Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – The First Law of Thermodynamics and Creation

To see other posts in this series, please go to the series’ page.

INTRODUCTION

In his book Scientific Facts in the Bible: Amazing Truths Written Thousands of Years Before Man Discovered Them, professional eisegete Ray Comfort quotes from Genesis 2:1 (NKJV) and writes,

The Hebrew word used here is the past definite tense for the verb “finished,” indicating an action completed in the past, never again to occur. The creation was “finished” – once and for all. That is exactly what the First Law of Thermodynamics says.

This law (also referred to as the Law of the Conservation of Energy and/or Mass) states that neither matter nor energy can be either created or destroyed. There is no “creation” ongoing today. It is “finished” exactly as the Bible says.[1]

Given his track record from the other posts in this series, you know that Comfort has misunderstood either the science, the Bible, or both.

THE CLOSE OF CREATION

Genesis 2:1 is the victim of the sometimes-arbitrary chapter and verse divisions that have been a staple of Bible translations for the last few centuries. Ideally, 2:1-2:4a would be 1:31-34 given the way this section fits with the narrative of Genesis 1.[2] Regardless, 2:1-2:4a describe the seventh day of creation with 2:1 offering a summary statement of God’s creative work from the previous thirty-one verses: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude” (NRSV).[3] The process that began in Genesis 1:1 has now been “finished.” It is this word that Comfort latches onto in his discussion.

The pop-apologist contends that the word rendered “finished” in the NKJV is “the past definite tense” that “indicat[es] an action completed in the past, never again to occur.” The word in question is vaykullû.[4] In form, it is a Pual Imperfect from the verb kalah (“he finishes” or “he completes”). With the vav conjunction prefixing the verb, vaykullû is used to communicate the logical completion of a series of events, in this case the formation of “the heavens and the earth.” Whether the biblical author intended this to be seen as intensive is a matter of interpretation. What is clear, however, is that the action taken over those seven days represents God’s creative act to form the world as the author knows it. Given that it was composed before the rise of apocalyptic literature, Comfort is perhaps correct that the idea is God would never create again. But therein lies a problem.

In Isaiah 65, Yahweh explains how he will restore the world following his judgment upon Israel and the nations. In v. 9, he promises to “bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains.” Then in v. 17 we read this: “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Now, according to Comfort, the use of “finished” in Genesis 2:1 is indicative of an action never again to repeated. But if this is the case, Isaiah 65:17 is a direct contradiction. For if creation is an event that will only happen once, then there can never be a creation of a “new heavens and a new earth.”

This also complicates the notion that Genesis 2:1 is a reference to the First Law of Thermodynamics. Per Comfort, the law states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed: “There is no ‘creation’ ongoing today,” he writes. But if this is the case, then there can be no “creation” in the future either, or else the First Law isn’t really a “law,” i.e., exceptionless. Thus, using Comfort’s hermeneutic, either Genesis 2:1 is right or Isaiah 65:17 is, but they cannot both be correct.

Moreover, based upon Comfort’s understanding of Genesis 2:1 and the First Law, we are left with another contradiction. Astronomers have observed places in the universe in which stars are being born.[5] Per Comfort’s understanding, stars were created on the fourth day and “[t]here is no ‘creation’ ongoing.” Unless our eyes deceive us, Comfort cannot possibly be correct. Either Comfort’s interpretation of Genesis 2:1 is correct or there are stars still being “created.”

CONCLUSION

Yet again, Comfort has shown not only how poor an exegete he is but also how poor a student of science he is. In his desire to promote a scientific understanding of the biblical text, he has managed to mangle both the Bible and science.


[1] Ray Comfort, Scientific Facts in the Bible: Amazing Truths Written Thousands of Years Before Man Discovered Them (Bellflower, CA: Living Waters Publications, 2016), 12-13.

[2] Then Genesis 2:4b (“In the day that the LORD God….”) would become 2:1. But alas, no one consulted me when creating these divisions.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all citations of biblical texts are from the NRSV.

[4] Or waykullû depending on how one chooses to pronounce the conjunction vav/waw.

[5] For an overview of stellar formation, see the discussion in Michael A. Seeds and Dana E. Backman, Foundations of Astronomy, thirteenth edition (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2016), 224-246.

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