Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More silly objections to miracles

Another Biblical miracle is in Joshua 10. Joshua prayed to God to cause the sun to stand still, and it did. People object to this event for a few different reasons. None of these reasons, though, are because it's a miracle. Nobody says, "Well God couldn't have done that!"

The first objection is that the Bible has its cosmology all wrong. The sun isn't moving at all. Rather, the earth is turning. Supposedly the old bloke who wrote Joshua was just ignorant of this fact. Think about that for a minute. If we talk about the supposed movement of the sun in the sky, does that mean we're wrong? If so, then we're all a bunch of ignorant blokes. Every one of us, at one time or another, talks about the sun rising or the sun going down. Yet we know perfectly well that the earth is turning, and the sun only appears to be rising or going down. Whether the author of Joshua understood this fact or not is completely irrelevent. Our knowledge of the fact doesn't change the way we talk. Even our scientists, trained in astronomy, geology, and meteorology speak of the sun, moon, and stars as moving across the sky. These people are not ignorant. We're all simply talking about events as they appear to us from our point of view. From our point of view, these objects do move across the sky.

The second objection is that if God stopped the earth from turning on its axis, everything on the surface of the earth would've been destroyed. Imagine if you're driving down the road in a car and you run into a brick wall. Without a seatbelt on, you'd go slamming into the windshield and possibly through it. Well it's much worse with the earth. The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,902 miles. The earth turns around once in 24 hours. So we can figure out how fast the surface of the earth moves at the equator.

24,902 miles/24 hours = 1038 miles per hour.

Imagine the destruction if everything on the surface of the earth is moving at that speed and suddenly stops!

Well the silliness of this objection is that on the one hand, the objector grants that God could stop the earth from rotating, but the objector seems to not grant that God could, at the same time, stop everything on the earth from moving. The objection hinges on the idea that if the earth stopped, everything on the surface would keep moving just as people in a car keep moving even when the car is stopped by a brick wall. If we've already granted that God could perform such a spectacular miracle as stopping the earth from rotating and then restarting it again, it seems like God would have no trouble taking care of the details. It is a miracle we're talking about after all.

There's a third reason people object to this miracle, but I can't remember what it is.


At 12/29/2005 6:16 AM , Blogger Steve said...

technically the sun is moving as it rotates around the milky way galaxy in one of its large "arms."

But I think you cant talk about miracles without talking about whether the bible is figurative or not.

Its possible that the events described in the old testament occured in some smaller way than they are described. For example, some have suggested that rather than crossing the "red sea" Moses crossed the "Reed Sea" in which its possible to walk, but Egyptian chariots could not pass effectively in the marshy terrain.

I think it really boils down to whether you believe the Bible (old testament in particular) describes the events exactly as they occured or are altered versions of events with some root in truth.

At 12/29/2005 9:32 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

LOL It's funny you would mention the sun moving. I said that exact same thing on a message board one time when this topic came up. I've been looking for that discussion so I can find out what that third thing was, but I still can't find it.

At 12/29/2005 11:57 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

Sam, might the 3rd objection have to do with Astronomers not finding celestial evidence of the stoppage? To me that seems foolish because I see no way it could be detected.

Steve, a serious study of the text, the cultural norms of literature, and other factors make it very clear that the Biblical authors were actually making the claim that these events actually happened in the way described.

The only real question left then is did the author actually misrepresent the facts to create a misconception (ie. outright lie). I'm sure Sam would entertain any evidence you have to the contrary. But as this series of posts show, simply providing as evidence an assertion that miracles don't happen isn't good enough.

At 12/29/2005 11:57 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Jeff, I haven't heard that one, so that can't be it.


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