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Did science have to catch up to biblical truth and its evolutionary advantages?

Doesn’t following the laws of morality (eg. washing your hands to prevent disease, having one monogamous partner to create health for all) make humans the most evolutionarily evolved?

Hand washing to prevent disease was predicted by the Bible BEFORE science discovered that microbes cause disease. This is why Jewish hospitals were more successful than other hospitals – science had to catch up to Biblical truth.

Monogamy is the best way to keep from disease and has shown scientific evidence for prolonged life – isn’t that beneficial evolutionarily for offspring? This was also predicated by the Bible before science “discovered” it was true.

Posted: December 6th 2008

Eric_PK

First off, I think you’re a bit confused about evolution.

Evolution doesn’t have a goal, so the phrase “more evolutionarily evolved” doesn’t make sense.

As for the specifics of your question,
the goals of biblical prohibitions – especially WRT food – has led to a lot of debate.

Some think that they are health related – pigs, for example, can carry trichinosis. Others point out that other animals carry disease and disease prevention is more about proper cooking and preparation than avoiding certain animals. Some suggest that it’s an economic prohibition, because in the area where the israelites lived, pigs had to be fed grain, which would be wasteful.

I don’t have a strong opinion, though I do think that things like that tend to have complex rather than simple explanations.

WRT hand-washing, my understanding is that there was a lot of ceremony there. It may have provided some advantage, but it would not have been uncommon for the water of the time to be contaminated or for any drying cloths to also be contaminated (ie the concept of “sterile” was not yet invented).

I don’t think that’s necessarily unique – other groups could come up with similar rules – but it is interesting.

WRT monogamy, this is a really complex subject in evolution, one which some researchers devote their entire careers to.

Suffice it to say that reproductive strategies vary widely from species to species. If evolution works, we would expect species to be opportunistic in how they make such choices, and that’s pretty much what you see.

Humans tend more towards monogamy (much more, than, say, bonobos), but even humans aren’t particularly monogamous.

I think if you think the bible says that monogamy is best, you are mistaken. The bible has lots of instances of polygamy in it, and that polygamy is not condemned.

Posted: December 8th 2008

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flagellant www

This question has to qualify as one of the strangest I have been called upon to answer.

Its premise is like taking a pea and saying it is heavier than an elephant.

Why don’t you start from a different position and weigh up the evidence dispassionately?

What you should do is list all modern knowledge against the genuine knowledge in ancient religious sources. Where do any of them tell us about planets, and the heliocentric Solar System? What do they tell us about the periodic table? And what about evolution and cell biology? What knowledge do these sources give us? Either nothing or something quite wrong.

There is no such thing as 'Biblical Truth’; it is largely superstitious, spurious, specious, suspect, and superseded.

Posted: December 7th 2008

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SmartLX www

In general, how could the authors of the Bible knowingly foretell in passing the minutiae of modern science, like the need for hygiene and the survival benefits of not cheating on your wife, and then completely botch explicit statements of empirical fact, for instance write that there are insects with four legs (Leviticus 11:20-23)?

The washing reference you bring up is in Leviticus 15. It’s a long, detailed set of instructions on what to do after an unusual bodily discharge; in some “translations”:http://www.ibsstl.org/bible/verse/index.php?tniv=yes&q=Leviticus%2015;%20Leviticus%2016 this is explicitly a nocturnal emission (wet dream). It says to wash or destroy everything that came into contact with it. Same goes for a woman’s period.

Nowhere does it say that the discharge is potentially dangerous to your health. It simply says that it makes things and people “unclean”, without elaborating on the actual effect of this condition. Therefore all it’s really saying is that washing will make you clean. Duh.

Posted: December 6th 2008

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logicel

Science did have to catch up with some of the hard earned empirical knowledge gleaned from trial and error demonstrated in ancient writings (including Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, etc.) to identify causative agents and explain their activity. Sadly, the Bible has lots of catching up science-wise since then. However, it can’t as it is frozen in time.

For example, monogamy is no longer necessary to protect oneself from sexually transmitted diseases. Informed sexual partners mean that protected sex is chosen, limiting significantly the chance of sexually transmitted disease. And if disease is transmitted, then it can be treated. In other words, monogamy in its focus on preventing sexually transmitted disease is obsolete. Happily, monogamy can serve many other purposes than disease prevention!

Purity is one of the five bases of morality set up by the psychologist, Jonathan Haidt. You can determine which five bases predominate your morality here.

However, just like the Ten Commandants can be reduced to just a few really meaningful ones, Haidt’s five morality bases can be reduced to just one, that is, to prevent harm to yourself and to others. The best way to achieve that goal is to keep up with scientific advances and not cling to out-dated rituals (these were performed mindlessly, some of them actually caused harm like certain herbal treatments, but were done because of traditional adherence) described in the Bible and other ancient writings.

To sum up, such worthy and preventive measures discovered through laborious trial and error and which existed before the Bible, demonstrates that the human brain evolved to the point that it could observe relationships between events. These measures were painstakingly enacted through time (how many tribal members died from eating poisonous mushrooms before such mushrooms were avoided?) resulting in identifying some important health measures such as keeping feces away from drinking water and food. This precious knowledge (though in general far from accurate) was then codified in law, education, and daily routines: it became the zeitgeist of those days.

Posted: December 6th 2008

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