Why Doesn’t the Bible Contain Superior Medical Advice?

Many will consider the answer to the question posed in the title of this post obvious, as indeed do I: The Bible does not contain superior medical knowledge, or indeed anything that we might consider medical knowledge in the modern sense at all, because it was written before there was any medical knowledge, much less advanced medical knowledge.

But I ask the question anyway to highlight this point for the benefit of young-earth creationists and others who claim that the Bible contains scientific knowledge more advanced than human beings had achieved in the time these texts were composed.

If that were so, we should expect them to include other sorts of more advanced knowledge, such as in the realms of medicine, health, and hygiene.

Yet you will look in vain in the pages of the Bible for a recommendation that people cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. You will find mentions of strong drink, but nothing about distilling the alcohol and using it to clean wounds or disinfect anything at all. Nor will you find the Bible’s authors recommending that drinking water be boiled to kill dangerous bacteria.

Answering the question of why these things are not in the Bible is simple, if one has a view of the Bible that is realistic, and based on what the Bible shows itself to be. In those times they didn’t know about germs, about viruses or bacteria, and thus neither mention them nor offer a means of avoiding their harmful effects (although they do occasionally mention the “angel of death” in such places where we might mention outbreaks of disease).

But if one views the Bible as containing something superior to modern biology, geology, physics and astronomy, as young-earth creationists and other such groups do, then the absence of any such useful health care information is astonishing – and ought to be unsettling.

And so I offer this as one more argument for accepting the Bible as it is, rather than trying to pretend that it is something it is not.

(On a related note, Islamic Hadith face the same problem, as a recent post by P. Z. Myers pointed out).

  • Charles

    Reading your post, I couldn’t help but think about some of the Mari texts that deal with infection — one letter mentions placing a town under a form of quarantine, to avoid infecting the whole country, and another describes a woman whose cup, chair, bed, and physical presence should be avoided for fear of contracting her disease, which are rather pointedly described as muštaḫḫizum or “infectious.”  This sort of medical knowledge was already accessible in the 18th c. BCE.

  • Paul D.

    On a related note, I’m still waiting for an explanation of how the thousands of pathogen-borne diseases that afflict humans survived the Flood without human carriers. (Unless, of course, Noah and his family were infected with all of them.)

    • Gendzaster

      or how all the saltwater species survived or the fresh water species survived the flood, not to mention the omission of dinosaurs.

      • Oran Black

        Creatures died in the Flood, other than the ones God intended to live. Read your Bible.

        • Mary

          What a completely nonsensical answer.

          Where in the bible does it explain how the salinity of the ocean affected marine and freshwater species?

          Of course we KNOW the flood did not happen because there were civilizations around at the time which were mysteriously NOT DESTROYED.

          • Oran Black

            You should study your history. Not only is there ample evidence that the flood did happen, but all those ancient civilizations also disappeared overnight. Look at all the old civilizations throughout the world. Where did they go? The ancient civilizations of the middle east, the tribes of South America, we find their ruins, but they all just vanished.

            There are also fossils of various creatures ranging from clams to whales to dinosaurs that are found 13,000 feet above sea level. These fossils are found in Antarctica, Asia, and all the way to South America. Every mountain range in the world shows water erosion at great heights.

            The flood happened. As far as fish surviving, that would be up to God, not to mention no one knows how the mixture of fresh and salt water would affect the sea creatures back then. We don’t know which ones would have lived and which ones would have died.

            So, my answer was definitely a sensible one. Your reply, however, was based on personal feelings rather than an open-minded, objective opinion.

            If you choose not to believe in God, that’s your choice, but the Bible says in Psalm 14:1

            “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”

            • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

              First paragraph. Wow. Just wow.

            • David_Evans

              How do we even know that those ancient civilisations existed? Because of their megalithic architecture, their pottery, their paintings on rock faces… All of which, if you are right, survived a Flood that scoured the Earth’s surface and created most of the sedimentary rocks we now see (some of which those megaliths are on top of)

              • Mary

                Good point.

              • Oran Black

                A structure made out of stone surviving the flood and creatures surviving a flood are two totally different concepts. There is plenty of evidence that the entire earth was covered by water.

                If the flood didn’t happen, why do so many cultures speak of it?

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  The language that “the world was covered by water” is misleading. You need to show that they were all submerged at the same time. As for many cultures speaking about floods, many cultures have experienced floods, and the claim that this is a global commonality independent of cultural influence is not supported by a careful investigation of the evidence.

                  • Oran Black

                    The mountains show evidence that they were submerged, not to mention that fossils are found 13,000 feet above sea level from Asia, to Antarctica, to South America. There is plenty of evidence that a world-wide flood happened.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Evidence means things which actually point to something, not which seem to someone with no grasp of geology to mean something that they do not. In this case, you are ignoring the evidence for how mountains form, ignoring young-earth creationists’ own claims about these things, and failing to come up with a model for what happened. Are you suggesting a radically new model for fossilization, one which could allow a flood to rise up to the peaks of mountains, bring living sea creatures there intact, deposit them, bury them, and fossilize them, all within the time period in which the Bible says that the Flood occurred? If you can demonstrate that, then it will surely be worthy of publication, and so please send me a copy of the article when you get it published in a scientific journal.

                • David_Evans

                  Most Flood theorists maintain that most of the world’s sedimentary rocks were laid down during the year of the Flood – because at present rates it would take millions of years to form them. To do that, the Flood must have been incredibly violent in order to move that much sediment around. It would have scrubbed clean the Australian aboriginal rock paintings. And it would have buried any structures deep in the newly formed rock.

                  Have you looked at the other flood myths? In one, humans floated to safety on a leaf. In another, an all-male group of survivors somehow repopulated the world. These are not describing the same event. And if the Bible is true the only survivors were Noah’s family, so the other stories, whatever they are, are not eyewitness accounts.

                  If you have the patience for it, there’s a long list of flood myths at
                  http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html

                  • Oran Black

                    None of those flood stories give a detailed account of who survived and who didn’t, not to mention the Biblical flood predates any of those other accounts.

                    Yes, the flood was extremely violent. In fact, if you read the Bible, all the fountains of the deep also flooded the earth as well as the rain. So it’s likely there were worldwide earthquakes and volcanoes as well.

                    • David_Evans

                      The Bible names the survivors. So do many of the other accounts. Just from the Near East we have Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, Ziusudra, Yima…(all from the link I gave you). It’s not clear (to say the least) that the story of Noah was written before the story of Utnapishtim. The latter is part of the story of Gilgamesh (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh)
                      one character in which, I am amazed to see, has been dated to around 2600 BC.

                      For what it’s worth, I have seen estimates that Genesis was written down in the 6th century BC, and Gilgamesh before 1000 BC.

                      Anyway, some of the legends may be younger and are either variants of the same story or at least influenced by it. If so, they are not independent evidence. You might as well say that Romeo and Juliet is true because variants occur all over the place.

                      PS. In one sense the flooding of Atlantis, dated about 9600 BC by Plato, predates everything else. But that’s just a myth, of course.

                • Mary

                  Because most people lived near big water supplies that often flooded.

            • David_Evans

              “Every mountain range in the world shows water erosion at great heights.”

              You do know, don’t you, that those mountains were mostly formed as sedimentary rocks at around sea level and then raised by plate tectonics?

              • Mary

                Again good point.

              • Oran Black

                If that was the case, then the entire world would be one gigantic mountain.

                Why would only a few areas raise up to be mountains and the rest of the world stay flat? That’s ridiculous to assume that. Your comment is based entirely on an assumption and nothing more.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  I think you are here pretending to be a Christian and writing these foolish things to make Christians look bad. I simply cannot believe that anyone could be that ignorant about geological processes and at the same time so misguided as to put their ignorance on public display in this way.

                • David_Evans

                  I’ve lost patience with you. As Mary wrote, mountains are raised where tectonic plates move towards each other. It happens at the plate edges, not everywhere. We can measure the plate movements with GPS and lasers. We can see that, as you would expect, volcanoes and earthquakes happen mostly at the plate edges. We can see the evidence of seafloor spreading. This is as far from being “an assumption” as anything in science. That the ancient collection of books you call the Bible contains reliable information on anything – that’s what I call an assumption.

                • Mary

                  This is what it always comes down to. You can always catch the creationist in ignorance of science.Plate techtonics is a very well established science and yes we can scientifically measure it. You literally would have to be living in a cave to not have heard about this.

                  I happen to live about ten miles away from the San Andreas Fault. There are some very interesting rock formations along there called Vasquez Rocks. They are very topsy-turvey due to geological pressures. You can see where flat-stratra used to exist but now it is sticking up halfway into the air. They are so strange that they have actually been used as sets for sci-fi movies and TV shows like Star Trek

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasquez_Rocks

                  “The Vasquez Rocks consist mainly of coarse-grained conglomerate and breccia sediments which were deposited adjacent to active faults during rapid uplift and consequent erosion of the San Gabriel mountains. Approximately 25 million years ago (late Oligocene time), the collision of the North American and Pacific Plates uplifted the area along the Elkhorn Fault.[4] Energetic erosion of the highland along with uplift and volcanism caused debris-flow sediments to be distributed in alluvial fans into a rapidly subsiding rift known as the Soledad basin.[5] These sediments were buried and lithified through the Miocene and became exposed more recently via activity along the San Andreas fault system.[6] The strata are now highly tilted, are disconnected from their source area and are deformed and offset by the later fault activity. The distinctive “hogback” ridges of steeply inclined strata serve to graphically demonstrate the significant fault activity in the area.”

                  I used this as an example although it is a relatively unkown location in the high desert simply because if you look at the rocks themselves it gives a good visual idea of how these things form. Notice that it is connected with the formation of the San Gabriel mountains.

                  There are some better pictures of it here:
                  http://parks.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpr/Parks/Vasquez_Rocks_Natural_Area

                  The problem is not that others make assumptions that can’t be proven, it is that YOU make assumptions that can’t be proven.

                • Mary

                  In addition here is PROOF that the Swiss Alps are CONTINUING TO FORM:

                  “At present, the Apulian and European plates are still converging. The process of mountain building continues to this day. Measurements in the road and railway tunnels show that the Alps continue to rise somewhere between a millimeter and a centimeter each year. This is held in an overall balance by weathering effects. Also, there are many active seismic areas under the mountains that show that stresses continue to be released along deep fault lines. In the process, the core of the Alps, with the terranes that were subducted in the Paleocene and Eocene, still moves upward. Northward thrusting takes place along a line called the Penninic thrustfront. The formation of the foreland basins (Po basin and Bavarian basin) goes on with the crust subsiding in these areas.”
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_the_Alps

            • Mary

              Answers In Genesis calculates the flood at 2348 BC.

              The Egyption empire was already in existance at the time and suffered no side effects from the supposed flood.
              Here is a list of civilizations that did not disappear:
              http://cognitivediscopants.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/what-if-god-threw-a-flood-and-no-one-came
              it is true that you find marine animals on mountains and yes they were under the ocean at one time. That is because mountain ranges RISE due to techtonic pressures. We have ample evidence of that from the Alps as there are two continents pushing each other together causing the mountains to rise.The fossils would have to be dated to the time of the flood for there to be any kind of significance to that.. I have never heard of any such research.

              Water erosion is caused by rain not floods. You would have an accumulation of sediment instead.

              Ignoring science and biology is your choice but there is plenty of evidence that the global ecosphere would have been radically altered to the point that even today we would still be trying to recover. You can’t have a global extinction event and then go back to business as usual.

              There is evidence that the story of the flood is based on the formation of the Black Sea. You can google it.

              By the way I never said that i did not believe in God. I do. I just don’t interpret the bible literally and my faith is not based on making the bible into something that it is not.

              • David_Evans

                I love your list.

                Amazingly, AiG gets their 2348 BC by counting forwards from the time of creation (Ussher’s 4004 BC) because counting backwards from the present would be “much more involved”. So any errors in Ussher will be carried though unaltered into their figure. I would think it would be worth the extra effort to redo Ussher’s calculation with modern knowledge.

              • Oran Black

                Lol, so you went to AnswersInGenesis.org. That’s hilarious. I’ve read tons of information from so-called online Biblical sites, and it’s funny how many things they get wrong about the Bible. I’ve also read that the flood was supposedly a “local flood,” but if you read the Bible, and you look at the geological evidence, then you have an entire world covered by water, not just a small, local area.

                While the Bible does contain a lot of things that can’t be taken literally, other things must be taken literally or the Bible has no truth to it whatsoever. The Bible clearly states that only eight people survived the flood. The Bible also states that the flood waters reached the heights of the mountains. A local flood could never go that high and be contained into a small area.

                You are wrong when you say the entire ecosphere wold have been changed. However, the entire biosphere would have been changed in a worldwide flood. If you read the BIble, then look at the geological evidence, you can clearly see how the world would have changed during such a catastrophic event.

                Don’t rely on AnswersInGenesis.org, there are a lot of inaccuracies on that Website.

                • Mary

                  Actuallly I did not use AIG, the website I sent you to did. However most people like you consider them to be a reliable site. I provided a list of civilizations that were not destroyed in any kind of flood. You have yet to give me your evidence that I am wrong. If the dates are off then give me proof. Also list the civilizations that were destroyed. You can’t just wiggle out of this on a technicality

                  Why is it so hard to believe that a local flood could give rise to a tall tale? In the Black Sea there are ruins of human habitation. A rise of sea levels caused a sudden cataclismic flooding.

                  Genetics has shown that we could not have possibly had a population that low
                  .
                  Why is it that you think that some things should be taken literally and some should not? That sounds like a double standard there.

            • Mary

              One other flaw in your thinking to assume that there IS A MYSTERY when civilizations disappear. Archeologists have determined the reasons that the great civilizations that existed in the Americas’ disappeared because of things like drought, disease and warfare. However for instance,even though the Mayan empire is dead, Mayans still exist. They just abandoned their cities.

              I saw a documentary about the “mysterious” abandonment of a cliff-dwelling settlement in the North American southwest. It turns out that they were too eager to cut down all the trees nearby and turned the area into a desert, which it still is today. No water, and the civilization disappears.

              Beyond that none of these civilzations disappeared AT THE SAME TIME which would have to be the case if there was a world-wide flood.

              Being completely ignorant is NOT a sensible postition.

    • http://SalemWitchWiles.com Thomas Vallor

       How have I never thought of this?? lol

    • Oran Black

      The exact same way those exact same bacteria and viruses survive now. How do you think you catch the common cold? Of course you can get it from someone else, but how did they get it? You can say they got it from someone else, but how did that person get it? Eventually, someone had to get it first. There are thousands, if not millions, of viruses and bacteria that can harm or kill people that are capable of surviving outside of a human host.

    • Elizabeth

      I believe that because of sin disease and viruses are the inevitable after the fall of man. Another thing is sometimes viruses can live in soil without a host for a very long time.

  • Daniel

    It wasn’t so much the absence of medical advice in the Bible, as the presence of some very questionable medical advice that bothered me. For example, the complicated ritual required to make a leper “clean” in Leviticus 14 is either the product of a very ignorant god, or a very (medically) ignorant tribe of humans. I think learning to appreciate the Bible as it is has been far more rewarding than trying to squeeze the Bible and Jesus into little doctrinal boxes.

    • Oran Black

      That is because God used to demand sacrifices for sin, but ever since Jesus died for our sins, sacrifices are no longer necessary. You are also forgetting that God did not always heal illnesses, just like Jesus didn’t heal everyone He spoke to either. There were a lot of people that went without divine healing when Jesus was here. Sickness and death are a curse, and they will be a part of our lives until Christ returns.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Thanks, Charles, for pointing out that some more advanced medical knowledge than seems to be reflected in the Bible was indeed available before the texts in it were composed.

    Daniel, I would put the terms “medical” and “leper” in your statement in scare quotes, since the concern in Leviticus is with ritual purity, not medical treatment, and the term used for leprosy does not seem to have denoted the disease that we refer to by that term, but a variety of skin diseases such as eczema. 

  • Gary

    Ritual purity or not, it still makes absolutely no sense. Lev 14:6-7 and Lev 14:13-14 uses blood for cleansing. And throughout the whole bible, blood is considered “unclean”. So no consistency whatsoever. The necessary ingredient is the priest, and since the priests wrote Leviticus, it is their guaranteed meal ticket, since they couldn’t own land.

    • Oran Black

      Are you saying Jesus’ blood was unclean? In the Old Testament, people sacrificed animals to atone for sins, which is a type of cleansing. So blood wasn’t always considered “unclean” in the Bible.

  • Mstalvey

    Just because the Bible does not touch on a specific subject matter, in regards to particulars that you point out, does not in anyway diminish the accuracy and depth of information that is contained in the Bible. In the realm of medical knowledge, the Bible does discuss appropriate nutrition and cleansing rituals. Additionally, assuming the Biblical message is a reliable message from God our creator, does not require for you to believe the earth is 6000 years and 7 days old…anyone who has taken standard college physics knows that time is relative…therefore when a time frame is mentioned in the bible…you have to ask relative to what…The Science of God by Dr. Gerald Schroeder is a thought provoking book on this subject. Anyone who doubts the Bible should do an indepth study on fulfilled Biblical Prophesy before they deny Jesus Christ. The dead sea scrolls were a major boost to the accuracy of biblical prophesy and textual transmission.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think you are mistaking both what the washings in the Bible were for, and what ancient Israel’s prophecies were. If you take the passages quoted in Matthew 1-2, for instance, and read them in their original context, you will see that they were not predictions about Jesus. Matthew presumably understood that, and viewed them in terms of typology, not prediction.

      • Mstalvey

        Isaiah 46:10, depending on your translation reads “I am God, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”  I believe I have heard it stated that as much as one third of the bible is prophetic in nature (though I have not determined this myself).  One of the prophesies that intrigues me the most in relation to the Christ is Daniel 9:24-26.  If you come to the conclusion that the referenced decree in the above verse is the decree of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1 and based on your conclusion as to what the “sevens” refer to…then an educated person might become fairly comfortable that this is a date predictor of when the Christ would come. Additionally, utilizing Ezekial 4:5-6, Ezekial 5:10 and not ignoring Leviticus 26:18 and 26:21, you might come to the conclusion that the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 as a country may have been fortold in the bible (utilizing a decree of King Cyrus as the starting point).  Without devoting much thought to prophesy in the Bible, it may be easy to disregard this concept.  However, prophesy is throughout the bible in regards to Cities such as Petra, rulers such as Cyrus, Alexander the Great and his generals, and can be extremely convincing if you choose to look at them in-depth and with an open mind. 

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          The reference to 70 weeks of years is, of course, itself a reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s prediction of 70 years of exile. The first century AD saw a lot of anticipation, since people were aware that they were living in the time Daniel spoke of. And so, while it doesn’t fit precisely, it certainly is possible that the Daniel prediction inspired John the Baptist, Jesus, and others of their contemporaries. Daniel itself, of course, had events leading up to the Maccabean revolt in view.

          In the case of the creation of modern Israel, we have another case of people believing certain things were prophecied and thus making them happen, too.

    • D Evans6

      Genesis seems to me to imply that the Earth and the stars are the same age (give or take a few days). There are, indeed, reference frames in which the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old. There are other reference frames in which the Galaxy is approximately 6,000 years old. There is no reference frame in which both those statements are true. 

      • Anonymous

        what “reference frames” are these exactly?

        • Anonymous

          According to special relativity, an observer moving very close to the speed of light relative to the Earth would consider, from his observations, that less time elapses on Earth than has elapsed for him. In principle, billions of years could elapse for him while only 6,000 years have elapsed on Earth. Of course if he (He?) were near the Earth billions of years ago (in his time) he would now be very far away. 

          This doesn’t resolve the Genesis problem because the stars in our galaxy are not moving at any such speed relative to the Earth. Any observer, however fast he was moving, would have to agree with astronomers that our galaxy is about 3 times as old as the Earth, even if he disagreed on the actual ages. 

          • Mstalvey

            I would propose a potential reference point on the initial days of creation to be the location of the big bang … The book I previously mentioned I believe proposed a point near the big bang but outside the space time fabric.

            Another point, isn’t it intriguing that physics has come up with the concept of a multiverse (because our universe is so finely tuned) rather than alloting for the possibility of a creator?

            • Anonymous

              “near the big bang but outside the space time fabric.” I can’t make sense of that. What does “near” mean outside the space-time fabric?
              Also, if the book is “Starlight and Time”, it would at best explain the light travel time to distant galaxies. It wouldn’t explain why so many objects in our galaxy are billions of years old, because there is clearly no large-scale distortion of space-time in our galaxy. And of course it wouldn’t explain all the evidence that the Earth is billions of years old.

              The multiverse concept arises naturally in quantum mechanics and (in a different version) in inflation theory. Both are honest attempts to understand the world, and were not invented simply to get around fine-tuning.

  • Beau Quilter

    James

    I’ve no particular axe to grind here, but what exactly do biblical scholars mean by saying that Matthew viewed his NT prophecies “in terms of typology, not prediction.”

    Though it’s clearly demonstrable to anyone with a bible that these “prophecies” have nothing to do with Jesus in their original context, there are still Christian fundamentalists who insist that these verses were miraculous predictors of Jesus.

    So how would a late 1st century or 2nd century hearer or reader have taken these “prophecies”. Did the Christians in this early era really have a way of understanding these verses as typologies without mistaking them for predictions? Did the writer of Matthew really expect his readers not to see these verses as miraculous predictions?

    I just have this nagging suspician that giving Matthew’s “prophecies” a vapid descriptor like “typology”, is just a way of excusing either his ignorance or deceipt regarding the original context of these passages.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I would have no problem in principle saying that Matthew was trying to pull a fast one. My main reason for taking the view that I do is that I am not convinced that if Matthew had indeed claimed these were predictions about the Messiah when they obviously were not, he would have gotten away with it – although modern Christians who view him in that way do admittedly provide counterevidence. But it seems that the texts work so well in connection with Matthew’s clear typological treatment of Jesus through the lens of Moses/Israel in the wilderness, that it is better to view the problem as being more with fundamentalist interpreters who do not look up the source of Matthew’s quotations, rather than what Matthew understood himself to be doing in his own time and context.

      I’ve gone back and forth on this one, and so I am open to the possibility that I am wrong!

      • Beau Quilter

        Even accepting that the writer of Matthew is following an OT motif, it’s hard to read “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet” without hearing the writer say that the prophet is prophesying events in the life of Jesus. I’m not a scholar of the original language: am I missing something in translation?

        And I have no problem in believing that the writer of Matthew could have gotten away with it. Just look at the ridiculous claims people get away with in our own information age. The overwhelming majority of Matthew’s 1st or 2nd century audience wouldn’t have been able to read. And those that could would not have ready access to ancient scriptures. And even those that did would not have had handy chapter/verse references with which to dig up the passages.

        And even if someone discovered the misuse of the passages, how would they communicate and explain the problem to the laity of all the cities where the book of Matthew had circulated?

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Lack of literacy is one reason I think that many might have been aware of the original contexts of some of these texts – if they were to get anything from the intertextual echoes at all, it would have to be through hearing, not reading.

          Then again, Matthew does seem to have been trying to pull a fast one with his “He shall be called a Nazarene” prophecy that didn’t exist. So perhaps our disagreement is only about just how many fast ones we think Matthew was trying to pull at once? :-)

  • Beau Quilter

    ;^)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this line of argument is going to impress any YECs. They start with the premise that everything in the Bible is literally true, and from that they derive the conclusion that the Bible contains scientifically advanced knowledge. Then it becomes a matter of circular reasoning: The advanced scientific knowledge of the Bible is evidence that it’s true.

    The lack of advanced medical knowledge in the Bible is likely to be dealt with in one of two ways: 1) Whatever the Bible says in regards to medicine is correct, and if modern medical science disagrees, then it is modern medical science that is wrong (this is basically what they do with modern geology and biology). 2) Some obscure passage somewhere will be interpreted as presaging advanced medical knowledge, even if it has always been understood as saying something totally different. So some verse the features the sun and death in whatever juxtaposition is clearly a warning about skin cancer vastly ahead of its time. Voila! The Bible is true.   

  • Mstalvey

    Yes people where aware of prophesy and wanted it fulfilled, however there are people that did not want it fulfilled. Isn’t it interesting that what the bible says always wins out? The concept of prophecy itself involves us being informed of things that have not yet occurred…

    • Beau Quilter

      The Bible only seems to win out in prophecy, when it is “reinterpreted” after the fact.

      Jesus prophesied that he would return in power to gather the elect within the lifetime of his disciples. It’s amazing how often this and other verses have been reinterpreted to fit what hasn’t happened:

      Matthew 24

      30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

      • Mstalvey

        It seems to me that Matthew 24:30-34 and if you back up and include Matthew 24:29 potentially references the same event that takes places in Rev 6:12-17. I lean toward the idea that the Book of Revelation is actually a very straightforward book. My reason for this lies in the verse 2 Peter 1:20 stating (depending on your translation) “knowing this first of all, that no prophesy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” Therefore the only symbols that are actually symbols in the bible are already defined elsewhere in the bible itself. According to Rev 1:19, it appears the message will discuss three things… i.e. 1. Things that have already taken place, 2. Things that are and 3. Things that are in the future (utilizing the point in time that the book was revealed the reference point). I don’t know off the top of my head but maybe the book was revealed in the year 90 +/-. The things that have already taken place…may be everything that was already discussed in Chapter 1. The things that are…may begin at Rev 1:20. Things that are in the future appear to begin at Rev 4:1. Therefore, based on the accuracy of the above thoughts…the appearance of the son of man would possibly take place after the date of the year 90 +/- and the first five seals. As I understand it the original writing meant “after these things” and “after these things” etc. which would lead to a specific order of the events in Revelation.

        Going back to Matthew 24:34, my question would be … What does the word “this” apply to …. And then what does the word “generation” mean … when it says “this generation”? I may do a word study on the original text.

        I believe a companion of Martin Luther said (something along the lines) that one must have an in-depth understanding of the meaning of the individual words in the original text…before one can understand the meanings of the sentences in the text.

        • Beau Quilter

          Or as Bill Clinton said, “define ‘is’”

          I suppose you could ignore normal meanings of words if you like and define “this generation” to mean “people thousands of years in the future”, but then words become a bit meaningless. For another failed prophecy in the same line, look at Matthew 16:

          27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.   28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

      • Mstalvey

        I would sincerely be interested in receiving a list of prophesies that you do not feel are accurate.

        • Beau Quilter

          You don’t need me for that task. Scholars have been pointing out the problems with prophetic biblical statements for centuries. I’ve provided two examples. I have no doubt you can find many more by doing a little homework.

  • Anonymous

    PS I find it very frustrating to discuss this without knowing in detail what you have in mind. Do you have a book title or better still an internet link?

    • Anonymous

      This was intended as a reply to Mstalvey. My bad.

      • Mstalvey

        The book is entitled The Science of God by Dr. Gerald L. Schroeder. Dr. Schroeder has his calculations in the book. In relation to his proposed reference point when the first 24 hours occurred at his reference point 7,750,000,000 years occurred relative to the earth…when the second 24 hours occurred at his reference point 3,750,000,000 years occurred relative to the earth and so on…

        • Anonymous

          Thank you. I think much of what I wrote earlier is irrelevant to that book. I’ll do some thinking and get back to you.

    • Mstalvey

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRxEeHFHc-Y here is a presentation I found online.

      • Anonymous

        I have started watching Schroeder’s presentation. I am not impressed. He says that in 1959 “2/3 of scientists” believed the universe to be eternal, and that when the cosmic background radiation was discovered in 1964, the scientific paradigm changed “overnight”.

        I do not recognize that description. I was doing a science degree in 1959. To the best of my knowledge the big bang theory was dominant then, and had been so since Hubble’s observations in 1929. In 1959 the alternative of  an eternal universe was believed by very few scientists, mostly Fred Hoyle and his co-workers.  The discovery of the cosmic background was not seen as a paradigm change, but as confirmation of the mainstream view.

        There are other Youtube clips by Schroeder that refer more directly to Genesis, and I’ll look at those, but so far I don’t see him as a reliable witness.

        • Mstalvey

          Yeah…I apologize…I, more specifically, am interested on this gentlemans calculations for the relative time…can’t say I agree with everything he says…you can form an opinion on his calculation methodology.

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  • Lilburn Lowell Decker

    A question I pose to YECs is why, if God inspired the bible, didn’t he avail himself to the medical knowledge of other ancient culture such as the Greeks who had quite a bit of medical knowledge long before Jesus was supposedly healing diseases supposedly caused by evil spirits. And the ancient Mesopotamians had far more medical knowledge than the ancient Hebrews. An excellent article on this is http://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/concepts.HTMI have had fundamentalist YECs tell me that the ancient Hebrews knew that disease can be spread by contact with human excrement, pointing to the command in Deuteronomy that soldiers were to relieve themselves outside the camp at a designated place where they were to dig a hole with a “paddle” (King James Version) attached to their weapons and cover it. However, if you reads the verses it had nothing to do with hygiene but the superstition that God walked in their camps and might see something (or step in something?) and be offended:
    Deuteronomy 23:12 (New International Version):
    Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. 14 For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.”
     

    • Mstalvey

      After the fall of Adam and Eve … I believe it is possible that mankind was requred to experience a death of some sort…because God’s word is true and when they ate from the tree of knowledge they would “surely die”. If mankind is possibly required to experience death … Why would someone feel the Bible is required to have some specific amazing medical advice?

      • Lilburn Lowell Decker

        First of all there was no Adam and Eve—the story is a myth and according to the bible’s own chronology a mythical story that supposedly happened about 6,000 years ago. But taking the story as it is written, I must have heard a thousand times that because they listened to a talking snake, death came to them and all mankind. I wish the people who make that claim would read the story in Genesis before telling me it says something it does NOT say. According to the story there were TWO magic trees in the magic garden inhabited by a talking snake and one was the “Tree of Life” which they didn’t touch (but could have). Here’s the story instead of what preachers claim:
        Genesis 3:22 (New International Version) “And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”Clearly-according to the Genesis myth—they were mortal, they would NOT live forever UNLESS they ate of the “Tree of Life” and the “LORD God” drove them out of the magic garden and put magic monsters to guard the entrance LEST they eat of the magic tree of life and live forever. So according to “God’s word”, as you call it, they would have died anyway.

        You asked: “Why would someone feel the Bible is required to have some specific amazing medical advice?”
        Don’t blame us non-believers for what bible thumping fundamentalist Christians claim. We non-believers don’t expect to find “amazing medical advice” in a book written by men of the Bronze Age Near East and we’re not disappointed in that. What we would expect if there is anything “divine” about the bible is to find better medical advice than the contemporary writers but even in the New Testament we find Jesus believing that certain diseases are caused by demons (evil spirits), for example: a blindness and muteness (i.e. the inability to speak) Matthew 9:32; Matthew 12:22; epileplsy (Matthew 17:14-18, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43); insanity (Mark 5:1-11, Luke 8:26-33); crippling (probably arthritis) a woman bent over and unable to straighten up whom Jesus said was “bound by Satan” verse 16). Come to think about it, that is “amazing medical advice”—amazingly bad. Hippocrates and the Greeks were better informed

        • Mstalvey

          What makes you come to the conclusion that the story of Adam and Eve is a myth?

          • Lilburn Lowell Decker

            Definition of myth:1. a. A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society: the myth of Eros and Psyche; a creation myth.b. Such stories considered as a group: the realm of myth.2. A popular belief or story that has become associated with a person, institution, or occurrence, especially one considered to illustrate a cultural ideal: a star whose fame turned her into a myth; the pioneer myth of suburbia.3. A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology.4. A fictitious story, person, or thing: “German artillery superiority on the Western Front was a myth” (Leon Wolff).

            [New Latin mthus, from Late Latin mthos, from Greek mthos.]
            The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

            myth [mɪθ]1. (Myth & Legend / Classical Myth & Legend)a.  a story about superhuman beings of an earlier age taken by preliterate society to be a true account, usually of how natural phenomena, social customs, etc., came into existenceb.  another word for mythology [1] [3]2. a person or thing whose existence is fictional or unproven3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) (in modern literature) a theme or character type embodying an idea Hemingway’s myth of the male hero4. (Philosophy) Philosophy (esp in the writings of Plato) an allegory or parable[via Late Latin from Greek muthos fable, word]Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/myth
            The story of Adam and Even in the bible fulfills the terms for being classified as myth because they are fictional characters, they didn’t exist; there are supernatural beings in the story (gods, talking snakes.) According to bible chronology the creation of the universe, and life on earth including Adam & Eve occurred about 6,000 years ago. Humans have been on earth far longer than that. If you don’t believe me, try this: Begin with the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians led by Nebuchadrezzar which occurred 586/585 BCE and work backwards through the bible’s own chronological information, the reigns of the various kings of Israel/Judah; the building of the temple by Solomon; the Exodus; then back to the lives of the partriarchs; then to the bible’s date for the (mythical) Flood; then back to the length of the lives of the men before Noah to Adam.
            Scientific research proves there was no single Adam and Eve. See these links:http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_EveIn summary, why do I conclude that the story of Adam and Eve is a myth? Because the story fits the definition of myth; because history contradicts the timeline of the story; because it has similarities with other creation myths in the ancient Near East; and because science contradicts the claim that they were first human couple about 6000 years ago. The story isn’t science, it’s myth and we should take whatever wisdom (if any) can be derived from the myth and stop believing it’s anything but myth

          • Lilburn Lowell Decker

            In addition to my previous comment, here’s a link to another article showing that there was no single couple “Adam and Eve”
            http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/ 

  • Jeff

    Here’s a broader corollary to the question about medical knowledge: Name one case in which a view based on modern science has been discredited in favor of one based on the Bible. We did not believe that disease is caused by germs, then discover it’s actually caused by demons. We did not believe that the universe is huge and non-geocentric, then discover that it’s actually a dome or a series of spheres around a central, immobile Earth. We did not believe that comets are merely ice balls hurtling through space, then discover that they’re actually portents promising victory in war or signaling the birth of kings. We did not believe that Jerusalem is just another city and Hebrew just another language, then discover that Jerusalem is the center of the world and Hebrew the original and purest language from which all others are declines. And so on through dozens of other fields of knowledge. Creationists are asking us to believe that, for once, the arrow is going to point their way, when it never has before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewdreiling2012 Andrew Dreiling

    Hmmm… well let’s see, if I didn’t want what the bible says to be true, I’d probably write an absurd article like this as well.

    As for addressing the actual topic (medical advice in the text), the bible is rife with it.

    There are verses that deal with sleep quality (Ecc. 5:12), which has a huge impact on overall physical health.

    Verses that deal with physical activity levels (Ex. 20:9) and caution against sedentary lifestyles (Ecc. 12:12).

    Verses that speak of the benefits of exercise (1 Tim. 4:8), & the health & aesthetic benefits of moderate amounts of sunshine (Sos 1:6).

    Then there are the OT dietary laws, which prohibit consuming animals that science now shows have higher rates of blood and flesh-borne pathogens than the “clean” animals (although NT Christians aren’t bound to obey these laws).

    There are verses that deal w/ 8th day circumcision, which we now know makes medical sense, as infants don’t really begin producing significant amounts of Vitamin K until the 5th day or so.

    There are verses that deal with skin disease and the benefits of medical quarantine.

    There are verses that deal with mold & fungus found on clothing and in the home.

    There are verses that deal with sexual health, and the benefits of limiting the sexual act to couples in a trusting, lifelong marital covenant.

    I could keep going but what’s the point? If I give 15 more examples of medical insight found in the scriptures it likely wouldn’t be enough to convert one unbeliever reading this.

    All I can say is I was healed from psoriatic arthritis by trusting in God and His wisdom found in (and outside) of the bible.

    In addition to the getting insight from the bible, believers also get the Holy Spirit, Who “leads us into all truth.” So I have God’s Spirit to tell me whether white flour is healthy for me or whether I should get vaccinated or whether the aluminum in anti-perspirant is going to have a deleterious physical effect on me.

    Andrew
    Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Health Coach (CBHC)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think you may have missed the point, since I don’t think that I or anyone else here suggested that ancient people such as those who wrote the Bible knew nothing useful. But I find your suggestion that one should ignore the best medical advice in our time and look for an inner feeling to guide you regarding vaccinations to be morally, theologically, and medically reckless. I am disappointed that that was what you meant by trusting God’s wisdom found outside the Bible.

    • David_Evans

      Well, you got the attention of this unbeliever, so I checked:

      Ecc. 5:12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep

      Nothing there about the effect of sleep on physical health.

      Ecc.12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

      In context this clearly means “Listen to the preacher, don’t go for wisdom to books”.

      Ex. 20:9 is about keeping the Sabbath. If it were about activity levels the Jews (who ought to know) would not obsess about lazy activities such as driving cars and switching on lights on the Sabbath.

      But here’s the prize. You say:

      “Verses that speak of the benefits of exercise (1 Tim. 4:8)”

      Need I remind you that 1 Tim. 4:8 starts “For bodily exercise profiteth little…”?

    • Mary

      Believers who had the Holy Spirit to guide them still died of the plague because they didn’t know to kill the rats that carried it.

      And yet the bible considered a woman’s menstrual period as “unclean” which it is clearly not. Some of the purity rituals had their basis in the fact that something was “icky” Most people can figure out that you don’t touch poop because it stinks. They don’t need a biology course to tell them that there are germs in it that make you sick. Simple observation of what happens when you do touch something germy is enough to know not to touch it. But the fact that they had the same cleanliness rules regarding something that was not germy goes to show that they didn’t really have that good of a grasp of medical knowledge.

      Verses about getting enough rest, exercise and nutrition once again depends on good observation of what happens if you don’t do those things. The human race would probably not have survived if we hadn’t figured that stuff out long ago. The Native Americans knew those things without the bible to tell them that.

    • David_Evans

      PS I forgot your Song of Solomon reference. Here it is in context:

      1:5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
      1:6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

      Clearly this says “Don’t look down on me for being black, blame the Sun for it”. Nothing about health benefits, and if anything suggesting that being sunburnt is an aesthetic disbenefit.

      I am left wondering if you read your references at all, or if your post is an elaborate joke.

  • revdrdark

    Because the bible is s load a crap written by superstitious, stone-age middle eastern morons. That’s why.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Wow, misdating the Biblical literature is bad enough. But insulting people because they are from a particular part of the world? I find that reprehensible.

      The Biblical literature is from much later than the stone age, and for the most part it is neither particularly moronic nor particularly superstitious when compared to literature from that time and part of the world. Presumably your ire is aimed at those who foolishly try to treat this ancient literature as a timeless divine revelation. But in the process you’ve offered racism, insult, and misinformation.

  • Elizabeth

    Charles makes a good point. How did they know about this before modern times? I would also like to make a point… Just because it doesn’t have ALL the answers to what you would like, doesn’t discredit it. Not everyone will like the Bible.


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