too many for a TSIBAGH to accurately count. No scientific breakthrough is evident here.

My wife and I once camped at Alturas Lake (elevation 7,000 feet) in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.  One moonless night I stepped out of the camper and was greeted with one of the most amazing sights I have ever had the privilege of viewing.  Glancing skyward, I was confronted with a sky so completely filled with stars of all intensities (from incredibly bright to barely visible) that it literally took my breath away.  I called my wife and we both stood there awestruck by the incredible number of stars that filled the night sky.  After that experience, it is obvious to me that no one could ever hope to accurately count the number of stars in the sky. And it doesn’t take divine intervention to come to that conclusion.

The Bible elsewhere says that the stars are not too numerous to be counted.  Psalm 147:4 says that God has counted them all and even calls each one by name.  (I wonder what He does in His spare time?)  In Gen. 22:17, God promises Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in heavens.  As Mr. Pyles correctly states, there are an estimated 100 billion galaxies, each containing some 100 billion stars. (The actual estimate is around 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe.) It is estimated that, since the existence of humans, approx. 110 billion people have lived on earth. (See here.)  Since only a relatively small fraction of these people would have been (would be) the direct descendants of Abraham (if such a person ever actually existed), it is highly unlikely that his offspring will ever approach anything near the number of stars in the universe.

Claim 20.

Isaiah 40:12 (written 2,800 years ago): "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand . . ."

We are told that God has measured the waters and set a proper amount of water on the earth. Modern science has proved that the quantity of water on earth is just enough for our needs. If the sea became three meters deeper, the water would absorb all the carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and no creature could live any longer.

My Response:

Woops!  Pardon me while I readjust my B.S. meter.  It just pegged off scale.

Since I was unable to find any scientific support for this claim, I consulted some of my knowledgeable friends at the Freethough and Rationalism Discussion Board on the Internet.  A couple of them did some calculations that explain why my B.S. meter reacted as it did.  The calculations are as follows:

“The world’s oceans (not including land locked seas) have a mean surface area of 139,000,000 square miles. They contain an approximate volume of 310,000,000 cubic miles of water. 3 meters = 0.0018641135767 miles. The volume gained by pouring an additional 3 meters worth of water on the top can be approximated by multiplying 139,000,000 square miles by 0.0018641135767 miles, giving 259,112 cubic miles. To see the effect of adding that much water, compare the 310,000,000 cubic miles with 310,259,112 cubic miles. It amounts to changing the volume of the oceans by about 0.08%. Additional absorption of gases into this slightly larger body of water would not be substantially different from that 0.08%. Certainly these numbers are only approximately correct, but they seem adequate to discount the particular claim made.” (Adapted from calculations contributed by “Cobalt.”)

“Ignoring the fact that the oceans would cover more surface area if their levels rose, the total surface area of the oceans is 3.6x1011 m2. Multiply that by 3 meters deep, and you get 1.1x1012 m3. That translates to 1.1x1015 liters.  Factoring in the solubility of gas in seawater at 20 C of approx 7.2 mg/L (it varies, but let's just take this as an average), we get that if an additional amount of water were to magically appear, it would absorb another 8x109 kg of air.  According to wikipedia, there are about 5.1x1018 kg of air on Earth. So, were all this de-aerated water to magically appear on Earth, once it was done decimating all of our coastal cities, it would proceed to absorb only about 0.00000001% of the air in our atmosphere.”  (Adapted from calculations contributed by “uberhobo.”)

From these calculations it appears (as I suspected) that an additional three meters of water in the oceans would have only a marginal effect as far as overall gas absorption is concerned.  It is not clear on what basis Mr. Pyles made this dire claim, but it appears it simply may have been concocted out of thin air or copied without any attempt at verification from some other apologetic source.

I wonder if the Bible science gurus who make this claim ever stop to consider how it impacts their much-ballyhooed Noah Flood story. Assuming for the sake of argument that the Flood actually did occur as described in the Bible, the waters in the oceans would have risen many times higher than three meters during the event. If an additional three meters added to the oceans would exterminate all life as we know it by absorbing vital gases, just think what water rising above the highest mountains and covering the entire surface of the earth would do.  (See Gen. 7:19-20)  There is no way Captain Noah, his crew, and his menagerie could have lived through the nearly year-long Flood of those proportions if vital gases are absorbed by water as Mr. Pyles claims they are.  If what Mr. Pyles claims is true, he has effectively refuted the Flood story in the Bible.  (If he claims some kind of miraculous intervention saved the day, he is no longer making a scientific argument.  Miracles are not permitted as scientific explanations.)    

Claim 21.

Isaiah 40:22 (written 2800 years ago): "It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth."

The Bible informs us here that the earth is round. At a time when science believed that the earth was flat, it was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world. He wrote: "It was the Lord who put it into my mind. I could feel His hand upon me . . . there is no question the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures . . ." (From his diary, in reference to his discovery of "the New World").

(Other statements in the Bible also indicate that God revealed this truth long ago. For example, David said that God has removed our transgression from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). On a spherical surface, east and west are infinitely separated in the sense that one can travel indefinitely in either direction without ever attaining the other. However, Solomon described the wind as blowing in circuits, first towards the south and then turning toward the north. North and south are not infinitely separated as east and west, because a southward traveler on a spherical surface will be heading north after crossing the south pole. Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles )

My Response:

Newsflash to Mr. Pyle, “The earth is a sphere, not a flat circle like a Frisby.”

The Hebrew word translated as “circle” in this verse is “chuwg.”  The word is used only three times in the Old Testament and is translated in three different verses as “circle,”  “circuit,” and “compass.”  “Chuwg” does not connote a spherical shape.  In the case of Isa. 40:22, it describes the earth as being a flat disk.  If the author of this verse had wanted to describe the earth as a sphere, he would be expected to have used the word “duwr” which is translated as “ball” in Isa. 22:18.   The Hebrews had a word that would have correctly described the earth as a sphere.  The author of Isaiah didn’t use it in Isa. 40:22, but he did use it in Isa. 22:18 where he was describing a spherical object.  Instead, he used a word that was understood to mean a flat round disk.  The author of Isaiah simply got it wrong.  No divine insight (and certainly no scientific insight) is evident with this verse.

The irony is that people who believed the earth is flat had no trouble finding Bible verses to support their worldview as well.  Consider the following verses:

Isaiah 11:12 
“ And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” 

Revelation 7:1
“And after these things I saw four angels standing on four corners of the earth.  holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”

(A spherical earth does not have corners. Its surface is continuous.)  

 Job 38:13
“That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?”

Jeremiah 16:19
“O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.”  

Daniel 4:11
“The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the ends of all the earth:”

(A spherical earth does not have ends.  It is continuous. And, in order to see a tall tree from everywhere on earth, the earth would have to be flat.  Not to mention a tree so tall it touches heaven.)  

Matthew 4:8
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; “

(The only way to see all the kingdoms of the earth from a mountain would be if the earth is flat.)

Belief in a flat earth based on biblical teachings has persisted to recent times.  The most recent champion of the movement, Charles Johnson, died in 2001 (See here.)  It just goes to show that people will go to any lengths to promote their particular interpretation of the Bible and that they can find "unequivocal" biblical support for virtually any interpretation they adopt, no matter how goofy it might be.

The fact Columbus used Bible quotes to cajole Queen Isabella into funding his sailing adventure is irrelevant to this discussion.  It was general knowledge among the enlightened citizenry that the earth was shaped like a sphere long before Columbus was born.  Pythagoras taught that the earth was a sphere in the 6th century BC.  Aristotle presented a number of lines of evidence for a spherical earth in 330 BC.  The circumference of the earth was quite accurately determined by Eratosthenes in 240 BC.  Ptolemy made significant contributions to the concept of a spherical earth in the 2nd century.  And most popular encyclopedias described a spherical earth by the 4th and 5th centuries.  Columbus did not need to misread the Bible to learn the earth was spheroid.  All he had to do was assimilate the common knowledge of the time.

Regarding Psa. 103:12, this passage is most readily understood in terms of a flat earth on which the east (the place where the sun begins its journey across the dome of the sky) and the west (where the sun goes to rest at night) were thought to be separated from one another by a great distance.  The Hebrew word used for east in this verse is "mizrach."  The first definition given by Strong's Lexicon for this word is the "place of sunrise."  Similarly, the word for west is "ma'arab" which has as its primary meaning, the "place of setting."  These words are commonly used in the Bible to denote a specific locality ,i.e., the east (a place where the sun rises) and the west (a place where the sun sets).  According to the ancient Hebrews, these points on the compass were not infinitely separated from each other.  However, they were widely separated due to their positioning at opposing edges of the flat earth.  Mr. Pyles' contention that Psa. 103:12 refers to an infinite separation between us and our transgressions is not a doctrinal requirement of this verse.  The vast distance between the place where the sun rises and where it sets would most likely have provided more than enough separation for theological purposes.  Be that as it may, considering the worldview of the ancient Hebrews, only someone engaged in desperation hermeneutics would attempt to construe this verse as being indicative of a spherical earth. 

In discussing one his favorite biblical topics, the blowing of the winds, Mr. Pyles calls attention to the fact that Solomon only mentions the winds blowing north and south in a circuit.  He contends that this makes sense from a scientific standpoint since “North and south are not infinitely separated as east and west…” and since, once a wind blowing north crosses the north pole, it starts blowing south.  (At least I think that is the point he is trying to get across.)  But what he fails to mention is the fact that the Bible also contains verses that that speak of “the four winds” that blow from all directions of the compass.  According to the KJV Concordance at the Blue Letter Bible website, the Bible makes reference to the four winds in nine different verses.  The biblical authors seem to have had a particular fascination with the east wind which is specifically mentioned in a number of verses, e.g., Jer. 18:17, Ezek. 27:26, Psa. 48:7, Isa. 27:8, and Hosea 12:1, 13:15. 

Claim 22.

 Isaiah 40:22 (written 2,800 years ago): "It is He that . . . stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in."

Scientists are beginning to understand that the universe is expanding, or stretching out. At least seven times in Scripture we are clearly told that God stretches out the heavens like a curtain

My Response:

In Claim 2, Mr. Pyles asserts that the Bible says, “The creation was "finished" -- once and for all.”  Now he says God is still busy stretching and spreading the heavens around. Which is it?  Is He done or is He still futzing around rearranging the draperies?  Mr. Pyles can’t have it both ways. 

That is to say nothing of the fact that this verse describes the heavens as being equivalent to solid pieces of cloth.  This may represent good science reporting to Mr. Pyles, but I am sure most cosmologists would find it a bit off the mark.  This verse compares the heavens to the fabric portion of a tent, not to a three-dimensional universe many billions of light years across in which the earth is suspended.  In this regard, it is consistent with the ancient Hebrew’s mistaken belief that the heavens were composed of some kind of a solid material, the "firmament.".   Any claim that this verse is referring to the expansion of the universe as it is understood by modern science is straw grasping at its most extreme.

Claim 23.

Hebrews 1:10,11 (written 2000 years ago): ". . . And, You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands: They shall perish; but you remain; and they all shall wax old as does a garment."

The Bible tells us that the earth is wearing out. This is what the Second Law of Thermodynamics states. This wasn't discovered by science until comparatively recently.

My Response:

It is common knowledge that most things tend to wear out as they age.  Even a TSIBAGH would have recognized that.  One does not have to be a physics major (or recipient of divine guidance) to make the connection that things generally degrade with usage over time.  All it takes is common observational skills.  Being aware of such things as landslides, rockslides, floods, earthquakes, collapsing buildings, etc. would lead to the conclusion that the earth was “wearing out” like everything else.  Any inference that the biblical author was somehow clued-in to the nuances of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is carrying the Bible science game to ridiculous extremes.  And what is this repeated nonsense about the earth having a foundation?

Claim 24.

Hebrews 11:3 (written 2000 years ago): "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

The Bible claims that all creation is made of invisible material. Science then was ignorant of the subject. We now know that the entire creation is made of invisible elements called "atoms."

My Response:

To reiterate, science as we know it did not exist 2,000 years ago.  There was no formal scientific establishment at the time to be aware of or ignorant of anything.

This verse says that visible things are not made of things that can be visualized. But, as Mr. Pyles notes, visible things are made of atoms. However atoms are not invisible.  They can be visualized using tunneling electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes.  Apparently the author of Hebrews failed to anticipate this scientific achievement.  To look at some of those "invisible" atoms, see here.

The concept of the atom was first formally advanced by the Greek philosopher Demokritos at least 500 years before Hebrews was written. So contrary to Mr. Pyles’ claim, ignorance did not abound regarding the atomic structure of matter when Hebrews was written.  Since the idea was already floating around long before Hebrews was written, it is reasonable to assume its author might have gotten word of the hypothesis and incorporated it into his writings

Claim 25.

The Dinosaur (There is reasonable evidence that the scriptures speak of dinosaurs. As should be expected, this evidence comes from Genesis, the book of origins, and from the book of Job, generally believed to be the oldest book in the Bible.

First, Gn 1:21 speaks of God creating whales on the fifth day of creation. The Hebrew word translated here as whales is generally translated dragons. It is translated as monsters once, whale(s) twice, serpent(s) thrice, and dragon(s) 21 times.

Second, Job's statements concerning the behemoth (Job 40:15-24) might be referring to dinosaurs. Its tail is compared to a cedar tree. Its strength, and apparently its bulk, is in its loins. It is said to be the chief of the ways of God, and is described as having the ability to drink up a river. No modern animal meets this description in all points.

Third, Job's description of the leviathin (Job 41) very much resembles a dinosaur. Some would dismiss this description as fictitious because the leviathin is described as breathing fire; however, some creation scientists believe this could have happened. The creature would merely need glands to produce a chemical which would combust when exposed to air. The bombardier beetle does in fact have this ability. The fact that nearly every major culture of the world has traditions about such dragons lends yet further credibility to the possibility of their existence in the past. Examples of Scientific Accuracy in the Bible By David Pyles)

Why did the dinosaur disappear? This is something that has modern science mystified, but the Bible may have the answer (written 3500 years ago. God Himself is speaking):

[Mr. Pyles’ repetition of Job 40:13-24 deleted for brevity.]

This was the Largest of all creatures He made.
It was plant-eating (herbivorous).
It had its strength in its hips.
Its tail was like a large tree (a cedar).
It had very strong bones.
Its habitat was among the trees.
Drank massive amounts of water.
His nose pierced through snares.

Then Scripture says, " . . . He that made him can make his sword approach to him." In other words, God caused this, the largest of all the creatures He had made, to become extinct.

My Response:

I have dealt with this claim elsewhere in my discussions with another Bible science promoter.  My comments can be found here and here (topics 1, 2, and 3).

To further address a couple of Mr. Pyles points, no animal on earth produces fire, nor has there ever been any scientific evidence that any animal that has ever lived has produced fire.  Fire destroys living tissue.  Bombardier beetles do not produce fire.  They produce a hot gas for defensive purposes as described here.

Contrary to Mr. Pyles’ assertion, scientists have advanced a number of evidence-based theories to account for the demise of the dinosaurs.  One of the most widely accepted theories involves the collision of an asteroid with the earth about 65 million years ago.  See here for details.  Certainly these theories have a lot more evidence to back them up than the speculation that God just one day decided to exterminate them all.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder why God would go to the trouble of creating dinosaurs (some 700 species at last count) and then wipe them off the face of the earth.  It seems to me like a rather cruel and unproductive thing to do - but not all that unexpected, I must admit, considering His rather schizophrenic behavior as depicted in the Bible.

Conclusion

"If the holy writer uses general terms, an ingenious theologian can harmonize a seemingly preposterous statement with the most obdurate fact." (Robert Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 5, p. 37).

Mr. Pyles, like other Bible science promoters, has made an effort to dredge selected scriptures from the morass of myth and superstition and to transform them into divinely-inspired gems of profound scientific insight.  Unfortunately, all he has accomplished has been to reveal to what ridiculous extremes people will go to try to rationalize their religious beliefs.

Mr. Pyles has focused on questionable scriptural translations. He has played word games with them, wrenched them out of context, and forced tortured, self-serving interpretations on them that are inconsistent with a straightforward reading.  He then attempts to impose upon them scientific attributes that are wholly unjustified when they are considered in their original contexts.  Like others who persist in trying to pound square pegs in round holes, he has succeeded only in demonstrating the futility of his foolish pursuit.

Not to sound like a broken record, but Mr. Pyles has not identified a single concept from all of his selected verses that a TSIBAGH could not have dreamed up.  The Bible speaks uncritically of magical events like people being created from dust and ribs, talking snakes and donkeys, a burning bush that dispenses the voice of God, men who walk on water and live for hundreds of years, dead people miraculously returning to life, an earth covered by a solid dome, and all sorts of other unnatural acts and fantastical notions.  Early on it speaks of a talking snake and it ends with the story of a ten-horned, seven-headed monster.  It should be obvious to any rational individual that looking for scientific enlightenment from a book like that is clearly barking up the wrong tree.  Any resemblance between what is written in the Bible and modern scientific knowledge is purely coincidental.

In addition to the Bible verses discussed in this commentary, there are many others that demonstrate an appalling lack of scientific sophistication on the part of the biblical authors.  The Skeptic's Annotated Bible identifies a number of these scientific anomalies at its website.  See also The Bible and Science.  After completing this commentary, I discovered an even more ambitious critique that addresses 101 Bible science claims. (See here.)  At least it is reassuring to see that others recognize the importance of exposing the inanity of such claims.