Sunday, 27 April 2008
New Scientist Uses Theological Arguments in Trying to Disprove the Bible
New Scientist has created its own myth about Genesis 1 and 2. Illustration from AIG's Creation Museum
New Scientist is a popular weekly science magazine. Recently, its web version included a special section on 24 usual evolution myths. Some of the arguments follow an old Darwinian pattern, resorting to theological arguments. From Darwin to Dawkins, evolutionists have either explicitly or implicitly claimed that since God could not possibly have created being x with the trait y, evolution has to be responsible for trait y. New Scientist uses a slightly different version of this argument.
One of New Scientist’s arguments deals with alleged biblical discrepancies. Writer Michael Le Page claims that the Bible is full of scientific and even mathematical mistakes. Unfortunately, some of his examples border on the absurd. For instance, he quotes the part of 1 Chronicles 3:22 that says “The sons of Shemaiah: Huttush, Igal, Bariah, and Shaphat, six.” He omits the beginning of verse: “The descendants of Shecaniah. Shemaiah and his sons.” One father and five sons are usually six even by today’s mathematics.
Page also claims that the Bible says the Earth is flat. In reality, verses such as Isaiah 40:21-22 speak about the circle of the earth.
He also says that there are two conflicting creation accounts in the two first chapters of Genesis. In chapter one, the animals are created before man, whereas in chapter two, man is made before the animals. In addition, according to Genesis one, plants are made before man. In Genesis two man is already in existence when God creates the plants.
While these might sound like discrepancies, there is no actual conflict. Genesis one describes the creation of the universe from the earth’s perspective. Chapter two relates the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The New International Version (NIV), for instance takes into account the Hebrew background of the text and translates verse 19 with the perfect tense: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.” God had thus already created the animals; He only now brings them to Adam. The presence of plants can be best explained in the same way. Thus, there is no real discrepancy.
Genesis uses a literary device often employed in the Bible: First the author presents an overview and afterwards gives the details. This can be seen throughout the Bible. Genesis 1-11 describes mankind in general, whereas from chapter 12 onwards, the author follows the history of one nation –Abraham and his descendants.
It is thus counterproductive to use theological arguments to argue against the Bible, especially if one is not familiar with the original Hebrew language, culture and literary devices used in Scripture.
Le Page, MIchael. 2008. Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions.NewScientist.com news service. 16 April 2008. http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn13620?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn13620