Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bible and Cosmology

I was on Tumblr and I found a post containing the following image and commentary.

BS…whichever way you slice it: From the bible…you can either learn literal, divinely inspired, misinformation… or allegorical divinely inspired, misinformation…or primitive human’s limited knowledge misinformation…

 Needless to say, this is wrong. Let's look at the Bible verses cited.Here is the main problem with this viewpoint: it ignores the purpose of the passages being critiqued. If the goal is to make a scientific declaration that is not true, then indeed there is a problem. If the point is to make a point that is true, then there is no more reason to complain about the passage than it is to complain when someone says its "raininf cats and dogs:". If someone said it was" raining cats and dogs" would you decry him/her a liar? No. You would understand that he/she was merely saying that it was raining really hard. Let's look at that the passages and see if they are actually giving misinformation or just being misunderstood.

The Earth is flat
See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth
    and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
    and scatter its inhabitants— - Isaiah 24:1

No where does the passage say tyhat the earth is flat. There is no reason to read that into the text. Who would argue that a face isn't spherical or that you can't run all over a sphere? I wouldn't.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. - Matthew 4:8

Would the earth need to be flat in order for the devil to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Do you think Jesus saw China? Japan? Mexico? All these and other places would have had kingdoms at the same time. It's debatable. I've always thought that this was a supernatural thing but it does not need to be. "World" here could be just what could be seen from the mountain on which Jesus was standing at that moment. In any case this does not mean front loading the thought that the earth is flat.
The Earth does not move
  Tremble before him, all the earth!
    The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. - 1 Chronicles 16:30

The Earth rests on pillars
He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world. - 1 Samuel 2:8

There is no reason to think Isaiah is talking about the physical earth.  I've always thought that the context was the rules and laws that creation and men must follow.  Things like gravity. Things like entropy.  Things like doing evil things bring evil things to you. There is no reason to think the Bible is putting froth the thought of a flat earth resting on pillars. If you think that is what Isaiah was saying then you missed the whole point.

The Sun goes around the earth
He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.
“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world. - Joshua 10:13

 The passage is discussing the event from the point of view of people on the earth - not from an objective point in space relative to the earth and the sun. If the earth had stopped rotating on it's axis for almost a day, it would have looked like the sun stopped moving in the sky. It's a miracle. And the affect could have been only localized to the battlefield and nowhere else. However God did it, it would have been easy for God given that He made everything!

Stars are lights set in a dome over the earth.
God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, - Genesis 1:16-17

Here is the question what does "vault of the sky mean". I've always looked at this a figurative language.  Poetic description. People who want to argue that this is worng information so they argue that the whole Bible (or just the parts they don't like) should be ignore. They have not a leg on which to stand.