Bible dealbreakers: Bad science

I’m doing a series on what I’d like to call “Bible dealbreakers,” reasons why I reject the Bible’s authority and therefore reject Christianity. This is part three of five six.

If the Bible were revealed to people by a supernatural being who created and still controls the entire universe, I’d expect it to contain some important facts about science and nature unknown to people at the time the Bible was written. The germ theory of disease or electromagnetism would have gone a long way towards improving people’s standard of living several thousand years ago. That would also be a great way to make the authority behind the Bible more convincing. But perhaps the biblical God wasn’t interested in either of those things. Still, an omnipotent and omniscient creator god should have accurate knowledge about reality, so I would at least expect that that god’s revelations to humanity would not contain outright falsehoods. Yet this is exactly what we find.

As promised, I’m going to start where the Bible starts: the creation story (or, more accurately, stories). Genesis 1 repeatedly says, “And there was evening and there was morning, the [Nth] day.” Young-earth creationists interpret these words literally to justify their belief in a six-day creation. More liberal Christians argue that a day couldn’t possibly have the same meaning before the sun and the Earth were formed, so they must be metaphorical God-days of some kind, which could last an arbitrarily long time from a human perspective. This serves to reconcile (in their minds) the words of the Bible with the copious scientific evidence about the age of the Earth and the age of the known universe. Good for them for recognizing the strength of this evidence, but they don’t go far enough with it.

The Bible doesn’t just say “day,” the way that you and I might say “back in the day.” It says “evening” and “morning” too. That’s pretty specific. It’s conceivable that this was all meant metaphorically, but there’s no indication in the text itself that this should be so. It sounds a whole lot like actual days. And if God really wanted to tell people about how the universe and the Earth came into existence, he could have. The concept of one million was possible to express in ancient Hebrew (perhaps by saying “a thousand thousands,” I’m not sure). Surely, it would have been possible by similar means to say that the universe began about 14 billion years ago, or that the earth was 4.5 billion years old — at least that the universe began a great many years ago, the earth was formed a great many years after that but still long before today. One could even have used “forty” in the ancient Hebrew idiomatic sense, the way that we might say “a million,” to indicate some abstract large amount. God could have inspired the retellers and the transcribers of the Genesis story to use any of these phrasings. But apparently, he didn’t.

That’s not the only scientific problem in Genesis 1. God makes the Earth, and then makes “light” (vaguely), and then makes the Sun and other stars. He makes all the plants before there’s a Sun. (How do they photosynthesize?) These are specifically described as flowering plants, which did not in fact exist before there were any animals on the planet. God makes every animal that lives in the water and every bird before he makes any animals that live on land, which is not how it happened. Marine mammals like whales, seals, and manatees, for just one example, evolved from land animals. There’s also this very strange thing about heaven, sky, and earth being made in the midst of some continuous body of water — as though the Israelites (and God?) saw the universe as a giant ocean, with no concept of outer space. And then there’s the whole issue of the second creation story that suddenly begins in Genesis 2:4 with a different chronology altogether.

The Bible says that hares and rock hyraxes chew cud. They do not. (The diets of hares and rabbits are similar, so I’ve linked to an article about rabbits on the word “hare.”)

And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. Leviticus 11:5-6 (Cf. Deuteronomy 14:7.)

The Bible says that bats are a kind of bird. Bats are mammals, not birds.

And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind, every raven of any kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind,the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. Leviticus 11:13-19 (Cf. Deuteronomy 14:11-18.)

Jesus says that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, although it is not, and that a mustard plant will grow into a tree that birds can nest in, although it will not.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 (Cf. Luke 13:18-19Mark 4:30-32.)

There are many instances of the earth, sky, and heaven(s) being inaccurately described. As early as Genesis 1 there’s an artificial distinction made between our Sun (the “greater light”) and all the other stars, and Earth’s moon is called a “lesser light” alongside the Sun as if it is itself a source of light rather than a reflective surface. Stars are repeatedly referred to as little points of light in the sky, maybe just overhead (certainly not billions of light-years away), that can fall to the ground and be picked up. Language used to describe the Earth indicates that it is flat; even the verse that Christians love to cite as evidence that the Bible says Earth is round actually says “circle,” a two-dimensional shape, and describes the sky as something that drapes over that circle like curtains or a tent. Another thing in this category that gives me pause is how heaven is said to be a place one “ascends” to or “descends” from — so, what direction is that, on a round planet? We’ve been all the way around the planet in orbit, we have satellites looking all over the place, and we’ve sent probes out into deep space. No sign of heaven yet, in any direction we might call “up.”

The last science error I want to talk about is the Bible’s advocacy of faith healing. It’s not just something that Jesus can do, it’s something that’s supposed to work for all time, for any obedient believer who prays.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer. Exodus 15:26

And yet it doesn’t work — medical science is necessary, prayer alone has been shown ineffective — and the results are tragic.

The most charitable interpretation I can come up with to explain all the scientific errors in the Bible is that God didn’t want humanity to know the truth, that God was telling deliberate falsehoods in order to mislead us or at least keep us in the dark. After all, this isn’t definitive proof that God does not exist or that God is not omniscient; all it shows us is that the Bible contains many false statements, which an omniscient God might have decided to put there deliberately (leaving us with a text that looks suspiciously like what ancient, pre-scientific people might have made up to explain the world they observed). But at that point, if you’ve acknowledged that God might be lying outright and purposely sowing confusion, what basis is there for believing anything else he’s said? What basis is there to believe in him at all, when the only (already flimsy and question-begging) bit of evidence for him is this lie-filled text itself?

Leave a comment


  1. I guess I just don’t get why you sound more like you’re shopping for a biology textbook than looking for religious meaning.

  2. Fair enough, Seth. Here’s what it comes down to for me. Tell me if this makes sense to you.

    Christians tell me that the Bible, because it is “the word of God” or “inspired by God,” is “true” and that they “believe” it. I notice that the Bible contains many outright falsehoods as well as internal contradictions, to the extent that I would not feel comfortable believing it. I don’t think Christianity stands a chance if the Bible is not a reliably accurate document. I’m not comfortable extracting religious truths from a book that fails so obviously on other kinds of truths.

  3. I’ll be honest, your first of five was the most compelling, and unfortunately this one really falls flat. The comment section is really the wrong venue for point by point response, but I’ll link a few sites for reference. I really long to see the day that skeptics don’t uniformly “debunk” young earth creationists as if no other analyses of the text have been offered, ie ancient universe creationists, such as

    Perhaps the most silly objection you raised was the misclassification of bats. Do you really think the Bible was attempting to make a genetic classification, or maybe that the author and culture described flying animals “birds”. I mean, what if instead we call “mammals” goobalthorps. Would you be arguing the Bible isn’t true because it called a bat a bird and not a goobalthorp? I mean seriously.

    And then there is the mustard seed objection ( I know how much you like Carm, so I linked them!). Do you think Jesus had never seen bigger trees and bushes than mustard plants? What about the scribes who copied the texts over the years, who are constantly charged with “editing”. Why would this obvious “error” not have been fixed? Perhaps a point was being made and not a claim relating to botany.

    Lastly the James passages are not really advocating faith healing, and Exodus speaks of preventing diseases for Israel that He inflicted on the Egyptians. Misinterpretations by Jews and Christians is not a liability on the Bible, its a problem for the Christians and Jews.

    Like I said, the two previous posts were far more compelling (though I think the history objection based on the youtube vids is poor historical evaluation. And I say that after having watched both more than once) The first being the toughest challenge for the Christian. I really hope the next two are as good as the first and nothing like this one.

  4. I see it as give and take. The Bible represents the interface between human beings and God. I consider an infallible and inerrant Bible to be a literal theological impossibility. Because God would essentially have to come down and take absolute control over the writers and copyists to make sure they got it right. It’s a violation of free will that I would not appreciate from a supreme being to begin with.

    Not to mention the question of whether its even possible to convey ultimate cosmic TRUTH in any vehicle so flawed and inadequate as the English language.

    So yes – it’s not perfect. Yes – it reflects the flaws and perspective of its human agents. And yes – it is an incredibly deep, spiritual, and useful book.

  5. John, I think you’ve missed the point. First, I already addressed the main thrust of the case that your link makes,

    There is no scriptural or hermeneutical requirement the creation “days” must be interpreted as 24-hour time periods.

    I don’t see any reason for an all-knowing God who wished to impart information to humanity to say “days” when he meant “billions of years,” and I explained as much in my post. The fact that it says “morning,” “evening,” and “day” just makes it sound like the Bible was written by primitive people who had no knowledge whatsoever of how the universe was formed.

    Your link on bats also fell flat for me. There are major physical differences between mammals and birds. Bats did not evolve from birds, they evolved from other mammals. I would expect that God would know about this. (This also goes toi that whole issue about the order of things being created.) Also, f he wanted to say “creatures that travel through the air,” he could have. But didn’t. CARM says,

    If we did not know that it was a mammal, it would be natural to call it a bird. To the Hebrew of ancient times, calling it a bird was perfectly logical.

    Exactly. Logical for an ancient Hebrew, not logical for an all-knowing God.

    Then, the mustard seed issue. Here, CARM says,

    No, the mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds. Jesus was speaking proverbially. That is, he wasn’t making a statement of absolute fact but using a proverbial style of communication.

    Um, okay. So when Jesus said, “the smallest of all the seeds,” he didn’t really mean that. Who are we to say what Jesus did or did not mean? Why not take him at his apparent word? The answer, of course, is that we know he was wrong, so we say, “he must have been speaking metaphorically!” Jesus could easily have said, “a very small seed” instead of “the smallest of all seeds.” For some reason, he didn’t. He could have said that birds “nest under its branches” rather than “in its branches.” Except for in Mark (where he refers to “shade”), he didn’t.

    I don’t see how the James passage isn’t advocating faith healing. The verse from Exodus implies that people who obey God don’t get diseases and that people who disobey God do, but all right, if we take the narrowest view of it we should at least conclude that believers should never get boils. Right?

    The essence of my problem here is that the Bible has shown itself to be factually wrong in areas where we can scientifically examine its claims. This does not inspire in me any confidence about how reliable it will be on the claims it makes that I can’t test. At any rate, if you find this one less compelling, that’s fine. I actually think that any of these issues on its own would be enough for me to seriously doubt the Bible’s veracity until some additional evidence came forward. I don’t feel the need to convince everyone of all five (though obviously I do think they’re all important).

  6. NFQ, it’s kind of obvious that when Jesus was speaking about the mustard seed, he was speaking of the smallest seed of which his audience was familiar.

    For crying out loud man, he was teaching a story – to an AUDIENCE.

    How can you not get that?

    This is a religious text, not a gazetteer of world seeds.

  7. Questioning

     /  February 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Yes, but for crying out loud–it’s a text that claims to hold the ultimate truth! If you can’t trust it historically, and you can’t trust it scientifically, then how are you supposed to believe everything else it says? There are definitely places where it is or could be metaphorical, and I think NFQ is granting that. But when we’re talking about outright falsehoods and contradictions here, you have to understand why someone would have a hard time believing that you should live your life by it. I mean, there’s definitely a lot of good in it–even a broken clock is right twice a day. But you can’t trust that clock the rest of the time, and if that clock is all you have, then you never really know when you can trust it and when you can’t.

    I don’t understand what the apologists don’t seem to get about this. If you’re going to call this the WORD OF GOD, then at the VERY least, it should be historically and scientifically accurate. If it isn’t, then you’re faced with at least 3 possibilities. One, that it is the word of God, but he was wrong or deceitful, thereby discrediting claims of his omniscience or omnibenevolence. Two, that it is the words of men (and I’ll even throw you a bone and say that maybe God could have inspired those men but they got things wrong sometimes), but that makes the Bible no longer infallible or inerrant, and leaves the reader to wrestle with which parts to trust and which parts not to. Three, it’s a bunch of stuff that primitive people used to explain the world around them, with a few facts/historical records/nuggets of wisdom thrown in.

    But my goodness–you cannot claim that the Bible is the very word of a perfect God, and yet in the same breath shrug off its inaccuracies. No one is claiming that the *point* of the Bible is to be a historical or scientific test. But even the Bible itself says that if someone can’t be trusted in the small things, then they can’t be trusted with bigger things. If I can’t trust the Bible to tell the truth about history and science–temporary, earthly things according to Christian theology–then how on earth can I trust it with my eternal soul?

  8. Perfect for WHAT?

    And what makes you think that our modern geology and biology disciplines have anything to do with ultimate truth?

    The Book of Mormon and Bible do contain ultimate theological truth.

    I consider infallibility in these other minor areas to be expendable, and even trivial. You don’t need a perfectly cited history to capture hearts and minds – to provide a grand and epic scope for human existence and experience, and provide a theological roadmap for pointing to God and our relationship with him.

    Knowing the exact head count of Nephite armies is not going to establish the sort of loving relationship with God needed for us to transcend mortality and launch off into eternity.

    I consider morbid fascination with these trifles to be nothing more than the excuses offered by people who don’t want to cope with the bigger picture – and use trivial biology and geological arguments as a front for not engaging.

  9. Aristarchus

     /  February 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

    No, you don’t need the exact head count of the Nephite army to capture hearts and minds, and clearly the Bible has succeeded at the latter without the former. But if God was omniscient and omnipotent, it would be trivial of him to get it right. Why would he lie about it?

  10. Drive by commenter and occasional reader. I think one of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with the “science” of the bible besides the whole creation and demon things which are ridiculous and certainly not written as “metaphors” when read in context, are the absolutely terrible medical revelations that Jesus (the bible’s greatest prophet and god himself) brings.

    I think it only takes one simple question to show that the bible is not “reveleation;” to show that the any person from a developed country would be a better “prophet” than any of the bible’s characters; that the bible doesn’t contain any legitimately worthwhile guidelines that actually increased the overall quality of life of societies that enbcounter it; that the bible does not offer lessons that are not intuitive and were not readily known to the people of its age; that the bible is quite clearly a work of man.

    Why didn’t jesus tell people to wash their hands?

    I’ve never met anybody who can answer that question without rationalizing to the point where they claim god doesn’t care about the health of his people.

  11. Questioning

     /  February 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Oh my gosh, Seth, you’re like talking to a brick wall. Basically what I hear you saying is that you acknowledge that the Bible (and apparently the book of Mormon, with which I admittedly have never read) is full of errors and contradictions, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s totally true.

    Are you saying that the Bible is, or is not, the word of God? Because I can’t comprehend why you don’t seem to get our objection. Everyone here understands that the purpose of the Bible is not to be a history or science book, but that the purpose has to do with the heart. I get that, I swear. I was a devout Christian my whole life until recently. But what we’re saying is, if God himself wrote or inspired this book, why would there be *any* errors in it? He’s God–he’s perfect, and he doesn’t lie or make mistakes. So are you saying that God didn’t write it, but that we’re supposed to follow it anyway? Or are you saying that none of the scientific or historical stuff matters at all, and we’re just supposed to live by its rules for salvation? I swear I’m not trying to badger you–I am honestly trying to understand how you can not care that there are errors in a book that was written by a perfect God.

  12. Questioning,

    I’m carrying on two threads with very similar topics. So I’m starting to get fuzzy on what I’ve said on which thread. I also apologize if I’m getting too heated (it’s a regular failing of mine).

    The issue here is – why do you expect that a holy book from God should be perfect in every respect? And why does Doug expect the function of scripture and prophets to be to tell people to wash their hands regularly?

    Why should scripture fill those roles?

    The problem with the model for scripture that you both propose here is that it’s all a one-way stream of dictation from God with no room for any human element to the equation.

    Who receives God’s words?


    Who has to follow them?

    Again humans.

    Are humans perfect?


    Are humans capable of getting or processing every wonderful and useful thing God knows?

    They aren’t.

    No one understood microbes in ancient Israel Doug. So I doubt a declaration by anyone from that time period would have been really taken the right way to begin with.

    And besides, your entire accusation is nothing more than a variation on the same theme of the theodicy that atheists have been making for as long as there have been atheists (and the theists were asking long before the atheists). The question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world.

    That’s its very own discussion and outside the scope of this one.

    Questioning – I don’t believe in an infallible or perfect Bible.

    In fact, I would take the existence of a perfect Bible as an abomination – since the only way God could ensure one would be to mentally and spiritually rape the human beings involved – enter their minds – shove the free and living human mind aside – force compliance and obedience – and ensure a book with no errors. Kind of like what Lucifer proposed to do to all of us in LDS theology.

    I would, in short, consider a perfect bible, and infallible prophets as evidence of a monstrous God whom I wish to have nothing to do with.

    Not a single one of the mistakes in the Bible, or the crimes and evils human beings have committed against each other can compare to the horrible crime of mental and spiritual lobotomizing that God would have to perform to ensure the sort of Bible you guys are looking for.

    Basically – yes, God could provide the kind of perfect record you are asking for. And if he did, I would refuse to worship him – since it would reveal him as a monster not worth allegiance to begin with.

    But that is the God that the fundamentalists (both Evangelical and atheist fundamentalists) think is at stake here. It is not the God I believe in or worship.

  13. Questioning

     /  February 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Seth–I get heated too. Don’t worry about it.

    Okay, so I still don’t agree with you, but I kinda get what you’re saying. Most conservative Christians claim the Bible to be inspired, inerrant, and infallible, and obviously you can see why that’s a problem. So I get what you’re saying–that the Bible was inspired, or led by God, but that it was written by fallible humans, so we’re going to see their shortcomings evident in the text. Again, I don’t agree with your conclusion, but that does make some sense to me. I can see how you could see it that way.

    The problem that remains for me, however, is that if these humans made errors elsewhere (factual, scientific, historical, etc.), then how do we *know* that these admittedly fallible humans didn’t botch God’s ultimate message? Do you see what I’m saying? I mean, if God didn’t do the whole mind-raping thing, then how did he ensure that the message itself remained intact and accurate? This is especially a problem when you look at the inconsistencies in the new testament regarding exactly what salvation is and what one must do to be saved. Jesus and Paul seemed to have some different ideas on the subject, for example. (And that’s not even bringing the book of Mormon into the debate. My dad grew up RLDS [now Community of Christ], and I live in an area with a lot of Mormons. So I’m fairly familiar with it, but not enough to debate about it.)

    So I guess what I’m ultimately asking is, if you acknowledge that the Bible has errors/discrepancies, because it was written by fallible human beings (presumably under the guidance or inspiration of the holy spirit?), then how can we know which parts are true and which parts are errors?

  14. Aristarchus

     /  February 24, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Yeah, explaining the big bang in detail probably would have been tough, but I have trouble believing that God had no worries about “cut off part of your penis” causing problems, but “was your hands before eating and boil medical equipment before use” was too tough. And remember, we’re not just taking about little inaccuracies, but also big ones (like the Jericho example in the other thread) that mean entire books of the Bible (or huge portions of them) must be false.

  15. Aristarchus, you might get a bit of a different perspective from people who had to be circumcised as adults for medical reasons as to whether they would have preferred it be done to them as an infant.

    And it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

  16. Questioning, the only answer I have been able to come up with is that you use all of the resources available to you.

    You take the archeology, the history, the intrinsic merit of human ideas, the theological power of ideas, commentaries, learned opinion, personal prayer and inspiration, and even gut instinct, and you make your choice.

    Look, I’m aware that one of the primary selling points of religion is the comfort and security that it offers. And I’m aware that my model here fundamentally undermines that.

    But from adolescence on, I was never a fan of the security model of religion to begin with. It’s not how I experience religion, and I simply don’t have much use for it (though I’m aware that many churchgoers do).

    My model of religious encounter, thought and experience is more exploratory and enterprising than security-based. I simply do not relate to religious models premised on security, complacency, and close-mindedness. Never have.

  17. Aristarchus

     /  February 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    And it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

    Let’s try doing an actual google search….

    Although there are numerous medical indications for adult circumcision, none of them is very common.

    That’s from a reliable medical organization.

    But you’ve also entirely missed the point I was making. I wasn’t objecting to circumcision. I was objecting to the idea that that was something God could convince ancient people to do, but that telling them the earth was round or that they should sanitize medical instruments was just too much for them to handle. (For what it’s worth, most educated people in say, Greece, during late biblical times already knew the earth was round.)

  18. @Seth,

    You’ve confused my question with the problem of evil. I’m not asking why God allows bad things to happen (although that’s also a legitimate unanswered question posed by many great thinkers).

    I’m asking why, in all of his revelations, didn’t he reveal the single most helpful and the single easiest to perform medical advancement in the history of mankind?

    Wouldn’t that have lent not only greater well-being, health and longevity for his followers, but also a very pursuasive argument for following him in the first place?

    Why would he deliberately choose to not reveal something so simple and so incredibly important? And it doesn’t just have to be jesus either, but any of his prophets up until pretty much the 19th. Moses, Elijah, Muhammed, John Smith, Barney, the village doom-sayer, all of the popes and saints in catholicism; pick one.

  19. No, that’s basically a condensing of the problem of evil into one single case example.

  20. I’m asking why revelation doesn’t reveal relevant things; useful things. Washing your hands is useful. Giving all your money away and hating your family; not useful. A relevent revelation would go a long way toward making me take any religious argument seriously. Or in this thread; the bible seriously.

  21. Doug, would you consider the idea of democracy to be “relevant” or “useful”?

    Would you consider it to be more or less useful than the advice to wash your hands?


  22. The idea of democracy? That was the greeks long before christianity roamed the planet. Or are you staking claim for Zeus now?

    As far as would I consider more useful or less useful, I would say overall less. As much as it hurts me to say, I am pretty sure hand washing has saved more lives than democracy. Still though, both things thought of by man and implemented by man.

  23. No, I’m not staking a claim.

    I’m just trying to get a sense of how you come up with your own system of priorities for ideas.

  24. I myself would posit that philosophical and theological ideas often provide the climate within which all other human ideas can either grow and thrive, or stagnate and wither.

    As such, I consider them to be significantly more important on the totem pole than individual scientific achievements – however nice those may be.

  25. I’m not sure how much this assumption plays into this discussion but I feel like I should point out: it’s not as though there are a fixed amount of total revelations possible, and God had to pick the ones he thought were most important. There was room for hand-washing, and democracy, and stoning adulterers, and loving your neighbor.

  26. Any curriculum presented to human beings is going to be limited by how much those human beings are capable of absorbing.

  27. So people were just dumber back then and incapable of understanding “put your hands in clean water and wiggle them together before performing surgery or after wiping yourself”? That explains why nothing jesus said was particularly novel at the time. Had to work off what people already knew, since revelations are certainly NOT previously unknown knowledge being revealed to a prophet by an authoritative source.

  28. Tell you what, try time-traveling back to that period and telling people to wash their hands and why they should do it.

    I predict you’ll have a pretty hard time of it.

    Just like people today are pretty resistant to new and radical ideas. People then were no less inherently intelligent than people are today. These are human problems that never leave us.

    You seem to have this rather odd idea that simply declaring something to people is going to have the effect of actually getting them to do it.

    But it does fit well with the rather naively optimistic view secularists have of the inevitability of human progress.

  29. Questioning

     /  February 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    “try time-traveling back to that period and telling people to wash their hands and why they should do it.”

    Well, of course you or I might have a hard time convincing them. But if you look at the Levitical codes, there were some pretty detailed, seemingly wacky things God told them to do and not do. And they listened, because God said it. God told adult males to mutilate their penises, and they said, “Okay–will do.” You think if he told them to wash their hands, they would have scoffed at that?

    I’m not really trying to argue Doug’s point here–I get what he’s saying, but I guess I’m just coming from a different place. But you’ve got to admit that if God told them something, they would have had no problem taking it seriously. I get what you’re saying about God operating within the limits of human achievement. So if Jesus had started talking about jet engines, sure, they would have had a hard time absorbing that. But with all the laws about clean and unclean, I really have a hard time believing that biblical peoples wouldn’t have understood basic hygiene such as washing your hands.

  30. I don’t know why you would think that.

    People generally don’t take God seriously now. And the Bible makes it pretty clear people didn’t take him seriously then either. So I’m not sure where this overwhelming confidence comes from that his edicts would all be obeyed.

  31. I fail to see the big difference between wash your hands and a man shall not lie with a man as he would a woman to early peoples. It’s pretty well documented that in pre-jewish civilization homosexuality was a regular practice that was well accepted.

    So telling them not to do that would have been just as weird as telling them to wash their hands.

    Or more closely, what’s the difference between kosher meat preparation techniques and washing hands? Or keeping separate meat and milk dishes?

  32. len ostopowicz

     /  August 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    if you need an example of advanced science knowledge in the bible you need only read isaiah ch30 vs 26. “moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun”
    If you look into the daytime sky over the north pole on dec 25, you will see the moon, which has replaced the sun.(This is a fair interpretation of that particular statement. Now we must explain the seven days of brightness as occuring on the same day dec25. As you may know; the earth is tilted on its axis approximately 23 degrees to the sun. Dec 21 is the first day of winter. The sun is at its apex and will be above the horizon 24 hours per day at the south pole (in other words on dec 22 the will shine with the brightness of 2 days.) It will remain above the horizon many days. If you count, you will see that the brightness of seven days (without setting) is reached on dec 25………this verse is a birth announcement for our lord Jesus, using advanced scientific knowledge. Thank you for your time

  33. @len Pseudo-science? I don’t understand at all what is the point you are making.

  34. Actually the Bible DID address proper hygiene and prevented diseases spreading by those who practiced it, millenniums BEFORE science advocating proper washing during surgery or delivering babies. and if you study enough it has specific instructions for dealing with the spread of diseases by proper disposal of the dead, of unclean persons and even garments, etc. LONG before science came along and verified such practices. In FACT, MODERN SCIENCE is STILL discovering the scientific truths contained in the Holy Bible to this day, so basically, YOU SHOULD be a follower of our Living Lord Jesus Christ based on your statements in your blog, because what you THINK is NOT there, actually is. in fact the Bible has been correct throughout the history of mankind, while “science” has often been in error. WHENEVER the two SEEM to disagree, the contents of the Holy Bible have later been found to be CORRECT, while the then scientific claim was properly discarded as the nonsense that it was. MUCH of so called science today should also be classified with all the rest that in the past tried to pit itself against the ageless truth contained in the Holy Bible. you obviously failed to study it sufficiently and sadly it shows. hope you will come to your senses sooner than later.

  35. Wait, washing feet can be grasped but not washing hands? People will come up with anything to jusity their faith. It would be more advantageous to simply claim faith as the rationale for your beliefs, rather than attempting to justify the many ambiguous sentiments within the bible as a means to discredit scientific fact.

  36. Actually, they did wash hands Alicia.

    I think you’re confusing this with a different culture, different time, and the practice of not boiling water.

  37. angrydisciple

     /  November 16, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    dude you really need to study more. notice there is no evening on day 7, which means we are still living in it. this must be one hella long 24 hour period. Most of your “fallacies” can be easily justified by the fact that they didn’t have enough words to describe the things we have today. For your arguments to be valid you need to read them in hebrew. the word to describe “day” in hebrew is “yom” which literally means 24 hours, a year, or an unspecified period of time.

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