Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Think People, Think!

A while back I made the statement to my mother that if someone could present proof that God existed that I would have no choice but to believe. My mother, having genuine concern for where my soul will eternally rest found Laura, who claimed that she had the evidence that I was looking for. This is the resulting email that I received from her. My Critique is in bold and the chit chat “nice to know you” stuff has been edited out. Christians think that the Bible is proof of their claims. They need to understand that the Bible is fundamentally flawed and that if they want to convince anyone of its divinity that they have to look for outside sources. This is what it will take to convince the world. The scientific community would call it “empirical evidence.” Enjoy!

In 1613 the Italian scientist Galileo published a work known as "Letter on Sunspots." In it, he presented evidence that the earth rotates around the sun, rather than the sun around the earth. By writing this work, he set in motion a series of events that finally brought him before the Roman Catholic Inquisition under emotionally charged suspicion of heresy. Eventually, he was forced to recant. The reason for him being so mistreated was that the Church claimed that what he said was contrary to what the Bible says. If the Bible is so accurate in scientific fields, why did the Catholic Church say that Galileo's teaching that the earth moved around the sun was not scriptural? Because of the way the authorities (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, 1967, p.252) interpreted certain Bible verses. Were they correct? There are some scriptures they quoted so let me share them with you. Ecclesiastes 1:5 says, "The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises." According to the Church's argument, expressions such as "the sun rises" and "the sun sets" mean that the sun, not the earth, is moving. But even today we say that the sun rises and sets, and most of us know that it is the earth that moves, not the sun. When we or others use expressions like these, we are merely describing the apparent motion of the sun as it appears to a human observer; The Bible writer was doing exactly the same.

First and foremost I would agree with you that the majority of the damage that has been done throughout history has been done by religious organizations. The Bible in and of itself is only indirectly responsible. Its inaccuracies and inconsistencies are the reasons that such assumptions are reached. So this topic makes me wonder, if “God” knew that the sun was already fixed and that the earth rotated around it then why is it written that Joshua made the sun stand still? Joshua 10:13. How did Isaiah make the sun move backwards? 2 Kings 20:11 and Isaiah 38:8. Also I have to wonder if the true size and movement was understood by biblical authors then how come they were under the assumption that these massive things in the sky called “stars” could fall to the ground? Daniel 8:10, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24-25.

The other scripture says: "You fixed the earth on its foundations, unshakable for ever and ever." (Psalm 104:5) This statement by the Church back then interpreted it to mean that after its creation the earth could never move. Another scripture at Ecclesiastes 1:4 says, "A generation is going and a generation is coming but the earth is standing even to time indefinite". Actually, the verse stresses the permanence of the earth, not its immobility. (The earth will never be shaken out of existence, or destroyed, as other Bible verses confirm. Psalm 37:29 says, "The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it." So much for everyone dying and going to heaven or a fiery hell; just a little Bible side point for those who believe in it)

I believe that the point you were trying to get at here was that of a fixed earth. Although you quote a vague scripture in Psalms that is easily interpreted many different ways, the Bible is actually very clear on the earth being non-moveable. It is only our nature to think that we are the center of all things. The Bible states that when God created the earth that he set it on Pillars. 1 Samuel 2:8, Job 9:6, Psalm 75:3. The Bible is also very clear on its claim that the earth does not move. Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 104:5.

So in Galileo's time, it was the Church, not the Bible, that hindered free scientific discussion. The Bible really does not get involved in saying whether the earth revolves around the sun or the sun revolves around the earth. They should have listened to Galileo.

Actually yes it does get involved, and yes they should have listened to Galileo.

Also we can think back to the time of Columbus and how the general consensus was that the earth was flat. If they would have read their Bible they would have learned that the earth was round and it had nothing holding it up. The scriptures that tell us that are, one, Job 26:7 and it states," He is stretching out the north over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing."

Actually, the notion that the earth was flat was only generally held amoung the uneducated. Thank you though for showing the Bible points out that the earth hangs on nothing. But the Bible also says that the earth is set on pillars and that it was built on a foundation. Seems that God couldn’t remember how he set up the universe when he created it. Here are some scriptures pointing out the earth being set on things. Joshua 10:12, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Job 38:4-6, Jeremiah 31:37, Micah 6:2, Hebrews 1:10. We call these Biblical contradictions.

Also Isaiah 40:22 reads, "There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth." The picture conveyed of a round earth 'hanging upon nothing' in 'the empty place' reminds us of the photographs taken by astronauts of the sphere of the earth floating in empty space.

The notion of the bible calling for a round earth is debatable through interpretation. Sure if they were able to see it in a vision from space it would appear to be a circle. They may have written that from their limited perspective and it would have been perfectly acceptable. But there are other contradictions that are not. For example the Bible talks about the earth having corners. Isaiah 11:12, Ezekiel 7:2, Revelation 7:1 How could a round or even a circular earth have corners?

Then there is the water cycle. Compton's Encyclopedia describes what happens: "Water...evaporates from the surface of the oceans into the atmosphere...Steadily moving air currents in the earth's atmosphere carry the moist air inland. When the air cools, the vapor condenses to form water droplets. These are seen most commonly as clouds. Often the droplets come together to form raindrops. If the atmosphere is cold enough, snowflakes form instead of raindrops. In either case, water that has traveled from an ocean hundreds or even thousands of miles away falls to the earth's surface. There it gathers into streams or soaks into the ground and begins its journey back to the sea." This process, which makes life on dry land possible, was well described about 3,000 years ago in simple, straightforward terms in the Bible: "All streams run into the sea, yet the sea never overflows; back to the place from which the streams ran they return to run again."

The Rivers run into the ocean and the ocean doesn’t overflow!!! It’s amazing! How did they know!

Ecclesiastes 1:7. Also, Isaiah 55: 10 says in part, "For just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout........"

Rain makes stuff grow? This Bible is truly pure genius! Are you making a point here?

There is also the Bible's insight into the history of mountains. This is what a textbook on geology says: "From Pre-Cambrian times down to the present, the perpetual process of building and destroying mountains has continued. ......Not only have mountains originated from the bottom of vanished seas, but they have often been submerged long after their formation, and then re-elevated." That statement was made by The Book of Popular Science (Grolier, Inc.) This can be compared with the poetic language of the Psalmist, David. It reads, "With a watery deep just like a garment you covered it (the earth). The waters were standing above the very mountains. Mountains proceeded to ascend, Valley plains proceeded to descend, to the place that you have founded for them." Psalm 104:6,8.

The geological record actually does nothing but contradict the Bible. Noah’s flood would have left some interesting geological evidence on the peaks of our mountains that is just not there. According to Genesis 7:4 it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. This was sufficient rain to cover the highest mountains. Mount Everest is 8,848 meters tall. How much rain would have to fall per hour to cover it 40 days and 40 nights? There are 40 × 24 = 960 hours of rain. You would need 8,848 ÷ 960 = 9.21 meters of rain per hour. Rain is usually measured in cm or inches. This would be the same as 921 cm per hour or 8,712 inches per day. 10 inches per day is the most ever recorded in a hurricane? It would be like a fire hose squirting down on every inch of earth. It would flatten the ark. We must presume God somehow redirected the rain away from the ark. I know it does not bother fundamentalist Christians, but where did all that water come from and where did it go? Why did it not leave a trace in the geological record? That huge weight should have buckled rocks. It should have left a fine silt layer all over the earth. Yet there is no trace of it.

The very first verse of the Bible states and I'm sure you remember it, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen.1:1) Observations have led scientists to theorize that the material universe did indeed have a beginning. It has not existed for all time. Jastrow, an agnostic in religious matters, wrote: " The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy."

Even if scientist are beginning to suggest that there must have been a creator the Bible is inconsistent on its own creation story. Genesis 1:25-27 has humans being created after the animals while Genesis 2 18:19 has Humans being created before the animals. Genesis 1:27 has man and woman being created simultaneously while Genesis 2:18-22 has man being created before woman. I believe that we should nail down the basics before you start diving into the complex.

It is true that many scientists, while believing that the universe had a beginning, do not accept the statement that "God created". However, some now admit that it is difficult to ignore the evidence of some kind of intelligence behind everything.

Evidence? Surely you can’t mean the Bible!

Physics professor Freeman Dyson makes this comment, "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming."Dyson goes on to admit: "Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning." His comment certainly betrays the skeptical attitude of our time. But putting that skepticism aside, one notes there is a remarkable harmony between modern science and the Bible's statement that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

But which did he create first? The creation account in Genesis conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. In Genesis, the earth is created before light and stars, birds and whales before reptiles and insects, and flowering plants before any animals. The true order of events was just the opposite. As Henry Morris wrote "...the Biblical chronology is about a million times shorter than the evolutionary chronology. A million-fold mistake is no small matter, and Biblical scholars surely need to give primary attention to resolving this tremendous discrepancy right at the very foundation of our entire Biblical cosmology. This is not a peripheral issue that can be dismissed with some exegetical twist, but is central to the very integrity of scriptural theology."

On to Health and Sanitation. Consider the Bible's coverage of this topic. If an Israelite had a skin blemish suspected of being leprosy, he was put in isolation. The Bible says, "All the days that the plague is in him he will be unclean. He is unclean. He should dwell isolated. Outside the camp is his dwelling place." ( Leviticus 13:46) Even infected garments were burned. The account says, "And he must burn the garment or the warp or the woof in the wool or in the linen, or any article of skin in which the plague may develop, because it is malignant leprosy. It should be burned in the fire. (Lev. 13:52) In those days, this was an effective way of preventing the spread of the infection.
Another important law had to do with the disposal of human excrement, which had to be buried outside the camp. Deuteronomy 23:12&13 says, "And a private place should be at your service outside the camp, and you must go out there. And a peg should be at your service along with your implements and it must occur that when you squat outside, you must also dig a hole with it and turn and cover your excrement." This law no doubt saved Israel from many sicknesses. Even today, severe health problems are caused in some lands by the improper disposal of human wastes. If people in those lands would only follow the law written down thousands of years ago in the Bible, they would be much healthier.

The Bible is not the only holy book to give sanitation and health guidelines. In order to protect the earth and man's environment, the Islamic law has established two fundamental principles. The first one holds that any environment-unfriendly action constitutes an offence, and it sentences the guilty ones to undergo severe punishment. As to the second one, it makes room for measures aiming at making up for the harm done to the environment, at promoting and improving the base structures of man's environment. The Islamic texts and principles that govern man's relationships with the environment severely condemn environmental pollution, and they are taught in nearly all schools of law. These texts and principles are based on Almighty Allah's command: "You shall not damage the earth like vandals." We find this divine injunction in many surat(s) of the holy Quran: "Al Baqara" ("The Cow,") verse 60; "Al Aaraf" ("The Heights,") verse 74; "Houd,"verse 85; "Ash-shouaraa" ("The Poets,") verse 183; and "Al Ankabut" ("The Spider,") verse 36. Is the Quran Holy and inspired by God? If so you have more contradictions to deal with!!!

The Bible's high standard of hygiene even involved mental health. A bible proverb said: "A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones." (Proverbs 14:30)

And a wise man once said “a woman who flies upside down will have crack up.”

In recent years, medical research has demonstrated that our physical health is indeed affected by our mental attitude. For example, Dr. C. B. Thomas of Johns Hopkins University studied more than a thousand graduates over a period of 16 years, matching their psychological characteristics with their vulnerability to diseases. One thing she noted: The graduates most vulnerable to disease were those who were angrier and more anxious under stress.

Duh!!! Well Laura, I am not trying to be mean, but your so called “evidence” for the existence of “God” is nothing short than ramblings of your personal beliefs and half witted uneducated interpretations of what Biblical passages have said to you. If the values preached by the Bible speak to you then so be it. Please don’t go around spouting that you have empirical evidence when you clearly don’t. If I said that there was a purple three eyed monster living off of rat carcasses on Mars the burden of proof to support that claim would be on the person making it. Me! You are saying that there is this fantastic apparition in the sky and that he can be known through a holy and unique book called the Bible. The burden of proof is on you, and you have none. You cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible. My best to you. (Thanks to skeptics annotated bible and Roedy Green)


breakerslion said...

There is a junk-mail chain letter that won't die with similar "proofs". I responede to it here among other places.

One of the stronger refutations for the "round Earth is in the bible" arguments, is that there are seperate words for "round" (circular) and "orb" (spherical) in Hebrew. Q: What does the horizon look like when on the ocean or in the middle of a desert?

es said...

Oh yes, the bible is a great instructional manual on sanitation. Just consider this valuable lesson on what to do if you accidentally get dirtied:

Leviticus 5:2"if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean—whether the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or of unclean creatures that move along the ground—even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty.

3 " 'Or if he touches human uncleanness—anything that would make him unclean—even though he is unaware of it, when he learns of it he will be guilty.

4 " 'Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil—in any matter one might carelessly swear about—even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.

5 " 'When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned

6 and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.

7 " 'If he cannot afford a lamb, he is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the LORD as a penalty for his sin—one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.

8 He is to bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one for the sin offering. He is to wring its head from its neck, not severing it completely,

9 and is to sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering against the side of the altar; the rest of the blood must be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering.

10 The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for him for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven. "

Don't forget to sprinkle that blood around! Those Hebrews loved to sprinkle the blood around. How fastidious is that?

Quoting the bible to prove the existence of god (or jesus, for that matter) is like quoting "Peter Pan" to prove the existence of Tinkerbell. If they got a few facts and historical events right, so what?

Shawn Wilkinson said...

Her understanding of Galileo and his opponents thought processes are completely off. Of course, no layman knows what Aristotilean physics entails, that the Five Ways of Aquinas are based off this physics, and that prior to Newton's formulation every great thinker relied upon Aristotilean physics to understand the world. I didn't bother reading the rest of the garbage, and I give you kudos for being able to stomach such nonsense.