Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Bible - A Non-Scientific, Ancient Book of Fairy-Tales?

Somebody on one of the social media pages posted the above meme to make a not-so-subtle point that the Bible should be considered completely non-relevant in our modern world of science and technology. Of course, every age considered themselves to be at the pinnacle of science and technology. Yet those like the person who posted the image continue to believe (and make no mistake - it is a belief) that the Bible should be looked at as nothing more than an old book of fairy-tales, possibly nothing more than an older version of Grimm or Aesop Fables. I certainly have no problem with those who hold that point of view, I've certainly ran into a good deal of it in my four decades working in the scientific community. And, I am certainly no literalist when it comes to my understanding and interpretation of Holy Writ.

However, one thing should be made clear. Nowhere in the Bible - the Jewish Bible or the much later Christian Bible - does it say that the Earth and universe is only 6,000 years old. A clear reading of it, especially if the Jewish Bible (aka Old Testament) is read in the original Hebrew, shows an indication by the authors of the various texts that the creation event (called Big Bang today) was understood by them to be a very, very ancient one. The Sumerian progenitor of both Jews and Arabs - Abraham, lived nearly 4,000 years ago and the pyramids and other renowned structures in that region of the world were already considered ancient edifices and were already standing when he arrived in Egypt.

This age of Earth/universe of 6,000 years can be attributed to a Christian Bishop named Ussher who lived in the late 1500's and early 1600's. He miscalculated the ancestral birth/deaths of the Biblical patriarchs listed in the early chapters of Genesis and assumed a dating of creation from that. Like most in his day - and many in ours - he took many literal liberties with his view of the world. Even though he was a clergy in the Anglican Church of Ireland the Roman Catholic Church took his figures as gospel and since they ruled the world at the time, the 6,000 year old figure became a product of the Church and has carried over into today by those who hold an extreme literalist view of the Bible.

I was a nuclear medicine/cardiology physics technologist for nearly 40 years and am also a Jew who takes the writings of our ancestors quite seriously (though not always literally). I have never had a problem with the scientific facts of the nearly 14 billion year old universe age nor with the Big Bang Theory. In fact, in my study of quantum physics I have come to recognize that nothing is likely within the realm of the impossibility and continue to be mesmerized by the awesomeness of the creation and that Being, Force or Process that probably lies behind it all.

However, to call the Bible (which, BTW is much older than 2,000 years - just the Christian Bible is around 2K) a book of fairy-tales is assumptive arrogance at its height and reveals a depth of ignorance bordering on hubris. The Bible, particularly the Jewish Bible has been proven over and over again by archaeologists, geologists, lindquist and anthropology to be relevant to historical accuracy and many of the precepts contained in its writings, when read in light of the day and culture in which they were presented, have shed light on the life and times of ancient peoples and civilizations - many we thought were fables until dug up and rediscovered by scientists. To have such a cavalier attitude toward these ancient writings as to cast them off as fairy-tales reveals a certain level of stupidity of one's past and a lack of understanding of what the knowing and appreciating of that past can afford for us in the present and future. Just because something is old doesn't make it invalid, without merit or value for our current civilization.

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