The Ministry of Truth has a good post up about the way some religious believers champion their holy texts as holding fantastic scientific advancements.
Of course, as they’ll often tell you, God is completely removed from the world of science, and his presence could never be refuted by any such coarsely human thinking. But when science comes along with discoveries that might bolster their ideas, well, that’s another matter.
And while Judaism isn’t particularly known for its kooky fundamentalist extremism – all the Jews I know personally are atheists, in fact – the Rabbi behind Intergalactic Judaism (yes, really) isn’t doing the rest of them any favours.
The thing is, the idea of God imparting scientific knowledge about the world in some divine text, centuries before it was independently reached by lowly mammalian researchers, would be easy to verify and quite profoundly conclusive, if it actually happened. Inserting an unambiguous description of quantum theory into the Bible would surely not have been beyond Yahweh’s powers; people would have pondered the curious words as they were copied faithfully for hundreds of years, until eventually someone noticed the uncanny similarities between these ancient passages and the recent ground-breaking work of Planck or Bohr or Einstein. The astounding insight shown by these millennia-dead nomads would lend some real credence to whatever else they had to say.
But the people with a religious agenda to push tend to be overwhelmingly impressed by the most flimsy of evidence, and don’t seem to recognise that everything in the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and every other holy book can be quite satisfactorily read as the reasonable understanding of the people who lived at that time.
As Unity wonders:
The Gaon of Vilna wrote in a similar vein, “Everything that was, is and will be is included in the Torah… even the details of every animal, plant and inanimate object, with all their features.”
Really? Every animal, plant and inanimate object?
So where’s the section that deals with dinosaurs?
What about Kangaroos and Koalas – are they in there, and if so, can someone point me to the relevant passage?
And as the Torah is supposed to contain details of every inanimate object, can someone show me the reference to the iPhone?
And the Rabbi’s assertions just get emptier and more futile as it goes on:
When God uttered metaphors referring to light, He knew that light bends in a strong gravitational field and that certain kinds of light can blast through solid rock. When He spoke of the heavens, He knew of the dark matter which permeates them.
Okay, but… isn’t this supposed to be about things God told us hundreds of years ago? The idea of light being bent by gravity would have been truly revolutionary and surprising at the time the Torah was written, but it’s not in there. So now you’re claiming that God didn’t tell us about any of this stuff until we’d figured it out anyway, then claimed he’d obviously known it all along.
Tortured metaphors by which “And then there was light” is meant to be a nuanced recounting of the Big Bang just aren’t convincing. Maybe believers would be advised not to press this angle if they don’t want to look desperate.