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Archive for December, 2008

 

   

The Influence of Modern Science on Society Part II 

 

     While science has made great inroads during the past 400 years with Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Hubble, their collective impact, and that of thousands of other scientists, has transformed the world. From them has come an almost endless stream of technological and scientific achievements. Some of these achievements have been so profound as to alter the entire landscape of culture worldwide.

    

     The impact of science, rationalism, and reason [called Logos] has had a profound influence on the way the world about us is perceived. It isn’t just scientific discoveries per se that impact us that are so great, but rather the effect such discoveries have on altering the way we think. One important area where science has impacted society’s thinking in a profound way has been its impact on religion.

 

     One major area point of contention and contradiction is science’s ability in answering the questions: who are we and where do we come from? Long before Charles Darwin, there were significant clues suggesting how species change. All of these quiet scientific insights were leading toward the most spectacular theory of the 19th Century–Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. One component of this theory wouldn’t be revealed until much later, and that component of evolutionary history is at the very foundation of who we are–our DNA. By answering such questions as who we are and where do we come from, science has come in direct conflict with the dogma of religion. Because of this focus, much doubt as to the veracity and value of the biblical scriptures has been generated.

 

     It is fair and honest to say that, as a result of science, there are now more holes in biblical scripture and Christian teachings than would be found in an entire factory of Swiss cheese.  Ahead, I have chosen to point out just a few of the contradictions that exist today between the Christian religion and science.

 

     Based on a growing public awareness of these contradictions the vast majority of citizens have had to alter their views of the world as a result of science. Other people have stubbornly refused to do so. While it appears that many mainline protestant denominations within Christianity have been adaptive and argue for a more figurative or symbolic interpretation of scriptures, and promote the concept of theistic evolution, there are still other denominations that still hold on desperately to a literal interpretation of scriptures. These later denominations tend to be the more conservative groups in Christianity, such as fundamentalists, evangelicals, Pentecostals, charismatic, and some southern Baptists.  

 

     I will not provide vast detail on scientific findings and analysis. That kind of detail can be found in many thousands of academic, scientific books. However, I wish to explore the nature of just two areas of contradiction between science and the Christian religion. These two areas are limited to the following subject matter: “Noah’s Ark and a Worldwide Flood,” and the “Myth of Jesus Walking on Water.”

 

 

Noah’s Ark and a Worldwide Flood

 

     Genesis, the first book in the Bible is filled with many amusing stories. One is the story of Noah and his ark. Evidently, God was disappointed with the mankind he had created. His creation had grown so wicked and he was grieved that he ever made human beings.   He set out to deal with their wickedness in a very broad way by wiping them all off the earth. The exception was a righteous man named Noah, and his family. God ordered Noah, after telling Noah his plan to kill all other mankind, to build an ark.

 

      After the ark was built, Genesis says animals came to Noah in pairs. It then allegedly rained for 40 days and 40 nights and resulted in a worldwide flood and cataclysm. Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, numbered 8 people. Genesis further points out that they were the only survivors on earth when the ark finally settled 500 miles from where Noah had set sail. 

 

     The ark is alleged to have landed on the mountains of Ararat in Armenia, near what is now modern day Turkey. We later learn that Noah’s sons Ham, Shem and Japheth and their wives went on to produce descendants who would populate the entire world. Put aside for the moment that these people were all Jewish, and that all descendants were the result of incestuous inbreeding; this means that all future generations on earth came from the same original family of 8.

 

     The descendants of Ham are said to have become the Canaanites, taking the name of Ham’s son, Canaan. The descendants of Shem were know as Shemites, but came to be known as Semites. The Semites including the Israelites eventually took over the land of Canaan. Meanwhile, according to the Bible, the descendants of Japheth came to dominate much of the world.

 

     The Institute for Creation Research estimates that the voyage of Noah’s ark occurred around 2350 BC. Creationists also promote the belief that the earth is only 6000 years old. What this scenario suggests is that a little over 4058 years ago, 8 Jewish settlers, as sole survivors on earth, landing in what is today modern Turkey, went on to eventually produce all 6 billion people living today. What a clever trick to magically produce offspring of such tremendous diversity—ethnically, culturally, and racially. And they did this in just 4,000 + years. Given the vast racial and ethnic diversity of the world today, it should be obvious to everyone that the story of the Ark makes absolutely no sense at all.

 

    There are basically three important scientific findings that render the story of Noah and a worldwide flood as pure nonsensical rubbish.  The first finding and scientific facts relate to the age of the earth and the origins of modern man. The second and third scientific findings deal with the flood itself.

 

 

Out of Africa Theory and Genetic Variation

  

     To begin with, the earth is actually 4.6 billion years old—not 6,000 years old. The universe itself is even older—13.7 billion years old. Man descended from the great apes some 13-20 million years ago. It appears that the first appearance of man was in Africa, not Asia, Europe or the middle-east.

 

     Australopithecus Africanus, one of the intermediaries between ape and man, came down from the trees on the Savanna in eastern Africa a mere 4 million years ago. Evolution is primarily about adaptation. In order to continue on the evolutionary path, those who adapted successfully to their new environment began to walk on two feet. That is, bipedalism was the needed adaptation.

 

     Two sets of data support the research finding that the cradle of civilization was Africa: (1) fossil evidence and (2) DNA evidence. Our fossil history goes back millions of years. Fossil data reveals that modern humans only began to emerge in our evolution during the last 40,000 years. Before that, fossils are rare among Cro-Magnum and Neanderthals of the Genus Homo. Fossils of Australopithecus Africanus (3-4 mya) are very rare. And the fossil connection to our lineage to the Great Apes numbers just a handful. Nevertheless, new fossils are found every year as science continues its work.

 

     The second data set relates to a relatively new tool known as DNA. With the advent of DNA, it is becoming increasingly impossible to believe that the world’s population began from a few survivors off Noah’s Ark. The more we learn about DNA and the secrets contained within the strands that make up humankind, the more we realize that human history can be revealed through the DNA within our genes.

 

     According to Steven Olson in Mapping Human History (2002), our DNA reveals that the African ape began walking on two legs more than 4 million years ago. Through our DNA, we can show how humans diversified over time into the races and ethnic groups we recognize today.  Olson’s theory, and one to which I subscribe, reports,   “According to our DNA every person alive today is descended from a relatively small group of Africans who lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.” This is the “Out of Africa” hypothesis. This is based on scientific evidence derived from what is known as Mitochondrial DNA. Such DNA can only be transmitted by the female of our species.

 

     Where the alleged flood is concerned, there are the last two data sets to be discussed: (1) Physical Geological Evidence, and (2) Continuity of Culture.

 

Physical Geological Evidence

 

     There is disagreement between the biblical account of Noah’s Flood and scientific evidence. The basis of the disagreement is that science has determined that there could not have been a worldwide flood. Simply put, there wasn’t enough volume of water needed for such a flood. Would a rain for forty days and nights all over the world produce such a flood? The answer is no, it would not.

 

     In 2006 Ray Miranda wrote an article, Disagreement Between the Biblical Information Regarding Noah’s Flood and Scientific Evidence. He used a mathematical formula (V= A x h where V is volume, A is area and h is height) in order to determine the relationship between volume of water, surface area of the planet, and height of the water theoretically might have risen. He then tested this formula with data based on different assumptions such as smoothness of the land, presence or absence of mountains, volume of water in the atmosphere, and whether rain fell on the land or included the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and streams. He also calculated the effect in height that would be achieved if all the water had simply fallen to earth in just the Middle East, and nowhere else.  

 

     What were the results? Considering the entire planet (as suggested in the Bible that the flood occurred) the height only rose to 2.55 cm. At the other extreme (rain only fell on the Middle East) the data calculation of height was only 2.4 meters. In the Bible the flood was alleged to have covered all the mountains on earth. From 2.55 cm to 2.4 meters the rain would have been insufficient to constitute a flood, much less a flood that covered the entire earth. It must be remembered that stories in the Bible, like Noah’s ark and flood, existed as mythological stories long before the Jewish creation of the Old Testament. Borrowing from other pagan cultures inevitably resulted in the passing down of stories like the Flood.

 

 

Continuity of Culture

 

      What would happen had there really been a worldwide flood? One would expect as the Bible seems to say, that everyone other than Noah’s family, died. Therefore, one would also expect the complete disappearance of all individuals, tribes, populations, empires, civilizations, and cultures of the world. After all, according to the Bible—they all perished as God willed it with the flood.

 

     With this scenario of massive extermination—great historical conflict arises. Why? Because, either before or after the alleged flood, cultures around the world did not disappear. The belief of massive death and extermination simply isn’t valid. All ages overlap depending on culture and location. For example, the Bronze Age followed the Stone Age and the Iron Age followed the Bronze Age. These Ages experienced no sudden interruption by a global flood.  Also, during the alleged dates of the flood (2350-2500 BC), neither the dynasties of Egypt nor the Civilizations (Sumerians, Akkadians, Ebaites, Babylonians, and Cannanities) of Syrian disappeared.

 

     Between 12,000 and 25,000 years ago there was also the transmigration of peoples across the Bearing Straits into North America; by 8000 B.C., South America became inhabited. Obviously—there is no evidence that any of these cultures disappeared as a result of some worldwide cataclysmic event. Numerous archeological artifacts (pottery, tools, and weapons) suggest that at no time during this transmigration did diverse cultures like American Indian tribes, Incas and Aztecs from Meso-America, and the peoples and tribes of the Amazon region of South America, ever perish because of a worldwide flood.

 

 

The Myth of Jesus Walking on Water

 

My favorite alleged miracle is a report in the Bible that Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead. The Bible reports that Lazarus had been dead for four days. There is no proof that this event actually took place. The modern day church expects you to take this story, however much it lacks any evidence, on faith. However, there is strong evidence from the scientific community that one of Jesus’ other miracles can now be explained by natural causes. That alleged miracle is Jesus “walking on water.” “The New Testament story describes Jesus walking on water in the Sea of Galilee but, according to a study led by Florida State University Professor of Oceanography Doron Nof, it’s more likely Jesus walked on an isolated patch of floating ice.”

 

According to the study, “In what is now northern Israel, such ice could have formed on the cold freshwater surface of the Sea of Galilee – known as Lake Kinneret by modern-day Israelis – when already chilly temperatures briefly plummeted during one of the two protracted cold periods between 2,500 and 1,500 years ago.”

 One may well ask why would anyone confuse ocean water from floating ice patches? The study pointed out that, “A frozen patch floating on the surface of the small lake would have been difficult to distinguish from the unfrozen water surrounding it.”

 

For people on the shore as distant observers, it would have been impossible to discern floating springs of ice partially or entirely surrounded by unfrozen water. It must be remembered that in the Bible’s Matt. 14, it reports the apostles in the boat, frightened by the storm, were half-asleep when Jesus allegedly returned to the boat. Visibility may have been extremely difficult for even close observers to distinguish between frozen ice patches and unfrozen water.

 

The Next Blog

 

     In Part III of the Influence of Science on Society, two more examples of how Science contradicts the Bible will be posted. This includes the contradictions found by modern geology and the gods of Christianity, Polytheism and Paganism. Finally, Part III will end with a recent event that raised serious doubts to Christianity’s long held belief in the Ressurection. That event was the discovery of the Talpiot Tomb in Jerusalem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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