Have scientists discovered the long day of Joshua 10?
The Bible is true in every detail. It is wonderful when we get emails from people, who want to back up this fact. Sometimes, however, we receive emails that attempt to “prove” part of the Bible in a manner that is not strictly accurate.
The Missing Day Question
One example that we receive frequently is a common email, claiming that NASA scientists have used their computers to discover a “missing day” — purported to be the long day recorded in Joshua 10. This email usually also mentions an extra missing 40 minutes, due to the sun retreating by 10 degrees, as recorded in 2 Kings 29:9-11.
In commenting on this notorious email, let me first emphasize that I believe both the long-day account in Joshua and the account of the sun retreating in 2 Kings are true and record genuine historical events. The proof I need for this position of mine is that they are recorded in the Bible. I do not need NASA scientists to verify this for me.
The most common form of the longest-day email mentions a contractor to NASA called Harold Rimmer. Unfortunately for the veracity of the email, NASA has no record of such a contractor. Nor would they. The first published account, similar to this famous email, appeared in a book by Harold Rimmer in 1936. NASA was not founded until 1958. Of course, NASA replaced a previous agency — the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics , which was founded in 1915. But this latter agency would not have had computers working in 1936, as the world’s first electronic computer was only built in 1936 (in Manchester, England).
Even allowing for the embellishment of Rimmer’s ideas with the passage of time, there would be no way of devising a time-calculation machine to analyze the length of days at the times of Joshua or Hezekiah. To do so would require us to have a fixed clock definition at a point at or before these events. In the absence of a time machine, such a fixed clock reference is not possible. Our conclusion, therefore, has to be that the NASA Longest Day email is simply an urban myth, and is not something that we should use as evidence to support the truth of the Bible.
Offering such evidence is, in fact, always the incorrect way of addressing such issues — even if we felt the evidence was correct and better resourced. Evidence is actually never neutral, and is always interpreted according to one’s worldview. Therefore, evidence should always be viewed in the light of our presupposition that the Bible is true, not the other way around. This is the biblical position, because the Bible never wastes time arguing for the existence of God, merely pointing out that His existence and sovereignty is self-evident in the universe. As the writer of Hebrews says:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
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