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Outdated or Ahead of Its Time?

Outdated or Ahead of Its Time?

SCIENCE

THE BIBLE IS NOT A SCIENCE TEXTBOOK, YET IT CONTAINS STATEMENTS THAT WERE WAY AHEAD OF THEIR TIME. CONSIDER A FEW EXAMPLES.

Did the physical universe have a beginning?

Leading scientists once felt strongly that the answer was no. Now they generally accept that there was a beginning to the universe. The Bible said that clearly all along.​—Genesis 1:1.

What is the shape of the earth?

In ancient times, many people thought that the earth was flat. In the fifth century B.C.E., Greek scientists suggested that it was a sphere. But long before that​—in the eighth century B.C.E.​—the Bible writer Isaiah referred to “the circle of the earth,” using a word that may also be rendered “sphere.”​—Isaiah 40:22; footnote.

Are the physical heavens subject to decay?

Greek scientist Aristotle, of the fourth century B.C.E., taught that decay happens only on the earth, while the starry heavens could never change or decay. That view prevailed for many centuries. But in the 19th century, scientists formulated the concept of entropy. It suggests that all matter, whether heavenly or earthly, tends to decay. One of the scientists who helped to advance this concept, Lord Kelvin, noted that the Bible says about heaven and earth: “Just like a garment they will all wear out.” (Psalm 102:25, 26) Kelvin believed, as the Bible teaches, that God could choose to prevent such decay from destroying His creations.​—Ecclesiastes 1:4.

What holds up planets such as our earth?

Aristotle taught that all the heavenly bodies were encased in crystalline spheres, each one nested tightly within the next, with the earth innermost. By the 18th century C.E., scientists were accepting the idea that stars and planets might hang in a void. But in the book of Job, of the 15th century B.C.E., we read that the Creator is “suspending the earth upon nothing.”​—Job 26:7.

 MEDICINE

THE BIBLE, THOUGH NOT A MEDICAL TEXTBOOK, CONTAINS SOME PRINCIPLES THAT REFLECT ADVANCED KNOWLEDGE OF HEALTH.

Isolating sick people.

The Mosaic Law prescribed keeping people with leprosy separate from others. Not until the plagues of the Middle Ages did medical doctors learn to apply this principle, which is still deemed effective.​—Leviticus, chapters 13 and 14.

Washing after touching a dead body.

Until late in the 19th century, physicians often worked on corpses and then on living patients​—without washing their hands in between. That practice caused many deaths. Yet, the Mosaic Law stated that anyone who touched a dead body was ceremonially unclean. It even directed that water be used for ceremonial cleansing in such cases. Those religious practices surely had health benefits as well.​—Numbers 19:11, 19.

Waste disposal.

Each year, over half a million children die of diarrhea, largely because of exposure to human waste that is not disposed of properly. The Mosaic Law said that human waste should be buried, disposed of away from human habitation.​—Deuteronomy 23:13.

Timing of circumcision.

God’s Law stipulated that a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day of life. (Leviticus 12:3) In newborn babies, the blood’s ability to clot is understood to reach normal levels after the first week. In Bible times, before advanced medical treatments were available, waiting for over a week before circumcision was a wise protection.

The link between emotional health and physical health.

Medical researchers and scientists say that positive emotions such as joy, hope, gratitude, and a willingness to forgive have some beneficial effects on health. The Bible says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit saps one’s strength.”​—Proverbs 17:22.