Why Jesus Used Bad Science

When God humbled himself, his intellect was not exempt. /

Imagine a conversation between a child and her father:

“Well, Rosie,” says Dad, “I’m going on a trip. Would you like me to bring you something?”

“I would like a star, Daddy,” Rosie answers. “One like that.” She points to Betelgeuse, the red giant in the constellation Orion.

“There are a few problems with that, Rosie. First, there is the question of how long it might take me to get there and back. Even with a ship that could travel at light speed and was big enough to carry a star, it would take me 642 years to get there.”

“Can’t you go faster?”

“Well, no. The speed of light is a constant, and anything that actually reaches light speed converts into energy—into light itself. But if I got to near light speed, I might be able to survive the entire journey because of relativity. Time would slow down for me, but people on earth would still die before I got back . . .”

As good as this father’s intentions are, a better response might be something like, “It may be too big, but I’ll see what I can do.”

This example came to mind as I was preparing a lecture in which I was trying to answer the question, “How do we incorporate the findings of science into our readings of the Bible? How do we read as scientists, or at least scientifically minded people?”

Consider Luke 11:34–36. Jesus had just performed an exorcism, yet some around him are asking for a sign. The crowds are growing in size. Jesus tells those around him that the only sign they will receive is the sign of Jonah. Then he says something particularly puzzling:

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 19 / April 2, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. Back from the Dead? Heard It Before.

    The Bible, history books, and newspapers are full of resurrection stories. But something different happened at Jesus’ tomb. /

  3. Seeds—Small and Mighty

    They’ve done nothing less than transform the planet. /

  4. Good Friday

    ‘A horror of great darkness at broad noon— I, only I.’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff /

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