Purported Errors In Scripture

Introduction: Evolution = "Willful Ignorance" (to quote Peter)

Dr. Denis Lamoureux tells us that God spoke to people long ago using the erroneous "ancient science" of the day. Or, in other words, the Biblical view of origins is a collection of myths. He implies that evolution is a discovery of modern "science" which the ancients could not comprehend. Actually, evolution is as old as atheism; it is the atheists' explanation for origins.1 According to "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant, the Greek philosopher Democritus described evolution by natural selection in 400 BC. Since we know that many Greek thinkers shared his atheism, and since the Holy Land of 2000 years ago was dominated by the Greek language and culture, it is reasonable to assume that Jesus and his disciples were aware of evolutionism.

Now, if Jesus is God, and if He speaks to men using Lamoureux's "science of the day", and if evolution is true, then He should have endorsed the evolutionist teachings of the Greek philosophers. But he did not. He spoke of creation and the flood, of Adam and Eve, and of Noah2. Other New Testament writers made similar comments. Especially noteworthy are the words of Peter. Writing in Greek, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Peter said that there would come a time when men would be "willfully ignorant" of the fact that God first created the world, then destroyed it with a flood. (2 Peter 2: 4-6)

Denis Lamoureux tells us that Jesus and Peter were wrong, and that the hundreds of Scriptures that refer to Genesis 1-11 are also wrong. He claims to have "overwhelming evidence" that evolution is true, but he neither publishes nor posts this proof on his website. Instead, he promotes his philosophy by attacking the Bible and by using devious arguments some of which we have described elsewhere. It seems obvious that his attacks on the Bible are intended to distract us from the poverty of the case for evolution. Nonetheless, we shall respond.

The purported errors in Scripture, which he euphemistically calls "ancient science" are the same "errors" which aggressive atheists and liberals have long used to mock the Bible. They find "errors" by quoting passages out of context, by taking figurative language literally and by exploiting questionable translations. Since we suspect that Dr. Lamoureux's commitment to evolution is based on bad theology, not good science, we will examine some of his theology. And as we do, we invite you to consider the question: "Why doesn't he acknowledge the sources of his material?"




Notes:

  1. Atheists deny the Creator, so their explanation for origins has always been gradual development or "evolution".
  2. Matthew 19:4-5; 23:35; 24:37-39, Mark 10:6, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Jude 14, Romans 5:14




Rabbits "Chew the Cud"

Dr. Lamoureux presents Leviticus 11:6 as an example of the Bible's erroneous "ancient science"1. The passage says that rabbits "chew the cud".

Ruminants, such as sheep and cattle, "chew the cud" when they regurgitate and re-chew food from one of their four stomachs. Rabbits are not ruminants, so by our modern definition they do not chew the cud. However, rabbits do re-chew their food, and in a most unusual way. They eat their droppings! Biologists call this quaint activity "reflection".

The Hebrew phrase which has been translated "chew the cud" simply means to "raise up what has been swallowed." And this is exactly what rabbits do.

Image from www.hhollick.com

Jonathan Sarfati says: "It is not an error in Scripture that "chewing the cud" now has a more restrictive meaning than it did in Moses day."2

For every purported error, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. The footnote below directs you to a very thorough treatment of this subject by J. P. Holding, and a second footnote3 directs you to a long list of resources which refute this and similar attacks on the Bible.

A man with a Doctorate in theology knows of these resources yet he trots out lame old supposed errors which have been thoroughly refuted. Why does he do this? Is he counting on our credulity and his "academic authority" to deceive us?




Notes:

  1. From his lecture "The Bible and Science; Beyond Concord and Conflict".
  2. "Do Rabbits Chew their Cud" by Jonathan Sarfati at www.answersingenesis.org. As an addendum, Sarfati attaches a more detailed article "Rabbits Do Not Chew Their Cud" by J. P. Holding.
  3. "Bible Difficulties" at www.apocalipsis.org




The Bat a Bird?

Leviticus 11:13,19 calls the bat a "bird". Dr. Lamoureux presents this as another example of scientific error in the Scripture1.

Image from volcano.und.nodak.edu

Shame on Moses, he didn't use the Linnean classification system which was developed 3,000 years after his time. According to Strong's Concordance, at www.blueletterbible.org, the Hebrew word "owph" which is usually translated "bird", simply means "flying creature". According to the analysis of J. P. Holding2, the word could refer to a flying insect, a bird, a bat, or even a pterosaur.

Hey! Wait a minute... hold the hermeneutical, etymological, lexicological mumbo jumbo. Is Lamoureux telling us that Moses and his contemporaries didn't notice that there is a difference between bats and birds? If you think that this is a Bible error, give your head a shake! Lamoureux's use of this passage indicates that he is having trouble producing examples of erroneous "ancient science" in Scripture.




Notes:

  1. From his lecture "The Bible and Science: Beyond Concord and Conflict"
  2. .
  3. "Does the Bible Wrongly Call the Bat a Bird?" J. P. Holding at www.tektonics.org.




The Mustard Seed ... the "Smallest of Seeds"?

In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus says that the mustard seed is "smaller than all other seeds." But there are weeds in our gardens whose seeds are smaller than mustard seeds. Common poppy seeds are smaller than mustard seeds1, and Lamoureux is delighted to report that orchid seeds are like dust. So is Jesus totally ignorant of botany? Has Lamoureux demonstrated erroneous "ancient science" in the Bible? Not likely...

Image from www.heronfarm.co.uk

Jesus is not speaking of weeds or orchids, and He is not addressing an international conference of botanists. Look at the context. He is talking about the seeds that a first century Jewish farmer would plant in his field. Those farmers didn't plant weeds or orchids, but they did plant mustard seeds: and those were the smallest seeds that they planted. So Jesus knows exactly what He is talking about.

Denis Lamoureux knows what he is doing too. Pulling passages out of context is one of the favorite tricks of the enemies of Scripture.

For a more elegant treatment of the mustard seed question, see "Is the Mustard Seed the Smallest of Seeds?" at www.christiananswers.net.




Notes:

  1. Go to the grocery store and compare poppy seeds and mustard seeds.




Seed "Death"

In John 12:24 Jesus says that a seed must "die" in order to produce many other seeds. Similarly, He would die so that many others could live.

Seed germinating image from www.visions-of-science.co.uk

But germination is not death. Is Jesus botanically ignorant? Has Lamoureux documented error in Scripture1, or is Jesus simply using poetic license to make his analogy?

It seems obvious that the latter is the case. Furthermore, He is not stretching the meaning of the word "death" too far. After death, our bodies cease to exist as recognizable entities, yet our spirits live on. Similarly, when a seed sprouts it ceases to exist as a recognizable entity, yet a new plant lives on. Jesus uses the word "death" in this way.

Metaphors and similes pervade Jesus' teaching. For example, He says that He is the "bread of life", He tells his followers to be "fishers of men", and He warns them to "beware of wolves in sheep's clothing". Lamoureux nit picks through Jesus' imagery trying to conjure up error. It seems that his critical spirit has overwhelmed his common sense.

Are you one of Lamoureux's disciples? It is our opinion that those who eagerly embrace the Lamoureux doctrine, are like the people to whom the Paul referred in his second letter to Timothy:

"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them what they want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT)




Notes:

  1. From his lecture "The Bible and Science: Beyond Concord and Conflict".




Barren Women

In his interview with www.canadianchristianity.com and in his lecture "Beyond Concord and Conflict" Dr. Lamoureux lists the following seven scriptures which refer to barren women: Genesis 11:30, Genesis 25:21, Isaiah 54:1, Luke 23:29, Luke 1:7, Galatians 4:27 and Hebrews 11:11. He tells us that the authors of Scripture believed that only women could be infertile. Supposedly this is another illustration of erroneous "ancient science" in the Bible. He builds his case with an etymological analysis of some Greek and Hebrew words, but he's just blowing smoke. We can see through his smoke screen with a little common sense, and a little Bible knowledge.

Didn't the ancients realize that all of our bodies' systems are subject to disease and decay? Surely they did. And doesn't it logically follow that the male reproductive system can fail too? Some men, regardless of how many wives they have, do not have children. Didn't anyone notice? Young "barren" widows could be impregnated by new husbands...didn't anyone notice? Common sense answers these questions: "Yes, the ancients knew that men could have reproductive problems." Further evidence is found in Matthew 19:12. Here Scripture refers to men who are born eunuchs. Matthew certainly knew that some men are sterile because he says that they are eunuchs "from their mother's wombs." (KJV)

As with his other examples of erroneous "ancient science" in the Bible, Dr. Lamoureux's argument collapses under scrutiny. Four of his seven texts were written at about the same time that Matthew referred to male infertility. Three of his texts refer to the same woman (Sarah) and one of them predicts the impending destruction of the temple (70 AD) and says; "...the days are coming when they will say 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs which never bare...'" Luke 23:29 (KJV) This is just another way of saying,"It would be better if they had never been born." How does that support the notion that only women can be infertile?

His texts name only three barren women, but with a little more homework, he could have found a few more. It is fair to ask, "Why does Scripture allude to their reproductive difficulties?" We do not know but perhaps female sterility was more common long ago because of inadequate reproductive healthcare. Also, it is worth noting that Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Samson and John the Baptist were all born to women who had been barren and whose prayers for deliverance were answered. Perhaps God wants to show that He was significantly involved in the births of each of these great Bible characters or perhaps he wanted to show that these men had godly mothers...

Dr. Denis Lamoureux portrays himself as a spiritual giant. He often says: "I love the Word of God. I drink from it deeply every morning for my spiritual nourishment."1 He likes to offer Christians what he calls "pastoral advice". Well, we have some advice for him! Perhaps he should take a few sips from Matthew, and maybe a couple gulps of common sense.




Notes:

  1. His "drink deeply" comment is found on his web page, and in a letter to The Editor of The Edmonton Journal, June 15 2005. The same statement is repeated in three of the four teacher's convention lectures that we have heard.




The Flat Earth - General Comments

"Chris, don't go, you'll fall off the edge of the world."

For some reason, "sophisticated" modern people like to think of their distant ancestors as being extremely simple-minded. Didn't any of them think to ask; "If Columbus and his ships can fall off the edge of the earth, then why doesn't the ocean water do the same and drain away?" Dr. Denis Lamoureux would have us believe that the ancients thought that the earth was flat. While he does not specifically discuss the accepted cosmology of 1492, it is relevant to this discussion because those who accept the flat earth myth are susceptible to Lamoureux's claim that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat.

Santa Maria image from webexhibits.org/vinland/historical.html

Ladies and gentlemen, many of you will be reluctant to accept the reasoning that follows, but if you give these ideas some thought, you will soon realize that it is we, not the ancients, who have believed a silly myth.

Columbus and his contemporaries knew that the earth is a sphere. That it is round is apparent to anyone who stands on the shore and watches a sailing ship slowly disappear over the horizon. Also, isn't it common knowledge that in order to look farther out to sea, you need to climb a mountain? And isn't that because a higher vantage point will allow you to look over the curved surface of the earth? Two thousand years before Columbus, a Greek philosopher, Oenopides of Cheos correctly calculated the tilt of the earth on its axis1. At about the same time, Pythagoras (of triangle fame) described the solar system as sun-centered with spherical planets, including the earth, circling it2. In the third century BC, Eratosthenes correctly calculated the circumference of the earth3. The ancient Greeks certainly knew that the earth is a sphere, and the Europeans of Columbus' day were well aware of their writing. According to "Scientific American" (October/November 1992), Columbus erroneously believed that the earth is much smaller than it is. He therefore believed that he could reach the Orient before his supplies ran out.

"So how did the flat earth myth originate?" According to the same "Scientific American" article, it was started by Washington Irving, who is best known as the author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle". In 1829, he wrote another fantasy: "The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus". As is a fiction writer's prerogative, he simply invented the myth. The story grew legs, and evolution promoters have been cultivating it ever since.

Generally, people are reluctant to part with a cherished idea, so before we consider Dr. Lamoureux's contributions to the flat earth myth, we will give you a few more thoughts to chew on.

Time lapse photo of stars "moving" with respect to the north star from www.studentweb.coloradocollege.edu.

Since ancient times, travelers have used the North Star for navigation. It is aligned with the earth's axis of rotation, so it does not appear to move during the night, as do all of the other stars. However, traveling north or south causes the North Star to rise or fall with respect to the horizon. Traveling east or west does not affect the star's elevation. Reflecting on this phenomenon should lead travelers to the conclusion that they are moving on the surface of a sphere.

Stonehenge photo from www.knet.co.za.

According to "Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients", Stonehenge and other megalithic structures were used to predict solar and lunar eclipses. This means that four thousand years ago, stone-age residents of the British Isles could first anticipate, then stand and watch as the earth's curved shadow slowly obscured the moon. Do we really think that the earth's spherical nature would have been news to them?

Step outside some evening and take a look at a new moon when it is close to the horizon. Isn't it obviously a sphere that is illuminated from the side? Then isn't it likely that the ancients would suspect that the earth is also a sphere that experiences periods of light and darkness as it is illuminated by the same light source? And isn't it likely that they would suspect that it "hangeth upon nothing" (Job 26:7) just like the moon?

A new moon over Edson. Note the thin crescent on the lower right. Obviously, the moon is a sphere that is illuminated from the side and "hangeth upon nothing."

Jeffrey Burton Russell, professor of History at the University of California, has done a scholarly study of the purported flat-earth belief of our ancestors. In his book "Inventing the Flat Earth", he shows that neither ancient nor medieval people believed the earth to be flat. He traces the origin of this modern myth and shows who promotes it. In a short paper, found at www.ucsb.edu Russell explains why this myth persists:

"The reason for promoting both the specific lie about the sphericity of the earth and the general lie that religion and science are in natural and eternal conflict in Western Society, is to defend Darwinism... The flat-earth lie was ammunition against the creationists. The argument was simple and powerful, if not elegant. 'Look how stupid these Christians are. They are always getting in the way of science and progress. These people who deny evolution today are exactly the same sort of people as the idiots, who for at least a thousand years denied that the earth is round. How stupid can you get?"

Russell is correct, this straw-man argument, while not elegant, is powerful. Denis Lamoureux has built a career on it!




Notes:

  1. Time-Life book "Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients".
  2. "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant.
  3. Time-Life book "Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients".




The Flat Earth... Not in Scripture

Speaking euphemistically, Dr. Denis Lamoureux tells us that the Bible speaks to men using "ancient science". He reasons that since the Bible is wrong about the shape of the earth, it is also wrong when it speaks of creation and a worldwide flood. By Lamoureux logic, since creation is a myth, evolution must be true, so no proof is needed. But there is a fly in his ointment...

Unfortunately for Dr. Lamoureux, the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat, so he has to get down to some serious eisegesis1. To make his case, he pulls passages out of context and ignores obvious figures of speech. Consider these examples:

  1. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that the queen of Sheba came "from the ends of the earth..." According to Lamoureux, this shows a flat world view. But consider the context: about four hundred years before Matthew wrote, the Greeks had conquered and occupied Israel. The Greek culture was so pervasive, that Greek was the language of commerce and government in the Roman Empire. Almost all of the New Testament was originally written in Greek. These Greeks had hundreds of years earlier correctly calculated the earth's circumference, so Matthew and his contemporaries were almost certainly aware that the earth is a sphere. Perhaps the queen of Sheba had reported living where Lamoureux's hard dome touches the end of the flat earth, but it seems more likely that the professor has chosen to take a figure of speech literally because it suits his purpose. (Does that make him a literalist?) "From the ends of the earth" simply means "from far away".
  2. Lamoureux's second flat earth "proof" text is as follows: "There was a tree at the center of the earth and its height was great... and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth." Daniel 4:10-11. According to Dr. Lamoureux, this shows that Nebuchadnezzer and Daniel thought that the earth is flat. Maybe, but maybe not... the passage is taken from a description of the king's second dream. His first dream (Daniel 2:31-33) describes how a stone "cut without hands" hits an image made of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay. Then the stone becomes a mountain and "fills the whole earth". What does this show? Maybe that dreams are weird and that texts pulled out of context are a pretext for promoting someone's agenda...

The passages that we have considered, Nebuchadnezzer's dream and the "ends of the earth" quotes, are the only arguments that Dr. Lamoureux offers in his web lecture to substantiate his oft repeated claim that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat.

His feeble argument is undermined by the fact that three Scripture passages refer to the "circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22, Proverbs 8:27, and Job 26:10). Dr. Lamoureux would have us believe that these verses refer to a flat disc-shaped earth. He assures his audience that the word translated "circle" cannot mean "sphere". But, how can he be dogmatic concerning the precise meaning of a word used in imagery and written so long ago? J. P. Holding In "What Shape is the Earth In?" at www.tektonics.org points out that the ancient Hebrews did not have a specific word for "sphere". Therefore the word "chwug" which is translated "circle" in Isaiah 40:22 can also mean "sphere".

Image from geophysics.ou.edu

It seems that Dr. Lamoureux is just trying to explain away passages that undermine his flat earth teaching. Perhaps that is the reason that he does not complete the sentence when he quotes Job 26:10 (NASB) in his web lecture. His notes say "God inscribed a circle on the surface of the water." The full verse is "He inscribed a circle on the surface of the water at the boundary between light and darkness." Since the spherical earth is illuminated from the side, half of it is dark, half is light. A circle could be drawn around the earth at this boundary between darkness and light. So, it seems that this passage refers to a spherical earth. It also seems that Dr. Lamoureux, by quoting only half of the text, may be giving us something less than the whole truth.

We could score a debating point by ending this section with that last paragraph, but that would be unfair. While it is true that Dr. Lamoureux omitted the part of the verse which contradicted his position, it should also be pointed out that the wordings of many other translations add nothing to either side of the argument. We will conclude by reminding you that translation is not a precise science. Often, there is no one-to-one correspondence between words in different languages. Also, the meanings of words shift with time, so it is not always possible to make strong assertions concerning the shades of meaning of words written so long ago.

Dr. Lamoureux presents dubious translation as established fact as he tries to diminish Scripture. Why is he doing this? He wants us to believe his evolutionism, so why doesn't he simply present his "overwhelming evidence"?




Notes:

  1. Eisegesis is the scholarly art of reading into Scripture the meaning that you wish to find.




The Geocentric Solar System... Not in Scripture

As another example of erroneous "ancient science" in the Bible, Dr. Lamoureux tells us that the Scriptures assume a geocentric solar system. To make the point, he quotes five Scriptures in his web lecture.

Two of his proof texts are hardly worthy of comment... yes, Ecclesiastes 1:5 and Psalm 19:6 use the words "sunrise and "sunset". And yes, we know that the sun's apparent transit across the sky is caused by the earth's rotation. But don't we use the same phenomenological language today? Then why not allow Scripture to do the same?

Matthew 24:29-30 and Revelation 6:13-14 speak of stars falling to earth "like figs falling from a tree." Obviously, the stars do not hang over the earth like figs that are ready to fall, so, according to Lamoureux, this shows an erroneous view of the solar system. Actually, it shows "literalist" Lamoureux up to his tricks again. He interprets a figurative passage literally so that he can show "error" in Scripture.

When he tells us that these passages are referring to the "end of the world", he is playing along with popular paperback eschatology; but a man with a PhD in theology knows, or should know, better. "Stars falling" is a metaphor which Scripture uses to describe a catastrophe for a nation. At the start of Matthew 24, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple will be destroyed; then they ask for a sign of his coming and of the end of the "age"1. Naturally, the destruction of the temple and its sacrificial system would bring that "age" to an end. Jesus described things that would happen before the temple would be destroyed and shortly after saying that the stars would fall, he said that all of these things would happen "before that generation passed away."2

With 20/20 hindsight, we can say that the "age" came to an end in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and the city. Jesus "came" in judgment "before that generation had passed away," exactly as predicted. The passage is not referring to the end of the world. Today we often refer to celebrities and prominent athletes as "stars". Similarly, the Bible often uses vivid imagery such as stars falling and the
Petra photo from
www.thedayofthelordisathand.com
sun going dark to describe a catastrophe for a nation. Matthew 24 and Revelation 6:13-14 describe the end of the Jewish sacrificial/religious system.3

Lamoureux's fifth "proof" text is Isaiah 34. This is another "falling star" passage. Again, he says that it refers to the end of the world, but a careful reading of the text shows that this is not the case. The end of the world is not in view because the prophet says that thorns will grow in the palaces and wild animals will be their only occupants. The passage predicts the destruction and the continuing desolation of the land of Edom and the thousands of tourists who have visited the abandoned city of Petra can certify that the prophecy has been fulfilled and that the prophecy continues to be fulfilled.

Petra photo from www.joshuanet.org

Throughout Scripture, eschatological passages use similar vivid imagery. Dr. Lamoureux knows this yet he builds his theology on poetic language. Such behavior obscures rather than illuminates the truth.




Notes:

  1. In Matthew 24:4, the King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase "the end of the world", but virtually every other translation says "end of the age". The Greek word being translated is "aion" which means "eon or age". If the Greek word "kosmos" had been used then "world" would be the correct translation. Dr. Lamoureux knows this, yet he uses the faulty translation to advance his agenda.
  2. Matthew 24:34.
  3. For more information on the fact that many Bible prophecies refer to the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem in 70 AD, we recommend "The Parousia" by Stuart Russell available on line at www.preteristarchive.com, "Last Days Madness" by Gary Demar and "Before Jerusalem Fell: The Dating of Revelation" by Ken Gentry.




The Waters Above the Firmament

Real conservative Christians believe the Bible to be verbally inspired by God and inerrant as originally written. Yet skeptics list hundreds of supposed errors and contradictions therein. Almost all are easily refuted; however a few difficult passages do require more effort. Dr. Lamoureux has put his finger on one of the most difficult when he says that the Bible teaches a "three tiered" world view in which the sky is a hard dome which arches over a flat earth, and that a vast reservoir of water is supported by this dome.

In his web lecture "Beyond the Evolution vs. Creation Debate", he tells us that the ancients believed that rain came from this celestial ocean. Let's apply a little common sense to this assertion. Didn't they notice that rain comes from clouds? Didn't they notice that steam from boiling water disappears into the air? Didn't they notice that, in sunlight, dew evaporates and clothing gets dry? Doesn't it seem likely that they might suspect that this evaporated water returns to earth as precipitation? Surely that is the case; Psalms 135:7 links evaporation and rainfall and Ecclesiastes 1: 7 comments on the complete hydrologic cycle.1

Rain and evaporation photos from ccc.atmos.colostate.edu and www.epa.gov/region08

"He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightning for the rain..." Psalm 135:7 (KJV)

"All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full. Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again." Ecclesiastes 1:7 (KJV)

Common sense refutes some of Lamoureux's unsubstantiated statements. However, as noted earlier, not all are so easily defeated. Biblical references to the firmament, and the waters above and below the firmament, need to be analyzed. We will first outline the problem, then we will present a solution.

The Problem: While it is a fact that Pythagoras2 correctly described our solar system in 500 BC, it is also a fact that this idea was not widely accepted for almost 2000 years. Many ancient Greek thinkers thought that the spherical3 earth is surrounded by a hard spherical shell (or shells) and that beyond this was a reservoir of water. Several Scriptures seem to endorse this erroneous cosmology.

"And God said: let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. Genesis 1:6-8 KJV

What exactly is this "firmament" which God "called heaven" and what are the waters "above the firmament"? Psalm 148:3,4 is another passage which indicates that there are waters above the heavens:

"Praise him ye sun and moon; praise him ye stars of light. Praise him ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that are above the heavens."

Some conservative writers have suggested that these passages may be referring to water in the earth's atmosphere, or to a vapor canopy surrounding the primordial earth. This explanation seems inadequate because the sun, moon and even the stars are "in" the firmament, while the water is "above" the firmament. Two passages make this point:

"And God made two great lights, the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth." Genesis 1:16-17 KJV

"The heavens declare the Glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork... in them he hath set a tabernacle for the sun" Psalm 19:1,4 KJV

To this point we have seen that there is water above and below the firmament and that the sun, moon, and stars are in the firmament. The problem, for the conservative Christian, is further exacerbated by the fact that the idea of hardness or firmness seems to be inherent in the word "firmament". Job 37:18 (NIV) also seems to support this idea that the sky is hard:

"Can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?"

We have amplified the problem by selecting passages from translations which best support the point that we are making. This technique, taken from the Lamoureux bag of tricks, magnifies the problem. But still, the problem is real. Many skeptics argue the Bible teaches that a hard shell, supporting a huge amount of water, arches over the earth.

Before considering a solution to the theological problem that we have just outlined, we should note that Dr. Lamoureux did not discover the alleged errors which he uses to discredit the Bible and thus advance his evolutionist philosophy. Long before Lamoureux, aggressive atheists were mocking the Bible for supposedly teaching that a water-supporting hard dome arches over a flat earth. A 1987 article "The Flat Earth Bible" by Robert J. Schadewald available at www.positiveatheism.org, makes the same arguments as Lamoureux. A 1969 article by Paul H. Seely, "The Three-Storied Universe", available at www.asa3.org makes the same case. In "What is the 'Firmament' of Genesis 1?", available at www.apologeticspress.org, Bert Thompson describes how science fiction writer Isaac Asimov and television personality Steve Allen referred to the hard dome and mocked the Bible for its "scientific absurdity" and "nonsense". He quotes from liberal theologians Murray and Buffaloe, who use one of Lamoureux's favorite phrases "the three-tiered universe". The Lamoureux message is not original, yet he does not acknowledge the sources of his materials. Why not? Does he want us to think that he originated these ideas, or is he afraid that giving credit where it is due, would destroy the pretense that he is a "conservative Christian"?

The Solution: Would God present his truth in a book filled with errors in science and history? Surely not! Would enemies of the truth selectively translate key words and build doctrine on questionable passages? We've already presented several examples and we will again note this atheist/liberal tendency as we sort through this conundrum. We will explore the meaning of "firmament", and then we will discuss the waters above and below the firmament.

Dr. Lamoureux tells his audiences that the Hebrew word "raqia" which is translated "firmament" in the passages noted earlier means a hard dome. This facile statement needs to be scrutinized. He is correct when he says that the idea of firmness is inherent in the word firmament, but we should trace through the translations to see where the concept originated.

The Hellenized Jews, who produced the Septuagint in about 200 B,C., thought that the spherical earth was covered by a hard spherical shell.4 So with this cultural bias in mind, they translated "raqia" with the Greek word "stereoma" which means "firm". When Jerome produced the Latin vulgate translation, he worked from the Greek Septuagint and used the Latin word "firmamentum", which conveys the same meaning as "stereoma". The English translators of the King James Version dropped two letters to create the English word "firmament".

Please note that the firmness in "firmament" is derived from the erroneous Greek cosmology of 200 BC. However, based on its etymology5, and on the way that it is used, it seems more likely that the Hebrew "raqia" should be translated "expanse". Strong's Concordance, the NIV and the NASB all agree.

When Dr. Lamoureux rejects the word "expanse", he implies that a great number of conservative Christian scholars are intentionally misleading us. Who should you trust? The Hebrew scholars, or the man who, as we have already seen, has a tendency to find Bible errors where none exist. To us, it seems likely that Lamoureux is misleading his audiences when he claims that "raqia/firmament" means "hard dome."

Dr. Lamoureux offers Job 37:18 as further evidence that the authors of Scripture believed the sky to be a hard dome:

"Can you join God in spreading out the sky hard as a mirror of cast bronze?"

He knows, or should know, that he is building a doctrine on a highly questionable passage. The word here translated "sky" has been translated "clouds" three other times when used by Elihu in the book of Job. The word "hard" could just as easily be "mighty" or "powerful". The word "bronze" is not in the Hebrew text, and the word translated "cast" means "to pour out". Also, this is the only occurrence, in the Bible, of the word "mirror" and this translation is doubtful because the Septuagint translators of 200 BC used the Greek word for "appearance" not "mirror". Robert C. Newman gives a detailed analysis of the issue in his book: "The Biblical Firmament: Vault or Vapor." He also summarizes his argument in a power point presentation available at www.ibri.org. He suggests an alternate translation:

"Can you, with Him, spread out the mighty clouds (which have the) appearance of being poured out?"

He points out that this translation fits the context much better because the chapter discusses clouds and is commenting on God's control of the weather.

Storm clouds over Alberta

Please remember that translation is not an exact science. Often there is no one- to-one correspondence between words in different languages, the meanings of words shift with time and it is particularly difficult to translate ancient passages which are filled with imagery. Conservative Christians believe the Bible to be inerrant as originally written. Skeptics and critics seize upon obscure, questionable passages to find fault.

To this point in our analysis of Lamoureux's three tiered universe, we have refuted his proof texts for the flat earth and we have responded to his attack on those texts which refer to the earth's sphericity. We have also shown that the Bible does not teach that the sky is a hard dome. But we are not out of the woods yet... what about the water above and below the firmament?

Walter Brown, the most audacious of the creationist writers, suggests that there are two "raqias"6. First, the "expanse" of atmosphere and space above us, as in Genesis 1:14, 15, 17 and 20, where "raqia" is followed by the phrase "of the heavens"; and second, and the "expanse" of the earth's crust beneath our feet. The water below the raqia (expanse) would be the vast reservoirs of subterranean water which burst onto the earth's surface to produce Noah's flood (Genesis 7:11). Those same waters today form most of the world's oceans. The water above the "expanse" of the earth's crust would simply be the surface waters of the pre-flood world. All of this sounds fine, except for one thing. Genesis 1:8 says "And God called the 'raqia' heaven..." This sentence does not fit the analysis which we have just presented.

Illustration of water above and below the "firmament" from www.creationscience.com.

Dr. Brown's examination of the issue leads him to the conclusion that something is inserted or mistranslated in Genesis 1:8. Other scholars have reached the same conclusion. For example, prominent scientist Robert Hook (1635-1703), in a presentation to the Royal Society of London, also argued that there are two "raqias" and that Genesis 1:8 has been corrupted. There are good reasons for suspecting that this text has been altered:

  1. Genesis 1:1 says that the heavens (shamayim) were created on the first day but if "raqia" is shamayim, as stated in verse 8, then Genesis 1: 7,8 says that they were created on day two! Quite a contradiction...
  2. Many Scriptures other than Genesis 1 refer to creation. In each case, the heavens are mentioned before the earth, thus implying that the heavens were created before the earth. For example, 2 Peter 3:5: "But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water." But Genesis 1:8 says that the heavens were created on day 2, after the earth...
  3. If raqia means "heaven", why is the phrase "of the heavens" inserted in verses 14,15, 17, and 20? Why make the redundant statement "The heaven of the heavens"? Doesn't it seem likely that raqia means "expanse" and that there is one expanse which is the earth's crust and another which is the expanse of the heavens?
  4. Genesis Chapter One describes God's creative actions on days 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and says: "And God saw that it was good." Day 2 is different. In the place where we might expect to find "And God saw that it was good", we find the odd definition: "And God called the firmament (raqia) heaven."
  5. The Septuagint translation (200 BC) describes the Day 2 creation, and then says "And God saw that it was good." But our oldest Hebrew manuscripts do not have this statement. Clearly, something was added or subtracted or changed in one version or the other or both!
  6. Finally, in point "4" above, we labeled the statement "And God called the firmament heaven" an "odd definition". We say this because usually a word is defined the first time that it is used. In this case the word "heavens" is used in verse one then defined in verse eight.

You might ask: "Who would alter the Scriptures, and how and why?' We cannot be sure, but it is worth noting that I Maccabees, one of the Apocryphal books written in the 2nd Century BC, says that the High Priests appointed by Antiochus Epiphanes changed the Jewish traditions to make them confirm to Greek beliefs. Aristeas, the 2nd century writer who gave us the word "Septuagint" also makes the relevant observation that the Hebrew Scriptures are not in their original form and are in "need of correction". This idea, that some texts were deliberately altered, is a fascinating subject, but is a rabbit trail that we do not have time to follow any further. Douglas Cox, in his "Report on the Firmament"7, details the evidence, and elaborates on the idea that Daniel Chapter 8 is a prophecy that predicted that some texts would be altered.

Conservative Christians do not like to contemplate corruptions in Scripture, but as any Bible student should know, footnotes in most Bibles already note several questionable passages.8 We have argued that some other texts should be added to this list, especially Genesis 1:8. Some explanations are uncomfortable, but to us, they are better than the Liberal/Lamoureux evisceration of the Bible.




Notes:

  1. Quoted from "Scientific Allusions in Scripture" compiled by Henry Morris, available at www.creationevidence.org.
  2. "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant, Chapter 10.
  3. Jeffrey Burton Russell, "The Myth of the Flat Earth" at www.ucsb.edu/.
  4. "The Rigid Sky in Greek Philosophy" by Douglas Cox at www.sentex.net.
  5. Raqia is derived from the verb "raqa" which means "to expand by beating" as in stretching out a piece of malleable metal by pounding on it.
  6. Walter Brown, "In the Beginning" at www.creationscince.com. Look in the FAQ section of his book.
  7. Douglas Cox, "Report on the Firmament" at www.sentex.net.
  8. For example Mark 16:9-20, John 8:1-11, I John 5:7.




Lamoureux's Three-tiered Universe

The Bible does not teach that a hard dome, which supports a vast reservoir of water, arches over a flat earth. We've refuted most of the Lamoureux proof-texts. But a few additional comments are in order...

In a letter to the editor of "The Edmonton Journal", and on his web page, he offers Philippians 2:10 as evidence of the "three-tiered universe" in Scripture. It says, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth".

We agree that the verse refers to three different places, but there is no hard dome, or water, or flat earth in this verse. It seems more likely that these three places are the same as the ones to which Jesus referred when he described the fates of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Following their deaths the poor but godly Lazarus went to a place of great joy. The godless, rich man went to a place of torment. The rich man asked Abraham to warn his brothers who were still alive on earth, but Abraham replied that "if they did not believe Moses, they will not believe even if someone comes back from the dead."1

Do you believe the One "who came back from the dead"? He certainly believed Moses. Do you believe Moses? Moses described creation in the book of Genesis and he also made a very clear statement in Exodus 20:11. "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." 2

Today, many of those who do not believe Moses are atheistic evolutionists. The theistic evolutionists also reject Moses and pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe. They invent a comfortable religion which "is a form of godliness, but which denies the power thereof" (2 Timothy 3:5).




Notes:

  1. Luke 16:19-31
  2. The "days" of this verse are exactly the same as the days of the previous verse which commands the Sabbath rest. The "days" are not vast periods of time, so to be consistent, those who reject Genesis 1-11 must reject this verse as well as many others. In order to force Darwinism into God's word, they eviscerate it.