For Bible Week: MSN News claims that bits of the Bible are scientifically true

November 24, 2021 • 10:00 am

It’s National Bible Week, which extends from Nov. 21 through the 27th. (Started by Franklin D. Roosevelt, it always occurs the week of Thanksgiving.)

Reader Ginger K. pointed out that the amusing bit of hokum below, honoring Bible week by celebrating the world’s best-selling work of fiction, appeared on the MSN “lifestyle” site in its entirety. And it was taken from the Stars Insider site, a celebrity and entertainment “news” venue.

Being on MSN News brings it a lot of attention, as that site is touted as “the world’s #1 desktop news servic , reaching over 500M users every month in 180 countries and 31 languages across MSNBing NewsMicrosoft Edge, Microsoft Launcher, the Windows lock screen, apps for Windows, iOS, and Android, and popular third-party mobile OEMs, mobile carriers, and browsers”.  MSN News is also the #2 news and media website in the U.S.—the 31st most popular among all websites in the U.S. That means that this craziness reaches a lot of people.

Click on the screenshot to read.  The Intro first:

Like any other religious texts in history, the Bible is open to interpretation and it’s not confirmed by science to be factually accurate in every account. This, however, is not the case for every bit of text in the best-selling book of all time. In fact, some of these verses have been proved by science to be true.

Intrigued? Click through the following gallery and discover the parts of the Bible that have been confirmed by science.

Okay, let’s see which parts science has confirmed.

The quotes from the piece are indented. There are 23 of these; I’ll just pick ten or so.

1.) Earth is round 

While some conspiracy theories might say otherwise, science has confirmed the shape of our planet as round. This is also mentioned in the Bible: “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22).

Are you starting to note that what “science confirms” might be a wonky interpretation of Scripture? I interpret this to mean that the Earth is either a torus (doughnut) or a disk. A circle is not a sphere. Let’s move on:

2.) The great flood likely happened 

The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark is one of the most popular stories of the Bible. And according to geological evidence, the Noachian flood might have actually happened.

Short answer: no, it didn’t. There may have been local floods, even big ones, but no flood that drowned humanity and all the Earth’s creatures.

3.) The ark would have worked 

According to Genesis 6:13-22, God’s instructions to Noah were as follows: “The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”

It couldn’t have worked for a gazillion reasons, and you could figure some out yourself. A wooden boat that large without metal would be unstable. How did the animals get to the Ark? Where did they house all the animals? What about giraffes and dinosaurs? What did they feed them? What did they do with the poop? How did the marsupials get from Mount Ararat to Australia? And so on. . . .

The best analysis of why the Ark couldn’t work is found on the National Center for Science Education’s website (click on screenshot); the article is pretty funny, too:

4). The universe is made of invisible particles 

Hebrews 11:3 reads: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Umm. . . the interpretation of this is dead easy, and doesn’t at all imply atoms. It states clearly that God created the Earth from nothing. But a “Universe from nothing may be true from physics”, too, if you accept Krauss’s argument that “nothing” is unstable and particles could spontaneously arise from a quantum vacuum. But even if you don’t buy that, the assertion in Hebrews 11 doesn’t say anything about invisible particles.

5.) David could have actually defeated Goliath 

A slingshot might not be the most powerful weapon, but the stones from Elah Valley were made of barium sulphate, which is extremely dense and these would have easily hurt Goliath.

Note that now they’re arguing that science suggests that parts of the Bible could be true in principle, not necessarily true in reality. For what is the evidence for David and Goliath, who, according to the Bible, was 6 feet nine inches tall?  I couldn’t find out much about the geology of the Elah Valley, but I seriously doubt that all the stones there are made from barium sulphate.

But wait, there’s more here!

David could have actually defeated Goliath 

But there’s more. Being a giant, Goliath likely suffered from acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone). This can cause problems with vision, and peripheral vision can be limited, which would have been handy for David.

Jebus, but these people are really stretching things here. Maybe Goliath had acromegaly (unlikely given that he was a warrior and given he existed, for which we have no evidence), and it’s more likely that Goliath was facing David, not looking to the side.

6.) The Sun actually stopped moving 

Because an eclipsed occurred. Joshua 10:12 reads: “On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.'”

and

The Sun actually stopped moving 

This was most likely an eclipse, which researchers have dated back to October 30, 1207 BCE.

First of all, the Sun is always moving, rotating slowly around the center of the Milky Way. And it doesn’t stop moving during a solar eclipse, though the page with this “prediction” shows a solar eclipse.

7.) Creatures can’t live without blood 

Most of us are familiar with the Adam and Eve story of the Bible. Humans have, in fact, a female biological ancestor called Mitochondrial Eve, which precedes our species (Homo sapiens). There is, however, one thing that connects all us living creatures: blood.

Everything about this claim is wrong. First, not every animal has blood, for example flatworms, nematodes, and cnidarians (jellyfish and their relatives). This is also true of protozoans. Second, “Mitochondrial Eve” did not precede our species. This maternal ancestor of all present-day humans lived about 150,000 years ago, well after Homo sapiens arose in Africa around 300,000 years ago.

But wait! There’s more!

Creatures can’t live without blood 

“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).

God apparently didn’t know about flatworms and jellyfish.

8.) Sanitizing is really important 

Leviticus 11:28, for instance, says: “Anyone who picks up their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening. These animals are unclean for you.”

What about your HANDS? But if you read two verses earlier, “cleanliness” refers to which animals are considered by God to be off limits, not decaying animals that carry germs (unknown in Biblical times):

Leviticus 11:26-27:

The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean.

And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening.

********

This all reminds me of the old version of “scientific creationism”, in which the facts of science were supposed to confirm the creation stories of Genesis.  Muslims, too, sometimes use wildly misinterpreted passages of the Qur’an to vouch for its scientific truth as well as its history (see discussion in Faith Versus Fact.).

Finally, what about all the parts of the Bible that science does not support at all but refutes: an instantaneous creation, simultaneous existence of Adam and Eve as our original ancestors, the slavery in Egypt and Jews wandering about in the desert for four decades, and the Census of Quirinius, which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. I could go on and on, but if you’re going to imply that the Bible is true because bits of it are true (and yes, some of the historical figures existed), you have, as Hitchens said, “all your work before you.” That’s because for every bit that’s true, there’s two bits that have been shown to be false.

37 thoughts on “For Bible Week: MSN News claims that bits of the Bible are scientifically true

  1. MSN takes general passages from the Bible that also appear in numerous other myths, fairy tales and stories, and therefore claims that these parts of the Bible are true?

    Good grief!

    What is going wrong in the minds of the editors?

    1. One more: a stopped clock is right twice a day. Of course, my favorite biblical math is pi=3. 1 Kings 7:23 states “Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.”

    2. Certainly Greeks knew the earth wasn’t flat several hundred years before the supposed Christ got here, but I’m ignorant of ‘publishing’ dates for the Old Testament.

  2. “…there was light…” is scientifically accurate in the broadest of senses.

    Egypt really existed. So did Judea. [Not sure where Arimathea was (if anywhere), though.]

    And no one who knows anything at all about such things would be surprised that an expert user of a ranged, powerful weapon (such as a sling) could defeat someone who had no such weapon. It’s the “bringing a knife to a gunfight” problem.

    The people writing this, and who read it and take any comfort from it, are clearly working very hard to confirm their biases. I could do a better job, frankly.

  3. “I interpret this to mean that the Earth is either a torus (doughnut) or a disk”

    How about a Moebius band? Then you could walk once (more or less) around. And you wouldn’t know you were upside down, because of gravity, but you would be ‘pressing up from under’ on your beginning footprints. Once more round to get back where you started.

    Seems to me that’s going round??

    If you didn’t like there being an edge (only one, it’s not cylindrical!), there is a way to have your band as part of the projective plane (so-called–but it has no edge). Space would have to be
    4-dimensional, and I suppose space-time 5-dimensional, so science would eliminate that one. Bible wouldn’t if you were stupid enough to consider it expert on that sort of matter.

    Anyway it might be hard to fill in the middle. Couldn’t even dig a hole. At least the surface of the Jerry’s doughnut would have the donut itself to dig into, but that might fatten you up too much to walk ‘the equator’—or do a pole-to-pole-to-back-again-the-start-pole, like one expedition of Ranulph Fiennes. Anyway with the doughnut you’d have two essentially different rounds–round the rim, the outside if you liked or instead round the shorter inside through the doughnut hole.

    How about a nice smooth pretzel shape? Then there’s lots of very (topologically) different ’rounds’ to choose from, etc., etc…

  4. With a minor biological correction (at least):

    And Jonah he lived in de whale
    And Jonah he lived in de whale
    He made his home in
    Dat mammal’s abdomen:
    It ain’t necessarily so.

    That rhyme is ingenious, IMHO!

  5. Isaiah 11:12 refers to “four corners of the earth.” God is truly all powerful; He can create a circle with corners!

    1. If they said earth was the shape of a box—the outside of it, with the lid included of course—then it’s topologically correct. But unfortunately it’s six corners, not four. When you got to what looks like an edge, it’s a vertical cliff down instead. And—rock climber’s delight—if you could just get yourself around that edge, suddenly gravity would shift and put you back on a horizontal plane again (till you got to the next edge). Not too promising as a sci-fi, is it?—quite apart from gravity itself disallowing boxes of any planet size. But according to Tegmark’s level whatever multiverse, somewhere there will be an asteroid arbitrarily close to being box shape, in fact, infinitely many of them.

  6. Goliath was actually killed three different ways in the Bible – by Elhanan in 2 Samual 21:19, by David with a sling in 1 Samuel 17:49-50, and by David with a sword in the very next verse, 1 Samuel 17:51. All that just screams folk tale with multiple versions floating around.

  7. Presumably the deluded fools who wrote the stuff consider the endorsement of science important, or why would they have written it, so their total failure is embarrassing for them.That they could only find 23 such “facts” – all easily either refuted or shown to be something of a ridiculous stretch – is equally unfortunate for them. Their decision to deliberately ignore the very many more Biblical claims that are clearly nonsensical from a scientific perspective only goes to show how seriously they take – or understand – the scientific method.

  8. Regardless of the type of stone, when launched properly by a sling it would have had the energy of a medium calibre bullet, so that part is at least plausible – not that this makes any difference to the rest of the tale.

    The sun stopping is a completeley different story. That would require the rotation of the planet to stop, and that would not have ended well unless the deity first installed some heavy duty inertial dampers.

  9. Yes, think of the recoil that operates the action of that Maxim gun in today’s Hili dialogue, and multiply by a bajillion bazillion times for the earth (OK, maybe just one bazillion.)

  10. Oh boy. The hilarity.
    Does MSN know about the 6000 year history of creation and how insane it is? Or is that too politically incorrect to mention these days.

  11. One thing the Bible’s writers did get right: How to shit in the woods (or desert):

    Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: and thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee.
    — Deuteronomy xxiii:13

    I’m transcribing it as it was rendered by Colin Fletcher in The Complete Walker, 1977, p.464. He quite appropriately goes into considerable detail about the proper way to dispose of faeces during walks in the wilderness.

    From biblical context, it seems that the writer is warning the Israelites that God, who walks in the night among the hundred circling camps, will be sorely annoyed if he steps in something nasty. So dig. And cover. This probably made more sense to the common folks than hookworm, dysentery, hepatitis A and all the other fecal-oral diseases that the author herself no doubt knew all about but needed a teaching metaphor.

  12. If the currently living animal species descended each from a single pair on the ark, wouldn’t population geneticists have detected the resulting genetic bottlenecks? The ark believers should show data suggesting that all animal species underwent a severe genetic bottleneck at a same time point in the past.

    In addition, how could millions of animal species be fed on a boat? How many thousands of plant species would be needed to feed a few hundred thousand (maybe millions) specialised herbivorous insect species? Did they have some extra ungulates to feed the lions or did they lose some species?

    What about the dung produced every day by all those animals? All thrown overboard? Real life is not like in the movies, where people never need to go to the toilet.

    1. “Did they have some extra ungulates to feed the lions or did they lose some species?” – that’s doubtless why there are no unicorns today…!

  13. The David and Goliath story is totally plausible. I have no trouble believing that an ancient slinger could slingshot a stone with enough energy to kill an opponent – or incapacitate them for long enough to finish them off with a sword.

    Am I supposed to be impressed that the Bible tells us that superior weapons technology makes it easier to win fights?

    Malcolm Gladwell did a Ted talk about the growth hormone thing. I’m a bit sceptical about that. I think it unlikely that enough detail would survive the 500 years between the event and writing it down to make a sound diagnosis.

  14. Goliath is (often) depicted as a “giant” but is easily matched or even outranked by several (in this case South African) rugby players – for example, search “rg snyman height” and several photos with stats will show some really tall humans, and all very healthy and fit. Admittedly, these guys are likely at the tail end of the human height distribution curve but not entirely rare. Although the the image of Snyman next to another rather short player does make Snyman look like a giant…

  15. Also, re sanitising, Jesus would seem to contradict anything other position, when in Matthew 15, he explains that you cannot be infected by things you ingest, but only by the thoughts you harbour and words you speak.

    Matt 15.11

    “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man….

    Matt 15.17-18

    “…Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
    “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man….”

  16. Also, re sanitising, Jesus would seem to contradict anything other position, when in Matthew 15, he explains that you cannot be infected by things you ingest, but only by the thoughts you harbour and words you speak.

    Matt 15.11
    “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man….
    Matt 15.17-18
    “…Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
    “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man….”

    But, as usual with these sorts of “The Bible is Proven” hack pieces, it’s about the text being so vague as to be able to make a multitude of almost-claims that if you squint *really hard* you can almost make work, without ever being precise enough to be useful.

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