Reading through the Bible: day 7

Job 13:20 – 16

An unscientific claim

The Bible is often accused of making unscientific claims, and since it’s supposed to be divinely inspired, we might be expected to accept that all claims should be scientifically valid. I say might, simply because context could allow for one to say that there’s a good reason for it not being scientifically valid.

Job 14:7-9 shows a case where one could level the accusation of scientific inaccuracy. I’ll reproduce the text from the English Standard Version:

“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud. and put out branches like a young plant.”

Obviously we have the benefit of knowing about the deciduous nature of some trees, which seem to die over winter, yet return to life in the spring time. Job’s claim is therefore completely unfactual and unscientific, the real question is, does it detract from the Bible?

One of the major themes in the book of Job seems to be that through all this happening, the characters seem rather oblivious to what is really going on: Job feels he’s fallen out of favour with God, and his friends feel he has obviously done something very bad to deserve what he’s getting. This claim by Job actually then fits this theme perfectly, since it shows how Job and his friends are operating, like the rest of us, from a position of incomplete knowledge. Obviously earlier generations of believers would have missed this particular nuance and may have taken it literally, but that in itself should not mean the Bible is faulty, simply people’s understanding of it.

The point here is that the Bible isn’t a book of science, and should not be used to attempt to make scientific claims. This opens up the creation evolution problem, but for many the issue is a fundamentally doctrinal problem. There are apologists out there who claim to be able to prove evolution false, which is a serious stretch, there are reasons we may have to doubt it, or even the efficacy of atomic clocks, but I haven’t heard a compelling argument to actually say it (evolution) definitely didn’t happen. Although I think people need to explore the idea of evolution not being the case, from a scientific stand point, but proving evolution wrong wouldn’t prove creation.

Being full of hot air

Eliphaz gets back in here, accusing Job of getting it all wrong, and being without knowledge. 14:2 has Eliphaz seemingly telling Job in fancy language that he’s full of hot air, “…and fill his belly with the east wind?” (ESV) I quite liked that.

Maybe you should just shut up

As most of us, Job’s friends aren’t very helpful in comforting him, in fact, it’s likely they couldn’t have chosen worse words. In Chapter 16, Job would just like his friends to shut up, he needs to talk, and get things out. He needs to work things out for himself. Often we’re all to ready to try to help, when all that’s needed is listening. Although this may not be a doctrinal lesson, it’s a good lesson in life.

What do you think? What stands out?

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