Category Archives: Science

Seventh-Day Adventists and Galileo

Adventist Review Online describes itself as “the web site of the Adventist Review magazine. In print for more than 150 years, the Adventist Review is the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Wikipedia says that denomination believes in creation in six literal days. At the Adventist Review website we found Galileo’s Heresies, which presents, shall we say, a somewhat novel interpretation of the Galileo affair.

It was written by Clifford Goldstein, editor of something called the Adult Bible Study Guide. His article was adapted from a manuscript in progress tentatively titled: Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Most everyone has heard of the heresy trial of Galileo Galilei by the Roman Inquisition in the seventeenth century, an event universally portrayed as the paradigmatic illustration of ignorant and dogmatic religionists versus the rational progress of science. Thus, theistic evolutionists gleefully use the Galileo account against those who defend the six-day creation, arguing that these literal creationists are repeating the error of Rome’s religious dogmatism.

Your Curmudgeon is one of those who often refers to Galileo’s trial as a classic case of religious persecution of science. In Creationism, Galileo and the Phases of Venus, we said:

Galileo was hauled before the Inquisition and charged with heresy for publishing a book describing evidence for — gasp! — the solar system. That was clearly contrary to scripture, so it couldn’t be tolerated. We know of two specific scripture passages were used as evidence against him during the trial:

Ecclesiastes 1, verse 5: The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

Joshua 10:13: And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

Because he was threatened with torture, Galileo confessed his heresy — see Recantation of Galileo. June 22, 1633. His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was banned and placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and he was kept under house arrest for the remaining seven years of his life.

What do Seventh-day Adventists think of that abominable event? Let’s read on:

However, far from an example of ignorant religionists battling scientific progress, the Galileo trial exposes the dangers of what happens when Christians too readily incorporate the whims of science into their religion. Contrary to the popular myth, it’s the evolutionists, not the creationists, who are repeating Rome’s error.

Huh? In what universe are those people living? The article continues:

Though about as many versions of the Galileo saga exist as tellers of it, the gist is that Galileo promoted Copernicanism, which argued for the earth orbiting the sun instead of the sun orbiting the earth. When faced with the threat of torture for promoting this idea, Galileo uttered his famous adjuration: [quote with an ellipsis in it].

We’ve already given you a link to the full text of Galileo’s Indictment and Abjuration, so you can read it for yourself. He was charged with teaching “several propositions contrary to the true sense and authority of the Holy Scriptures.” Specifically:

1. The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.

2. The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.

Here’s what Clifford Goldstein says:

The points that Galileo abjured were: first, that the sun is the center of the universe; second, that the sun is immovable; third, that the earth is not the center of the universe; and, fourth, that the earth moves. … However, as we will see, these were heresies, not against the Scriptures but against centuries of accepted scientific dogma.

That’s odd. The Inquisition said they were contrary to scripture. Moving along:

This point cannot be overestimated. Galileo wasn’t fighting against the Bible, but against an interpretation of the Bible dominated by the prevailing scientific dogma, which for centuries had been Aristotelianism. This view taught that the earth stood immobile at the center of the universe, and that stars and planets, including the sun, moved in perfect circular orbits around it.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Another excerpt:

And, just as almost everything in life sciences today is interpreted through the dogma and authority of Charles Darwin, back then so much science (or “natural philosophy” as it was called), including the nature of the cosmos, was interpreted through the dogma and authority of Aristotle (384 B.C. -322 B. C.).

Nobody knew about the solar system in Aristotle’s time, so he was likely as confused as the authors of scripture. On with the article:

Hence, the crucial point: Galileo’s “heresies” weren’t contrary to Scripture; they were contrary to an interpretation of Scripture dominated by a pagan Greek who lived more than 300 years before Christ, Aristotle — the Darwin of that era.

And yet, somehow, the Inquisition’s charges didn’t mention Aristotle. Here’s more:

Galileo’s heresy wasn’t against the Bible but against an interpretation of the Bible based on science — a scary parallel to what theistic evolutionists are doing today. It didn’t matter that the Bible never said that the sun at the center of the universe. Aristotle did, and because the Bible was interpreted through this, the prevailing scientific theory, an astronomical point never addressed in Scripture had become a theological position of such centrality that the Inquisition threatened to torture an old man for teaching contrary to it.

The article goes on and on, but we’ll give you only one more excerpt:

In short, Galileo’s story, contrary to the common view, is an example of the church in antiquity doing what the church today is doing: interpreting the Bible through prevailing scientific dogma. In Galileo’s day, that dogma was Aristotelianism; in ours, it’s Darwinism, or the whatever the latest version happens to be.


Far from revealing the dangers of religion battling science, the Galileo trial reveals the dangers of religion capitulating to it.

So there you are, dear reader. Now you have a new understanding of the Galileo affair. He was bullied by science.

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

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Answers in Genesis and the Flat Earth

We were shocked to see the title of this new post: Is the Earth Flat?. It appears at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

At last, we thought, they’re going full-throttle for scriptural literalism. As everyone knows, the bible is a flat Earth book from start to finish — see The Earth Is Flat!, in which we provide dozens of scripture quotes from both the Old Testament and the New. So we eagerly started reading AIG’s new article.

It was written by Danny Faulkner. Here’s AIG’s biographical information about him. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG. His undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis. He begins by saying:

Many people will probably wonder why it is necessary to write an article defending a round earth. Or, more specifically, an earth that is spherical. You see, the earth could be both round and flat, if it were disk shaped.

[*Groan*] We know the difference between round and spherical. Then he talks about “cultural mythology that, until the time of Christopher Columbus five centuries ago, nearly everyone thought the earth was flat.” We all know that’s nonsense. In Klinghoffer: “We’re Not Flat-Earthers”, we wrote:

It’s true that both the Old Testament and the New have an ark-load of scriptural references that unmistakably describe a flat earth — we gave several examples in The Earth Is Flat!, but as we’ve previously posted, at least since the time of Aristotle, educated people knew the world was a sphere. And a generation after Aristotle, in the third century BC (well before the time of the New Testament), Eratosthenes computed the earth’s size.

In spite of the clear words of the bible, because the earth’s shape and size were known by educated people, no European before Columbus was foolhardy enough to try to sail West to reach the Orient. They didn’t know about North and South America, which divided the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, so the ocean was assumed to be too vast for their ships to cross. But Columbus somehow had the size of the world figured wrong, and his backers, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, didn’t know any better. … Anyway, Columbus wasn’t trying to contradict any flat-Earth beliefs.

So what is Danny trying to say? He spends a few paragraphs describing how difficult it is for people to give coherent reasons for believing the Earth isn’t flat. Danny and your Curmudgeon have obviously lived a different lives, because we’ve never encountered anyone with that problem. You can click over to AIG to read his paragraphs about people he’s met who can’t justify the spherical shape of the Earth, but we’ll skip that material.

Then he talks about how the ancients knew the shape of the Earth, and he mentions Aristotle and Eratosthenes. He also gives us Aristotle’s argument about the shape of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon during lunar eclipses. Very nice, but everyone knows that stuff. What Danny doesn’t do is talk about what’s in the bible. Then he says:

In the late nineteenth century, two atheistic skeptics, Andrew Dickson White and John Draper, created the conflict thesis that Christianity held back the progress of science. One of their major arguments was that throughout the Middle Ages the church had taught that the earth was flat. In creating this myth, Draper and White suggested that the church could redeem itself for this supposed error on the earth’s shape by getting in on the ground floor of Darwinism. This ploy was very successful in that much of the church capitulated on evolution. It also falsely altered history. It is this false version of history that most people have learned.

We’re not familiar with those names. Wikipedia’s entry on Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) says:

In 1869 White gave a lecture on “The Battle-Fields of Science”, arguing that history showed the negative outcomes resulting from any attempt on the part of religion to interfere with the progress of science.


The final result was the two-volume A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), in which he asserted the conflict thesis. Initially less popular than John William Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874), White’s book became an extremely influential text on the relationship between religion and science. … White’s conflict thesis has been widely discredited among contemporary historians of science. The warfare depiction remains a popular view among critics of religion and the general public.

Okay, maybe we’ve learned something. After giving the impression that he’s discredited the flat Earth myth by mentioning those “two atheistic skeptics,” Danny continues:

During the previous six months I had been asked about the flat earth several times. …. All of this suggested that there must be some sort of movement out there within Christianity promoting the flat earth. This immediately raised two questions: who are the people responsible for this recent interest in a flat earth, and what is their motivation?

Maybe those are people who read the bible? Danny goes on at great length describing and discrediting various flat Earth claims. We’ll skip that because it’s not worth bothering about. Then, in his conclusion section, he says:

Are these people who believe in a flat earth for real? It’s hard to say. They could be well-intentioned but seriously misguided people. Or they could be attempting to discredit the Bible and Christianity. If the latter, their approach probably is “If you think that the Bible is literally true, then I’ll show you just how literally true that the Bible is!” But this is a false dichotomy.

Really? Why is that? Danny says:

We here at Answers in Genesis don’t say that the Bible is literally true. Rather, we understand that the Bible is true because it is inspired by God. As such, it is authoritative on all matters and is reliable.

Did you understand that distinction, dear reader? We didn’t. Anyway, given Danny’s belief that the bible “is authoritative on all matters,” then why doesn’t AIG insist that the Earth is flat? Here’s Danny’s reasoning:

The Bible contains imagery and poetry. However, those passages are easy to identify. When it comes down to the sorts of questions that matter here (such as “Did God create the world?”), the Bible must be read and understood historically and grammatically. That is, historical narrative does not lead to symbolic interpretation. Hence, the creation account is literally true.

Then what about all the flat Earth passages? Danny never addresses any of them. Instead, he ducks the issue entirely and finishes with this:

At least some of the people behind this upsurge in the flat earth movement may be lampooning the creation movement. As such, they clearly are no friends of the church; rather, they oppose Christ and His kingdom. I recommend that Christians be very discerning about their teachings.

That was entirely unsatisfactory. Danny never comes to grips with any of the numerous flat Earth statements in the bible. He can’t, because if he confronted them and said they were wrong, then AIG’s entire argument for young Earth creationism would collapse. There’s no way to get around it. If the bible is correct about Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, and all the rest, then it must also be true that the Earth is flat. Nevertheless, the Earth isn’t flat. Danny knows this. But he can’t face the consequences.

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

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Creationist Wisdom #684: Lost in Space

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Waco Tribune-Herald of Waco, Texas. It’s titled Heaven rests far beyond our galaxy, and the newspaper has a comments section.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today is an exception. It’s Bill Tinsley, described as the newspaper’s religion editor. That’s sufficient for full name treatment. Hey — he also served as interim pastor for First Baptist, Conroe, Texas, so we’ll refer to him as rev. Excerpts from his letter — it’s actually a column — will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Exoplanet is a new word for me, but scientists are beside themselves. Apparently the term has been around a long time, just not in my vocabulary.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The rev doesn’t read very widely. We’ve been using the expression “extra-solar planet” for decades, but “exoplanet” seems to have become the accepted term. The rev then uses his recently obtained knowledge to explain why “scientists are beside themselves”:

[W]hat scientists are really excited about are earth-like planets, those that orbit in the “habitable” zone of sun-like stars, the so-called “Goldilocks zone.” Twenty-one of Kepler’s planets fit this category and there could be 11 billion habitable Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone!

That estimate seems a wee bit excessive, but let’s read on:

Elen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA Headquarters in Washington said, “This gives us hope that somewhere out there we can eventually discover another Earth.”

The rev takes that a bit too literally. He says:

Just imagine, there could be other planets filled with beauty: oceans with waves breaking upon the shore, trees and forests, rivers and snow-capped mountains, clouds drifting across the sky, birds and beasts and living things.

He then turns to the only other source of information about planets that he knows:

C. S. Lewis posed this possibility in his science fiction novel, “Out of the Silent Planet.” But Lewis went a step further. He proposed that these “habitable” planets in the universe were different in one respect. They were planets without sin. Only on Earth, he suggested, did sin exist and, as a result, it had become the “silent planet” cut off from all the rest of creation. It is an interesting proposition.

What does that have to do with anything astronomers are working on? The rev continues:

Imagine again, a planet like the earth filled with life, including human life, where sin does not exist. A planet like our own where there is no corruption, where no one lies, or steals, no deceit, no suspicion, no fear. A place where there is no violence. Everyone looks out for the welfare of others. Love rules.

That’s difficult for us to imagine, but it’s no problem for the rev:

[T]he Bible assures us there is such a place as we have imagined, not in our galaxy or in our sphere of time and space. It exists in another dimension, eis aionos, or “into the age,” as Jesus said. “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Your Curmudgeon doesn’t know Greek, but the phrase we found was “eis aiona,” and it has a different meaning. But that’s not important. What’s the rev saying — that the Kepler space observatory should start searching for such a planet? No, not quite. The rev’s final paragraph says:

Revelation describes this place: [several scripture quotes, ending with:] “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:4-8).

Okay, dear reader, that’s today’s astronomy lesson. You’re either going to the rev’s planet, somewhere not in our galaxy, or else it’s the lake of fire!

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

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Rev. David Rives — Stretching the Heavens

As if it knew we needed something challenging to think about for the weekend, the Drool-o-tron™ alerted us with its sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of its wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). The Drool-o-tron™ had found the latest video by the brilliant and articulate leader of David Rives Ministries.

Our computer was locked onto this headline at WND: Did God ‘stretch out the heavens’ to create universe? A most provocative question!

The actual title of the rev’s video is “Stretching the Heavens” He begins by telling us that Isaiah 40:22 says that God stretches out the heavens. He doesn’t recite the full passage, but here it is (King James version, of course):

It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

The rev skips over numerous problems in that passage. We discussed one of them in ICR: The Biblical Shape of the Earth, where we said:

[We looked] into Strong’s Concordance for the King James version, searching for the word “circle” [chuwg] (Strong’s 02329) — which isn’t a sphere, by the way — it’s a disk. We also searched for “sphere” — and found nothing. So we made a word search for “ball” [duwr] (Strong’s 01754) and found several verses that use the word for “ball” — two of which are in Isaiah, the same book as the “circle of the earth” passage. The author of Isaiah had both words at his disposal, but he didn’t use “ball” in that “circle of the earth” passage — he used the word for disk. Case closed.

But the rev isn’t interested in the fact that the bible is a flat-Earth book. He’s talking here about the heavens. But he also ignores the stuff about spreading the havens out like a curtain or a tent. He’s focused only on “stretching.” He says that reference to stretching the heavens was mysterious until the early 1900s, when astronomers observed that the universe is indeed expanding. Wowie — the bible was right all along!

But he speaks disparagingly about the Big Bang theory, claiming that extrapolating the expansion backwards to an “arbitrary” date of 14 billion years ago makes no sense. He says it was God who stretched the fabric of space.

The rev is casually dressed for this one. He’s not even wearing a necktie. But it doesn’t matter what he wears, he’s the cutest rev you’ve ever seen! This video runs less than three minutes, including the commercial at the end. Go ahead, click over to WND and learn something about cosmology. There’s no better authority than the rev!

As we always do with the rev’s videos, we dedicate the comments section for your use as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. You know the rules. Okay, the comments are open. Go for it!

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

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