What errors are in the Bible? Scientific inaccuracies


Major update: 1st January 2022

We don’t have to go very far on the internet before we come across a web page that is making sweeping statements on all the unscientific comments, the errors and failings of the Bible.

Many don’t even have Bible references and their quotes are not correct, and some even have the word ‘science’, or similar, in the site name to add credibility to their articles.

So what errors are in the Bible (supposedly)?
Does the Bible just give fluffy spiritual ideas and parables and not rigid, immoveable frameworks?

Table of Contents: What errors are in the Bible? Scientific inaccuracies

Many quickly reject what they see as Bible myths, without actually looking into the facts.
Others think that the Bible needs to read like a scientific report if it is to be true and believable, but is that the case?

The Bible is not a scientific textbook, or a pure historical book


Don Stewart answers the criticism, that the Bible should be in some form of scientific format for it to be true and believable, like this:

It is obvious that the Bible is not a scientific textbook in the sense of giving detailed technical descriptions and mathematical formulations of natural phenomena.
But this is not an adequate reason for questioning the objective accuracy of the numerous portions of Scripture which do deal with natural phenomena and historical events.
The Bible is not a mathematic text either, but we expect that Daniel understands sixty-nine weeks by the phrase, “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (Daniel 9:25).
The Bible is not, strictly speaking, a historical textbook either, but we expect that when it alludes to things that can be historically verified, it should be accurate.
Likewise, the Bible is not technically a textbook of modern science, but when it refers to things that can be measured or checked by modern science, it should be accurate”

‘Does the Bible Make Unscientific Statements?’ by Don Stewart’ [xvi]

To answer this question: ‘What errors are in the Bible?’ we need to look at some of these so called errors.
The first ones have been written about on the ‘Rational Wiki’ website [ii] and I am commenting on their findings on the supposed scientific errors in the Bible:

1. The error in the Bible of the smallest seed and largest tree?

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…
Though it is the smallest* of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest** of garden plants and becomes a tree***, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’ “

Matthew 13:32

The verse looks as if it is full of errors, but when we look at the words: ‘smallest’, ‘largest’ and ‘tree’ we may see it differently:

* “μικρός (mikros) ‘small’ (G3398) ‘small (in size, quantity, number or (figuratively) dignity)’ ” [iii]
Examples of usage of this word ‘ μικρός ‘ in the Bible (from a total of 29 times):

Likewise, the tongue is a small* part of the body”

James 3:5

It couldn’t mean the smallest because there are smaller parts of the body, eg the eye. Also:

Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little* longer…”

Revelation 6:11

The word ‘smallest’ would not fit in the sentence above.
Now let’s look at the word ‘greatest’:

** “μέγας (megas) ‘great’ (G3173) great; spatially: large; of quantity or degree: loud, intense, violent; of time: long (time); of position: great, important” [iii]
Again this doesn’t mean ‘the largest’. It is used 190 times, for example:

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great** crash.”

Matthew 7:27

Now let’s look at the word ‘tree’:

*** “δένδρον (dendron) ‘tree’ (G1186) tree”.
When I first started looking at the usage of this word I found:

The axe has been laid to the root of the trees***…”

Matthew 3:10

And I immediately saw in my mind a huge trunk of a tree and someone cutting into it, but then I looked again and it actually says: “The axe has been laid to the ROOT…”.
When I have dug out plants with a thick tap root, I also have had to use an axe to release it from the ground!

Another verse where this word δένδρον is used:

Every tree*** that does not bear good fruit is cut down…”

Matthew 7:19

We probably immediately think of an apple tree, but it can be actually mean a smaller fruiting bush – think raspberries, gooseberries, etc.
So ‘tree’ doesn’t have to mean a tree with a huge trunk.

Wikipedia explains the meaning of this word δένδρον in that it probably means ‘rushes’:

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches*** they had cut in the fields…”

Mark 11:8

In the synoptics**** the people are described as laying their garments and cut rushes on the street, whereas John specifies fronds of palm (Greek phoinix).
In Jewish tradition, the palm is one of the Four Species carried for Sukkot, as prescribed for rejoicing in Leviticus 23:40″

‘Palm Sunday’ Wikipedia [iii] **** Synoptics are: Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Coming from a horticultural background I have found plant identification very difficult when it relies on common names that are often known only in certain parts of the United Kingdom, let alone when coming from different parts of the world.
The classification of plants started to be studied in a more concise way in the medieval period:

The taxonomy criteria of medieval texts is different from what is used today.
Plants with similar external appearance were usually grouped under the same species name, though in modern taxonomy they are considered different…
The book that had an enormous accelerating effect on the science of plant systematics was Species Plantarum (1753) by Linnaeus.
It presented a complete list of the plant species then known to Europe, ordered for the purpose of easy identification using the number and arrangement of the male and female sexual organs of the plants.
Of the groups in this book, the highest rank that continues to be used today is the genus.”

‘History of plant systematics’ Wikipedia [ix]

So it looks like the different translations of the Greek cannot give a proper interpretation on these verses as the scientific classification of plants came about 1700 years later than when it was originally written.

We may think that birds can only perch in trees, but they can, and do, cling to reed-like plants.
The word used is:
κατασκηνόω (kataskēnoō) ‘to dwell’ (G2681) (Verb Present Active Infinitive ) to perch, nest; to live, dwell lodge. Occurs 4 times.

To conclude this section, I will provide a quote from Howard Culbertson who gives an interesting thought to these words that Jesus spoke about ‘the birds come and perch in its branches’:

Bird watchers say that the land of Israel is a paradise for them.
Indeed, it is.
In that fairly small area — 70 miles wide and 270 miles long — more than 400 species of birds have been sighted.
That is because the area where Jesus lived and ministered is a main bird migration route to and from Europe and Asia to the north and Africa to the south.
In the light of that, the “birds of the air” (in King James and English Standard version wording) surely means more than a few sparrows or starlings.
Palestine had 70 indigenous bird species.
With those different kinds of birds around, plus all the migratory fowl passing through, wasn’t Jesus likely trying to get us to think about how inclusive the Kingdom of God is?”

Howard Culbertson, Southern Nazarene University [iv]

2. Pi shows king Solomon’s Molten Sea basin measurements are wrong and is an error?

The Brazen Sea is destroyed by the Chaldeans (watercolour, circa 1896–1902 at the Jewish Museum, New York. Does Pi show that this basin's measurements are in error? What errors are in the Bible?
The Brazen Sea is destroyed by the Chaldeans (watercolour, circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot, or followers) at the Jewish Museum, New York [v]

Rational Wiki consider the measurements of Solomon’s Brazen Sea of 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits in circumference is in error when calculating it using Pi. They say:

This has been a source of humor for skeptics and consternation for literalist Christians and Jews.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

They have got many paragraph’s on this subject, for example:

Is the circumference approximate?
’30 cubits’ in circumference may really mean ’30±0.5 cubits’.
This gives a diameter of (30±0.5)/pi or 9.55±0.159 cubits (to three significant figures), meaning anywhere between 9.39 and 9.71 cubits.
This does not include a 10 cubit diameter, and so cannot resolve the issue.
Is the diameter approximate?
’10 cubits’ in diameter may really mean ’10±0.5 cubits’.
This gives a circumference of π*10±0.5 or 31.4±1.57 cubits (to three significant figures), meaning anywhere between 29.8 and 33.0 cubits.
This does include a 30 cubit circumference, which may resolve the issue.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

I suppose the way I would look at the potential problem of the basin being 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits in circumference is first to do a quick calculation to see how wrong, or far out this is:

So the Pi equation is:
Pi = circumference divided by diameter.
Therefore: Circumference divided by Pi = diameter is the same equation.
So: 30 circumference ÷ 3.14159 Pi = 9.5493046515 diameter.
Whereas the Bible says 30 circumference and 10 diameter.

How wrong is this?
Well, it is extremely inaccurate if it was part of a scientific experiment.
But if we look at the context, someone is writing about the grandness of king Solomon’s temple.
For example, a local newspaper could be reporting on a dispute between neighbours, one who has erected a 40 foot by 30 foot shed right on the boundary line.
From that description we immediately know how big this shed is.
But if we actually measured it, it may be 39 feet 8 and half inches long!
Does the newspaper have to put that exact measurement in? Of course not in the context it has been written in.

Does that mean the description of Solomon’s Brazen / Molten Sea was deceptive, unscientific because it was 0.4506953485 cubits too small on the diameter?
No, in context it is perfectly reasonable to describe the measurements in rounded up or down figures, because it is not like a technical drawing.
But when God spoke to Noah, he would expect him to build it exactly to the dimensions that God told him to:

This is how you are to build it:
The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”

Genesis 6:15

But unfortunately Rational Wiki then takes it further:

The major issue for this apologism is that, if it’s accepted that the Bible is human-written and imprecise at best, then the basis disappears for using the Bible as a guide to the age of the earth, “medicine”, or anything requiring accuracy.
How can we know if the Bible is just emphasizing something for pomp purposes or speaking literal truth?”

Rational Wiki [ii]

This problem arises because the situation is being taken out of the context that it has been written.
The writer is giving an indication of size and it is not a science experiment!

3. The “firmament” in Genesis is claimed to be a solid “roof” over the world. Another myth – a solid sky? Really?

And God said, Let there be a firmament* in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

Genesis 1:6 King James Version

A modern translation (English Standard Version 2016) puts it like this, which is more in keeping with the Hebrew:

And God said, “Let there be an expanse* in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

Genesis 1:6 English Standard Version 2016

Here is the Hebrew meaning: [iii]
* רָקִיעַ (ra.qi.a) ‘expanse’ (H7549)
Meaning
1) extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament
1a) expanse (flat as base, support)
1b) firmament (of vault of heaven supporting waters above)
1b1) considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting ‘waters’ above

This is quite confusing so what we should always do is look to see where this exact word has been used before to get a feel for that word.
It occurs 15 times:

And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open** firmament* of heaven.”

Genesis 1:20 King James Version

** פָּנֶה (pa.neh) ‘face’ (H6440) [iii]

So we have got birds flying in the ‘face’ of the firmament.
That can’t mean that the ‘firmament’ is solid.
But what does it mean by the ‘face’ of the firmament?
Well again I think we need to look at another example of the word ‘firmament’:

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament*; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

Daniel 12:3

In Hebrew writing we find ‘synonymous parallelism’ which basically means that the point is repeated in two slightly different ways to emphasise it.
Here is a more in-depth description:

Synonymous parallelism is a poetic device that involves using parallelism to create a couplet (usually) that consists of two lines in which the same idea is stated twice but in two different ways.
An easy way to remember this is that “synonymous” comes from “synonym,” and thus synonymous parallelism involves the same idea repeated in a different way like two words are synonyms if they have the same meaning, even though they are different words.”

‘What Is Synonymous Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry?’ by Alyssa Roat [vii]

So what I believe is happening in Daniel 12:3 is that they “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament (sky, daytime); and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars (night-time) for ever and ever.”

It is not talking about anything solid, but is referring to the sky, so that the stars, moon, sun, etc when observed from the Earth appears to be on a background – like the London planetarium’s 18 metre dome:

For its first five decades of operation, an opto-mechanical star projector, a Zeiss projector Mark IV, offered the audience a show based on a view of the night sky as seen from earth.
Between 1977 and 1990, evening laser performances called ‘Laserium’ (see Ivan Dryer) were held.”

‘London Planetarium’ wikipedia [viii]

The Bible, at times, speaks from a position somewhere on the ground looking up, in other words, what a human observer would see.
Actually in the 21st century we do similar things, for example we might say: “Did you see that wonderful sunrise…” or “sunset is at 6pm tonight”.
Does that mean we are unscientific, or that we believe the sun revolves around the Earth?
Of course not, we are just speaking about it from our observation point and it has nothing to do with being a scientific statement.

But Rational Wiki would have nothing to do with this line of thinking and see things only on a scientific level, and if it is not that then it can’t be trusted.
They translate this ‘firmament’ as being a solid and therefore the Bible is wrong, in error and not trustworthy:

The ‘firmament’ is claimed to be a solid ‘roof’ over the world.
It is described in Genesis 1:6-8 (KJV).
This is obviously untrue, unless all those satellites in orbit are a hoax.
Considering the views of flat earthers, someone, somewhere probably thinks this is the case (don’t ask them how GPS systems work).
Many Christians believe that this Firmament is what fell from the sky and caused the entire earth to flood, with only Noah and his family surviving.
Genesis 7:11 ‘… and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.’
However, an explanation offered by inerrantists is that the description of the firmament is only what was believed to be true and not necessarily stating that it is literally true.
This leaves literalists with the same problem, of course, namely that if part of the Bible isn’t strictly accurate, how (they feel) can you trust any of it?”

Rational Wiki [ii]

I believe that the ‘firmament’ is the sky / heavens and if we look at the Hebrew meanings and concentrate on the bold definitions then it is more easily explained:

1) extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament
1a) expanse (flat as base, support)
1b) firmament (of vault of heaven supporting waters above)

‘Expanse’ and ‘firmament’ mean the sky / heavens.
As for ‘supporting waters above’, the clouds are full of water, so you could say the sky supports the water in the clouds:

He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.”

Job 26:8

4. The moon shining with it’s own light is an error in the Bible?

The Rational Wiki finds fault with the moon’s illuminating light in Genesis, the website says:

In Genesis, the Moon is referred to as a ‘light’ (specifically, a ‘lesser light’).
The Moon is merely a reflector of the Sun’s light, and produces no visible light of its own, although it does shine in different wavelengths not perceivable to the human eye, such as infrared.
Of course, when talking to tribal nomads and other desert dwellers, the concept of referring to the Moon as a light was commonplace.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

So their gripe is that the Bible is inferring that the moon emits it’s own light.
Well, let’s look at the Bible passage:

And God said, “Let there be lights* in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.”

Genesis 1:14

So looking at the Hebrew:
* מָאוֹר (ma.or) ‘light’ (H3974) [iii] which occurs 16 times.
Obviously most of these describe a light of some kind, but interestingly in Proverbs that same word for light is used for a bright eye:

Light* in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”

Proverbs 15:30

Therefore it is okay to describe the moon as light, but that doesn’t allow us to draw the conclusion that the moon creates it’s own light – the same can be said for someone’s bright eyes.

Then the Rational Wiki moves on to another gripe:

Additionally, the Moon was made to ‘rule the night’, but there seems to be no explanation for why it’s visible frequently throughout the daytime or not visible on some nights.
This last bit seems like a strange oversight even for a pretechnological society, let alone the words of an omniscient God.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

Let’s look at what the Bible says:

And God made the two great lights—the greater light* to rule** the day and the lesser light* to rule** the night—and the stars.”

Genesis 1:16

The Hebrew word is:
** מֶמְשָׁלָה (mem.sha.lah) ‘dominion’ (H4475) which occurs 16 times and means: rule, dominion, realm.

So for anyone or anything to have dominion, means amongst other things, to be dominant.
We can say that the sun is definitely dominant in the day time if it is not being obscured by cloud and the moon is dominant in the night time when it is visible.
But the moon is not dominant if it appears during the day, because the sun is much brighter.
It’s not a scientific treatise, it is setting out general patterns for this world; the sun is definitely dominant during the day and the moon often attracts a “Wow look at the moon!” because it is big and dominant in the night sky.
One important point about the sun, moon and stars, that is made in Genesis is that:

And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.”

Genesis 1:14

For millennia mankind has been able to keep track of the seasons and years because of the orbits and positions of these heavenly bodies.

5. Stars falling to the Earth is an error in the Bible and a myth?

Rational Wiki says that:

The Bible makes it clear that stars are tiny objects in the sky that will fall down when Jesus comes back (Revelation 8:10)…”

Rational Wiki [ii]

So let’s look at the star falling from the sky:

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great** star*, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water – the name of the star is Wormwood.
A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.”

Revelation 8:10

The Hebrew is:
* ἀστήρ (astēr) ‘star’ (G0792) star. Occurs 24 times
Meaning: a star, luminous body like a star, luminary, Mt. 2:2, 7, 9, 10; Rev. 1:16 [iii]

A dictionary website says that luminary means:

Noun: ‘a celestial body, as the sun or moon, a body, object, etc., that gives light, a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others.’
Adjective: ‘of, relating to, or characterized by light’.”

Dictionary.com [x]

So in other words the star falling from heaven is not necessarily a literal star as we know from science.
It just means a bright light in the sky falling to the Earth, for example a meteorite, an asteroid, something which is big enough to cause a large amount of devastation, but not like a sun sized star crashing into the Earth!

This ‘star’ is described as great, and in the Hebrew means:
** μέγας (megas) ‘great’ (G3173) great; spatially: large; of quantity or degree: loud, intense, violent; of time: long (time); of position: great, important.

So any of those descriptions could be applied to an asteroid falling to the Earth and causing extensive damage.

6. Ant behaviour is wrong in the Bible?

Rational Wiki has an issue with what the Bible says about the ant.
The Bible verse that they are referring to is:

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Proverbs 6:6-8

It’s context is that it is encouraging people not to be lazy and after these verses it continues in the same vein.

Rational Wiki says:

The idea that the ant is an individual animal that does everything herself simply isn’t true from a biological standpoint.
Ants live in a colony with many subdivisions, which include workers and queens.
Most ants in reality do only have one mission and that is to make sure that their queen is fed and alive to pass on the genes to a succeeding population.
So, in a sense, worker ants do have rulers and the ant population does survive as a population, where every individual is dependent on another.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

Okay, their first point is that the ant isn’t an individual.

But these verses are simply saying ‘look at the ant and you won’t see one single lazy ant, they are all working’
Whatever their task or duty, whether they are workers (ergates), soldiers (dinergates) or fertile females called “queens” (gynes), or even fertile males called “drones” (who only live for a very short time to fly off and fertilise a queen).
They are all working and are not lazy!

Rational Wiki’s other point is that ‘worker ants do have rulers’.

But if you look into this subject it becomes very interesting:

Contrary to popular belief, some ant nests have multiple queens, while others may exist without queens.
Workers with the ability to reproduce are called “gamergates” and colonies that lack queens are then called gamergate colonies;
colonies with queens are said to be queen-right.”

‘Ant’ Wikipedia [xii]

Ant colonies don’t always have a ‘ruler’ a queen and:

The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.”

‘Ant’ Wikipedia [xii]

So the Bible is NOT in error and it isn’t saying anything wrong about ants.

7. Bible error in describing certain insects?

Rational Wiki has a problem with the way the Bible tries to differentiate between some insects:

All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.
There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.
Of these you may eat any kind of locust, cricket, cicada or grass-hopper.
But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.”

Leviticus 11:20-23

I would imagine that just about everybody knew at that time, that an insect has 6 legs and not 4. (It may be different now as we are further removed from nature).
A dictionary description of an insect is:

any animal of the class Insecta, comprising small, air-breathing arthropods having the body divided into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), and having three pairs of legs and usually two pairs of wings.
any small arthropod, such as a spider, tick, or centipede, having a superficial, general similarity to the insects.”

Dictionary.com ‘Insect’ [viii]

And a dictionary description of an Arachnid is:

Arachnid any wingless, carnivorous arthropod of the class Arachnida, including spiders, scorpions, mites, ticks, and daddy-longlegs, having a body divided into two parts, the cephalothorax and the abdomen, and having eight appendages and no antennae.”

Dictionary.com ‘Arachnid’ [xiv]

Rational Wiki make this comment on locusts walking on all fours:

Now if the passages lacked the first half discussing Group A, evangelical apologists such as J.P. Holding may have some ground.
But as the biblical text clearly differentiates Group A (those with no jointed legs) as separate to Group B (those with said jointed legs) and yet both groups are defined as having four legs, this argument can be of no defense.
Even if J.P Holding were correct on the still unsubstantiated basis that the ancient Hebrews defined crickets and similar insects of Group B as having four typical legs and two “jointed legs” for leaping, that still would not explain the missing legs of the beetles and other non-leaping insects from Group A which are discussed separately.”

Rational Wiki [ii]
Migratory locust Locusta migratoria. Is there Bible error in describing certain insects?
Migratory locust Locusta migratoria. Is there Bible error in describing certain insects? [xv]

So we can see from the photo that a locust has 6 legs in total.
But could it be said that there are 4 ‘conventional’ legs and two rather different ones?

If you watch the video below of a locust walking you can see that it’s front (four) legs are doing 3 steps forward to the one step forward by the huge back legs!
Is this something to do with “flying insects that walk on all fours”? I don’t know.

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Locusts “that walk on all fours…” Is this a Bible error?

The verse in Leviticus does seem very strange and rather baffling, so let’s go to the original Hebrew to see if there are any clues:

All flying* insects** that walk*** on all fours**** are to be regarded as unclean by you.
There are, however, some flying* insects** that walk*** on all fours**** that you may eat: those that have jointed# legs## for### hopping#### on the ground.”

Leviticus 11:20

* עוֹף (oph) ‘bird’ (H5775) Occurs 70 times
Meaning:
1) flying creatures, fowl, insects, birds
1a) fowl, birds
1b) winged insects

** שֶׁ֫רֶץ (she.rets) ‘swarm’ (H8318) Occurs 15 times
Meaning:
1) teeming or swarming things, creepers, swarmers
1a) of insects, animals, small reptiles, quadrupeds.

*** הָלַךְ (ha.lakh) ‘to go’ (H1980) Occurs about ~1343 times
Meaning:
1) to go, walk, come
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to go, walk, come, depart, proceed, move, go away
1a2) to die, live, manner of life (fig.)
1b) (Piel)
1b1) to walk
1b2) to walk (fig.)
1c) (Hithpael)
1c1) to traverse
1c2) to walk about
1d) (Niphal) to lead, bring, lead away, carry, cause to walk

**** אַרְבַּע (ar.ba) ‘four’ (H0702) Occurs 278 times.

# כֶּ֫רַע (ke.ra) ‘leg’ (H3767) Occurs 9 times

## מַ֫עַל (ma.al) ‘above’ (H4605) Occurs 134 times
Meaning:
subst
1) higher part, upper part
adv: 1a) above
prep: 1b) on the top of, above, on higher ground than
with locative
1c) upwards, higher, above

### רֶ֫גֶל (re.gel) ‘foot’ (H7272)

#### נָתַר (na.tar) ‘to start’ (H5425a) Occurs 3 times
Meaning:
1) to start up, tremble, shake, spring up
1a) (Qal) to start up
1b) (Piel) to leap
1c) (Hiphil) to cause to start up

So this is what we have got for this sentence now:

All winged insects that swarm and go on four are to be regarded as unclean by you… you may eat those that have legs that have a higher part above the foot to spring up from the ground.”

Peter’s unrefined translation.

This hasn’t fully answered the objections, but it is very clear that this law was saying that insects with those big back legs were okay to eat and if there was still any doubt it says:

Of these you may eat any kind of locust, cricket, cicada or grass-hopper.”

Leviticus 11:22

8. The Earth has 4 corners – another Bible error?

This phrase supposedly shows how ‘unscientific’ the Bible is:

and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Isaiah 11:12 English Standard Version 2016

To have four corners, in some people’s eyes, means that the Earth must be a flat square!
But it is just a figure of speech meaning that from every part of the Earth God will bring his people back to their land.
It is interesting to see that the same prophet in his book describes the Earth being round:

He sits enthroned above the circle* of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.”

Isaiah 40:22

* חוּג (chug) ‘circle’ (H2329) Occurs 3 times
Meaning:
1) circle, circuit, compass
2) (BDB) vault (of the heavens)

The other times this word is used is here:

Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault* of heaven.”

Job 22:14 English Standard Version 2016

I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon* on the face of the deep

Proverbs 8:27

9. The Earth built on 4 pillars – a Bible error?

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.”

1 Samuel 2:8 English Standard Version 2016

Do you think that this is a construction detail of how the Earth was built?
To me this is obviously an expression.
Everything doesn’t have to be scientifically correct to convey a meaning, for example:

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
That’s not true if someone confronts you in the street with a knife, but you know what the saying means.

Here’s another one:
“You are what you eat.” [xvii]
I’ve never turned into a beetroot, nor a potato.
That statement isn’t true, but we know the truth behind the saying, we know what it is telling us!

Does this mean that the Bible is saying that the earth is supported by pillars?
No, it is a figurative statement.
Here the Bible says the earth rests upon nothing:

He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing.”

Job 26:7 English Standard Version 2016

10. River Gihon could not possibly flow from Mesopotamia and encompass Ethiopia?

Right back to the time of the Garden of Eden, the Bible describes the area, including the rivers:

The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.”

Genesis 2:13 Cush is Ethiopia

The article by 24 News says:

River Gihon could not possibly flow from Mesopotamia and encompass Ethiopia”

‘The Problem of the Bible: Inaccuracies, contradictions, fallacies, scientific issues and more’ by 24 News [xviii]

The reason that this is being said is that the Red Sea cuts between Mesopotamia and Ethiopia.
So for a river to flow across that area must have meant that the geology was different then.
So are there any clues to a change in this geology, yes there is:

The Red Sea is considered a relatively new sea, whose development probably resembles that of the Atlantic Ocean in its early stages.
The Red Sea’s trough apparently formed in at least two complex phases of land motion.
The movement of Africa away from Arabia…”

‘The Red Sea’ Britannica [xix]

Now I would not agree with the timings of that incident, but it is interesting to note that the area was once flatter and it wouldn’t have had the Red Sea running between those two regions.

11. ‘Babel’ does not come from the Hebrew word ‘confuse’?

News 24’s article says:

The name Babel does not come from the Hebrew word ‘balbal’ or ‘confuse’ but from the babylonian ‘babili’ or ‘gate of God’ which is a translation of the original Sumerian name Ka-dimirra. (Gen 11:9)”

‘The Problem of the Bible: Inaccuracies, contradictions, fallacies, scientific issues and more’ by 24 News [xviii]

So I’ve found a very detailed study:
‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin (Member of the “Société Ethnologique” of Paris; of the “American Oriental Society”; corresponding member of the “Athénée Oriental” of Paris; author of “Assyria,” “Media,” etc.) Release Date: February 20, 2008

When Hammurabi established his residence at Babel, a city which had but lately risen to importance, he made it the capital of the empire first completely united under his rule (see p. 226), hence the name of Babylonia is given by ancient writers to the old land of Shumir and Accad, even more frequently than that of Chaldea..”

‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin [xx]

The reign of Hammurabi was, as we have already seen (see p. 219), a prosperous and brilliant one.
He was originally king of Tintir (the oldest name of Babylon), and when he united all the cities and local rulers of Chaldea under his supremacy, he assorted the pre-eminence among them for his own city, which he began to call by its new name, Ka-dimirra (Accadian for “Gate of God,” which was translated into the Semitic Bab-Il).
This king in every respect opens a new chapter in the history of Chaldea.”

‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin [xx]

The name Tintir is:

A spelling of the toponym (place name) Suanna, both as another name of Babylon and as a quarter of the city inside the Ura· Gate (George 1992, 374 f.).
The name Tintir also refers to a series of scholarly lists, incipit (the opening words of a text) Tintir = Babylon, that
celebrate Babylon, its monuments and topography (George 1992: 1–71; Veldhuis 1998).
In bilingual lists tin.tir occurs in the left-hand column, explained to the right as
(a) SU, i. e. Tintir,
(b) Suanna, and
(c) Babilu (Babylon), which prompted ancient scholars to
treat it as a Sumerian counterpart of (b) and (c).

‘Tintir’ by A. R. George SOAS University of London [xxii]

Editorial and paratextual remarks may be found in colophons, (which are: placed at the end of a book, scroll, or manuscript and giving details of its publication) and indicate canonicity, because they demonstrate the importance of secure transmission of the composition.
Here is one such colophon joining the 3 names: Tin.tir, ba-bi-lu and Babylon:

The only evidence for the existence of a tablet III is the colophon in the Neo-Babylonian manuscript z:
‘dub 5kam tin.tirki ba-bi-lu the five tablets of tin.tirki = Babylon’ “

‘TIN.TIR = Babylon, the Question of Canonization and the Production of Meaning’
by Niek Veldhuis [xxiii]
  • So to try and simplify the quotes from above:
  • The original name of Babel was Tintir.
  • Tintir has some sort of name connection with Babilu (Babylon).
  • Then later it was called: Ka-dimirra “Gate of God” which translates into the Semitic Bab-Il.
  • Tin.tir, ba-bi-lu and Babylon are all linked together in the colophon.

News 24’s article says: “The name Babel does not come from the Hebrew word ‘balbal’ or ‘confuse’ but from the babylonian ‘babili’ or ‘gate of God’ which is a translation of the original Sumerian name Ka-dimirra.” [xviii]
But this is too sweeping a statement which cannot be solved like that.
Wikipedia puts it like this:

The original derivation of the name Babel (also the Hebrew name for Babylon) is uncertain.
The native, Akkadian name of the city was Bāb-ilim, meaning “gate of God”.
However, that form and interpretation itself are now usually thought to be the result of an Akkadian folk etymology applied to an earlier form of the name, Babilla, of unknown meaning and probably non-Semitic origin.
According to the Bible, the city received the name “Babel” from the Hebrew verb בָּלַ֥ל (bālal), meaning to jumble or to confuse.”

‘Tower of Babel’ Wikipedia [xxi]

There simply is no easy answer but you can’t say categorically that Babylon has not originated from the Hebrew word Babel.

12. Is this an error in the Bible that Ur was not a Chaldean city until 1000 years after Abraham?

Well News 24 states:

Ur was not a Chaldean city until 1000 years after Abraham”

‘The Problem of the Bible: Inaccuracies, contradictions, fallacies, scientific issues and more’ by 24 News [xviii]

This is what the Bible states in two different verses:

While his# father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.”

# that is Abram (later to be called Abraham) Genesis 11:28

He also said to him#, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’

# that is Abram (later to be called Abraham) Genesis 15:7

News 24 makes this amazing announcement that the Bible is inaccurate by saying that Abraham left Ur, a Chaldean city, when they are saying that it only became Chaldean 1000 years AFTER Abraham. [xiii]

So I’ve found a very detailed study:
‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin (Member of the “Société Ethnologique” of Paris; of the “American Oriental Society”; corresponding member of the “Athénée Oriental” of Paris; author of “Assyria,” “Media,” etc.) Release Date: February 20, 2008
Which says about the people of Ur and Abraham:

Therewith evidently ends the connection between the two people, who are severed for all time from the moment that Abraham goes forth with his tribe from Ur of the Chaldees, probably in the reign of Amarpal (father of Hammurabi), whom the Bible calls Amraphel, king of Shineâr.”

‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin [xx]

So News 24 was absolutely wrong (by 1000 years) in their statement.

13 Allegorical writings – discerning the myths from the reality

Rational Wiki says:

The Bible makes it clear that stars are tiny objects in the sky that will fall down when Jesus comes back (Revelation 8:10).
However, other verses in the book of Revelation clearly use “stars” in a figurative sense (for example, see Rev. 9:1 and Rev. 12:3, 4), so it is possible that the writer did not intend to make a statement about literal celestial bodies in 8:10 either.
Indeed, given the highly allegorical and symbolic nature of apocalyptic literature in general, any literal understanding of Revelation is generally ill-advised until taking into consideration the idea that this is supposedly divine inspiration to which laws, societies and lives are proposed to be based upon.”

Rational Wiki [ii]

Let’s just check what the Bible says:

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth.
The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.”

Revelation 9:1

So obviously ‘the star’ here is a ‘being’ of some kind, because that being was “given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.”

How to interpret the Bible – it’s not sorting out the myth from the truth

There are different ways of looking at what is written in the Bible, and many agree with four sub-methods of Scriptural interpretation:

A Latin rhyme designed to help scholars remember the four interpretations survives from the Middle Ages.
The rhyme is roughly translated:

The literal teaches what God and our ancestors did,
The allegory is where our faith and belief is hid,
The moral meaning gives us the rule of daily life,
The anagogy (spiritual) shows us where we end our strife.’

St Augustine of Hippo (354-430) used the four fold interpretive method in his explanation of Christian doctrine…”

‘Allegorical interpretation of the Bible’ Wikipedia [xi]

So the 4 ways to interpret what is written in the Bible is:

  • Literal interpretation: starting from the historic time and trying to understand the text in the culture and time it was written, and location and language it was composed in.
  • Allegorical interpretation: connecting the events of the Old Testament with the New Testament, particularly drawing allegorical connections between the events of Christ’s life with the stories of the Old Testament.
    Also, a passage can speak directly to someone and is like a direct word from God to the individual.
  • Moral interpretation: ‘the moral of the story’ or how one should act now.
    Many of Jesus’ parables and the Book of Proverbs and other wisdom books are packed with moral meaning.
  • Prophetic interpretation: dealing with the future events of Christian history (eschatology) as well as heaven, hell, the last judgement, the General Resurrection and second coming of Christ, etc.

Rational Wiki only sees one way to interpret the Bible and that is the literal way and possibly reading a moral from the story.
What is forgotten is that Jesus taught in parables:

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables;
he did not say anything to them without using a parable…”

Matthew 13:34

Why did Jesus speak in parables?
Most people would say it was to make it as simple as possible, but that is not the correct answer.
Jesus told us why:

His disciples asked him what this parable meant.
He said, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’ ”

Luke 8:9

Yes, the secrets are hidden from people!
What type of people?
Those who are too proud, or who are too full of themselves and their learning, that they won’t stoop to humbly know what Jesus is actually saying.

Bible myths that don’t appear to be right but in fact are scientific

Earth from space. What errors are in the Bible?

Many would say that the Bible is unscientific.
What’s the Bible’s view of the earth?

During the creation in Genesis it tells us that God:

separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light day and the darkness he called night.”

Genesis 1:4

If you had a blob of red plasticine and a blob of blue plasticine pushed together on a table.
Then you separate the red plasticine from the blue and leave them both on the table.
Both are present at the same time.
That’s a no brainer!
But now relate that to separating light from the darkness:

That is such an interesting phrase!

It implies that light and darkness, day and night are both present at the same time on the surface of the earth.
Early man probably wouldn’t have appreciated that concept.

A planet showing light and dark on it's surface.

But day and night being on the earth at the same time was only fully realised when astronauts were able to look back at the earth and see this for themselves.

Space flight gives better insight into the early verses in Genesis.

Light and darkness, day and night are both present at the same time on the surface of the earth!

Does the Bible contain any mistakes?

The Bible contains many styles of writings, poetry, history, songs, letters and prophesy, and it is all written by different people.
Yet there is a harmony and power within it’s words, which can reveal the invisible qualities of God.
How is that possible? It is because it is “God breathed” ( 2 Timothy 3:16)
Down through the centuries the scribes may have made little errors in copying down the numbers and translators have struggled to get the exact meaning so that the average person can understand, but even then God’s power is still within it’s pages.
So yes, the Bible does contain some mistakes, but none that stop God’s Spirit revealing the Truth to each generation.

What are the major contradictions in the Bible?

1) The apparent contradictions in the 4 Gospel accounts:
Think about it, we’ve got 4 witnesses at a tumultuous time when Jesus was healing people, thousands were crowding around him, the religious leaders were jiving at Jesus and then he was falsely accused and crucified. Their heads were in a spin. The 4 witnesses wrote down everything they remembered and it all bears the same witness, but there are one or two minor things which aren’t the same (but this don’t alter the total story).
2) The apparent contradiction:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
And yet the Bible also says about certain people:
“…was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1)
Then in 1 John 5:18 it says: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin.”
So what is happening here?
The bottom line is yes, all have sinned and many will continue with their back toward God.
Others will turn to God wanting to please him, but at times failing, which in the Old Testament God would say that they were: “blameless and upright”.
It’s the same in the New Testament except that anyone who believes in Jesus is “born again” (John 3:3) and becomes God’s child and they are helped by his Spirit.
3) Another apparent contradiction: God’s rules (laws) keep changing?
a) The 10 Commandments and other moral laws in the Old Testament form a foundation of law of right and wrong.
b) The O.T. Ceremonial laws which involved the temple and animal offerings all demonstrate that our wrong doings (sin) results in death. Although this sounds very grim, all the things used in the temple were illustrations pointing towards the ‘Messiah’ coming and how he would basically be THE sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
c) Moses’ health laws (from Leviticus, etc) taught about sanitation, quarantine, how to deal with body waste, or a dead body, etc and are generally relevant today.
d) Jesus’ New Covenant didn’t do away with the 10 Commandments and other moral laws, Jesus said: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.’ (Matthew 5:17)
He also said: ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (John 13:34)
Basically the Old Testament Law was saying: ‘Obey or pay the penalty’.
The New Testament is saying: ‘Everyone is incapable of totally obeying, so turn to Jesus, hand over this intolerable burden and accept that Jesus has paid the penalty.’

References:
[i] ‘The Waters Above’ by Joseph Dillow, Chicago: Moody Press, 1981, p. 2
[ii] ‘Biblical scientific errors’ Rational Wiki
[iii] Word Analysis by the Step Bible
[iv] ‘Palm Sunday’ Wikipedia
[v] SNU ‘The Parable of the Mustard Seed’
[vi] The Brazen Sea is destroyed by the Chaldeans (watercolour, circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot, or followers) at the Jewish Museum, New York. Public Domain.
[vii] ‘What Is Synonymous Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry?’ by Alyssa Roat
[viii] ‘London Planetarium’ wikipedia
[ix] ‘History of plant systematics’ Wikipedia
[x] ‘luminary’ Dictionary.com
[xi] ‘Allegorical interpretation of the Bible’ Wikipedia
[xii] ‘Ant’ Wikipedia
[xiii] Dictionary.com ‘Insect’
[xiv] Dictionary.com ‘Arachnid’
[xv] ‘Locust’ Wikipedia Holger Krisp, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
[xvi] ‘Does the Bible Make Unscientific Statements?’ by Don Stewart
[xvii] ’10 Common Sayings that Aren’t Exactly True’ by One Country
[xviii] ‘The Problem of the Bible: Inaccuracies, contradictions, fallacies, scientific issues and more’ by 24 News
[xix] ‘The Red Sea’ Britannica
[xx] ‘Chaldea From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria’ by Zénaïde A. Ragozin
[xxi] ‘Tower of Babel’ Wikipedia
[xxii] ‘Tintir’ by A. R. George SOAS University of London
[xxiii] ‘TIN.TIR = Babylon, the Question of Canonization and the Production of Meaning’ by Niek Veldhuis. Source: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 50, (1998), pp. 77-85. Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research

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