The Bible also says the Earth is flat and is orbited by the sun. Next?


I am so sad that Ken Ham blocked me on Twitter — I miss out on the most hilarious crapola from one of the more cracked brains on the internet, and must rely on the kindness of strangers to relay his tirades to me. The latest thing to pop his wig: The Pope. How dare the Catholic church dismiss his literalist interpretation of the Bible? NOT TRUE CHRISTIANS. SAD.

Of course, this is not news. Historically, American protestants have been hatefully anti-Catholic, in part prodded by the nativist bigotry that was stirred up by immigration from Ireland and those Mediterranean countries. It’s not surprising that an Australian protestant shares the same views.

However, I do appreciate that Ken Ham admits this:



If Pope said ‘Big Bang is real’–then Pope’s wrong. Bible states earth came before sun–not other way round

Remember that next time you get in an argument with a literalist. I don’t care much for either popery or the lutherite heresy, but at least one side isn’t demanding that we ignore physics and astronomy.

(h/t Caine)

Comments

  1. thirdmill says

    I’m a retired trial attorney. Years ago, I tried a death penalty case in Mississippi. When we were interviewing prospective jurors they were asked their views on the death penalty. One woman said she was for it because the Bible was for it. When I then asked a follow up question: The Bible commands the death penalty for those who work on the Sabbath; do you support that? — she was quiet for a minute and then said, “Well, if the Bible says that, then I guess I have to be for it.”

    I simply do not understand that mindset. Is there literally nothing so absurd, so outlandish, so outrageous, that biblicists won’t fall in line if that’s what the Bible says?

    My neighbor is the same way on gay issues. He has gay friends, a gay brother, and seemingly is comfortable hanging out with gay people, and has gay co-workers whom he speaks highly of, but he thinks homosexuality should be illegal and gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry because it’s in the Bible. He candidly told me once over coffee that he would be just fine with homosexuality except for the Bible. Maybe, in some future century, such thinking will be at an end.

  2. says

    thirdmill@#1:
    Is there literally nothing so absurd, so outlandish, so outrageous, that biblicists won’t fall in line if that’s what the Bible says?

    I always like to ask “which bible”?
    Out here in Clearfield Country, Pennsylvania, the courthouse sports the Cecil B. DeMille version of the 10 commandments. You know, like in the bible? The version with Charlton Heston? Most biblicists don’t even read the damn thing.

  3. davidc1 says

    thirdmill@1
    You should have asked her what her clothes were made from ,or if she had eaten shellfish .
    I thought the first line in the bible was “Let there be light “,that must refer to the sun rather than the Earth .
    Nowt as queer as folks as we say over in GB .

  4. alkisvonidas says

    The Bible also says the Earth is flat and is orbited by the sun.

    Oh, really? Where, exactly, does it say that?

    What it does say is that the Sun stood still/went backwards for a while, which people like Luther assumed to mean the Sun moves and the Earth stands still, because that was obviously how things are. So what? We still say the Sun rises and sets without being geocentrists.

    Dante knew the Earth was round in the 1300s, which wasn’t even controversial. It’s the Biblical literalists who are totally detached from reality AND their religion’s historical tradition.

  5. says

    davidc1@#3:
    I knew someone who had tattoos and was a philanderer, who said that gays should be put to death just like in the bible. No kidding the scene in Life of Brian – “stone the next man who says Jehovah!” it’s practically a documentary.

  6. says

    I still think that Ham jumped on this with gratitude, to take attention away from the Great Ark Failure. Nothing like getting that whole Catholic/Protestant feud fired up again!

  7. Dunc says

    I thought the first line in the bible was “Let there be light “,that must refer to the sun rather than the Earth.

    No, it’s “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God says “Let the be light” in Gen1:3, but doesn’t create the sun, moon, and stars until Gen1:16.

  8. alkisvonidas says

    @ Dunc

    God says “Let the be light” in Gen1:3, but doesn’t create the sun, moon, and stars until Gen1:16.

    Well, duh! God first declared the Sun, and then made an instance!

  9. blf says

    Neither Ken “piglet rapist” Ham nor Bishop “child rapist” of Rome mentioned the critical role played by a egg and cress sandwich (with no mayo).

  10. kosk11348 says

    So what? We still say the Sun rises and sets without being geocentrists.

    We still say that because of convention, but the terms originate from a miscomprehension. Sure, we know better now, but we didn’t always. We aren’t geocentrists, but the people alive at the time the Old Testament was written were.

    And just Google “flat earth bible” if you want to read up about the multiple references to a flat Earth contained in the bible. It’s consistent with the views held in that part of the world at the time that part of the bible was written.

  11. Holms says

    #4
    Hell, the Phoenicians knew it was round; that knowledge predates even classical Greece.

  12. alkisvonidas says

    kosk11348

    And just Google “flat earth bible” if you want to read up about the multiple references to a flat Earth contained in the bible. It’s consistent with the views held in that part of the world at the time that part of the bible was written.

    But it is NOT consistent with the views of educated early Christian writers, and those people did NOT see a conflict between their empirical knowledge and the idea that the Bible was divinely inspired. They just took the view that not every single sentence in the Bible* was literally true, or even intended as such, which was an entirely natural conclusion, given that the Bible was not The Manual To Everything.

    One common argument (though by no means universal among early Church Fathers), goes like this: “does this passage pertain to salvation, the nature of God, or matters of worship? If not, then we’re not required to take it at face value”. In other words, people could be saved just as well on a flat Earth, as on a spherical one.

    *I cringe every time I speak of “the Bible”, because frankly it’s like calling the Library of Alexandria “a book”. But referring to “the Old Testament” is not inclusive enough sometimes.

  13. alkisvonidas says

    To clarify: the view taken by many Christians over the centuries was one of divinely inspired scripture, as opposed to biblical literalism: i.e., scripture was written by fallible human authors (obviously) who had received limited revelations from God (purportedly). This way, one can easily explain why the author of Joshua, e.g., describes the Sun and Moon standing still (that is what they would have SEEN, and that is what they and their intended audience would believe happened), without actually denying the possibility of God working a miracle (stopping the Earth, or making it seem like the Sun/Moon stopped). We’re only told what we need to know.

    In case it needs to be said: I don’t subscribe to either of these views.

  14. David Marjanović says

    But it is NOT consistent with the views of educated early Christian writers

    It is consistent with the views of early Christian writers, who weren’t educated outside of scripture. That’s why several books of the New Testament freely quote the Book of Enoch as an authority, which was later declared apocryphal and quietly dropped from the canon except in Ethiopia. That book describes a flat-Earth universe in unmistakable detail.

    I agree that Augustine of Hippo, for example, didn’t believe the Earth was flat.

  15. quarky2 says

    Just wondering: if the bible is really the word of god, why didn’t Jesus write it?

  16. Firestarter says

    If you want to see his nonsense on Twitter, can’t you just pop twitter open in an inprivate tab? I would certainly understand if you didn’t want to take that step or whatever, but I don’t think it’s true that you “can’t” see his posts.

  17. Robert Webster says

    #4, #12
    Eratosthenes actually calculated the circumference of the earth and the distance to the sun and moon pretty accurately circa 250 BC or so (not sure the exact dates).

  18. robro says

    American protestants have been hatefully anti-Catholic, in part prodded by the nativist bigotry that was stirred up by immigration from Ireland and those Mediterranean countries. It’s not surprising that an Australian protestant shares the same views.

    American anti-Catholic sentiment is a direct result of English anti-Catholic sentiment. English intolerance of Catholics lead the Catholic peers George Calvert and his son Cecil (Baron Baltimore 1st & 2nd) to use their money and political clout to establish the colony of Maryland as a refuge for English Catholics (probably not so much for the Irish).

    While the Calvert’s were the Barons of Baltimore Manor in Ireland (Baile an Tí Mhóir), they were from England and probably had little direct involvement with Ireland except to get money.

    The intolerance of the Irish in the 19th century may have had as much to do with their Irish-ness as their Catholicism. I recently read a piece, in fact a sermon by a black preacher, who said that when the Irish first began arriving here in large numbers, they weren’t consider white, and certainly not proper “white” people. I don’t know if that claim is supported by evidence. I did ride with lory drive in the north of England who talked about the Irish in the same racist terms I was familiar with for blacks: their lazy, they come here (England) to live on the dole, and they have babies to get more money.

  19. tacitus says

    Catholics have their own problems with Biblical literalists. A growing number of them believe in “geocentrism” — i.e. that the Earth is stationary at the center of the Universe and that everything — the entire Universe — revolves around it.

    http://www.catholicconvert.com/blog/2014/07/18/prepare-for-the-fringe-geocentric-people-catholics-claiming-the-earth-is-the-motionless-center-of-the-universe/

    Not quite as crazy as flat-earthers or young earth creationists, but they employ many of the same deceptive techniques, including interviewing astronomers and physicists without telling them they will be featured in their anti-science propaganda movies:

    http://www.popsci.com/article/science/how-conspiracy-theorist-duped-worlds-biggest-physicists

  20. Larry says

    Not quite as crazy as flat-earthers or young earth creationists

    No, it’s equally as crazy.

  21. consciousness razor says

    It does make me feel a little better, that I was never one of these “true Christians” Ken Ham talks about…. But I guess that sounds too good to be true.

    Remember that next time you get in an argument with a literalist. I don’t care much for either popery or the lutherite heresy, but at least one side isn’t demanding that we ignore physics and astronomy.

    That’s going way too far. RCC doctrine doesn’t officially demand that, when it comes to a few specific facts in physics and various other fields, while certain other denominations do happen to make those specific demands about those specific facts. But more generally, Catholics do of course make such demands.

    Mostly it just boils down to which style of pointy hat their leaders may or may not wear. Or more seriously, it’s whatever your family’s ancestry and history happens to be, as far back as you care to go. If you were raised as a Catholic like me, that’s basically the only reason, while another person in another denomination (or a different religion altogether) happens to have some arbitrarily different family history which led to that.

    But to get back to the point, even when the subject is Big Bang cosmology, Catholics feel like jamming in a creator god somewhere like any other goddist would, they’ll get themselves puzzled about all sorts of fine-tuning questions that may have no empirical or rational justification, appeal to crusty old theologians like Aquinas, and so on. The RCC view is certainly not that we should pay close attention to the physics (or whatever science it may be) and work with that as the best explanation we have about the world we live in. One of their strategies may be to make you feel comfortable, like Catholicism still belongs in the modern world, like you can still believe/practice it given everything we know now…. But that’s bullshit. If they want to make that case, I guess they can try, but I don’t think there’s going to be any reason to take it seriously.

  22. consciousness razor says

    One of their strategies may be to make you feel comfortable, like Catholicism still belongs in the modern world, like you can still believe/practice it given everything we know now…. But that’s bullshit.

    To be clear, the Ken Hams of the world just have a somewhat different strategy. You have to resist the modern world (or even the whole physical world) and everything that comes with it, because that’s bad. They’re apparently a bit less interested in finding ways of reconciling their religion with it, or in trying to reassure you (or confuse you, as the case may be) about having beliefs which seem very clearly to be in conflict with it. They see the conflict, they want the conflict, and they’re not very shy about it. They’re really trying to wage a war here, one which they presumably expect to win. Or even if he knows it’s not going to work out ultimately, maybe Ham just wants to go down fighting, or he hopes to win a few minor battles along the way, so he’ll be remembered as a “great” general. I really don’t know what the fuck is going on in his head, but whatever that may be, it’s something very different from what seems to be going on in the pope’s (for example).

  23. aziraphale says

    #18
    I think Eratosthenes got the distance to the Sun quite wrong – about 3 million miles instead of 93 million – because his method required judging when the Moon was exactly half full, which is quite hard to do with the naked eye.

  24. bobmunck says

    No, it’s “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God says “Let the be light” in Gen1:3, but doesn’t create the sun, moon, and stars until Gen1:16.

    Another piece of evidence that Yoda God is.

  25. davidc1 says

    Marcus Ranum@5 H,i the most amusing tattoo i have seen on the interweb is the guy who had leviticus 19;28 on his arm ,the verse that forbids tattoos .
    Dune @7 Does it matter ?.

  26. rietpluim says

    Frankly, I couldn’t tell what is worse: “It’s in the Bible so it must be true” or “It’s in the Bible but contradicts my belief so it must not be taken literally”.

  27. Ed Seedhouse says

    aziraphale@24 “I think Eratosthenes got the distance to the Sun quite wrong – about 3 million miles instead of 93 million – because his method required judging when the Moon was exactly half full, which is quite hard to do with the naked eye.”

    That’s just silly. Given the tools at hand in his day his solar distance measurement was amazingly, astoundingly good. I mean three million miles out is less than 5% off, all done with the naked eye and not even an astrolabe which wasn’t available until 200 B.C.

    You try to do as well using the same tools!

  28. Ed Seedhouse says

    My experience, having grown up Anglican, which is sort of Catholicism light, was that the bible was hardly taught and even then only in selected snippets. In my 20’s, after becoming an atheist, I actually read the thing from cover to cover, just for self education about a book that influenced western civilization so much. I remember thinking that much of the first parts were about a bunch of migrating hunter gatherers living in tents. Later, or course, I found out that much of it was cribbed from preexisting Babylonian texts.

    Definitely when I read it the impression was that the Earth was conceived as a flat plain under a solid dome, supported by pillars that the “four corners” of the Earth.

    Catholicism, to try to be fair, is a vast and varied landscape with many sub-sects contained within it, much like Mahayana Buddhism. Except that the latter seems to me to have a better intellectual foundation.

  29. Rob Grigjanis says

    aziraphale @24:

    his method required judging when the Moon was exactly half full

    I think that was Aristarchus, not Eratosthenes. Whether E got it right depends on which translation you believe.

    Someone, I forget who, got a pretty good value by assuming that Venus is the same size as Earth for vaguely theological reasons. Thoroughly unjustified, but happens to be roughly right.

  30. gijoel says

    I think that’s what always gets me about ultra Catholics like Cory Bernadi and Tony Abbott. Not that long ago they were on the sharp end of the stick. Yet they act like entitled idiots with no awareness of the past.

  31. robro says

    gijoel — Catholics have been at both ends of the stick for ages. As soon as Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD, the Christians, who had a tradition of being persecuted and martyred, began to persecute other sects.

  32. jrkrideau says

    Ken Ham on Wednesday went on a tirade against Pope Francis, whom he accused of not believing the Bible as literal truth.

    Duh, he’s finally noticing? The Catholic Church has never been totally dogmatic about a literal interpretation of the Bible.

    @13 alkisvonidas

    Well put.

  33. jrkrideau says

    @19 robro

    In his book An Irish History of Civilization Don Akenson points out that many Irish emigrants chose to go to British North America as the prejudice against them there was much less than it was in the USA.

  34. some bastard on the internet says

    I don’t care much for either popery or the lutherite heresy, but at least one side isn’t currently demanding that we ignore physics and astronomy.

    FTFY.

  35. Pierce R. Butler says

    robro @ # 19: I recently read a piece, in fact a sermon by a black preacher, who said that when the Irish first began arriving here in large numbers, they weren’t consider white, and certainly not proper “white” people.

    Recommended reading on that: How the Irish Became White, by Noel Ignatiev (1995). Quite embarrassing, for those of us who identify as Hibernian-Americans.

  36. Ed Seedhouse says

    So actually it was Aristarchus of Samos who made the first estimate of the Sun’s distance, using estimates of the Earth-Moon distance by Hipparchus, who in turn used Eratosthenes’ calculation of the Earth’s diameter, which was pretty darned good. Aristarchus’ estimate was about 5 million miles, so only about 5% of the true distance.

    The measurement of the Solar distance is not easy even using telecopes, because the sun’s light drowns out the view of nearby stars (nearby in angular terms, far away in actual distance) making a direct measure of parallax pretty well impossible.

    Huygens provided the first good estimate, but he made an unjustified assumption that Venus was about the same size as Earth. “Unjustified” because he had no actual evidence of Venus’ size. He got lucky and his assumption turned out to be pretty well right.

    Amazing how erudite a little intenet research can make on seem…

  37. chrislawson says

    jkrideau@13 — yes the RCC has been literalist in the past. Remember when they placed Galileo under house arrest for promoting heliocentric?

  38. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ed @37:

    Aristarchus of Samos who made the first estimate of the Sun’s distance, using estimates of the Earth-Moon distance by Hipparchus

    Neat trick, since H was born 40 years after A died.

  39. Ichthyic says

    Dante knew the Earth was round in the 1300s, which wasn’t even controversial. It’s the Biblical literalists who are totally detached from reality AND their religion’s historical tradition.

    which one of the one hundred thousand plus sects of the various abrahamic religions are YOU detached from?

    seriously, I have to laugh at the idiocy of your argument.

  40. Ichthyic says

    Dante knew the Earth was round in the 1300s

    your implication being he would have garnered that from his religious tradition. which would be wrong.

    stop this game, you are bad at it.

  41. rietpluim says

    Frankly, I don’t think the Pope fully understands inflation theory. The Church accepts the Big Bang because they think it leaves room for some metaphysical “before” the Big Bang, which allows for a God who caused the Big Bang.

  42. zetopan says

    “but at least one side isn’t demanding that we ignore physics and astronomy”

    Which religious “side” is that? The Catholic church still peddles the Adam and Eve nonsense, belief in demons, angles and “miracles”. Even physics disavows the possibility of demons, angles, and miracles. See Sean Carroll’s essay on quantum field theory excluding magic, obviously including the religious variety. Sacred superstition is still just superstition painted differently to make it more palatable to the sufficiently credulous.
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/02/18/telekinesis-and-quantum-field-theory/

  43. robro says

    Pierce @ # 36 — Thanks for the reference. In fact, that title is familiar and the writer may have referenced that book.

  44. alkisvonidas says

    @Ichthyic:

    your implication being he would have garnered that from his religious tradition. which would be wrong.

    Yes, that would be wrong. No, I didn’t imply that. He knew the Earth was round from the same natural evidence the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians knew it was round. And he remained a Catholic, which means he saw no contradiction between his faith and his factual knowledge. THAT was my implication.

    Dante knew the Earth was round. Columbus knew the Earth was round, and his opponents knew it too. The idea that the late medieval Europeans believed in a flat Earth is a relatively recent myth.

    stop this game, you are bad at it

    And what game would that be?

    seriously, I have to laugh at the idiocy of your argument

    When you’re done laughing, perhaps take some time to actually understand what my argument is.

  45. alkisvonidas says

    #38.

    yes the RCC has been literalist in the past. Remember when they placed Galileo under house arrest for promoting heliocentric?

    Things are more complicated than that. To begin with, the RCC is not actually bound by scripture; quite the opposite: they can make new dogma (or at least interpret existing ones). In fact, the Catholic/Orthodox Church has *formulated* the Bible Canon, deciding which books are to be considered canonical and which apocryphal. It was precisely this authority and power of interpretation that was questioned by the Protestants and resulted in the schism with Catholicism.

    As for Galileo: he had promoted heliocentrism and published his “Dialogues” for quite some time, before his views were considered heretical and his books entered the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. He was required to present heliocentrism as “only a theory” (sound familiar?), but he was not prohibited to discuss it. What actually happened was that he finally pissed off enough Aristotelean professors and made enough powerful enemies to get him in trouble with the Church; the Pope, with whom he had actually been in friendly terms in his early life, was convinced by his enemies that the character of Simplicio in Galileo’s dialogues was a satire of him; after that, it was a simple matter to formulate the accusations that would silence an annoying rival.

    In other words, the scripture was used as a pretext by the RCC in defense of a predetermined conclusion; “it’s common sense, and in any case it’s in the Bible” would make for a compelling argument by the Inquisition — especially since *they* were allowed to interpret scripture, while Galileo was *not*.

  46. says

    @13:

    They just took the view that not every single sentence in the Bible* was literally true, or even intended as such, which was an entirely natural conclusion, given that the Bible was not The Manual To Everything.

    Okay, but Ken Ham does believe that every single sentence in the Bible is literally true, and is intended as such, and is in fact The Manual To Everything (or something like that). That’s why he’s a YEC. That’s also why he thinks Noah’s Ark literally happened, and built a goddamned theme park around it, despite the story’s numerous impossibilities and contradictions. In his view, and that of millions of other people, their entire religion collapses if Bible turns out not to be word-for-word true and reliable.

    Now of course you can always apply some interpretation to explain that when the Bible refers to the “four corners of the Earth”, or refers to being able to see the entire Earth from the top of a tree, or makes reference to the “circle of the Earth”, it actually means something other than what it says. But doing so makes a mockery of Biblical literalism, in which the “plain words” of the Bible are regarded as perfectly true as written (in the King’s English no less) and require no further interpretation or outside source to understand.

    In other words, Ken Ham and his ilk are completely full of shit — unwilling to accept that the Bible clearly can’t be literally true, but unwilling to accept the implications of taking it all literally. So they cheat, taking some parts literally and engaging in creative interpretation when taking it literally would be too preposterous even for them.

  47. alkisvonidas says

    @Area Man, #50:

    We’re not in disagreement. Indeed biblical literalism is silly, and totally indefensible. I’m just pointing out that it’s not the original position of the Church, with RCC allegorical interpretations being a recent weaseling-out. Allegorical interpretations of the Bible were claimed from the very start, both by Judaists and by Christians, although there *was* enormous disagreement on which passages were allegorical, and what the allegory was.

    It’s also not difficult to see why biblical literalism took root within Protestantism: Protestants wanted to break free from the RCC authority, and restore what they thought was the original church doctrine and social structure. They wanted to do away with the distortions introduced by RCC interpretations, and the only unambiguous way to do it was to deny all interpretation and take everything literally. Of course, there was the little problem that they had to work with the biblical canon preserved by the very same RCC, which is hardly the unadulterated hotline to God they took it to be. There is also the issue that the Bible, taken literally, contains enough sheer nonsense to embarrass literalists in the 16th century, almost as effectively as in the 21st.

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