The Roundup – 11.6.21

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.

Bible Study for Amateurs #7 – It’s all Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic To Me

Spoiler alert: the Bible wasn’t written in English!

Bible Study for Amateurs #6 – The Bible Is Old

Context, context, context!

Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – A Tent for the Sun

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 from Psalm 19:4-6 (NKJV) and writes,

For many years critics scoffed at these verses, claiming they taught that the sun revolves around the earth. Scientists used to believe the sun was stationary, but discovered recently that it is moving through space at about 600,000 miles per hour. The sun is traveling through the heavens and has a “circuit” just as the Bible says. Its circuit is so large that it would take around 200 million years to complete one orbit.[1]

So, is Comfort right? Is the psalmist describing the sun’s orbit around “the heavens” as opposed to an orbit around the earth?

THE HEAVENS DECLARE

Psalm 19 is a psalm of praise to the god of Israel, Yahweh. It opens with two lines set in parallel:

[A] The heavens are telling the glory of God;

[B] and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (v. 1).

This is synonymous parallelism at work. “The heavens” [hašāmayim] and “the firmament” [hārāqîaʿ] are synonymous; “are telling” and “proclaims” are synonymous; and “the glory of God” and “his handiwork” are synonymous.

For the psalmist, it would have been only natural to think of hašāmayim and hārāqîaʿ as equivalent. The Priestly creation narrative of Genesis 1 describes the Israelite god as creating a barrier for the primordial waters. This barrier is referred to as a rāqîaʿ in v. 6 and its function is to hold back the waters above the rāqîaʿ from the waters below it (v. 7). In v. 8, the rāqîaʿ is referred to by God as šāmayim. Later in the narrative, it is in the rĕqîaʿ hašāmayim (“the dome of the sky,” or “the firmament of heaven”) that God places the sun, moon, and stars (vv. 14-19). On the fifth day of creation, God creates birds that are to fly above the earth ʿl-penê rĕqîaʿ hašāmayim (“on the face of the dome of the sky”; v. 20). The psalm writer was likely familiar with the worldview described in Genesis 1 and his own cosmology reflected it.

According to v. 4, it is in hašāmayim that God “has set a tent for the sun.” This comports with the view of Genesis 1:14-19 that the sun (“the greater light”) is placed in “the dome of the sky,” or “the firmament of the heavens.” That is to say, it is in the barrier that separates the waters above and below that the sun is said to exist. But in Genesis 1, the sun as “the greater light” is said to “rule the day” (Genesis 1:16). At night, a different body rules. So, where does the sun go when it is not ruling? The psalmist tells us: “a tent.” This imagery makes sense of what we read in v. 5 where it describes the sun as that “which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy.” While in the wedding canopy, the bridegroom is hidden from view. But when he comes out, he is in full view of everyone. So too the sun is at night hidden from view in “a tent.” But when morning comes, the sun is in full view of everyone.

It is here we begin to see why Comfort’s eisegesis fails. In order to rescue the text from its implied geocentrism, he has to mangle the meaning of everything else in the passage. This is especially acute in v. 6 which describes the sun’s “rising…from the end of the heavens.” Rising relative to what? He cannot be referring to the sun’s orbit around the galaxy because he is clearly describing the sun’s effect on earth, as the end of v. 6 makes plain. So, what phenomena describe the sun’s rising from one end of the sky to the other? Sunrise and sunset, of course! Additionally, the sun’s orbit around the galaxy takes well over two-hundred million years and, in Comfort’s worldview, the world is only around six-thousand years old. If that’s the case, then the sun has never made a complete circuit like the one that the psalmist describes. Why would the psalm writer offer as an example of God’s glory something that has never occurred? But if the psalmist is instead describing something that everyone knows about (i.e., sunrise and sunset) then this language fits perfectly. Every day is evidence for God’s glory then.

CONCLUSION

Once again, we are left disappointed but not surprised by Comfort’s poor handling of the Bible. It makes you wonder what motivates him: finding the truth or confirming his own views? I think we all know which one it is.


[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.

Amateur Hour #6 – “To Be Done with Sodom” w/Bernard Lamborelle

In this conversation, I talk with Bernard Lamborelle about his new project ‘To Be Done with Sodom,’ a comic book that serves as a fascinating summary of his book ‘The Covenant.’

Bible Study for Amateurs #5 – Authorship Anonymous

So many of the books of the Bible are anonymous. Why?

There Was No Spain? (Evangelical [Atheist] Eisegesis #1)

The “Exposing Religion” Facebook group seems to think Paul couldn’t have gone to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28) because it didn’t exist. Yikes!

Bible Study for Amateurs #4 – Two Pivotal Moments

86 BCE and 70 CE. Why are these dates important?