No wonder people don’t trust Christians

Christian LiesI am helping with Bible and Chemistry for one of the students at the Christian school the church hosts. He is a senior but really struggles with learning. His basic learning abilities are stunted because they would let him look at the answer keys whenever he didn’t know the answers. Apparently this is the basic process by which the high school has always handled teaching and it hasn’t terribly hurt most of the students because they don’t abuse the system. The problem is, students that need extra help are harmed because they learn that abusing the system is easier.

Anyways, the point is that I was grading his work today and came across a part of the book that was teaching a “fact” not found in the Bible. I guess the idea was to help student believe what they read in the Bible, but the problem is the “fact” is actually a lie.

The book told the story of a NASA funded study done in Green Belt, MD where a computer program was constructed to predict the position of various celestial bodies for thousands of years “to prevent satellites from being damaged.” The program would work fine and then crash over and over. They checked the hardware and also reviewed the coding several times. They concluded that the software was crashing because it would come to a date error. Nothing they tried worked until one researcher remembered two times in the Bible when the rotation of the Earth was altered. Once the Earth stood still for about a day and another time the shadows moved back 10 degrees. The researcher calculated 23 hours and 40 minutes for the total time not accounted for and then plugged this into the computer program which began working correctly.

What an amazing story … only it isn’t even remotely true. I was told this story when I was about 11 at a Christian school I attended at the time. My dad was stationed in Guam at the time with the Air Force and the DOD school was rumored to be the worst school on island. I don’t know about that but I do know that when I was older and in public schools a lot of my science education felt very limited. Not just the whole origin debate but the actual teaching on how things worked. I was frustrated, but I remembered this story so I decided to look into it. At some point it started to feel like a sham.

I’m not sure if it was because I had started to distrust my education from the Christian school or if my ability to comprehend logic had grown enough to see through the multiple logical flaws, but I no longer believed that NASA had proven the Bible true via a complex computer program. I think this might have been my first experience with Snopes. I do know that I learned that this was yet another lie I was taught by Christian education.

Ok so here is the problem with this. First, there is no logical reason why the Earth standing still would cause a computer program predicting the movement of celestial bodies to fail. The movement of everything else wasn’t affected so that is the first failure. If everything else were changed, it wouldn’t affect out ability to predict based on what is happening now. The ancient Mayans, for example, have accurately predicted hundreds of years in celestial movements without a computer program or knowledge of the Biblical records in question. Now one might argue that their society had a record of this since it was a global event, but that culture didn’t exist at this point, they didn’t their predictions based on studying what the stars and planets were doing in their lifetime just like we can do now. People don’t even need to know why the planets move the way they do to make these predictions. Newton was the first to accurately explain this in modern Western history and even he ran into problems that were explained less than 100 years ago by Einstein. Regardless of that people were making predictions ignorant of the intricacies of gravity and relativity or the missing day.

My research also showed me many other failures like the fact that NASA isn’t interested in the position of various celestial bodies for more than a few dozen years with regards to their satellites. That’s at the extreme end of life for anything NASA has put in space. Also NASA flat out denies this or anything remotely related to it including working with the researchers in question.

So if this is a huge lie then why do Christians keep spreading this rumor? I’ll be writing on it more but I’d like some input. Why do you think Christians tell this lie over and over and even teach in it books still in print?

Comments

  1. It’s easy to believe a lie.

    We want stories that are extraordinary and validate our beliefs to be true. We want that so much that we’ll ignore reasonable objections or logic in order to keep propagating the lie.

    We want real life examples that validate scriptures. Sometimes it’s more than just desire. Sometimes we actually need it because our faith is so weak that if we didn’t have these extraordinary and validating anecdotes, we’d have no faith at all.

    Sometimes we just want to be able to throw an anecdote in someone’s face who counters our beliefs.

    Or we just get told something is true, we’re inherently trusting, and we don’t bother to question it. Thereby putting as much faith (or more) into some chain letter anecdote as we do into Jesus himself.

  2. What Danny said. I started typing almost exactly what he did and then realized I was being redundant…maybe even plagerizing ;-) So yeah, what he said.

  3. And WHY do I get a goofy little avatar each time I comment. How do I get a real one?

    • Nick the Geek says:

      Already mentioned it on twitter for you but if you get a Gravatar your avatar will be the same on all blogs that are gravatar enabled (including most Word Press blogs) Gravatar.com

  4. I’ve just read a short, thoughtful book on recognizing how culture affects our theology. In it, it talked about modernism, and how this cultural change towards “reason” has lead to a strongly literal interpretation of Scripture. And to increased use of “science” to prove the existence of God, and an increased need for evidence as the basis of faith.

    So, in answer to your question, even though the rest of the world has transitioned to post-modernism, I think “proofs” still hold a comforting spot in some people’s hearts — especially people who were trained in theology before the 1970′s. I’ve got a friend in her mid-50′s who loves a DVD that gives all kinds of astronomy evidence for the “Christmas Star…”

    • Nick the Geek says:

      That’s a really interesting idea that I hadn’t thought of. I am torn in many ways between the modern thought process and post modern. I can see valid truth on both sides but ultimately I find that Truth tends to be obscured by worldviews. I am generally pretty literal in my interpretation of the Bible, but I feel it doesn’t need made up proof.

      • There are lots of authors who deal with faith from a post-modern perspective, most popularly (or controversially, depending how you look at it) Brian McLaren obviously.

        Even if you have problems with some of his theological conclusions or questions, the background information on modernism & post-modernism is (in my opinion) incredibly sound. “New Kind of Christian,” though done as fiction, is a very good place to start for that topic.

  5. Hi Nick,

    I think first we would need to decide if it’s deliberately a lie being told over and over or just ignorance being passed down to the kids. Kind of like.. “If you keep making that expression, your face will stick that way.” My face never stuck that way….really!!

    Secondly, I think there are people out there who want so much to “prove” the existence of God, that they will warp truths to try and substantiate what they deem as fact. The truth is simply this, God exists… He is… it will be up to Him when and if He decides to prove it. I’ll choose to stick with believing, NASA satellites or not.

    • I’m too quick to label something as a lie.

      Really, lying would only be saying/teaching something that you knew wasn’t true. As opposed to merely propagating an idea that you assume (for whatever reason) really is true.

      You can be perfectly authentic and truthful, and still be dead wrong.

      BUT, I don’t think it’s important to distinguish which place a person is coming from. Unless I want to try to judge them as being a liar or not.

      I feel much safer in saying that it’s our business in correcting the information and the person as opposed to trying to ascertain their motives.

    • Nick the Geek says:

      I agree that we do need to be aware of what constitutes a lie. Someone must have lied intentionally at some point in this, and in ignorance we propagate the lie. The problem I have is that finding the truth is very easy, but we add laziness to ignorance and so teach something that is untrue and bring shame to Christ. That bothers me. What’s worse is that this lie is in print in Christian educational material for a Bible class. This is doubly wrong and is the modern day equivalent to shouting down Galileo because you think the Bible teaches the Earth is flat and the Universe revolves around us.

      • Funny you use the Galileo example. I’ve actually known people who really do insist that the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat and the Universe revolves around us. In this day and age.

        For reals.

        The laundry list of things that we propagate in ignorance and shame Christ with is probably immeasurable.

        Good thing he’s pretty big into forgiveness. ;)

      • Funny you use the Galileo example. I’ve actually known people who really do insist that the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat and the Universe revolves around us. In this day and age.

        For reals.

        The laundry list of things that we propagate in ignorance and shame Christ with is probably immeasurable.

        Good thing he’s pretty big into forgiveness. ;)

  6. Can I submit a rather late addition to this thread?
    The Wizards first rule states “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”
    ‘Stupid’ might be a bit harsh a term, ‘Lazy’ might be a better fit.

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