TESTING THE BIBLE SCIENTIFICALLY
To many people the Bible is just a book of mythology; a nice collection of stories useful for moral teaching. In a world where science is revered as the arbiter of truth the Bible’s claims can seem unbelievable. How could someone believe in a book that claims the world was created in seven days? Or that all living creatures were destroyed by forty days of rain? Or that a sea could be parted to allow one million people to walk through on dry land, before returning to wash away a pursuing army of Egyptians? To those who have learned about the history of the world from scientists and statisticians, the Bible’s stories may appear more like myth than reality.
But what happens when we take these seemingly fantastic stories and claims made by the Bible and analyze them by the very science they appear to contradict? We will consider the scenario the Bible describes before, during and after the alleged Flood event, and examine from a scientific perspective the credibility of the details of the Biblical account.
Problems with the Biblical Account of the Flood
How can rainfall put the whole earth under water?
The Biblical account of creation claims:
Figure 1a reflects this description: a shell of water fully encircling the Earth. The Biblical description of the “water above” cannot be explained as the clouds because the sky is described as the divide between the two layers of water. The “water above” needs to be a shell above the expanse of the sky. How much water was in this shell? That cannot be known. Therefore we arbitrarily split the known quantity of the world’s water into two, and suppose half above the divide, and half beneath. Half of the Earth’s current water supply suspended at the outer edge of the ionosphere (i.e. “top of the sky”) would form a shell of H2O ~ 5 km (3 miles) thick weighing ~ 7x1020 kg.
But other questions remain. If it can be proven that the amount and pressure of the water were enough to Flood the earth and rupture the earth’s crust, how then is the water removed so that the land becomes above water again? It is important to understand that the continents are not fixed at radii from the centre of the Earth, but that the continents exist in more complex relationship with the molten magma beneath them. The collapse of such a water shell from an unstable orbit, as described in the Flood account, would indeed submerge the continents and “break up the foundations of the deep”. But after this dramatic event a new equilibrium would be established on the earth. (Figure 1c) Just as a sponge can be submerged in a bath of water by pouring water on top of it but will rise to its equilibrium floating depth once the pouring stops - without removing the additional water - the earth’s crust would be submerged by the Flood water and then rise to its equilibrium floating depth without the removal of the water that fell from above.
Using our modern understanding of the earth’s structure, we can understand how the Flood story can be very real indeed—the scenario described by the Bible thousands of years ago could have scientifically occurred. What is particularly interesting is that our scientific understanding of the sideline details— for example the body of water required to be present above the Earth and the collapse of that water “breaking up the foundations” of the Earth’s crust—have only become available to us within the last century. Yet evidence of such eventualities has existed within the Bible for much longer (Genesis 1:6-7 & 7:11). It is not possible that the writer of the Genesis account would have understood the scientific principles at work on Earth when recording the Biblical account of the Flood, nevertheless modern science does indeed lend credibility to the Bible’s claims about the Flood.
How could people have lived for an average of 910 years?
Consider Figure 2, which shows the age at which each man named in the Bible living before the Flood bears his first child. Figure 2 shows that each man bore his first child on average one seventh (14%) through his life. This is approximately the same ratio as exists today. Humans are capable of bearing children at about 14% of their total life expectancy (this percentage is typically greatly extended by socio-economic factors in Western civilization). Using a contemporary age of 13 years as the earliest childbearing age, the claimed life spans before the Flood can be calculated to a contemporary equivalent of ~95 years. Thus the great difference between the antediluvian (pre-Flood) lifespan, claimed by the Bible, and today’s lifespan is best expressed in terms of degeneration rate rather than lifespan. Humans aged much more slowly before the Flood than they do today, resulting much longer lives.
Having understood this, we are in a position to approach the second problem surrounding the Biblical account of the Flood: how could humans live for so long? With the model scripture presents (Figure 1) we understand that before the Flood, there was an aqueous layer around the Earth. This necessarily results in a significantly lower radiation density at the Earth’s surface (in certain key parts of the electromagnetic spectrum), and we know that the life span of a cell is inversely proportional to the intensity of critical frequencies of the radiation density to which it is exposed. While even modern science is not sufficiently equipped to attempt quantitative calculations from such a drastically different ecological arrangement, particularly on life forms as complex and macroscopic as humans, we can at least conclude that the effect of dramatically increased radiation density, as would have occurred after the Flood because of the removal of the aqueous shell, would significantly reduce the cellular lifespan through increased degeneration rate and thus logically reduce human life spans.
Once again, even with all the skepticism we can muster about the scriptural record, we must honestly acknowledge that the Bible does indeed describe a dramatic decrease in lifespan (and proportional decrease in child-bearing age) directly after the alleged Flood event. This decrease is exponential with successive generation, and is shown in Figure 3.
Consider Figure 3 carefully. The Biblical record reveals that lifespan before the Flood was stable: man’s lifespan was in equilibrium with his environment. The catastrophic event of the Flood creates a wholly new ecosystem where the degeneration rate, and hence lifespan, of man is fundamentally affected and responds to find a new equilibrium. This is exactly what science predicts should have happened if the aqueous shell of water was removed, does happen! The Bible reports a sharp decrease in lifespan after the Flood event. What is of particular importance is that while the modern scientist would be confident that the collapse of a shell of water around the Earth would result in all of these trends (even if we do not have enough information from either science or from the Bible to approach a quantitative analysis), this was certainly not known at the time the Bible was written.
Why would the laws of science change such that rainbows only appeared after the Flood?
This discovery significantly impacts our understanding of the conditions the Bible describes prior to the Flood. In the antediluvian regime described in Genesis 1 (Figure 1a) aqueous/frozen water particles around the Earth would disrupt the parallel travel of the solar rays. Thus no rainbow would be witnessed even at coincident times of sunshine and rain (Figure 4a). After the Flood however, because of the removal of the aqueous shell, the coincidence of parallel sunlight and rain would necessarily cause the existence of a rainbow, as we witness today (Figure 4b).
What is compelling about this evidence is the chronology of the Bible’s claims compared to scientific discovery. Even if we are to regard the Bible as a cunning hoax, its existence can be dated confidently to the early centuries AD. This book claims that there were no rainbows before the Flood but rainbows were immediately visible afterwards. With the details that the Bible describes of the Flood this is exactly what the modern scientist would anticipate! Yet this scenario, like those in questions 1 and 2, could not have been anticipated prior to the work of Newton!
There is one point more to consider. The Bible not only describes the appearance of the rainbow, but also claims to know the reason for its introduction. God gave the rainbow, claims the Bible, as a guarantee that He would never cause a global Flood on the Earth to destroy everything.
Assessment of the Claims and Facts
Conclusion: It must therefore be a complete coincidence that the Bible, written long before the work of Newton, describes this exact scenario.
Conclusion: Coincidentally the Bible also describes such an event where continents are completely submerged by a deluge of water and then subsequently re-emerge without any additional mechanism intervening to remove the water.
Conclusion: It must, therefore, be a further extraordinary coincidence that the Bible also describes this exact trend: where there is first a stable lifespan limit, that this lifespan limit decays, that the onset of the decay is exactly coincident with the Flood, and that it eventually reaches a new and significantly lower limit.
Conclusion: The Bible records that the rainbow is witnessed for the first time directly after the Flood. It also details that the rainbow is given by God to guarantee no future repetition of a global Flood. This also must be considered as a complete and bizarre coincidence.
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