Tag Archives: water cycle

Biblical “Science” – The Water Cycle

Christians, especially Young-Earth Creationists, often claim that the Bible contains accurate scientific information which would have been impossible for anyone to have known at the time the Bible was written. The claim is that the existence of advanced knowledge could only come from divine revelation and is proof that the Bible is the word of God.

Does the Bible contain scientifically accurate information which could only be recorded if it had been revealed by God?  Before we can determine the best explanation for any advanced knowledge in the Bible, we first need to verify if there is information beyond the scope of what the primitive authors could have reasonably known at the time.  Usually, a claim is stated and several verses which supposedly support the claim are listed; however, apologists don’t usually quote the verses directly – and they almost never include any context.  Let’s look at one of example and review the verses listed and see if we can determine why apologists would choose to be intentionally vague.

The water cycle was discovered by a Roman engineer named Marcus Vitruvius in 30AD – so how is it that Solomon wrote about it in complete detail 1000 years earlier

You’ll find this argument on many Christian apologist websites along with a list of several Bible verses which are supposed to prove the claim.

Eccl 1:6-7
“The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again”

The author of this verse recognized that the sea levels didn’t get higher despite a constant inflow of water  from streams and rivers – no deity is needed to make that observation.  The author then concluded that the water must somehow be returning to the river. I see nothing miraculous about making an observation and inferring based on that observation. The author was correct but no mechanism was described, no advanced scientific information was revealed.  The verse simply describes an observation and inference which could have been made by any ancient person living by a body of water.

Eccl 11:3
“If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”

Nothing about the water cycle is revealed here. This verse says clouds drop rain, and trees fall. Why would this require divine revelation? Couldn’t ancient people recognize that it only rained when it was cloudy without a God to reveal that information to them?

Job 26:8
“He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them”

This verse shows a lack of scientific understanding and demonstrates that the author did not understand how rain and clouds work. He thinks water is stored in the clouds and he seems amazed that clouds don’t break under the weight of all the water they are carrying.  The author doesn’t recognize the clouds ARE water. If he understood that clouds are water vapor he wouldn’t have been surprised that they don’t break.  Again, I see no evidence of divine inspiration.  I see evidence of erroneous ancient beliefs.

Job 36:27-28
“For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.”

Rain falls from clouds, this is nothing new. There is nothing in this verse that wouldn’t have been noticed by every person on the planet for thousands of years.  To suggest that the author wouldn’t have recognized this phenomenon without revelation from a God is highly insulting to the intellect of the author.

Amos 9:6
“It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.”

At first glance this one could look promising, after all, we now know that water from the sea evaporates, condenses into clouds, and then is falls upon the face of the earth as rain.  Is this verse evidence of God describing the water cycle?  Unfortunately for believers, no.

When you read the entire chapter it becomes apparent that the verse is describing magic actions God will take to destroy his enemies. This verse is describing God’s vengeance and his magical powers. Amos 9, verses 1-3 describe how enemies can’t hide from God on top of mountains or at the bottom of the ocean.  In verse 4 God says, “I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.” Verse 5 says God will touch the land and melt it so that it rises and falls like a river, verse 6 (quoted above) says God will pour water from the sea upon the earth.  Verse 8 says he will destroy (the sinful kingdom) from the face of the earth.

Does it make more sense that verse 6 is describing the water cycle or that it is, like the rest of the chapter, just describing another violent magical method God could use to cause death and destruction to his enemies?

So there we have it.

I’m not surprised apologists don’t usually quote the verses when they make this argument, the Bible simply doesn’t say what the apologists want to pretend that it says.  Most believers will simply accept the arguments on faith and repeat it uncritically.