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See Scientific foreknowledge in the Bible for alleged biblical anticipation of modern scientific discoveries.
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The various books of the Hebrew Bible contain descriptions of the physical world. These descriptions are important for developing a history of science during the Iron Age Levant.

The school of thought known as Panbabylonianism took the Hebrew Bible as entirely derived from the culture and mythology of Babylonia as it stood during the 6th century BCE, during the Babylonian captivity. Current mainstream does allow for the possibility that some elements, particularly of the Torah, are independent of Babylonian influence, dating perhaps as early as the 9th or 10th century BCE, but the significant influence of Babylonian mythology and Babylonian cosmology on the worldview presented in the Tanakh is still beyond doubt.

The Christian New Testament is a product of the Roman era and reflects the worldview of that epoch in some instances, e.g. in references to astrology or demonic possession.



The Biblical value of π implies a value of π = 3, which is notably worse than other estimates available ca. 600 BC. The interpretation of the passage is disputed, with apologists suggesting as early as the 2nd century CE that a more orthodox value could be construed.[1][2]

Cosmology and astronomy

Biblical cosmology provides sporadic glimpses that may be stitched together to form a Biblical impression of the physical universe. There have been comparisons between the Bible, with passages such as from the Genesis creation story, and the astronomy of classical antiquity more generally.[3]

The worldview of the Tanakh is still clearly that of a flat earth (e.g.Isaiah 11:12, Isaiah 40:22, Isaiah 44:24) in a geocentric universe (e.g. Joshua 10:12-13, Ps. 93:1, 1 Chron. 16:30), along with Mesopotamian astronomy of the period .[4] The spherical shape of the earth was established with certainty only in Hellenistic astronomy, in the 3rd century BCE. The first suggestions of heliocentrism also date to the Hellenistic period but remained speculative until the 16th century CE.

Lactantius and Cosmas Indicopleustes insisted on the flat Earth model on scriptural authority as late as the 5th to 6th century, long after the spherical shape of the Earth had been deduced in Hellenistic astronomy, and had been generally accepted by their fellow Christians.[5]

In the reception of Heliocentrism after Copernicus, biblical references 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5 were cited for biblical support of geocentrism[6]. Chronicles 16:30 states that "the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved." Psalm 104:5 says, "[the Lord] Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever." Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." Galileo defended heliocentrism, and claimed it was not contrary to those Scripture passages. He took Augustine's position on Scripture.

There are passages that denote the moon as being luminous.(Gen 1:16) As in Babylonian cosmography, the Hebrew Bible imagines Earth covered by a solid sky-dome[7][8] (the Firmament) to which the stars were attached.

Augustus Hopkins Strong presented one explanation of the inaccuracies reflected in the Hebrew Bible in his work, Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God.[9] Strong pointed out idiomatic usage of moonlight and sunset are still prevalent in current times as in ancient times, and that the word firmament has been used in literature where no one would suggest the author believed in flat earth or solid firmament theology.[9] He illustrated the point by asking if Dickens believed the firmament was "a piece of solid masonry" when "in his American Notes, 72, [Dickens] describes a prairie sunset: 'The decline of day here was very gorgeous, tinging the firmament deeply with red and gold, up to the very keystone of the arch above us'." However, it is hard to imagine Dickens writing this passage without a conscious or unconscious reliance on the biblical motif itself! [9] Modern scholars (other than those ascribing to some form of Biblical inerrancy doctrine) generally accept that such metaphors in the Bible reflect the authors' underlying belief in the literal truth of this cosmological model.[10]


The Deuteronomic Code contains several sanitation instructions; in particular, Deuteronomy 23:12-13 contains instructions to dispose of human waste away from the population, in order to keep locations holy.

The Old Testament contains a variety of health related instructions, such as isolating infected people (Leviticus 13:45-46), washing after handling a dead body (Numbers 19:11-19), and burying excrement away from a camp (Deuteronomy 23:12-13).

The Old Testament also contains various healing rituals. One ritual, for example, deals with the proper procedure for cleansing a leper (Leviticus 14:1-32). It is a fairly elaborate process involving extensive cleansing and personal hygiene, but also includes killing a bird and lambs with the addition of using their blood to cleanse the afflicted.

There is a contention that the degree of effectiveness of the Mosaic dietary restrictions and hygienic strictures indicates and, on the extreme end, "it has taken science thousands of years to discover what the Bible taught all along".[11][12][13] Though civilizations that had large cities had public sanitation systems, such as Ancient Egypt, the Aegean civilization, the Hittites, and the Elamites.[14]

Passages within the Book of Proverbs relate the two, such as 12:4, 14:30, 15:30, 16:24, 17:22. Modern science has found that certain proverbs contain advice toward sound mental and physical well-being.[15]

Agriculture and ecology

The Jewish religious laws proscribe intercropping (Lev. 19:19, Deut 22:9), a practice often associated with sustainable agriculture and organic farming in modern agricultural science.[16][17]

Leviticus 25:1-12 speaks of leaving fields fallow for a year every seven years.[18][19]

The Mosaic code has provisions concerning the conservation of natural resources, such as trees (Deuteronomy 20:19-20) and birds (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).


Leviticus 11:20-23 describes locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets as walking on all fours. Although the specific references in this passage indicate that insects were the creatures under consideration, the Hebrew word `owph here translated "winged" or "flying" is the same word used six times in the creation story (Genesis 1:20-30) and used twelve times in the Genesis account of the flood[20] to refer to birds. In the KJV and ASV, the word is translated "birds" or "fowls" in all of these places.[21] The KJV, in fact, uses "fowls" to open the Leviticus passage cited above: "All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you."

Deuteronomy 14:7 also described hares and rock badger as cud-chewers. While they have no compartmentalized stomachs that the modern definition of ruminants includes in order to be determined cud-chewers, the close relation to rumination is apparent in many English translations of the Bible, which use the word cud in an expanded sense to indicate food that is re-chewed through the coprophagy process used by lagomorphs.[22][23]

Proverbs 6:6-8 described the ant as an industrious creature, "which having no chief, overseer, or ruler provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in harvest." Although ants are labeled as queens, workers, soldiers, and drones, biologist Deborah Gordon points out there is no authority in the queen as she does not oversee the workers.[24] She also states that "no ant is able to assess the global needs of the colony, or to count how many workers are engaged in each task and decide how many should be allocated differently".[24]

There have been comparisons between the Bible, with passages such as from the Genesis creation story, with concepts based on evolutionary theory.[25][26]

Bible Evolutionary biology
Grass, land plants, trees Created before the sun Evolved after the sun
First forms of life Land plants Marine organisms
Birds Created before land animals Evolved from land animals
Fruit Trees Created before fish Evolved after fish
First Human Created from dirt Evolved; higher apes and Homo sapiens share a common ancestor

Relationship between religion and science

The relationship between religion and science has been a focus of the demarcation problem, which in philosophy attempts to draw the line between science and nonscience.[27] Some scholars, like Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, argue that the two are interconnected. Others like Stephen Jay Gould and the National Academy of Sciences take the view that each occupy a separate nonoverlapping magisterium.[28][29]

According to this view, statements about the physical world made by science and religion rely on different methodologies. Science relies on the scientific method as a body of techniques used for investigating natural phenomena. To be termed scientific, a claim must be based on observable, empirical, and measurable evidence, which is subject to systematic principles of reasoning.[30][31]

Skeptics argue that the various biblical statements are at odds with scientific knowledge, particularly with regard to its claims regarding the origin of the cosmos, astronomy, and biological evolution. The "Conflict thesis" is the argument that religion and science are at constant warfare with one another. This is exemplified by such examples as the persecution of Galileo Galilei, the public debate between T. H. Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, the John Scopes trial, and the current controversy between the teaching of evolution and creationism.[32]

The Bible is the central religious text of Judaism and Christianity. Modern Judaism generally recognizes a single set of canonical books known as the Hebrew Bible.[33] Christians, including Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, all have the same books in the New Testament and the same books in the Old Testament.[34] The Bible, as an ancient collection of Jewish and Christian books, originated from the Bronze age Levant, located within the Eastern Mediterranean. It is believed the Old Testament was composed and compiled between the 12th and the 2nd century BC.[35] The New Testament were written by various authors after c. AD 45, in Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Although the books predate the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, some believe that the Bible foresaw ideas which would later be verified by modern science. The following parts of various biblical texts are notations and records regarding aspects of the science and technology of the respective times of the various texts. The Bible relies on Biblical inspiration, which is a doctrine in Christian theology concerned with the divine origin of the Bible and what the Bible teaches. More scholarly is Biblical criticism, which asks when and where a particular text originated; how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced; what influences were at work in its production; what sources were used in its composition and the message it was intended to convey. Such criticism addresses meanings of the words and the way in which they are used. Biblical criticism draws upon a wide range of scholarly disciplines, including archaeology, linguistics, and oral tradition studies.

The fields of science are widely-recognized categories of specialized expertise within science, and typically embody their own terminology and nomenclature. Each field will commonly be represented by one or more scientific journal, where peer reviewed research will be published.

See also

Further reading


General information
  1. ^ Aleff, H. Peter. "Ancient Creation Stories told by the Numbers: Solomon's Pi". Retrieved 2007-10-30.  
  2. ^ O'Connor, J J; E F Robertson (2001-08). "A history of Pi". Retrieved 2007-10-30.  
  3. ^ Kurtz, J. H., and T. D. Simonton. The Bible and Astronomy; An Exposition of the Biblical Cosmology, and Its Relations to Natural Science. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1857.
  4. ^ Driscoll, J.F. (1909). "Firmament". In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 26 May 2008 from New Advent. ("That the Hebrews entertained similar ideas appears from numerous biblical passages...").
  5. ^ Ferngren, Larson, Amundsen (Editors). "Encyclopedia of the History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition", Garland Publishing Inc, US (29 Jun 2000), p. 246-247. ISBN 0815316569
  6. ^ Brodrick (1965, c1964, p.95) quoting Cardinal Bellarmine's letter to Foscarini, dated 12 April 1615. Translated from Favaro(1902, 12:171–172) (Italian).
  7. ^ Strong's Concordance (1890). "Dictionary and Word Search for raqiya` (Strong's 07549)". Blue Letter Bible 1996-2008. Retrieved 26 May 2008. ("considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting 'waters' above")
  8. ^ Jewish Encyclopaedia (1901-1906). "Cosmogony". Retrieved 26 May 2008. ("The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.")
  9. ^ a b c Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God (Volume I) "Errors in matters of Science" Philadelphia: The Judson Press (1907), pg. 223
  10. ^ For a description of Near Eastern and other ancient cosmologies and their connections with the Biblical view of the Universe, see Paul H. Seeley, "The Firmament and the Water Above: The Meaning of Raqia in Genesis 1:6-8", Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991), and "The Geographical Meaning of 'Earth' and 'Seas' in Genesis 1:10", Westminster Theological Journal 59 (1997)
  11. ^ Kline, Monte, Clinical Nutritionist. "The Dietary Law". Better Health Update #29 (2005). Accessed 26 May 2008.
  12. ^ Wise, David. The first book of public hygiene. Creation 26(1):52–55, December 2003. Accessed 26 May 2008.
  13. ^ Allen, Bruce. "4 Reasons Why You Should Read the Bible". Faith-Friends (2003). Reprinted, Accessed 19 February 2004
  14. ^ Gray, Harold Farnsworth. "Sewerage in Ancient and Medieval Times". Sewage Works Journal, Volume 12, No. 5 (Sept. 1940), pp. 939 - 946. As reprinted on Sewage Works Journal
  15. ^ Susan J. Bartlett, Ralph Piedmont, Andrew Bilderback, Alan K. Matsumoto, Joan M. Bathon (2003). "Spirituality, well-being, and quality of life in people with rheumatoid arthritis". Arthritis Care & Research (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Loyola College of Maryland, Baltimore: American College of Rheumatology) 49 (6): 778–783. doi:10.1002/art.11456.   ("By viewing their illness in a positive context, having hope and optimism about the future, flexible life goals, and a supportive social network, spiritual individuals may be more resilient to the host of challenges imposed by chronic illness. As noted long ago in the Old Testament, A merry heart doeth good like medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17:22).")
  16. ^ Andrews, D.J., A.H. Kassam. 1976. The importance of multiple cropping in increasing world food supplies. pp. 1-10 in R.I. Papendick, A. Sanchez, G.B. Triplett (Eds.), Multiple Cropping. ASA Special Publication 27. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.
  17. ^ The Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Dec., 1982), pp. 901-916 (JSTOR Subscription required)
  18. ^ Straczynska S. "The effects of leaving fields fallow upon selected fertility elements in soil", Acta Agrophysica (2001) 6:52, pp. 265-270
  19. ^ Hillel, Daniel. The Natural History of the Bible: An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Page 154 (cf., "[...] injunctions to fallow the land every seven years [...]")
  20. ^ Gen 6:7,20;7:3,8,14,21,23;8:17,19,20;9:2,10
  21. ^ Strong's Concordance, s.v. "`owph".
  22. ^ Brand, Leonard R. (1977). "Do Rabbits Chew the Cud?". Origins 4 (2): 102–104. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  
  23. ^ "Are Rabbits Erroneously Called Ruminants in the Bible?". Bible Study Manuals. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  
  24. ^ a b Gordon, Deborah. "Ants At Work: How An Insect Society Is Organized", Free Press (October 6, 1999), pg. 118. ISBN 0684857332. ("...the queen is not an authority figure. She lays eggs and is fed and cared for by the workers. She does not decide which worker does what.")
  25. ^ Mackenzie, Harriot. Evolution Illuminating the Bible. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Kent, & co., limited; [etc., etc.], 1891.
  26. ^ Orr, James. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia. Chicago: The Howard-Severance Co, 1915. "Evolution", Page 1043 -1049.
  27. ^ Ruse, Michael (2007). Philosophy of Biology. New York: Prometheus Books.
  28. ^ Gould, S. J. (1997). "Nonoverlapping magisteria." Natural History 106 (March): 16-22.
  29. ^ NAS Committee on Science and Creationism (1984). Science and creationism: a view from the National Academy of Sciences. National Academy Press.
  30. ^ Newton, Isaac (1687). "Rules for the study of natural philosophy." From the The System of the World, book 3 in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, pp. 794-796.
  31. ^ "Scientific method." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved on 2009-7-8. "A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."
  32. ^ Dawkins, Richard (1998). "When Religion Steps on Science's Turf." Free Inquiry 18 (2): 18-19.
  33. ^ This book comprises three parts: the Torah ("Teaching", also known as the Pentateuch or "Five Books of Moses"), the Prophets, and the Writings. In Christian religions, the Tanakh is known as the Old Testament.
  34. ^ The only difference are the apocrypha, which are contained in the Greek Old Testament. Eastern Orthodox Churches use all of the books that were incorporated into the Septuagint, to which they add the earliest Greek translation of the Deuterocanonicals.
  35. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Written almost entirely in the Hebrew language between 1200 and 100 BC"; Columbia Encyclopedia: "In the 10th century BC the first of a series of editors collected materials from earlier traditional folkloric and historical records (i.e., both oral and written sources) to compose a narrative of the history of the Israelites who now found themselves united under David and Solomon."

Further reading



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