Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – Wearing Out Like a Garment

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

INTRODUCTION

Ray Comfort in his book Scientific Facts in the Bible: Amazing Truths Written Thousands of Years Before Man Discovered Them, quotes Hebrews 1:10-11 (NKJV) and writes,

The Bible tells us three times that the earth is wearing out like a garment. This is what the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the Law of Increasing Entropy) states: that in all physical processes, every ordered system over time tends to become more disordered. Everything is running down and wearing out as energy is becoming less and less available for use. That means the universe will eventually “wear out.” This wasn’t discovered by science until fairly recently.[1]

Has Comfort gotten this one right?

THE ETERNAL GOD

Let’s begin with asking a related question: Why does Comfort quote Hebrews 1:10-11 and not Psalm 102:25-26? It is possible that the apologist was simply unaware of the source of the citation in Hebrews. But if we examine Psalm 102, we can quickly see how Comfort has misappropriated the biblical texts.

Psalm 102 is a prayer to Yahweh, a request for help in a time of dire need (vv. 1-2). The psalmist laments that his “days pass away like smoke” (v. 3) and that he is wasting away, all alone (vv. 4-7). He is taunted by his enemies (v. 8) and has been “thrown…aside” by God (vv. 9-10). “My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass,” he laments in v. 11. The language used here evokes ancient sundials used in various cultures, including Israel.[2] As the sun begins to set, the shadow cast by the dial grows longer. But there comes a point when the shadow is gone completely, when the sun’s light no longer reaches the dial and night sets in. The writer of Psalm 102 is acknowledging the impermanence of his own life.

“But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever,” the psalmist begins in v. 12, “your name endures to all generations” (v. 12). In stark contrast to his own existence, the author asserts that Yahweh will forever be king. In the verses that follow (vv. 13-22), he requests that Yahweh restore Israel to a place of prominence among the nations. In vv. 23-24, the contrast between human mortality and divine immortality is once again brought to the foreground: “’O my God,’ I say, ‘do not take me away at the midpoint of my life, you whose years endure throughout all generations’” (v. 24). This is the immediate context of the verses quoted by Comfort from Hebrews 1:10-11.[3] Thus, when the psalmist says in v. 26 that earth and heaven “will perish, but you endure,” he is extrapolating from his own experience and observation that the only thing that has remained constant throughout his people’s history is their god, Yahweh, a being whose eternality “makes even the heavens seem ephemeral.”[4]

In the final verse of the psalm, it is clear that it is Yahweh’s eternality that secures Israel’s hope for the future: “The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.” Note the way the psalmist’s language; it is not merely the servants who have this hope but their children and offspring. Why? Because, in the words of v. 27, Yahweh’s “years have no end.” Again, the emphasis in this psalm is upon the impermanence of the human experience and the permanence of Yahweh.[5]

CONCLUSION

While it is arguably the case that the psalmist is speaking of the entropy of earth and heaven, we have no evidence he was aware of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Instead, he drew upon personal experience and observation to extrapolate that even the ground beneath his feet and the sky above his head were prone to wearing out. Specifically, because he viewed the god of Israel as the only eternal entity, it followed that everything else in creation was contingent and would one day pass away. But the psalmist’s main point is theological: Israel can rest assured because its god doesn’t wear out. He remains as he ever was, as the Great I Am.


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

[2] Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, vol. 3 – The Writings (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2019), 237. E.g., 2 Kings 20:11, Isaiah 38:8.

[3] Setting aside, of course, that the author of Hebrews is quoting from the LXX.

[4] Alter, The Hebrew Bible, vol. 3 – The Writings, 239.

[5] Walter Brueggemann and William H. Bellinger, Jr., Psalms, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 437.

One Comment on “Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – Wearing Out Like a Garment

  1. Pingback: Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – Wearing Out Like a Garment — The Amateur Exegete | Talmidimblogging

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