When I first began researching how we know the Bible is true, one proof that kept coming up was that the Bible teaches that the earth hangs on nothing:
“He… hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Job 26:7
This verse seems to be evidence of God’s deep understanding of His creation (aka “insider information”).
This seemed pretty impressive at first, but upon further investigation I found it a rather unexceptional revelation.
Why the Bible always had a 100% chance of guessing this one correctly
For starters, the odds of just guessing this one correctly are pretty darn good — just 1 in 2 — since either the earth hangs on something or it does not.
The odds may be even better if we consider:
1) There was nothing visibly tethering the earth to the sky,
2) The sun and moon also appeared to hang on nothing, and
3) The sun regularly goes down in the West and comes up in the East, and nothing seems to block its path.
But still… Job did guess correctly, isn’t that worth something?
“He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.” Job 9:6
Pillars? How can the earth hang on nothing and be placed on pillars?
God also seems to support the idea of a foundation, and answers Job saying:
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?” Job 38:4-6
God tells us what those foundations are in 1 Samuel:
“The pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them.” 1 Samuel 2:8
And again in Psalms 75:
“When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.” Psalm 75:3
Because the Bible hints at both possible answers, regardless of which answer turned out to be true, we could potentially argue that the Bible had predicted it all along. If the earth hangs on nothing, then the Bible was right, and if it’s on some kind of foundation, then the Bible is still right (and the pillars become a metaphor for whatever that foundation is).
But… all the wrong verses were just metaphors!
Biblical apologists now argue that all the pillar verses are some kind of metaphor, while the single “hangs on nothing” verse is allowed to maintain a literal meaning because… well… it just happens to be true.
But imagine if tomorrow we discovered that the earth actually was set on pillars! Wouldn’t apologists immediately change their tune and say the exact opposite? They would say, “God knew the earth was literally on pillars! That’s why He said so several times!”
The fact is, Job 9:6 and Psalm 75:3 seem to be attempting a literal explanation of earthquakes. Surely ancient people must have wondered “What could possibly cause the entire earth to tremble and quake? It must be on some kind of unstable foundation… like… pillars!”
Regardless of what they may have been thinking, it would certainly be more convincing if the Bible said: “The land and sea all float upon a core of hot melted rock, which sometimes moves around, resulting in quakes in some areas.” But unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us this kind of specific and insightful knowledge about our world.
My primary objection to this proof is that the odds of just guessing this detail correctly are better than a coin toss, it’s not an improbable revelation. My second objection is that even if this observation turned out to be wrong, those verses about pillars could be turned into a metaphor for whatever foundation happened to be holding up the earth. And finally, if it could ever be proven that these inspired authors believed that the earth was set literally set upon pillars, then this too would be to the Bible’s discredit.