How unfortunate that you don't seem to have read my reply. I do have to wonder why a fine

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How unfortunate that you don't seem to have read my reply. I do have to wonder why a fine upstanding Christian, such as I imagine the original author to have been, would have felt the need to so seriously distort the history of scientific knowledge in order to advance his position. For your edification I enclose the response to this piece of crap, which I sent to s.r.c. *************************************************** > From: (& G. Cavendish Jr.) > Newsgroups: soc.religion.christian > Subject: Bible and Science > Date: 20 Jul 93 08:01:34 GMT > > From: (Carlos L. Luck) > Newsgroups: soc.culture.brazil > Subject: Ciencia e a Biblia > Date: 18 Jul 1993 15:25:15 -0700 > ************************************************** > > This was the science of the day, when Moses wrote the sublime account > of creation, found in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, with > not one scientific error or blunder or absurdity. It is certainly not the case that Genesis shows no influence from the mythologies of neighboring cultures. The Genesis flood story is a varient of much earlier Babylonian and Sumerian flood stories. > The late Sir William Gossen, the great Canadian geologist and scholar > said: "The order of creation as stated in Genesis is faultless in the > light of modern science, and many of the details present the most > remarkable agreement with the results of science born only in our > day." Peter W. Stoner, a professor of mathematics, lists and examines > 13 steps of creation as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis and > comes to the conclusion that these events are not only accurately > recorded, but are in an order acceptable to modern science. He > estimates, and speaking as a mathematician, that Moses chances of > getting both the items and the order correct are 1 in 31 followed by > 21 zeroes. The late Sir William Gossen was mistaken. Read, for instance, chapter 27 of _Bully for Brontosaurus_ by S. J. Gould, "Genesis and Geology", which discusses the debate between Gladstone and Huxley on this very question. To give an example, "Direct geological evidence shows that land animals arose before flying creatures. This reversal of biblical sequence holds whether we view the Genesis text as referring only to vertebrates (for terrestrial amphibians and reptiles long precede birds) or to all animals (for such terrestrial arthropods as scorpions arose before flying insects)." In addition, the Genesis account has flowering plants appearing very early: : {Genesis 1:11} : And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, : and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in : itself, upon the earth: and it was so. This is day 3, before the creation of water creatures and birds on day 5. Unfortunately, fruit trees are angiosperms, and angiosperms didn't evolve until about 140 mil years BP in the early Cretaceous, well after the appearance of water animals. > How did Moses know this important scientific fact thousands of years before > others discovered it? Like Aristotle, Moses never had a telescope or a > microscope, and yet he wrote centuries before Aristotle's time that God > ordained the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the > night. In other words, he declared the sun to be greater than the moon. This might, perhaps, be because the Sun is much brighter than the moon. > Some ancient observers thought the moon to be greater than the sun because > at times it appears bigger. They accounted for its lack of heat and its > dimness of light by assuming it was much farther away from the earth than > the sun. I would be interested in seeing the names of three of the ancient observers who thought this. > In Job 26:7 it says, "He suspends the earth over nothing". Or "God hangeth > the earth upon nothing." At the time that was written, every man on earth > believed the world was held up by some kind of a solid foundation. So, apparently, did the author of the book of Job. It is Job, not God, speaking in Job 26:7; when God appears on the scene He says {Job 38:4} Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. {Job 38:5} Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? {Job 38:6} Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; {Job 38:7} When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? > Nearly all the early > physicists and philosophers, including Ptolomeu, believed the earth was a > great flat disk surrounded by a great world river Oceanas. In fact, until > about 500 years ago, all men believed the earth rested on some great solid > foundation. Copernicus, the 16th century astronomer was the first to discover > that the earth was poised in space. [Information from Sir James Jeans, _The Growth of Physical Science_, and John Noble Wilford, _The Mapmakers_] Anaximander (6th century B.C.) -- taught that the stars were attached to a sphere with the earth floating freely in the center without support Anaxagoras (c. 500 - 428 B.C.) -- according to Plutarch and other ancient writers, taught correct explanation of Moon's phases Aristotle (d. 323 B.C.) -- In his _Meteorology_ said, "The sphericity of the Earth is proved by the evidence of our senses." Noted change in stars visible as you move north to south; the manner in which the hull of a ship vanishes below the horizon before the mast does; and the round shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse. Aristarchus (c. 310 - 230 B.C.) -- In his _On the Size and Distances of the Sun and Moon_ used geometric arguments to try to establish those values. While the values were wrong due to limitations in making the necessary measurements (Proposition 15 derived the ratio of the diameters of the Sun and Earth as between 19:3 and 43:6; he derived a distance to the Sun of 18-20 times the distance to the Moon), the ideas were sound. Eratosthenes (276 - 196 B.C.) -- Using the difference in angle of the Sun from the zenith at Alexandria and Syene, estimated the circumference of the Earth as 46000 km (actual value is 40000 km). Ptolemy (active A.D. 127 to 151) -- invented a conical map projection to compensate for roundness of Earth: "When the Earth is delineated on a sphere, it has a shape like its own..."; Propositions 19-21 in Book V of the _Almagest_ contains a geometrical argument yielding a distance from Earth to Sun of 1210 terrestrial radii (4,800,000 miles) -- while this is small by a factor of 20, it gives a solar parallax of < 3 minutes, below the limit of observational accuracy at the time. As can be seen from this, the original author's ideas about the history of scientific beliefs are wildly inaccurate. > How amazing. Job declared 3000 years before Copernicus: "he suspends the > earth over nothing." And he was absolutely and scientifically correct. And then God appears and asks him where he was when God laid the foundations of the Earth and fixed its cornerstone. > far you would sail over the edge of the earth. Isaiah wrote, Isaiah 40:22, > "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. He stretches out the > heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." The word > circle in the hebrew is clube. It means an arc or sphere, or a more exact > conotation is sphericity, or roundness, clearly teaching that the world is > shaped like a globe. This is astounding when we remember it was written in > 700 BC, centuries before men believed the earth was round. But the revelation I've taken the liberty of including a well written post addressing this issue which had I saved. From: alanf@tekig6.PEN.TEK.COM (Alan M Feuerbacher) Newsgroups: talk.religion.misc Subject: Re: Isaiah 40:22 Date: 17 Jun 93 05:41:44 GMT Organization: Tektronix, Inc., Beaverton, OR. In article (Richard Trott) writes: > >Somebody told me that Isaiah 40:22 indicates a spheroid Earth. "It is >he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth. . . " is how the verse >begins. Does anybody know if the word "circle" in the original >language of the scripture really means "disk" or "sphere" or something >more specific? (Or does it mean "circle" as in a two-dimensional >surface?) This claim is usually made in the context of trying to prove that the Bible writers had knowledge that could only have been given them by God. The following article argues the point. *The Circle of the Earth* Isaiah 40:22 is often cited as evidence that the Bible is correct when it touches on scientific matters. The scripture says: There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell. Occasionally the Hebrew _chuwg_, usually translated "circle," can also mean "sphere," according to Davidson's _Con- cordance_ and Wilson's _Old Testament Word Studies_. Moffatt's translation of Isaiah 40:22 reads: "He sits over the round earth." Many have claimed that this _possibility_ of translating _chuwg_ as "circle" proves the Bible writers knew the earth was round. See for example, the original _Scofield Reference Bible_ marginal notes. However, this conclusion rests on blurring the distinction among the concepts of circularity, sphericity and roundness. The earth is round and so is a tire, but the first is spherical and the second is circular. The same folks who make such claims would also have us believe that all the ancients other than the Israelites thought the earth was flat. Many of the ancients may have thought the earth was flat, but that doesn't mean much. Even today a good many people believe astrology is a valid science. The determining factor is what scholars believe. Greek scholars certainly knew that the earth is spheri- cal. Pythagoras taught it in 500 B.C. Aristotle, in the 4th century B.C., offered three proofs that the earth is a globe: (1) ships leaving port disappear over the horizon; (2) as one travels to the south, stars that are not visible in Greece appear above the southern horizon; and (3) during an eclipse, the earth's shadow on the moon is visibly curved. In the third century B.C., the Greek Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the earth. Hearing that the sun shone directly down a well at Syene (now Aswan) at noon on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), he measured the angle between the sun's rays and a plumb bob he lowered down a well in Alexandria, some six hundred miles north of Aswan, precisely at noon. Using simple trigonometry, he calculated the diameter of the earth to be about 8900 miles, remarkably close to the true value of 7964 miles. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus had worked out by about 150 B.C. the distance to the Moon by trigonometric methods, and found it was sixty times the earth's radius. The earth's radius is about 3964 miles, and sixty times that is 237,840 miles. The true figure is about 238,900 miles, a remarkable agreement. The Greeks knew many things that other ancient peoples apparently didn't, but recent research shows, remarkably enough, that they got much of their knowledge from even more ancient peoples. An interesting example of this was a discovery reported in the New York Times of January 8, 1950 that the ancient Sumerians were familiar with what later became known as the Pythagorean Theorem: Baghdad, Iraq. The discovery here two months ago that school boys of the little Sumerian county seat of Shadippur about 2000 B.C. had a "textbook" with the solution of Euclid's classic triangle problem seven- teen centuries before Euclid has resulted in a summons from the Iraqi Directorate of Antiquities to United States archaeologists. There is evidence that clay "textbooks" of the school- boys of Shadippur contain an encyclopedic outline of the scientific knowledge of their time, which will necessitate a sharp revision of the history of the development of science, and, accordingly, of the story of the development of the human mind.... Even now, the famous clay tablet on which the basic geometrical problem was presented about 4000 years ago is so clear that it takes a layman back to the days when he puzzled over his own geometry test. Not a line of the drawing is faded in the baked clay nor is a word of the text, which only cuneiform specialists can understand. The chief cuneiform expert.... says that the presentation of the famous solution of the problem is tinged with algebraic concepts that appeared even later than Euclid in the development of Western mathematical science. Besides this tablet, there is another, presenting a catalogue of mathematical problems. According to experts now studying the material, it suggests that mathematics reached a state of development about 2000 B.C. that archeologists and historians had never imag- ined possible.... Recent discoveries of cuneiform writing seem to indicate the Sumerians knew the earth was spherical. Any people associated with the Sumerians or the civilizations derived from them would likewise have some of their knowledge. This obviously applies to the Israelites, as well as the Greeks. The question is, did Isaiah really say the earth is spherical? This hinges mainly on what the original Hebrew word translated as "circle" in most Bibles really meant. If the original word could mean either a flat circle or a sphere, then both the original general usage, and the specific context of the scripture, must be used to determine the real meaning. Of course, if the real meaning cannot be determined conclusively, then the scripture cannot be used to prove that the writer of Isaiah had divine knowledge. By going to several Hebrew concordances we can find out the primary meaning. _Strong's Concordance_ gives several meanings for the Hebrew word: 2329. chuwg; from 2328; a circle: - circle, circuit, compass. 2328. chuwg; a prim. root [comp. 2287]; to describe a circle: - compass. 2287. chagag; a prim. root [comp. 2283, 2328]; prop. to move in a circle, i.e., (spec.) to _march_ in a sacred procession, to _observe_ a festival; by impl. to _be giddy_: - celebrate, dance, (keep, hold) a (solemn) feast (holiday), reel to and fro. _A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament_ page 295, gives similar renderings: chuwg; noun; vault, horizon; of the heavens, sea and earth. chuwg; verb; draw round, make a circle. _A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language_, page 210, gives: chuwg; noun; circle, circuit, horizon. chuwg; verb; to make a circle, to move in a circle. Note that in the above references the English words for _chuwg_ all refer to plane figures. Following _Webster's_, a circle is a flat ring. A circuit is a line, often circular, encompassing a boundary; the space within such a boundary; or a route traveled around a boundary. A compass is a boundary or circumference, a circumscribed space, or a curved or roundabout course. Again, the English words all refer specifically to plane figures. They are not synonyms for "round," which can refer to _either_ 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional objects. The words from the related _chagag_ also refer to things that are intelligible only in the sense of a plane figure, such as moving in a circle. As the publications quoted earlier say, the original Hebrew word may also mean "sphere," so the English translations are not exact. But the fact that the majority of concordances refer to "circle," and have no references to "sphere," shows that "circle" is the primary meaning, and "sphere" is secondary. The best that can be said is that "sphere" cannot be ruled out. In any case, "circle" is probably the best translation. Otherwise, why do most translators use it? What about other references to the shape of the earth in the Bible? Nowhere does the Bible explicitly state the shape of the earth, so let's see what a few scriptures say, to get the general flavor. Daniel 4:10-11 tells about Nebuchadnezzar's dream: Now the visions of my head upon my bed I happened to be beholding, and, look! a tree in the midst of the earth, the height of which was immense. The tree grew up and became strong, and its very height finally reached the heavens, and it was visible to the extrem- ity of the whole earth. The word "midst" means "middle" or "center." Therefore, many Bible versions say "a tree in the middle (or center) of the earth." This verse says the tree was visible to the extremity of the whole earth, and therefore paints a picture of a flat, circular earth. The tree stood in its center and had its top in the heavens so as to be visible from all over the earth. This would be impossible on a spherical earth. Daniel 4:10-11 describes a vision said to be given to Nebuchadnezzar by God. Why would God give an incorrect picture of the shape of the earth to Daniel? If Daniel had a mental picture of the earth as a sphere, and the vision pictured the earth as a sphere, what part of the earth could be called the center? How could a tree of any height be visible to its extremities? If Daniel had a mental picture of the earth as a sphere, and the vision pictured the earth as a flat circle with the tree in its center, would not Daniel and his readers have been confused? The logical conclusion is that Daniel's mental picture and the vision were consis- tent, and therefore the scripture suggests the picture that the Bible writers had of the shape of the earth, namely, a flat, circular area large enough to hold all the known kingdoms, with the heavens a hemispherical vault nestled down over the earth, not unlike the picture of Greek mythology. If one argues this scripture is just using picturesque language, then equally well can it be argued that Isaiah 40:22 is too. _The Interpreter's Bible_ argues similarly (Vol. 5, p. 410): .... the ancient Oriental conception of the world tree.... was commonly conceived of as being on the navel of the earth, and so *in the midst of the earth.* In those days the earth was thought of as a disk, with the heavens as an upturned bowl above it; thus the tree is pictured as growing in the center of the land mass of this disk and extending upwards until its top touched the vault of heaven, in which case, of course, it would be visible from any point along the edge of the land mass. This picture in Daniel is further strengthened by the account of the Devil's tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:8: Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Again the picture is that all the kingdoms of the world could be viewed from a sufficiently high mountain, which is not possible on a spherical earth. If this was not the intended picture, then why was it used? The Devil could have showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world from anywhere at all. With this picture of a flat, circular earth in mind, Isa- iah 40:22 makes complete sense. This scripture and the picture of a flat, circular earth with a roof over it also make sense as rendered in other Bible translations. This is typical: God sits throned on the vaulted roof of the earth. (_The New English Bible_) There is nothing in Isaiah 40:22 to conflict with the picture of a flat, circular earth. Other scriptures give a similar picture. Job 22:14 says of God: .... on the vault of heaven he walks about. (_New World Translation_) .... he walketh in the circuit of heaven. (_King James_) .... he prowls on the rim of the heavens. (_The Jerusalem Bible_) Job 37:18 says the heavens are hard like a metal mirror: With him can you beat out the skies Hard like a molten mirror? (_New World Translation_) Can you beat out the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal? (_The New English Bible_) Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a heavy metal mirror? (_King James_) Will you.... Be with him to consolidate heavens strong as a metal mirror? (_The Bible in Living English_) Can you help him to spread the vault of heaven, Or temper that mirror of cast metal? (_The Jerusalem Bible_) As to viewing the vault of heaven as a thin metal sheet, Isaiah 34:4 mentions: And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book scroll. (_New World Translation_) .... and the skies will curl back like a roll of paper. (_The Bible in Living English_) _The Interpreter's Bible_, Vol. 5, says concerning Isaiah 40:22: The earth is conceived as a dome. In Prov. 8:27 the circle (hugh) is the "vault over the face of the abyss" (tehom); in Job 22:14 Yahweh walks upon the vault of the heavens. Of course, what we perceive as a solid dome over our heads is simply the scattering of sunlight. Many other scriptures refer to the earth in connection with a circle, and various translations render the verses in such a way that a picture of a circle, not a sphere, emerges. Many of these scriptures might be viewed as using allegory or poetic license to make a point, not as a literal statement of the shape of the earth or the composition of the heavenly roof. But this is precisely the point about Isaiah 40:22. The book of Job obviously uses both figurative and literal language; any conclusions showing which it is using in any particular case are open to a great deal of argument and will be biased by the prejudices of whoever is making the arguments. The question as to what Isaiah 40:22 really means illustrates the point that there can be more than one interpretation of what a Bible writer is really saying. Describing wisdom, Proverbs 8:27 in the _New World Translation_ says: when he prepared the heavens I was there; when he decreed a circle upon the face of the watery deep. _The Interpreter's Bible_, Vol. 5, page 832, comments: Vss. 27-31 describe wisdom at the creation of the world. She saw God spread out the firmament like a vault over the earth. She saw the mighty waters of the deep hemmed in at God's command by the great land masses. She was by God's side as he created the uni- verse and the various forms of life that were to inhabit it. _Compass_ or _circle:_ The term probably refers to the "vault" or solid expanse of the sky which, like a dome, rested on the deep.... Many people claim that Job 26:7, where God is described as "hanging the earth upon nothing," along with Isaiah 40:22, argue that the Bible writers viewed the earth as a sphere hanging in empty space. But this argument, based on just these two scriptures, ignores the evidence considered above. Also Job 38:6 implies a somewhat different picture, when it says about the earth: Into what have its socket pedestals been sunk down, Or who laid its cornerstone? This doesn't sound like the Bible writer had in mind an earth hanging in the emptiness of space, or he would have phrased the question differently. If you argue that the Bible writer is speaking figuratively or poetically, then you have negated your ability to show that the scriptures are talking about the literal configuration of the earth. There are other completely different interpretations of Job 26:7. _The Interpreter's Bible_, Vol. 3, page 1094, gives one: _he stretcheth out the north over the void.... and hangeth the earth upon nothing_ (cf. the parallelism between void and nothingness in Isa. 40:17, 23). This amounts to a poetic description of _creatio ex nihilo_. The northern regions of the earth are con- nected in a special way with the sojourn of the gods.... Possibly *the north* designates here the _Stella Polaris_ on which the constellations appear to circumambulate. Although the poet's cosmogony is geo- centric, he fully understands that the earth rests *upon nothing* and receives its stability only from the will of the almighty Creator. The author of Job is not the only ancient writer to speak of the earth hanging upon nothing. One school of Greek philosophers thought that the earth was hung upon nothing. They conceived of the earth as a cylinder, suspended on nothing at the center of the sky, which was a hollow sphere surrounding the earth. So the Bible's reference to the earth hanging on nothing is not unique. In light of all the scriptures that talk of a circular earth, heavens like a beaten metal mirror that can be rolled up, and the lack of definitive context for Isaiah 40:22 that shows it refers to a sphere, one cannot claim the scripture says the earth is spherical. Therefore Isaiah 40:22 cannot be used to prove that Bible writers were divinely inspired. Alan Feuerbacher


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