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Doctrinal Matters

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Has NASA Discovered a "Missing Day"?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

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For years the following story has been spread by well-meaning people whose intent is to defend the accuracy and inspiration of the Bible.

In the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua, it is recorded that the Sun “stood still.” One day while NASA scientists were using their computers to calculate orbits for the Earth, Sun, and other planets, they discovered that there was a “lost day.” After prodding by one of their colleagues who had attended Bible school as a child, the scientists reprogrammed their computers to include appropriate biblical facts and ultimately found their “lost day,” thus proving the biblical record to be accurate.

The story sounds great, and is quite impressive in the telling. Unfortunately, it is false—from beginning to end.

In the May 1991 issue of Reason & Revelation, I wrote an article documenting the incorrect nature of this account, and urging our readers not to use it. Years later, however, the story still is being circulated—most likely due to the fact that it has been published on the Internet. While there are many positive aspects of the Internet and the World Wide Web, one negative aspect is that error can be disseminated rapidly, and widely, with little more than the click of a mouse button. Apparently that is exactly what has happened here. Some well-intentioned soul posted the story on the Internet. Another saw it, and sent it to a few (or a few hundred!) people via an electronic address book. Those people then forwarded it to others, who sent it to still others. Ad infinitum!

As those whose lives and teachings revolve around the importance of truth, we, of all people, should do all we can to avoid the dissemination of erroneous material, regardless of how “good” it may sound, or the “evidential value” it may appear to have. Yes, we should defend God’s Word. But no, we should not use error to do it. “Faithfully teaching the Faith” is not merely an awesome privilege, but an awesome responsibility as well. Because of the seriousness of this situation, and the fact that the story seems to have developed a “life of its own,” I decided to update my May 1991 article in order to expose once again the incorrect nature of this account. The revised article was published in the February 1999 issue of Reason & Revelation—the first time in the history of the journal that we have repeated an article.

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