New on Ebon Musings: The Pillars of the Earth

A new essay, “The Pillars of the Earth“, has been posted on Ebon Musings. This essay surveys apologist claims that the Bible displays miraculous foreknowledge of modern science, and sets the record straight as to what these verses really mean.

This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Ric

    Thanks for finally doing this. These annoying lists of scientifically “accurate” biblical predictions have been floating around for a long time, and they always frustrate me. Basically all they are are exercises in paradolia and apophenia– finding patterns and meanings in vague things. Apologists, with knowledge of what has already been discovered, scan the bible, looking for verses that seem vaguely to indicate something perhaps slightly, remotely close, and then they cry “eureka!”

    Of course the real test of the bible’s scientific accuracy would be if these apologists could use it to predict, with a reasonable degree of specificity, scientific discoveries that have not yet been made. Wonder why we don’t see this happening.

  • Alex Weaver

    I wonder if there are any verses in the Bible that lend themselves to being interpreted to the effect that people will take verses in the Bible out of context and stretch them far beyond reasonable interpretation in order to try and support ridiculous claims…

    This would make a good research project for my retirement, when I may have time. x.x

  • mike

    In response to this related post from SkepticBlog, I think it would be a fun exercise to use the Bible to “prove” some other religion’s creation story or cosmology. Maybe the Silmarillion creation myth or the Discworld cosmology?

  • 2-D Man

    I think the one overlying principle that we can point to to show that the Bible isn’t scientific at all is that it never discusses why people are to do the things it says. You touched on this a bit, Ebonmuse, by demanding an elaboration of a few theories.
    I think it’s important to go a little further and point out that it doesn’t matter what you know in science. If you can’t describe how you know something and how others can know that too, your knowledge isn’t scientific.
    All in all, it was a good essay. Quality breakfast time reading.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Ebon,

    Time had a beginning (1 Timothy 1:8-9)

    You could also add the sister claim that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1 I believe off the top of my head), which is supposedly supported by the big bang.

  • Brad

    I feel obligated to applaud the reference to Navier-Stokes ;) There seems to be a general trend in the presented scientific foreknowledge of the Bible. The interpretations are either blatant equivocations, or are dubious and insignificant, or the scientific fact isn’t a meaningful one in the first place. If anybody has been following along at DA, they should also know that commenter cl presented some of what he considered scientific foreknowledge within the Bible. (Here.) The list:

    1. Isaiah [40:22] and spherical Earth. Later, backtracked to circular Earth, which is supposedly technically consistent [only in certain context of terminology, I add] with a spherical Earth.

    2. Genesis (“In the beginning…”) describes the universe as having a beginning.

    3. Entropy described by Earth “wearing out like a garment.”

    4. A rainbow would not be visible on Earth when it has a water canopy. (Coincides with some interpretation of the Bible…)

    5. Genesis 2:7 describes man coming from dust. Some “dust” contains many, many of the same substances that make up organic life.

    6. Genesis says God stopped creating, which concurs with the law of conservation of mass today.

    The last three given by cl were not covered in the EM essay. There are other claims of scientific foreknowledge I found on the web. Many of these are:

    > The Hebrew word for “circumference” has an extra character at the end, which ends up in getting pi correct to four decimal places.

    > Job 38:31 and astrophysical properties of Pleiades and Orion.

    > Ideal dimensions of Noah’s ark for not capsizing.

    > Quarantining lepers to prevent infection.

    > The Bible says leprosy can live on garments, which supports the claim it is bacteria. (Also implies it is in mold in Leviticus)

    > 1 Cor 15:41 says all stars are unique.

    > Genesis “according to its kind” describes how species can’t reproduce with other species.

    > 2 Peter 3:10 describes nuclear processes.

    > Lions strangle their prey, and the Bible says this.

    > The Bible correctly says there are harvesting ants.

    > Revelation 8:10 talks about an asteroid.

    > The Bible says snakes can be charmed.

    And so on. Oh, and Wikipedia has a brief but interesting article on Science and the Bible.

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com Infophile

    Very nice essay. I think it’s also a pretty important point you make that the ancients weren’t any dumber than us; they just had fewer tools to work with. But they worked with what they had, along with a fair dose of mathematics and logic, to infer some amazing things about the universe that weren’t apparent to the common man.

    Speaking from the point of view of a scientist, we’re still doing this today, just at further boundaries. We’re never satisfied with what we can measure easily. With our technology, it’s trivial to measure the circumference of Earth, so who cares? But measuring the circumference of that planet we can barely resolve orbiting a sunlike star? Now that’s interesting.

  • lpetrich

    Muslim apologists also do that, and with similar sorts of “reasoning”.

    And I think that it’s interesting what they do not try to take credit for. When is the last time that one of these Bible-scientists tried to show that the Bible describes biological evolution and universal common descent? Arguing compatibility is not enough — I want to see what Ebonmuse had discussed, but for evolution and common descent. I myself have thought of one, and I doubt that it is much more absurd than the Bible-science claims I’ve seen.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Those are good suggestions, Brad. For this essay I used the list of claims I found on one particular apologist site, but there’s no reason I couldn’t expand it to include those others.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Sorry if this ‘wears anyone thin’ but since I see at least one commenter referencing me directly, I guess I have to clarify my position on science and the Bible, which I believe is reasonable.

    In Teaching the Controversy Ebon noted the ‘equal weight’ dilemma that occurs when an unscientific position gets presented alongside a scientific one, creating the illusion of equality. I think something similar applies here. For example, I’m a believer, and in a general sense of the word I will say that yes, I feel there are some valid examples of ‘scientific knowledge’ in the Bible, but unfortunately by simple concession the damage is already done.

    Even though I agree that %98 of the arguments Ebon cites are bunk, and I think tactics like those prevalent in the website Ebon criticizes actually show a lack of confidence in the Bible, by simply affirming my position, I am perceived with ‘equal scorn’ as the incipient creationist whose techniques admittedly do have the hollow sounds of scraping at the bottom of a barrel. If the Bible really is the word of God should one really have to contrive so much to ‘prove’ their point?

    Whenever I state something on this site, it’s from the POV of somebody who rejects ontological arguments and so-called ‘proofs’ for God. I do not offer as ‘proof’ any scriptures that I feel allude to or corroborate scientific fact. However impressive to me, I don’t expect everyone else to operate by my standard. Furthermore, the Bible is not a science book. You won’t find theories and formulas and math and such, and I agree that far too many ‘apologists’ or believers stretch meanings and charitably interpret, as you correctly note.

    And for these reasons, I resent even being brought into this discussion, but, I guess I asked for it.

    In my response to TGTCA, I did list a few things that I feel qualify as genuine ‘scientific knowledge,’ and note I was using the term ‘scientific knowledge’ reciprocally and not as my original language of choice. What do we mean when ask whether there is ‘scientific knowledge’ in an ancient document? There are degrees of confirmation for hypotheses in science, and regarding science and the Bible, for me, there are at least four categories of evidence:

    1) Verses that are in general agreement with some known fact of science whose knowledge was available at the time, or could have been reasonably guessed or inferred;

    2) Verses that are in general agreement with some known fact of science whose knowledge was not available at the time, or could have been reasonably guessed or inferred;

    3) Verses that reference or indirectly imply specific principles of science whose knowledge was not available at the time, and could not have been reasonably guessed or inferred.

    4) Verses that blatantly contradict a known statement of science.

    As for category 4 scriptures, I don’t even need to go into those, but most of them proceed from a literal reading of Genesis 1 and 2. I think the vast majority of Bible verses fall into 1 and 4, and scriptures that fall in category 1 or 2 cannot be considered reasonable evidence for divine revelation. They are simply verses corroborated by reality. Brad’s points 1, 2, and 3 against me fall into categories 1 or 2, and Ebon said the following which indirectly describes them well:

    At a sufficiently low level of detail, these two ideas are roughly similar. That is the most that can reasonably be said, and it is not enough to support a claim of divine revelation.

    For example, I think Genesis 1:1 falls into category 2. That the writer of Genesis said there was a beginning could have been guessed; however, that Genesis says there is a beginning is also corroborated by reality. To simply state such things is not to argue that the Big Bang proves Genesis.

    Regarding category 3, although I don’t ask that anyone here be impressed, to state that a rainbow would not be visible to a terrestrial observer under the presence of a water canopy is not as easily eschewed, IMO. The story of the flood contains a verifiable truth claim concerning the refraction of light, and I currently consider it an example of category 3 evidence. I would be interested in discussing this point further, especially with the physics fans, but the question is – if there were a hypothetical water canopy surrounding Earth as Genesis seems to imply, would a rainbow be observable to a terrestrial observer?

  • 2-D Man

    if there were a hypothetical water canopy surrounding Earth as Genesis seems to imply, would a rainbow be observable to a terrestrial observer?

    Suspending the problems of how the water would be there in the first place, how much water are you talking about?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    2-D Man,

    I realize that people here may find the idea silly – but to answer your question I need to give more backstory. We have to presuppose that the flood occurred, and that some hypothetical suspension mechanism for suspending the water could exist. If you read Genesis 1 carefully, it specifies ‘water below the sky’ which easily makes sense as seas, but it also makes some weird allusion to ‘water above the sky.’ Sentences later, the writer uses the specific Hebrew word for ‘clouds,’ so to me, that the ‘water above the sky’ is a reference to clouds is not very convincing.

    Now I also agree with the meteorologists who correctly refute creationists by noting that 40 days and nights of rain could not have submerged the Earth to the extent alleged in the Noahic flood. The idea that this water canopy collapsed at the time of the flood then becomes interesting and could explain where the extra water came from. As far as the promise of the rainbow, most people read this as a nice gesture, but is there some legitimate logic going on? Prior to the flood, the canopy would have refracted incoming light, thus rendering the rainbow an impossible phenomenon for a terrestrial observer. As a result of this hypothetical collapse, the terrestrial observer could then experience a rainbow, and such was a promise God would never flood the Earth like that again because such a collapse eliminates the canopy altogether. A hypothetical canopy could have also shielded other spectra of incoming radiation as well and it’s interesting to note that directly after the flood is when God shortened man’s lifespan. Without the canopy, we would surely be far more prone to free-radical bombardment and the harmful effects of solar radiation in general.

    At any rate, I realize evidence for the canopy is nil. However, to me, this story is internally consistent and worthy of being called category 3 evidence, and I’m still wondering how the Hebrews knew that such a canopy would have obscured a rainbow when there was no prior knowledge of physics to suggest such.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Oops -

    This is a technical note and doesn’t overthrow the argument, but I said,

    A hypothetical canopy could have also shielded other spectra of incoming radiation as well and it’s interesting to note that directly after the flood is when God shortened man’s lifespan. Without the canopy, we would surely be far more prone to free-radical bombardment and the harmful effects of solar radiation in general.

    In scripture, mention of motive to shorten man’s lifespan actually occurs directly before the flood.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    cl “…although I don’t ask that anyone here be impressed, to state that a rainbow would not be visible to a terrestrial observer under the presence of a water canopy is not as easily eschewed, IMO.”
    Water canopy? Seriously? It’s easily eschewed because it’s bunk.

    “…if there were a hypothetical water canopy surrounding Earth as Genesis seems to imply, would a rainbow be observable to a terrestrial observer?”
    Literal flood, local flood, metaphorical flood…now hypothetical flood. Wouldn’t it just be easier to admit that it’s wrong?

    2-D Man “…how much water are you talking about?”
    Something like 900 atmospheres of pressure worth. Even Venus only hits 92 bar, which results in a surface temperature high enough to melt lead…

    Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’.
    2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
    2:20 And Adam did name them “Fire”, and “Cinder”, and “Melted”, and “Ohmygod-i’monfire-pleasehelpme!”.
    2:21 And then he did roll around, to and fro upon the ground to put out the fire that was he,
    2:22 And his rolling, to and fro upon the ground was in vain, and he did eventually cease rolling, and did twitch, then yea, he did lay still among the pyres in the garden
    2:23 And God did check His math, and He found that He had not carried the zero, and He did regret not making the abacus, and also not getting the wife to double-check his calculations, before starting His experiment.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    cl

    if there were a hypothetical water canopy surrounding Earth as Genesis seems to imply, would a rainbow be observable to a terrestrial observer?

    The direct answer to your question as framed is no, however does the bible say; “due to the refraction of the water canopy, rainbows could not previously be observed”, Does the bible “really” support the existance of a canopy in the first place and would other accounts in the pre-flood bible suggest strange optical phenomena incompatible with modern experience?

  • Crotch

    Yay! New Ebon Musings!

    *reads*

  • http://effingtheineffable.wordpress.com Peter Magellan

    Nice one, Adam. Well-written and cogently argued, as ever.

    Random thought:

    …the sky “is strong, and as a molten looking glass”.

    From the viewpoint of a desert-dwelling people, could this refer to a mirage?

  • Joffan

    Adam, you have:

    Dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time (Genesis 1:23-27, Job 40:15-24)

    Since this is not an instance of scientific foreknowledge, but rather scientific error, I see no need to discuss it further.

    … but as you mention in an earlier entry, it’s important to discuss these errors in at least as much detail as any lucky hits like Earth floats freely in space (Job 26:7). The creationist site is stretching really hard to even include dinosaurs under a rational reading but they want to include them for some reason. Why don’t they just deny dinosaurs altogether? (My answer: kids love ‘em.)

    It’s interesting that such creationist sites are at least as eager to beat down more relaxed Christian interpretations of the Bible as they are to fend off the atheist viewpoint.

  • Leum

    cl, do you have any evidence that a reduction in radiation levels would effect a ninefold increase in the human lifespan? Seriously, radiation damage is only one of several dozen causes of aging.

    Furthermore, the reduction in man’s lifespan after the flood was not instantaneous. Noah died 350 years after the flood at 950, Eber died at 464, Peleg and Reu died at 239, Serug died at 230, Terah died at 205, and Abraham died at 175. This is not the affect we expect from a sudden increase in radiation, it’s the opposite. Noah’s ancestors should have had a greater resistance to a new source of harm, not less.

  • prase

    cl,

    I have no experiences with water canopies and thus I can’t imagine what the hell it is. Can you specify its position, thickness, phase (liquid or vapour?), purity and all other relevant facts (better if you can derive this from the Bible)?

    Physically it is quite simple. If the canopy obscures the sun that it is not further recognisable (like when it’s overcast), there is no rainbow. Otherwise, I see no reason why the rainbow should be invisible.

    Can you provide this verse which contains verifiable truth claim about refraction of light? And explain what precisely the claim is? Even ancient tribes in Israel must have realised that there is usually no rainbow when it’s overcast (needless to say, such observation doesn’t require any knowledge about refraction).

  • Brad

    However, to me, this story is internally consistent and worthy of being called category 3 evidence, and I’m still wondering how the Hebrews knew that such a canopy would have obscured a rainbow when there was no prior knowledge of physics to suggest such.

    1. I’m not certain the story is even internally consistent. How does one resolve the problems of canopy theory: unliveable atmospheric pressure, ridiculous heat, not enough light to see, no chance of prolonged rainfall (b/c of nucleation), nothing to support the canopy in midair (God?), and UV light from the sun turning the exposed water canopy into oxygen and hydrogen.

    2. There may be a simple explanation behind this “knowledge”. Perhaps some Hebrews noticed that rainbows were dependent upon a clear area in the sky for unobstructed sunlight, and incorporated that concept into their myths. Is this explanation plausible?

    Of course, this entire line of thought is taking your Biblical interpretation for granted, and I still don’t grant full credence to such an inference for your interpretation.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I shouldn’t, but…

    AFAIK, nowhere in the Bible does it say that rainbows were not visible before the flood nor that the first ever rainbow appeared to Noah.

  • Brad

    OMGF, that’s an inference made from scripture by some, not an explicit statement within the Bible. Not that I agree with cl, but here’s how he put it on the article I last linked to:

    Now, consider Genesis 9:1-17 which notes several times that “never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” Note also that the rainbow is offered as a sign, or proof of this, in verse 13. How or why would the rainbow be a sign that God would never flood the Earth like that again? Because before, with the water canopy, a rainbow would not be visible to a terrestrial observer (I have yet to hear confirmation from a credible physicist on this; it’s only my own rudimentary hypothesis).

  • Alex Weaver

    Uh, cl, I don’t have the calculations to hand, but I’ve seen the math worked out so that if there were enough water to cover the mountains of earth suspended in the atmosphere prior to the flood, the surface temperature would have been on a par with that of Venus. Not exactly conducive to the sort of longevity the Bible claims for the humans living then (Adam, Noah, etc’s longevity as claimed in the Bible would, in fact, have been overestimated by 9-10 orders of magnitude).

    I can think of one Biblical prophecy that’s been unambiguously fulfilled, as the subject of the essay this post regards amply demonstrates, though it’s not really miraculous: numerous verses imply that charlatans, lunatics, and deceivers would try to win the allegiance of the Bible’s intended audience by dishonestly claiming credit for the wondrous deeds accomplished by those who learned from and wielded the power of the one reliable source of knowledge and understanding. ^.^

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF
  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    cl, let me get this straight: Are you proposing that Noah’s flood as described in the Book of Genesis really happened?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Ebon,

    Are you proposing that Noah’s flood as described in the Book of Genesis really happened?

    In my comment to 2-D Man I said that in order to have any semblance of logic to our discussion,

    We have to presuppose that the flood occurred, and that some hypothetical suspension mechanism for suspending the water could exist.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Yes, I saw what you said, but its import was unclear to me. That’s why I was asking what you meant.

  • prase

    One more thing. The creationists seem to enjoy discussions about where the flood water came from. But I have never heard any explanation from them about what happened to that water just after the flood.

  • John Nernoff

    N: With regard to the rainbow, Genesis treats it as a discrete object and not the refraction of sunlight by water droplets. There no specific physics mentioned; the rainbow is a religious object. The fact that it rained all the time before the creation of the rainbow, and the sun shone, yet apparently no rainbows were ever present (else the telling of this independent creation of the rainbow by “God” is frankly more absurd than it already is) shows that the ancients did NOT make an association between sunshine and water droplets.

  • 2-D Man

    cl, you are very good at not answering the question. I already granted you the point you tried so hard to argue in with me in your response. (Prase proceeded to ask several more questions that are relevant to giving you some kind of answer, so you’d need to supply those.) Moreover, how high is this water canopy above the surface? Is the moon inside this canopy? Is the sun?

    However, with some reasonable assumptions for the data that you have not given us, I’d say no. Terrestrial observers would not see a rainbow in that situation: it would be completely dark.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    2-D Man,

    “..tried so hard to argue..” Please. It was mentioned in passing.

    “..very good at not answering the question.” Sorry I didn’t meet your time criteria. I wanted to see what everyone had to say, but apparently you wanted special attention.

    “..how high is this water canopy above the surface? Is the moon inside this canopy? Is the sun?” Don’t be silly. The height of our hypothetical canopy off the surface of the Earth wouldn’t affect the refraction of incoming light.

  • 2-D Man

    Please. It was mentioned in passing.

    Apparently mentioning something in passing means you write three paragraphs about it….

    Sorry I didn’t meet your time criteria. I wanted to see what everyone had to say, but apparently you wanted special attention.

    My, you go on the attack fast. You still didn’t answer my question.

    The height of our hypothetical canopy off the surface of the Earth wouldn’t affect the refraction of incoming light.

    Didn’t say it did. This is, however, a variable that has yet to be defined in this problem (along with many others).

    Suffice it to say, the situation doesn’t make any sense, even if we suspend our gravitational problems. This falls into your category 4.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    ..you go on the attack defense fast.

    You snarked me. I mocked it. No big deal.

    ..the situation doesn’t make any sense, even if we suspend our gravitational problems. This falls into your category 4.

    Fair enough.

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    Thats a great article ebon, but I also think the list should be expanded (especially when you mention “how thin it is” in the last part), more precisely; I have also noticed that the “ideal dimensions of Noah’s ark”, the “lion strangle their prey”, the “asteroid” and the ant things that brad mentions are very common. You should also address a more serious article if you are not to be accused of picking the weakest site out there ;). Check out this one: http://creationwiki.org/Bible_scientific_foreknowledge

  • lpetrich

    Lions don’t usually kill by strangling. Like other felids, they prefer to deliver a big killing bite to the necks of their prey.

    Also, ants had been observed collecting food for centuries; that’s what inspired Aesop’s Fable about “The Ant and the Grasshopper”.

    Denis Giron:
    Islamic Science: Does Islamic literature contain scientific miracles?

    noting such doozies as the Sun setting in a nearby pond, and meteors being thrown by angels to devend Heaven against jinn who try to invade the place.

    Richard Carrier has demonstrated that the one can beat the Bible-scientists and Koran-scientists at their own game with the works of Epicurus and Lucretius:
    Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed

  • lpetrich

    Robert Schadewald had shown that the Bible clearly indicates that the Earth is flat and that the sky is a giant bowl overhead:
    The Flat-Earth Bible

    The writers of the Bible had not been very interested in cosmology, but the writer of 1 Enoch filled in the gaps, clarifying some of the Bible’s cosmology. He included such details as how the sky has gates at its base for the Sun, the Moon, and the stars to enter and exit, and how these objects move along the rim of the bowl from their setting places to their rising places. There is even a jail for stars that dawdle.

    And some more Koran science rebutted by Richard Carrier:

    Cosmology and the Koran: A Response to Muslim Fundamentalists
    The Koran Predicted the Speed of Light? Not really.

  • http://www.yunshui.wordpress.com yunshui

    I love the Ebon Musings essays, and reread them frequently. This one, though (whilst well-argued and presented) seems a bit suplus to requirements. Do we really need an EM essay in order to call bullshit on these arguments? As apologetics go, Scientific Foreknowledge is weaker than a tissue-paper trampoline, and anyone with half a neuron intact should be able to see it for the desperate straw-grabbing attempt it is.

    Not to denigrate your essay, Ebon (I enjoyed it, for what it’s worth), but could you not have aimed your talents at a more credible target?

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    Yunshui: even if it’s not credible to some people, the scientific accuracy issue is very popular in the apologetic literature. That’s enough for it to deserve an essay in the page if you ask me.

  • Leum

    Yunshui: don’t forget, the less reason-based and more insane an argument is, the harder it is to refute it. Arguments for the scientific accuracy of the Bible, like the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God, are both harder to refute than more conventional ones because they are so irrational.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I’m open to suggestions for future essay topics, yunshui.

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    I wondered when I would see a new article on the Ebon Musings website. I love your blog entries, but I love the long articles at Ebon Musings more because the blog entries do not last long enough :)

    With that said, I have a few comments about the article that I hope you will consider implementing.

    (1) Typo. “This is the ‘Y-chromosome Adam’, who was not necessarily the first human being but merely the most recent one who has descendants living today.” This should say least recent.

    (2) Ecclesiastes 1.6. You can strengthen your argument by examining the immediately preceding verse. It says that the sun hastes to the place where it arose. The word used for haste, sha’aph, literally means to inhale eagerly has the connotaton of running or moving quickly because those activities often tire the one moving, causing them to inhale eagerly to regain their composure. This connotes a geocentric view of the solar system where the sun “runs” (thus inhales eagerly) around the Earth. This establishes that the author did not have a connection with divine knowledge when he wrote 1.5, which makes 1.6 guilty by association, so to speak.

    (3) Ecclesiastes 1.7. Some use this verse to support the idea of divine foreknowledge pertaining to the recirculation of water. You can discredit their interpolation easily by showing that one can reach the same conclusion in less than 60 seconds. If the sea diminishes not, the water remains; if the sea swells not, no water gets added; if water is neither added nor removed, the water must simply move about; if the water simply moves about and the stream supplies water to the sea, then the sea must, in some way, supply water to the streams; therefore, a hydrologic cycle exists. You can also tie in your rebuttal to Ecclesiastes 1.5-6 as further corroboration.

    (4) Isaiah 40.22. You can strengthen your rebuttal. You correctly distinguish between circle (chuwg) and sphere (duwr). Some people argue, mistakenly, that Hebrew did not have a separate word for sphere and we should consider chuwg as referring to both shapes. You did not rebut that argument, which I think would strengthen your case. Also, you did not distinguish between Earth as a planet and earth as the ground. The verse clearly references earth as the ground, and calls it circular like a disc. You can verify this by reading Isaiah 40.22 again. It says that God stretched the heavens like a tent for people to dwell in. Tents set boundaries, rather than provide a medium like air to exist in. This references the firmament, rather than the atmosphere. Job 37.18 calls the firmament as hard as a cast metal mirror. That would set boundaries, which makes it analogous to a tent. The atmosphere is disanalogous. Further, tents are designed to rest on flat surfaces. The notion of a spherical tent makes no sense. If you think of the earth as a flat disc, as Isaiah 40.22 describes it, then you can easily think of the firmament as touching down on the edge of the flat disc, like a tent.

    (5) 2 Peter 3.10. A few people offer this verse as showing divine foreknowledge of nuclear processes because it refers to elements. A quick mention of the Platonic or Aristotlean notion of elements (earth, air, fire, water) should be enough to undermine this argument.

    As I said, I hope you will consider altering the article in the ways I’ve mentioned.

    Also, I have a slightly off-topic question, if you don’t mind: is the Español translation work still occurring?

    Thanks for listening :)

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    Regarding (1), I forgot that the typo occurs after the mention of X-chromosome Eve as well, so it occurs two times, not just once.

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    Bah! Mitochondrial Eve, not X-chromosome… I need sleep.

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    Some people argue, mistakenly, that Hebrew did not have a separate word for sphere and we should consider chuwg as referring to both shapes. You did not rebut that argument, which I think would strengthen your case.

    Which is the hebrew word for sphere?

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    The Hebrews used chuwg to denote circle, compass, disc, and so on. They used chuwg only to describe flat objects or arrangements. For example, they might use it to describe coins, or how soldiers may surround a tent (the soldiers do not form a spherical arrangement, merely a circular one). They also have a word with a similar but more expansive meaning: duwr. They used duwr to denote circle, compass, and disc, like they used the word chuwg, but they did not constrain the word to flat objects or arrangements. It can also denote sphere, spheroid, and ball, as you can see by examining Isaiah 22.18.

    The Septuagint corroborates this argument. Many Jewish scholars (tradition says seventy of them) worked to produce the Septuagint in the 3rd century CE. These Jewish scholars knew Hebrew and Koine Greek, and they did their translation work in Alexandria, Egypt, which was heavily influenced by Greek ideas at the time, including the knowledge that the Earth had a spherical shape. In Koine Greek, gyro denotes circle, compass, disc, ring, and so on, while sphaìra denoted sphere, spheroid, or ball. The Jewish scholars—despite their knowledge of the shape of the Earth, and of the Hebrew scriptures, and of the Greek language—translated chuwg in Isaiah 40.22 as gyro, rather than sphaìra, which means that they knew the word referred to a two-dimensional shape, rather than a three-dimensional one.

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    Hello Jesse:

    I agree that chuwng is usually employed to denote circle; but apparently it was not used to denote the way soldiers camp. Isa. 29:3 uses they word that allegedly means sphere (duwr):

    And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.

    Since the soldiers could not camp in the shape of a sphere around the city; we have to conclude that the bible is merely ambiguous on the subject. Some apologist suggest that the Hebrews didn’t created a second word for it.

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    Juan, I think you missed the point I made. Chuwg refers to two-dimensional (or “flat”) round shapes only, while duwr refers to two-dimensional (or “flat”) and three-dimensional (or “spherical”) round shapes. As I said, duwr has a “similar but more expansive meaning” than chuwg. Isaiah 29.3 accords with what I said. Isaiah 29.3 used duwr to denote a two-dimensional shape, while Isaiah 22.18 uses it to denote a three-dimensional one.

  • eruonna

    Jesse:

    Actually, Y-chromosome Adam is neither the most recent nor the least recent man with descendants living today. (Any currently living father would qualify as the former. The latter would actually have a good claim of being the first human.) Rather, he is the most recent common male ancestor of everyone alive today. That is, everyone can trace their ancestry back to him, but not to any man who lived later. (This is not true either. To be very precise, he is the last man to carry the common ancestor of all currently surviving human Y chromosomes. There may be a more recent common male ancestor whose Y chromosome is not carried by all living males. As an extreme example, it may be that the most recent common male ancestor had only daughters.)

    The situation is the same with Mitochondrial Eve, who is the most recent woman to carry the common ancestor of all surviving human mitochondria.

  • http://www.rationalresponders.com Jesse

    I agree. I worded my statements incautiously and created falsehoods as a result. I apologize to anyone I might have confused. In my defense, it was 3:19 to 4:13 in the morning when I typed those statements.


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