Life-Size Goliath's Spear


Ken Ham’s blog yesterday says, “There are some things you’ve just got to see in person to comprehend.” The italics are his, but I think the pictures are probably good enough. For in that link you will see, miracle of miracles, Goliath’s spear, all 12.7 ft and 33.1 lb of it.*

Mr. Ham tells us,

Sheldon Rhodes and Chris Allen have worked since 2013 to first determine what Goliath’s spear would have looked like, what materials it would have likely been made from, and how it would have originally been crafted. They reached out to Answers in Genesis for help in researching this project, and Troy Lacey, who handles phone, email, and letter correspondence, provided them with historical data. In thanks for his efforts and the on-going work of the Creation Museum in sharing the message of biblical authority and the gospel, Sheldon and Chris donated one of their spears to the Creation Museum.

The spear head and the counterweight at the tail end are made of iron, and the shaft is red oak. I understand that the Philistines had iron, and I shall assume that at least one of the oak trees mentioned in the Bible (in Genesis and Joshua) was a red oak.

Dan Phelps, who sent us the link to the article, is somewhat more circumspect than Mr. Ham:

It could be twice as big, or only half size and one couldn’t “prove” it was wrong. The Ark has brought out a golden age of creationism wherein they just make bullshit up.

No matter how big his spear, I think that Goliath would have been a sitting duck for a kid with a sling. A shepherd who protects his sheep and kills wolves with a sling will have no trouble killing a giant from a distance beyond the range of his spear. The “battle” between David and Goliath reminds me of nothing more than a famous scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (?) where a vicious-looking villain brandishes a scimitar (?) and is promptly shot from some distance by, if you will excuse the expression, a good guy with a gun. David was not impressed with the length of Goliath’s spear, and you should not be either.

* The shekel varied with time and space, but let us say it was around 0.5 oz, so Goliath’s spear (or the iron in it) would have weighed around 20 lb. Samuel does not tell us the length of Goliath’s spear, but tells us that Goliath himself was approximately 6 cubits tall, or perhaps 9 ft, so the estimates of the spear’s length and weight are not wholly unreasonable. My apologies to those who live outside the United States and use God’s units of measure; 20 ft is around 6 m, and 20 lb is around 10 kg. You will have to ask an archeologist, not a physicist, whether spears in those days looked like that.

Two films


Two new films: one that has been released and one that has not. First, the film that has been released, Bill Nye: Science guy, directed by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg. (The film that is due to be released is “We believe in dinosaurs,” featuring David MacMillan and Dan Phelps, and I will discuss it below the fold.) The IMDb entry for “Bill Nye: Science guy” says,

A famous television personality struggles to restore science to its rightful place in a world hostile to evidence and reason.

and gives the following storyline,

Bill Nye is retiring his kid show act in a bid to become more like his late professor, astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan dreamed of launching a spacecraft that could change interplanetary exploration. Bill sets out to accomplish Sagan’s space mission, but he is pulled away when he is challenged by evolution and climate change contrarians to defend the scientific consensus. Can Bill show the world why science matters in a culture increasingly indifferent to evidence?

Brachiospongia digitata


Photograph by Dan Phelps.

Photography contest, Finalist.

Brachiospongia digitata – fossil sponge. Mr. Phelps writes, "I recently excavated this specimen of B. digitata from the Curdsville Formation of the Lexington Group (Late Ordovician). I had intended on carefully excavating the layer in the future, but this specimen was in fragments at the surface. I glued it back together then removed a lot of the excess shale from between the 'arms.' The specimen could use more cleaning."

Hobby Lobby Museum of the Bible


It may be a little unfair of me to label it the “Hobby Lobby” Museum of the Bible. Still, the Museum, which will open next month in Washington, will be brought to you by Steve Green, the man who fought for and won his right to impose his religious belief on you and me. On the other hand, the good news seems to be that the Museum will not be as tendentious as the Ark Park, in that, according to a sneak preview in the Washington Post,

The museum, which will be among the largest in a city chock-full of museums, presents broad, sometimes abstract concepts about the Bible, communicated through cutting-edge technology and immersive experiences.

And although the Museum expects to attract evangelical Christians, it apparently will not specifically attempt to “bring to life the living word of God . . . to inspire confidence in the absolute authority” of the Bible, as was in its initial mission statement, according to the Post. Indeed, the museum reportedly sought advice from experts in many different traditions. Nevertheless, at least one scholar, Steven Friesen of the Society of Biblical Literature, has studied the Museum’s website and inferred that it is promoting a specific view of the Bible and relates very little, for example, about how the Bible was compiled. (I only skimmed the website and also suffered through some videos, incidentally, and I thought they were not unreasonable.) Likewise, Grant Wacker, an expert on the history of Christianity and an evangelical Christian, declined to serve on the Museum’s board, because he would have been required to sign a statement of faith that he thought went too far.

Cuneiform tablet illegally imported into the United States from Iraq. Credit: United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.