The Big & Little Dippers Prove the Bible

Did our title get your attention? Fine. Then you’ll enjoy the newest post from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title is Do the Big and Little Dipper Support the Bible’s Timeline?

It’s a good example of what we call the Creationists’ Scientific Method:

1. Select a conclusion which you already believe is true.
2. Find one piece of evidence that possibly might fit.
3. Ignore all other evidence.
4. That’s it.

Today’s splendid example of cutting-edge creation science was written by Brooke C. Nelson — a new name. At the end we’re told: “Brooke C. Nelson wrote this while at Answers in Genesis as an intern with Dr. Danny Faulkner during the summer of 2016.” Isn’t that wonderful? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

[H]ow likely is it for cultures scattered across the globe to see the same shapes in the stars? Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Big and Little Bears with distorted tails, are well-known constellations in today’s world because they are easy to spot, hold the asterisms [nice word, but misused] we know as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, and are important for finding the North Star. Even though these bears have long tails unlike any bear we know today, they caught the attention of the Ancient World as well.

It’s curious that they’re not mentioned in the bible. For some reason, Nelson ignores that. Instead he says:

The Finns, Arabians, Phoenicians, Persians, and inhabitants of northern Asia also call this constellation a long-tailed bear. Some say this could be cultural crossover throughout the years, but then why would North American natives see the same picture of a long-tailed bear in the sky, as reported by four early-comers in the late 1600s early 1700s?

Wow — if true, it’s quite a mystery! Nelson tells us about the Indian legend, and then says:

It begs the question: Did this constellation name and idea originate at the same place and from the same people before being scattered throughout the earth?

No, it doesn’t beg the question, it raises the question. We’ll skip some irrelevant material about Ptolemy’s star maps, after which Nelson asks:

What does this mean for us today? Well, for those who believe in a land bridge between Asia and Alaska 10–12,000 years ago, it presents the problem of how people developed the same constellations as absurd as two long-tailed bears. The fact that some cultures across the globe have the same constellations in their night sky supports the idea that all people groups once were together sharing information. But if people did not develop the constellations until the third millennium BC, then how did Native Americans see two bears in the sky, as did people in the Old World, when the physical link between the Old World and the New World was severed thousands of years earlier?

Gasp — it’s an impossibility! Well, maybe the Indians learned those constellations from fur trappers or missionaries. No, that would spoil things for Nelson. Let’s read on:

Interestingly, the time period for the origin of the constellations as we know them in the third millennium BC coincides with the biblical timeline. The Flood and Tower of Babel were in the third millennium BC. Furthermore, the latitude range of the origin of the constellations agrees with the biblical location of the post-Flood society on the Plane of Sumer. If the constellations developed at that time, then as people dispersed after God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel, they would have taken the constellations with them.

Yes — that makes perfect sense! Oh, wait — then why didn’t the American Indians also have a legend about Noah? And the Tower of Babel? We’re not told. Nelson uses only the bears, and announces:

Thus the land bridge connecting Asia and the Americas existed much later in the biblical chronology than in the secular chronology. Though modifications in the constellations were inevitable, one would expect some common elements, such as the two bears, to persist.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We should also expect a lot of other cultural similarities, but there are none — at least Nelson doesn’t mention any. This is his conclusion:

It is improbable that more than one culture would have developed two long-tailed bears among the constellations independently. It is far more likely that similarities between different constellation systems is the result of a common origin rather than a coincidence. Hence the presence of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor in the constellations of diverse cultures bears testimony of the reliability of biblical history at the earliest epochs of post-Flood and post-Babel human migration.

That was a great example of creation science. Nelson has a wonderful career ahead of him.

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

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26 responses to “The Big & Little Dippers Prove the Bible

  1. Bears were common creatures in northern latitudes. If you are in a very dark sky, you can trace out the head and limbs and it resembles a bear. Sorta. It’s not impossible that disparate peoples familiar with the same animal might locate it in the same group of stars. Its many orders of magnitude less improbable than a world-wide flood.

    This is somewhat like god-of-the-gaps. We don’t know exactly why both native americans and some europeans saw bears in the sky. Therefore, god. No further evidence required.

  2. Of course, there’s the galloping-evolution problem again as well: modern Native Americans don’t look like modern Middle Easterners (or the ancient Sumerians either), and neither, as far as can be told from skeletal remains, did their ancestor of four and five thousand years ago. They may be the same “kind,” whatever the h-e-double-hockey-sticks that means, but they certainly aren’t the same people.

    Of course, Mormons insist that “Indians” are really descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and so would agree with the nutters, I mean creationists, on this point–but if fundamentalist Protestants had their way, they’d be roasting Mormons over a slow fire for their other beliefs.

  3. Brooke with an “e” is a she. Brooke worked as a counselor at Camp Infinity which AIG describes as:

    Camp Infinity, a biblical creation STEM camp,

    Creation Science, Creation Technology, Creation Engineering and Creation Mathematics.

    Or, load of bollocks.

    Here you go. Rot your brain on this.

  4. Some cultures, District 9, I think, see it as a prawn.

  5. Whelp, “learned” more than I wanted but here’s one more gem. I sure am glad SOMEONE is fighting against so-called “science.”

    Camp Infinity’s Statement of Faith

    We help students understand biblical authority and how to use their lives and STEM talents for the glory of God.

    Camp Infinity integrates a strong creation apologetics focus with STEM education. We help students learn to counteract skeptics’ attacks on the word of God that are based on so-called “science.”

  6. michaelfugate

    Inuit – the big dipper is Tukturjuit, the caribou.

  7. According to Wikipedia, the Native Americans don’t see Ursa Major’s “tail” as a tail:

    However, bears do not have long tails, and Jewish astronomers considered Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid instead to be three cubs following their mother, while the Native Americans saw them as three hunters.

    In the visualization I remember from childhood the three stars were the bear’s neck, but it seems that was unusual.

  8. PS: I’ve just noticed that, duh, Wikipedia’s very next para explains my experience.

  9. A couple of things to note.
    Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the star which we call the North Star was not always the marker of the North Pole.
    Bears, the real terrestrial kind, might have been associated with the north in any northern temperate zone of the northern hemisphere.

  10. I think realthog is right about the tails thing, so AIG gets that wrong off the bat.

    Incidentally, Ursa Major might actually be mentioned in Job 38:31-32, an obscure and difficult-to-translate passage: “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide Ayish with her children?” Ayish may be the Bear, though this identification is disputed, and astrological myths seem to underly the passage.

    Of course, creationists don’t like the fact that the Bible is full of obscure and corrupt verses whose meaning is uncertain, since salvation supposedly relies on understanding and accepting the plain meaning of Scripture.

    Also, the assertion that the constellation is universally interpreted as a bear is not true. It was known as a chariot, wagon, or ox-cart among various peoples — Britons, Francs, Romans, and even some Jews. For the Romans, it was the “Great Wain” (wagon) that gave passage to the underworld. The ancient Arabs called the stars of the tail the “daughters of mourning”. In Japan and China, the tail stars are known as the “northern dipper”, but there is no tradition relating it to a bear.

  11. … Bible is full of obscure and corrupt verses whose meaning is uncertain, since salvation supposedly relies on understanding and accepting the plain meaning of Scripture.

    It does not pay a prophet to be too specific.
    –L. Sprague de Camp

  12. Retired Prof

    SC, your reaction to the term *asterism* prompted me to look it up; first time I ever recall seeing it. Thanks. I now know a new word to help make up for the ones I keep forgetting.

    Out of context, *asterism* would have struck me as a term for a gardening specialty, similar to *lilitude*, *tulipicity*, or *zinnealogy.”

  13. Never mind that there aren’t Dutch names for Big and Little Dipper – only for Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
    Never mind that these constellations aren’t actual constellations at all, but just projections.
    But of course I’m not credible – I never have been able to recognize any constellation. Peraps that’s why I’m not a Hamnite.

  14. I don’t think “asterism” is misused here, though it is an awkward sentence. (Maybe it would have been better if it said “Ursa Major and Ursa Minor contain the asterisms we call the big and little dipper.)
    Since the tail section represents hunters in the native American narrative, the creationist thesis falls apart. Constellations as a rule vary from culture to culture, finding one poor example that is similar is a laughable proof of young Earth creationism.

  15. Wiktionary under the entry “asterism” gives this example of usage:
    “The Big Dipper, Summer Triangle, and Orion’s Belt are asterisms.”

  16. Charles Deetz ;)

    And the constellations named after Greek gods/myths, Brooke?

  17. deep trachea

    The galaxy is on Orion’s belt …. (MiB)

  18. SC, no new postings today. We hope all is well in your secret underground Floridian C.I.T.A.D.E.L. Is your area under the hurricane warning?

  19. In Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythos, the Elves interpreted the Big Dipper as a Sickle, a sign of coming doom set to wheel above the North as a grim omen for the first Dark Lord who had made his stronghold there.

    Just sayin’.

    Tolkien was right, it looks far more like a Sickle than a Bear. What were the ancients thinking?

  20. retiredsciguy asks: “Is your area under the hurricane warning?”

    A new post is in the works. So far, no problems. But the day is young, and it doesn’t look good.

  21. About the different cultural representations of the Big Dipper asterism — one interpretation of the American Negro spiritual song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot holds that the “chariot” is the Big Dipper, and it’s a guide to aid in escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad.

    The opening line of the song is key to this interpretation — “Swing low, sweet chariot, / Coming for to carry me home.” The Dipper swings low in the northern sky in autumn, the dry season, when it’s easier to walk along stream beds and river banks. It was too dangerous for escaping slaves to travel along roads, even at night, so they would make their escape to the the North by walking toward the Dipper, or Chariot, along dry stream beds in the fall, when the Chariot “swung low” to “carry them home”, or to freedom.

  22. @SC — Glad to hear all is well. Hope you are well inland or on the Gulf Coast.

  23. As far as what patterns modern city dwellers see in the stars, aside from cultural differences, there is the problem of light pollution. We just don’t see a lot of stars which fill in the pattern. The Bear is made up of more than just the seven stars of the Dipper.

  24. TomS:
    “The Bear is made up of more than just the seven stars of the Dipper.”

    Yes, indeed — which is why the Big Dipper is referred to as an “asterism”, not a “constellation.”

    Light pollution drives amateur astronomers star-craving mad.

  25. I thought the Irish called the Big Dipper the “Starry Plough” and some American natives the “Seven Persons?”

  26. @Ted Lawry

    “I thought the Irish called the Big Dipper the “Starry Plough””

    In the UK it’s just The Plough.