An additional reason that Humanists reject the Bible as a book of God is that it contains many teachings that are contrary to what science has found to be the structure of the physical world. As is the case with the Bible's teachings that are inconsistent with the laws of nature, the Bible's views concerning this subject are similar to beliefs that have been held by many primitive and illiterate people throughout history.
A classic example of such an incorrect Bible teaching can be seen in the account of the
opposition that Christian theologians mounted against Galileo's proof of the Copernican doctrine of the double motion of the earth. In the sixteenth century, Copernicus set forth the idea that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, and in the following century Galileo's telescope provided strong evidence that Copernicus had been right. In opposing the Copernican doctrine and attempting to show that the earth remains stationary while the sun moves around it, the Catholic Church pointed to the tenth chapter of the book of Joshua. There we are told that Joshua, in order to have a longer period of daylight in which to carry out the Lord's command to slaughter the Amorites, told the sun to stand still -- and not the earth.
Other passages demonstrating that the Bible writers thought that the
earth remains stationary include Psalm 93:1 ("The world also is established, that it cannot be moved.")
Because of Galileo's advocacy of the Copernican doctrine, the Inquisition threatened him with torture, forced him to recant his support for that doctrine, and sentenced him to imprisonment. In addition, based upon the teachings of the Bible,
for nearly two hundred years the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books condemned all writings, which affirmed the idea of the double motion of the earth. Moreover, for generations the major branches of the Protestant church -- Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican -- denounced the Copernican doctrine as being contrary to scripture.
The Bible also grossly errs in upholding the viewpoint that the
earth is flat. In the sixth century, a Christian monk named Cosmas wrote a book entitled Topographia Christian in which he described the structure of the physical world. Cosmas based his conclusions on the teachings of the Bible and held that the earth is flat and surrounded by four seas.
One of the reasons for Cosmas' belief in a flat earth was the statement at Revelation 1:7 that, when Christ returns, "every eye shall see him." Cosmas reasoned that if the earth were round instead of flat, people on the other side would not be able to see Christ's Second Coming.
Further support for the idea of a flat earth is contained in the Bible verses which speak of the "Four Corners of the earth" (e.g., Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1) and the "ends of the earth" (e.g., Jeremiah 16:19; Acts 13:47).
As a consequence of such Bible teachings, most of the early church fathers believed that the earth is flat. Also, the view of the world as set forth in Cosmas' book was for several centuries accepted as part of the orthodox Christian doctrine. In addition, when Christopher Columbus proposed, in the fifteenth century, the idea of sailing west from Spain to reach the East Indies, biblical support for the notion of the earth's flatness was a major source of opposition to his proposal.
The Bible additionally sets forth the ridiculous idea that
the sky is a solid vault. In the creation account given in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, verse 17 states that the Lord set the sun and moon "in the firmament" to provide light upon the earth. The Hebrew word translated as "firmament" is "raqia," which means, "hammered metal."
More support for the idea of a solid sky is found at Job 37:18 (where the sky is described as being like a "molten looking glass"), Isaiah 40:22 (God "stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in"), and Revelation 6:14 ("And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together").
The notion of a domed earth, as contained in the preceding Bible verses was a common conception in the ancient Near East and was taken for granted by the biblical writers. Based on the teachings of the Bible, most of the early church fathers accepted the idea of the firmament. That idea was also supported by Cosmas and consequently was part of the orthodox Christian doctrine for several centuries.
Included in that orthodox doctrine was the belief that there are windows in the firmament that are opened by angels whenever God wishes to send rain upon the earth. Cosmas believed that when the windows were opened, a portion of the waters contained above the firmament, which are mentioned at Genesis 1:17, would fall to the earth. Cosmas' basis for that viewpoint was the statement, at Genesis 7:11-12, that at the time of the Noachian Flood the "windows of heaven were opened" and the rain fell.
The Bible also naively asserts that the earth rests upon pillars. The "pillars" of the earth are referred to in several verses in the Old Testament (I Samuel 2:8; Psalm 75:3; Job 9:6), but no explanation is given as to what the pillars themselves were thought to stand upon. Perhaps that issue was not even considered by the writers of the Bible, as logic obviously was not their strong point. In any event, such verses are a reflection of the belief of the ancient Hebrews that the earth sits upon pillars.
In addition, the Bible contradicts modern medical science by declaring that illnesses and other physical maladies result from supernatural agencies, such as the activity of demons, rather than from physical causes. In describing Jesus' healing miracles, the New Testament states that the following afflictions were produced by demons: blindness (Matthew 12:22), muteness (Matthew 9:32-33), lameness (Luke 13:11,16), epilepsy (Matthew 17:14-18) and insanity (Mark 5:1-13).
As a result of such teachings, the early church leaders generally discouraged the view that illnesses are caused by natural processes and supported the idea of demonic agency as the primary cause of disease. For example, St. Augustine, whose views strongly influenced Western thought for over a thousand years, said in the fourth century: "All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons...."