Ray Comfort has a blog, and one of his entries claims that the Bible is a science text, and that it is better than science. His style of argument is to first list a “fact” from the Bible (usually something that is completely open to interpretation, and he chooses to interpret it as being in conformity with modern science); then he mentions a corresponding fact derived from modern science, that always agrees with the Bible; then he lists something from “science then,” which is dead wrong.
It’s so clueless it hurts to read it.
First fundamental error: science isn’t a loose collection of facts, but a process for finding errors and testing new ideas. If you find places where science has changed our ideas about the world, that is a case of science working as it should — it is not a reason to reject it.
Second fundamental error: what the heck is “science then”? When? Where are the references to “science”? What we now think of as the formal process of science didn’t really get rolling until the 17th century, you couldn’t really call anyone a professional practitioner of science until probably the 18th, the term “scientist” wasn’t even coined until the 19th, and there never has been nor will there ever be a central authority of science that one can cite as the formal source of specific pronouncements.
Third fundamental error: he’s cherry-picking like a madman. He cites a mere dozen entries where he thinks the Bible can be confirmed as correct (pathetic as that is), and he ignores bits like biblical genetics. He cites the Bible as being the source of information on medical hygiene; if that’s the case, why were the good Christian doctors prior to the 19th century so surprised at the idea of sterile technique and using soap and carbolic acid?
Here’s a brief sample of the lunacy of Comfort — I’m not going to go through the whole silly thing.
1. THE BIBLE: The earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22). SCIENCE NOW: The earth is a sphere. SCIENCE THEN: The earth was a flat disk.
Really? I would first ask where the Bible plainly says the earth is a sphere. The verse cited looks like this (don’t be dismayed by the intense level of technical detail):
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
A circle is not a sphere, although translation issues do raise their ugly heads here. There are also references in Numbers, Ezekiel, and Isaiah to the “corners” of the earth — which would mean Comfort would be crowing if satellites had gone up and shown the earth to be a big cube.
Now show me a scientific reference claiming that the earth is a flat disk. The ancient Greeks figured out that the earth was a sphere, long before the Bible was compiled; a bunch of smart, disciplined philosophers is as close as you’re going to get to a “science then”, and they weren’t saying what Comfort claims at all.
2. THE BIBLE: Incalculable number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22). SCIENCE NOW: Incalculable number of stars. SCIENCE THEN: Only 1,100 stars.
Wait: a passage in the Bible that says “I can’t count that high” is now considered a scientific datum? Here’s Jeremiah:
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.
Uh, “host of heaven” refers to the angels, not the stars. This is metaphor and poetry; this is god saying that David will have lots of kids, as many as there are angels in heaven. If Comfort wants to pretend this is an assessment of the number of stars in the sky, then fine: David had fewer than 1100 children, so the Bible is wrong. Even if you count all of David’s descendants, that has an upper bound of a few billion, and so is still wrong.
The number 1100 comes from Ptolemy, who cataloged the visible stars, at a time before telescopes. I think I prefer the estimate of a guy who sat down and actually tried to count what he could see over that of some priestly writer trying to flatter the fecundity of his king with an excessive metaphor.
Besides, Comfort’s claim for “science now” is also wrong. We have calculated the number of stars: 1022-1024 stars. Now if God had said, “David, you’re going to have as many kids as there are stars in the universe, which I happen to know is 110338764987014250551004,” then maybe he’d have a case. Although then we could probably charge god with lying to David.
I leave the rest as an exercise for the reader. I’m sorry, but they don’t get any smarter than those first two.