the Skeptic Volume 28 Number 3

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Spring 2008, Vol 28, No 3
Feature Articles
8. A Skeptic Reads the Bible
Martin Bridgstock
12.Quantum Quodlibet
Michael Lucht
17. The Amaz!ng Meeting
Karen Stollznow
23. Area 51: The Truth is Out There
Michael Wolloghan
25. Being The One
Richard Saunders
30. Jonathan Sarfati: Scientist?
Brian Baxter
Regular Items
4. Editorial — Busy Times
Barry Williams
6. Around the Traps
65. Letters 69. Notices
Cover art by Richard Saunders

34. Yet More Imaginography
Bill Richardson
38. Tracks of the Big Cat
Phillip Peters
41. KJibbutz Children
Eran Segev
46. The Trick or Miracle Paradox
Peter Booth
48. Skepticism and Babies
Katherine Shade
50. Review: Malice in Weirdland
Barry Williams
52. Global Warming and Climate Change 61. On Matters Concerning God
44. WA Young Writers Bust Myths


ISSN 0726-9897
Barry Williams
Editor Elect
Karen Stollznow
Contributing Editors Tim Mendham Steve Roberts
Technology Consultants Richard Saunders Eran Segev
Chief Investigator Ian Bryce
All correspondence to:
Australian Skeptics Inc PO Box 268
Roseville NSW 2069 Australia
(ABN 90 613 095 379 )
Contact Details
Tel: (02) 9417 2071 Fax: (02) 9417 7930 e-mail: [email protected]
Web Pages
Australian Skeptics No Answers in Genesis™
the Skeptic is a journal of fact and opinion, published four times per year by Australian Skeptics Inc. Views and opinions expressed in articles and letters in the Skeptic are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of Australian Skeptics Inc. Articles may be reprinted with permission and with due acknowledgement to the Skeptic.
Editorial consultants:
Dr Stephen Basser (medicine) Dr Trevor Case (psychology) Dr Richard Gordon (medicine) Dr Pete Griffith (biochemistry/microbiology) Dr William Grey (philosophy) Prof Colin Groves (anthropology)
Mr Martin Hadley (law) Dr Colin Keay (astronomy) Dr Andrew Parle (physics) Prof Ian Plimer (geology) Dr Stephen Moston (psychology) Dr Alex Ritchie (palaeontology) Dr Steve Roberts (chemistry) Mr Roland Seidel (mathematics) Dr Karen Stollznow (linguistics)
Branch correspondents:
ACT: Mr Michael O’Rourke Gold Coast: Mr John Stear
Hunter: Dr Colin Keay Qld: Mr Bob Bruce SA: Mr Allan Lang
Tas: Mr Fred Thornett Vic: Mr Ken Greatorex WA: Dr Geoffrey Dean

Busy Times

It has certainly been a hectic time for Skeptics and Skepticism since last I penned an editorial here.
While a Papal visit for World Youth Day didn’t exactly cause me to renounce my lack of faith and seek entry into holy orders, I wasn’t too fussed about the influx of hordes of devout young people into Sydney. Live and let live is my motto, and it caused me no particular discomfort, although I thought that closing the Harbour Bridge to traffic for a day, so they could make a pilgrimage across it, was a bit over the top. They were Christians, after all; why couldn’t they simply walk across the Harbour?
Two things I learned about the visit engendered competing emotions. That the Pope was accompanied by a coffin containing the remains of a bloke who died in 1925, struck me as being one of the most bizarre rituals of which I had ever heard. The revelations that the Pope had to step outside the retreat where he was staying, so he could have a quiet smoke, and that he had brought his own supplies of his favourite Austrian beer, confirmed my view that underneath the funny clothes, he’s just a bloke, regardless of who he selects as a travelling companion.
Actions of the NSW government did perturb me more. First, by threatening to enact a law making it an offence (attracting a $5,000 fine) for ‘annoying’ Catholic pilgrims, was grotesque — I was tempted to wear a T-shirt proclaiming “Save Money.

Annoy an Anglican” or “Peeve a Presbyterian”, but in the end I couldn’t be bothered. In any case, such was the outcry that sanity prevailed and the proposed law was not enacted.
I was more peeved still by their expenditure of upwards of $60 million of taxpayers’ funds on the affair. Money contributed by Methodists, Mormons and Muslims (not to mention atheists and agnostics) among others, and it’s not as though NSW is actually flush at the moment. Still, it might be worth the Skeptics’ while to request matching funds to help celebrate Charles Darwin’s bicentenary next February. Don’t hold your breath, though.
Of more immediate interest was the coincidence of Science Week and a St James Ethics Centre IQ2 Debate, which saw not one, but two prominent US Skeptics visiting our shores in the same week.
Michael Shermer, head of the California-based Skeptics Society, Scientific American columnist, and publisher of Skeptic magazine, came as a guest of the government for Science Week. During a whirlwind tour of the country, he managed to make contact with the WA and NSW Skeptics. WA co-opted him to present awards to winners of their student awards (story in this issue), while members of NSW Skeptics attended a couple of talks where Michael spoke, and then entertained him to a private lunch at the Rocks, where we were also joined by

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Skeptics Around Australia

Michael Shermer among some unique Australian animals, including the Editor, NSW Skeptics Secretary, John Sweatman and Darwin the Boozy Koala.

Margaret Kittson from Brisbane. Eran Segev, NSW VP, escorted Michael around the sights of Sydney, which he seemed to enjoy very much.
The second visitor was Victor Stenger, retired physicist and author of several books on science and religion , who was here to speak in a debate in the IQ2 series, on the topic “We Would be Better off Without Religion”. His side won the debate by a handy margin helped, no doubt, by the number of Skeptics in the audience.
NSW Skeptics were fortunate that Vic arrived a few days early and agreed to speak at our August Dinner Meeting, on the subject of his latest book, God, The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. It was a sellout function and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone present.
I was a great pleasure to meet and exchange ideas with these two stars in the US Skeptical firmament. The fact that we see so few of our overseas colleagues is the down-side of being so remote from everywhere else.
A hectic few weeks, but like everything the Skeptics do, a lot of fun too.
I must apologise for the slight delay in the mailing of this issue. My computer, a loyal servant for many

years, has obviously taken the thought of retirement very seriously indeed. It has been exhibiting signs of senility, leading to a semi-disappearance of a half completed Skeptic one day. After a fair bit of floundering around, I managed to resurrect it without too much loss of content. It’s now a toss up whether the machine retires before I do, in which case my next (and last) editorial might come to you inscribed on parchment.
Thank you
Let me conclude this, my penultimate editorial, by thanking all those Skeptics who, after reading about my impending retirement, have sent me messages about my stewardship of the Skeptic , and their good wishes for the future. You have all been most kind with your comments and I have been touched more than is seemly for a Skeptic. Thus far no one has qualified their remarks with “And about time, too”, but there is still time before I leave my post at the end of the year.
For those of you who expressed the hope that I do not sever all connections with the Skeptic and Australian Skeptics, let me say that that is not my intention. I plan to continue contributing articles and effort to our cause for as long as I remain upright and my colleagues put up with me.
Barry Williams

New South Wales Australian Skeptics Inc PO Box 268, Roseville NSW 2069 Tel: (02) 9417 2071 Fax: (02) 9417 7930 [email protected]
Hunter Skeptics PO Box 166 , Waratah NSW 2298 Tel: (02) 4957 8666. Fax: (02) 4952 6442
Victoria Australian Skeptics (Vic) Inc GPO Box 5166AA, Melbourne VIC 3001 Tel: 1 800 666 996 [email protected]
Borderline Skeptics PO Box 17 , Mitta Mitta VIC 3701 Tel:(02)60723632 [email protected]
Queensland Queensland Skeptics Assn Inc PO Box 6454 , Fairfield Gardens QLD 4103 Tel (07) 3255 0499 [email protected]
Gold Coast Skeptics PO Box 8348, GCMC Bundall QLD 9726 Tel: (07) 5593 1882 Fax: (07) 5593 2776 [email protected]
ACT Canberra Skeptics PO Box 555, Civic Square ACT 2608 (02) 6121 4483 [email protected]
South Australia Skeptics SA 52B Miller St Unley SA 5061 Tel: (08) 8272 5881 [email protected]
Western Australia WA Skeptics PO Box 466, Subiaco WA 6904 Tel: (08) 9448 8458 [email protected]
Tasmania Australian Skeptics in Tasmania PO Box 582, North Hobart TAS 7002. Tel: (03) 6234 4731 [email protected]
Darwin Skeptics Contact Tel: 08 89274533 [email protected]

the Skeptic, Spring 2008 - Page 5

News and Views

Around the Traps

Conspiring for Truth
Sometimes we growl at our friends at the ABC, especially when they put to air some bought-in tripe that touts psychic detectives and the like, but now might be the time for a pat on the back. At least, we think a programme deserves a pat on the back; other Skeptics and commentators have posited a different view.
On September 8, Four Corners aired a BBC programme, 9/11: The Third Tower, which looked at the conspiracy theories that have grown up around the whole catastrophe and particularly around the collapse of WTC 7, a 50 storey building adjacent to the better known, and much taller, WTC towers 1 and 2.
Ostensibly, the documentary followed a well-tried formula, in that it gave far more time to those proposing various conspiracy theories (and that ‘various’ is important in itself), while giving only a short time to those skeptics who would refute them. This process is something of which skeptics are all too familiar, as it is invariably the case in shows promoting assorted irrationalities.
However, I found this programme differed in significant ways from those other shows. Certainly the proponents still had more time than the opponents, but the latter had enough time to make their case, and they made it very well.

Various commentators, who operate under the generic title ‘Truthers’, with a wide variety of expertise and experience, spoke of ‘anomalies’ in the official reports about the event, giving their explanations of what they found troublesome. While these people all sounded plausible and sincere, there were gaping flaws in their reasoning.
The problem with the conspiracy theories we saw here (and this is where the word ‘various’ comes in) is that they all address different perceived anomalies, they all come to different conclusions, and taken all together they don’t add up to a coherent story. The only way they can be cobbled together is to require an unbelievably large conspiracy encompassing a huge number of people.
Then we heard from a number of other experts, some of them associated with the official investigation, others not.
Now, in any large catastrophic event there will always be anomalies — things that can’t be explained totally, no matter how many and how thoroughly investigations are conducted. There will always be holes in the narrative, and we have to accept that fact. Trouble is that Truthers don't.
In the case with the 9/11 outrages, however, the official story covers most of the events in a coherent fashion. It includes stories of great courage, gross incompetence, wrong

and right decisions, minor and major errors, selfishness and selflessness — common human attributes that happen all the time in any complex undertaking.
We might not know all the answers to all the questions, but the story hangs together, which the conspiracy stories do not.
The differences between the disparate conspiracy narratives and the stories of their critics is that, in most cases, the critics had the advantage of having been there and having seen what actually happened, while the Truthers too often relied on second- or third-hand information, some of which was simply wrong.
Some examples: Truthers claimed that WTC 7 was left virtually unscathed when the other towers collapsed and there was only a small fire. Wrong! They had relied of TV footage showing only one side of the building, which looked intact, but other tape showed that when WTC 2 collapsed, it caused massive damage to the other side of 7, while evidence from fire fighters and others on-site told that many fires had been raging through the building prior to its collapse.
One Truther claimed that for the building to collapse as it did, it would require demolition charges to have done the damage. I had the advantage of watching, just a few days earlier, a documentary about the demolition of four cooling towers at a British nuclear facility, far less

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complex structures that a 50 storey building. Setting demolition charges is a weeks-long operation and the work is impossible to disguise. The man in charge of that demolition spoke against the Truthers, so they simply added him to the conspiracy.
That’s where conspiracy theories lose any credibility; anything can be held as ‘true’ if any opposition is just more evidence that the conspiracy is larger than originally thought. Look at the official report conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies: NISTNCSTAR1CollapseofTowers.pdf. Hundreds of people from a wide range of organisations were part of the investigation — they would all have had to be part of any conspiracy.
One comment towards the end of the show, rang true. Richard Clarke, who had been a national Security adviser to both the Clinton and Bush administrations, claimed that no government is competent enough to sustain such a wide conspiracy, nor to keep it secret. Sounds about right.
But the final comment came from Daniel Nigro, NY Fire Chief, who had been on-site and had previously seen many of his firefighters lose their lives. You can see his statement at danielnigro. Speaking of the conspiracy theories, he said, “They disgust me.” Amen to that.
Good news
Some good news on the alternativeto-medicine front comes from the UK. Dr Ben Goldacre writes the Bad Science column in the Guardian newspaper. In 2007 he wrote columns in which he questioned the activities of Matthias Rath, a major manufacturer of vitamins, about a media campaign he had run in South African. The thrust of the campaign was to denigrate the use of anti-retroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The advertisements claimed that the drugs undermined the body’s immune system, and touted ‘micro nutrients’

as the only real defence against the disease.
Readers are probably aware that South African President Mbeki, and his Health Minister, are highly sceptical about the connection between HIV (which affects some 6 million of the country’s population) and AIDS. This denial has resulted in a failure to implement sufficient treatments by anti-retrovirals, relying instead on nutritional ‘solutions’. More importantly, it has no doubt resulted in an undetermined number of deaths from this appalling disease.
As a result of his column, Goldacre and the Guardian found themselves defending a massive libel suit from Rath. We have just heard that, after more than a year, lots of Dr Goldacre’s time, and a huge legal bill for the Guardian, Rath has withdrawn his suit. The defendants expect to recover their considerable costs from the plaintiff.
We say more power to Ben Goldacre’s elbow; more journalists and columnists should involve themselves in exposing the rampant quackery that infests the Alternative-to-Medicine industry.
More details can be found at and 12/matthiasrath.aids2
and keep your eye out for Ben’s book, Bad Science (Fourth Estate, Ltd 2008)
Good reading
Further to the preceding item, quite a significant number of new books are being published about the flimflam and downright dangerous practices associated with the socalled ‘complementary’ and ‘alternative’’ health care industry.
Among these, we have a couple, which we hope to review in future issues. They are:
Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh and Suckers How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All by Rose Shapiro.

Then there is one from our own coterie:
A Skeptical Look at Alternative Therapies and Beliefs
This publication by Laurie Eddie (long-time Secretary of the South Australian Skeptics) examines a number of popular alternative therapies and beliefs. Its object is to explain the mystical origins of a number of alternative therapies, most of which have a basis in the Vitalistic theory of a “divine” or heavenly life-force, which, it is claimed, when it becomes blocked, produces ill-health. Most alternative therapists claim that, at such times, it needs to be “readjusted” using their particular form of alternative therapy.
Subjects covered include: Acupuncture; Applied Kinesiology; Ayurvedic Medicine; Bach Flower Remedies; Colonic Irrigation; Crop Circles; Crystals and Gemstones; Homeopathy; Magnetism; Naturopathy; Numerology; Suggestion and the Placebo Response; Rei-ki; Reverse Speech; Therapeutic Touch and Vitalism, together with the Origins of Magical, Mystical Energies and a host of other useful information.
This publication will be available for purchase at the National Convention.
Barging in
The Bunyip has a mate who lives in the pleasant Central-Western NSW town of Grenfell, where he is concerned with the Back to Grenfell Week festivities. He was somewhat nonplussed recently, to receive a call from a man who wished to associate Grenfell with his plan to prove that all our unique native animals that left Noah’s Ark at Mt Ararat, could have reached Australia. It seems the plan relies on doing the reverse journey by barge. We’d give him a standing ovation if he only managed to get a barge from Grenfell to the sea, regardless of its cargo.

the Skeptic, Spring 2008 - Page 7

Cover Story

A Skeptic Reads the Bible
Part 1: The Bible as a Scientific Document

Martin Bridgstock has just read the entire Bible and thinks there are things that skeptics really ought to know.
Martin Bridgstock, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological and Physical Sciences at Griffith University, was the winner of the inaugural Australian Skeptics prize for Critical Thinking and is a Life Member of Australian Skeptics.

I have a confession to make. I have been doing something that would appal most skeptics. I have been reading the Bible. I started in late March of this year, and worked through the entire book in about two months. At the Wagga colloquium, with skeptical ideas flying everywhere, I had my Bible and my notebook in my hotel room, and spent some time reading it. Nobody knew.
“What’s going on?” I hear you ask, “Has Bridgstock got religion?” Not at all. I simply noticed that the Bible is an important document, with many people regarding it as the revealed word of God and a source of great wisdom. For example, I’ve argued elsewhere that creation science is one of the most dangerous paranormal claims, and it rests directly on claims about the Bible (Bridgstock 2008) So, I decided, I wanted to know exactly what it said.
I have ended up with a three-part article describing my conclusions. I won’t make any comments about religion, as that’s outside my view of skepticism. I suggest you read this first footnote, as it tells you how you might read the articles1.
I looked at a few translations. The Good News Bible seemed the easiest to read, so I picked up a copy at a Lifeline bookfest. Apparently it had been given to someone called Vanessa back in 1990. For a few bucks each I picked up other trans-

lations2, so that I could compare what was being said.
I did some sums in my head. There were 1400 pages in the Bible so, if I read one a day, that would take nearly four years: too long. So I aimed for at least 20 pages a day, and actually averaged something over 23. I estimate it took me about 70 hours to work from Genesis 1.1 to Revelation 22.21, and I took something like 600 notes3.
Of course, my family noticed. “Where’s Dad?” asked one of my daughters, “Off somewhere reading his Bible,” said the other with a sigh. My wife was worried that I was going religion-crazy, until, partway through the Old Testament, I explained some of my reasons4.
Was it worth doing? I think so. I still am not a Biblical scholar, but I know a good deal more about the Bible and what it says. I did come to some simple conclusions, and I think that all skeptics should know at least these points. So bear with me, and look at the Bible through my eyes. If I am wrong, I invite people with more knowledge to correct me.
The first conclusion is something pretty obvious. The Bible isn’t a book. It looks like a book, with its covers and binding and classy lettering, but it isn’t. The Bible is actually a collection of papers, gathered together over many centuries. There was no overall editor5 so,

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as you might expect, there are overlaps and gross inconsistencies between the different parts. Often there are repetitions and inconsistencies within books, as well. On the basis of this incoherence, it is quite easy to read radically different meanings into the Bible.
Compounding this is the fact that the translations themselves are often uncertain. Throughout the Good News version, alternative translations are offered. In the preface there is a frank admission that:
At times the original meaning cannot be precisely known, not only because the meaning of some words and phrases cannot be determined with a great degree of assurance, but also because the underlying cultural and historical context is sometimes beyond recoverya.
Let’s look at a few examples of inconsistency which struck me. There are many others, perhaps the most famous one being the two accounts of creation to be found in Genesis 1 and 2. My examples are more modest. Let’s start with the story of how Beersheba got its name.
In Genesis we read the rather ugly story of how Abraham moved to south Canaan, and passed off his wife, Sarah, as his sister. Sarah caught the eye of King Abimelech, but eventually the deception was revealed. Abraham and Abimelech finally made an agreement in Beersheeba and, we are told, “And so the place was called Beersheba, because it was there that the two of them made a vow.”b
This sounds simple enough, except that a few chapters laterc we are told how Isaac passed his wife, Rebecca, off as his sister, and she caught the eye of King Abimelech. Eventually the two men were reconciled, a well was dug and, we are told, “That is how the city of Beersheba got its name.”c
Now logically, Beersheba can’t have got its name twice in two generations so what we are looking at here are two legends patched together. Presumably the compilers of Genesis did not know which

account — if either — was true, so they included both.
My second example seems to show that God’s decrees can be totally ignored. Early on in Genesis we read that God proclaimed, “I will not allow people to live for ever; they are mortal. From now on they will live no longer than 120 years.”d This seems clear enough, except that a couple of chapters later we are reading about Noah and the flood, and we are casually told that “When Noah was 601 years old . . . the water was gone.”e So what happened to God’s edict? Noah lived more than 480 years beyond the limit. It’s worse than this, actually. In a later part of Genesis, we find that Jacob lived to be 147f, and in Exodus we are told that several people outlived God’s deadline. Levi lived 137 yearsg, Kohath lived 133h and Amram lived 137 yearsi. It would be easy to produce other examples of people living beyond God’s limit.
My third example concerns an almost incredible passage recounted in the book of Exodus. God has approached Moses via the burning bush, and told him his task. Moses was to go to Egypt and tell the King to liberate the children of Israel. Moses was initially reluctant — not surprising, given the King’s likely reaction — but finally loaded his family onto a donkey and headed back to Egypt. Then we get this passage:
At a camping place on the way to Egypt, the Lord met Moses and tried to kill him. Then Zipporah, his wife, took a sharp stone, cut off the foreskin of her son and touched Moses’ feet with it. Because of the rite of circumcision she said to Moses “You are a husband of blood to me.” And so the Lord spared Moses’ life.j
My Catholic Bible notes that, “This whole passage is very obscure.” And it states also that whose feet were touched is unclear. My Good News Bible suggests that “feet” is a euphemism for genitals. Whatever the details, the following questions seem pretty unanswerable. First, why did God want to kill Moses when he was trudging — however reluctantly — to do God’s

bidding in Egypt? Second, how could the creator of the cosmos want to kill a particular person and not be able to do it? In other parts of the Bible, God cheerfully wipes out 185,000 people in a single session and another 70,000 on another occasionk. Third, assuming God had some adequate reason for wanting to kill Moses, what on earth does touching a severed foreskin to someone’s feet (or genitals) have to do with changing God’s mind? It makes no sense. These three items help to make my first point: the Bible is a collection of documents, with all the resulting inconsistencies, overlaps and contradictions that we might expect.
Inclusions and exclusions
The second point is just as important, and follows logically. If the Bible is a collection of documents, then decisions must have been made about what documents to include, and what to omit. Since we are human, disagreements are likely to have arisen. Sure enough, different Christian groups have made different decisions.
The Protestant Bible, which I was reading, has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the new. The Catholic Bible has seven more books in the Old Testament, and adds bits on to two more books, Esther and Daniel. To make matters more complex, the Jews don’t accept some of these additional books as being inspired.
By contrast, the Greek Orthodox Bible has several more books than the Catholic Bible, and some other Orthodox Bibles have more on top of that6. So it’s not enough for ‘Biblical Christians’ to proclaim their faith in the Bible as being divinely inspired. They must also be able to specify which Bible is inspired. Implicit in that commitment must be a view that whoever decided on the contents of that particular Bible must have been divinely inspired too. So it’s not just the writers of the Bible, but the editors and compilers who were divinely inspired.
In consequence, if someone claims that they have Biblical sanction for

the Skeptic, Spring 2008 - Page 9

Reads the Bible

some view, we are perfectly entitled to ask, “Which Bible? Which translation? Which selection of meanings? Do you accept Maccabees 3? Tobias? The additional parts of Daniel and Esther?” This is unlikely to stop a professional fundamentalist, but it might show bog-standard workplace bibliolatrists that there is more to the issue than they might have thought.
So what did I do? I kept it simple. I read the Old Testament in the Protestant version. Then I got hold of a Catholic Bible and read the seven extra books, plus the additional odds and ends. As we’ll see, this was well worthwhile. Then I read the New Testament, about which there seems to be less disagreement. I’d love to have read the additional Orthodox books, but I had to stop somewhere.
My aims are much less ambitious than those of proper Biblical scholars. There is a mass of high-quality scholarship about the Bible, such as that by James Barr (1984), John Spong (1991), and the Jesus seminar (eg, Shorto 1997). This can throw profound light on how the Bible came to be written, what it meant to the people at the time, and what they were trying to achieve by writing it. My aim was different. I simply wanted to take a careful look at the Bible as a document and to report some fairly straightforward conclusions.
The aim is not to attack people’s religious beliefs, but to point to the appropriateness of using the Bible as an authority. So let’s start with one of the most contentious claims: the idea that the Bible must be accepted as a scientific authority.
The Bible as science.
One of the most fraught areas of biblical study concerns the attempts of biblical fundamentalists to argue that the Bible is a valid scientific document. To quote the words of the Creation Science Foundation during its most influential period in Queensland:
The Bible is the written Word of God . . . Its assertions are historically and sci-

entifically true in all the original autographs . . . The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life. (Bridgstock 1986: 81)(Italics added)
A key point to make is that reading the Bible shows clearly that it is not a scientific book. It’s a religious bundle of documents. The Old Testament is concerned, broadly, with the people of Israel, their origins and their relationship to God. The New Testament is concerned with the activities of Jesus, and subsequent interpretations of what he said and did. Any scientific statements are always incidental to the religion. With this in mind, let’s look at some of these statements which the fundamentalists believe to be scientifically true.
First, what about a bit of maths? Did you know that π = 3? According to the Bible it does. In the first book of Kings, there is a statement that:
Huram made a round tank of bronze . . . 4.5 metres in diameter and 13.5 metres in circumferencel.
The same dimensions appear in a later book as welll. Now every mathematically literate person knows that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is an infinite decimal, approximated by 3.14159. Apparently geometry was a lot simpler in the olden days. Note that if we accept this statement, our mathematics is hurled back to before the days of the ancient Greeks. Further, it is reasonably easy to demonstrate, and to verify, that the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is not three. If we accept the fundamentalists’ claims, our logic and senses must be subordinated to dogma.
Then there is biology. We need not enter the arena of evolution to find some very weird Biblical statements indeed. For example in Leviticus the Jews are told what they should not eat, and this amazing passage occurs:
You must not eat any of the following birds: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buz-

zards, vultures, crows; . . .hoopoes; or bats.m
Now every biologically literate person knows that bats are not birds, they are winged mammals. Not only must Darwin be consigned to the scrap-heap if we accept biblical science, apparently Linnaeus is to be dumped as well. Note that this is not in any sense a core Christian doctrine: it simply follows from the blanket endorsement of the Bible as a scientific doctrine by fundamentalists.
Then elementary astronomy, if we follow the Bible, is also to be destroyed. For example, in the first book of Chronicles, we find a strongly pre-Galilean view of the universe:
The earth is set firmly in place and cannot be moved.n
This statement is repeated later in the ƒo. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that during its heyday the creation science movement had a strong element within it pressing for the adoption of geocentrism7. It is perfectly clearly stated in the Bible!
What you accept in the Bible is, of course, partly denominated on which Bible you regard as the correct version. All of the examples so far are from the Protestant Bible. However, in the Catholic book of Tobias, we find a quite staggering medical breakthrough. The hero of the book — Tobias — was apparently a very good bloke, but he suffered the misfortune of going blind. After burying a body left in the street, we are told:
. . . being wearied with burying, he came to his house and cast himself down by the wall and slept; and as he was sleeping, hot dung out of a swallow’s nest fell upon his eyes, and he was made blind.p
We are also informed that God allowed this to happen, to ƒtest Tobias the way Job was tested. Anyway, later on his son, also called Tobias, in company with an angel, lands a big fish from the River Tigris. Later, Tobias Senior’s eyes are anointed with gall from the fish, and his blindness is curedq. A breakthrough unknown to medical science lies within the book of Tobias. One

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