The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth

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That is the title of an article to be published in The International Journal of Cardiology, a presumably reputable journal published by Elsevier. Avijit Roy, the editor of the pro-science website Mukto-Mona, published in both Bengali and English, takes Elsevier to task on Talk Reason here.

Roy, an engineer, details a number of misconceptions in the Koran (the preferred spelling, according to Merriam-Webster) and argues that the paper should never have been published in a scientific journal. According to a cc of an e-mail I received from a third party, Roy complained to the editor of IJC and was told that he could submit his own rebuttal for peer review.

I read the article, though not carefully, and I could certainly see Roy’s point. Though some of the material may be of historical interest, the article reads like someone trying to justify all the quack medications you find in a so-called health food store. Roy’s rebuttal suggests that the authors are very adept at quote-mining.

In their conclusion, the authors comment, with apparent approval,

The heart is extensively described as both an organ of psyche, intelligence, and emotion, as well as an important body of the organ that can be harmed such as [by] exhibiting thrombi.

In other words, as they say earlier, the Koran gives the heart functions now known to belong to the brain. They call this description of the heart metaphorical, but I suspect that the writers of the Koran did not think of it as metaphorical at all. In other words, the Koran, like the Bible, is a potpourri of sense and nonsense, fact and fiction, history and allegory. The authors of articles like this one cannot seem to tell the difference. I had thought that editors of medical journals, however, would be more astute.

As far as I can tell, the Koran is not appreciably more reliable in its medical advice than are the writings of Galen.

55 Comments

Hi Matt,

I’ll take your word that the article was unscientific. But are we sure we know everything there is to know about the heart?

I found this right away on google:

http://www.mindpub.com/art411.htm

I’m willing to believe that Sharma is a quack, but I found his reference to the New England Journal of Medicine to be intriguing. An interesting correlation?

Every once in a while I come across someone posting a Koran-based apologetic for something, either the well-rehashed “ways the Koran predicted the Big Bang” argument or just as often a screed against pork. But that’s in online BBSes and random websites, not medical journals.
Speaking of which, isn’t there a site that pretty comprehensively lists most peer-reviewed journals? I’ve just checked EurekaAlert’s page but couldn’t find this one’s title.

According to the Qur’an and Hadeeth, God created disease and God also created a treatment for every disease.

Ah, so Bill Dembski must be a Muslim!

Karen S. said:

According to the Qur’an and Hadeeth, God created disease and God also created a treatment for every disease.

Ah, so Bill Dembski must be a Muslim!

I thought Bill Dembski was a disease.

”… compelling scientists to work in secret our of fear of the.” “god removes rage form their hearts” Errors like these are typical of religious screeds, but in a scientific journal? Not to mention all the distortions and flat out lies in this article thing.

If a Muslim cannot reconcile even one of the (ridiculous) scientific claims in the Koran and the Hadith than the idea of inerrancy is lost. So it is no surprise we see believers going to great lengths to prove the accuracy of those claims.

This is an interesting article by an Egyptian doctor, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/[…]0/0/3876.htm

“Unfortunately, however, this doctor was not [just] speaking for himself. He represents a phenomenon, namely the victory of tradition over reason. He represents a school of thought that is willing to sacrifice all medical learning in order to uphold the predominance of jurisprudential Islamic texts and traditional fatwas.”

Check this out if you want to read some of the ‘scientific proofs’ of Islam. These proofs mention anatomy, weather, geology etc. http://web.archive.org/web/20070623[…]-1.htm#ch1-1

Alex H said: I thought Bill Dembski was a disease.

More like an affliction.

Bradley B. said:

This is an interesting article by an Egyptian doctor,

Living in Texas, I fell solidarity for the poor guy. The money quote from his article…

“Debating and criticizing the opinions of religious scholars does not mean criticizing or disparaging religion. We mustn’t be too sensitive to discuss a scientific issue that was misunderstood by the religious scholars of the past. There is no need to wave swords when discussing such issues. The fault lies not with those who [dare to] contest the [opinions of the religious scholars], but with those who think that these opinions are synonymous with the religion itself.”

allexperts.com:

There were few Muslim scholars that agreed with Suyuti that the earth is flat. At the present, the only Muslim group that continues to support the Flat Earth Theory is the Ahbash. As a result of that, they pray in North America toward the east rather than the northeast as other Muslims do (Muslims should pray toward the direction of Makkah).

A few Moslems still believe the earth is flat. The article above says it is only the Ahbash whoever they are. That isn’t quite the case.

There was one Islamic militant leader in Nigeria who claimed that just recently. Unfortunately, he died in a shootout with the army while trying to establish a theocracy.

The xian flat earthers are all but gone. But even today 26% of the fundies believe the sun orbits the earth. I guess they must assume we have to sneak our space probes to the moon, Mars, and Saturn by the sun when it is night out.

Of course, the bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it. But it has gates so god can open them and pour water on us whenever he gets annoyed and decides to kill everyone but 8 people in a boat. Presumably NASA has an arrangement to use the gates of heaven for space exploration.

bbc.com:

The group is also referred to as Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” - one of their core beliefs.

Isa Sanusi, from the BBC’s Hausa service, says the group has no specific name for itself, just many names attributed to it by local people.

If their name is uncertain, however, their mission appears clear enough: to overthrow the Nigerian state, impose an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and abolish what they term “Western-style education”.

Flat-Earth views?

In an interview with the BBC before he was killed, Mr Yusuf, 39, said such education “spoils the belief in one God”. “There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam,” he said.

“Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. “Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism.”

Mr Yusuf himself was something of an enigma.

Analysts say he was extremely wealthy and highly educated.

Boko Haram rejects the ideas of The Cloud Theory of rain, the round earth, modern democracy, and Darwinism. That makes them almost fundie xians.

Oddly enough, their leader was reported to be wealthy and well educated. Didn’t do him any good though. He is now dead.

Presumably NASA has an arrangement to use the gates of heaven for space exploration.

That is true, but NASA has to pay a hefty toll for the privilege.

Noise pollution is also mentioned in the Hadeeth, where Mohammad encourages his followers not to speak in a loud voice or to engage in any act that consisted of loud sound, which is why drumming, blowing of a horn, and ringing bells were all turned down by Mohammad when it came to deciding how to deliver the call for prayer.

Were this truly so. In India there the many mosques all over the land insist upon flouting noise regulations by blaring out the call to prayer over powerful loudspeakers, five times a day. And in this they are no different from the many mandirs, and churches which respectively blare out their own music and ring the bells a’pealing! I am amazed how a scholarly journal could have published an article like this.

I’m a little hung over, and it’s first thing Monday morning for me…but what does this have to do with evolutionary biology…? Seriously, not all that interesting, and it belongs on anti-quack obsessive Orac’s blog or someplace similar.

What the hell? Is this paper this year’s “Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul: Proteomic prospective evidence” from Proteomics? And what a shock…it’s also a review article. Seriously, journals should at least have the editor give literature reviews a quick once-over before giving the go-ahead to the copy department.

“History has shown an antagonistic relationship between religion and science, as the authority and power exerted by the Christian Church during the Middle Ages and Renaissance stifled open inquiries into natural phenomena, even if such empirical observations were substantiated by rational thought and calculations. This inharmonious relationship significantly slowed the progress of scientific discoveries and advancements, compelling scientists to work in secret out of fear of the. During the same period, the vast Islamic empire was the epicenter of all academia, as major cities consisted of large libraries containing the world’s knowledge translated from most languages into Arabic. Unlike the Christian Church, Islamic teachings strongly encouraged and supported scientific research which led to many advancements and discoveries.”

Aside from the typos and incorrect idiom which are quite beyond the pale and lie at the doorstep of the editor, not the author, this is a fundamental historical understanding. Islam did foster academic study at first, but after Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols,a wave of fundamentalism swept through the Islamic world that for the most part brought scientific and scholarly inquiry to an end. The hostility of the Church in Europe to science is nothing but a strawman. The pace of scientific learning increased throughout the middle ages, with all of the leading figures being clergy themselves. It culminated with Nicole Oreseme who invented graphing among other discoveries, and was directly influential on Descartes and Galileo. In the late Renaissance, University lectureships first became open to laymen and so research moved outside the church. But it is hard to find an instance of the church impeding research or people working on science ins secret in fear of the church. Galileo was cautioned and Bruno burned largely because of their abrasive personalities and political factors, not because of their scientific work.

The authors state that: “The Qur’an and Hadeeth even include some of the discoveries made during the time of its creation. According to the Qur’an and Hadeeth, God created disease and God also created a treatment for every disease.”

So accepting the idea that God created diseases and treatments were discoveries made at the time? I can see calling them the widely held beliefs of the time, but surely not discoveries.

Both Christianity and Islam “discovered” that disease was from God. Treating symptoms was for the relief of the patient, but the cure, if any was forthcoming, was left to God.

Moreover, the article implies that contrary to western society, Muslim physicians were highly esteemed. Doubtless they were, but physicians in Europe were also esteemed, as is shown by their priviledged status and wealth.

A good counter to the article is Tanner Edis’ book, An Illusion of Harmony, which discusses in great detail the troubled relationship between Islam and science.

Raven asserts “Of course, the bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it. “

Where’s that verse?

Dome Expert said:

Raven asserts “Of course, the bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it. “

Where’s that verse?

From something I wrote long ago: The Sky

…has evaporated! In Adam’s time it was clearly a solid dome, a “firmament,” which was firm enough to separate waters above it from those below on the Earth. By Noah’s time it was still solid enough to have windows in it that had to be opened to let the rain through. I think that creationists that try to rationalize (weasel) their way out of this one by calling it “poetic metaphor” have given in to the godless materialists! The Bible really is literal, in the true sense of the word. The sky was a hard firmament with windows in it–but at some time since then it evaporated. Anybody who says different is a mealy-mouthed evolution-sympathizer. [Paul Murray adds the footnote] The word “firmament,” according to Strong’s Concordance (word 7549) is a translation of the Hebrew “raqiya.” “Raqiya” means a canopy, as in “Hast thou with him spread out the sky?,” and “that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.”

I guess the heavens is literally a tent, too.

JustBob, I don’t get your last sentence. The second verse does not have the word “raqiya” in it, and the first one is simply translated as “spread out”, not “canopy.” (The idea of the universe spreading out originated in the Bible? Humble yourself, Hubble!)

Dome Expert said:

JustBob, I don’t get your last sentence. The second verse does not have the word “raqiya” in it, and the first one is simply translated as “spread out”, not “canopy.”

Sorry, I was quoting Paul Murray, who, I assume, was quoting Strong’s Concordance accurately, which, I believe, is a pretty solid Bible authority.

I guess the heavens is literally a tent, too.

To all in tents and purposes?

HenryJ: Good one!

More islam pandenring by the multiculturalists. If liberals get their way, prepare to have these kind of things done more and more.

Mats said:

More islam pandenring by the multiculturalists. If liberals get their way, prepare to have these kind of things done more and more.

Yup, we liberals just pandener all over the place.

If you think that some Muslims or most Muslims believe that the Earth is flat, I think that you are not just doing spelling and grammar mistakes but also swaying away from seeking knowledge. “Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity. According to a 2009 demographic study, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up 23% of the world population” (List of countries by Muslim population. Wikipedia. Retrieved Friday February 12, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o[…]m_population). I don’t have to be Christian to believe in Jesus or that he guided people to follow the right path. Although Islamic religion is based on believing in all the prophets and messengers (citing some of the many: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and lastly Mohammad), I don’t believe in them just because I am Muslim. I do believe in the messengers because they brought true guidance to people. If you know that Islamic religion is the second in the World, won’t you think for a moment about how so many people believe in this religion? Won’t you think about how Quran has kept his only one version over the years? (Spelling: not Koran but Quran or Qur’an. The letter QQA “ق” is found in Arabic language and not in English and it is different from the Arabic letter “ ك” K) Won’t you think how no one has ever made a book that has no structure, spelling, truth, or other sort of mistakes that proved wrong over the almost 1500 years? In addition, the science of astronomy was well developed before the Islamic religion and they believed that the Earth is round and that other planets exist. It is hard to believe that Jesus talked after he was born, but if you believe in God, you might believe in his miracles. One of his miracles is creating men with thinking abilities (different from all creatures). Therefore, you must think and research any topic well before you put some misguided materials. Be thorough in your research as you should base any argument on the “1.57 billion” Muslims and the truth they have. Knowledge is no gossip, it a long process of learning and knowing.

raven said:

allexperts.com:

There were few Muslim scholars that agreed with Suyuti that the earth is flat. At the present, the only Muslim group that continues to support the Flat Earth Theory is the Ahbash. As a result of that, they pray in North America toward the east rather than the northeast as other Muslims do (Muslims should pray toward the direction of Makkah).

A few Moslems still believe the earth is flat. The article above says it is only the Ahbash whoever they are. That isn’t quite the case.

There was one Islamic militant leader in Nigeria who claimed that just recently. Unfortunately, he died in a shootout with the army while trying to establish a theocracy.

The xian flat earthers are all but gone. But even today 26% of the fundies believe the sun orbits the earth. I guess they must assume we have to sneak our space probes to the moon, Mars, and Saturn by the sun when it is night out.

Of course, the bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it. But it has gates so god can open them and pour water on us whenever he gets annoyed and decides to kill everyone but 8 people in a boat. Presumably NASA has an arrangement to use the gates of heaven for space exploration.

“Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity. According to a 2009 demographic study, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up 23% of the world population” (List of countries by Muslim population. Wikipedia. Retrieved Friday February 12, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o[…]m_population). I don’t have to be Christian to believe in Jesus or that he guided people to follow the right path. Although Islamic religion is based on believing in all the prophets and messengers (citing some of the many: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and lastly Mohammad), I don’t believe in them just because I am Muslim. I do believe in the messengers because they brought true guidance to people. If you know that Islamic religion is the second in the World, won’t you think for a moment about how so many people believe in this religion? Won’t you think about how Quran has kept his only one version over the years? (Spelling: not Koran but Quran or Qur’an. The letter QQA “ق” is found in Arabic language and not in English and it is different from the Arabic letter “ ك” K) Won’t you think how no one has ever made a book that has no structure, spelling, truth, or other sort of mistakes that proved wrong over the almost 1500 years?

It is hard to believe that Jesus talked after he was born, but if you believe in God, you might believe in his miracles. One of his miracles is creating men with thinking abilities (different from all creatures). Therefore, you must think and research any topic well before you put some misguided materials. Be thorough in your research as you should base any argument or reply on the “1.57 billion” Muslims and the truth they have.Respecting other human beings (especially that huge number) would be by respecting their believes (not believing in theirs). In this global world of information and knowledge, it is hard to believe that some people are still enclosed in their own “respect criteria”. Respect for all comes before respecting self. Knowledge is no gossip, it is a long process of learning and knowing.

Randa said: If you know that Islamic religion is the second in the World, won’t you think for a moment about how so many people believe in this religion? Won’t you think about how Quran has kept his only one version over the years? …Won’t you think how no one has ever made a book that has no structure, spelling, truth, or other sort of mistakes that proved wrong over the almost 1500 years?

We do. We think about how three or four mutually contradictory religions make the first claim (large number of believers = truth), and at least two mutually contradictory religions make the second claim (book preservation skill = truth), and come to the inescapable conclusion that any line of reasoning which leads to two or more mutually contradictory conclusions must be false.

Or to put it another way: if literary preservation is indicative of truth, then it must be indicative of others’ truth too, not just yours. OTOH if their literary preservation doesn’t indicate the truth of their scriptures, it doesn’t indicate the truth of yours either.

I respect Islam as I respect Christianity; that is, I respect the things that are respectable about it.

The rest, not.

Raven asserts “Of course, the bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it. “

Where’s that verse?

Genesis 1:6-8:

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.

Genesis 7:

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 8:2: “The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.”

There are many more. The earth is also flat and has edges.

The bible says the sky is a dome. It has water on top of it. There are floodgates or windows so god can pour water on us and kill eveyone but 8 people in a boat when he gets annoyed. God thinks ahead about these things.

NASA uses these gates to sneak space probes past the sun on their way to Mars, Saturn, and the other planets. Some claim NASA has a deal with god and pays some hefty tolls.

The dome with the water canopy is a staple of young earth creationists. I’ve heard them explain it at length with great seriousness.

google capture:

Report: Bill Nye “The Science Guy” Exposed as Godless, Soulless …Apr 23, 2009 … There is an interesting account out of Waco, Texas where Bill Nye “The Science Guy” was … He was booed for saying the moon DOES NOT generate its own light? .… I put it to you that is the case with fundamentalist/creationists. ….. and this is reflected off the moon to light up our dark nights. … jonathanturley.org/…/report-bill-nye-the-science-guy-revealed-as-godless-soulless-blasphemer-in-texas/ - Cached - Similar

A lot of fundie xians also believe the moon is a self illuminated disk because Genesis says that too. And 26% of the fundies are Geocentrists, who believe the sun orbits the earth.

The bible is a treasure trove of science.

Great quotes Raven. I was hoping for the quotes about the “dome” and the “little lights”, but I guess I can’t get everything I ask for.

There is also Isaiah 40:22. Most translations read “circle of the Earth”, but the word translated “circle” also means an arch, even a dome. If it’s “circle”, it means that the Earth is seen as a flat plate. The same word is used for the bounds of the seas (Prov 8:27), which would imply the same, and the heavens (Job 22:14), where it plainly means “arch” or “vault”, but can be taken as metaphorical.

But it’s difficult to imagine how Isaiah thought that God sat on the circle of the Earth and yet looked down on all its inhabitants “like grasshoppers”. Surely the context would imply that God was enthroned far above the Earth, and therefore the word means “arch” or “dome”, which is the sky.

(NRSV) Genesis 1:8 God called the dome Sky… [5]

Matthew 24:29 (Jesus said) …and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Revelation 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

The stars in the bible aren’t very large or very well attached. They can fall to earth.

A firmament was originally a rigid dome above the earth.

Technically, the word dome doesn’t occur in the bible. Neither does the word god or jesus. These are modern English words that convey the sense of the ancient Hebrew.

Dome expert, do you have a point or are you just an annoying troll?

raven said:

(NRSV) Genesis 1:8 God called the dome Sky… [5]

Matthew 24:29 (Jesus said) …and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Revelation 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

The stars in the bible aren’t very large or very well attached. They can fall to earth.

A firmament was originally a rigid dome above the earth.

Technically, the word dome doesn’t occur in the bible. Neither does the word god or jesus. These are modern English words that convey the sense of the ancient Hebrew.

Dome expert, do you have a point or are you just an annoying troll?

I’m guessing choice B. DE is a believer in “inerrancy” who does NOT want the Bible taken literally in all those places where it is, well… errant.

I stand ready to be corrected.

My point was for Raven to back up what I considered to be a wild claim. That’s it.

Dome Expert said:

My point was for Raven to back up what I considered to be a wild claim. That’s it.

Mea culpa, DE, and I can hardly express my deepest sorrow and the torment in my very soul for the inexcusable insult of assuming that you might be a YEC or other “biblical inerrantist.”

By the way, do you now acknowledge that Raven is correct?

Well, first Raven said the “bible also says that the sky is just a dome with little lights stuck on it” but later says “Technically, the word dome doesn’t occur in the bible. (This is a) modern English word that convey(s) the sense of the ancient Hebrew.” Whereas Raven claims “A firmament was originally a rigid dome above the earth,” I would consider that there are other words that might also convey the sense of the ancient Hebrew. Like “expanse” for instance. Perhaps Raven picked the translation that make Bible adherents look the worst. I think that he should leave reading the verses literally, as opposed to metaphorically, to a subset of Biblical literalists.

I meant to add a phrase to my last sentence: “Concerning the ‘little lights stuck on it’, I think that he should leave reading the verses literally, as opposed to metaphorically, to a subset of Biblical literalists.”

How should one metaphorically read a third of the stars falling to the Earth?

First of all, these aren’t statements of what purportedly happened in our cosmological history; they’re for the future.

Second, didn’t these statements come from visions or prophecies? Many visions and prophecies in the bible use weird language.

Third, to answer your question, JustBob, I have no idea (assuming the original word necessarily means “fall”)! Oh, by the way, when I said before that some verses should probably be read metaphorically, I should’ve said that some verses should probably be read metaphorically or poetically. Sometimes it’s so clear that this is the case, that those who interpret them literally (whether bible-lovers or bible-skeptics) come across as really foolish.

Dome Expert:

I think that he should leave reading the verses literally, as opposed to metaphorically, to a subset of Biblical literalists.

Why? It is quite clear what ancient Hebrew Cosmology was. The OT was written by Jews for Jews. They refer often in the OT and in their other writings to a flat earth, with a dome with little lights stuck on it.

And who is this magic “subset” of “biblical literalists” who can tell what is literal and what is metaphorical or poetic? How were they chosen? If they don’t like your interpetation, what do they do, stone people to death?

DE:

Sometimes it’s so clear that this is the case, that those who interpret them literally (whether bible-lovers or bible-skeptics) come across as really foolish.

Down to namecalling already. A fundie xian who has run out of brainpower.

So what is clear. Maybe you as a fundie xian literalist can answer these questions.

1. How old is the universe and earth. Billions of years or 6,000?

2. 26% of the US fundies are Geocentrists. Does the earth orbit the sun or the other way around?

3. Is the moon a self illuminated disk like it says in Genesis and believed by many fundies?

4. Did the Flood with Noah and a boatload full of dinosaurs happen?

5. Are you waiting hopefully for the Rapture when god shows up and destroys the earth and kills 6.7 billion people?

6. Extra credit. How do people tell what is literally true, metaphorical, or poetic or allegorical? In times past, this was settled by armies with state of the art weapons but that is no longer tolerated.

DE:

First of all, these aren’t statements of what purportedly happened in our cosmological history; they’re for the future.

Second, didn’t these statements come from visions or prophecies? Many visions and prophecies in the bible use weird language.

wikipedia:

Biblical references to this cosmology (specifically, the notion of a solid Firmament with Heaven above it) include the creation of the Firmament in Genesis 1:6; God opening windows in the Heavens in Genesis 7:11 to let water rain down, and closing them again in Genesis 8:2; the construction of a tall tower to reach to the Heavens in Genesis 11:4; celestial warehouses for snow and hail in Job 38:22, the sky as a strong crystalline material in Job 37:18 and Ezekiel 1:22; the sky as a tent in Isaiah 40:22; stars as small objects attached to the Firmament (which can fall off) in Daniel 8:10, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:25, Revelation 6:13, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1 and Revelation 12:4. It is sometimes claimed that these “falling stars” are angels, as the swipe of a dragon’s tail dislodges “one-third of all the stars in the sky” in Revelation 12:4.

The Book of Baruch elaborates on the story of the Tower of Babel, in which the builders reach the firmament and attempt to pierce it:

wikipedia Biblical Cosmology:

Stars Further information: Heavenly host The “host of heaven”, a frequently recurring Scriptural expression, has both a general and a specific meaning. It designates, in some passages, the entire array of stars; in others it particularly applies to the sun, moon, planets, and certain selected stars; the worship of which was introduced from Babylonia under the later kings of Israel.

Various Biblical verses describe the stars as small lamps attached to the Firmament, which can be knocked off. Examples include Daniel 8:10, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:25, Revelation 6:13, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1 and Revelation 12:4 (it is sometimes claimed that these “falling stars” are meteors, but the swipe of a dragon’s tail dislodges “one-third of all the stars in the sky” in Revelation 12:4). The heavens are “rolled back like a scroll” in Revelation 6:14: however, as stars are apparently still being knocked off the Firmament in subsequent verses, it’s unclear which layer is being removed at this point.

Not relevant. While they are predicting the future, it is from their understanding of the present. In the few cases where stars are mentioned, the ancient Jews picture them as lights stuck on a dome.

More relevant. Nowhere in the bible do they consider them stars like our sun but many light years or more away. In Genesis 1, the stars are made after the earth and set in the sky. Which we also now know to be wrong. The universe is 13.7 billion years old and the earth 4.6 billion.

Here’s the deal: now, much of it has to be treated “metaphorically” or “poetically” because so much of it is so obviously WRONG in any literal sense. Even the “literalists” quickly fall back on “poetic metaphor” for most of the stuff that seems just silly nowadays. But when it was written it WAS meant literally, by folks who didn’t know any better.

“But when it was written it WAS meant literally, by folks who didn’t know any better.”

I agree about much of the Bible – and I might even concede about the “expanse” part, and maybe even the stars. (Though I don’t think they were ever considered little.) But not all of the Bible. JustBob, we just might agree more than we disagree.

“And who is this magic “subset” of “biblical literalists” who can tell what is literal and what is metaphorical or poetic? How were they chosen? If they don’t like your interpetation, what do they do, stone people to death?”

You answer your own question, raven:

2. 26% of the US fundies are Geocentrists.

I think there was a lot more openness, by the ancients, to alternative interpretations than you give the ancients credit for (perhaps because the Galileo incident made a big impression?) They even debated whether the book of Job was a true occurrence or not! There is no reported stoning over this.

Let me brush off your list of questions, Raven, by saying that I do NOT get my science knowledge from the Bible. (And I do not get my Bible knowledge from wikipedia.) My study of the Bible is not coming from the standpoint of someone who’s “an xian fundie”; rather, it’s from the standpoint of an academic. (A novice-intermediate academic.)

Just Bob said:

But when it [the Bible] was written it WAS meant literally, by folks who didn’t know any better.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Did the person who wrote this think that the valley of the shadow of death was 275 cubits deep?

No. This phrase, I’m certain, was intended as metaphor from the outset.

Dan said:

Just Bob said:

But when it [the Bible] was written it WAS meant literally, by folks who didn’t know any better.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Did the person who wrote this think that the valley of the shadow of death was 275 cubits deep?

No. This phrase, I’m certain, was intended as metaphor from the outset.

Yep, that’s one. I’ll bet there are plenty more in Psalms, Song of Songs, maybe Proverbs. But in Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch–even clear up through Esther, I’d be surprised to find even a few, except for obvious similes like “He came down like a lion.”

dome expert evading and ignoring simple questions:

Let me brush off your list of questions, Raven, by saying that I do NOT get my science knowledge from the Bible. (And I do not get my Bible knowledge from wikipedia.) My study of the Bible is not coming from the standpoint of someone who’s “an xian fundie”; rather, it’s from the standpoint of an academic. (A novice-intermediate academic.)

I don’t believe you. You just ignored and evaded a list of very simple grade school level science questions. Any grade school kid who paid attention in school could get most of them.

Most likely you a death cultist creationist who is afraid to admit it because most educated adults think it is silly.

dome expert evading:

“And who is this magic “subset” of “biblical literalists” who can tell what is literal and what is metaphorical or poetic? How were they chosen? If they don’t like your interpetation, what do they do, stone people to death?”

You answer your own question, raven:

It is a simple question. Which you evaded again. I already gave my answer which you ignored. In times past, xians just gathered armies and fought wars which killed tens of millions. Reformation anyone?

Extra credit. How do people tell what is literally true, metaphorical, or poetic or allegorical?

This is one, simple, legitimate question. What is your answer? Mine, people just guess. Their guesses all differ. That is why there are 38,000 xian sects, each one being The One True Xian Religion.

”…people just guess.”

I disagree.

They find in the Bible things which support their own worldview, political tendencies, psychological make-up, pathological needs, or whatever. Those things are “literal.” Other things that don’t support their views are “interpreted,” often to mean the exact opposite of their obvious literal meanings. Others are just ignored.

Cobble up a mishmash of mythology, legend, bits of history, pious fiction, erotic poetry, wishful thinking, etc., and sure enough, folks will find justification in it for damn near anything–even the mass murders you allude to.

Raven, you don’t have to believe me. Although I answered your questions in general, by saying I’m not a “xian fundie.” I didn’t answer each specifically because I found them to be a drain on my time. (Do you like to win arguments by exhausting your opponent?)

And don’t say I evaded your bonus question when in fact you missed my answer! (Review my Job comment.) The answer is that people debate these multi-interpretable verses. Over some, the debates get intense, sometimes violent, or factions split over them. Over others, however, it stayed at the level of debate.

Cobble up a mishmash of mythology, legend, bits of history, pious fiction, erotic poetry, wishful thinking, etc., and sure enough, folks will find justification in it for damn near anything–even the mass murders you allude to.

I think you are saying people just Make Stuff Up on the basis of whatever they want to Make Up using the bible as an infintely plastic and flexible source.

I don’t disagree.

The xians don’t all agree on much of anything among themselves. That is why there is a 2,000 year history of wars, genocides, and other mass killings. Why they hate each other. The Reformation wars alone lasted on and off for 450 years and killed tens of millions.

And most xians worldwide today don’t have a problem with evolution or the other sciences. That is a fundie cultist problem.

The Big Bang theory was first proposed by a Jesuit astronomer. Roughly 60% of US scientists are theists of some sort, mostly xians.

DE:

I didn’t answer each specifically because I found them to be a drain on my time. (Do you like to win arguments by exhausting your opponent?)

This is grade school level basic science. It would take a normal educated adult 30 seconds to answer. I’ll put the science answers in for you.

1. How old is the universe and earth. Billions of years or 6,000? Billions, universe 13.7, earth 4.6.

2. 26% of the US fundies are Geocentrists. Does the earth orbit the sun or the other way around? It’s been known for 500 years that the planets orbit the sun. People learn this in the first grade.

3. Is the moon a self illuminated disk like it says in Genesis and believed by many fundies? Reflector. Remember our astronauts have been on the moon itself several times. And the moon appears and disappears and gets eclipsed.

4. Did the Flood with Noah and a boatload full of dinosaurs happen?Mythology

5. Are you waiting hopefully for the Rapture when god shows up and destroys the earth and kills 6.7 billion people? Dome expert knows and isn’t saying. This is a religious belief, nothing to do with science and we could only guess. Probably.

6. Extra credit. How do people tell what is literally true, metaphorical, or poetic or allegorical? DE: The answer is that people debate these multi-interpretable verses. Raven: Well OK. There is no objective way to tell and no agreement. BTW, as you know, xians never do reach agreement. They just keep splitting off one sect after another over and over. My old natal sects have split so many times, no one has the slightest idea how many there are anymore.

Raven, you might be surprised to hear this from me, but I agree with your February 16, 2010 12:11 PM post. (Though I suspect you would’ve been among those would’ve stridently opposed the big bang theory when it first came out.)

Thanks for pointing out that your questions were easy. That’s part of the reason why I didn’t answer them! Maybe I’ll come up with a dozen or so easy questions for you, just to occupy your time.

I was thinking about saying that, actually, or at least “in a sense,” the sun and earth rotate about each other, but I think I’d better not go there.

I could also challenge you to prove that Genesis asserts that the moon is “self-illuminating” but I think our time would be wasted even more.

And I don’t look forward to 6.7 billion people dying. I’m sure you wish I secretly do, but I don’t. (Ahh, but now you’re probably thinking, “D.E. didn’t say he wasn’t looking forward to the Rapture, it’s just that he doesn’t look forward to so many people dying. Aha!” Well, you’d be wrong in either case if that’s what you thought.

I had gone through the paper “The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth”. I did not find any fiction in this. If anything is true, we should accept that. Not only the Quran but also Bible and Geeta contain some wonderful fact. Now there is a need to proof it scientifically. I have choosen some verses to proof it experimentally and will publish origenal article in scientific journol. I think, it needs a Debate. but I am sure that these criticism is nothing but it is jelousness with Islam and muslims.

In charity, I will put this down to difficulty with English. You may not have written what you mean. Nevertheless,

Not only the Quran but also Bible and Geeta contain some wonderful fact. Now there is a need to proof it scientifically. I have choosen some verses to proof it experimentally and will publish origenal article in scientific journol

does not make sense.

Do you mean that you have chosen some verses, and are trying to prove them empirically, on the hypothesis that they are factual?

What verses?

Certainly they contain “some wonderful fact.” Do you maintain that everything they contain is factual?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 6, 2010 11:51 AM.

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