Monday, January 3, 2011

God's Quality Control 4.1

The bible is one of many ancient writings that contain accounts of various unusual phenomena that in any other context are dismissed out of hand as mythical. Many of these phenomena, if they did occur, should have left behind some sign of their passing. It is not surprising at all that some of them have left no trace, but it is rather suspicious that not a single one of them has. Here I'll discuss a few of these accounts.
  • In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we read of a period of at least 2000 years during which men tended to live for centuries, some of them almost a thousand years. Near the end of that 2000-year period, it seems that men's lifespans began to shorten significantly, but still many of them were living for at least two hundred years. Shouldn't we see some sign of this in all of our studies of human DNA? I'm no expert in this area, but given all the other history we can discover by studying genetics, it seems that something really unusual like this would stand out. Further, if men are living for 900 years and siring children even at age 500, shouldn't there be some indication of explosive population growth during that time? Shouldn't we see signs of population growth slowing significantly as the lifespan decreased? And Adam lived until the time of Lamech; shouldn't we expect to read stories of people hanging out with their great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers?
  • Adam: 130 -> Seth; Adam -> d. 930
  • Seth: 105 -> Enosh; Seth -> d. 912
  • Enosh: 90 -> Kenan; Enosh -> d. 905
  • Kenan: 70 -> Mahalalel; Kenan -> 910
  • Mahalalel: 65 -> Jared; Mahalalel -> d.895
  • Jared: 162 -> Enoch; Jared -> d.962
  • Enoch: 65 -> Methuselah; Enoch -> ?.365
  • Methuselah: 187 -> Lamech; Methuselah -> d. 969
  • Lamech: 182 -> Noah; Lamech -> 777
  • Noah: 500 -> SHJ; Noah -> 950
  • Shem: 100 -> Arphaxad; Shem -> d. 600
  • Arphaxad: 35 -> Shelah; Arphaxad: d. 438
  • Shelah: 30 -> Eber; Shelah: d. 433
  • Eber: 34 -> Peleg; Eber: d. 464
  • Peleg: 30 -> Reu; Peleg d. 239
  • Reu: 32 -> Serug; Reu d. 239
  • Serug: 30 -> Nahor; Serug: 230
  • Nahor: 29 -> Terah; Nahor d. 148
  • Terah: 70 -> Abram; Terah d. 205
  • Genesis 7 tells the story of the Great Flood, in which Yahweh tortured to death every air-breathing animal (including all the humans, of course) by drowning. It has been pointed out a million times already that we see none of the signs we might expect from such a flood. It has been pointed out a million times already that we see no signs of animals spreading from the Middle East to the rest of the world. Should we not also see signs of human civilization spreading from there?
  • Genesis 11 tells the story of the Tower of Babel. A naive reading suggests that this story took place some time after the Great Flood, some 1500 years after creation. Shouldn't we see signs that up until about 2500 BCE, everyone in the world spoke the same language?
  • Genesis 17 describes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning sulfur that rained down from the sky. Why would there be no record of this in any other ancient writings? Were cities destroyed by flaming sulfur so often that no one felt it necessary to record the event?
  • Exodus 12 tells us that Moses led all the Israeli slaves out of Egypt. They had been slaves for over four centuries. I've heard superstitionists estimate the slave population at three million. Even if it weren't that many, surely there would have been a lot, given four centuries. Shouldn't we expect some ancient Egyptian writings to talk of the economic devastation that occurred when Egypt lost all its slaves? I read somewhere that the exchange of gold between King Solomon and some other dignitary caused serious damage to the gold market in one of their nations. If this damage was recorded, why wouldn't someone record the far worse damage presumably caused by the sudden loss of your entire slave labor force? And shouldn't we see some tiny sign of three million people with all their possessions and livestock tramping around in the desert for 40 years, especially considering that only their children survived, meaning that there must be three million human corpses and countless, enormous trash piles out there somewhere? Feel free to shoot me down over the three million thing, but it wouldn't have to be as many as three million people in order for us to expect some trace.
  • II Kings 20 claims that a shadow moved the wrong way, which I interpret to mean that the earth stopped its rotation and reversed direction for a time, then stopped again and resumed its normal rotation. At the very least one would expect signs of massive tidal waves all over the place.
  • All four of the Gospels recount Jesus' miraculous feeding of many thousands of people; Matthew says that it happened twice. I'm guessing that ten thousand people would be a conservative estimate when women and children are taken into account. Was the area so heavily populated and so full of bustle that a crowd of 10,000 people following one guy around was commonplace, a non-event? Why would such an event not be recorded by anyone?
You could think of science and religion as two different ropes that you might use for climbing a mountain. The science rope is robust, safe to use. There might be a few strands of the rope that are a little weak, such as string theory, or the fact that currently we don't have a good explanation for the faint sun problem, but overall the rope is in excellent condition. It manages the enormous weight we apply to it with no problem at all. The religion rope is just the opposite: very few of the strands are even intact. If you give it even a small tug, it will fail you and you'll fall right off the mountain.

That's 4.1. Thanks for watching.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment