Scientific foreknowledge in sacred texts

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The argument from scientific foreknowledge in sacred texts attempts to prove the existence of God from advanced scientific knowledge in holy books that were written before the information was discovered independently by humans. The information was either imparted by God to the authors of the holy book or passed down over generations from Adam and Eve to the authors. [1]

Contents

Formal Argument

  • A holy book contains certain correct knowledge.
  • The knowledge could not have been guessed or discovered by humans.
  • There God may have been the source of that knowledge.
  • There is no other known source for the knowledge.
  • From (1), (3) and (4), the knowledge must have come from God.
  • From (5), God exists.

Specific Instances of Scientific Knowledge

While there are too many claims to comprehensively list here, some of the more interesting and significant examples are cited.

The Bible

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  • Use of running water for hygiene. [1][2]
  • Existence of dinosaurs. [1]
  • The Earth is spherical. [1][2]
  • The universe has a finite age [1]
  • Mass extinctions caused by asteroids [1]
  • The Earth is in a vacuum. [2]
  • Matter is made of particles [2]
  • Ship building dimensions for stability [2]
  • Existence of ocean currents and under sea water springs and mountains. [2]

The Qur'an

Main Article: Scientific foreknowledge in the Qur'an
  • The big bang. [3]
  • The expansion of the universe [3]
  • Pulsars [4]
  • Finger print identification [4]
  • Coronary by-pass surgery [4]

Vedas

  • The birth of the universe [5]
  • Gravitation [5]
  • The velocity of light [5]

Criticism

Argument from Ignorance

We do not have any direct evidence of the source of this alleged knowledge might be. To claim it is God is an argument from ignorance. It might as well have been a lost civilisation or aliens, for all we know.

Errors in some claims

While the Bible and Qur'an make many claims, some of them can be verified as false. This indicates fallibility for one or more of the sources of the books. If the source of the knowledge was a perfect God, we would expect all the knowledge to be correct, which is not the case. The correct claims are emphasised by cherry picking. The most glaring example is that a literal interpretation of the Bible supports scientific creationism, however that theory is considered to be incorrect by mainstream science.

Common Knowledge

Holy books are usually the record of a tribe's customs and knowledge. The parts that are correct were probably common knowledge at the time of writing and required no external inspiration. It is difficult to rule out the possibility of a culture had a piece scientific knowledge because a written record of an incorrect theory does not preclude a different section of the population holding the correct view.

Stretching scriptural meaning to fit expectations

Many of the examples are poetic metaphors that require significant post-hoc interpretation to make them fit current scientific understanding. This is an example of confirmation bias. For example, [2]

"Air has weight (Job 28:25). It was once thought that air was weightless. Yet 4,000 years ago Job declared that God established “a weight for the wind.” In recent years, meteorologists have calculated that the average thunderstorm holds thousands of tons of rain. To carry this load, air must have mass."

The force exerted by the wind is a separate from air pressure caused by the weight of air. The weight of air does not depend on if it is moving (as with wind) or not. If it mentioned lower air pressure at high altitude, it might be more credible.

Both young earth and old earth creationists claim the Bible supports their position but both views cannot be true. The Bible can selectively be interpreted to support many alternative views and has very few specifics. An entire section dedicated to a single theory would be a solid foundation. A fleeing reference which requires selective interpretation is unreliable.

Science has many unanswered questions. If there is additional knowledge in sacred texts, it is difficult to use sacred texts to form hypothesis for testing because of their vague wording. If they cannot provide testable hypotheses before discovery by other means, they are technically proto-scientific (at best) and not scientific.

Distinguishing guesses from justified knowledge

We need a way to distinguish between lucky guesses and justified knowledge in sacred texts. Without this, we cannot assume a claim of knowledge was not a lucky guess. Democritus (460 BC-370 BC) thought that everything was made of particles. While this hypothesis is true, he had no way of verifying it and it was, to some extent, a lucky guess.

Multiple religions claim foreknowledge

Multiple religions make claims of scientific foreknowledge and their claims are mutually exclusive. Therefore claims of foreknowledge are an unreliable test. We cannot tell which God is valid with an unreliable test.

Related arguments

The Bible was simplified by its authors for a general audience

Apologists claim that some of the content in the Bible is simplified to be accessible to a general audience. It may therefore not exactly match our modern scientific understanding of the universe.

For instance the Genesis creation story (vaguely) corresponds to modern cosmology but is greatly simplified for its audience. The Bible claims that the Earth is round, while strictly speaking it is not really an exact sphere.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 CreationWiki, Bible scientific foreknowledge, retrieved 5th apr 2014 [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Eternal Productions: 101 Scientific Facts and Foreknowledge [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sherif Alkassimi, The Quran on the Expanding Universe and the Big Bang Theory, 16 Jun 2008 [3]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Scientific Miracles of the Qur'an [4]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Padmakar Vishnu Vartak, Scientific Knowledge in Vedas, 1995 [5]

See Also

External Links


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
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