Science To The Rescue
The presence of observable and falsifiable scientific evidence is perhaps the most compelling reason we can conclude that the Bible is not free from error. Because this evidence clearly yields certain conclusions that are contradicted by direct statements from biblical authors, we can safely say that the Bible is an imperfect book containing flaws of human origin. Due to the overwhelming amount of scientific errors the book possesses, you should have great comfort in deciding that there was no divine inspiration or intervention involved during its creation. Furthermore, the vast categories of errors contained in the Bible demonstrate that the mistakes are not confined to a single author or field of study, a realization that should question the foundation and intent of the book as a whole. We’ll focus considerably on the first chapter of Genesis, astronomy, and biology because each of these topics unmistakably contributes to the faux pas of apologetics.
Anyone with a decent background in natural science who undertakes an impartial but critical look at the first chapter of Genesis should have no trouble denouncing its claims as rubbish. At best, the author has offered a poorly constructed allegory for the creation of the universe; at worst, and far more plausible, Genesis 1 is a total fabrication. This section will of course demonstrate why the creation account in the opening chapter fails miserably to be scientifically accurate.
Early in the creation, God allegedly separated the waters into two distinct bodies so that land could appear between them. He called the water below seas and the water above sky, which he presumably held aloft by the use of a firmament (Verses 6-10). While the NIV translated this verse using expansion, the Hebrew word utilized by the author is raki’a, which the KJV more accurately translated as a solid body.
Why is the KJV translation more in line with the author’s intent? First, it’s the primary use of the word. Second, it reinforces the aforementioned idea of a sky ocean because a solid protective layer would be required to suspend the water if there truly were an ocean above us as the Bible suggests. Third, it complements the known widespread primitive beliefs. Take the mindset of an ancient Hebrew for a moment by ignoring any contemporary understanding you have of the world. You can glance at the sky above and observe that it’s the color of water, while, periodically, water falls from above. With no further evidence to consider and no further understanding of this phenomenon, the perfectly logical conclusion would be that there’s a mass of water in the sky. If this is true, it certainly follows that a solid body, a firmament, would be necessary to contain this oceanic reservoir. Perhaps windows even open in the firmament to allow rainfall (Genesis 8:2).
Although the pursuit of knowledge has proven these outdated beliefs untrue, we are far richer in scientific understanding than our Hebrew predecessors and should not scoff at the author for his proposal. We now know that the sky is blue due to the scattering of a particular wavelength of light passing through the atmosphere at a certain angle, not because there’s an ocean in the sky. While we cannot fault the author for believing this ancient hypothesis, we can conclude that his guess on the properties of the sky was incorrect. Already, a critical analysis has demonstrated the Bible to be scientifically inaccurate and undeniably imperfect.
God allegedly created the sun and moon on the fourth day of the creation (14-19), but this curious statement creates a plethora of troubles because God had already divided the day into lightness and darkness as his first creation (3-5). How can there be night and day without the sun, the only appreciable source of light for our planet? Again, we must take the probable mindset of the author to understand his position. Look into the sky away from the sun. It’s unreasonable to conclude that the earth is bright at its distal boundaries just because the sun is shining, unless you have solid evidence to the contrary, because the light originating from this enormous ball of fire appears to stop very near its edges. Besides, everyone knows that the horizon is luminous well before and well after the sun is in the visible regions of the sky. Thus, there’s no solid reason to conclude that the sun has anything to do with creating the illumination, only that it accompanies the somewhat concurrent periods of lightness. In fact, the Bible explicitly states that the sun and moon are merely symbols “to divide the day from the night” (14). In the biblical world, however, God controlled morning and evening by this mysterious force called light (3-5), an entirely different entity created much earlier than the sun. We now know that the sun is the determining factor between morning and evening, yet the Bible clearly proclaims morning and evening existed prior to the sun’s creation.
In addition to the sun gaffe, the scientifically ignorant author commits the mistake of listing the moon as a light (16). If we were to be rigidly technical about the Bible’s claim, this verse is another scientifically erroneous notion because the moon merely reflects illumination from the sun. Isaiah and Ezekiel also make this mistake in their prophecy accounts (30:26 and 32:7, respectively). Again, we often take our modern knowledge about the universe for granted, yet such a gift was completely unforeseeable to the ancient Hebrew.
Another problem arises from the sun not appearing until the fourth day when you consider that plants suddenly appeared on the third day (11-13). While it’s definitely possible, even very likely, for plants to survive without the sun for a single day, many apologists have attempted to rectify the obvious timeline problems in Genesis by altering the meaning of a day. Once they consummate this amendment, they’ve created a timeline in which the plants exist without sunlight for however long these “days” are to them. In most cases, a biblical day must necessarily be no less than a period of millions of years in order to be congruent with scientific data. While the general Hebrew term for day, yom, doesn’t necessarily mean a twenty-four hour day, we still understand it to be a short time period based on every contemporaneous instance of its use. Millennia simply do not qualify using this unbiased criterion. Furthermore, the author provides us with the precise definition of yom in every creation instance: morning and evening. Naturally, we’ll revisit these creationary intervals in the upcoming Thousands Or Billions. For now, let’s return to the problem of the plants thriving without the sun’s existence.
Most vegetation requires sunlight to undergo photosynthesis, the process of using light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into nutrients. I wouldn’t bet on plant survival much more than a month without the sun. While it’s true that the biblical creation has this mysterious light existing prior to the arrival of plants, the only thing we can conclude about its existence is the probable lack thereof. The sun, on the other hand, is fully compatible with plant life. Once again, this obtuse blunder can be justified by the limitations of the ancient Hebrew’s knowledge because he obviously wasn’t aware that plants were feeding off sunlight for their survival.
As one final minor point on plants for now, God says he has given us every plant for food (29). However, we’re now aware of plants with qualities poisonous enough that make us avoid physical contact with them. Such disturbingly reckless advice hardly seems to be the kind likely given out by an omniscient deity.
God allegedly created the stars on the fourth day (16), but what were they, and what was their purpose? Biblical authors believed that stars were small sources of light contained within the imaginary firmament covering the earth. In other words, they exhibited no divine inspiration, whatsoever, telling them that stars were actually unfathomably enormous gaseous spheres seemingly countless miles away. In short, the authors’ celestial hypothesis was incorrect on location, number, and size. Verification for the location part of this position is quite easy to demonstrate. After God made the sun, moon, and stars, he “set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth” (17). So along with the sun and moon, the stars are apparently housed in this imaginary physical boundary separating the sky ocean from the open air above earth’s inhabitants.
The Bible also remarkably claims the outdated belief that stars were extremely small in size. After the disclosure of their location in the firmament, and after God tells Abraham several times that his people would be as numerous as the stars (which is also impossible, yet it’s claimed to have been fulfilled in Hebrews 11:12), the next clear reference to size and position of these celestial bodies is found in the book of Isaiah. Here, the prophet speaks of exalting a throne “above the stars of God” (). Likewise, Job says, “behold the height of the stars, how high they are” (). Stars are not high; they are distant. One would expect these two divinely inspired individuals to make this distinction in their records; instead, they boldly demonstrate that they shared the popular yet erroneous belief that God fixed the stars at the sky’s apex.
The book of Psalms states that God tells the number of stars and calls them all by their names (147:4). That’s quite an impressive accomplishment considering scientists estimate that there could be as many as 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 in the known universe. If God truly told anyone how many stars surrounded our planet, the ridiculous firmament belief should have ceased without delay.
Daniel speaks of a vision that he had concerning a giant goat’s horn knocking the stars down to the ground where the goat “stamped upon them” (Daniel 8:8-9). Passing comment on the vision, we can also be decidedly certain that Daniel believed stars were tiny lights hanging above the earth. Otherwise, how could his monstrous goat stamp upon them? More importantly, how could someone divinely inspired write something so blatantly preposterous? In the New Testament, Matthew and Mark both record Jesus foretelling of an era when the stars shall “fall from heaven” (24:29 and , respectively). Jesus, a supposedly perfect human being who was supposedly the only son of a supposedly perfect god, wasn’t immune to scientific ignorance either.
Revelation was the grandiose vision of John, yet another man who God allegedly inspired, but John also thought that stars were bright objects of insignificant size directly above the earth. In this record of his dream-like hallucination, he claims to see Jesus holding seven stars in his right hand (). While John may have seen what looked like seven stars in Jesus’ hand, this is not what the text clearly states. The passage unambiguously says Jesus was holding seven stars in his hand. Thus, John’s statement is certainly in error. In addition, John mentions a dream in which “the stars of heaven fell unto the earth” and compares this event to a fig tree shaking off its leaves (). Furthermore, he describes a great star falling into “the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters” (). If a star were to “fall” to our planet as John indicates, it would annihilate the earth upon impact because these bodies are generally hundreds of times larger than our world. Finally, John sees a dragon swing its tail around, consequently knocking a third of the stars in the sky down to the ground (12:4). There’s no need to discuss how enormous such a hypothetical tail would have to be in order to accomplish this impossibility. After all, Revelation was only a vision. On the other hand, we must expect Christians to accept that this man had a unique foreknowledge of humankind’s imminent future. In other words, these ridiculously fantastical events must remain futuristic certainties to biblical apologists. At this point, we can safely say that anyone attempting to harmonize the scientifically determined position, size, and number of our celestial neighbors with a literal interpretation of the Bible is veraciously wasting his time.
The ancient Hebrews apparently didn’t have
abundant knowledge of the animal kingdom, and the supposedly omniscient deity
neglected to grant them with such insight before they started working on his
timeless declaration to the world. Following Noah’s flood, the Bible says that
all terrestrial and marine life would have fear and dread toward humans
(Genesis 9:2). That’s simply not the case because there are vast numbers of
animals, ranging from pets to fearless predators, that have no fear whatsoever
toward humans. This erroneous complication was simply a matter of the fallible
author’s confined knowledge. While the animals inhabiting
Later in Genesis, Jacob successfully alters the color patterns on lambs and goats so that he could differentiate the stronger ones from the weaker ones. He purportedly accomplished this feat by placing peeled tree branches in front of the mating livestock (Genesis 30:37-39). Following his absurd achievement, an angel of God visits him in a dream and praises him for his work in genetics (Genesis 31:11-12). As someone with a thorough background in human physiology, I hold the opinion that this is easily the single most embarrassing error contained between the Bible’s covers. Peeled branches have absolutely no effect on an organism’s appearance; DNA does. As an extremely quick summary of the topic, the general rule is that half of an offspring’s DNA comes from each parent with the more dominant type being physically expressed. The specific genes in the DNA sequence are the determining factor for the animals’ colors. Of course, such advanced understanding was way beyond the scope of the ancient Hebrew. Divine inspiration obviously doesn’t resonate from this passage either.
The story of Moses relaying God’s commands to the people also drops the ball when you consider which animals the almighty deemed unclean. He says hares are not clean enough to eat because they chew their cud (Leviticus 11:6 and Deuteronomy 14:7). I’m not sure where he gets this impression because it’s the exact opposite of reality. The obvious solution to this problem is that no all-knowing deity told Moses anything of the sort.
The book of Job depicts ostriches as birds that bury their eggs in the earth so that they can depart and leave them unattended (Job 39:13-16). It’s sufficient to say they’re biblically painted as careless parents. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Ostriches are extremely meticulous about how they take care of their offspring. Even the father helps out, which is the overwhelming exception in the animal kingdom. This is another example of a flat-out error that often goes shunned by biblical apologists due to the absence of a reasonable response.
A more popular story centered on zoological blunders is that of Jonah being swallowed by a fish and living inside its stomach for three days (Jonah 1:17). Even if we ignore how strange the story might seem, we can still conclude that the author lacked the knowledge of gastric juices and bile acids more than capable of digesting a human body.
The New Testament doesn’t offer any enlightenment on the animal kingdom either. James declares that every kind of animal has been tamed (James 3:7). Although James asserts nearly the exact opposite of the earlier Genesis authors, perhaps due to a widespread effort to tame all wildlife over the preceding few centuries, he runs straight into the same problem: limitations of an individual human perspective. Like the earlier writers, James probably never ventured too far outside of Mesopotamia. If he had taken the time to make this journey, he would have eventually realized that there were other animals yet to be discovered, let alone tamed. James’ premature proclamation hardly seems consistent with what I would consider a divinely inspired statement.
Once again, we return to the Pentateuch (a.k.a. Books of Moses, Torah, or first five chapters of the Bible) to find additional scientific errors, this time committed with regard to human beings. Let’s begin with a consistent problem throughout the Old Testament: population growth. The first such example takes place during the post-flood era when the population inexplicably mushrooms from eight to a million plus, counting the women, in only a few hundred years (Exodus 1:5, 38:26). By the time the events of 2 Samuel are said to have been taking place, there were well over a million men in two armies alone (2 Samuel 24:9). Not only is this exceedingly accelerated for a believable population growth spurt, the living conditions were not exactly primed for such a magnificent, logarithmic eruption of life. Furthermore, there’s no reliable archaeological evidence that there was ever a number remotely close to that many people living simultaneously in the Middle East until just very recently. The numbers were certainly exaggerated, as are many details of centuries-old stories handed down via oral tradition. A common apologetic argument used in response to this problem will cite God’s supposed tendencies to allow miraculous growth rates (Genesis 15:5, Exodus 1:7), but what actual evidence do they provide to support this explanation? As it stands, simple ignorance or an oversight by the error-prone author created this obvious difficulty.
Genesis 5 and 11 contain chronologies for the first important people in the Bible, as well as the number of years each person lived. The average lifespan is about eight hundred years with Methuselah taking the cake at 969. People simply do not live that long, especially considering the treacherous conditions necessarily burdened thousands of years ago. To answer this dilemma, biblical defenders will simply quote where the spirit of God left man to end his longevity (Genesis 6:3). However, there’s a realistic approach to solving this curiosity. We know from other ancient religions that their own important figures also have extremely abnormal lifespans, sometimes reaching into thousands of years. Due to the accompanying stories behind this consistent practice, historians are easily able to conclude that the founders of these religions commonly stretched the lifespans of individuals whom they wished to exalt as having increased importance. In other words, the incredible ages of these biblical characters are nothing more than the product of folklore resulting from someone’s wishful thinking.
The Book of Esther accommodates the story of a man who thinks with his heart (6:6). While this appears to be a symbolic meaning, much like how we say people think either with their heads or with their hearts, it’s important to realize that people originally believed thought originated from within the heart. During Egyptian mummification, morticians often removed the brain from the corpse, leaving the heart with the deceased individual due to its perceived over-importance. Even the Egyptians certainly shared the same erroneous belief as the technologically inferior Hebrews. The Bible could have easily distinguished itself from other religious texts by establishing some reputable authenticity with such an advanced declaration, but it conveniently failed to do so.
Yet again, the Bible fails to improve upon a field of science when it moves into the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all believed that the inabilities to speak and hear were the result of possessions by evil spirits (9:32, 9:17, and 11:14, respectively). This is an interesting and quiet creative hypothesis, but one we currently know is not true. The inability to speak is usually due to a physical abnormality in the region of the brain known as Broca’s area, while the inability to hear is typically due to physical trauma of the inner ear. If these regions don’t operate properly, the affected individual lacks the auditory and phonetic capacities made possible by a normal physiology.
Matthew also believes that blindness is a result of the devil’s inhabitance (12:22). Again, you don’t need the unverifiable nature of this wild claim explained to you. Damage to the optic nerve or detachment of the retina usually causes blindness. No devils or demons have ever demonstrated their involvement in this impairment. Luke purports that a woman’s crippled nature is also due to possession by a devil (13:11). While there are multitudes of unfortunate factors that can cripple a person, spiritual possession has never proven to be one of them. Luke and Matthew commit an additional medical error when they claim that devils cause seizures (9:39 and 17:15, respectively). Suffice to say, devils, demons, evil spirits, or any other fiendish creatures have never been known to cause seizures. These violent neurological events are the result of some physiological abnormality, such as a brain tumor, or an imbalance in electrical activity. When radical epilepsy manifestations are observed, however, it’s certainly understandable how a person with limited knowledge of human physiology could leap to the erroneous and fantastic conclusion that a demon might have possessed the individual in question. The Hebrew god once again fails to distinguish himself from the countless other ancient gods because his writers weren’t the least bit scientifically believable.
In every instance of alleged demonic possession I mentioned, Jesus cured the people suffering from these ailments via exorcism, the act of casting demons out of the body. This heavily implies that Jesus also thought evil spirits were responsible for these conditions. Because Jesus himself even says it was through God that he casts out demons (Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20), one could even insinuate that he’s obviously relying on the ignorance of the crowd to further his stature. Otherwise, the stories of exorcisms could very well be nothing more than fabrications.
The take-home message about these purported exorcisms is that they could not have happened if we are to believe the means by which they occurred unfolded exactly as recorded in the Gospels. Even if the perceptions of the authors served as the basis for the exorcism claims, the text is still incorrect and, therefore, unreliable. Thus, the Bible has once again demonstrated its own hilariously fallacious nature.
Further Scientific Nonsense
Another embarrassing tale of biblical nonsense is the construction of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. According to the bogus legend, everyone on earth spoke the same language when the erection of the tower began. Because the people of earth had a great desire to catch a glimpse of God, they built this supposed tower intending to breach the sky. As God didn’t like the possibility of people spotting him, he confused their languages to prevent the architects from understanding one another. Unable to continue construction, everyone with different languages went separate ways.
This story is unfeasible for many reasons. The first problem with the incredulous account is the incongruency of the common language theme. We know that many different languages existed centuries before the story’s setting around 2500-2000 BCE. Not only that, but another Pentateuch author had said Noah’s sons separated according to their own tongues in the previous chapter (Genesis 10). At the very least, we have a major timeline discrepancy in need of an acceptable resolution. Furthermore, the notion that nineteenth century man had the architectural knowledge to build a tower even a mile high is ridiculous. To fathom that a group of ignorant ancient Hebrews could make an equivalent accomplishment is ludicrous.
Interestingly, no divine inspiration is available as a possible excuse for the illogical story because God wasn’t siding with his people on this occasion! If he didn’t wish for the people to see him, he wouldn’t have provided the means for them to do so. Of course, the most obvious blunder is God’s supposed fear of us actually reaching him in the sky. To suggest that an omniscient god would destroy a building because he felt he was in danger of humans catching a glimpse of him is an equally ludicrous proposal. The aspects of this story once again go back to the ancient Hebrew belief that God eternally resided on top of a dome covering the earth. Since an omniscient deity would know that the people could not possibly reach him, he would not have stopped the tower’s construction for the specific reason provided by the Bible. The story cries of a myth.
We also have fanciful tales about giants roaming the earth during the Pentateuch era. There’s a lot of room for interpretation here because the exact nature of these mysterious giants is unknown. However, we understand that the Bible has them living both before and after the flood (Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33). Some Christians have argued these giants are the dinosaurs, but this proposed explanation fails to be consistent with the “flood caused the dinosaur extinction” hypothesis offered by others in the same crowd. While the text is most likely referring to a race of people, archaeologists have found no reliable evidence that these creatures existed. Given the track record of the Bible thus far, it’s reasonable to conclude that the Genesis giants are, at best, an exaggeration of an otherwise normal species of life.
Jesus also commits another scientific blunder when he declares the mustard seed to be the smallest seed of the earth (Mark 4:31). There are, in fact, many seeds smaller than the mustard, such as the South American orchid, but the Hebrews were obviously ignorant of most everything outside of their homeland. Had God presented this bit of information to the author of Mark, it seems unfeasible that the writer would portray Jesus as a man so careless with his diction. This example is clearly another biblical error on the growing accumulation that arises from the same limitation of divinely uninspired perspective.
The Tentative Verdict For Science Versus The Bible
The suggestion that the Bible is lacking a scientific foundation is nothing less than a colossal understatement. The Bible has failed fair, impartial, and universally applicable tests in multiple fields of science. If God truly is the inspiration behind this purportedly divine declaration to the world, he shows absolutely no interest in its understandability or accuracy in astronomy, cosmology, zoology, botany, anthropology, geology, ecology, geography, physiology, and several other disciplines not covered in this chapter. In fact, the Bible handicaps those who use their “God-given” talents of reason and logic to settle blatant biblical problems. Nothing can be more detrimental to the authenticity of a statement than contradictory phenomena that we readily observe and experience. With no other evidence to consider, these natural manifestations should always override what we might hope and think to be correct explanations for unignorable discrepancies. Such is the power of science and reason. They are the impartial pursuit of an answer to a question, not the search for supplements to a predetermined answer.