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The Christian Delusion 5: The Cosmology of the Bible

01/08/2011

This chapter is hella long, but the point is simple. Any fair reading of the Bible would imply that the authors were mirroring the cosmological understanding of their times. This includes a watery abyss existing before anything was created, a flat earth (a disk, not a sphere), the sky as a solid “firmament” and info in the Psalms also mimics, to the name of the dragons slayed, many stories from before the Bible. So the point would be that this is evidence against the Bible being the inspired word of God.

Kindle Notes:

Near Eastern languages and literature that led biblical scholars to acknowledge that Israel’s religion, scriptures, and view of the cosmos mirrored those of her neighbors (1299).

Today, scholars from both Catholic and Evangelical Protestant backgrounds agree that ancient Near Eastern views of creation shed considerable light on descriptions of creation found in the Bible (1304).

Some of the earliest creation passages in the Bible depict Yahweh in conflict with watery foes, not unlike Marduk’s battle with the primeval water goddess Tiamat, or Baal’s battle with the sea-god, Yam (1434).

Though the Lord’s defeat of cosmic foes was sometimes applied metaphorically to the Hebrew defeat of the Egyptians (as in the book of Exodus story about Yahweh splitting the waters of the sea in half and then closing them to smash the Egyptians), the names of the sea monsters defeated by Yahweh in Psalm 74 are found in texts from ancient Ugarit where they are identified as foes whom Baal defeated (1436).

But what is a “firmament”? What does the word mean in the original Hebrew? The Hebrew word raqia’ (translated as “firmament”) means “that which is firmly hammered, beaten out, or stamped (as of metal)..” (1498).

What was the shape of the earth according to the Bible? Isaiah 40:22 provides the answer: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle (Hebrew, chug) 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.” Because this passage mentions “the circle of the earth,” some people interpret it as a description of a spherical earth. But they are ignoring the context of the verse that has nothing in it implying sphericity, only “tent-icity,” since God “sits upon the circle” and spreads heaven out like a “tent to dwell in.” The Hebrew word chug has a primary meaning of “circle” and no lexicon of ancient Hebrew offers “sphere” as a meaning for chug (1518).

Note: Bible says the world is a circle, not a sphere.

Elsewhere in Isaiah, the most the author says of the earth is that God “spread it out” (literally pounded or flattened it out) at creation (Isaiah 42:5 and 44:24). So there does not appear to be a single verse in the Bible that depicts the earth as a sphere (1524).

If a tree’s height was indeed so “great” that it “reached unto heaven” then it might very well be seen to the “ends of the earth” on a flat earth. But the same does not apply to a sphere. Another verse parallels the one in Daniel, and is found in the NT, where Jesus is taken by the devil to the top of a “very high” mountain and there shown “all the kingdoms of the world (literally, `cosmos’)” (Matthew 4:8). Both cases speak of something “very high” or of “great height that reaches unto heaven,” which allows the entire world to see it (or allows the whole world to be seen from it), which is true on a flat earth, but not on a spherical one (1551).

In light of the preponderance of evidence presented here, it’s clear the Bible is a product of the prescientific period in which it originated (1627).

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