Advanced Geophysics Knowledge

The Bible includes a number of references regarding the geophysical structure of the earth which revealed an understanding which was far ahead of common awareness. To truly appreciate the relevance of these statements, one must understand the state of existing knowledge about the earth at the time these words were written.

Although data concerning historical scientific knowledge is rare, it suggests that almost nothing was known about the earth's oceans, atmosphere, or the structure of the earth's shape and composition. The nations surrounding Israel believed that the earth was flat, resting on the back of elephants or turtles. There was no knowledge of lighter-than-air gases. Rain was said to be sent from the gods, lightning and thunder represented the anger of the gods. Even volcanic activity was not connected to any physical property of the earth.

In sharp contrast, the biblical accounts refer to geophysical facts in clear and precise detail thousands of years before their confirmation by science. While God is sometimes seen to manifest His anger through physical means such as earthquakes--with a specific purpose in mind, the Bible makes it clear that earthquakes are not in themselves a symbol of His anger. This is a significant difference from every other religious belief of those times.

The course of trade winds

"The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course."
(Ecclesiastes 1:6)

This was a remarkable statement given the earth's primitive knowledge of atmospheric conditions. In Solomon's time (Ecclesiastes was written around 935BC) there were no scientific revelations about the trade winds that move in a regular, predictable pattern around the earth. Sailors finally began mapping these winds during the age of exploration about 2000 years after this was written.

Ocean currents revealed

"...and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas."
(Psalm 8:8)

The Bible infers a knowledge of ocean currents at a time when almost nothing was known about the ocean. It was not until 1845 that Matthew Fontaine Maury, inspired by this verse, began discovering and mapping the existence of ocean currents. Even today oceanography is hailed as the "last great frontier" of scientific study because so little is known about our oceans.

Some people will dismiss this passage as an accidental reference, merely transposing a land-based concept (paths) to the surface of the water. Perhaps. But a closer look suggests that this verse distinctly refers to paths (currents) within the depths of the ocean, not upon its surface, as most fish do not swim on the surface.

The existence of hydrothermal springs

"Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?"
(Job  38:16)

God revealed the existence of freshwater springs under the ocean floor about 4000 years ago. Only in the last 20 years have scientists discovered that huge springs of heated water pour out of the ocean floor in numerous places. In 1965 scientists first theorized that such vents could exist. In the late 1970's, oceanographers with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute finally saw and photographed one from the deep water submersible Alvin. Until then it was impossible to travel to these depths because of the intense pressures encountered. Since then many more vents have been found. These are usually referred to as "hydrothermal vents" which are composed of steam and minerals flowing at high pressure into the sea as a result of cracks in the earth's crust. To anyone without oceanographic knowledge they look exactly like "springs of the sea." How did Job know about these phenomena located at such crushing depths?

Polar ice caps revealed

"From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?"
(Job  38:29-30)

The phrase "surface of the deep is frozen" is a reference to ocean ice caps found only in the farthest reaches of the north. How could someone like Job or his contemporaries, living in the area of Saudi Arabia in ancient times, have known about polar ice caps? Not even the harshest winter could have produced a frozen ocean surface in that region of the world.

Some early explorers were known to have traveled north, but with no navigational aids (the compass was not invented until the seventh century AD and didn't appear west of China until 1100AD) their efforts were futile. A Greek explorer was reported to have traveled as far north as the island of Great Britain around 1300BC. However, nothing indicates that he discovered ice floes and this is highly unlikely because he would not have made such a trip in winter.

The hydrological cycle

"He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?"
(Job 36:27-29)

"who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land--the LORD is his name"
(Amos 5:8b)

This reference to evaporation is startling in its clarity and detail, and centuries ahead of its time. God revealed the existence of a hydrological cycle--water evaporating from the sea into the form of clouds and being dropped onto land as rain--about 3500 years before these concepts became known to scientific man. In fact, even after people understood the hydrological cycle, they believed that rain, being fresh water, came from rivers and lakes. The discovery that rain comes mostly from seawater as described in the Bible is fairly recent. In the 1600's it was finally realized that water could evaporate as a gaseous substance. In 1676, Pierre Perrault and Edme Marriotte made a scientific breakthrough by describing the hydrologic cycle in detail. Yet the Bible described the process thousands of years earlier.

PDF files available

Interested in teaching this material to your church or home Bible study group? Adobe Acrobat files based on the material in this web site are available as handouts to supplement the excellent Ravi Zacharias video series.

The PDF files also cover the extra content such as the sections affirming the validity of Scripture. Files include overheads and a convenient invitation flyer.

Note that the purpose is to add value to Ravi's course, not to compete with it. Order the video series through your Word distributor or directly from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries at http://www.rzim.org

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