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Bible on Germ Theory: An Atheist Hems & Haws

Bible on Germ Theory: An Atheist Hems & Haws August 31, 2021

. . . while I offer a serious answer to his caricature regarding the Bible and genetics

This occurred in a combox at anti-theist atheist Jonathan MS Pearce’s blog. Words of atheist Makoto will be in blue.

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He has abundantly revealed Himself in the Bible. That is its purpose. There are arguments about how to interpret it, but for the most part, all Christians agree on the basic aspects of the nature of God (classic theism).

And we come back to “how is that different than other holy works for other religions”. I wasn’t even trying to get into the fact that different Christians obviously disagree on how to interpret your bible, because Christians can’t even agree on how “being saved” works, which seems like it would be a pretty important aspect of your bible!

It’s different because it is consistently verified by historiography and archaeology, which is consistent with (but not proof of) its divine inspiration. I’ve been writing a lot about this lately on my blog: the Bible & archaeology (as well as science).

See, for example: The Bible on Germs, Sanitation, & Infectious Diseases.

Scientifically accurate? There’s plenty to choose from on this topic, but since when do we breed animals in front of background props to change how the offspring look? Now, you could say “it was a miracle”, of course, but miracles, by definition, would not be scientific.

See also my web page: Bible & Archaeology / Bible & Science (A Collection).  You asked me why I thought the Bible was different from other “holy books.” This is why.

I did a quick search – I didn’t see a single instance of breeding, sex, offspring, or similar terms in that post. I did notice the whole “Piltdown Man” thing, which science disproved, not religion, though…

You replied to my post about breeding with a different set of points. Sorry, I was trying to stay focused. Did you have a reply to my point about breeding, or is this deflecting to other science parts that you feel have support?

You asked me “how is that different than other holy works for other religions[?]. I replied that “It’s different because it is consistently verified by historiography and archaeology, . . . (as well as science).” I then offered as one evidence of that, the biblical teaching on germs. Your task, then, would be to explain how that knowledge got there, which took modern science 3100 years from Moses’ time (13th c. BC) to figure out? You went off on the issue of breeding (which is not a biblical teaching on science).

That’s not my argument. You asked me about why I believe the Bible is different, and I answered. Thus, for the discussion to rationally continue, you have to offer a disproof of the biblical teaching on germs, or explain variously how the ancient Hebrews in the 13th c. BC could know these things, short of divine inspiration (which is my explanation). And that’s only one argument of many that I have compiled, as regards the Bible and science, and the Bible and archaeology.

Do you want to address the breeding issue? If not, fine, I understand, I just wanted to be very sure we both agree this is in the bible you claim is scientific.

I did, in saying, it’s “not a biblical teaching on science.” In other words, I deny that it has anything to do with the topic at hand. It merely indicates Jacob’s pre-scientific (but not “anti-scientific”) understanding of breeding of animals.

I gave a specific example of biblical teaching that is remarkably in harmony with post-19th century science regarding germs and hygiene. Do you wish to address (or refute) that or not? I have provided a concrete example of the Bible being extraordinarily accurate, 3100 years before science “caught up” with it. It seems to me that is precisely dead-on-topic.

Moreover, here’s an article that satisfactorily explains this topic you brought up (showing that nothing in the account contradicts genetics):

“A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob’s Sheep” (J. D. Pearson, Science and Christian Belief, Vo. 13, No. 1, pp. 51-58, 2001). That’s my counter-response to the ultimately off-topic issue you raised. You have yet to offer any counter at all to my far more nuanced and complex argument about the Bible and germs.

Man, you really don’t want to talk about breeding at all, do you? It literally is science, after all. Bible says, in Gen 30:39, “they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted”. This is very straightforward. Very biblical! Do you have a reason this should not be accepted as god-based science, despite it being literally in the bible?

Nice try. I already answered with a link that refutes what you are contending (three minutes before this comment of yours). Man, you really don’t want to talk about the (13th c. BC) biblical teaching on germs at all, do you? It literally is science, after all.

I did not see your refutation when I was typing up my reply. I will read it now. I have to admit, it’s crazy to think the bible says that the point was to breed them in front of reeds. That seems absurd, because your linked article implies that it would not matter! They could’ve bred anywhere, yet the bible says it was in front of reeds that was important. Why?

Understood and thanks. I eagerly await your counter-interpretation on the Bible and germ theory. I’m sure you’ll have a fascinating theory as to how this knowledge was in possession of ancient Hebrew nomads over 3200 years ago.

I have to admit, there is a side to this I completely agree with, in regards to biblical germ theory! Lev:13:45-46:

A diseased person must wear torn clothes and let his hair hang loose, and he must cover his mouth and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as he has the infection, he remains unclean. He must live alone in a place outside the camp.

If only more Christians were willing to listen to that these days, it very much describes the use of masks and social distancing/quarantine…

Science is not at all unanimous on masks.

I’m still waiting for your theory on breeding in front of reeds, so that’s cool.

It’s in the article that I posted 28 minutes ago.

Right, I read that. I still don’t get it, though. It literally is denying the participation of the reeds, which.. if I check my bible.. is a key factor. Was that something unrelated? If so, why was it in the bible?

I’m not gonna go over the article. It was addressed there. Now it’s your turn to deal with my argument on germ theory, and I’m not holding my breath . . .

Glad I didn’t hold my breath. It’s now been about 28 hours and counting, since no response has been forthcoming.

[30 hours passed from the time of my original challenge question]

Oh, my apologies. I got bored. You bored me. You lash out at atheists left and right, weren’t presenting anything useful that I saw, and I decided I had better things to do. Such is life.

Right. This is what atheists do when they have no answer to Christian arguments. Thanks for the entertainment!

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Photo credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images (4-11-12) [Pixabay / Pixabay License]

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Summary: Exchange with an atheist that delved into the Bible & science. I submitted my article on remarkable biblical knowledge of germs in the 13th c. BC. He offered a non-argument on genetics.


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