I 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?