Creative Challenge #31: Bible Science Blunders

You’re in luck, dear reader. The absence of news means we can present yet another creative challenge. This has the potential to be a good one.

Everyone knows (well, not ol’ Hambo) that aside from its merits, the bible is an utterly wretched science book. We’ve frequently mentioned a few of its major blunders, for example, the bible clearly states that The Earth Is Flat, and also The Earth Does Not Move, and that Pi Equals 3, and we live in a Geocentric Universe. There’s also Adam & Eve, Noah’s Flood, and an ark-load of other familiar items.

But those are well-known. Today’s challenge is for you to present us with your favorite but little-known bible science blunder. You must be careful, however. It can’t be something that’s ambiguous; the scripture has to be clear on the point you mention. The form of today’s challenge is that you must tell us, with reasonable brevity:

What is your favorite little-known bible science blunder?

You know the rules: You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully.

There may not be a winner of this contest, but if there is, your Curmudgeon will decide, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Creative Challenge #31: Bible Science Blunders

  1. One of the oddities of the Genesis creation story is that day and night apparently existed before the sun did.

  2. So much to choose from …

    Revelation 6:12:
    “And when I saw the Lamb open the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black like sackcloth of goat hair, and the whole moon turned blood red,”

    The authors of those particular drug trips, and in fact the ancient Hebrews in general, did not realize that the moon is illuminated by the sun, or even the fact that the sun is actually the cause of daylight. Since daylight preceded the sunrise and lasted after sunset, they thought that the sun and daylight were two separate but correlated things. That is why the sun can be as black as sackcloth in the daytime and the moon blood red, and also why genesis talks about day and night existing even before the sun. Of course on the very early Earth a day was far shorter than it is now.

    Then there is Revelation 6:13:
    “and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, like unripe figs dropping from a tree shaken by a great wind.”

    Where those “little tiny” stars fall to the Earth. You will also find lots of other bible quotes that simply copy or restate the same two above errors. Of course one “explanation” (actually an excuse) is that the believers ultimate magician can do anything so there is no problem. These kinds of excuses basically boil down to a willing and quite voluntary brain death for the believer.

  3. The biggest blunder is what the Bible does not say.
    The Bible does not say anything about the fixity of species (or “kinds”, or anything else about life), or about how various living things are unrelated to one another, or about the creation of species, genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, kingdoms or domains. About the creation of anything ex nihilo (living things appeared from the water or the earth, Adam from dust, Eve from a rib). It doesn’t say anything about the creation of microbes (the majority, by any measure, of life). It doesn’t say anything about extinction, about biogeography, about fossils, about genetics.
    The Bible doesn’t care what we think about evolution.

  4. Dave Luckett

    Miracles are ten a penny in the Bible. What is needed for this is not some sort of statement of the merely physically impossible, for God can make the impossible actual. That’s the power of omphalos.

    And it’s not sufficient to pick what could easily be a translation error, like the unicorns in Genesis as described in the KJV. Or even where a different, but reasonable interpretation might apply – like the cauldron in 1 Kings 7, where the circumference of ten cubits might be the inside and the diameter of three cubits across from edge to edge – or both are simply approximations. Various other shifts have helped literalists get around mustard seeds (not the smallest, but Jesus was speaking in terms his hearers would understand) or seeds “dying” when they were sowed (riff on being buried, and a metaphor).

    On mulling it over, I like the idea of God seated on the vaulted roof of the world, Isaiah 40:22. It’s impossible to avoid the reflection that the writer thinks of the sky as a crystal dome over his head, with a hard surface.

    In thinking of God seated on the peak of the sky, I am reminded of the Greek satyr-play in which Zeus descends from Olympus to the stage (a form of crane was used). The chorus – costumed as satyrs, that’s why it was a satyr-play – mills about below. “Good heavens!” they cry, (in Greek) “What incredible magnificence! What enormous majesty! Why, the sight makes us go weak at the knees!”

    “Yes,” says the chorus leader, “From here, I, too, can see right up his robe.”

    And that, kiddies, is what we call satire.

  5. Hans-Richard Grümm

    Birds (Day 5) created before land animals (Day 6), in contrast to reality (Jurassic not before Carboniferous).

  6. Jonah surviving three days in a fish

  7. Revelation 8:10. “there fell a great star from, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.”
    The author obviously had no idea how great stars are, how far away and how hot.

    According to 2 Chro 13:3-4 King Abijah had a very loud voice:

    “And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour. And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;

    According to Psalms 58:5 snails melt.

  8. Abijah said that, but it doesn’t say that anyone heard him.

  9. Dave Luckett

    GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them?

  10. I like Jacob’s trick for controlling the patterning of sheep and goats:
    Genesis 30:37-39 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

  11. I’m interested in Astronomy and the lore of Astronomy. Unlike many other cultures the Bible has very little (and the very little that exists in the book is of course completely wrong) But here is one that isn’t a great Bible blunder, but one that isn’t often understood as a blunder.
    Isaiah 14:12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
    “Lucifer” is sometimes translated “Morning Star”, in other words the planet Venus, which is a good indication we might have some Biblical Astronomy.
    Even modern sky watchers might be oblivious to the planet Venus’ rather interesting path in the sky. As the only conspicuous (and highly conspicuous at that) inferior planet its apparent path seems to come out of the blazing morning sun glow brightly as it reaches the greatest elongation from the sun, only to “fall to Earth” as the planet itself outruns the Earth in the inside track.
    So while the story is a bit of fist shaking at the king of Babylon it also shows a fair amount of ignorance at the heliocentric nature of the solar system.

  12. In a recent thread we discussed the Discoveroids’ contention, via The Privileged Planet, that we and the Earth were intentionally designed for scientific discovery. The science in the bible is the pure result of our “intelligently designed” ability to observe the universe from our planet, which was “designed” to let us make scientific discoveries. Nevertheless, because the authors of the bible relied on their “designed” sense of sight — which is extremely limited — Genesis and the whole Old Testament got all the science wrong. They knew nothing of what could be known by observing infra-red and ultra-violet light, cosmic rays, radiation, etc. They also missed out on knowing about bacteria, because we can’t see that either. The result of all that “design for discovery” is that the bible is loaded with bad astronomy, bad geography, bad geology, virtually no chemistry, etc. By the time the New Testament was written, educated Greeks knew the shape and size of the Earth, but none of that found its way into scripture.

  13. The Bible has the appearance of being the product of an Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) culture.
    That may be because it is the product of an ANE culture. Or it may a false impression. The complexity of that appearance does not seem to be the result of chance. There are so many ways that a writer would give clues if there were not the intention of giving that impression. Milton or Dante would never be mistaken for an ANE writer.
    If the Bible is not the product of an ANE culture, then there is a deliberate design to give that false impression.

  14. Timothy Norfolk

    Judges 1:19 “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    Which says that God is not omnipotent.

  15. Charles Deetz ;)

    If the bible was at all scientific, you’d think that it would at least get the categories of life spelled out. Best I know of, the creation story skips over insects … which they can’t claim weren’t known to have existed at the time (unlike bacteria etc.).

  16. Insects could be covered by life moving in the water, or flying life, or creeping things, or beasts of the earth.
    But it could be that the author of Genesis 1 thought that insects were not the work of the creation week, but were the products of spontaneous generatIon.
    What about fungi?

  17. In regard to SC’s comments, it’s obvious the original human design was only a deity prototype and had to evolve naturally over time to become a better designed brain that could accumulate and assimilate information to discover all the scientific wonders of the universe.

    Another point regarding the several comments of falling stars. This type of observation might fit in with people’s ignorance of the astronomy and meteors. Imagine a clear, moonless night and the Perseid meteor shower suddenly appearing, or a larger meteor that struck the earth or water causing panic. Is it not said that the great shrine in Mecca is but a large, black meteor (that no one is allowed to test)?

  18. My favorite has always been Psalms 19-4 in which the sun has a tent or tabernacle:

    Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.“ Psalms 19-4 (New International version)

    “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.” Psalms 19-4 (King James version.)

  19. And here are a couple more:

    Daniel 4:10 & 11 clearly states that the Earth is flat.
    “Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
    The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.

    Matthew 4:8 clearly states that Jesus and Satan are flat Earthers:
    “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.”

  20. The Nephilim and the Leviathan, perhaps the best of the other biblical monsters

  21. I like the ‘fact’ that Judas died simulateneously from being hung (Mathew) and auto-evisceration (Acts).