The Bible and Science

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 22, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    [Administrator: The following is from several threads where statements are made regarding faulty science in the Bible. ]

    In response to the number of times it is stated by those wishing to denigrate the Bible's accuracy that the Bible states that the sky is solid and the earth rests on immoveable pillars, here is a bit of a Bible study on these two items.

    First of all, from the Strong's Concordance:

    7549 – raqiya, from 7554; prop. an expanse, i.e. the firmament or (apparently) visible arch of the sky: -- firmament.

    7554 – raqa; a prim. root; to pound the earth (as a sign of passion); by analogy to expand (by hammering); by impl. to overlay (with thin sheets of metal): -- beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch.

    Now, the word you are referring to is the first, or raqiya. The fact that it comes from a root that sometimes can mean to beat or pound out like metal does not mean it is either a direct meaning from the root or that anything solid, let alone metal, is involved. Even the root word only sometimes refers to metal. Let me give you an idea of how words can differ from their roots: the Greek root "log" or "logue" means "word, speech, reason." From this root we get both "logical" and "prologue." We all know that not all prologues are logical! Careful attention needs to be paid to the meaning of the word itself and not just the root it is from, as well as to the context, or the way in which the word it used. Raqiya simply means "expanse."

    Checking the same word in the NIV Concordance, which is translated simply "expanse," we find the word is used 17 times in the OT, of which 13 times it is translated as "expanse," 2 times as "heavens," 1 time as "it," and one time as "skies."

    So now let's look at those 17 times. I will give both the NIV and KJV renderings of the verses and, when appropriate for meaning, put the verses in context.

    1) Genesis 1:6-8 (the first four times)

    NIV: And God said, "Let there be an EXPANSE between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the EXPANSE and separated the water under the EXPANSE from the water above it. And it was so. God called the EXPANSE "sky." And there was evening and there was morning -- the second day.

    KJV: And God said, Let there be a FIRMAMENT in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the FIRMAMENT, and divided the waters which were under the FIRMAMENT from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the FIRMAMENT Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

    2)Genesis 1:14-1:20 (the next four times)

    NIV: And God said, "Let there by lights in the EXPANSE of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the EXPANSE of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 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. God set them in the EXPANSE of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
    And there was evening and there was morning -- the fourth day.
    And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the EXPANSE of the sky."

    KJV: 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: And let them be for lights in the FIRMAMENT of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 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. And God set them in the FIRMAMENT of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open FIRMAMENT of heaven.

    3) Ezekiel 1:22-28 (the next four times)

    NIV: Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an EXPANSE, sparkling like ice, and awesome. Under the EXPANSE their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.
    Then there came a voice from above the EXPANSE over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the EXPANSE over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
    This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

    KJV: And the likeness of the FIRMAMENT upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the FIRMAMENT were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
    And there was a voice from the FIRMAMENT that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the FIRMAMENT that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
    And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire around about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward. I saw as it were the appearance of fire and it had brightness round about it.
    As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.
    This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face and I heard a voice of one that spake.

    4) Ezekiel 10:1 --

    NIV: I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the EXPANSE that was over the heads of the cherubim.

    KJV: Then I looked, and, behold, in the FIRMAMENT that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire throne, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

    5) Psalm 150:1 --

    NIV: Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty HEAVENS.

    KJV: Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the FIRMAMENT of his power.

    6) Daniel 12:3 --

    NIV: Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the HEAVENS, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

    KJV: And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the FIRMAMENT; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

    7) Psalm 19:1

    NIV: The heavens declare the glory of God; the SKIES proclaim the work of his hands.

    KJV: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the FIRMAMENT sheweth his handywork.

    That's it. That is every time raqiya is used in the Old Testament. The fact that the birds fly in it in Genesis and that Ezekiel can see through it in the book of his name does not indicate something solid.

    Just as a bit more on the idea of expanse, however, being the meaning of the word, the following verses in Isaiah came to my mind (all are from the NIV):

    40:12 – Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
    Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on scales and the hills in a balance?

    40:22 -- He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
    He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

    42:5 -- This is what God the LORD says --
    he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
    who gives breath to its people and life to those who walk on it:

    44:24 -- This is what the LORD says --
    your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
    "I am the LORD, who has made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens
    who spread out the earth by myself,

    45:12 -- It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.
    My own hands stretched out the heavens;
    I marshaled their starry hosts.

    Just as a point of interest, the word raqa is translated here as "spread out" where you see those words. I think it is clearly being used, here, as a synonym, in typical parallel phrasing, for the Hebrew word natah -- which has over a column of possible meanings, including stretched out, turn, pitched, pay attention, deprive, deny, pervert, spread out, turn aside, extended, parted.....and the list goes on.

    I do have to say that my Strongs Concordance (1984; Thomas Nelson Publishers) makes no mention of a solid dome anywhere in the definitions of those words.

    A good net-friend, who goes by his initials of (believe it or not!) 'sos', saw my response regarding this subject one time and was kind enough to add the following to it:

    * * *

    The net page that your correspondent is using seems to be juxtaposing different sources as Strong's.
    from Strong's:
    7549 raqiya` (raw-kee'-ah);

    from 7554; properly, an expanse, i.e. the firmament or (apparently) visible arch of the sky:

    KJV-- firmament.

    It is actually from from Brown-Driver-Briggs that we see the definition that he keeps pointing to:

    7549 raqiya`-

    extended surface (solid), a firmament, an expanse, space
    a) expanse (flat as base, support)
    b) firmament (used of vault of heaven supporting waters above); considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting `waters' above

    This last part strikes me as either an interpretation or a comment on how some Hebrew commentators may have interpreted it.
    Just as the Catholic Church in the days of Galileo was incorrect in their interpretation of a few scriptures does not mean the scriptures themselves teach that raqiya can only mean one particular thing. I think Helen did a good job of showing how this word and its root are used in scripture.

    I guess this could turn into a "blond" debate (sorry, Helen)... "yes, it is"... "no, it isn't" ... "my sources can beat up your sources" kinda thing, but here are a few other comments from other sources.

    FIRMAMENT (Heb. raqia`, "expanse," , KJV; NASB and NIV render "expanse"). The pure and transparent expanse that envelops the globe. This was made by God on the second day of creation for the purpose of separating the sea from the clouds. As used in the record of creation, firmament includes not merely the lower heavens, or atmospheric sky, with its clouds and vapors, but the whole visible expanse up to the region of the stars; for it is said that on the fourth day God made in the firmament sun, moon, and stars. A controversy has arisen respecting the sense attached by the Hebrew writers to "firmament," chiefly on account of the ancient translations given of it, and the poetic representations found of the upper regions of the visible heavens in some parts of Scripture. The LXX renders stereoma, meaning generally "some compact mass," while the Vulg. has firmamentum, a "prop" or "support." Hence it has been argued that the Hebrews understood by the word something solid, capable of bearing up the waters that accumulate in masses above, and even of having the heavenly bodies affixed to it as to a crystalline pavement. As proof of this view such passages are quoted as speak of the foundations of heaven shaking (2 Sam. 22:8), of its pillars trembling , of the windows or doors of heaven , of the gates of the sky , or of the sky's being "strong as a molten mirror" . But these expressions are manifestly of a figurative nature.
    (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary)
    (originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.)

    The expanse of sky and space in which the stars and planets are set. God made the firmament on the second day of creation to divide the waters that covered the earth from those which surrounded it . But the firmament includes more than the atmospheric region between the seas of earth and the rain clouds of the sky; it is far more vast. In fact, on the fourth day of creation God placed the stars, the sun, and the moon in the "firmament of the heavens" .

    It is this vastness which the Hebrew writers tend to emphasize about the firmament. The writer of pointed out that the firmament is "mighty" . The prophet Ezekiel envisioned the firmament "like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over... [men's] heads" . What the firmament reflects, then, is the greatness of the God who created it. We are urged to praise God because "the firmament shows His handiwork" . God's people can look forward to a day when they will "shine like the brightness of the firmament" .
    (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
    (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


    III. Physiography.-- It has generally been assumed that the Hebrews considered the earth to be a vast circular plain, arched over by a solid vault-- "the firmament"-- above which were stored, as if in cisterns, the "treasuries" of the rain, snow and hail, and some writers have even attempted to express this supposed conception in diagrammatic form. One of the best of these attempts, reproduced below, is given by Schiaparelli, in his Astronomy in the Old Testament.

    1. The Circle of the Earth: But this assumption is in reality based more upon the ideas prevalent in Europe during the Dark Ages than upon any actual statements in the Old Testament. The same word (chagh) used in the Old Testament to express the roundness of the heavens is also used when the circle of the earth is spoken of , and it is likewise applied to the deep . Now it is obvious that the heavens are spherical in appearance, and to an attentive observer it is clear that the surface of the sea is also rounded. There is therefore no sufficient warrant for the assumption that the Hebrews must have regarded the earth as flat.

    The earth a sphere.-- Certain astronomical relations were recognized very early. The stars appear as if attached to a globe rotating round the earth once in 24 hours, and this appearance was clearly familiar to the author of the Book of Job, and indeed long before the time of Abraham, since the formation of the constellations could not have been effected without such recognition. But the spherical form of the heavens almost involves a similar form for the earth, and their apparent diurnal rotation certainly means that they are not rigidly connected with the earth, but surround it on all sides at some distance from it. The earth therefore must be freely suspended in space, and so the Book of Job describes it: "He stretcheth out the north over empty space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" .

    The north stretched over empty space.-- Here the "north" signifies the northern circumpolar constellations and the writer recognized that they stretch out beyond the utmost confines of the earth; so that he was not under any impression that the heavens rested upon the earth, or were borne up by mountains. The celestial sphere surrounded the earth entirely, but at a distance from it; between the two there was "empty space." Some commentators have indeed claimed that , "He hath described a boundary upon the face of the waters, unto the confines of light and darkness" is equivalent to a statement that the circumference of the terrestrial plain extended to the place where sea and sky met. But no man of intelligence can, at any time, have supposed that the sea horizon marked the dividing line between day and night, and the meaning of the passage is correctly given in the King James Version, "until the day and night come to an end"; in other words, the waters of the sea will be confined to their appointed place never again to overflow the earth so long as the succession of day and night shall continue (compare ).

    The corners of the earth.-- See EARTH, CORNERS OF.
    The Pillars of the Earth: erets, "the earth," is in general the surface of the earth, the dry land inhabited by man and beast. Hence "the pillars" of the earth are the rocks that bear up that surface, for as has been shown, it was quite clear to the author of the Book of Job, and to the primitive astronomers, that our world was unsupported in space. For "Vault of the Earth" see EARTH, VAULT OF.

    The Firmament: (1) The Hebrew conception.-- Above the, spherical earth was stretched out the "firmament" (raqia`) made on the second day of creation to "divide the waters from the waters" . To the Hebrews the "firmament" was the apparent void above, in which clouds float and the lights of heaven pursue their appointed paths. The word raqia`, by its etymology, suggests an expanse, something stretched, spread or beaten out, as when says that the Lord "stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." But the Greek word stereoma, by which the Septuagint rendered raqia`, gives the meaning of a firm and solid structure, and our translators have carried out this same idea in their English rendering of "firmament."

    The Alexandrian conception.-- In this however the Septuagint simply expressed the astronomical science of their day as accepted in Alexandria, where the doctrine of a succession of solid crystalline spheres, each carrying a planet, held currency.
    But in order to express the Hebrew idea, raqia` should be rendered "expanse" or "space"; it corresponds to the "empty space" of . This "expanse" was appointed to divide "the waters which were under the expanse, from the waters which were above the expanse"; and it has been argued from this that the upper waters must have been regarded as being enclosed in a watertight reservoir, furnished with sluices or floodgates, which could be opened to allow the rain to fall.

    The Windows of Heaven: Thus in the account of the Flood, "the windows of heaven" are said to have been opened. But, 'arubbah, "window," means a network, or lattice, a form which can never have been ascribed to a literal floodgate; and in the other passages where "the windows of heaven" are mentioned the expression is obviously metaphorical
    <2 Kin 7:2,19; Isa
    24:18; Mal 3:10>.

    Rain: Further the numerous other references to rain connect it with the clouds, as "I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain" , or in the Song of Deborah, "The clouds dropped water". The fantastic idea of solidly built cisterns in the sky furnished with sluices has no warrant in Scripture. So far from any such crude conception, there is a very clear and complete account of the atmospheric circulation. Elihu describes the process of evaporation, "For he draweth up the drops of water, which distil in rain from his vapor, which the skies pour down and drop upon man abundantly" .

    Clouds: Jeremiah and the Psalmist repeat the description, "He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries" . By the foreshortening that clouds undergo in the distance they inevitably appear to form chiefly on the horizon, "at the ends of the earth," whence they move upward toward the zenith. Thus God "calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth" ; and thus "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place whither the rivers go, thither they go again" . Other references to the clouds in the Book of Job reveal not merely observation but acute reflection. "Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?" indicates a perception that the clouds float, each in its own place, at its own level, each perfectly balanced in the thin air.

    The Deep: (1) Meaning of the word.-- Tehom, "the deep," means moving water, and hence the ocean, which is represented as being essentially one, exactly as we now know it to be by actual exploration-- "Let the waters Under the heavens be gathered together unto one place" . And the earth is stretched out "above the waters" . That is to say that the water surface lies lower than the land surface; and not only so, but, within the substance of the earth itself, there are subterranean waters which form a kind of ocean underground. This also is called in the "deep," tehom; "The waters nourished it, the deep made it to grow."
    But in general tehom denotes the sea, as when Pharaoh's chosen captains were drowned in the Red Sea, "The deeps cover them" . Indeed the word appears to be onomatopoetic derived from the "moaning" or "humming" of the sea; whilst 'erets, the "earth," seems intended to represent the "rattle" of shingle, "the scream of a madden'd beach dragged down by the wave."

    The Babylonian dragon of Chaos.-- In , tehom denotes the primeval waters, and the resemblance of the word to Tiamat, the name of the Babylonian she-dragon of Chaos, has led some commentators to ascribe a Babylonian origin to this chapter It need hardly be pointed out that if this resemblance proves any connection between the Hebrew and Babylonian accounts of creation, it proves the Hebrew to be the original. The natural object, tehom, the sea, must have preceded the mythological personification of it.

    LITERATURE.-- Maunder, Astronomy of the Bible; Astronomy without a Telescope; Schiaparelli, Astronomy in the Old Testament; Warren, The Earliest Cosmologies, 1909.
    (from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)

    From the late 1600's we have Mathew Henry's commentary:

    Genesis 1:6-8 The creation
    We have here an account of the second day's work, the creation of the firmament, in which observe,
    1. The command of God concerning it: Let there be a firmament, an expansion, so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions-- the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven (v. 14-15), and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of heaven, v. 20. When God had made the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as a medium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for, though between heaven and earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an impassable gulf, as there is between heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse.

    2. The creation of it. Lest it should seem as if God had only commanded it to be done, and some one else had done it, he adds, And God made the firmament. What God requires of us he himself works in us, or it is not done. He that commands faith, holiness, and love, creates them by the power of his grace going along with his word, that he may have all the praise. Lord, give what thou commandest, and then command what thou pleasest. The firmament is said to be the work of God's fingers, . Though the vastness of its extent declares it to be the work of his arm stretched out, yet the admirable fineness of its constitution shows that it is a curious piece of art, the work of his fingers.

    3. The use and design of it-- to divide the waters from the waters, that is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapped up in the clouds and those that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. See the difference between these two carefully observed, where Canaan is upon this account preferred to Egypt, that Egypt was moistened and made fruitful with the waters that are under the firmament, but Canaan with waters from above, out of the firmament, even the dew of heaven, which tarrieth not for the sons of men. God has, in the firmament of his power, chambers, store-chambers, whence he watereth the earth, . He has also treasures, or magazines, of snow and hail, which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, . O what a great God is he who has thus provided for the comfort of all that serve him and the confusion of all that hatehim! It is good having him our friend, and bad having him our enemy.

    4. The naming of it: He called the firmament heaven. It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city; above the firmament God is said to have his throne , for he has prepared it in the heavens; the heavens therefore are said to rule, . Is not God in the height of heaven? . Yes, he is, and we should be led by the contemplation of the heavens that are in our eye to consider our Father who is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God's supremacy and the infinite distance there is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purity should remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensity and universal providence.

    (from Matthew Henry's Commentary)

    * * * * *

    Creationists never did think the world was flat. That was a lie invented in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

    Might I recommend the following book on this subject:

    Jeffrey Burton Russell
    Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians
    New York: Praeger
    ISBN: 0275939561

    Russell demonstrates convincingly that the roundness of the earth was well known in antiquity. The only church father who unambiguously taught that the earth was flat was Lactantius - and his works were preserved for their "excellent Latin style" rather than for their theological content. He identifies Columbus as the villain in the "church taught earth was flat" conspiracy.

    Or, you can go with

    which is Russell's excellent online expose of the myth you have so blithely repeated here about Christians believing the earth was flat -- EVER.

    Creationists never did think the world was flat. That was a lie invented in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

    Some still do. There is still a Flat Earth Society, and their recently deceased founder was very sincere in his creationist beliefs. Obviously, very few creationists actually think the Earth is flat. Those that do, point to the fact that Scripture says the earth has pillars, that Satan showed Jesus the entire world from a high mountain, and so on. I am aware that most creationists do not take these passages literally.

    In fact, Erastosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth hundreds of years before Jesus was born, and people had known that it was a sphere for quite a long time before that.

    The first danger is to not delude one's self that the Bible teaches science. That is not what God is telling us in Scripture. One can delude one's self about Scripture just as easily as one can delude one's self about science. If they seem to conflict, it is because we have misunderstood one or both of them. And either is equally likely.

    The fact that someone who believes in a flat earth might be a creationist has nothing to do with the historical situation that you presented. Please quit taking rabbit trails, or dragging herrings across the path of the discussion.

    In the meantime, "Orion" kept bringing up the "pillars" thing. I guess you didn't read any of the dozen or so times he was answered. Here:

    1 Samuel 2:8 --

    NIV --
    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; upon them he has set the world.

    KJV --
    He raiseth up the poor out of the dust and liftest up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes,
    and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them.

    The word translated "foundations" in the NIV and "pillars" in the KJV is 'masuq'. It is used only twice. The second time the NIV translates it as "stood" in 1 Samuel 14:5 - One cliff stood to the north toward Micmash, the other to the south, toward Geba.

    The KJV translates that verse as - The forefront of the one was situated northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.

    I think it is then fair to say that your idea of the Bible saying the earth is on pillars is a misnomer from not really doing your Bible study. The earth is certainly firmly situated. It is on a foundation of rock. According to the Strongs, the word 'masuq' means something narrow, which the KJV translators then decided would be like a column or pillar. However this might be a case of God's Word being way ahead of science, for the rocky crust of the earth is indeed narrow. It is also a foundation and we are situated upon it.

    I think I would drop the "pillar" problem if I were you.

    As far as Satan showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth from a high mountain, I think you had better read that again. First of all, it is a 'high place,' and second of all, 'all the kingdoms' includes past, present, and future - so the context itself makes it very clear that this was a spiritual experience and not a physical one.

    Regarding Columbus, there is excellent evidence that he knew exactly where he was going, and it was NOT to the Orient. Why on earth would he have taken only trinkets to them? And that is all he had with him for the American natives. In addition, he first went south, indicating that he had a map of the sea currents and knew how to catch them for his true intended destination. Since maps were highly confidential and state secrets in those days, the fact that he had a map can only be inferred, but excellent research was done by John Dyson and is reported in, among other places, the book "Columbus, for Gold, God, and Glory".

    As far as the Bible and science are concerned, I did not say the Bible teaches science, and don't twist my words. I said it gives us parameters of where the truth in science may be found, and it does. There is a big difference.

    And there was NO way the ancients could have known about springs on the seafloors, which the Bible refers to, or the relative motions of both Orion and the Pleaides, which is also referred to (in Job). So it is not a matter of anyone being 'dumb' in ancient times, but of what knowledge was actually available to them.

    And yes, finally I agree with you about something. One can delude oneself about Scripture. But it is a little harder to do that if you credit God with being able to tell the truth in a straightforward and direct way to the human race. I hold that faith. And that faith is based on the evidence the Bible has put forward in so many other areas historically, psychologically, prophetically - as well as scientifically. All that is not to mention the personal experience of knowing the Lord in my life and knowing His absolute and dependable veracity.

    I've read Job, and it mentions the Pleiades, but not their proper motion.
    And the Greeks knew that hot water sometimes came from vents in the coastal waters, so that's not much to go on.

    The verse in Job reads:
    King James Version [AD1611, revised 1769] reads: ‘Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?’

    The American Standard version [1901] translates this verse as: ‘Can you bind the sweet cluster of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?’

    The Revised Standard Version [1946] reads: "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?"

    The Pleiades are a bound cluster of stars, unlike most other star groups. Job would have had no way of knowing that.

    From a 1982 article by Barry Setterfield we read:

    The Pleiades and Orion are still with us and are often visible on a clear night and the modern observation of these through astronomy has given us a fascinating insight into this passage. It is in fact a double-barreled question dealing with two contrasting astronomical phenomena. Let us look briefly at the two objects in question - the cluster of Pleiades commonly called the Seven Sisters, and the stellar grouping called Orion, also known as the Saucepan.

    ‘Job, Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?’

    To the naked eye the Pleiades seems to be composed of six or seven bluish stars shyly scintillating in the constellation of Taurus. The telescope, however, reveals that the whole cluster is made up of about 500 stars in a spherical group about 50 light years across and nearly 410 light years away. Photographs reveal some of the component stars veiled in a faint diaphanous blue haze of gas and dust, which beautifully reflects the glory of the stars enrobed in it with their various colours. The Creator’s description of it is extemely apt — it is indeed a ‘sweet cluster’ of stars; a delight to behold. Even to the naked eye there is a winsome attractiveness about the group. However, God's statement to Job also includes an astronomical truth of which Job was probably unaware.
    The cluster of the Pleiades is an odd one out as far as star clusters go. Because of the small amounts of dust and gas between the stars in the cluster, it is called a galactic or open cluster, but unlike many such open clusters, it is not breaking up. It is the classic example of a ‘bound’ cluster.1 The energies of motion of the individual stars cannot ever overcome the ‘chains’ of gravity and allow them to move away from the cluster.
    Nor, indeed, is the cluster expanding, as it has been calculated that it would take 1,000 million years to significantly change the diameter of the cluster.1A This situation is very uncommon as the reverse is usually true of all open or galactic clusters.

    As we consider the observable truth of God’s statement we can move on from Job’s bewilderment to a new appreciation of our Creator’s infinite wisdom. However, we share with Job in a deeper way the feeling of being humbled by a question about something which is impossible for us to achieve, and yet which the Almighty performed with such ease. ‘Can YOU bind the sweet cluster of Pleiades [as I have done]? God would ask us.’

    The constellation of Orion is one of the most outstanding star groupings in the heavens. Photographs of this brilliant association with its giant stars reveal an immense halo of gas and dust in which practically all its stars are immersed. [Part of this nebulosity is visible to the naked eye as the central ‘star’ in the handle of the ‘saucepan’.] The fact that virtually the whole constellation is made up of one massive cluster of stars is in itself unusual. Most constellations are made up of stars merely in line of sight and separated by vast distances. The Orion grouping all lie about 1600 light years away. Despite its size of about 350 light years diameter and despite the vast quantities of gas and dust it contains, the whole system is gravitationally unstable and is steadily expanding outwards.2 The gravitational "bands" holding the constellation together have indeed been loosed, just as God said to Job. Not only that, but even the smaller clusters of stars within the association are fragmenting.
    On the basis of the stars’ individual motions in one cluster within the Orion Nebula, Dr Peter Van de Voort has shown that the age of the cluster must be less than 10,000 years. 3 This also implies that the whole association must be less than 10,000 years old as both Hoyle 4 and Gamow state that new stars cannot form from clouds of gas and dust unless cloud temperatures are below 5° Absolutes. 5 The observed average temperatures range from 100° Absolute and above, and any collapse of the clouds will only increase the temperature which in turn re-expands the cloud. Thus if new stars cannot form from clouds of gas and dust and the star clusters that have formed are less than 10,000 years old, it strongly indicates that the whole constellation of Orion is less than 10,000 years old. Therefore, there is far more behind God’s comment to Job that the constellation of Orion is a massive disrupting star cluster than might immediately appear, as it also provides proof for a recent Creation.

    ‘Can you bind the sweet cluster of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?’ Our answer, of course, is the same that Job had to give in all humility — ‘No Lord, such things are beyond men’. But the same humbling question is also a wonderful display of the inspired accuracy of the Word of God. All the more so when we realise that it was given thousands of years before the law of gravity was discovered or the telescope invented.


    1. Frontiers of Astronomy by Prof. F. Hoyle, p. 236, 238 ff.
    1a. Caxton Atlas of the Universe, p. 204.
    2. The Oscillating Universe by Prof. E. Opik, pp. 96–101.
    3. The Age of the Cosmos by Prof. H Slusher, p. 15 reference
    4. Frontiers of Astronomy, p. 234, 235.
    5. The Creation of the Universe, Prof. G. Gamow, p. 93.

    Or, from here:
    Open Star Clusters (Galactic Clusters) contain hot, young stars. Open clusters originally formed in the same star birth region and continue to be bound together gravitationally. Open clusters are found in our galaxy's spiral arms. Pleiades (M45) and the Double Cluster (NGC884 and NGC869) in Perseus are two such clusters.

    There is no way Job would have had to know that. But the Bible has it right there.

    Orion is also exactly the way it is described in Job, which Job also would have had no way of knowing

    As far as the springs of the deep are concerned, the vents on the bottom of the ocean were discovered during my lifetime. If you would care to reference your statement about the Greeks and their knowledge here I would be most interested, as I have not run into that before. However it might also be mentioned that the Greeks were a LONG time after Job!

    So my statement stands, the Bible is not a science text but it does give us, from God, the parameters of good and true science as well as giving us a few details, such as those discussed above, which the ancients would have had no way of knowing but which God knew would really help us in our lifetimes now.

    But then, everyone has a choice, don't they?

    It happens that the Pleiades are close together. The ancients thought all stars that appeared close together were so. Hence, we see Orion, composed of stars very distant from each other as having "cords".

    In one case right, in the other wrong. But Scripture isn't about astronomy.

    Let me see, Barbarian.... the Setterfield work is referenced. The material is able to be checked. Your post states an opinion with absolutely no backup whatsoever. I think I choose Barry...

    In the meantime, where is your reference regarding the Greeks knowing about springs of the deep, please?

    Remember, hot vents and volcanic eruptions were and are a common thing in the Greek world. They were quite aware of such things, that still exist in some places in the Aegean. If by "springs of the deep", you mean the vents at mid-oceanic ridges, then you'd have to show me that the Bible is speaking of that. There is no mention of such things.

    This is not a reference, which is what I asked for. I would like some indication that you were not just pulling out of your hat the idea that Greeks knew about any water vents under the surface of the ocean or sea. I am not speaking of volcanoes, but of water vents, which is precisely what the Bible speaks about. Thank you.

    [ January 22, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
  2. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    Nice long rationalization. However, it was perfectly natural for people of those times to consider the earth as the center of the Universe. It was not considered a silly notion that the stars were hung on the firmament. The bible is merely recording the historical perspective of the earth during the times in which it was written. There is no need to compromise ones theology because these people did not understand modern cosmology.

    I love this stuff. Here's more contribution:

    (Sept. stereoma; Vulgate, firmamentum).
    The notion that the sky was a vast solid dome seems to have been common among the ancient peoples whose ideas of cosmology have come down to us. Thus the Egyptians conceived the heavens to be an arched iron ceiling from which the stars were suspended by means of cables (Chabas, LÆAntiquiteÆ historique, Paris, 1873, pp. 64-67). Likewise to the mind of the Babylonians the sky was an immense dome, forged out of the hardest metal by the hand of Merodach (Marduk) and resting on a wall surrounding the earth (Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier, Strasburg, 1890, pp. 253, 260). According to the notion prevalent among the Greeks and Romans, the sky was a great vault of crystal to which the fixed stars were attached, though by some it was held to be of iron or brass. That the Hebrews entertained similar ideas appears from numerous biblical passages. In the first account of the creation (Gen., i) we read that God created a firmament to divide the upper or celestial from the lower or terrestrial waters. The Hebrew word means something beaten or hammered out, and thus extended; the Vulgate rendering, firmamentum corresponds more closely with the Greek stereoma (Septuagint, Aquila, and Symmachus), “something made firm or solid”. The notion of the solidity of the firmament is moreover expressed in such passages as Job, xxxvii, 18, where reference is made incidentally to the heavens, “which are most strong, as if they were of molten brass”. The same is implied in the purpose attributed to God in creating the firmament, viz. to serve as a wall of separation between the upper and lower of water, it being conceived as supporting a vast celestial reservoir; and also in the account of the deluge (Gen., vii ), where we read that the “flood gates of heaven were opened”, and shut up (viii, 2). (Cf. also IV 28 sqq.) Other passages e.g. Is., xlii, 5, emphasize rather the idea of something extended: “Thus saith the Lord God that created the heavens and stretched them out” (Cf. Is., xliv, 24, and xl, 22). In conformity with these ideas, the writer of Gen., i, 14-17, 20 represents God as setting the stars in the firmament of heaven, and the fowls are located beneath it, i.e. in the air as distinct from the firmament. On this point as on many others, the Bible simply reflects the current cosmological ideas and language of the time.

    LeseÆtre in Vig., Dict. de la Bible, s. v.: Whitehouse in Hastings, Dict. of the Bible. s. v. Cosmogony, I, 502.

    HANK D
    Hi Helen,
    Thanks for your work.

    RE: Stereoma - "firmament" from the LXX.
    Stereoma is a word describing quality as well as substance:

    KJV Colossians 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness (stereoma) of your faith in Christ.

    That is , sometimes we speak of some one who has a "solid" faith in Christ, steadfast and immovable.

    Strong's also adds : Metaphorically in a military sense - a solid front. Noteworthy considering the protection provided by the atmosphere.

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