|Vol. 13 No. 10 October 2011||
Nathan A. Barton
Very recently, a correspondent of mine emailed me an article I have seen on occasion for more than the past 40 years. Briefly, the article claims that NASA scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center, while calculating orbits of planets and satellites, had “proven” that the long day of Joshua (Joshua 10, when God made the sun stand still) and the reversal of the sun’s motion for Hezekiah (2 Kings 20) had occurred, because it was necessary for NASA to take those events into consideration in doing orbital calculations. The version she planned to include in her weekly column for a small-town, mid-American weekly newspaper was the same I recall reading in church bulletins and mimeographed letters from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fortunately (as we do for each other), she sent it to me to vet. Why? Because it is false – NASA never did any such thing, and there is no way to do any such thing, nor any need to do so, unless someone invents a time machine. Yet, for more than 40 years, people (for the most part well-meaning people) have been spreading this rumor as truth – spreading lies. I found, to my amusement, that the tale is much older than even my childhood, and was first concocted (but not with NASA as a key part) in 1890. So, for more than 120 years, this has been harming the cause of Christ.
Many people have tried to debunk it over the years, and now it is my turn in the barrel. However, I have one advantage in 2011, over 1969 or thereabouts, is the Internet. Yes, the Internet helps to spread this, but it also helps to defeat things like this. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, unless we were fortunate enough to hear from someone else who had done the research and found the story to be bogus (and such rebuttals never are as well-distributed as the original myths), it would have taken weeks or months of research and letter-writing and phone-calling to find the evidence to show that it was a lie. Today, it takes about 5-10 minutes to search online and find articles debunking the story and telling its history, far more ably than I could do.
Here are some websites about it, which you can share with your correspondents when they mail or email this to you, or when a well-meaning church bulletin or newsletter editor includes it in his publication:
Why is this important? Obviously, if we are trying to preach the truth of the Gospel, we dare not unwittingly spread lies and myths. Secondly, this urban legend has already been used by many atheists and infidels to try to “debunk” Christianity and the Bible. Here is one example: https://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/urbanmyth.html. Of course, these enemies of Christ assume uniformitarianism (as long as it is convenient for them) and reject anything supernatural, especially the power of Almighty God to do what He wills with His universe. Third, we must understand that false claims about the Bible and its proofs can weaken or destroy the faith of many, and protect them from being taught things that are not so. We must not seek to prove God’s Word, only to have it backfire because the example we use does not even exist.
NASA does not need to prove the validity of two events in the Old Testament for us to believe that God can do things like this. Nor should we ever forget that “If God could do this then, how much more can He do for us today, if we only read and believe His word,” to quote my correspondent. We have far too many proofs in history, archeology and the Bible itself that the events in the Old Testament, as well as those in the New, did happen and that God is the Creator and His Son is the Savior, and His promises and powers are vast and true.
A joint study from the University of Rochester and the University of Notre Dame has connected problems in the home with problems at school. Melissa Sturge-Apple, the lead researcher on the paper and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester writes, “Families can be a support and resource for children as they enter school, or they can be a source of stress, distraction, and maladaptive behavior.” She also goes on to say, “This study shows that cold and controlling family environments are linked to a growing cascade of difficulties for children in their first three years of school, from aggressive and disruptive behavior to depression and alienation. The study also finds that children from families marked by high levels of conflict and intrusive parenting increasingly struggle with anxiety and social withdrawal as they navigate their early school years.”
I do not agree with all the assumptions on which many of these types of studies are often based, but the conclusion that what happens at home can affect how children behave is nothing new to those familiar with Scripture. I remember my wife, a school teacher, having this discussion with a principal years ago, regarding a student whose home life was intruding in schoolwork. The principal responded that nothing happening in the home affects a student’s learning. Yes, I could not believe that statement either. As adults, we know how difficult it can be to leave problems at home behind in other areas of life. How much more for children?
The more parents abandon biblical principles for rearing children, the more problems we will find. God is our Creator, and He knows how we best function, how we should interact with each other. What He reveals to us in the Bible is what is best for us, because He loves us and only has our best interests at heart.
So, God instructs parents, fathers specifically, “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Mothers and wives are to be taught “to love their husbands and to love their children” (Titus 2:4). Husbands must “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:24). Such an environment makes it much easier for children to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).
There can be all kinds of problems that enter into relationships. It is horrible when people’s lives go awry, and everyone suffers, including children. What happens in the home can go with them the rest of their lives, for better or worse. When the lessons children learn at home are for the worse, it not only affects their today, but their tomorrows. Further, those lessons, sadly, can be passed on to future generations, not just educationally, but in how they interact with families of their own.
The problem is sin, but the solution is Christ and His will for our lives. It has to be made active in our lives, though, lived out, for our children to see and to desire to live it out in their lives. They have to be lived out if our children are to understand their value for their lives. Isn’t it worth it, not just for our own salvation, but for that of our children and grandchildren? Satan has done a masterful job of deceiving so many in the world that the Bible is irrelevant. In its pages, however, is the key to better homes, schools and society. “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).