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The various books of the Hebrew Bible contain descriptions of the physical world, and can be considered a source of information of the history of science in the Iron Age Levant.

Proponents of "Biblical foreknowledge" beyond this prefer readings that would anticipate discoveries historically made only in modern times.


In the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb), the Kingdom of God is compared to a mustard seed, "smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil" which "grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches". Gleason Archer points out that there are smaller seeds known on the Earth, but that Jesus was speaking within the framework of ancient Palestinian farming.[1]

Template:Nasb speaks of leaving fields fallow for a year every seven years, advice regarded sound by modern science.[2][Need quotation to verify][original research?]

While modern agricultural science recognizes intercropping can be beneficial in providing increased resistance against pests and disease, and there is mounting scientific evidence that intercropping increase yields and sustainability,[3][4] the Jewish religious laws proscribe it (Lev. 19:19, Deut 22:9).

Astronomy and life origins

The Hebrew Bible reflects the geocentric view of the universe(Hab. 3:11, Josh. 10:12-13, Ps. 93:1, 1 Chron. 16:30) and describes the moon as giving off light.(Gen 1:16) As in Babylonian cosmography, the Hebrew Bible imagines a flat Earth[5] covered by a solid sky-dome[6][7] (the Firmament) to which the stars were attached. Isaiah refers to "the circle of the earth" (Template:Nasb), the "four quarters of the earth" (Template:Nasb), and the "spread out earth"(44:24).

Lactantius and Cosmas Indicopleustes insisted on the flat Earth model on scriptural authority as late as the 5th to 6th century, long after the spherical shape of the Earth had become common knowledge in Hellenistic astronomy, and had been generally accepted by their fellow Christians.[8]

Augustus Hopkins Strong presented one explanation of the astronomical inaccuracies reflected in the Hebrew Bible in his work, Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God.[9] Strong pointed out idiomatic usage of moonlight and sunset are still prevalent in current times as in ancient times, and that firmament has been used in literature where no one would suggest the author believed in flat earth or solid firmament theology.[9] He illustrated the point by asking if Dickens believed the firmament was "a piece of solid masonry" when "in his American Notes, 72, [Dickens] describes a prairie sunset: 'The decline of day here was very gorgeous, tinging the firmament deeply with red and gold, up to the very keystone of the arch above us'."[9] Modern scholars (other than those ascribing to some form of Biblical inerrancy doctrine) generally accept that such metaphors in the Bible reflect the authors' underlying belief in the literal truth of this cosmological model.[10]

Comparison of the Genesis creation story with modern science
According to Genesis According to modern science
Sun Created after the world Present before world coalesces
Grass, land plants, trees Created before the sun Evolved after the sun
First forms of life Land plants Marine organisms
Birds Created before land animals Evolved from land animals
Fruit Trees Created before fish Evolved after fish
First Human Created from dirt Evolved; higher apes and Homo Sapiens share a common ancestor

According to the Jewish calendar, man was created in year 1, with the year 2009 AD corresponding to year 5,769/70 on the Jewish calendar (because the new year does not begin simultaneously, there is an overlap of two Jewish years for every single Gregorian year). If Homo sapiens has been in existence for over 100,000 years according to modern science, some form of reconciliation, it is believed by some Jewish scholars, is appropriate.[11]

One approach of reconciliation is that God implanted a soul into a hominid approximately 6,000 years ago.[12][13] Although humans in the biological sense of the term have existed for over 100,000 years, humans according to the Jewish definition only began when one, Adam, received a soul.[14] In fact, the Talmud records that there were 974 generations before the appearance by man as described by Genesis.[15]

This explanation, however, serves to create a somewhat greater inconsistency. If only one individual was given a soul a mere 6,000 years ago, it would indicate that many of the people in the world today are not human according to the Torah definition, because it could not be that all of the people in the world today are descended from a single ancestor who lived less than 6,000 years ago.[16] (The biblical flood in Noah's day may have killed all but the descendents of Adam, as Noah was, though the biblical flood itself is inconsistent with modern science). To settle this inconsistency, Rabbi Gedalyah Nadel proposes that references to "Adam" in Genesis do not always refer to the same person. Sometimes, a reference "Adam" is really to all of mankind.[17] Maimonidies similarly understood the Six Days of Creation as describing "a conceptual hierarchy of the world, rather than a historical account of creation."[18][19]


Template:Nasb describes locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets as walking on all fours. Although the specific references in this passage indicate that insects were the creatures under consideration, the Hebrew word `owph here translated "winged" or "flying" is the same word used six times in the creation story (Template:Nasb) and used twelve times in the Genesis account of the flood[20] to refer to birds. In the KJV and ASV, the word is translated "birds" or "fowls" in all of these places.[21] The KJV, in fact, uses "fowls" to open the Leviticus passage cited above: "All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you."

Template:Nasb also described hares and rock badger as cud-chewers. While they have no compartmentalized stomachs that the modern definition of ruminants includes in order to be determined cud-chewers, the close relation to rumination is apparent in many English translations of the Bible[dubious ], which use the word cud in an expanded sense to indicate food that is re-chewed through the coprophagy process used by lagomorphs.[dubious ][22][unreliable source?][23][unreliable source?]

Template:Nasb described the ant as an industrious creature, "which having no chief, overseer, or ruler provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in harvest." Although ants are labeled as queens, workers, soldiers, and drones, biologist Deborah Gordon points out there is no authority in the queen as she does not oversee the workers.[24] She also states that "no ant is able to assess the global needs of the colony, or to count how many workers are engaged in each task and decide how many should be allocated differently".[24][original research?]


The Mosaic code has provisions concerning the conservation of natural resources, such as trees (Template:Nasb) and birds (Template:Nasb).[original research?]


Questions of plausibility formed the subject of Anglican bishop John William Colenso's book, The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined[25] An example of Colenso's sort of analysis is provided by chapter III, "The Number of the Congregation".[25] Template:Nasb says that "the Assembly was gathered unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation". To Colenso "must surely be understood" that phrases such as "the Assembly" refer to "some reasonable proportion to the whole number" of the people — at all events, the adult males in the prime of life," which would in turn include "the 603,550 warriors" mentioned in Numbers 2:32.[25] Colenso says there are multiple references to this whole congregation's being assembled within the court of the Tabernacle.[25] Template:Nasb gives the court's dimensions as 100 × 30 cubits, which he calculates as "1824 feet" by "54 feet" (or 98,496 sq ft[26]), and "allowing 2 feet (0.61 m) in width for each grown man" in ranks of nine, and "allowing 18 inches (460 mm) between each rank of nine men", the required area would be "of more than 100,000 feet".[25]

Medical knowledge

The Old Testament contains a variety of health related instructions, such as isolating infected people (Template:Nasb), washing after handling a dead body (Template:Nasb), and burying excrement away from a camp (Template:Nasb).

The Old Testament also contains various healing rituals. One ritual, for example, deals with the proper procedure for cleansing a leper (Template:Nasb). It is a fairly elaborate process that involves killing a bird and lambs and using their blood to cleanse the afflicted.

Civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, the Aegean civilization, the Hittites, and the Elamites had large cities with public sanitation systems.[27]

Believers of Biblical inspiration sometimes contend that the degree of effectiveness of the Mosaic dietary restrictions and hygienic strictures indicates "it has taken science thousands of years to discover what the Bible taught all along".[28][Need quotation to verify][29][unreliable source?][30][Need quotation to verify][unreliable source?]

Mental health

The correlation between mental and physical health has found much examination and discussion in modern psychiatric research.[31][32][33] Passages within the Book of Proverbs relate the two: Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb, Template:Nasb[original research?], and modern science has found that these proverbs contain accurate advice toward sound mental and physical well-being.[34][not in citation given][35][Need quotation to verify][36][Need quotation to verify][37][Need quotation to verify][38][39][Need quotation to verify]

The New Testament mentions demons as responsible for physical and mental illnesses (Template:Nasb, etc.).[40]

According to Template:Nasb, faith healing will cure the sick.


The Deuteronomic Code contains several sanitation instructions; in particular, Template:Nasb contains instructions to dispose of human excrement away from the population, in order to keep the camp holy, and to avoid God being offended by the sight or evidence of defecation as he walked through the camp at night.

Biblical foreknowledge

See also


  1. Archer, Gleason L. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan (1982), pg. 329.
  2. Straczynska S. "The effects of leaving fields fallow upon selected fertility elements in soil", Acta Agrophysica (2001) 6:52, pp. 265-270
  3. Andrews, D.J., A.H. Kassam. 1976. The importance of multiple cropping in increasing world food supplies. pp. 1-10 in R.I. Papendick, A. Sanchez, G.B. Triplett (Eds.), Multiple Cropping. ASA Special Publication 27. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.
  4. The Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Dec., 1982), pp. 901-916 (JSTOR Subscription required)
  5. Driscoll, J.F. (1909). "Firmament". In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 26 May 2008 from New Advent. ("That the Hebrews entertained similar ideas appears from numerous biblical passages...").
  6. Strong's Concordance (1890). "Dictionary and Word Search for raqiya` (Strong's 07549)". Blue Letter Bible 1996-2008. Retrieved 26 May 2008. ("considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting 'waters' above")
  7. Jewish Encyclopaedia (1901-1906). "Cosmogony". Retrieved 26 May 2008. ("The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.")
  8. Ferngren, Larson, Amundsen (Editors). "Encyclopedia of the History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition", Garland Publishing Inc, US (29 Jun 2000), p. 246-247. ISBN 0815316569
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God (Volume I) "Errors in matters of Science" Philadelphia: The Judson Press (1907), pg. 223
  10. For a description of Near Eastern and other ancient cosmologies and their connections with the Biblical view of the Universe, see Paul H. Seeley, "The Firmament and the Water Above: The Meaning of Raqia in Genesis 1:6-8", Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991), and "The Geographical Meaning of 'Earth' and 'Seas' in Genesis 1:10", Westminster Theological Journal 59 (1997)
  11. Rabbi Natan Slifkin. The Challenge of Creation, Yashar Books, page 336
  12. Gerald Schroeder. Genesis and the Big Bang, page 150
  13. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Immortality, Resurrection and the Age of the Universe, page 21
  14. Rabbi Shimon Schwab suggests that there were soul-less men living at the time of Adam, Me'ein BEis HaSho'evah, Genesis 2:26
  15. Talmud Shabbos 88b
  16. Rabbi Natan Slifkin. The Challenge of Creation, Yashar Books, page 337
  17. Rabbi Gedalyah Nadel. BeToraso Shel Rab Gedalyah, page 99
  18. Rabbi Natan Slifkin. The Challenge of Creation, Yashar Books, page 339
  19. Maimonidies, The Guide for the Perplexed 2:30
  20. Template:Nasb
  21. Strong's Concordance, s.v. "`owph".
  22. Brand, Leonard R. (1977). "Do Rabbits Chew the Cud?". Origins 4 (2): 102-104. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  23. "Are Rabbits Erroneously Called Ruminants in the Bible?". Bible Study Manuals. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Gordon, Deborah. "Ants At Work: How An Insect Society Is Organized", Free Press (October 6, 1999), pg. 118. ISBN 0684857332. ("...the queen is not an authority figure. She lays eggs and is fed and cared for by the workers. She does not decide which worker does what.")
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Colenso, John William (1863). "The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined", Adamant Media Corporation (paperback reprint, 24 May 2001). ISBN 1402171641. p. 31.
  26. Google calculator
  27. Gray, Harold Farnsworth. "Sewerage in Ancient and Medieval Times". Sewage Works Journal, Volume 12, No. 5 (Sept. 1940), pp. 939 - 946. As reprinted on Sewage Works Journal
  28. Kline, Monte, Clinical Nutritionist. "The Dietary Law". Better Health Update #29 (2005). Accessed 26 May 2008.
  29. Wise, David. The first book of public hygiene. Creation 26(1):52–55, December 2003. Accessed 26 May 2008.
  30. Allen, Bruce. "4 Reasons Why You Should Read the Bible". Faith-Friends (2003). Reprinted, Accessed 19 February 2004
  31. Somatic Presentations of Mental Disorders, (September 6-8, 2006)
  32. The Cognitive Costs of Physical and Mental Health: Applying the Psychology of the Developed World to the Problems of the Developing World
  33. Prevalence, Severity, and Co-occurrence of Chronic Physical Health Problems of Persons With Serious Mental Illness
  34. Parsons, Greg W. (April-June 1993). "Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming the Book of Proverbs". Bibliotheca Sacra 150: 151-70. 
  35. Lea, Gary (December, 1982). "Religion, mental health, and clinical issues". Journal of Religion and Health (Springer Netherlands) 21 (4): 336-351. doi:10.1007/BF02274140. 
  36. Goodnick, Benjamin (April, 1977). "Mental health from the Jewish standpoint". Journal of Religion and Health (Springer Netherlands) 16 (2): 110-115. doi:10.1007/BF01533152. 
  37. Al-Krenawi, Alean (June, 2000). "Bedouin-Arab clients' use of proverbs in the therapeutic setting". International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling (Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel: Springer Netherlands) 22 (2): 91-102. doi:10.1023/A:1005583920356. 
  38. Susan J. Bartlett, Ralph Piedmont, Andrew Bilderback, Alan K. Matsumoto, Joan M. Bathon (2003). "Spirituality, well-being, and quality of life in people with rheumatoid arthritis". Arthritis Care & Research (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Loyola College of Maryland, Baltimore: American College of Rheumatology) 49 (6): 778-783. doi:10.1002/art.11456.  ("By viewing their illness in a positive context, having hope and optimism about the future, flexible life goals, and a supportive social network, spiritual individuals may be more resilient to the host of challenges imposed by chronic illness. As noted long ago in the Old Testament, A merry heart doeth good like medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17:22).")
  39. Mohr, Wanda K. PhD, RN, FAAN (August 2006). "Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric Care". Perspectives In Psychiatric Care (Blackwell Synergy) 42 (3): 174–183. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6163.2006.00076.x. 
  40., Topical Index, "Demons".

Further reading

Biblical Conception of the Universe