Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bible Astronomy for Brainiacs

Jeremiah indicates that the cosmos is expanding: “He has stretched out the heavens” (Jer. 10:12). There are a number of verses that indicate that the universe is expanding. [1]

Psalm 89:37 speaks of the moon as “a faithful witness in heaven.” That is, the moon is a witness to the sun’s light. The moon reflects light; it is not a lightsource itself.

"Just as you can’t number the stars in the sky nor measure the sand on the seashore, neither will you be able to account for the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who serve me" (Jer. 33:22, Message). The total number of stars is about 10^22 to 10^24 stars. This fits in well with the number of sand grains on earth (cf. Ge 22:17). [2]

Job apparently refers to the rotation of the earth: "Hast thou commanded morning since thy days? Causest thou the dawn to know its place? To take hold on the skirts of the earth, and the wicked are shaken out of it. It turneth itself as clay of a seal and they station themselves as clothed" (Job 38:12-14, YLT).

Jude 13 speaks of planets as “wandering stars.”

Job 38:31 asks, “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?” thus indicating that the Pleiades are gravitationally bound which is scientifically accurate. The Pleiades are also mentioned in Job 9:9 and Amos 5:8.

Ezekiel 1:16 speaks of a “wheel inside a wheel.” This reminds us of a gyroscope which provides stability. So, it makes sense that the planets travel around the sun. If the Milky Way did not rotate, it would collapse due to gravitational attraction of the center.

Psalm 84:11 tells us that the Lord is a sun and shield. The sun gives light and heat and helps plants grow. It makes sense that the sun is the center of the solar system. James 1:17 is also consistent with a relatively fixed sun.

Aristarchus (c. 310-230 BC) proposed the heliocentric view and calculated that the moon was 1/3 the size of the earth (actual = ¼) and that the sun was seven times the size of the earth (actual = 109). Objects fall to the earth due to gravity. So, the sun must have more attractive power since it is bigger. The planets revolving around the sun is a very reasonable theory. [3]

Calvin and Luther both rejected heliocentrism. [4] However, Kepler, a firm Bible believer, accepted the Copernican theory. The middle graphic above by Lucas Cranach illustrates the geocentric model. It appeared in the “Luther Bible” of 1534.

Francis Schaeffer points out that the opposition to the Copernican theory was not based on scripture but on Aristotle’s views:
When the Roman Church attacked Copernicus and Galileo (1564-1642), it was not because their teaching actually contained anything contrary to the Bible. The church authorities thought it did, but that was because Aristotelian elements had become part of church orthodoxy, and Galileo’s notion clearly conflicted with them. In fact, Galileo defended the compatibility of Copernicus and the Bible, and this was one of the factors which brought about his trial. [5]
A good synopsis of the Galileo affair may be found in chapter ten of Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s so Great about Christianity?

Compare these amazing affirmations of the Bible’s accuracy with the following statements from the Qur’an:
“…when he reached the setting–place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring…” (sura 18:86, Pickthal).
“The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain” (sura 54:1).

Is there evidence within the solar system that supports Young Earth Science (YES)? YES, there is. Huge dust rings go around the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. According to Frank Low (Univ. of Arizona), “Particles this small can only survive in stable orbits for a few ten-thousands of year before they are pulled apart by the sun.” [6]

Consider the words of Nobel laureate in physics, Arthur Compton, who said,
For myself, faith begins with the realization that supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence – and orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of themost majestic statement ever uttered – “In the beginning God.” [7]

You agree, don’t you, that God is in charge? He runs the universe—just look at the stars! (Job 22:12, Message)

1) Starlight and Time by Russell Humphreys, 1994, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, p. 66.
2) Astronomy and the Bible by Don DeYoung, 1989, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 120, 121.
3) Universe by Design by Danny Faulkner, 2004, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, p. 11.
4) “Some Misconceptions of the Impact of the ‘Enlightenment’ on the Doctrine of Scripture” by John Woodbridge in Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon ed. by D.A. Carson and John Woodbridge, 1986, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 259, 260.
5) Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer by Francis Schaeffer, 1982, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, Vol. 5: p. 156.
6) quoted in It’s a Young World After All by Paul Ackerman, 1986, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 46.
7) DeYoung, pp. 114, 115.