Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible
THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM: Supernatural Signs in the Heavens
Bible stories led the Christian world to believe for centuries that God sends humankind signs in the heavens.
Christians thought comets warn of divine anger and imminent punishment; stars and meteors portend beneficial events such as the birth of heroes and great men; eclipses signify divine distress in response to events on earth; and storms and other destructive weather result from the anger of God or the malice of Satan.
Here are the references (lot's more Andrew White):
 White, Vol. I, p. 174, 175.
 White, Vol. I, pp. 171-173, 176.
 White, Vol. I, pp. 172, 173.
 White, Vol. I, pp. 331, 337.
If you have been reading these chapters in sequence, you know that pretty much any claim that references Andrew White is false. I am sure he has written some things that are factual, but they do not seem to be showing up on the humanist's web page attacking the Bible.
Let's do some digging and look at specific examples from White's book. My copy is a Kindle version, so I am not able to see page numbers and look up the specific pages listed above. However, let’s see what we can find.
We are looking at Andrew White's book "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Vol. II,” We are in chapter IV, titled: "From 'Signs and Wonders' To Law In The Heavens."
What initially strikes me upon reading this chapter is that it is packed with generic statements about Christians believing things such as comets being prophetic signs from God. Here is an example:
"Myriads of good men in the Christian Church down to a recent period saw in the appearance of comets not merely an exhibition of 'signs in the heavens' foretold in Scripture, but also Divine warnings of vast value to humanity as incentives to repentance and improvement of life-warnings, indeed, so precious that they could not be spared without danger to the mortal government of the world." (Kindle location 3564)
Over and over White infers that beliefs in signs were supported by scripture, but he never references scripture. It makes no difference if the whole world believes something is Biblical. If it is not in accordance with what scripture actually says, it is not Biblical. What people believe does not define scripture. What scripture actually says is what defines scripture. Although some Christians have believed comets were prophetic signs from God, scripture does not teach that.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO CLAIM THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT COMETS ARE PROPHETIC SIGNS, THEN IDENTIFY THE SCRIPTURE THAT SUPPOSEDLY SAYS THAT!
However, White ignores scripture. Instead, he gives the names of some people who supposedly believed this. So let's look at an example. I picked John Knox (1513-1572) because he is well known and respected. He was a leader of Scottish Reformation and founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Andrew White writes:
"John Knox saw in comets tokens of the wrath of Heaven..." (Kindle location 3640)
White references Knox's "Histoire of the Reformation of Religion Within the Realm of Scotland" as his source, but does not identify either a page or chapter number. I am looking at a copy of this book right now. It is 677 pages. Who knows where the comment about comets might be buried, if it is there at all. Calvin College has a searchable copy online. However, searches for the words "comet" and "comets" turn up nothing.
I read White’s entire chapter, and there was not one scripture reference. Even if Knox believed comets were tokens of the wrath of heaven, if this belief is not supported by scripture (and it is not), then it is not Biblical.
Yes, it is true that professing Christians believed that comets were signs of a coming disaster. Pope Calixtus III (1455-1458) excommunicated Halley's Comet, considering it to be from Satan. However, that says nothing about what scripture actually teaches. White provides no evidence at all that scripture supports any of the above humanist claims. White just asserts they are true and gives examples of people who supposedly believed these superstitions.
Let’s look at another one. White references many names I do not know. However, there are also some major figures in Christian history listed. Let’s look at another one of those:
White writes: "Zwingli, boldest of the greater Reformers in shaking off traditional beliefs, could not shake off this, and insisted that the comet of 1531 betokened calamity." (Kindle location 3674). White gives no supporting reference for this statement.
I selected Zwingli because I have references that mention a conversation Zwingli's had about Halley's comet. The following is from "Ulrich Zwingli, the Patriotic Reformer: A History" by William Maxwell Blackburn (1868) page 286.
It was the famous comet of 1456 and 1531. It created a terror through all the land. The learned men of that day were not free from superstitious notions in regard to such appearances. "What may that star signify?" inquired the abbot (George Miller inquiring of Zwingli). "It will light me," replied Zwingli, "and many an honest man in this confederacy, to our graves."
Yes, Zwingli was superstitious about comets. He apparently believed Halley's Comet was a sign that he, and other reformers, would die. Does that mean the Bible teaches that comets are a sign of God's anger and coming punishment? No. What it means is that Zwingli embraced the unbiblical superstitious beliefs of his time. Scripture Says...
Genesis 1:14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
What are these "signs?" They are signs “for seasons and for days and years.” When God created the lights in the expanse of the heavens, He did not say their purpose as being for prophetic signs./P>
Let’s go a little deeper and get a fuller understanding of what scripture means by “signs.” The Hebrew word translated as signs is Strong's 226, which means a beacon, monument, or a reminder of one's duty. For example, the rainbow is a sign. It is a reminder of the Noahic Covenant in which God promises never to flood the entire world again. What about the sun, moon and stars?
1. Look up at the sky on a clear night. What majesty. What breath-taking beauty. What incredible vastness. They are a testimony to God’s greatness and power. (Psalm 8 and Psalm 19, and Romans 1:14-20)
2. They are a reminder of God’s future divine judgment during the seven-year Tribulation. (The end times judgments in Joel 2:30-31, and Matthew 24:29).
3. They are signs guiding navigation (Matthew 2:1 & 2)
Nowhere does scripture claim that the sun, moon and stars are signs of divine anger and imminent punishment, or of the birth or death of prominent people, or of divine anger as the result of an event or action on earth. No matter how many famous Christians believed that comets foretold the future in some way, scripture does not support that belief.
Yes, He can... in very rare and unique cases. We see this in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. However, they are not the result of malice or anger, but as judgment against sin. This most frequently is the result of God withdrawing His restraint of the effects of sin. The greatest example was the Noahic global flood. In addition, there is a time coming, called the Tribulation, during which there will be huge "natural" disasters.
However, there is no indication that God routinely causes natural disasters because He gets angry. Except for a few very rare cases, all natural disasters are... natural. They result from the fall and the broken nature of all of creation. God allows the consequences of our sin, some of which are natural disasters, to run their course.
Conclusion: There is nothing in the Bible supporting the notion that signs in heaven foretell the future (disasters, births, deaths, etc.) nor that they are signs of God's anger. Believing in signs in the stars is a superstition that began early in fallen man's history, and continues today.
WHAT'S NEXT? Additional Errors About the Physical World
The Bible has verses mentioning dragons (Jeremiah 51:34), unicorns (Isaiah 34:7), and cockatrices (Isaiah 11:8). These passages led many naturalists in the Middle Ages to think such mythical creatures actually exist.
This is an interesting one... I love "dragons" in particular. Were they real? Did people and dragons live together? Get the fascinating answer here...
The gospel is not social justice nor serving others. The gospel is love in action... Jesus Christ giving Himself so that you can be saved from the wrath of God.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. - 1 Corinthians 15:1-8