Vol. 4, No. 5
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Somewhere buried in the recesses of my brain are the smells of paste, the textures of construction paper and No. 2 pencils, and the sounds of chalk writing out lessons on a chalkboard. Those memories of elementary school recall to mind teachers' names and faces, and the classroom textbooks -- textbooks such as the McGraw-Hill history book that I used in the fifth grade. Somewhere concealed in those pages was the story of Christopher Columbus and his famous journey to America. I remember, as most Americans do, being taught that ancient people during Columbus' day believed the Earth was flat. As such, textbook pictures often showed a map with a boat at the edge ready to either fall off or be devoured by a wicked sea creature. While we do not know the exact date when people began accepting the fact that the Earth was round, we do know that the images that NASA provided -- images from astronauts who had turned their cameras back towards the Earth -- left little doubt in the minds of most people of the circularity of our home planet.
The Earth is round -- and here in the year 2002 we can pat ourselves on the back for recognizing such. Yet God's Word foretold this fact literally thousands of years ago. Isaiah, in speaking of God, stated: "It is he who sitteth upon the circle of the earth" (40:22). The Hebrew word Isaiah used for "circle" is the word khug, which means literally something with "roundness," a "sphere." But, of course, the people of Isaiah's day thought the Earth was flat. And that was the concept of the many generations of people who followed Isaiah. Isaiah had been correct all along, even when the people of his day emphatically stated the opposite. How did Isaiah know the Earth to be a sphere? Lucky guess?
In trying to teach people about God and the Gospel, we often run into people who question the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible. Most of us probably can name someone who does not accept that the Bible is truly God's Word -- that it is the only inspired book, and as such should be followed. So what do we tell them? How do we move from simply stating opinions, to convincing them to accept the Truth? What are some tools with which each one of us can equip ourselves in order to teach our friends, family and neighbors about the accuracy of God's Word? We sometimes fail to realize that if individuals understand and accept the Bible as inspired, then teaching them to obey the Gospel becomes much easier. One of the best tools to enforce the inspiration of the Bible is the scientific accuracies that are found within the pages of God's Word. While space will not permit a full review of every incidence of scientific foreknowledge contained in the Bible, the following examples provide strong evidence for The Book's inspiration.
While most of us can remember studying the planets and their orbit around the Sun, how many of us are familiar with the Sun's orbit? Psalm 19:5-6 contains several interesting scientific facts. In speaking of the Sun, the psalmist suggested that "his going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." For years Bible critics scoffed at Bible believers, stating that this verse taught the false concept of geocentricity (i.e., the Sun revolves around the Earth). Then on June 1, 1999, at 9:40 p.m., radio astronomers measured the Sun's orbit throughout the Milky Way galaxy. We learned that rather than being fixed in space, the Sun actually is in an orbit of its own. In fact, it is estimated to be moving through space at the rate of 600,000 miles per hour, in an orbit so large it would take approximately 220,000,000 years to complete just one orbit. How did the psalmist portray such accurate statements -- when people of his day, and for years afterward, taught that just the opposite was true? And, by the way, there is another gem packed away in these two verses. The psalmist hinted at the fact that the Sun is the source of energy for the Earth ("and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof"). An amazing statement, is it not, considering when it was written and by whom?
Electric light, one of the everyday conveniences that affect our lives, was invented in 1879 simultaneously by Thomas Alva Edison in the United States and Sir Joseph Wilson Swan in England. By the 1950s, most new homes were being wired for electricity so the owners could take advantage of this new discovery. In discussing light and darkness, the Lord asked Job: "Where is the way to the dwelling of the light? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof?" (38:19). The Lord described the travel of light in a "way" (Hebrew, derek, which is literally a traveled path or road; cf. Genesis 16:7), whereas darkness was described as a "place" (Hebrew, maxim, meaning a place, a spot, as standing; cf. Genesis 1:9; 28:11). Until the seventeenth century, it was believed that light was transmitted instantaneously. Then, Sir Isaac Newton suggested that light is composed of small particles that travel in a straight line. Christian Huygens proposed the wave theory of light and Olaus Roemer measured the velocity of light as evinced by its delay while traveling through space. Scientists now know that light is a form of energy called radiant energy and that it travels in electromagnetic waves in a straight line at the speed of over 186,000 miles per second (660 million miles per hour). For example, it takes about eight minutes for light to travel its "path" from the Sun to the Earth. Some evolutionists, who deny the chronological data found in the Bible, have suggested that light, which spans the distances from stars to us, proves the Universe is billions of years old. They overlook, of course, the fact that God created the heavenly lights already in place (Genesis 1:14-16) to serve as a "witness" of his infinite power and for man's benefit (Psalm 19:1). God, in making his perfect, mature Universe, formed the stars so that their light could be seen on Earth.
Jehovah also inquired of Job, "By what way is light parted?" (38:24). The word "parted" is from the Hebrew halaq, meaning to divide, allot, apportion (cf. Numbers 26:53). Though the Lord simply may have been asking the patriarch if he knew how light is distributed on Earth, nonetheless it is an amazing scientific fact that light literally can be parted. When a narrow beam of sunlight passes at a slant into a triangular, transparent prism, the sunlight is broken into a band of seven colored lights referred to as a spectrum. Sir Isaac Newton eventually discovered this, yet the writer of the book of Job knew it first.
Long ago, Solomon wrote, "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place whither the rivers go, thither they go again" (Ecclesiastes 1:7). This statement, considered by itself, may not appear all that significant. But when considered with additional evidence and other biblical passages, it becomes all the more remarkable. Having lived just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, for many years, I had many opportunities to observe the massive Mississippi River. When it is moving at normal speed, scientists have calculated that the river dumps approximately 6,052,500 gallons of water per second into the Gulf of Mexico. So where does all that water go? The answer, of course, lies in the hydrologic cycle so well illustrated in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 11:3 states that "if the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth." Amos 9:6 informs us that "He ... calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; the Lord is His name." The idea of a complete water cycle was not fully understood or accepted until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The first substantial evidence came from experiments of Frenchmen Pierre Perrault and Edme Mariotte. These scientists demonstrated that the flow of the Seine River could be accounted for by precipitation. Astronomer Edmund Halley also contributed valuable data to the concept of a complete water cycle. More that 2,000 years prior to their work, however, the Scriptures had indicated a water cycle. How?
If you never had journeyed to the depths of the ocean (or heard news reports about such), what would you expect the appearance of the bottom of the deep to look like? Most of us would relate that body of water with other bodies of water with which we are familiar. As such, we likely would envision something similar to ponds, lakes or pools -- i.e., a flat, muddy or sandy bottom. God asked Job, "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the recesses of the deep?" (38:16). The Hebrew word for "recesses" (or "trenches") refers to that which is "hidden, and known only by investigation." What were these "recesses of the deep" (the Hebrew word for "deep" is the word for seas or oceans)? In 1873 a team of British scientists working in the Pacific Ocean found a "recess" 5½ miles deep. Later, another team of researchers discovered another trench 35,800 feet deep (over 6 miles down). Extensive studies have now been conducted on the Mariana Trench off the coast of Guam. The bathyscaph Trieste has traveled down almost seven miles into that trench. Today we have found trenches in all three major oceans. We also have discovered freshwater springs emptying into the oceans. How did Job know about these "springs" and "recesses in the deep," when we did not discover them until centuries later? Another lucky guess?
While the Old Testament placed no restrictions on the eating of fruits and vegetables, severe limitations were given for the eating of certain meats. Among land animals, only those that had a split hoof and chewed the cud were approved as edible (Leviticus 11:3). Of the water-living animals, only those with fins and scales were acceptable (Leviticus 11:9; of interest is the fact that poisonous fish have no scales). Birds of prey were prohibited, as were almost all insects. But perhaps the best known among these biblical injunctions was eating the meat of a pig. To the Israelite, pork was considered unclean, and thus was inedible. Today, we know there is good scientific reasoning behind such a prohibition. The pig is a scavenger and will eat almost anything. In so doing, on occasion it ingests the parasite, Trichinella spiralis, which is the cause of trichinosis in humans. Left untreated, this disease can be debilitating and even deadly. Pigs also are known carriers (as intermediate hosts) of the tapeworm Taenia solium, and of the parasite Echinococcus granulosis, which causes tumors in the liver, lungs and other parts of the body. Raw or undercooked pork can be quite dangerous when consumed by humans. Pigs can provide safe meat if they are fed properly and if the muscle tissue is cooked correctly. But such conditions often did not prevail in ancient times.
In the early 1900s, American infidel Robert Ingersoll claimed regarding the Bible: "In fifteen years, I will have this book in the morgue." But, as history records, Ingersoll ended up in the morgue, while the Bible lives on. Governments come and go. Nations rise and fall. People live and die. Jesus warned that "heaven and earth shall pass away" (Matthew 24:35), but went on to note: "My words shall not pass away." Isaiah wrote: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever" (40:8). The Bible is truly the only God-breathed book in existence, and literally is filled with examples that support its accuracy and authenticity -- examples that simultaneously strengthen our faith and make excellent teaching tools.
Brad Harrub earned his Ph.D. degree in anatomy and neurobiology from the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and was listed in the 2001-2002 edition of Who's Who Among Scientists and Researchers. Dr. Harrub is the author or co-author of numerous scientific articles published in refereed science journals, and a popular speaker on Christian evidences at lectureships, youth rallies, etc. Currently, he serves as the Director of Scientific Information at Apologetics Press and as associate editor of Reason & Revelation, a monthly journal on Christian evidences. He and his wife Melinda attend the Eastern Meadows Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama. They have one son, Will.