Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T.A, I’m curious about how the Bible presents the rainbow. It sounds like something you would relegate to a myth like those found in primitive cultures or ancient societies, which explain natural events in almost laughable ways. For example, the earth being upheld on the shoulders of Atlas, or the sun retiring in a bog or swamp each evening. Isn’t it a bit ludicrous and detrimental to the truth claims of the Bible for God to give us a hokey story about placing the rainbow in the sky, when the whole thing can be explained scientifically?”
Dave: Well, it’s a way of saying it. He “put the rainbow” in the sky because this is what happens when you get this prism effect through raindrops. And so, when it says “He hangs the world upon nothing,” for example, that’s a scientific statement. It’s not saying, “Well, He’s got some kind of a ‘nothing’ hook, and that nothing is something. So, to say that “He put the rainbow in the sky”—that’s figurative language. We would use that kind of language.
Tom: Mm-hmm. But it doesn’t include something like a turtle—putting something on the back of a turtle for eons…?
Dave: No, there is no nonsense about this. And it tells us that it was because of rain, because of the flood, and so on.
Tom: It hadn’t rained prior to the flood, as far as we know.
Dave: Right. So that would be the first appearance of a rainbow ever. God is not saying that He did this by some mystical means. No, it’s explained scientifically. When Hebrews, chapter 11, says, “By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear…”—that’s a scientific statement. Everything is made out of nothing. I mean, it doesn’t tell us what it is made out of—it says it’s not made out of anything that you can visibly see. So that would exclude everything. Energy: I guess we can’t see energy, although we can see the effects of energy.
So, again, God is using figurative language, but He has to use it in a form that will allow the person to understand it—the person of that day and the person of our day—and I don’t see that this is unscientific or irrational.
Tom: Or mythological.
Tom: Well, Dave, there are a number of things in the Bible that people relegate to myth. For example, a talking serpent—Satan communicating through this animal. Just as we find the serpent big among the Norse gods—well, we can find it in almost every culture. But isn’t this then myth? Their myth and our myth?
Dave: We have very serious scientists today who are trying to communicate with porpoises. They are trying to teach the alphabet to chimpanzees and claiming that…
Tom: And we are paying for it with our tax money.
Dave: Yeah, and we’ve got others who—psychics who claim to be able to communicate psychically. So, no, this is not mythology, it’s….
Tom: Hey, we have pet psychiatrists…and psychics.
Dave: That’s right. Yeah, but what happened in the Garden of Eden very clearly is not a myth because we are all reaping the results of it. And, in fact, as you mentioned, serpents are worshipped all over the world. People have a fascination with them in Hinduism and so forth. So, no, it’s a factual story that we find even the results of it in cultures all over the world today. Again, it has a little bit of a twist, Tom. There’s a perversion to Satan, and on the one hand, people fear snakes—I don’t like snakes at all, as you know, and I have killed quite a few rattlesnakes. Some of the kinder ecologists say, “Oh, don’t kill them!” Well, I don’t know. I don’t want that guy in the trail to bite somebody who is following behind me.
Tom: And I have been following behind you on many occasions.
Dave: Yes! I will never forget when Peggy, your wife, saw that huge one—but anyway, this was up in the Sierras. So there is a natural fear of snakes—on the other hand, a fascination with them. And snakes are very deadly, they are very sneaky, and Satan loves to identify himself with the serpent. It’s not that the Bible is maligning him by identifying him with a serpent—he likes to identify himself. So you have serpent worship everywhere; you have dragons all over, on temples.
Tom: Yeah, if you look at these religious systems that do worship serpents, you find that the serpent is the answer. He is the one who did the good thing. He is the—whether it be Aesculapius—in other words, the serpent is the one who heals, the one who brings salvation in many, many cultures. Again, why is this the antithesis of what the Bible teaches if it weren’t true?
Dave: Yeah. Getting back to the rainbow again, there are people who call themselves Christians today, even who call themselves evangelicals, who deny that the flood was worldwide. And I just kind of, sometimes, tease them, and I say, “Well, of course, we’ve never seen a rainbow over here because, being a local flood, it was a local rainbow, and no point in putting a rainbow over here because it was a promise that there wouldn’t be another flood again. Since it was a local flood, it’s a promise that there would never be a local flood again, so we have to go to Mesopotamia to see a rainbow.”
Peter likened the Judgment—the world is going to be burned up, just like the world then was destroyed by fire [flood]. “But I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s a local flood—it will be a local fire, so let’s not be concerned.” It doesn’t fit, Tom. It is very clear that it was a worldwide flood, and you can get some scientific books by non-Christians—Cataclysm, for example, is one of them, that gives you evidence beyond any amount that you need that there was a worldwide flood all over this earth.
Tom: So, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that the Bible says something that contradicts God and still believe it’s God’s Word.