So while I was at The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, as I was hanging around the vendor tables I encountered a nice man who came up to me, handed a small pamphlet to me, and said, “Carl Sagan would want you to read this.” He then went on his way and repeated this process all around the hall. When I looked at the pamphlet, I was rather amused by what I saw: it was titled “Science Confirms the Bible”. A virtual copy of the handout can be found at Living Waters, the website of evangelical Christianity espoused by none other than Ray “The Banana Man” Comfort. Here’s what it looks like…
Now I’m going point out just a couple of specific things about this pamphlet that shows it (as well as the argumentation behind it) are just way off base. Suffice it to say that others have already analyzed some of these points, such as at a recent Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, but I’ll just give my thoughts here:
First, look at the format of this pamphlet: it shows a Biblical verse, a claim about what science “then” was saying (btw, “then” was supposedly 2000-3000 years ago), and a claim about what science now says. The implication is that current science supports what the Bible is saying. Now before I get to specific claims in this pamphlet, let me first say that it is ironic that Ray Comfort and his band of evolution-denying evangelicals are claiming that modern science supports their interpretation of the Bible, because their interpretation of the Bible conflicts with modern evolutionary science! So if Ray Comfort is claiming what he is in this pamphlet, then he’s messing things up from every direction (but what do you expect from a guy who thinks that banana’s are “The Atheist’s Nightmare”?)
Not to mention, if a literal reading of the Bible (according to the manner in which Ray Comfort would read the Bible “literally”) is supposed to be scientifically accurate, then how can one account for blatant inconsistencies such as that in these verses from Genesis?…
Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
[Addendeum (8-2-11): How could there have been light before there were stars? The only scientifically viable option is to invoke the big bang model of cosmology, which many creationists such as Ray Comfort are loath to do, since they don't like the fact that it clearly shows the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. So there's another contradiction.] Okay, so there was day and night in the sky and on the Earth before there was a Sun (the greater light). How exactly does that jibe with our understanding of modern astronomy? Oh wait… it doesn’t.
Folks, this sort of thing is just a taste of the multitude of inconsistencies found between a “literal” reading of the Bible and modern science. If you really want to see more, I suggest checking out the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.
Now, on to some specific criticism regarding this Living Waters pamphlet. Let’s just take a look at the very first line in the claims about how the Bible supposedly predicts that the Earth is a sphere, from Isaiah 40:22. What exactly does Isaiah 40:22 say? Here it is…
Isaiah 40:22 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:
So the Earth is described in this Bible verse as a circle. A circle. For those who may not have mastered basic, high school geometry, a circle is a flat, two-dimensional object. Yup, basically the Bible is arguing for a Flat Earth (because remember that, hey, circles are FLAT!!!) This is in direct conflict with the findings of the ancient Greeks (about 2000-3000 years ago) when natural philosophers such as Erastothenes of Cyrene proved, using simple measurements and geometry, that the Earth was a sphere. Two additional points should be noted:
1. The fact that the ancient Greeks knew the Earth was NOT flat is also in direct conflict with the claims in the Living Waters pamphlet, which states that the ancients two or three thousand years ago thought the Earth was flat.
2. Modern science actually states that, due to the Earth’s rotation, our planet is not perfectly spherical. In fact, it is an oblate spheroid. So this fact is two steps removed from the text of Isaiah 40:22 – first that verse states the Earth is a circle, not a sphere; and second, if the Bible really were so accurate scientifically, why didn’t it just say “oblate spheroid”?
[Addendum (8-2-11): I would think that if the Bible were so amazingly accurate in predicting the behavior of the universe in scientific terms that it would have said something about quantum mechanics, general relativity, or how to do something practical like build an airplane or make a vaccine. Nope, nothing like that in the Bible, either.]
I could go on, but I think that by now you get the idea. Feel free to take a look at some of the other loony claims made by this pamphlet, read through the Bible verses for yourself, and have a good hearty laugh. Because that’s all this pamphlet is good for: a laugh