Below one will find an exchange between a commenter on this blog and myself.
I stated to him (David) that the Bible has demonstrated itself sufficient to withstand the onslaught of criticisms directed its way.”
David replied to me with the following (my remarks are in blue):
“It has indeed demonstrated itself sufficient to withstand the onslaught of criticisms directed its way”
I have to disagree with this statement. I know that some christians believe it has held up, but there are numerous fallicies the bible contains that cannot hold up in light of modern science.
For instance, the bible teaches that the earth is flat and immovable. This is no surprise since those who wrote the bible had no idea that they were on a spherical planet, within a solar system, within a galaxy, within the universe. They were geocentrists because they simply lacked the technology to know better.
The earth is immovable:
1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”
Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm …”
Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable …”
Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”
Isaiah 45:18: “…who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast…”
We must distinguish between literal speech and figurative speech.
Isa 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
For example, I am convinced that no Jew thought that Heaven was a large chair, or that the Earth is an ottoman. The Scriptures, however, present this. It is a figure of speech.
The above referenced verses point to the fact that God has set this earth in space and intends for it to stay in its orbit. They also demonstrate His sovereignty over the universe.
When one considers the context of the verse in Ps 104, we know that none of us have seen God riding on a cloud as one would ride in his car. That is precisely the picture, however, that is given to us. Ps 104:3b who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind. We do not take this literally, because it is not intended to be taken in that manner. Psalms are poetry. Poetry takes much license with language, and especially uses figurative language.
The earth is flat:
Isaiah 11:12: He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel,and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Isaiah 44:24: Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself”
Again, we are dealing with figurative speech. It is the same Isaiah who stated that the earth is indeed spherical.
Isa 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.
The four corners of the earth, when viewed on a map that is laid out before one, are readily seen to be represented by the four points of the compass.
The spreading out of the earth and stretching of the heavens are nothing more than figurative language. Figurative language is inescapable in the Scriptures. We must take it into account. To ignore it is to miss the point of much of what God is telling us.
The earth is on top of pillars:
Job 9:6: “who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble”
Psalm 75:3: When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars.
Consider Job in another place.
Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
He is not being inconsistent. One simply must distinguish between figurative language, phenomenological language, and literal speech. While I believe in a literal hermeneutic, I do not believe in a rigid literalism that takes everything literally while ignoring the fact that language is sometimes figurative in nature.
Jason, this is the only way they understood their world. These were intelligent men, but they didn’t have the knowledge about the the earth and the universe we do now. They were geocentrists, just as most people were in ancient times. Doesn’t this show you that the bible has limitations and is a product of its time?
I hope that this has at least given you a picture of how easily the Bible is misrepresented and misunderstood. The ancients were not as simple as we would like to think. After all, who has explained the pyramids? Having replied to you concerning your proof-texts I must say that I do understand that the Bible was a product of its times. It is also a product of God and is timeless. Its limitations are not limitations that make it fallible or errant. Its limitations are simply that its main message is to show us the plan, purpose, and glory of our Creator, and not science or mathematics. When tested, however, the Scriptures will be found to be correct.