Re: Peer review and ID

From: gordon brown <>
Date: Mon Oct 24 2005 - 17:42:47 EDT

On Mon, 24 Oct 2005 wrote:

> George Murphy states it well. There is an absurdity in our preoccupation with
> this. But it is an archetypal concern touching on the surface of increasingly
> significant questions. E.g. how far are Christian scholars willing to go to
> maintain concordance – or at least a non-contradictory relationship between
> Biblical understanding and modern scientific sensibility? The pi question is
> probably a “safe” place to gently play this argument out since it is such a
> minor detail with no large theological ramifications. Other questions would
> encroach in a more threatening way -- “Did the sun really ‘stop’ in the sky for
> 24 hours for Joshua?

It is difficult to ascertain exactly what happened in the account in
Joshua. Does it really say that the sun stood still? Translators have
interpreted it this way as far back as the Septuagint. However the Hebrew
word that they translated as stand still is not translated that way
anywhere else in the Old Testament. Its literal meaning is to be silent.
In many cases it is translated as meaning to cease, which is probably
correct. If one asks the sun to stop, does that mean to stop moving or
stop doing something else? What is most like being silent?

There are some inconsistencies with the popular interpretation. First of
all, this incident happened early in the morning. The Israelites had
marched all night from Gilgal and probably came upon the enemy before
daybreak, which gave them the advantage of surprise. The enemy then fled
into a hailstorm. When Joshua spoke to the sun and moon, the sun was over
Gibeon, which was in the hills to the east of the battle site. Why would
Joshua have thought about extending daylight hours when it was so early?
Why did he think it necessary to address the moon? The moon doesn't
provide much extra light during the day. As for the sun not hastening to
go down for about a whole day, the original does not say down, and a day
often means the period between sunrise and sunset. Finally, it is
interesting that when the text says that there was no day like it before
or since, it is not because of a unique celestial or meteorological event
but rather because the Lord listened to the voice of a man.

Gordon Brown
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
Received on Mon Oct 24 18:24:43 2005

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