Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bible Science: The Sky

"The Bible has always been way ahead of scientists."

I swear to god I actually heard that on a creationist "documentary". The Bible, supposedly written sometime between 3,440 years ago and 1,860 years ago, somehow comes out ahead of modern science when compared. Let's take a look at some of that science. What observation does the Bible make about, oh, let's say . . . the sky!

Here's our first piece of Bible science. It comes from Genesis 1:6-8 :

"Then God said, 'Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters'. And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day."

Let's keep going. This time, from II Peter 3:3-7 :

"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation'. For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water."

Last one. From Psalms 148:4

"Praise Him, highest heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens!"

You see what is being discussed here? Waters in the sky? It seems as if the Bible is claiming that the sky is a separate body of water from those on the ground, and that the earth is simply the space between them. I bet this was also a good explanation for why the sky is blue. That color would make sense if sky was composed of water, at least to someone living 3,000 years ago it would have. I know a lot of modern Christians have abandoned the literal interpretation of Genesis, and I'm sure the other claims that occur later in the book get lumped into that, but what about those pesky creationists? I've heard this claim many times before, that pre-flood the earth was surrounded by water. I've also seen a lot of creationists cite those very passages when defending the literal interpretation. Most notably the infamous Kent Hovind, who takes that claim a step further. He asserts that it was ice that covered the earth. Great, another genius. He's also got that weird thing where there was a -300°C comet that created the ice caps, along with the rings around Saturn and Neptune. This gigantic comet did not destroy the earth for some reason though. The massive amount of energy that would have been released from such an impact would surely have decimated life on this planet.

Of course, actual science has given us a pretty good answer for why the sky is blue. It's a principle called Rayleigh Scattering. As light moves through the atmosphere, the longer wavelengths - your reds, oranges, and yellows - pass straight through the gas molecules but bounce off of other particles. On the other hand blue (which is a shorter wavelength), gets absorbed by the gas molecules; this is where the scattering comes in. The blue wavelength is then radiated in all different directions by those gas molecules. The sky appears blue because your eyes pick up that scattered blue wavelength. As you look closer to the horizon though, the sky appears to be a little whiter. This is due to the mixing of the radiated blue wavelengths with the longer wavelengths that just bounced off of the bigger particles in the atmosphere. You get white light again.

The Bible is by no means ahead of modern science. It literally just claimed that the sky is water, and that it is blue because of the water. Thanks to modern science, we no longer have to live with that kind of delusion.

Science 1, Bible 0.

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