The Bible “Is” a STEM* Study Book
(From the Felling of Goliath to Landing on the Moon)
The Former NASA Apollo 11 and Apollo 13
Spacecraft Warning System Engineer
Having spent more than a half century participating in STEM technology as a NASA engineer at the Johnson Space Center, I wanted to apply those experiences in my retirement. My Christian walk nearly equaled my time at NASA, only a decade less. During those forty years, a Biblical generation no less, I’d often correlated my NASA STEM experiences with Scripture’s characters, events, teachings, and inspirations.
I found it gratifying and faith-building to demonstrate how often biblical text presaged what we, at NASA, were discovering, i.e., that the Bible had revealed the same wisdom and knowledge centuries, even millenniums past, if someone had been seeking revelation from its text.
Many of my discoveries from Scripture became the content of a book and website I authored and created around the turn of the Century, (2000 AD). The title of both was SPACE ACTS: The Second Millennium – Revelations of Space and Terrestrial Exploration. (www.spaceacts.com).
Most of the content, that I deemed as “revelation,” dealt with either contemporary (20th century) or historic events (post biblical history) in the annals of space or terrestrial exploration. Often faith-based relationships from STEM-like Bible events contributed to explaining the happenings in space and terrestrial history.
One of the most influential among them was doing a NASA-like STEM analysis of the David/Goliath episode. Exploring David’s weapon of choice, the sling, from a Newton’s law perspective was so exciting that I realized there were many/many other such Scriptural accounts that might be examined from a 21st century STEM point-of-view.
In order to perform a study of biblical history from a STEM perspective, it was found that supporting histories contributing facts not in Scripture were essential. This was to give context and background to the STEM climate of the times. When the Bible addresses chariots, bows, spears, ships, etc., archeology must be consulted to explain the state-of-the-art of the STEM article, device or practice. Many of the factual details come from study of Egyptian history explaining pyramid building and other STEM facets of those Bible days including chariots, archery, and printing.
Both the Bible and its contemporary history are intertwined, i.e., details of the STEM environment of Old and New Testament accounts are on the same playing field. They are described by not only by Egyptian but also Greek and Roman history.
So what’s unique about this study? The theme is to integrate biblical and contemporary history, in effect, as one era not two. As such, it never treats STEM knowledge and practices of the ancients as unlearned and primitive. Instead, it seeks to fully assess STEM topics based on the state-of-the-art of the times.
Secondly, the author’s 50 years of engineering with STEM spacecraft, rockets, and practices are woven into the treatment of both eras on a non-prejudicial basis. Special focus is to highlight what is similar STEM-wise between the biblical environment and practices in the space program of the 21st century.
Thirdly, as a Bible student for more than two score years, the author hopes to enhance the above aims in a synergistic fashion, unlike similar studies. Finally, and foremost, it is the author’s earnest desire that THE BIBLE IS A STEM STUDY BOOK be a catalyst for Scripture study leading both to a deeper Christian faith or, even more importantly, an embracing of faith in Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior.
For not only is God’s STEM creation from the beginning, the same yesterday, today, and forever, but, more importantly, is His Son, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and forever.
Jerry Woodfill, December, 2013
More about the plans and purposes
of the study is recorded in the appendix.
The book serves as both a text book and teaching syllabus for the lecture series entitled: BIBLICAL STEM STUDIES. As such, it deals with a dozen lectures. Were there not twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, twelve disciples, twelve men who walked on the Moon? And so, in turn, there are twelve lectures and corresponding chapters featuring Biblical STEM learning.
Some scholars “type” (associate) numbers in Scripture based on God’s attributes. The number “12” identifies with God’s divine authority, rule and power over the forces of nature. What an excellent way of showing that twelve STEM lessons dealing with the Lord’s natural laws would be appropriate for the book and lectures (twelve chapters and twelve lectures)! The initial effort at organizing the series of lectures is below. The concept includes, handout of notes, i.e., a study guide for each lesson.
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Biblical STEM* Studies
From the Felling of Goliath to the Moon Landing
*Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
A Twelve Week Seminar Featuring STEM* Topics From Scripture and Contemporary History
Presented from an Evangelical Perspective
Instructor: Jerry Woodfill, BAEE, BSEE Rice University, Houston, TX
Countless biblical passages serve as learning tools for STEM education for the Bible student. A cursory list includes analysis of: the design of Noah’s Ark, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, the physics of Biblical weaponry, David’s encounter with Goliath, and Paul’s ship wreck in storm tossed seas. Each is examined from a STEM perspective which augments STEM knowledge, Bible faith, and use of space-age forensics. NASA engineer Jerry’s career has spanned a half century. He has devoted nearly as long a time to topics addressed in this series. Unorthodox in his instructional style, Jerry’s programs/lectures engage the most erudite to the least informed about the value of applying a Bible-based Christian faith to STEM studies.
What the lectures are: examination of Bible accounts based on rudimentary laws of physics, mathematics, engineering and technology, in the context of all facets of space technology, rocketry, and manned space history from a God-centered world view (www.spaceacts.com)
Included is debunking of commonly cited testimonies popularized by the Internet concerning both Harold Hill’s attribution to NASA confirming the “missing day in time” and the lunar landing being a faked NASA conceived plot. Included in the study is a investigation that the Bible predicted America landing Neil Armstrong’s Eagle on the Moon as well as suggesting amazing correlations between America’s history and it’s lunar landing program. These are but a few of the many Bible-STEM based topics to be considered.
What the study is not: A study of astronomy, examination of the “days of creation” from a scientific perspective, a study of cosmology, discussions of SETI theories (flying saucers, etc.), attempts to explain God’s miracles using STEM-based scenarios, i.e., treating Scripture accounts as mythical, an interactive debating forum rather than a lecture as well as other topics considered non-productive by the author.
The format includes rudimentary class exercises and no tests/assignments or exams/quizzes will be included based on presented lecture content. Each of the twelve lectures has a corresponding PowerPoint* presentation including audio/video media clips as well as other supporting images designed to engage attendees’ attention. *(The following PowerPoint lectures far exceed the content in this text, The Bible Is a STEM Study Book.)
1. Biblical STEM Lecture based on the David and Goliath Encounter (BSTEM_David.ppt)
2. Biblical STEM Lecture based on the voyages of Columbus and Apollo 13 (navigational principles, technologies compared) (BSTEM_Columbus_Apollo_13.ppt)
3. Biblical STEM Lecture based on biblical athletics compared to the 21st century (BSTEM_Athletics.ppt)
4. Biblical STEM Lecture based on ships of the Bible, Noah’s Ark, Paul’s Ship wreck, Jonah’s craft (BSTEM_Ships.ppt)
5. Biblical STEM Lecture based on Bible Orbital Mechanics and other topics (BSTEM_Heavens.ppt)
6. Biblical STEM Lecture based on medical practices of Scripture (BSTEM_Medicine.ppt)
7. Biblical STEM Lecture based on scriptural meteorology,. (BSTEM_Weather.ppt)
8. Biblical STEM Lecture based on Mathematics (BSTEM_Math.ppt)
9. Biblical STEM Lecture based on scriptural technology, tunneling, water systems, Solomon’s Temple, Construction of Jerusalem, Nehemiah’s wall, chariot design, etc. (BSTEM_Engineering.ppt)
10. Biblical STEM Lecture based on knowledge capture, media techniques, and “witty inventions”(BSTEM_Invention.ppt)
11. Biblical STEM Lecture based on NASA Robotics relating God’s created mechanisms, systems and animal/human characteristics to inventions and technology: The lesson is entitled: THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL. (BSTEM_Robotics.ppt)
12. Biblical STEM Lecture based on simple machines used in biblical times. (BSTEM_Simple_Machines.ppt)
Resources Suggested For Extra Study
Resources: Space Acts Text, The Bible is a Scientific Book, None of These Diseases, The Bible Science Newsletter, The Arithmetic of God, Lesson Syllabus, DVD of videos. The Shroud of Turin, Physics 100 text and those pictured below.
Web Resources by Jerry Woodfill:
Examples from YouTube of Instructional Styles
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Jerry Woodfill - Biographical Background
For nearly 50 years, Jerry Woodfill has been employed by NASA in Houston. He holds BAEE and BSEE degrees from Rice University which he attended on a basketball scholarship. At the onset of the lunar landing program, he contributed to the design and managed the spacecraft warning systems so that he was monitoring spacecraft Eagle's descent when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. Likewise, on April 13, 1970, Jerry was monitoring Apollo 13's warning system when the vehicle exploded. His system was the first alert of the life-threatening malfunction depicted in the Tom Hanks-Ron Howard movie APOLLO 13. For his role in the rescue of Apollo 13, he shared the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a member of the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team.
For the 40th Anniversary of the rescue of Apollo 13, the website Universe Today featured the series”13 Things that Saved Apollo 13” based on Jerry's recollection of mission events which contributed to the rescue.
Jerry often speaks to educational groups: schools, teacher workshops, and summer space camps as an outreach for the JSC education volunteer program. To this end, he was recognized in 2004 as a “Hi-Lighted” JSC Educational Volunteer and in 2012 as the NASA Johnson Space Center's Educational Volunteer of the year. Having keynoted a number of national conventions and the opening of a University Science and Mathematics Education School, he often shares historic talks concerning the space race and the rescue of Apollo 13 from his perspective as a participant. Especially well received is his recreation of President John Kennedy’s Rice Stadium Moon Race Speech. Present as a student, Jerry was inspired to the extent that it led to his employment at the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1965.
…and recently from the Rice University Wikipedia website citing notable alumni:
In science and technology, Rice alumni include 14 NASA astronauts, Robert Curl, Nobel Prize winning discoverer of fullerene, and Robert Woodrow Wilson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation. NASA former Apollo 11 and 13 warning systems engineer and motivational speaker Jerry Woodfill attended Rice on an athletic scholarship as well.
Why Study the Bible from a STEM Perspective?
Likely, Luke, a STEM physician, wondered the same about authoring a first-hand account of post resurrection events in the life of the early church. Hadn’t the gospels provided sufficient details for future believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? Fortunately, the Lord inspired Luke to ignore any doubts about the value of a Christian church history. It has become invaluable for all throughout the millenniums since its authoring.
I, too, am grateful to Luke for his efforts because the Book of Acts best serves as the STEM New Testament study source of THE BIBLE IS A STEM STUDY BOOK. It provides a wonderful STEM state of development by a contemporary of that day. As a scientist, Luke is the perfect commentator whose narrative enables comparisons of STEM practices of the 1st Century AD with the 21st Century. So, like Luke, I believe there is value added by viewing biblical history STEM-wise and faith-wise in, not the 1st Century but contemporarily.
Luke’s account mentions numerous STEM topics: building structures, transportation by land, sea, chariot, horseback and even Philip’s supernatural translation of 30 miles in an instant. Also, Luke includes dungeon construction, weather circumstances, military assets and other terms consistent with the two eras. The missionary journeys of Paul are most helpful in understanding the state-of-the-art of travel which record distances traversed and times of transit helpful in understanding STEM capabilities of the 1st Century.
From an Old Testament perspective, Solomon’s Proverbs like Luke’s Book of Acts contributes to this study. The diversity of the Proverbs as guiding adages from the mouth of God need be carefully studied for clues about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the era of their authoring. At once their influence on mental health practice is apparent. The verse, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (tranquilizer) is an apparent source of STEM revelation long before the advent of psychology and psychiatry. For marriage counseling is the verse, “Better to live in the corner of an attic than in a (large) wide house with a contentious woman.” In other words, marital bliss is much better than financial riches leading to a mansion-like home, the envy of all.
Reviewing Proverbs verse by verse, line by line, reveals a number of biblical STEM nuggets of divine knowledge. Perhaps, there should be a lecture dedicated solely to “STEM Knowledge in Solomon’s Proverbs.”
One of my favorites is: Proverbs 22:28: “Remove not the ancient landmark that thy fathers have set.” This is an excellent STEM philosophy. In a sense this is the entire purpose of THE BIBLE IS A STEM STUDY BOOK. In the secular world the adage is “failure to study history is an assurance mistakes will be repeated in the future.” How many times in the moon program (Apollo) did we simply start over with a new team rather than consulting the former developers, engineers, and experts (Mercury and Gemini)?
This often results from the sin of pride, i.e., I can do it better without the help of the past. This is an altogether liberal approach. To consult and honor the successes, and, yes, failures of the past is worthy of praise. I’ve given historic talks on Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 for that very reason basing them on Proverbs 22:28 honoring the contributions of past NASA STEM workers.
However, one failure, I think, resulted from ignoring the past was the idea that the Shuttle Columbia crew could not have been saved by an Apollo 13-like rescue. That oversight, I think, contributed to ignoring potential damage to the reentry wing. The idea was that even if a gaping hole existed in the wing’s leading edge nothing could be done about it.
Later analysis revealed that was not the case. Had we simply let the Columbia continue to orbit Earth conserving life-supporting consumables, the crew could have been rescued by available spacecraft assets, national and international.
Likewise, I’ve always felt that the BP Gulf disaster might have been much mitigated if petroleum technologists had instituted an Apollo-like backup plan. My prayer is that this study will contribute not only to the Christian community but also to the STEM community honoring Solomon’s suggestion, not to “forget the ancient landmarks that our fathers have set.”
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Problems Encountered in the Study
At the onset, how to approach the study was a mystery. Because I’d spent more than 40 years studying Scripture faith-wise, I didn’t want to violate what I knew in my heart as a Christian believer to be true. I definitely accept and believe in God performing the miraculous, yesterday, today and forever. My eyes have beheld numerous times when there was absolutely no explanation for God performing a miracle except for prayer. But this study is not about the miracles of God. It takes a different tact. Searching Scripture, I found few references to what we at NASA call Failure Modes Effects Analysis, FMEA. This is a spacecraft design process especially important to me as the Apollo Spacecraft Warning System Engineer. Each part and system had to be analyzed for its affect on the workings of the spacecraft should it fail. Obviously, there needed to be a back-up system in that event. “Surely,” I thought, “STEM situations in Bible days would have similar proactive what if analysis. Just as I had instituted for NASA, this would avoid accidents leading to death, injury or destruction.
But after searching the Scripture, I found few backups STEM-wise. (Of course, the Lord’s selecting twelve to carry out His work post resurrection is an FMEA process faith-wise as well as the empowering those 120 in the upper room to extend the message “to your children’s children...”) I think the absence of Bible “substitute” plans is simply what faith is all about. Unlike the rescue of Apollo 13, there was no backup plan, no lunar lander if the mother ship failed, no launch escape system, no backup computer. It all rested on the Lord Jesus, the Cross and His sacrifice for all of us.
So the concept of faith discourages “what if” alternatives. Somehow backup approaches water down the resolve of the faithful. The more I consider the dearth of redundant planning, the more I understand there is so little apparent evidence for it in Scripture. God alone becomes the backup plan. He is the triple redundant dual voting Logician able to save our human Apollo 13s.
When we call, “God, I’ve got a problem,” He is the one who assures us that in Him, “Failure is not an Option.” In fact when I was able to find Bible men and women conceiving proactive failsafe schemes assuring some kind of success in a military campaign, a pursuit of government or even a STEM endeavor, usually it was a source of unfaithfulness, sinfulness or human folly.
A corollary of the principle of no backup plans apart from trust in God is that I could not find any mention of circumstantial accidents. Pretty much every event is related to a spiritual root whether blessing or curse, faithfulness or sinfulness.
Below are some examples. If nothing else, they are proof of the uniqueness of the faith walk of Scripture, knowing that the same STEM skills, aptitudes, and proactive planning would be present in the kings, prophets, and believers of the Old and New Testaments. So consider them as faithless or faith based:
1) The disciples backup plan encouraging the Lord to establish His Kingdom without the Cross
2) The misguided suggestion of Peter to the Lord that he and his co-disciple build themselves thrones to reign with Christ
3) The disciples’ backup plan to cancel Christ’s teaching opportunity because no food was present for the assembled thousands
4) The disciples’ backup plan not to expose Jesus to children, perhaps, thinking adults would be responsible for dealing with children later
5) King Saul’s backup plan to consult the witch of Endor
6) David’s backup plan to send Bathsheba’s husband into harm’s way to obtain Bathsheba as David’s wife
7) Balaam’s backup plan to falsely prophesy
8) The apostles backup plan to replace Judas as one of the twelve by casting lots rather than letting the Lord, in due season, bring the Apostle Paul forth
However, I hesitate to dismiss biblical STEM backup plans as faithless when they are operating in the natural realm not intended as an example of faithfulness or faithlessness.
1) An example is the David and Goliath encounter with David’s four backup stones should the first hurled miss the mark.
2) In these cases, the Lord provides the backup plan should the primary fail, as when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac and a sacrificial lamb mysteriously wandered before him staying the hand of Abraham. Though not as STEM-like as David’s preparation, it was certainly a proactive work of the Lord.
3) The Lord’s selection of the twelve to propagate the Gospel, a twelve way redundancy should any, like Judas Iscariot, fail to fulfill his calling. Likewise, should there be unforeseen handicaps to their missionary journeys, such as shipwrecks, incarcerations, mobs, riots, and persecution, a redundancy of missionaries would assure propagation of the Gospel.
But aside from David’s extra stones, I’ve been unsuccessful in identifying NASA-like FMEA backup plans in my STEM Bible search. However, on further consideration, every backup/rescue event appeared to be initiated with prayer. That’s it! Yes, the setting free of Paul and Silas from prison by an earthquake was God’s backup plan resulting from prayer and praise. Paul’s escape from an angry mob, shipwreck, persecution, resulted from prayer bringing forth God’s backup plans. Indeed, “failure is never an option” (tagline: movie – Apollo 13) when we pray because “all things work together for good for the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Continuing in this discussion, since few alternative FMEA-like rescue plans are apparent, biblical STEM success in the face of failure has to be accomplished at the moment of likely failure. We can search Scripture for such examples where disaster is imminent.
1) On several occasions, God’s men escape death climbing from a window some distance above the ground. Both Paul and David benefitted from such a technique, Paul fleeing from an angry mob, David from Saul’s executioners. No doubt just as all of us check for a hotel’s fire escape, Paul and David or those allied with them were proactive enough to investigate a means of escape.
2) Then there is the incident of Jericho with the harlot Rahab concealing God’s spies. Perhaps, this ranks as a proactive plan when analyzed in depth. And, of course, Noah’s Ark stands out as the ultimate rescue craft, a lifeboat of enormous scale.
3) Yet, it should probably be considered the primary plan rather than a proactive backup, except if the nation repented as the first plan of action. However, they, unlike those Jonah, was to condemn, did not. That is, God needed a fish to rescue Jonah because of his unfaithfulness and an Ark to rescue Noah because of his faithfulness. What an irony! Unfortunately, so it is with all of us needing an Ark or a fish sent by the Lord.
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People of Biblical Times and Today Equally Intelligent?
Daniel 9:4 says in the latter days, “knowledge will increase.” While knowledge has exponentially increased since Bible times, has human intelligence done likewise? In my lifetime as an electrical/electronic engineer, I’ve seen vacuum tubes become transistors then integrated circuits of millions of transistors on the “head of a pin.” I’ve seen propeller driven planes become rockets to the Moon. I’ve seen a living room radio become an 80 inch smart television. I’ve seen a mechanical watch become an Iphone telling time, the weather, my exact position on planet Earth, and stock market prices. It is an encyclopedia of knowledge about everything that a person could ask or want in the palm of his hand. Yes, in all facets of STEM, knowledge has greatly increased.
My biblical derivation for the word knowledge is an “understanding” of God’s creative genius, adapting it in some form or fashion to contemporary life for good or evil. There are thousands of examples of both. But there is an empirical genius of Biblical STEM knowledge that needs be explored. Many regard the ancients of Bible times as ignorant peoples. But I discovered the opposite view examining an article in the September, 1964 issue of National Geographic. It was entitled “History Revealed in Ancient Glass” by Ray W. Smith and others. This quote exactly captures what I have found in efforts to examine biblical STEM knowledge:“The ancients (Bible times) were intelligent and practical people…Yet, … you must not think that the artisan of those times understood the chemistry of those ingredients (compounds giving certain glass its characteristics). (That) lay far in the future. (Chemistry) in antiquity though tremendously impressive was strictly a “trial-and-error” affair. …One (might) conclude that the (biblical manufacturers/craftsman’s) lack of true chemical knowledge was a severe handicap. Actually, through endless experimentation (the scientific method) these (biblical STEM) pioneers were able (like Edison’s filament light bulb trials) to develop (design/manufacture/innovate/invent) incredibly sophisticated glassmaking techniques (aka technologies as “T” in STEM) fully understanding the results if not the causes.)
Based on this, does it not follow that the I.Q.s of those biblical STEM inventors would be equal or similar to innovators of today? Yes, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates-like individuals existed in Bible times as well as today.
I believe that the primitive appearance of biblical era sculptures and artwork mislead our judgment of the STEM intelligence of the Bible era. Often the artwork was designed to be unnatural and exaggerated (a sort of caricature) of humans and at times pagan gods rather than faithful likenesses of people, places, animals and things of the time.
Brilliance is sometimes recognized as the ability to process a myriad of seemingly unrelated inputs into a cogent understanding of their consummate meaning. This is what Einstein, Newton, Galileo and others achieved and is no different than those who engineered pyramid construction, development of ancient languages, alphabets and word forms. To think otherwise is misguided in my opinion.
BIBLICAL STEM LESSONS
1. Biblical STEM Lecture based on the David and Goliath Encounter (BSTEM_David.ppt)
Victim of Unfairness
I really don’t think David needed to be so close to his opponent.
For Three Millenniums, Most Goliath/David Sermons Got It Wrong
I hesitate to author this discussion, fearing the wrath of all who have described the David – Goliath encounter for the past three millenniums. But, the more I consider what I’m about to share, the more I think it is the correct interpretation, though it, for many, might be deemed a minor blasphemy. No, it doesn’t blaspheme the Lord, but it does destruct most preachers’ sermons dealing with the topic. So, why share it? (BTW, I’m a zealous champion of the Bible being inerrant.)
What I’m about to explain is not about how the Bible might err. It’s about what I think really happened, i.e., the facts behind the published account. For example, there are those “Rocky” movies. Each of them is sort of a David and Goliath contest in some form or fashion.
And, of course, the battered, bruised, and bloodied, Rocky, despite the mismatch, always, like David, wins the bout. While Rocky and David are alike, being heroes and winners who persevere despite the odds, really the contests aren’t alike. On the field of the Philistines, David, actually, would always have won, not so much because of his faith and courage but because of his preparation and skill. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this non-traditional interpretation, it’s that failure will never be an option if there is a well-crafted backup plan leading to success. I was the Apollo 13 “failure” engineer. My job was to have just the kind of “thought-out-backup-plan” that not only would slay the likes of a Goliath but be sure to do it every time. However, I’ll only say, that when that calamity surfaced in route to the Moon, there had to be a rescue vehicle with everything needed to overcome any adversity.
So, what’s this got to do with that giant Philistine? Now, as a NASA engineer, dealing with a formidable enemy, I’m going to do what is called a “feasibility study.” We did it all the time in planning the Moon landing. It’s simply considering all the options to achieving the goal. Each must be evaluated through analysis or test. Lastly, the most feasible approach is chosen. David, in NASA-like fashion, did the same. He honed his slinging skill on, perhaps, discarded flasks of water, until his accuracy could fell a threatening bear or a lion, protecting his sheep. Certainly, a lion or bear was a more formidable adversary than an “uncircumcised” Philistine. David, said as much. And to assure success, like NASA designers, he had a back-up plan - four more projectiles if the first missed its target. So based on my interpretation, I’ve drafted the following explanation of what I think really happened that day, long ago.
First of all, this is not going to be a spiritual commentary. It will pass muster with any of the American-Atheistic-Agnostic- ACLU-Church-and-State-Separatists and any other group wary of spiritualizing the story for secular consumption. I’m actually stating Goliath’s side of the story, sympathizing with him, showing him as the victim, set-up by unfair circumstances. Yet, those Israelites and Philistines on that biblical battlefield were ignorant of the cruel unfairness wrought upon that one-story-tall giant. Perhaps, it is the greatest injustice ever perpetrated on a warrior.
Actually, it was akin to a duel of gentlemen defending their honor with one duelist unarmed. Furthermore, the gentleman shepherd had not one but five lethal weapons. Should the first shot be errant, four more would surely kill the foe. My point is: David’s victory results less from faith than clever proactive preparation. The event serves as a lesson for all who face Goliaths in relationships, business, health, or any of life’s challenges.
Slinging is best done underhanded.
David’s firearm was a sling which is defined as “a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone.” At once, one thinks of a child slinging a small stone at a target. Accuracy and “blunt force trauma” are discounted by such a harmless device.
However, a modest web search quickly dispels such an assessment. It is stated that a sling can toss a projective as much as 1500 feet, but most remarkable is its velocity. That pebble mass travels at a bullet-like 200 miles per hour with a stopping power exceeding that of a .45 caliber handgun. Fine, indeed, but the crude device seems altogether impossible to aim with any degree of accuracy. Again, it is found that the sling can be quite accurate even used by a novice. Here is the testimony of an amateur slinger:
(My first attempt at using one in practice amazed me when I hit the target I was using. old milk jugs filled with water, at about 100 feet away. The jugs filled up with water, have more resistance than any game you'd be hunting, and let me tell you the sling doesn't just hit and bounce off, it often bust the jugs to ruins in one blow, and has even penetrated right through them. Just imagine what it could do to a skull or rib cage.)
Based on these facts, the Goliath/David contest takes an altogether different tact. It‘s a contest of planning, practice, and preparation. While David’s five stones are often cited as reserved for Goliath and his four brothers, might not those extra four be back-up ammunition should the first slung stone have missed? I’d rather be a live “slinger” with back-up throws than a horse-shoe-heaver counting on a “dead-ringer” on the first throw. Somehow, I think David was proactive enough to want to be a ‘live-slinger” rather than a “dead-ringer”.
Goliath might have been a giant of a man, but he was mouse-like in understanding what an unfair battle he faced. Besides that small stone, David had another advantage, Goliath’s “pea-sized” brain.
(Other considerations: The following painting is an artist’s interpretation. Likely, Goliath had no shield to deflect slung stones. Certainly, Goliath would not have failed to protect his head with the shield, unless he was wholly near-sighted. Eyeglasses were invented centuries later.
Other thoughts are: a shield-bearing Goliath might have been surprised by an approaching David slinging the fatal stone from a considerable distance. Or, perhaps, David concealed his sling in his loin cloth, discharging the projectile, like a fast-drawing Texas cowboy, before Goliath could raise his massive shield in defense. The underhanded release would lend itself to the quick-draw scenario with a trajectory slipping under the shield more readily striking Goliath’s head. Additionally, David’s refusal to wear Saul’s armor is likely because David wanted his slinging-arm unrestricted.)
The shield shown above would certainly be cumbersome. An overconfident Goliath likely would not have thought it needed. Too bad for you Goliath!
YouTube videos depict various slinging techniques. Here is a link to one of them:
This site below demonstrates how to make a rock sling:
And below is irrefutable proof of Goliath being a victim of unfairness, an actual demonstration by a “rock-slinger” felling a life-sized Goliath target. Indeed, felling Goliath was no more challenging for David, than an air rifle wielding boy shooting a can off a fence, from 30 feet away. But then, B-B guns hadn’t yet been invented, the sling was a boy’s weapon of choice.
2. STEM Lecture based on the voyages of Columbus and Apollo 13 (navigational principles, technologies compared) (BSTEM_Columbus_Apollo_13.ppt)
An Amazing Correlation: The Voyages of Christopher Columbus and Apollo 13
Jerry Woodfill, Apollo 13 Mission Warning System Engineer
An invitation from the Houston Power Squadron, a club of nautical enthusiasts, led to these correlations, or, perhaps, a better term would be “revelations.” Their request for my oft told account of Apollo 13’s rescue reminded me: Once, I had hoped that Santa Maria’s replica would become a museum piece for the NASA area. “What a historic dream exhibit that would have been - Santa Maria moored a stone’s throw from the final resting place of moon ship AMERICA, at Space Center Houston!” Apollo 17’s AMERICA was named after ship Santa Maria’s discovery. Additionally, the last ship to carry men to that new celestial world, the Moon, identified with Santa Maria, the first vessel to carry Columbus’s crew to the terrestrial New World we call home.
First of all, the ocean of space and the vast ocean Columbus sailed held much in common. Certainly the magnitudes of their voyages were similar when transportation modes of their eras are compared. For example, navigating the Santa Maria about the coastline of Europe, Africa, even to the Canaries or Azores, was a magnitude less challenging than crossing the Atlantic. Should a rudder snap, a storm arise, or a mast fracture, returning to port was doable. Similarly, the likes of John Glenn and those original seven Earth-orbiting astronauts were only a retro fire away from a safe return to Earth harbor. Not so, for Jim Lovell and Apollo 13 on that 1970 journey to the new world of the Moon.
Comparing these two paths of discovery and events recorded in their logs show how very similar the ventures were. Though a half millennium apart, one might simply exchange the names of the vessels and commanders. The stories of peril which threatened defeat both ended victoriously. Furthermore, each journey’s isolation from civilization made both ventures notable in the annals of history. Indeed, each vessel faced the vicissitudes of fate. Specifically…
Coincidentally, the journeys launched from latitude 28 degrees north. For Apollo 13, this was Cape Kennedy and for Columbus, it was the Canary Islands. Additionally, each scribed a “figure-eight” in the oceans of Earth and space. Even the names of major players coincided: Christopher Columbus and NASA’s Christopher Columbus Kraft played lead roles in the respective voyages. In fact, the Apollo 13 flight controllers used the combination “1492” to access their private rest area. Also, the journeys were to new worlds, North America and the Moon. And, of course, both embarked from the old world, Europe and planet Earth.
In each voyage, the destruction of the command ship came at an optimum place and time. This made the ultimate rescues and returns possible. For Apollo 13, the lunar module (LM or lander) remained attached to the command ship in its route to the Moon. The Santa Maria’s sinking occurred on Christmas Day of 1492 months after the October 12th landfall in the New World. The vessel was moored near shore at the time, a fortuitous loss. Had the Santa Maria sunk in the ocean storm, perhaps, as the result of a storm, the saving of Columbus and the crew of Santa Maria would be in doubt.
In both instances, a rescue ship, i.e., lifeboat, was employed for the long journey home. Apollo 13’s lunar lander served that purpose while Columbus’s Nina became the rescue craft for the homeward voyage. Note the similarities of the rescue vessels: the agile caravel Nina with its triangular lateen rigging, and the lunar lander. Compared to their respective damaged flagships, the Command Module and Santa Maria, the rescue vessels were more modest in crew size so that ingenuity was called forth. For Columbus, this meant leaving approximately 39 crewmen at Navidad. Santa Maria’s stores and timbers would launch the first colony in the New World while supplies aboard the lunar lander promised the possibility of making it home. The lunar lander must carry three men on a four day journey to Earth though designed for two men for two days use on the Moon. (Incidentally, both vessels were manufactured similarly through the process of “hewing” wood and metal rather than machine stamping parts.)
Note the importance of prayer on the ultimate success of each voyage. After Apollo 13’s explosion, a Congressional edict urged that the nation pray for the crew’s rescue. Columbus embarked from the old world with the traditional prayers of the mariner, likewise, he initiated each day with prayers for safety and success. Additionally, when the disaster of Santa Maria’s sinking had been realized, Columbus saw the act as a work of Providence. Santa Maria’s stores and timbers would provide for a colony and fort. Should he be able to return to Spain, the ensuing voyage back to Navidad would find a thriving colony at work, perhaps, with gold and silver found.
Columbus invoking Scripture and prayer, commanding a storm to cease
Popular Movie Depict Both Voyages in Detail
Because of 1992’s emphasis on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage, a movie featuring a detailed account was released. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery featured Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, George Corraface and Rachel Ward. Despite some liberties taken by the film, the general historic account remained intact. Especially accurate was the attention given to Columbus as a man of Christian faith, even to the acknowledging of spirit-led “knowings” only explained as the voice of God.
Likewise, the rescue of Apollo 13 found favor with Hollywood on the 25th anniversary of the successful rescue. Apollo 13, featuring actor Tom Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell and directed by Ron Howard, proved quite accurate. Much of its technical content was based on Commander Jim Lovell’s book Lost Moon (later renamed Apollo 13). Additionally, expert former NASA flight controllers and engineers contributed to the authentic depiction of the rescue. Of course, as with Columbus, Apollo 13 took an occasional liberty for creative license’s sake.
For parents, a caution: Apollo 13 is fraught with cursing and one especially inappropriate scene at the onset (which was fictional) while Columbus, though devoid of inappropriate language, has considerable frontal nudity (in the National Geographic sense) in its latter scenes.
Remarkably, Columbus and Jim Lovell had been navigators aboard their previous missions about the oceans of Earth and space. Columbus was much sought after by captains sailing the eastern Atlantic, and Lovell had navigated Apollo 8, to the Moon and back in December of 1968.
And both men later became Commanders of their respective vessels. Of course, both Columbus’s New World Voyage and Lovell’s Apollo 13 depended on navigation for success. While Columbus’s use of the stars has been debated, it is believed the Admiral was well able to ascertain latitude by virtue of North Star sightings using a quadrant. Furthermore, his use of an onboard compass provided direction orientation. He entered such data in his log book. Based on these and estimates of speed per half hour increments, he employed “dead reckoning navigation” to determine distance traveled and location.
Columbus had the option of using either the North Star or his compass to direct his journey west. Thinking both compass North and North Star North were identical directions, it appears he used the compass on the outbound journey. This deviated his route slightly south due to the location of magnetic north slightly to the southwest of North Star determinations. Such use of the compass was fortuitous bringing landfall days earlier and reducing the trip by as much as 400 miles.
The Apollo 13 astronauts lost the ability to sight the North Star or any stars as was their navigational custom. The enshrouding refuse from the exploded tank reflected sunlight into their sextant making star sightings impossible. To compensate, they employed a celestial adaptation of “dead reckoning” navigation.
(Note: The log was added later, Columbus used seaweed and other floating items to judge speed.)
Apollo 13 Astronauts Employ “Dead Reckoning” Navigation
Apollo 13’s Crew Navigates Home Columbus uses quadrant to navigate Home
Firing the lander’s engine in the shown orientation effected a “retrograde burn” which compensated for the “shallowing” reentry angle. Likewise, Apollo 13’s crew used an adapted form of the “dead reckoning” technique for a course correction. An Omega watch was used instead of the half-hour ampolleta (sand-clock). They held course with a telescope sighting the Earth’s terminator instead of a compass. Lastly, they actuated hand controllers to fire thrusters rather than turning a ship’s tiller/helm to control their craft’s rudder. Incidentally, the tiller and Apollo TTCA are hand activated. As Columbus neared the Old World, the night sky cleared sufficiently for a quadrant sighting of the North Star, however, the pitch, roll, and yawing of the Nina made its accuracy doubtful. Yet, amazingly, Columbus judged Polaris’ angle above to be approximately 37 degrees which would place Nina near the latitude of the Azore Islands…remarkable without the use of a stable quadrant sighting! Some attribute this navigated knowing to divine guidance.
Storms Threaten Apollo 13 and Columbus at Voyage’s End
Columbus approached the Azore Islands in the final days of the voyage home. Then and there, the Nina began to battle fierce seaborne cyclones, storms and gales, approaching hurricane force winds. In the above picture, note the cyclone/water spout in the distance and imaginary sea monster dwelling among the enormous waves. Again, Columbus calls upon his faith in his Lord and Savior, making vows, fasting and praying for three days until the storm lifted.
Shortly afterward, yet another storm called for prayer: the miraculous answer was the discovery of a small “foresail” stowed aboard Nina. Additionally, the Lord’s favor provides a full moon’s light to avoid the fatal shoals. The sail was barely able to guide the bare-masted Nina past the deadly rocks and shoals. Because only that single sail remained, the rest in tattered shreds, Nina arrived at safe harbor.
It is in that final storm that Providence was evident. Columbus concedes, “The Nina was very staunch and well found such that in another vessel, I would have been afraid of being lost.” That other vessel would have been, of course, the Santa Maria. Likewise, Apollo 13 without the other ship, the lunar lander would have been lost. In fact, Jim Lovell’s earlier trip to orbit the Moon, Apollo 8, had no lander. Should the Command ship’s oxygen tank exploded on Apollo 8, all would have been lost.
Apollo 13’s Reentry Battles a mysterious “Celestial Wind” and Pacific Typhoon Helen
The sequence of Apollo 13’s reentry
Again, there are remarkable correlations between Nina and Apollo 13’s final approach to their respective Old Worlds, Europe and Earth A mysterious breeze (space is airless, i.e., a virtual vacuum) was blowing the spacecraft assemblage above Earth requiring a mid-course correction. Small rocket thrusters corrected the drift just hours before entry. Nevertheless, the point of no return was imminent when adjustment would be impossible, so that the question had to be answered: Would the breeze would continue or cease? Selecting the wrong option, likely, would be fatal. (Days later, the cause was found: the lunar lander’s water boiler cooling system giving off vapor acted like a wind.) Just as Columbus and his crew had prayed, Earth’s peoples were praying for Apollo 13’s crew.
Here arises another interesting correlation: It is believed that the only celestial sighting Columbus recorded in his log was shortly before reaching landfall in the Azores. Though flawed by rough seas, the quadrant sighting of star Polaris was made through a clear night sky. In similar fashion, Apollo 13’s first celestial sighting of a star, after the explosion, came just before landfall. Separated from the refuse of the ruptured service module, the crew was able to sight the star Aquila, the Eagle. This confirmed the Earth terminator “dead reckoning” method used earlier.
Hurricane Helen Retro Officer
In some respects, the course of typhoon Helen which threatened Apollo 13’s splashdown was less predictable than the final storms Columbus battled. Weathermen advised the retro to move the splashdown point elsewhere, but, like Columbus, an inner voice, assured the retro that not only would that inexplicable breeze cease but also, he should ignore the weathermen’s prediction.
The Nina required heavy ballast to maintain stability in rough seas such that the crew filled caskets with water in the bowels of the ship. It was not certain such would provide sufficient mass to steady the keel through rough seas. Apollo 13 employed gyros to steady the capsule through the path to Earth, but they required a day’s warming for accuracy. Electrical limitations permitted but a few hours of heating so that, like Nina’s water caskets, the gyros might not steady Apollo 13’s keel sufficiently to survive re-entry.
And so the final scene played out for both explorers, Christopher Columbus and Jim Lovell. After the wind shredded all Nina’s remaining sails in that final storm, all appeared lost. There would be no return to the Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. The ballast and rudder simply could not hold course keeping Nina from the fatal shore rocks. And then, call it Providence or answered prayer, good luck, fortune, or chance, salvation appeared. That single small sail was found, stowed where no one had looked previously. Attached low on Nina’s bow, the sail brought the Admiral of the Ocean Sea home safely.
Why was it there and not previously used? Perhaps, Apollo 13’s perilous reentry answers the question?
Indeed, the retro had chosen rightly, believing the breeze would cease and that the weathermen were wrong about the hurricane. But what about those gyros? Would they steer an accurate course home? And had that final course correction been sufficient to place Apollo 13 properly in the entry corridor?
The fiery spaceship entry experiences a phenomena known as “radio blackout”. The loss of communication results from superheated atmospheric ions blocking radio waves. Blackout’s end is predictable to the second. Yet, when Apollo 13’s radio blackout should have lifted, there was silence. Five…ten…fifteen seconds elapsed beyond that time on mission control’s clocks. Watching the displays all wondered, “Had the gyros failed…did the mysterious breeze blow the crew off course, had the craft descended too steeply being consumed by the fires of reentry?”
Fiery reentry causes added 31 seconds Radio “blackout”.
No, there was no miraculous sail like that which guided Nina to safe harbor. Nevertheless, at 31.5 seconds came a voice, “Houston, this is Apollo 13, we are on the mains.” What happened in that silent half minute has not been satisfactorily explained to this day. Perhaps, the best answer is, “The One who brought Columbus safely home also acted in behalf of Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, the crew of Apollo 13.
Columbus Welcomed by Queen Isabella Apollo 13 Crew Safe
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO COLUMBUS
The amazing correlation of the journey of Columbus compared to the journey of Apollo 13 continues in this discussion.
Among historians there is no argument. Columbus DID NOT DISCOVER the Americas! Ample evidence exists of Viking visits centuries before. Indeed, even the Viking quests pale in light of the fact that one cannot discover an inhabited land. Columbus encountered native American inhabitants who farmed, and hunted, waged war and peace. All this ensued centuries before Leif Ericsson set foot on North America's shores. With that settled, one wonders, "Why, then, is Columbus's discovery so revered?" The answer to this question, I believe, can be titled, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO COLUMBUS.
Chroniclers of medieval history fully agree that Columbus's 1492 ocean trek (known as THE FIRST VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY) changed the course of Earth's civilization as dramatically as any event in the planet's history. Indeed, a majority of Earth's fifteenth century peoples believed the Genoese Navigator HAD discovered a NEW WORLD. The discovery became a "watershed" of history. But what if neither the Vikings, nor Columbus were responsible? What if another had funded the journey, charted its course, attended to the daily sea-going challenges, and finally, brought the good news back to the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella? And, furthermore, what if that benefactor's contribution had not only been ignored but denied? Would not the twentieth century media broadcast a swell of outrage to right the injustice?
Livid historical prose bewails the wrongful naming of the Americas after the "pretender" Amerigo Vespucci. Essays rightfully assert that the United States should be named COLUMBIA. After all, Vespucci "adjusted" his journal's dates to upstage Columbus's discoveries. Yet, few "flaming pens" champion the one who knows "what really happened to Columbus." Indeed, Columbus should receive no more credit for the NEW WORLD's discovery than Adam with the discovery of EDEN. Consider the following evidence that Columbus simply served as a vehicle of the true guide's purpose.
Anchored within Columbus's mind and spirit rested two gifts. Each served the Guide's ends. The first was a deep respect and love for the Guide. The second was an attraction to the sea which transcended natural knowledge. The supernatural nature of each gift uniquely equipped Columbus to serve his mentor's purposes. However, as a man subject to the "same sins working within...that worked in the world," opposing evil forces found inroads into Columbus's nature. These iniquities had the potential of uprooting all that the Guide intended. Columbus, like the biblical Paul, experienced the agony of "doing that thing which I know I ought not to do, yet I do it."(Romans 7)
For Columbus these things included a recurring exaltation of self. Additionally, the Navigator participated in an adulterous, Bathsheba-like relationship on the eve of his first journey. Worst of all, he granted tacit approval to the wanton killing and merciless imprisonment of the New World's innocent peoples. In spite of the battles raging within Columbus's spirit, the Guide prevailed. Because Columbus became the Guide's chosen vessel, opposing forces sought to thwart the mariner's destiny. Early evidence bespoke of such opposition when the lad Columbus faced imminent drowning. A pirate attack destroyed the ship on which the young Columbus crewed casting him adrift miles from land. When death seemed assured, a mysterious plank appeared within reach serving as a life-raft. Columbus was saved! Providence reigned!
Most regard Palos, Spain as the launch site of Columbus's voyage. More precisely, the Canary Islands served as the route's port from which "no man had sailed west before." On the eve of the setting forth from Palos, Columbus called on the Guide's favor in a worship service of prayer. Alternatively, on the eve of departure from the Canaries, Columbus entertained the Guide's adversary in a tryst with the ruler of Gomera, a young widow named Dona Beatriz. One is reminded of Peter's denials on the eve of the crucifixion following the preceding Palm Sunday's joyous embarkation into Jerusalem.
Biographers cite the selection of the Canary Islands' latitude for the journey west as fortuitous. Latitude 28 degrees north is the gateway to the prevailing easterlies (winds blowing from the east). These trade winds propel sailing vessels on a westward course. They assure an almost direct route to the continent of North America. The Guide uniquely arranged circumstances so that Columbus would set forth from the Canary Islands. Prior to courting Isabella's favor, Columbus unsuccessfully sought sponsorship from Portugal's King John II. Had John II granted support, Columbus's journey might have set forth from the more northerly Portuguese Azore Islands. The Azores lie in the path of prevailing westerlies (winds blowing from the west), a handicap to a journey west. Can Columbus be credited for this choice of embarkation? Certainlynot. It is the Guide who is responsible.
With the Guide's aid, man's ignorance is superior to the world's highest intelligence. He, the Guide, "has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." (I Cor. 1:27). Hoping to ultimately reach India, Columbus estimated the distance to Asia (Japan) as a mere 2800 statute miles from the Canary Islands. Remarkably, this ignorant estimate placed the journey's completion much nearer the shores of North America than Japan, China or India. In fact, North America was less than a week's sail from Columbus's 2800 mile estimate.
The Guide had caused Columbus to err in a fashion which would assure discovery of North America rather than a route to India. Because dead-reckoning and celestial navigation were amply advanced to gauge the journey west, the crew remained generally patient until the estimate had been eclipsed.
Nevertheless, discontentment arose akin to that experienced in Captain Bligh's memorable episode in Mutiny on the Bounty. Becalmed after more than three weeks at sea, the three ship fleet prepared to abort the journey. Unexpectedly, a wind arose on the day of turning back canceling the abort. Can Columbus be credited with the emergence of the wind or the estimate of the distance to North America? Of course not, it is the Guide who is responsible. The crew, full of wrath and fear, once more seemed posed to mutiny. Miraculously, a type of seaweed appeared, a sign to sailors that landfall is imminent. Each time rebellion appeared assured, unique manifestations defused the threat. Such was the case when the steadiness of the easterly wind worried the crew that no corresponding westerly (a wind blowing from the west) might be found for the return to Spain. Shortly, a momentary breeze blew from the west convincing all that a voyage home was possible. With the fear removed, the breeze from the east returned. Give credit to the Guide for the momentary breeze which erased the crew's fears, not to Columbus.
The Guide often chose supernatural phenomena to direct and encourage his people. Thousands of years before, He had employed a fire by night and a cloud by day to lead a band of Hebrews across a barren wilderness. (Exodus 13: 21,22) The Sinai trek was not unlike the isolated course of Columbus's ocean fleet. The Guide had given his Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 20: 1-17) It was a sign of providence that Mount Sinai was located at the same latitude of Columbus's embarkation route to the New World, 28 degrees north.
Alas, though the ocean voyage had traversed more than 4000 miles in almost 37 days, defeat seemed certain. Such was the disgruntled nature of the crew that there would be no 38th day westward. It had been agreed that October 12th, 1492 would be the date of abort, the day of giving up. The Santa Maria would return to Spain. As it is written in the Journal of Columbus, the Guide appeared once more during the evening of October 11th, 1492. As Columbus peered westward into the tenth hour's evening darkness, he saw what appeared as "A LITTLE WAX CANDLE WHOSE FLAME WENT UP AND DOWN." An inner voice must have whispered the thought, "This is that which you have sought. The light in the darkness is the land which you seek."
Another, saw the Guide's light nearly fifteen centuries before. Saul of Tarsus journeyed to the ancient city of Damascus when a blinding light appeared. On that occasion, the Guide identified himself saying, "I am Jesus..." Others in Saul's company saw the light and heard the Guide's voice. (Acts 9: 3-5, Acts 26: 13-15) Without question, Saul's eyes beheld the glorious light of Christ. Stunned and blinded, falling from his steed to the ground, Saul was transformed into Paul. Paul became the instrument for proclaiming the Guide's word to first century mankind. Now, in the last decade of the fifteenth century, Columbus witnessed the LIGHT OF ALL MANKIND, not as a blinding flash "brighter than the sun", but as a flickering candle. Another on board Santa Maria confirmed the light, while others saw nothing. Commentators have remarked about Columbus's "mysterious light." They consider it altogether impossible for Columbus to have seen a flaming torch from an island almost forty miles distant. Yet, there is no doubt that Columbus had seen THE LIGHT OF THE "NEW" WORLD. ("I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12) In a few hours, the Guide's supernatural manifestation was confirmed with the unmistakable appearance of land.
In the Twentieth Century, the American President John F. Kennedy proposed sending space explorers into the ocean of space. His intent was "landing a man on the moon and RETURNING HIM SAFELY TO EARTH." (JFK, 1961) The latter goal of a "safe return" was as essential to Columbus's voyage as to Neil Armstrong and his crew. Success was not assured until Columbus appeared before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The report of the discovery was every bit as significant to the Guide as the New World's discovery.
Likewise, the intelligent entity responsible for the outgoing trials planned a series of obstacles intended for deception, destruction, and death. Columbus was not ignorant of the Guide's warning that the adversary was "a liar, from the beginning, who came to destroy and kill...whom he may devour." (John 10:10 and I Peter 5:7)
Appropriately, a significant attack came on the eve of the celebration of the Guide's birth, when "the guard might be down." While Columbus slept, near midnight, December 24th, 1492, Santa Maria ran aground and sank. Though no lives were lost, despair and discouragement flooded Columbus's spirit and soul. The return battle had begun.
The Return Journey From the New World
Among the Guide's promises is the working of all things for good for those who love him, "that are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) Despite what evil destined for harm, providence worked for good. Beyond the Santa Maria's rubble came triumph. Columbus could not have known that his flagship would not have survived the return journey. What is known of the return to Spain clearly shows that Columbus and those on board Santa Maria would likely have perished. Consider the evidence: The obvious return path to Spain would be a retrace of the outbound journey. Through an apparent error in setting the course home, Columbus navigated orth of the outbound path to the New World. Rather than an East-North-East return, he chose a North-East by East heading. This brought his remaining two ships into the path of the prevailing east blowing westerlies.
The Guide's written instructions might have caused Columbus to choose this path. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Guide describes the mechanisms of the Earth's weather systems. Columbus must have wondered, "Should not corresponding east blowing winds exist northward to fulfill the loop of the outgoing west blowing easterlies?" No weather satellites, aircraft, or weather stations had mapped the cyclonic nature of the Earth's wind systems. Because Columbus was an avid student of the Guide's instruction, he had read the words of Ecclesiastes 1:6 describing the looping of the winds: "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the North, it whirleth (loops) continually, and THE WIND RETURNETH AGAIN ACCORDING TO ITS CIRCUITS."
Whether by design or error, the return heading must be credited to the Guide, not Columbus. Had the Santa Maria remained in the fleet, the course north could not have succeeded. The Santa Maria's deep draft and inability to tack against the winds blowing from the west ("beat to windward") would have aborted the path northward. The agility of the remaining ships, Nina and Pinta, made the return possible. Other routes taken to accommodate the handicap of the Santa Maria might have proved fatal to all three vessels. The Guide had allowed Santa Maria's destruction at the optimum moment: the conclusion of the outgoing voyage before the onset of the return.
Furthermore, Columbus noted his compass headings did not agree with those determined by sighting the North Star (Polaris). Mariners assumed that both reckonings gave identical guidance. Not so! We now know that the position of the Earth's North Pole is east of magnetic north. Columbus noted this discrepancy. For the return journey, the slight error, would have had grave consequences.. Columbus faced a dilemma: to trust the magnetic compass or the star sighting for guidance.
We cannot be sure why he rightly chose to ignore the compass and accept Polaris as true north. Had he chosen otherwise, the fleet might have journeyed far north into the Atlantic's colder waters. At such latitudes, the Atlantic's much greater expanse, less favorable winds, and more numerous winter storms certainly would have jeopardized the return. Once more, the Guide had acted in Columbus's behalf.
On the outbound journey, perhaps, Columbus had not noticed the compass deviation from the North Star's direction. Compass guidance caused the fleet to veer south. A direct westward course from the Canary Islands would have remained at 28 degrees north latitude. The fleet encountered landfall in the New World at 24 degrees north latitude nearly four hundred miles to the south. Columbus might have noted the error on the outbound journey and chosen to ignore the compass. In such a case, the Atlantic's wider expanse at 28 degrees would have added a thousand miles to the journey. The added time and distance most certainly would have incited the crew to mutiny. Additionally, many of the encouraging signs (seaweed and birds) seen at the lower latitudes would not have existed farther north. The Guide had blinded Columbus's eyes to the navigational discrepancy on the outbound journey. On the return, the scales fell from Columbus's navigational "eyes." Choosing the North Star instead of the compass as true north was essential to a safe voyage home. The timing and purpose of this discovery can only be credited to the Great Navigator, the Guide.
Foiled by the Guide's beneficial use of the Santa Maria's sinking, the Destroyer chose another tact. Fifteen centuries before, on a shallow inland sea called Galilee, the evil one had darkened the heavens and the earth. There was nothing subtle about the intent of the devastating storm. Its target was the Guide and his immediate followers. Had his followers not awakened the Guide to the danger, the Guide's mission might not have succeeded.(Luke 8:22-25)
In like fashion, as Columbus approached Spain, the Roaring Lion commanded the seas and winds to devour these followers of the Guide. A storm arose of magnitude "10" on the Beaufort scale of seaborne weather. No ships were known to have survived such an extent of the sea's winds and waves. Well aware of the Guide's power over such conditions, Columbus, like those on Galilee, called upon the Guide's rebuke of the elements. For three days, a battle in the spiritual realm raged, as assuredly as the Nina and Pinta battled the winds and the waves.
When Columbus faced a life-threatening waterspout on a later voyage, he responded as a soldier of the Guide. Lifting the Guide's word heavenward with one hand, he scribed a circle of protection about his feet with a saber held in his other hand. No doubt, Columbus recalled the Guide's promise, "The Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful sharper than any two-edged sword." (Hebrews 4:12) Immediately, the seaborne tornado changed course passing by the fleet harmlessly. Though no such incident is recorded in the log of his first voyage, likely, Columbus battled the level ten storm in similar fashion during the protracted period of three days.
When the Destroyer's storm failed to sink the Guide's fleet, other executioners prepared for Columbus's passage. Disoriented by the storm's winds, Columbus's Nina was "lost at sea." Once more the Guide's "still small voice" spoke to the Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Columbus rightly marked the fleet's position as almost due west of Cape Verde near the Portuguese Azores. While others argued that the fleet was much farther North, Columbus simply looked on the North Star and experienced a "knowing" of the latitude. Despite the rough seas that made astrolabe and quadrant sightings useless, Columbus was correct. Only the Guide's influence can be credited for such navigational precision.
Ancient Mariner Sighting Latitude
Forced to battle a final storm bare-masted, the Nina struggled toward the mainland solely propelled by a small foresail. The Guide had caused Columbus to stow this small square sail in a locker. Were it not for the lone sail and the light of a full Moon, the vessel could not have avoided utter destruction. The threatening shoals and rocks of the Portuguese coast would have been the evil one's final triumph.
Consider, for a moment, an alternate strategy that the Opposer of the Brethren might have intended as Columbus's fate. Two national powers dominated the world of the fifteenth century. Just as America and the Soviet Union were regarded as the twentieth century's most powerful nations, Portugal and Spain ruled the fifteenth century. In the Age of Exploration, the political posture of these adjacent countries was adversarial.
Earlier, Columbus unsuccessfully sought backing from Portugal's King John II. Later Columbus obtained Ferdinand and Isabella's funding and favor. Shortly afterward, King John recanted his earlier decision and offered to fund Columbus. Columbus spurned King John II's offer. Historians describe John II's reputation as similar to the biblical King Herod. Contemporaries of Herod said, "It is better to be Herod's pig than his son." Herod executed several of his sons but refused to eat pork. Likewise, King John II was swift to execute those who opposed him. The One who plotted Columbus's death must have relished the remaining options for defeating the Guide's purposes. The choices were shipwreck or King John II's executioner. The court of King John was chosen as Columbus's demise. Obviously, there would be an inquisition before "His Majesty" and, of course, the ensuing death to Columbus.
Strangely, the evil one who sought Christopher Columbus's destruction ignored the Guide's promise to his servant: "And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony... But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."(Matt. 10:18-20)
Predictably, Columbus, with all the pride and pomp of his flawed flesh, recklessly BOASTED of his discoveries to King John II. In light of the politics of the day and the earlier snubbing of the King, prudent behavior would have been a denial of New World exploits. Miraculously, the Guide subdued King John's anger and greed. The King of Portugal not only granted Columbus safe passage BUT ALSO REPAIRED AND SUPPLIED COLUMBUS'S SHIP.
John II might have commandeered all Columbus possessed casting him into prison. With Columbus executed or in chains, a Portuguese fleet could sail westward to claim all that Columbus had discovered. Perhaps, the thought that Columbus's sister ship, the Pinta, might have reached Spain stayed King John's hand. Again, the Guide must be credited with preserving Columbus's life. Though victory seemed assured, another obstacle appeared. Having preceded Columbus's return to Spain, the captain of the Pinta planned to credit himself with the New World's discovery. The transfer of credit from Columbus, the Guide's "chosen vessel" (I Cor. 1:12), to a pretender would delight the Father of Lies. This would provide a measure of consolation despite the Guide's success.
Columbus adamantly stated that he was the Guide's ambassador. ("Now then ye are ambassadors for Christ..." II Cor. 5:20) For even his name, CHRISTOPHER, (meaning "Christ-bearer") had been ordained by the GUIDE for the purpose of the New World's discovery. He, Christopher Columbus, would make the Guide's name known to all dwelling there. Such was not the desire of the Captain of the Pinta. Nevertheless, justice prevailed. Word passed to the Court of Seville that Christopher Columbus, the true discoverer, had returned.
Only a token victory remained for the Father of Lies. Through a subtle naming of Columbus's discoveries. The "Land of the Free and the Home of The Brave" was not named The United States of Christopher Columbus. Such a name would have honored the One responsible for the nation's founding. The name "Christopher Columbus" means the CHRIST BEARING DOVE. It was the Guide's Dove, the precious Holy Spirit, who bore Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to the continent of the United States of America. His earthen vessel was Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of this power may be of God and not of us... We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; Persecuted but not forsaken; cast d own but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (I Cor. 4:7-11.)
3. Biblical STEM Lecture based on biblical athletics (BSTEM_Athletics.ppt)
Biblical STEM Athletics
Comparing athletes of Bible times with contestants of the 21st century requires placing both in the same stadium, arena, or gym with equal access to like training aids. The playing field must be leveled as the clique is cited. To this end is the following study undertaken. Some contend this reveals the athlete and general male of Bible times, despite his shorter life span was equal if not superior to performers of today. This assessment is based on the biblical nature of sports as a survival contest opposed to a superfluous past time. Athletics in Bible times was derived from making the body fit for personal defense and military engagement.
There were few contestants who enjoyed sports for sports’ sake. Jesus sponsored no baseball, basketball or football teams, even though he selected a twelve man team to witness the Gospel to the World. Contests were based on physical combat, a serious game, losers endured injury or death at the hands of opponents. Examples were the gladiators or legions of combative warriors. Of course, resolve would increase 10-fold. The result STEM-wise would be more muscle, agility, craftiness in physical combat.
Yet, there were the Olympics and Paul, as we will see, speaks of runners in races seeking the prize apart from a military encounter. The point is that when sport is a “life and death” undertaking, training and its outcome take on an elevated result. The Bible talks in military terms of this pursuit as “jumping a troop”, “scaling a wall”, etc. terms assessing athletic skill based on pugilistic capability. An example would be how Samson is depicted or of David’s “mighty men” one who slew 800 in battle.
Even the simple fisherman, disciple, Peter deftly severs the ear from the servant of the high priest with the flick of his sword aimed at the adversary’s skull. Likely, most men exhibited physical athletic ability to protect their families from harm with daggers, swords, fists or other weapons of the times. This would be in the same fashion as a homeowner of the 21st century might obtain a license for a firearm to protect his household.
Peter must have been more than a genteel Galilean fisherman to have so accurately slashed an ear from the servant’s head. One would have expected the slashing sword swipe to have decapitated his victim. As an experiment, place a manikin’s head (the kind used to display wigs) on a pedestal. Obtain a plastic or rubber child’s play sword and swing the sword in such a way as to only contact the dummy’s ear. This is no easy task.
Unless Peter’s feat was altogether accidental, it exhibited the athletic skills men of New Testament times possessed whether fishermen, sailors, farmers, artisans, etc. While Peter had no 21st Century “sidearm”, his weapon of choice was the two-edged sword.
Now Peter had not the zeal of James and John, the sons of thunder, yet, his sword dexterity seemed to him appropriate to the moment.
Likewise, must the Apostle Paul, have had a natural interest or skill with swordsmanship, athletically or otherwise. This is based on his statement that “the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.” To draw on this analogy shows a commonly held topic or interest of the New Testament’s personal weaponry. The concept of sharpness highlights the “killing or injury” power rather than sportsmanship. This agrees with military combat apart from the sport of fencing. Likewise, it sets apart the physical STEM culture compared to the 21st century.
When Paul describes the Christian’s life in Christ, he likens it to an athletic race, perhaps, a marathon when he adds the word “patience.” Also, he includes the idea of weights added to the runner’s body likening them to sins. This suggests an athlete’s training with weights to increase strength and stamina. If such is a valid interpretation of Paul, Peter and the general community, we might accept the idea that physical athletic ability was important.
Additionally, Paul uses the words, “compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses,” a perfect analogy to a race in a stadium with cheering throngs of onlookers (fans) watching the running athletes contest for victory. Then, added reference is made by Paul to yet another athletic contest with the words of I Cor. 9:26 writing of both running and “fighting” but not as one who “beateth the air” as boxers are accustomed to train.
4. Biblical STEM Lecture based on ships of the Bible, Noah’s Ark, Paul’s Ship wreck, Jonah’s craft (BSTEM_Ships.ppt)
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NOAH’S ARK THE ULTIMATE STEM VESSEL
Above is a remarkable model of Noah’s ship based on instructions given Noah in Scripture. Naval architects have confirmed the design of the width of the hull being six times the length as ideal for an ocean going vessel. And, of course, the protected topside is excellent for waves buffeting the vessel in a raging sea.
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Biblical mariners lacked weather radar, radio communication, and the use of the barometer to predict weather changes. Yet, they employed other means to judge threatening weather. Of course, obvious clues were cloud formation, sea state and air temperature. These variables combined with centuries of empirical knowledge of storm data equaled present STEM meteorology with helps from weather satellites and other predictive instrumentation.
Though the compass had not yet been invented, biblical mariners relied on a spiritual compass. Knowing from Scripture, the Almighty reigned over the wind and the sea, there were daily singing of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs along with devotions and prayers. These were exercised in the same routine that a modern mariner would check radar, sonar and radiocasts on the ocean sea. This practice continued through the middle ages and was especially honored by Columbus.
Excellent documentary by CBN News
The value of examining the account of Paul’s shipwreck from a STEM perspective is obvious once undertaken. STEM topics such as anchor design, weather patterns, use of lifeboats, sail technology, and others can be investigated as learning tools. For example, based on the biblical account, how well the above engraving replicates Scripture is useful. The four anchors were tossed from the stern of the ship. This was done, according to Scripture, so the vessel could face the beach. Obviously, from a dynamics discussion, if a rectangular object is fastened to a fixed point at its rear, winds and waves will blow it forward toward the opposite direction of the fixed point. (Note: There is one of the anchor lines extending from the rear of the ship, an accurate depiction.) A remarkable aspect of the anchoring is that they held. This should not have been the case except that the sea bottom was clay, a fortuitous or God-given circumstance. I am reminded of the movement of the storm which threatened the splashdown of Apollo 13.
Much of the account shows the excellent STEM seamanship of the sailors. Generally, ships anchor from the bow, not the stern for obvious reasons. Yet, these sailors were clever knowing they would need to drive their ship into the shore to escape drowning. Had they anchored from the bow, this would not have allowed time to turn the ship around to impale its bow on the shoreline after they cut the four anchor lines in the morning. Likely, the ship would have capsized as they attempted to turn it around to face shore given the extent of the pounding winds and waves.
Next, the foresail was deployed near the light of day. This is captured accurately in the drawing above. The sail would provide a measure of guidance to propel the ship towards land. This would be consistent with the concept of the winds blowing and waves rolling toward land as the propelling forces, but the sail would provide guidance. (Incidentally, the use of the foresail is similar to that which saved Columbus’ Nina from destruction in a storm as it approached Portugal on the return from the New World.)
Other STEM thoughts about the biblical account include mention of the ship’s oars which were bound during the storm. These served as rudders as well as propulsion and would have been detrimental if deployed during the storm. From Luke’s account, much of the design of sailing ships of the era of 60 A.D. can be accessed as a STEM study.
In many ways this account is a parallel to the rescue of Apollo 13, STEM-wise and Faith-wise. One item of note in the engraving above is the attempt to lower the life boat at the height of the storm. Again, there is discussion of whether the lifeboat might have saved those trying to escape. This is a STEM consideration. As it dangled in the wind or was flooded by waves, could it really have saved anyone from death?
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Phoenician Commercial Vessel of 800 B.C.
STEM-wise, there are two significant items to study in the Biblical account of Jonah’s plight. Both deal with how the Phoenician sailors dealt with the storm in their efforts to not only save themselves but Jonah as well. Because the angry seas were pounding the hull threatening its breakup, they chose to lift the draft of the ship by jettisoning cargo. Below is a picture of on deck cargo of a Phoenician merchant ship. Note how simple it would have been to cast cargo overboard. Lightening the hull would, of course, have caused other difficulties exerted by fierce winds rather than wave buffeting.
When the un-stowing and casting off cargo ballast failed, the sailors attempted to escape the storm by rowing to shore. The Phoenician ships (depicted on the previous page) featured a multitude of oars compared to Paul’s ship. Fortunately, for Jonah and the crew, this, too, failed. Likely, had they reached shore, the ship would have been destroyed by rocks or the sea shallows resulting in all drowning, including Jonah. The sea creature sent by the Lord would not have been present in shallow water. Of course, this is entirely speculation.
I am reminded of what Apollo 13 faced in its final hours, the 17th of April, 1970. An inclement mysterious wind-like force was blowing the rescue assemblage off-course above Earth’s horizon so that it would miss the entry corridor resulting in death of the crew. However, just as Jonah’s boat’s sailors employed rescue maneuvers, so did Apollo 13’s retro officer fire thrusters and engines to avoid disaster.
In conclusion, all of the above ships were ordained by God as a rescue vessel as a typing of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, does mankind attempt to save lives in a multitude of STEM devices. However, none can equal what the Lord did for Jonah, sending a fish to swallow the prophet saving him from drowning.
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Biblical Rescue Vessels
“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17 KJV
Jonah’s great fish and Noah’s Ark are often compared to rescue vessels from drowning. Paul says, “Stay with the ship” and ye shall be saved. In like fashion, NASA created escape means for the Moon bound astronauts. It was a small rocket nesting atop their crew capsule to save their lives should the Saturn V booster explode in route to Earth orbit.
Other escape modes were fashioned for Shuttle astronauts, however, in the case of the Challenger and Columbia crews, they failed, ending in death for the 14 men and women involved. Likewise, the three astronaut crew of the Apollo One mission died in a fire on the launch pad during testing in January of 1967.
But for Apollo 13, the Lord had prepared a rescue vehicle, the lunar lander, with special features for the saving of the spacemen. That STEM vehicle exhibited the same life-saving design features which preserved Jonah and Noah’s lives.
Whether, it be a creature sent by God or a ship designed by God as was the Ark, and, in effect the Apollo 13 lander, it is the Lord God Jehovah who rescues. His ultimate vehicle for rescue from spaceship Earth is, of course, His only son, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He is our rescue ship from Earth to heaven through faith in Him as our Lord and Savior.
5. Biblical STEM Lecture based on Bible Orbital Mechanics (BSTEM_Heavens.ppt)
Biblical Astronomy STEM Topics
A List of Bible Astronomy Truths
1. The Earth is a sphere, not a flat plane
2. The Moon provide “night-light” for Earth
3. The Earth rotates on its axis, i.e., day and night exist simultaneously on opposites “sides” of the Earth
4. The Earth has a “foundation” (axis).
5. The Earth also has foundation(s) - plural.
6. There are a countable number of stars.
7. The Earth is suspended in space
8. The Earth moves in a path
9. Light moves through space
“Sun, thou stand still…”
As a NASA STEM practitioner (electrical engineering graduate), this is the topic of most interest for investigation. When I first read THE BIBLE, A SCIENTIFIC BOOK, I was amazed how much Scripture told of the science of orbital mechanics, a prerequisite for space engineers. Understanding of the physics of a rotating Earth, planetary rotation about the Sun and the principles of the balance of gravity and centrifugal force are the basis for all rocketry and spacecraft motion whether orbital about Earth or on any trajectory into space, the Moon, the planets and beyond. For that reason, most of this chapter and the corresponding PowerPoint lesson deal with the foundations of the Earth from a biblical and Apollo perspective.
The key element of the study is the Bible word “foundation.” At once one thinks of a house on which the structure is anchored. Jesus speaks of the concept as to basing ones faith on Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6). This, according to Scripture, is the only lasting foundation in a spiritual sense.
But regarding Earth and the Cosmos, the term for the physical Universe, the word for foundation is in the plural, i.e., more than one. From this we can understand that virtually all stability studied in STEM trajectory analysis must consider two foundations, gravity and centripetal force. The balance of these foundations is responsible for planetary and spacecraft orbits, the rotation of bodies about the Sun as well as the trajectory of comets about the Universe.
Before further discussion, the translation of the biblical word “foundation’ must be considered. From various word dictionaries, the word can be translated as meaning: to ground, to establish, to render firm, etc. if adapted to an equivalent verb format. Of these, I prefer the term “render firm” or stable. This would be as in establishing a firm predictable process as the Earth rotates on its axis and around the Sun. But there is a very specific dictionary translation with regard to Earth’s foundation which explains the daily 360 degree rotation about its axis. The word is “socket” as the foundation(s) for the columns in a temple. The meaning for planet Earth is wholly accurate with its axis as column-like and the poles the rotational sockets.
I believe it is important to discuss Scriptures which correlate the principles of what we NASA deem “orbital mechanics.” Now consider a step-by-step exercise. It is an undertaking similar to the design process for the manufacture and testing of a spacecraft. From a biblical STEM viewpoint, thinkers in Bible times would have understood the mechanisms of orbital mechanics long before Kepler, Newton, and Galileo stated them. Scripture states: 1) God hung the Earth in space 2) Earth travels in a path 3) Earth is a sphere 4) the Moon is visible at night 5) the Sun is visible by day 6) Day and night exist simultaneously as Jesus described those in bed or in the field when He returns 7) Earth’s foundations firmly establish the Earth’s path and position in space.
The above biblical knowledge when correlated is sufficient to describe orbital mechanics. Ancient thinkers, even without mathematics, certainly could resolve Bible knowledge to explain Earth’s orbital mechanics. For example, if Earth is a sphere on a path spinning in its sockets, and the Sun does not grow larger or smaller by virtue of that path, the only explanation can be a revolving around the Sun.
Likewise, since the Sun shines on Earth about half a day, the only explanation, based on the pair of foundation sockets must be the Earth also rotates on its axis in addition to its path around the Sun. The above Bible knowledge explains orbital mechanics as clues. Their correlation becomes a “knotty problem.” It’s not inconceivable to believe an ancient thinker of biblical times would deduce through the process I’ve described above that the Earth both revolves on its axis as well as orbits the Sun.
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6. Biblical STEM Lecture based on medical practices of Scripture ((BSTEM_Medicine.ppt)
Biblical STEM Biology and Medicine
Biblical STEM Lecture based on biology, disease, and anatomy.
Randomly opening a hotel Gideon Bible to Leviticus 13, I noticed verse 2. Here was a wonderful lead in to compare, on a STEM basis, biblical and modern dermatology. So Scripture reads, (Because I, too, am a victim of skin flaws, I’ve entered my name in appropriate places.) …”when a man (Jerry) has on his skin (my nose) a swelling, a scab (I’ve had such.) on a bright spot and it becomes…like a (leprous) sore (Yes, that is how my nose blemish spot appeared.) then he shall (go) be brought to Aaron (I actually happened to go to a dermatologist named AARON, as in Aaron, Moses’ brother, the high priest, appropriate for this discussion.) or one of his brothers…who shall examine (the dermatology exam)…if (my basal cell) the sore appears to be deeper than the skin (mine did) then the priest (dermatologist) shall examine him and pronounce him (needing basal cell surgery – which I did.) but if…it does not appear deeper than the skin (yes, I’ve had those types as well) and appears as it was. (i.e., no change) Wow, the same treatment in a biblical STEM practice is exercised to this day! I benefitted from it. Leviticus 13 reads like a medical text book line-by-line. At NASA, this would be a detailed test of an electronic system on a step-by-step basis, with a quality assurance inspector witnessing and signing off on every step of the test to confirm the assembly’s space worthiness or un-worthiness. It is a NASA 99.9 percent test and process to assure mission safety. Actually, it is akin to a computer flow chart or a logical VENN diagram conceived millenniums prior to the computer era.
At NASA we had what was known as an endurance qualification test, i.e., the kind which examines a part for an extended period of time to assure its function. This is exactly what the priest was doing when he examined the sore for seven days to assure it did not turn into a leper sore. Additionally, the test for biblical leprosy employed a trial and error methodical approach which is similar to a NASA feasibility study. Verse 13:31 gives STEM laws for men shaving themselves who exhibit potential leprosy sores. I can attest to such because, in the past, I had a basal cell scab and needed such instructions.
However, I was comforted by verse 40. “As for the man whose hair has fallen from his head, he is bald (not to be confused with leprosy), but he is clean. (PTL, I don’t have leprosy on my bald spot.)
Added STEM medical knowledge is indicated in Leviticus 11:32. Here the harmful contamination of germs from dead decaying animal flesh is detailed like an operating room procedure prior to surgery. This brought to mind television reports where using a special process the presence of fecal contamination on a bathroom toothbrush could be revealed. The unhealthy situation resulted from improper washing of hands. Scripture describes how items can become “unclean” (the word for contaminated) by the mere touch of articles by hands who previously contacted decaying animal flesh. The articles especially forbidden to touch are listed: 1.An oven and 2. A cooking stove.
But, a spring or a cistern with plenty of water shall be clean. Here is presented the idea of washing a contaminated affected item with much water to cleanse the item. These ancients knew of the presence of germs though ignorant of the science involved. Additionally, they understood the importance of isolation (quarantine) as a means of limiting the spread of disease. Finally, they understood that a diseased person’s garment should be washed several times to remove the contagion as described in Leviticus 13:58.
In Leviticus 14:37 we find a treatment for home mold long before mold remediation of contemporary housing. Verse 42 speaks of removing the affected building material and replacing it with new material of the same type. However, if the contagion remains, Scripture requires demolition of the structure and removal of the refuse to the unclean place (the dump). This is exactly the same process used in the remediation of structures to this day.
Continuing this discussion reveals in Leviticus 15 instructions on “discharge”, a sobering concept. Even spittle as an oral discharge is considered a carrier of germs. Verse 8 discusses a saddle as a source of contamination in the event of a vaginal or anal discharge. The saddle would be akin to a modern source of germs, the toilet seat. The biblical saddle was considered a threat. An unclean person’s discharge might remain such that whoever touches that thing under him would become unclean. Such is a precursor for modern bathroom saddles (toilet seats) having protective seat liner tissue dispensers.
The modern concept of isolation of the unclean (disease carrier) for seven days is indicated. Somehow that is deemed the incubation period for a contagion. The biblical priestly practitioner believed the body’s defenses should be able to deal with the unclean condition if it does not become more serious in a week’s time. This continues to be a practice to follow. Most symptoms disappear after a week. If not, seeing a physician is advised.
Reading the Leviticus medical manual implies that a man’s discharge is some kind of fecal or urinary fluid. For the woman, it is a vaginal or period discharge which is bloody. If a man lies with the woman, a reference to sexual intercourse, the man’s discharge is considered unclean, i.e., a venereal disease. David supposedly contracted it but was healed by the Lord. A woman’s period was regarded as the time of her “customary impurity.” An extended period was considered a sickness. Leviticus 15:32 talks of the impure continual “semen” discharge as unclean.
Other STEM medical knowledge is indicated. The account of Noah speaks of taking “seed” of life for preservation, a foretelling of modern “artificial insemination” and sperm banks.
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7. Biblical STEM Lecture based on scriptural meteorology (BSTEM_Weather.ppt)
Biblical STEM Meteorology
The incident of Elijah’s “cloud afar off” brought thermodynamics and meteorology STEM principles to mind. As Scripture relates the incident: 1 Kings 18:44
The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'
God can through prayer or circumstance control the weather yesterday, today and forever. (Note: For each Biblical STEM Study, a modern, in most instances, manned space related incident will be described, analyzed, and shared as a faith-based testimony or illustration from the half century career of the author.)
Thermodynamics suggests that hot air rises, is less dense, and cold less dense air descends. Likewise, a rotating current of night air flows from cooler land into the hotter sea such that, in the evening, one can expect smoke from land based hotter factories to drift seaward. This is helpful for those living in factory zones near bodies of water when sulfurous fumes are released via tall smokestacks. Such releases are scheduled during the night. But the hand-sized cloud of Scripture arose from the cool sea in the daytime and proceeded to journey toward the hotter terrain in daylight. This would be the expected “sea breeze” of meteorology and thermodynamics. This would be according to thermodynamic expectations. Such agree with God’s answer to Elijah’s intercessions.
According to Wikipedia:
A sea-breeze (or onshore breeze) is a wind from the sea that develops over land near coasts. It is formed by increasing temperature differences between the land and water; these create a pressure minimum over the land due to its relative warmth, and forces higher pressure, cooler air from the sea to move inland. Generally, air temperature gets cooler relative to nearby locations as one moves closer to a large body of water. At night, the sea-breeze usually changes to a land breeze, due to a reversal of the same mechanisms.
(Share the unusual temperature inversion which held the expelled pure Oxygen gas adjacent to KSC causing engines of security cars to explode. This was viewed as a God-sent warning of what Apollo 13 was to experience when it’s liquid Oxygen Tank 2 exploded in route to the Moon.)
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In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Lord, through Solomon, describes the mechanisms of the Earth's weather systems. Mariners, like Columbus, believers in Scripture, must have wondered, "Should not corresponding east blowing winds exist northward to fulfill the loop of the outgoing west blowing easterlies?" No weather satellites, aircraft, or weather stations had mapped the cyclonic nature of the Earth's wind systems. Because Columbus was an avid student of Scripture, he had read the words of Ecclesiastes 1:6 describing the looping of the winds: "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the North, it whirleth (loops) continually, and THE WIND RETURNETH AGAIN ACCORDING TO ITS CIRCUITS." This was instrumental in bringing Columbus home from his New World discovery.
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8. Biblical STEM Lecture based on Mathematics (BSTEM_Math.ppt)
Biblical STEM Mathematics
Treating Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus as Arithmetic:
Rule of Thumb Mathematics
Background: Nearly a half century of NASA engineering taught me a valuable lesson. The best solution is the simplest one. By that I mean, “brute-force” or cerebral numerical analysis is not always the best course. Using only the most advanced mathematical theories and studies were often the least pursued path to problem solving. Having achieved absolutely the lowest grade ever carded in Rice’s theoretical Differential Equations course, Math 300, serves as a backdrop to the following discourse. Based on my inept abilities at theoretical mathematics, I should never have pursued engineering, leave alone my assignment as NASA’s Apollo Program’s Spacecraft Warning System Engineer.
Yet, I discovered an intuitive God-given gift which transcended my miserable theoretical foibles. Out of the depths of my mind often come solutions having no theoretical basis, but, remarkably, solve problems when tested with mathematics. For that reason, I’ve devised sort of a “rule of thumb” method of applying the laws of physics with modest mathematics training.
It’s a method of treating more advanced math as arithmetic. To relate the Bible to STEM principles, especially those employed during my NASA career, requires about a half dozen equations from physics books. In order for each to prove beneficial rudimentary algebra must be used. The equations are:
1. PV=NRT (The gas law)
2. FT=MV (The law of momentum)
3. V^2=2AS (The law of acceleration)
4. F=MA (Newton’s first law)
5. F=(MV^2)/R (The law of centripetal force)
6. E=MC^2 (Einstein’s law of relativity)
7. F=(constant)(Mm)/ r^2 (universal law of gravitation) and others as needed.
The technique is best illustrated with the gas law. To adapt the formula to a word description PV=nRT becomes multiply the pressure “P” of a gas in a container of volume ‘V’ as an arithmetic problem, it will equal some constant number multiplied by the gas temperature “T”. The idea of something being equal to something else is easily understood through the arithmetic example of making change. Four quarters are equal to ten dimes in change because arithmetic tells us that 4X25 cents = 100 cents. And, likewise 10 times 10 cents equals 100 cents. Once the concept of equality is understood, much can be devised and understood without higher math.
These are revelations illustrating Biblical STEM learning tools useful for teaching science as well as strengthening ones faith in the God of Scripture. Among them were:
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Biblical STEM Food Service Science
Feeding the 5000.
While the following example is included among STEM mathematics, it employs simple arithmetic and the science of estimation. It is based on the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 with but two fish and five loafs of bread.
Liberal modernists are apt to interpret biblical miracles with natural explanations apart from God’s supernatural power, so that the parting of the Red Sea is the manifestation of an unusually strong wind or natural occurrence of an ebb tide at a low place in the Red Sea. Or that the feeding of the 5,000 resulted from the generosity springing forth from attendees seeing the disciples unselfishly distributing the five loafs and two fish donated by the young Hebrew lad.
Imagine 5000 families of, perhaps, 3-4 children (Jesus had four brothers.) Most assert that only the men, the heads of households, were listed amounting to, perhaps, 30,000 hungry souls. The assembled throng was without picnic food awaiting the arrival of the Jerusalem RED LOBSTER caterer. To believe that those families would have the ability to go home and return with enough fish parts to feed the multitude would be more miraculous than the actual feeding.
Regardless, there was a measure of judicious distribution of that young boy’s limited food stuffs. It would be akin to a rationing process in the “handing-out-stage” to 30,000 people. Scaling the available supply would yield about one fish scale per person and a pinch of bread a little larger than a crumb. In fact, the losses from separating the victuals would likely exceed that which actually found its way into the hands of the hungry aggregate.
Yes, it is a notable miracle on any level, no rational explanation is conceivable. But a STEM mathematical process proves useful to confirm just how astounding the miracle is. Jesus was able to birth a type of a “multi-level” marketing strategy, not in the selfish sense some view the process but for the benefit of all mankind. The disciples were, sort of “level one” marketers, able to divide the original offering among the 5,000 families. Applying some STEM math analysis to the incident, let’s consider the magnitude of the feat.
I’m reminded of a project to estimate the consumables required for a Mars mission. My assignment was to assess the amount of food needed for the voyage lasting over a year. Obviously, the crew size, the composition of men versus women, and the length of the Mars stay were independent variables in the survival equation. Consumable studies were conducted with freeze-dried foods, recycled body waste (UGH!), even using the Mars atmosphere, and, perhaps, the firmament in some fashion to augment the number of days of livability.
Now using similar methods, let’s attempt to size the amount of food consumed by 5,000 families consisting of perhaps, 30,000 men, women, and children. Starting with an onboard supply of 2 fish and 5 loafs of bread, the number of calories required for the meal can be estimated. Likely each eater’s intake averaged 1500 calories. (Note: When food is free, most of us eat to excess, perhaps, making that one free meal our entire daily caloric intake. For example, consider a sumptuous Christmas office banquet thrown by a prosperous boss.) The father might have eaten 2400 calories, and the women and children might have averaged 1200 yielding an average of 1500 calories per person.
So the total caloric intake would be equal to 30,000 (people) multiplied by 1500 calories per person which would equal a total of 45 million calories. The type of fish found in the Sea of Galilee weighs about 5 pounds and is a foot long on average. A pound of fish has a caloric value of about 500 calories. Two fish would amount to 5000 calories. Now, a loaf of bread according to Wikipedia, has approximately 3000 calories. Five loafs would amount to 15,000 calories. That boy’s lunch must have been designated for a family because it would amount to 20,000 calories.
Dividing 45 million by 20,000 shows an increase of two thousand two hundred and twenty five times. For a mission to Mars, such a miraculous increase in onboard food would permit those astronauts to live the rest of their lives on Mars without returning to Earth. Putting it another way, the Lord’s catering service miraculously delivered 4500 fish and 11,250 loafs of bread. Is it any wonder that the leftovers filled nine large baskets, likely discarded fish scales and fish bones. Yes, God did exceedingly abundantly more than any that day could ask or think.
(Note: My math is all approximations, certainly not accurate to any specific percentage other than to exhibit the significant orders of magnitude increase to bring the miraculous feeding to pass.)
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The Math of Sizing God’s New Jerusalem
Rev. 21: 10-27
Since John received the dimensions of the magnificent City of the Millenniums, the New Jerusalem, in the Book of Revelation, thousands have applied simple arithmetic to the structure. I will likewise follow course as a NASA Advanced Project Definition Manager sizing a crew mission module for a trip through the cosmos. (Note: The city descends out of heaven, indicating, perhaps, no gravity, which expands its live-ability as a sky-scraper of multiply stories above Earth.)
Consider a 1500 mile high building, with each story/level ten feet high. Each mile of elevation would have 520 stories yielding 1500 times 520 stories in total. Completing the arithmetic has a structure many times the surface area of Earth on which billions of souls have dwelled.
If the City of God is similar to a zero-g space station, the lack of gravity, like the experience of our Apollo and Skylab astronauts makes the dwelling altogether more habitable and un-restrictive for its residents. Additionally, there is the suggestion in Scripture that light emanating from Jesus illuminates the entire city. This would be a new kind of light where no shadows exist. Think about this concept from a STEM perspective. Light has both a wave and particle nature. In this case it would be wave-like not line-of-sight based. Jesus would radiate His light in the same fashion as a point radio antenna propagates its electromagnetic field.
What comprises the “New Heaven and New Earth” destiny of believers is, of course, a biblical mystery. All which follows as discussion is in no way factual. It is simply theory based on the author’s background in STEM space exploration projects and studies.
The biblical description of the New Jerusalem suggests a kingdom of volume rather than rectilinear surface area. Mankind’s pre-millennium existence on planet Earth resided on “mapped” areas of land consisting of continents, islands, and, perhaps, seafloors. The total land surface area of Earth is about 57,308,738 square miles. This includes about 33% as desert and 24% as mountainous. So this leaves a habitable land area of approximately 25 million square miles.
As a result of dealing with astronauts’ missions confined to modest living quarters on orbital and lunar missions, I discovered that the lack of gravity in space (known as a zero-g environment) hugely enlarges a space traveler’s livable quarters. So that dwelling in a cube lacking the pull of gravity floor-ward vastly expands live-ability. For that reason, I suggest that the four-square New Jerusalem’s confines, like the NASA Apollo Command Module, it’s Skylab and International Space Station is wholly more expansive than an Earth area of 1500 square miles (the area of the floor of the New Jerusalem). Even if the millennial city had but a single bottom floor for its inhabitants, it would equal nearly 10% of Earth’s present habitable area. And, if it was constructed “sky-scraper-like” with ten foot stories, it would have a habitable area of 150 times 520 times that of our Earth.
Now consider that the Bible says, “the New Jerusalem descended as a huge cube from heaven.” For me, a space engineer, this suggests that the City of God did not fall to the old Earth under the influence of gravity, but, instead, it is to be a “zero-g” dwelling, akin to what NASA calls a “generation ship” able to support a colony on an interstellar journey of thousands of years. As such the New Jerusalem’s citizens would float/sail freely about the cube-like city in space.
Perhaps, the instance in Acts where the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip meet (Acts 8:26-40) suggests a kind of New Jerusalem transportation system. The chariot riding Eunuch draws near Philip seeking an explanation of who Jesus is. Having witnessed the truth of Christ and led the seeker into salvation and water baptism, Peter is “suddenly taken away” finding himself 30 miles distant and continuing his witness of the Lord. Perhaps, this instance of what some call a physical translation suggests, or is a precursor to, the weightless transportation mode of the New Jerusalem.
Let me address another facet of what are known in NASA-speak as “mission modules.” Interior lighting is required. Scripture speaks of God’s illumination system for His New Jerusalem. It is suggested in Psalms 84:9-11 with the words, “the Lord God, i.e., Jesus is a SUN…” From a STEM perspective, the Bible in Revelation confirms the Psalms, that the new heaven and earth lacks the Sun’s light because it is replaced by a new Sun, Jesus, the Son of God. This John states in writing that Jesus, the Light of the World, will be the Light of the New Jerusalem.
This is, of course, an unfathomable mystery based on the old Earth’s concept of light requiring an unobstructed direct illumination to shine on all things. But again, Scripture states “…in Him Jesus, the Light of the New World, there will be no darkness at all.”
How can this be, I wonder? Perhaps, from a STEM background, something can be suggested as a possibility. Consider the remote on a home television. Most of the devices are directional requiring users to point the infrared energy beam (light) directly at the TV’s receiving sensor. But there are those remotes that are omni-directional. We, NASA, have antennas of both types. When Apollo 13 exploded, the directional S-Band antenna dish was severed from its support strut by the panel which was ejected rearward into space. However, I noticed a brief flicker on my counsel interrupting the data displayed. The backup omni-directional antenna had preserved the telemetry signal Earthward.
In like fashion, the Lord Jesus will transmit His light in an omni-directional fashion throughout the New Jerusalem. In my mind, it will be the ability to receive illumination from our Lord in the same fashion that my home WIFI modem broadcasts its signal throughout our home. If a primitive electronic device can do so, how much easier it will be for the Lord to transmit His light through walls, if there be such in the New Jerusalem’s composition. Indeed, no longer will His children be limited space-wise or light-wise. It is the new world which awaits us, believers in Him.
I recall from my teen years as an aspiring scientist wanting to win the top prize in our local science fair. A pulp electronics magazine bought at the drugstore had a project I thought might win a prize. It was called a Tesla Coil. I mail ordered the parts, constructed it in the basement and switched it on. From its secondary coil of 1800 turns of wire emitted a three inch spark of 72,000 volts.
But what was especially mystic was the overhead florescent lights in Mom’s basement wash room adjacent to the Tesla Coil. They were illuminated from the invisible transmitted electromagnetic energy from my project. That energy excited the florescent gas ions in the light. Jesus would be the Tesla Coil source of the New Jerusalem illuminating the atmosphere of the New Jerusalem throughout, perhaps, in similar fashion to Mom’s florescent light.
Perhaps, there are other clues in biblical text about the New Jerusalem. Earlier, I mentioned the possibility of walls. Yet, likely, none exist. Why would anyone want to be isolated from other believers or the Lord Himself behind a wall? From the Bible we read an account where the resurrected Jesus suddenly appears in a room of His disciples without entering through a door. For Him in His new body, walls do not exist. Such might be expected considering the light our Lord provides in the New Jerusalem. Walls block light in the old Earth realm, however, if translucent, this is not the case. Perhaps, the millennium city has walls of such composition.
Mansions are promised, but having such walls will wonderfully agree with the ability to always be in God’s presence enjoying the fellowship of the saints forevermore. And, of course, without gravity, and the ability to pass through them, they must possess the same qualities as the predicted streets of gold. If NASA could only manufacture such a generation ship/mission module, we could easily reach the stars.
To conclude this speculative narrative of the mysteries of the New Jerusalem, I am reminded of Paul’s words, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face.”
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Apollo Moon Program Archeology
Though not millenniums in the past, the 1960s days of Apollo have become STEM-wise speaking, days of technological antiquity. Why, because Scripture predicts that in the latter days knowledge/learning will greatly increase. In digital technology, computers and all things digital, this is a gross understatement. For example, in 1971, I bought for NASA for the sum of $10,000 a magnetic core memory assembly with 10,000 bytes (the term for a word in computer lingo) of memory. This would work out to a cost of one dollar a byte of memory.
Yesterday, the Friday newspaper advertised a 32 gigabyte USB memory for $32 or a dollar per gigabyte of memory. A gigabyte is a thousand million bytes or 10^9 bytes math-wise. Now dividing a 1000 million bytes by 10,000 bytes since both cost one dollar gives how much more advanced is the memory in 2014 than 1971. Doing the math shows the increase in digital memory knowledge to be 300 million times in a time period only slightly more than a biblical generation of 40 years.
So, at least in the computer world, Apollo technology is millions of years in the past. And the entire process is simply a result of STEM research that investigated the nature of matter created by the original STEM genius, God Himself. None of these digital breakthroughs are anything more than discovery of what God did in the beginning, i.e., “there is nothing new under the Sun.”
But returning to the discussion of those museum-like Apollo days of antiquated technology, there is more to consider. I wanted to revisit that time, the early 1960s. To do so, I visited our attic hoping to find my old notes, memorandums, and Apollo era spacecraft handbooks, drawings, schematics and crew procedures I’d authored in those days. Though a half-century past, I was able to retrieve them from file cabinets, trunks, and cardboard boxes. Remarkably, I found a folder with all the actions, memos, and trip reports I’d authored. My primary role was caution and warning project engineer for the Apollo lunar lander (Eagle) and mother ship (Columbia).
Among my responsibilities was to compose for the astronauts sort of a cook-book list of instructions for the warning system they could read as they journeyed to the Moon. I found a copy of the instructions which were entered into their lunar check list. Yet from the primitive Apollo era, two score years past, I found them equally as sound and learned STEM-wise if accomplished today. That is, the research I’d done STEM-wise to solve problems and make recommendations to the head of the Apollo Program remains as sound now as it was more than 40 years ago.
My point is that increase in the “tools of knowledge” does not indicate I was any smarter than the STEM operatives of Bible times or, for that matter, are any of the recent college graduates more capable than I was a half century past in my STEM contributions to the lunar landing. It is only a matter of the tools which are more or less advanced which distinguishes the level of technological products, science or engineering of an age, whether Bible times, Apollo days, or the 21st century.
Added interest in the concept came trying to examine the Bible as a STEM study text. In so many instances from Genesis through Revelation, those who God called to action had no schooling in “higher mathematics” yet, through some sort of “boot-strap” common sense, they were able to achieve simple god-given solutions to extremely complex circumstances.
9. Biblical STEM Lecture based on scriptural engineering, tunneling for water systems, Solomon’s Temple, construction of Nehemiah’s wall, chariot design, etc. (BSTEM_Engineering.ppt)
Hezekiah’s Water System
“And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” 2 Kings 20:20
STEM project engineering whether in the past, present or future is a fascinating topic for study. Having served as a NASA project engineer for nearly a half century, I’m cognizant of its importance in the scheme of a successful moon mission. Likewise, I’ve observed how detrimental paying “lip-service” to considering interaction of all facets of a system can be. Such can lead to disaster.
Regarding my Apollo project the warning system for both Neil Armstrong’s Eagle lander and Columbia mother ship, I served dual roles, project engineer of their respective “brains”, the electronic boxes which coordinated the entire system, but also, in an “ex-officio” capacity managing the caution and warning systems as a “systems engineer.”
To simply have concerned myself and job to the resistors, transistors, capacitors and wiring of those two “black boxes,” as they were called aboard the lander and mother ship, would have been a myopic dereliction of duty sure to end in disaster for Apollo crewmen.
Actually, at the onset of Apollo, pre 1967, that was unfortunately the case which led to the death of three astronauts during launch pad testing of their spacecraft at Cape Kennedy. Because, I and others, had not devoted ourselves to sufficient systems engineering scrutiny, the spacecraft and its occupants died a horrible death. So STEM-wise, I’d failed not only the astronauts but also the entire Apollo program because I’d not been pro-active. I gave only “lip-service” to systems which my “black-box” monitored.
Well, how does this relate to biblical STEM project and systems engineering? There is a wonderful example recorded in the Bible about a king of Israel named Hezekiah (700 B.C.) who, unlike my early NASA career, had the foresight to evaluate threats to his “crew of astronauts” the citizens of the Holy City of David, Jerusalem. The threat was the advancing Assyrians who, city by city, were conquering all who defied their rule. Knowing that soon his “spaceship” would be attacked, he became an artful proactive project manager. Whether a space vehicle is threatened by the unforgiving vacuum of space or a municipality by needed life supporting resources, there must be a STEM plan of action.
For Hezekiah, that plan was to prepare for the onslaught of the Assyrians, specifically assuring that Jerusalem’s water supply was adequate and protected within its fortified walls. To do so would require the most advanced practice of STEM principles and resources of that day. For this reason, I’ve delved into the technology employed to design, excavate, and plumb the Jerusalem water management system, henceforth designated in NASA acronym nomenclature as the WMS. This should not be confused with the Apollo WSM, which dealt with onboard waste management, i.e., urine dumps in space, bagged fecal collection and other unsavory space-related toiletry.
Some refer to the system as “Hezekiah’s Tunnel.” It stands as, perhaps, the greatest work of water engineering technology of the pre-classical period. It definitely debunks the idea that biblical engineers lacked sophisticated STEM skills! This tunnel was excavated through solid rock. It was begun from opposite ends, around the year 700 B.C. The separate excavating teams met in the middle. This would be an engineering challenge even for today’s technology.
Likewise, it is recorded in II Chronicles 32:30, that Hezekiah blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring. Next he channeled the water along the west end of Jerusalem. This engineering accomplishment continues to amaze engineers of the 21st Century. Secretly, the King excavated through solid limestone a distance of 1,750-foot tunnel underneath the City of David. The tunnel connected the Gihon Spring with the present day Pool of Siloam. The pool is located within the walls of Jerusalem’s southwest corner.
An inscription known as the “Siloam Inscription” explains that a two man crew of workers accomplished their assignment with picks. They did not proceed in a straight line but rather weaved an S-shaped path. This, of course, increased the length of their planned route about 2/3s. Many have attempted to understand how these workers, without a compass, could have exactly met each other. It remains a mystery. Here are some of the questions asked about the project: How did the tunnel workers from the southern end gauge the correct elevation to meet those digging down from the spring? Could the sound of hammers from the surface really be heard in the tunnel? How was the tunnel vented during construction to prevent workers from suffocating?
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Biblical STEM Revealed in Building of Solomon’s Temple
Among the 66 Bible books, most would think Proverbs offers little information about STEM in the years God delivered them through the instruments of His divine revelations. The diversity of the Proverbs as guiding adages from the mouth of God needs be carefully studied for clues about the science, technology, engineering and math in the era of their authoring. Perhaps, there should be a lecture dedicated solely to: STEM Knowledge in Solomon’s Proverbs.
Regarding Solomon’s Temple is an example. The following Proverb is unique, I believe, in suggesting the engineering principles which God used to assist Solomon in constructing the Temple:
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Proverbs 6:6
The ant is especially an example of practices employed, not only by Solomon, but also the industrial revolution in America. It is even used in robotic designs of the 21st century. The insect behaves, as the ancients understood, as an autonomous entity ideal for repetitive construction tasks. Even NASA attempts to emulate the wisdom of the tiny creature in its planetary programs. The concepts acted out by ant colonies are everlastingly helpful in a myriad of ways. But for Solomon’s assigned task by the Lord Himself, we must consider the reference to the ant.
Only twice in the Bible are ants referenced as examples of Godly principles. In both cases, it is Solomon who makes reference to the insect. This was discovered in searching Scripture for instances suggesting STEM practices in biblical times. Solomon writes in Proverbs the sluggard should follow the example of the ant. Having made such an edict, Solomon certainly would have studied just what an ant’s example was and is. Doing so would be easily accomplished.
Ants were plentiful in Israel for such an examination. So Solomon would have readily discovered characteristics of the ant. Likely, his examination might have dwelled on their abilities to excavate tunnels, build structures, move objects, team together to perform constructive tasks, and other skills related to STEM engineering:
Ants work collectively in unity as a colony, usually of large numbers. They exhibit a division of labor, consisting of overseers (supervisors) and workers. The ants maintain their nest temperature by choosing the location, nest materials, controlling ventilation and maintaining the heat from solar radiation, worker activity and metabolism. They cooperate in work and gathering of food.
1. Most laborious insects in existence
2. Most highly industrialized
3. Collect food in proper seasons
4. Proudly attached to the young
5. Have keen foresight for others
6. Work quietly without show
7. Work diligently until work is done
8. Work together in impressive systems of organization for the good of all
9. Are ingenious carpenters and masons, building homes which are clean
10. Keep their homes clean
11. Each has a definite job in life for the needs of the community
12. Fight to death to protect their homes and young from an enemy (loyalty)
13. Social life is comparable to humans
14. They are intelligent and wise
15. They carry our work without being forced to by a guide, overseer or ruler
Having reviewed the above, Solomon puts into practice the human equivalent using these characteristics. We can only assume this to be the case, yet, it is so compatible that one cannot help believe God inspired Solomon to do so to build the Lord’s temple.
1. Choose the most laborious workers available
2. Organized the workers in a highly industrialized fashion
3. Established food logistics for the workers according to seed-time and harvest
4. Provided workers with interaction with their families
5. Chose workers and overseers who had concern for all
6. Encouraged all to work quietly for the task at hand
7. Selected workers whose diligence would assure work being completed
8. Organized a division of labor for various skills and tasks in building the temple
9. Chose carpenters and masons with skills needed for temple building
10. Chose and encouraged workers to maintain a degree of cleanliness
11. Instilled in workforce a belief in the benefits of their efforts
12. Enlisted the loyalty of the workforce to engage with the Israeli nation against enemies
13. Provided for a social life among the workers.
14. Selected workers that were not only diligent but intelligent and wise
15. Chose an overseer among the workers who would manage efforts justly and adroitly
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Who Built Pharaoh’s Pyramids?
While some estimate a half million workers built the Apollo lunar transportation system that took men to the Moon, it was anything but an enterprise solely of government workers, of which I was one. At best, I, was sort of a collaborator overseer akin to one of Pharaoh’s mid level engineers. But it was the hundreds of thousands of “hands-on” designers, fabricators, assemblers, testers, etc. who brought those temple blocks called engines, tanks, electronic boxes, gantries, thrusters from afar, thousands of miles to the site of the Apollo temples, Bethpage, New York, and Downey, California, Huntsville, Alabama, Melbourne, Florida, yes, and even a few of those parts to Houston, Texas.
My point is that NASA didn’t build the moon-ship alone. Likewise, the Pharaoh and his Egyptian overseers did not construct the pyramids and their ancient cities without help. It was, like Apollo, collaboration with another group, those Jewish workers, held captive in Egypt. And, like Apollo, much if not most of the STEM expertise was resident in the archives, minds, and traditions of those Hebrew workers. So that when we correlate Solomon’s Temple STEM practices to the Egyptians, that understanding, knowledge base was in many ways originated by God’s people and simply transferred over centuries to construction STEM practices employed by Solomon.
If Apollo had taken a half millennium to accomplish as did the Jews servile tenure under Egyptian rule, that Apollo workforce of 25,000 NASA employees would be sorely ineffectual without the contractor team who strived to succeed. All that the Egyptians accomplished STEM-wise was shared, and, I’m sure often innovated by their Jewish captives. That experience like the contractor aerospace veterans is a remnant to draw on for a Mars mission as did Solomon draw on acquired STEM intelligence passed down among the Jews even as they trekked about the Wilderness for 40 years.
The tales of captivity must have been shared with the children and grandchildren of generations to come in the same fashion as was other oral history. And, perhaps, even the same scribes who preserved the Exodus account might likewise have recorded useful STEM secrets. Though not scripture, they, nevertheless, would be invaluable once God ordained the building of that magnificent Temple of God.
To support this view regarding my Apollo contributions I still have my daily notes from my “pyramid building” of the lunar lander’s alarm system from more than a half century past, which, of course, I’ll pass on to my sons and grandsons. It is a historic record of what to do, and, more importantly, what STEM-wise to avoid.
I wrote what NASA calls a “white paper” detailing suggestions for those who would design the warning system for the NASA space shuttle based on flaws in the systems for the Apollo spacecraft just as those Jewish pyramid builders would caution Solomon’s temple builders centuries in the future on STEM building techniques regarding cutting limestone, mixing mortar, transporting massive granite blocks, and other construction practices. It is for that reason that I believe that study of how the Egyptians built their cities and pyramids equally applies to the biblical STEM practices employed to construct Solomon’s Temple.
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Nehemiah’s STEM Based Wall Building Project
A topic dear to all construction projects is, of course, schedule. Some of the greatest STEM contributions are innovations in building techniques leading to maintaining schedules. I know my lunar lander warning system electronic brain called the Caution and Warning Electronic Assembly (CWEA) was the pacing item possibly holding up fulfilling JFK’s prophesy of beating the Soviets to the Moon as well as landing “before the decade” of the 1960s was out.
It was, at one time, early in the program, nearly five months behind the need date for completion. This, if not resolved, might have resulted in landing on the Moon, in January of 1970 instead of July 20th, 1969.
Every one of the CWEA’s resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc. had to meet a high reliability specification. Commercial and military standard parts were easy to obtain in much less time, but the need for the highest quality to assure crew safety wouldn’t allow such. The “Hi-Rel” requirement would be akin to a physical exam for a hundred athletes with only ten passing the tests. And those ten running a 100 meter dash on a 120 degree F summer day, followed by a few hours of soaking in a 100% humidity 140 degree F bath house, then being punched once per second by the heavy weight champion of the world a devastating blow. Finally, I was to be the referee granting victory to the ten surviving contestants. This was accepting what was called the “PAR” or Parts Approval Request.
I did this for every one of those CWEA electronic contestants as well as for many of the switches and gauges built into both Neil Armstrong’s Columbia mother ship and Eagle lander. Even the simple toggle switches were my responsibility to oversee testing and validation. I was altogether horrified by the Hollywood movie APOLLO 13. It had my switch as the source of the dreadfully tragic Apollo One fire. (It didn’t happen that way!) But as to Nehemiah’s STEM wall building, I believe schedule-wise, he stands apart in the annals of proactive project management. To understand completion date urgency, let’s examine the Apollo Moon project. JFK gave us 9 years to put a man on the Moon. We don’t know what Nehemiah was given time-wise to complete the wall repairs, but we do know it was accomplished in only 52 days according to Nehemiah 6:15. So based on JFK’s edict of “before this decade is out”, Nehemiah’s goal might have been two months. The two endeavors correlate wonderfully though almost two and one half millenniums apart in time. Both show the benefits of a people working together in unity, the Israelites and the American STEM workers of the 1960s. Nehemiah’s restoration plan is noteworthy for planning and scheduling. First of all, he examined what were the needed actions which he cleverly accomplished secretly (breach repair and gate repair). Next, he must have counted/inventoried the number, extent and location of the breaches. Lastly, likely he considered, coordinated and assigned a division of labor and groups for each breach. From Scripture it is suggested that he credited those responsible for the repairs so that, indeed, pride in their work was an element in the success of the project. Additionally, he assigned repairs to those living near respective breaches so that protection of their families was key to performing the work quickly and properly. (Even women and children worked toward this end.)
This approach was employed by the Apollo Program wonderfully well. The manufacturer of the mother ship was in Downy, California near Los Angeles on the West Coast of America and the maker of the Lunar Lander in New York on the East Coast of the United States. The rockets, mission control and launch complex included the south and southeast American states with hardware made throughout the Midwest. Like Nehemiah, the wisdom of sharing the effort throughout the city and land instilled pride and stellar performance.
Perhaps, the key to Nehemiah’s success was insisting on his God-given authority as the sole Program Manager of the endeavor. Actually, this made the Lord God the chief STEM manager so that those who attempted to thwart God’s work would be dealt with severely. Nehemiah crafted a project plan better than any NASA program expert.
Granted, this is my assessment, but many commentaries agree with me. An interesting facet of the rebuilding was the use of mortar. Later, the Herod Temple omitted mortar counting on the weight of the blocks and static friction for stability. But Nehemiah’s was not so built, i.e., without mortar, likely due to the various sizes of blocks at hand, many reused or reshaped from the rubble, to bond them in place in the irregularities of the breach gaps. A brick mason of the 21st Century does the same with refurbished or used brick for building an antique brick façade on modern homes.
It is a mistake to liken Nehemiah’s challenge to building a Lego-like wall structure. The handicap of breach rebuilding is a formidable adversary. In some ways, it compares with constructing a vertical puzzle, examining edges, and available pieces. These are not of light plastic but massive hundreds of pounds rectilinear parts. Likely, some wall blocks had to be demolished by virtue of structural defects for proper fit of either newly shaped or reshaped former stone.
The breach repair was, certainly, not as demanding worker-wise as the building of Solomon’s Temple or the pyramids. It was an altogether different process. The stones were much less massive to move not requiring the worker numbers and apparatus used in those previous awesome STEM endeavors.
I recall a problem I encountered at home. Our dining room parquet flooring’s adhesive over the years failed. Walking on the parquet squares was like stepping on sponges. It was aggravating. The cost to replace the floor was $10,000. Wanting to save the cost and complete the repair in minimum time, I, like Nehemiah, chose to serve as the sole project manager/planner/overseer. Unfortunately, I had no workers to help me. It was an arduous task. First, I bought new adhesive, next I carefully, scrapped up every one of the nearly 1000 wood squares, and lastly using them as repair “blocks” I refitted and re-glued them to the floor in two weeks time. The pride and cost savings motivated me to succeed. This must have been the case with those Israeli wall builders of long ago.
Though we cannot know exactly the science of how this “fitting” was accomplished, it was a STEM process worthy of the ages considering all was complete in 52 days.
A related building project for a child or adult Lego engineer would be to simulate the process. This would be sort of a Nehemiah Wall Builders STEM competition. It would be timed for 52 minutes instead of 52 days. And, the challenge would not be simply to build a routine wall structure. Instead it would be to repair an irregular breach. This would require removal of some Lego blocks prior to replacing them in an orderly fashion to rebuild the Lego wall. The picture below suggests this concept. Of course, the contest would employ only Lego bricks not a combination of cinder blocks and Lego parts.
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Biblical Chariot Engineering
Some trust in horses. Some trust in chariots but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. (Psalms 20:7)
Examining biblical era engineering from a STEM perspective showed the technology of chariot design to best exemplify the advanced capabilities and knowledge of the times. Compared to automotive designers of the 21st century, biblical chariot innovators and inventors would at least equal or surpass the present day vehicle state-of-the-art. As one historian stated it: "Their engineering was stupendous, modern engineers could not do any better with only wood, leather and glue."
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When the Bible serves to study STEM topics of millenniums past, it is understood that compared to the 21st century all STEM disciplines are now 100s of times more advanced. The value of such study is to examine the resourcefulness and ingenuity of Bible STEM practitioners given their limited access to the STEM knowledge base of the 21st Century. An example is the design and implementation of a chariot’s suspension system. The McPherson Strut came centuries later, however, with materials available to chariot engineers, they designed and constructed a brilliant counterpart thousands of years ago.
Some biblical STEM accomplishments are so awesome, especially for building projects that misguided alien theorists believe other-worldly beings visited Earth in flying saucer-like craft. These engineers from afar brought supernatural earth-moving machines responsible for building the pyramids and other massive stone-type structures.
Others, realizing that in ways STEM experts of Bible times were more advanced thinkers than the present attempt to discover the ways that massive construction feats were done with natural means of Bible days. An example of this is the theory of using the principle of buoyancy combined with barge-like vessels and excavated canals. How this might move and lift stone-slab-tonnage for temple construction is examined. Such an approach would not need thousands of workers. It is just one of many 21st Century theories believing in the ingenious STEM endeavors of the past. Below is a picture suggesting the stone-block-floats concept.
Another theory employs the concept of battering rams to move the lime and granite stone as shown below:
The mystery of STEM biblical technology attests to its advanced nature. To deem it rudimentary and unworthy compared to 21st Century practice is an injustice to the ingenuity and creativity of the people of Bible times.
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10. Biblical STEM Lecture based on knowledge capture, media techniques, etc. Also: The Bible and “witty inventions”, a source of innovation, examples. (BSTEM_Invention.ppt)
Biblical STEM Inventions
Scroll Printing Gutenberg Printing 3-D Printing
“There is nothing new under the Sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
In recent years, a word has become altogether overused. The word is “innovation” as a noun or “innovative” as an adjective. I’m upset with its use and overuse because it actually is a misnomer. Solomon rightly pointed out the idea when he wrote a God given axiom that “there is nothing new under the Sun.” That is, in God’s creative infinite intelligence nothing is innovative compared to what already exists among the divine STEM engines of creation. Indeed, the best that man can do is clone, copy, simulate, and plagiarize the STEM workings of the Lord Jesus, as the agent of creation.
Man is relegated to what patent lawyers define sometimes as illegal “reverse engineering.” It is the same sense that a competitor of Apple designs an Iphone clone in hopes of selling a competing product based on the creativity of the original. All science reverse engineers the Master Engineer’s designs, mechanisms, technology, mathematics, etc. I’ll site several examples from projects I’ve reverse engineered over a half century of NASA innovations.
There was the NASA Advanced Multispectral Aircraft Scanner which was simply a rudimentary copy of an insect eye. I was amazed to find the same technology in a copy of Scientific American I happened upon in the NASA Johnson Space Center library. Then, there was our NASA team’s world class robotic hand derived from an engineer’s visit to the Galveston County Morgue, There he examined the dissected flesh and replicated the corpse hand with wires, electronics, and man-made synthetic materials. He, in effect, cloned God created sinews, nerves, muscles and bones. The Lord would have won an enormous monetary damage settlement as the plaintiff in a civil court of law. He is one plaintiff who cannot be denied.
So when Solomon’s word is taken in its purest STEM sense, all innovation is simply reverse analysis of what already exists by virtue of God’s creativity. Another example, television is a rather poor system substituting for the human visual system. Any manmade robot in millenniums to come cannot compare to a worker’s adaptive ability to be taught/programmed to perform complex tasks.
Quantum Physics is, again, simply the process of reverse analysis of what the GREAT PHYSICIST designed and created. Genetic codes simply reveal the mathematics of the GREAT MATHEMETICIAN. No Einstein-like earthman can equal such innovation which existed in the beginning.
Aircraft engineers rejoiced over the discovery of RADAR as did oceanographers over SONAR, yet God gave biologic RADAR and SONAR to bats, whales and dolphins. Military air defenses were devised to jam RADAR systems, but the lowly Hawk Moth has the same ability to jam a bat’s radar just as surely.
Likewise, it is evident that dogs have God given SNOOPERSCOPE sensing systems able to detect animals afar off by virtue of odor detectors beyond manmade innovations. I recalled the NASA Skylab gas chromatograph designed to detect scores of odors detrimental to a space station crew. Any stray dog possessed equal ability by virtue of God’s creativity to ferret out the weakest of odors out-gassing into the atmosphere. Finally, there is the nightly weather report predicting an approaching storm. But I’ve observed our dog predict foul weather approaching our home long before word came from the televisions meteorologist. Her yelps and barks are more specific than any warning siren sounded from a weatherman’s alarm system.
So an updated paraphrase of the Lord’s word to Job might be in Job 38:31: "Can you bind the chains of the DNA, or loose the cords of the atom?" Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and travel the light to the stars?
Yes, man can only copy God’s originals.
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God’s “Witty Inventions”
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. Proverbs 8:12
Certainly, based on God as the source of all innovation, he can impart the same to man as what is deemed a God-given “witty invention.”
Years ago, I developed a NASA computer program which used inventions spawned by space technology (SPINOFFS) to solve problems addressed to my program, HYPERSPINOFF.
I presented a workshop to educators and technologists fashioned to teach the use of the program. As a lead in to the instruction, I presented a PowerPoint slide show listing how various inventions were conceived. One of those listed was the God-given witty invention. The following narrative and examples were in the program.
George Washington Carver
Many inventions came to people as they prayed. For example, George Washington Carver, a tremendously talented black man, born of slave parents, made more than 300 products from the peanut alone. Dr. Carver's discoveries increased the south’s income by millions of dollars. Carver wrote: "The secret of my success… is found in the Bible. I prayed that my life and work had helped in a small way to make the world peaceful and make Him (God) happy." He was referred to as man's slave who became God's scientist.
But unhappily, others sought to patent altogether ridiculous inventions often exhibiting the folly of man’s ways. Here are some examples: As Psalms cites, “Man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Here are some examples of that vanity: A black highlighter per, glow in the dark sunglasses, inflatable anchor, smooth sandpaper, waterproof sponge, waterproof teabags, fireproof matches, battery powered battery charger, silent alarm clock, double-sided playing cards.
But more vain were the following inventions which were actually patented.
The Anti-eating Mouth Cage
The Wigless Comb-over
The Wild West Mouse Trap
The Squabble Shield
The Fingertip Tooth Brush
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The Digital Age Suggested in Scripture
The 1950s and early 1960s were an analog age of the rheostat type instrumentation and devices. Those of my era recall tuning a radio or setting its volume by turning a dial rather than pushing a button. Yet, my boss’s concept was that all sensors should be inherently digital not analog. He was a devout Christian long before I became a believer. Perhaps, that was why he held to his insistence that, in God’s creations “things were digital”, and if we could just unlock that “digitality”, (a word I’ve just coined) NASA transducers would be much cheaper and lighter in weight.
Reflecting on his view, I’ve come to agree with him that, “Actually, much of what God created has an up-scaled “nano-scopic” (another just coined word of mine) digital framework. For example, the atom’s sub-atomic particles are digital entities. The human body’s nerve impulses fire in shotgun fashion from the brain, engaging the muscles in the leg. Cells are digital biologic entities as well with their count significant in either healing or disease.
So what in Scripture suggests the digital nature of God’s creativity? There is - “Our days are numbered”, a digital concept. Likewise, “thou are neither hot nor cold” implies a digital binary faith not pleasing to God. What about salvation, i.e., being born again. Consider what Nicodemus says to Jesus? “Thou must be “born again”, a definite digital event akin to biologic birth.
However, this is not to say that the Bible is silent on analog processes. “Thou ALMOST persuadeth me to believe” (i.e., be a Christian). Yet, there is the digital statement of “Yes and Amen” and the reference to grains of sands and stars in the sky, digital items, to encourage Abraham about his faithful descendents. But yet again, there are these “analog” words in Scripture: almost, I think, perhaps, growing. Apparently, God has purposes for both.
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Biblical STEM Lighting Technology
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path.”
The following comments result from watching a shopping center video advertising automobile headlights, high and low beams. In a fashion the above verse suggests the STEM concept of high and low beam highway lighting, i.e., lighting for the close in scene and the distant view of a road or path. The foot view or walking path view in biblical times had not the benefit of flashlights.
However, there were, indeed, sources of illumination for evening walks. Two types of devices were employed. The “lamp light” for a night stroll used a burning wick immersed in olive oil. For distant lighting, a “torch light” was ignited which gave off a much brighter light for viewing a greater distance. In either case, the verse above wonderfully portrays the value of God’s Word as ordering one’s steps (actions and deeds) in the present and the course to take in the future along the path of life. For the comparison to auto lighting technology, the Bible has both a low and a high beam.
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Biblical STEM Electricity
Scripture alludes to a principle of electrical technology taught in engineering studies. This is the concept of “laying on of hands.” It is a STEM principle of importation from a source to a receiver, i.e., a circuit of impartation.
As a Rice electrical engineer, I wrestled with courses in circuit theory. The transmission of current in amperes required the force of electrical pressure known as voltage. The science of electronics is exhibited in Scriptural examples, foremost is, perhaps, the impartation of a blessing by Jesus as the ultimate power/voltage source It is accomplished in the faith realm from the Lord to the afflicted through a physical connection akin to what my professor termed as a “dead load” from a live power source. This principle is a STEM analog of electrical conduction exercised from Adam’s day unto the present.
We hear “The Touch of the Master’s Hand” or sing the Gaither’s Gospel song “He Touched Me” both alluding to the reality of a spiritual “circuit” of blessing and empowerment. This is, certainly, comparable to what I struggled with solving problems employing Kirchhoff’s Current Law. Additionally, there is the counterpart of electronic amplification suggested by Scripture, a STEM concept. “If one can put a 1000 to flight, two can put 10,000 to flight .
(Deut. 32:20) Yes, circuit theory is suggested in Scripture in an off-handed way.
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Biblical STEM Robotics Lesson;
THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL.
Intro – Song: The Lord God Made Them All
Biblical STEM Robotics Lesson; Relating God’s created mechanisms, systems and animal/human characteristics to inventions and technology:
*Lesson employs NASA Robotics experience and Robotic Workshop presentation from a faith-based perspective.
*Comparing R-2 to the human body, its mechanisms, circuitry, and articulation in order to teach principles of pitch, roll, yaw, and degrees of freedom concepts.
As NASA’s Software, Robotics, and Simulation Division’s
Technical Managers’ Representative,
Jerry served to help administer NASA’s premier Robotics programs and projects. Among them was Robonaut.
The hymn may have been inspired by a verse from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: "He prayeth best, who loveth best, all things great and small. For the dear God who loveth us. He made and loveth all."
Alternatively, inspiration may have come from William Paley's Natural Theology, published in 1802, that argues for God as the designer of the natural world. For example, the hymn's second verse alludes to "wings" and verse 7 refers to "eyes". Paley cited wings and eyes as examples of complexity of design, analogous to that of a watch, with God as the "Divine Watchmaker".
The hymn was first published in Alexander's Hymns for Little Children. It consists of a series of stanzas that elaborate upon verses of the Apostles' Creed.
1. All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Occasionally, as an outreach for NASA, I’ve conducted an Educators’ Robotics Workshop for students and teachers. As an introduction, I use the body as an example of a robot. Having the students stand along with me, as a group we demonstrate to one another the basic movements of a robotic system – pitch, roll and yaw.
Our torsos and limbs demonstrate these basic robotics principles of movement. Of course, pitch is the pitching forward of the arm, yaw the moving of the arm from right to left and roll the swinging/looping of the arm at the shoulder. Then we exercise the concept of what in robotics is tabbed “degrees of freedom” or DOF for short. As an example, a stiff arm has three degrees of freedom which the class has just been shown. Degree one was the pitch maneuver, degree two, the yaw movement, and degree three the roll looping at the shoulder.
To help the class remember, we play a game of “Jerry Says” with Jerry saying, “Jerry says pitch your right arm up.” All follow suit, but when the next command is “yaw your right arm,” any movement by a student requires sitting down because like the game of SIMON SAYS, the preamble is required for action.
Quickly, the class understands that their bodies are more sophisticated than any articulated robot that mankind can design or construct. In fact, most robotic innovations simply clone what God has already created by virtue of his omniscience and omnipotence.
The systems which comprise the homo sapiens human kind work well for designing space ships as well. A rudimentary spaceship has 1) a guidance computer equivalent to the human brain 2) a propulsion system – legs 3) environmental control system – lungs and skin 4) power system – human heart 5) electrical wiring – nervous system 6) communications/radar – eyes and ears 7) and on and on.
Certainly, the authors/prophets inspired by God described in STEM fashion the same comparisons to devices of their era. They speak of ribs as a fence protecting vital organs. Even the interface between audio and mental understanding is addressed in a biblical STEM sense with “Let him with ears hear.” (that is, to hear sound and hear through mental understanding) The ancients differentiated between sound acquisition and mental understanding as two different processes.
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Biblical STEM Simple Machines Lesson;
Fifty years of space engineering equals ten times the time spent earning my BSEE at Rice University (1960-65). One could expect to profit STEM-wise from the dozens of engineering projects undertaken in a half century. A partial list includes: (See listing in appendix.)
Because 90% of the ten five year periods consisted of “learning by doing”, what was learned should be added as a “body of engineering knowledge” to the formal courses of college instruction.
In like fashion, observation of how the ancients acquired a body of STEM knowledge through practical application of simple machines and devices has application in the 21st Century. Because contemporary devices, smart phones, laptops, 3d printers, diesel engines, etc. are advanced does not negate the brilliance of Biblical STEM inventiveness simply because the devices of that day are comparatively primitive.
One learns that the greatest engineer is he or she who employs what is available in the most ingenious way. Such is often the simplest solution to the most complex problem. This is the quality of the biblical STEM practices which deem them worthy of study.
I often share the experience of using a pair of golf tees, each stuck into a Styrofoam disk’s diameter at opposite poles. Using my two index forefingers as the rotational axes and thumb as the rotation moment, I was able to fashion in real time a rotating apparatus to fulfill a requirement unforeseen at the onset of a NASA field test.
Likewise, the duck tape solution to the Apollo 13 CO2 filter threat is a further example of the use of simple machine technology employing primitive devices to affect a desired outcome. With these examples as an introduction, let us examine first of all the construction of so many elaborate edifices of biblical times. (Incidentally, such STEM items have come to be regarded as “McIver” inventions based on the popular James Bond-like devices created in the television series to save McIver in times of grave danger.
Obviously, without the assistance of 21st Century inventions such as the internal combustion engine, power must be supplied by men, animals or both as well as natural forces, gravity, wind, waves, etc. How biblical STEM experts utilized each is a study in ingenuity. Notable applications are farming techniques and tools. The ox pulled plow has the ox as the tractor and the plow as incline plane slicing the hardened rocky terrain into fertile fields as one STEM simple machine example.
While an altogether unimpressive example, the device remains useful to this day. Yet, America’s Moon program similarly employed unimaginative simple machines to reach the Moon. One example was the trolley which transported the 8,000,000 pound Saturn 5 rocket from its assembly building to the launch pad. The journey of approximately a mile was accomplished at a speed of approximately one mile per hour. How is this any different from a 1000 men pushing a 20 ton stone block up an incline to its position in Solomon’s Temple. Both use brute force techniques, rollers (logs or wheels perhaps) to make the journey possible.
Digressing for a moment, I’m reminded of Christa McAuliffe and the lessons she planned to demonstrate for children. They were fairly rudimentary but very basic to the science we all need to know including those in Bible times. Many of Christa’s lessons were based on the concepts of simple machines and scientific principles. Others dealt with the effects of gravity and the absence of it in space. Some focused on natural laws and observation that are timeless such as hydroponics and effervescence. Actually, the principles of every one of them in some form or fashion would have been understood from STEM observations millenniums in the past.
For example, I can’t imagine a biblical builder being ignorant of Galileo’s observation that objects dropped from the same height strike the ground simultaneously despite their mass/weight differences. That is to say, the velocity of falling objects subject to the Earth’s gravity accelerate at the same rate reaching identical velocities if released from like elevations.
How many tools, building materials, even (God forbid) workers in Bible times accidentally fell earthward striking the ground at the same moment. Of course, I agree, that the mathematics of the observation was not formulated to define the acceleration of a falling “body” as 32 feet per second per second. Yet, simple empirical observation was likely employed in a beneficial STEM sense. Any child playing a ball related game could easily deduce the law that objects fall to Earth at equal accelerated rates regardless of mass/weight.
The following simple machine STEM devices existed in Bible times.
The Bow Drill
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The Inclined Plane
The mechanical advantage is simply defined as the height one lifts or raises a load divided into the run or path the load moves along a flat incline. So for the above example, if the load is to be transported to a height of 500 feet from the base of a hill over a serpentine distance of 6000 feet, the mechanical advantage would be twelve. Therefore, a 1,200 pound load would require a force of 100 pounds to push it to the top of the summit ignoring friction. Based on this concept, scholars surmised the inclined plane played a major role in the moving of granite and limestone blocks into place in the pyramids and Solomon’s Temple.
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The Lever Arm
Use of Lever Arm in a biblical well: The above lever arm has a mechanical advantage of the ratio of the length of the beam from the water bucket on the left to the fulcrum (a rotation point like an axle), to the length of the beam from the fulcrum to the counter weight on the right. The ratio appears to be about twelve feet to three feet. So the counter weight weighing 20 pounds can lift a bucket of water weighing 5 pounds. (Note: The above drawing would have the advantage of requiring easily applied downward force to lower the bucket, resulting in an equal force to lift the water filled bucket. The titter-tooter machine eliminates the need to drop down and draw up the bucket hand-wise because the lever arm serves that purpose. )
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Above is a biblical pulley application for lifting water from a well or dirt from hand digging a well. It is known as a “windlass” (wind-lift) and has a mechanical advantage equal to the ratio of the outside cylinder radius to the axle radius. The above example, for discussion, has a ratio of six inches to 3 inches, so that pulling the lifting rope with a force of one pound would lift a bucket of water weighing two pounds.
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The Wheel and Axle
The mechanical advantage of the wheel and axle is the ratio of the wheel radius to the axle radius.
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Supplemental Biblical STEM Topics
These are supplemental STEM items from Scripture for study and inclusion throughout the course.
Biblical STEM Elevators
Among these were: those friends of the ill man who mounted the roof of the structure housing Jesus and the crowd seeking healing. Those friends had an intuitive knowledge that not only would the structure support their and the friend’s weight but that their quickly designed down dropping “elevator” would meet the need. The four were STEM academics conceiving a brilliant “real-time” and “in situ” solution to a complex problem Apollo 13 rescue style. While they had not taken, as I did” Statics 100 at Rice, they had a knowing that four corner cords/ropes would be required to balance the descent of their hastily constructed platform/stretcher. Theirs was a four man-power device dividing the lifting power four ways. Their arms and hands served as the elevator’s pulleys. Yes, they were well aware, in an intuitive sense, of the advantages of “simple machines.
How, one artist envisioned event. I saw it differently.
I agree with this recreation.
Archaeological reconstruction of Peter’s house as it may have appeared at Jesus' time.
Besides the four friends’ elevator account, there is the similar mechanism which saved the Apostle Paul by dropping elevator-like in a basket from an outside wall of a building. This would be sort of a “silent butler” mechanism as suggested in the picture below:
I like the suggested picture on the right because likely there were but two ropes to affect the descent. Assuming Paul weighs something less than 200 pounds, the force experienced by each of his rescuers would be less than 100 pounds. Tension on the rope would likewise be less than 100 pounds indicating the feat would likely, require twice the strength of those suspending their sick friend downward before Jesus. And probably the endurance of Paul’s helpers would be tested by virtue of the descending distance being at least twice what the sick man of the Gospels required.
Now consider the ingenuity of Paul’s rescuers. They conceived, constructed and employed a two man-power elevator without a field test. This is indeed, a STEM biblical demonstration long before Otis Elevator did the same for 20th century office buildings.
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Biblical STEM Rocket Technology
Next, as a NASA “rocket-scientist,” I reflected on accounts of biblical battles where thousands of archers launched missile-like arrows forth on heathen-hordes. I asked, “Who designed these missile launchers?” Yes, each bow, was as much a launch facility as the so-called Jules Verne launch system studied by NASA as a simple/inexpensive contrivance to place payloads in orbit without the need of rocket fuel.
Certainly, the STEM bow maker employed some type of empirical/experimental study to achieve accuracy, range, and destructive impact. And, perhaps, it would not be altogether unlikely, that, in so doing, some type of arithmetic was used. I remembered, from my Rice days, the study and application of Hooke’s law. Certainly, the same observations Hooke observed would have been experienced by the most primitive bow maker of antiquity. In fact, to prove the point, I resolved to procure at a Dollar Store, a child’s toy bow and arrow, with harmless rubber suction tip, of course.
(FYI: A few days after planning the bow and arrow purchase, I visited a Goodwill Store near our home. Providence reigns! For $2.00 I now have my experimental apparatus. Thank you Lord!)
Next, I planned to experiment, in pre millennium fashion how one might deduce Hooke’s law, momentum transfer, and, perhaps, trajectory analysis with the toy. Let’s examine a Bible verse describing the rocket-like weapon, the bow: 2 Kings 9: 24. And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Joram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart and he sank in his chariot. And: Gen 27: 3. "Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
Arm strength is analogous to force, i.e., to rocket force. The bow is, of course, the agent of propulsion. It’s elastic string/cord and bow stows the kinetic energy as potential energy until its release/launch into space. Once airborne the arrow/missile behaves according to the laws of physics which would be experimentally determined by both the bows men and arrow craftsmen. Certainly both must have teamed in creating the most advanced weapons of their kind.
Chariot Riding Archers
Adding tail feathers to the arrow has existed since their invention and is known as “fletching”. It is comparable to rocket stabilizers designed to provide the rocket guidance and stability along its trajectory.
Experimental Bow and Arrow Set
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Biblical STATICS 100 and STRENGTH OF MATERIALS
The third reflection from Scripture was Samson pulling the pillars of the Philistine temple down. Again, this seemed an ideal biblical STEM study related to a course I took at Rice called STRENGTH OF MATERIALS. I, in no way, wished to diminish Samson’s strength resulting from the Lord’s empowerment. However, if one hopes to destroy a supporting column, it is best done acting with a shear rather than a compressive force. And likely, Samson was harnessed and bound in order to exert shear rather than compression on those ancient pillars. (And, of course, the mounting of those columns might have simply depended on their weight to anchor them, counting on the static friction forces described by Statics 100.) Wrestling with such thoughts, I fell asleep recalling a movie scene of Samson’s demise amidst the collapsing pillars of stone.
The next day, I found the YouTube I recalled. It sort of confirmed my musing, showing Samson acting in shear and the flawed design of the pillar base fracturing. But the scenario failed to have Samson “handcuffed” between a pair of pillars. Here is a screen shot from the movie:
Now, one can discuss the mechanical advantage of Samson’s applied arm/body force acting as a level arm against the flawed pillar joint shown above.
Most renderings, perhaps, from archeological evidence have the Philistine temple supported by two segmented pillars. If so, while Samson’s strength would still need have been superhuman, though the outcome might be less miraculous than described by many. Also, the depiction having Samson chained between the pillars would not be as likely based on their distance of separation. But, regarding STEM concepts, a structure standing with but one of two supporting columns standing would be problematical.
Then, there is the consideration of mortar for bonding the segments. Yes, it was used by the ancients using various “mud-material-mixtures.” Of course, if the Philistine’s temple contractor had “cut corners” and simply counted on the weight of the stone segments to hold the column in place, no problem might have been discovered until a Samson came on the scene.
I’m reminded of those massively muscular men of the Power Team who visited our church ripping in two the Houston phone directory. What made it possible was the pages were not affixed one to another. By judiciously gripping the book and applying a practiced ripping procedure, the pages failed to act as a unified block of paper. Instead, groups of pages were isolated and subjected to the shear ripping force of the strong men. But again, those Power Team evangelists needed the same Holy Ghost power Samson received to perform the feat.
Additionally, because biblical pillars were segmented structures, their stability might be readily compromised by a shear force. Note the photo below as an example. Likewise, was the design of NASA’s solid rocket boosters compromised by the segmenting of the pillar-like cylinder which housed the propellant. The same mistakes can occur millenniums apart.
The stacking of individual pillar sections threatens the integrity of the pillar as a load bearing building structure. Likewise, the segmented Shuttle Challenger’s Design led to the disaster which took the astronauts’ lives in January, 1986.
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Samson’s Slaying of a 1000 Biblical STEM Study
While we are considering Samson’s feats, it would be appropriate to address his slaying of the 1000 Philistine adversaries with the jaw bone of a donkey as a biblical STEM exercise.
Samson’s weapon of choice, his “side-arm” was a jawbone of an ass. Now later civilizations found such jawbones useful in crafting not only weapons, but also for hand tools such as an axe for chopping. But even an axe made of honed steel would appear impudent against the charge of a 1000 armored adversaries. How Samson accomplished the feat has to be a STEM study in strategy as much as a display of miraculous Superman-like strength. I have a book authored by Lowell Thomas about a WWI soldier named Sam Woodfill (a distant relative of mine). Sam, through a combination of courage, sharp shooting and fortuitous circumstance (another name for God’s providence) was able, like Samson to slay 19 of the enemy and capture another 109 of his German adversaries.
Back to Samson’s much greater feat. Neither Samson nor Sam could have withstood a simultaneous charge of 1000 armored Philistines or 120 armed Germans. However, applying STEM-like military principles both achieved remarkable victories. Samson must have protected his flanks such that only a few Philistines at a time confronted the biblical strong man. Likely, he slew as many as five at a time. Unable to assess their losses, the heathen kept charging the jawbone swinging Israelite. Perhaps, he stood on a precipice slashing his opponents into the valley behind his station until a 1000 bodies lie as carnage below. Whether Philistine stupidity or Samson’s strategy the result was the same, giving glory to God in the face of what appeared as insurmountable odds.
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WHAT WAS THE UPPER ROOM LIKE?
This is a compelling topic for a student of biblical STEM studies. And it fits well here as a study in STATICS. Jesus gave instructions to his disciples about a site for the LAST SUPPER and the day of Pentecost meeting in an upper room. It was similar to finding the Palm Sunday donkey. A paraphrase would be find a man carrying a water jug and ask to borrow his home’s large upper room to meet for a meal.
It is interesting that the same room would serve for a gathering of thirteen people for dinner as well as an assembly of 120 for a prayer meeting. A review of what little is known about the archeology of housing in Jerusalem is that most homes had stone walls. However, roofs and floors for upper rooms were obviously, wood slats undergirded by log rafters. Since the length of most indigenous trees established rafter length, the span was modest, perhaps, eight feet. This restricted upper rooms to a somewhat modest size. Below is an example of the overhead flooring or covered roof area of an upper room.
Note wood flooring above ground level of a Jerusalem home.
Scripture indicates the upper room was large but is silent on the dwelling’s construction. For that reason, when those believers assembled in the “upper room” on the Day of Pentecost, a structural STEM engineer must have been present.
Knowing two story structures were likely not that plentiful for a meeting of 120 men and women, Jesus chose the home judiciously. It would be imagined this would challenge a gathering of His followers for a neighborhood meeting in modern times. This large a group might be problematical structurally considering their total weight. Run the calculation: 120 times, perhaps, 175 pounds on average per person, comes to approximately 20,000 pounds or 10 tons, the weight of 5 medium sized automobiles. The mass of 5 cars over your head would give one pause. This would, indeed be a severe test for the slat/beam structure shown below. But we know that the building stood despite the rejoicing/dancing and general joyous mayhem that ensued with the filling of the 120 with the Holy Spirit.
To divert slightly, I would like the reader to consider an experience of a prayer meeting held in a room over our three car garage decades ago. A popular Bible teacher would speak. This assured a large unpredictable number would stress the support structure of the garage.
The second floor encompassed approximately 600 square feet. Unfortunately, the design did not include supporting wood studs anywhere except around the perimeter on 18” spacing. This left a span of as much as 25 feet unsupported from below. Even without any overhead load of people, the room’s floor noticeably bowed/sunk toward the center. This caused me alarming thoughts about the meeting.
One of the expected attendees was a NASA structural engineer who had designed mechanical systems for Apollo and the Shuttle program. I enlisted his aid, asking for his analysis of the situation. After applying the theory and mathematics which put men on the Moon, he shared his assessment. “Jerry, there could be as many as 100 people in attendance which would be dangerous.” (At least, that was 20 less than the Jerusalem counterpart had as its load.) He continued, “A load of that weight, approximately, 16000 pounds, would certainly damage the sheetrock in the garage ceiling below. Worst, should all converge toward the center of the room, rafters might split leading to a catastrophic failure.” Yes, I thought, that might happen if the speaker asked all to come to the center of the room for prayer.
“So what should I do? I asked. “Limit attendance to, perhaps, 50 people? Cancel the popular speaker for a modest last supper size guest list of less than 12? Place chairs around the interior perimeter and restrict activities to the outer walls?”
I planned refreshments, but I didn’t want this to be the last supper for those who dined.
He answered, “All you need do is create a support beam by nailing two 2X4”s of 8’ length together to form a column. Position a small square piece of plywood atop the post-like column and position both directly beneath the center of the room, pounding the post it in place with a hard rubber mallet.”
I followed the learned NASA engineer’s suggestion and, like the Upper Room’s worshippers two millenniums ago, the upper room survived amidst the wonderful rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit and praises to Christ, our Lord and Savior.
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Yet another biblical STEM strength of materials “theorem” is: “A three cord strand is not easily broken,” which alludes to “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Testing of rope (cord) strength reveals the STEM truth of Scripture as follows: Three wound cords are stronger than 3 individual cords. That is the idea used by cables for suspension bridges. Of course, the three wound together have a larger final diameter, but the outer fibers are not stressed as much as a single cord’s smaller diameter so together they are a stronger rope.
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Thermodynamics of Nebuchadnezzar’s Furnace
The account of the three Hebrew youths, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in the King’s furnace as punishment for failing to honor Nebuchadnezzar’s edict to be worshipped as god-like is especially an appropriate STEM comparison study. A study of biblical ovens, fires, and furnaces assists in assessment of the ancient technology.
The biblical furnace was usually made of brick or stone and designed to heat materials to exceedingly high temperatures for various purposes. In biblical times furnaces were not used for central heating. The furnace of Daniel 3 was likely a considerable size and, perhaps, used for brick firing or ore smelting or even heating/melting metals for shaping or pouring into casts.
What is found most interesting is the comment that it was fired to a temperature “seven times” higher than usual. So one wonders how hot that would be. The date of the Daniel 3 account is around 608 B.C. which was well into the iron age of firing the metal into molds for casting. Iron mined from the ground melts at a temperature of of 2750 degrees F. Now a temperature of seven times that would be about 20,000 degrees F which is unlikely. Likely, the reference to the seven times greater than before had to do with the extent of the fire to heat the surroundings. This would seem to agree that those who threw the three boys in the furnace perished at its mouth indicating the oven was fueled so greatly that surroundings were likewise at oven temperature of nearly 3000 degrees F.
How did the furnace reach such an elevated temperature? To this day, for many scientists, this is a mystery, indicating a high level of material science existed among the ancients. Though there is ample evidence that iron was heated to its molten temperature, reproducing that temperature based on what scientists know the ancients had access to is difficult.
What I find altogether exciting about that ancient furnace potentially having the ability to reach 2750 degrees F has to do with a testimony I often share about the rescue of Apollo 13 as well as the Apollo program.
When President John Kennedy came to Rice University to put forth for the nation plans for putting men on the Moon, he said about the technology of the returning spacecraft that it would reach temperatures, “…about half that of the temperature of the Sun” which, incidentally, is half of 6000 degrees or approximately, the temperature of that fiery furnace of the three Hebrew youths.
So when our Apollo 13 astronauts were descending through the fiery reentry period of their return to Earth, the temperature was about equal to what those three youths were facing in the fiery furnace. And like the experience of millenniums ago, I believe prayer brought into both furnaces that same one, “like as to the Son of God”… Jesus the Lord, Himself.
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Elijah’s Twelve Team of Oxen Plowing
Elisha Driving the 12 Oxen Plowing “Tractor”
I Kings 19:19:
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.
Let’s analyze the above passage from a STEM 21st Century perspective. First of all, it’s doubtful that Elisha had a 24 oxen team to plough a field furrow trench when a single yoke of oxen would suffice. Rather, Elisha is employing the same clever STEM approach that computer makers like Intel use to speed up there processors.
So we now have Dell laptops with I5, I7, and I9 processors giving nine times the speed rather than a single team of microprocessor oxen. Yes, having 12 teams of oxen tractors was impressive, but using them to plough one furrow in the farm field would be altogether stupid. The STEM farmer of Bible times was anything but ignorant.
(Testimony of Soviet clustering of rocketry to augment thrust to win the Moon race in contrast to America’s clever STEM Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Design. The Soviet approach was akin to 12 yoke of oxen plowing a single field furrow. The 12 separate yoke of oxen plows is analogous to multiple Apollo rocket oxen, the S-1 stage, the S-II, S-IVB, the Service Propulsion System, the Lunar Descent Stage, the lunar ascent stage and the Crew Command Module.)
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A motivating reason for THE BIBLICAL STEM STUDY project is the experience and background of the course teacher/book author. Jerry Woodfill’s background as a NASA Engineer for a half century as well as a seeker of Scripture truth relating to STEM concepts for nearly as long is unique.
He has sought to explain a multitude of events in the annals of space and American history from a biblical perspective. This has resulted in a number of books, fiction and non-fiction, correlating biblical and scientific principles in a faith-based fashion. Never denying the miraculous but always relating the STEM background of God’s miracles, Jerry’s teachings often border on God inspired revelations.
As Apollo 11 and Apollo 13’s Spacecraft Warning System Engineer, he experienced just such correlations. Knowing the workings of Apollo spacecraft and rocketry intimately, Jerry was challenged by Apollo 13’s miraculous rescue which led to his conversion to Christ. Wanting to witness his faith by testifying of those 1970s miracles in space, he has travelled the nations in more than a thousand engagements telling the story of STEM miracles wrought by God in the space program.
But there is yet another facet of his experience that leads to a course in Biblical STEM Studies. Speaking on Apollo 13 at a west coast Christian convention, Jerry was told by a guest speaker that he believed the Lord would give Jerry a “witty invention” which would bless NASA and others greatly.
Months later, Jerry conceived, programmed and implemented a vast space education software encyclopedia which provided hundreds of innovations now in daily use 25 years later. For this Jerry was deemed, “The Neil Armstrong of Space Education.” Since then, other witty inventions have been forthcoming. Among them are the authoring of Christa McAuliffe’s LOST LESSONs,” “13 Things That Saved Apollo 13” (published on the mission’s 40th anniversary) as well as “Eleven Things That Saved Apollo 11.”
These innovations have led to presentations for the NASA Alumni League as well as visiting classes of high school and college aerospace scholars to Johnson Space Center where Jerry continues to be employed. So what qualifies Jerry to address Biblical STEM topics from a knowledgeable STEM view point? In a word - experience. Some of that experience with STEM practice and education is listed below:
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1. Apollo Program Spacecraft Warning System Engineer – the only one to serve at NASA in this capacity.
2. The Project Engineer for the innovative Active Passive Multispectral Scanner employing laser airborne technology
3. The Inventor/Designer/Builder of NASA’s first Digital Multispectral Sensor Analysis Laboratory for the Airborne Multispectral Scanner of the NASA JSC Earth Resource Aircraft Program. Using the first PDP-11 Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) computer delivered in Houston, Jerry designed and constructed a digital interface unit and computer facility analyzing the airborne sensor data recorded by the digital recorder aboard the aircraft.
4. The Technical Monitor of the Moderate Temperature Detector Infrared Research Program (authored paper)
5. The Project Engineer for Apollo Command and Service Module and Lunar Module Displays and Controls components and systems.
6. The Orbiter Experiment Program (OEX) Data Manager (included analysis of the Challenger accident data contributing to findings assisting in analysis of the accident forensics).
7. Design and construction of a Gemini Program Astronaut liquid drink meter
8. Analysis of Apollo mission anomalies related to Caution and Warning alarms
9. Writing in-flight instructions for Apollo astronauts to operate and acknowledge the spacecraft warning system function and design
10. Design of Crew Emergency Rescue Vehicle based on innovative sizing and weight estimation algorithm conceived by Jerry as a Advanced Project Definition Office NASA Engineer
11. Conceiving, planning, sizing, and costing manned missions to Mars (1990) based on Apollo STEM experience.
12. Innovation of benefits of clustered booster systems based on algorithm software Jerry conceived as an engineer assigned to NASA JSC’s New Initiatives Office.
13. Technical Manager of innovative flight control guidance system, the Advanced Autopilot Program.
14. The Technical Manager of the Orbiter Flying Qualities Space Shuttle Assessment.
15. The Technical Manager of the Free Drift Attitude Mode Experiment (FDAM) studying use of various drift mode orientations to save thruster activity and fuel
16. The Manager of Payload Environment Configuration for Design and Analysis for space shuttle payload optimization.
17. Computer modeling and animation of Shuttle experiments leading to winning approval for an astronaut deployed crew station controlled free flying video camera and recorder.
18. Multimedia Manager for the New Initiatives Office leading to advances in innovative uses of MacIntosh concepts applied to NASA’s objectives in the DOS pre-windows computer software era
19. Innovation of applying NASA public domain mission study and educational software to educational outreach employing MacIntosh software (HyperCard) adaptation of Space Educators’ Handbook to PC platform software utilizing off-the-shelf ToolBook application software
20. Innovated the digitization of NASA’s Series of Technology Utilization magazines published, formerly, only in paper format under the title SPINOFF - (Jerry converted the text and graphics into a distributable digital copy which was included in his innovative product called THE SPACE EDUCATORS’ HANDBOOK. Among commercial product clones inspired by Jerry’s NASA innovation was an outside company’s version which was awarded BUSINESS WEEK’s Innovative Product of the Year.)
21. Though Christa McAuliffe was not able to perform her lessons planned for her flight, Jerry innovated a digital and printed publication using her video-recorded-practice-sessions in NASA’s zero-g aircraft trainer as well as one-g training mock-ups. Additionally, Jerry recreated Christa’s “never-done-lessons” from brief descriptive narratives of each. Jerry’s recreated lessons could be performed in the classroom with students watching Christa’s video practices at the Johnson Space Center. The Challenger Educational Centers founded after and due to the STS-51L tragedy feature Jerry’s recreated lessons of Christa McAuliffe. They are deemed “Christa’s Lost Lessons” and are being used throughout the world by school children as a science teaching resource/unit.
22. As the Technical Managers’ Representative of the Software, Robotics, and Simulation Division of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Jerry conceived and conducted an Educators’ Robotics Workshop for students. Visiting robotics camps, high schools, and student robotic team sessions, Jerry has presented the workshop several times. The educational module includes learning based on Robonaut and other NASA world premier projects and innovations of the Johnson Space Center Robotics Division Jerry serves.
23. Based on simple rocketry principles, ISP (specific impulse), space system algorithms, and use of rudimentary spreadsheet software (Excel), Jerry formulated a rule of thumb program determining whether a rocket would reach orbit
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By virtue of the above list, Jerry is obviously qualified to analyze a multitude of STEM topics from one who is experienced with the principles and practice of STEM fields and education endeavors. But the uniqueness of a Bible STEM Study is correlating such experience with Bible content from a faith in Christ as Lord and Savior relationship. In that vein, Jerry’s testimony is one of sharing the wonders of God’s creation in the arena of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
This, for Jerry, began with the experience of the rescue of Apollo 13. It led to more than 40 years of study of the relationship of STEM to Apollo 13, prayer, and faith. In 2010, at the 40th anniversary of the rescue of Apollo 13, Jerry suggested to the popular web site UNIVERSE TODAY a series based on revelations Jerry has shared for four decades about the rescue.
The series Jerry suggested was THIRTEEN THINGS THAT SAVED APOLLO 13. At Jerry’s urging, beginning on April 1st of 2010, the first of the thirteen would be discussed and in sequence the remaining items. The last of them would be featured on the 13th of April, 2010, the 40th anniversary of the explosion which detonated April 13th, 1970, 40 years previously. Due to its popularity, the series was extended three more days resulting from requests for Jerry to answer numerous questions by those thousands who had enjoyed the articles. This became the definitive publication for the 40th anniversary of the rescue. Later that year the series competed among the top ten featured on UNIVERSE TODAY for most popular of the year 2010.
Finally, over the past 40 plus years since Jerry’s conversion to Christ, there have been specific studies, presentations, workshops, programs and shows Jerry has developed and presented that correlate uniquely with his experience with the above STEM qualifications. Below is a partial list:
1, Examination of an excellent Christian publication (1973), THE BIBLE IS A SCIENTIFIC BOOK lead to talks on the topic of the amazing references in Scripture to STEM principles, laws, and knowledge centuries prior to their discovery by humans. Subsequently, (2013) Jerry expanded on those suggested in the book to others related to Jerry’s STEM-based NASA role as an electrical engineer, space and rocket scientist. This has resulted in a like-publication THE BIBILE IS A STEM STUDY BOOK.
2. Praying for God’s revelation led Jerry to scores of added topics relating the truth of Scripture to STEM learning and knowledge. Jerry began conceiving lesson plans based on the revelations. The plans dealt with all facets of Bible STEM study and education. Topics deal with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in the investigation of subjects such as the slaying of Goliath (sling physics study), the design of Noah’s Ark from a naval marine perspective, the various mechanisms and physics demonstrated by the ancients as brilliantly utilitarian prior to the age of electricity, internal combustion and like technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries.
3. In becoming aware of the Biblical principle of the “witty invention,” Jerry searched the Scriptures for techniques, technologies, and practices as well as products that surely are the result of God’s providence, that is, the Lord’s plans and purposes. To this end, he included such in a NASA presentation on innovation and invention long before NASA began to emphasize such innovation.
As a result of God’s providence, Jerry was assigned to a NASA JSC created office deemed, NIO or New Initiatives Office. There, Jerry was free to explore and innovate daily new concepts of reaching Mars, more efficient means of placing payloads in orbit and even predicting, based on statistical laws, when a Challenger, Columbia, Apollo One, or Apollo 13 disaster might be expected.
5. Jerry’s investigation of the physics involved in the slaying of Goliath has been cited by Pastors in sermons dealing with the attributes of David as well as the failings of King Saul and Goliath. The STEM analysis of the encounter by Jerry is unique and faith – building.
6. Likewise Jerry’s Biblical STEM studies consider and analyze sailing vessels of the Biblical world beginning with Noah’s ARK, continuing through Jonah’s vessel, the disciples threatened Sea of Galilee boat and concluding with Paul’s shipwreck.
7. The study of Biblical vessels “segways” centuries later, for Jerry, in the seagoing vessels of Christopher Columbus. These ships are treated in a biblical faith based fashion demonstrating the works of Providence in Columbus’s success based on STEM principles.
8. Likewise, Jerry compares the Admiral of the Ocean Sea’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria to Apollo 13’s and Neil Armstrong’s moon-ships from a STEM and Biblical perspective. In order to validate his findings regarding Columbus’ vessels, he requested and participated in a visit to 20th century replicas at port in the Freeport, Texas Marina interviewing the replicated ship’s captain on the design and workings of the medieval sailing vessels.
9. The listing of STEM Biblical topics is exhaustive with each lecture putting forth revelations from Jerry’s STEM background and Bible study. It is the synergy of the two facets of this enterprise that is unique, i.e., each by itself while satisfying, is not nearly as engaging faith-wise and STEM-wise as teamed together as a course/lecture series in Biblical STEM Studies.
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How Will It Benefit Those Who Opt for the
Biblical STEM STUDY series?
From Jerry’s viewpoint, the thrill of being able to impart his discoveries motivates him to offer the program. No compensation is requested, honorariums, travel expenses or offerings. There would be a charge for the course syllabus and any reference materials, altogether less than $10 per student. (Though not required, it is suggested to augment the lectures,) The study is instructive complimenting Scripture Study in a unique way.
It is fashioned to encourage younger students to pursue a STEM career and, of course, to strengthen their faith with STEM based facts about the truth of Scripture.
Additionally, a goal is to enrich the faith of all attendees in the God of the Bible and the truth of Scripture by correlating STEM principles with Biblical text. Undoubtedly, each student will acquire unique tools for witnessing his or her faith in a natural way. Jerry has found that most people enjoy talking about STEM topics which makes the course content a natural gateway to sharing Biblical truth.
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Who Should Attend?
Jerry has presented his talks to family groups composed of grade school children as well as adults. In classroom settings, teachers, mentors, and adults have acknowledged being enriched, engaged, informed and educated equally to their students and children The speaking style is not-preachy but sharing of experiences rather than sermons or lectures. Jerry has been awarded a number of citations for motivational talks, especially to high school and college students. (NASA JSC’s Educational Volunteer of the year.) He has presented exactly the same content to retirement clubs, AARP chapters and received just as positive remarks about his programs. In summary, the entire family would be engaged, informed and educated, yes, and even, entertained.
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As a motivational speaker, Jerry’s goal is from his NASA presentation, “Failure Is Not an Option – Steps to Success.” He desires to plant a seed to spark a desire for education and excellence in all groups, ethnic, age-wise, and educational level. At NASA, he seeks to inspire students: male, female, African American, Hispanic, and Asian to pursue a STEM career. The adaptation to Biblical STEM studies continues that goal with the higher calling of seeking to increase one’s faith in God and His Word through evidence of STEM in Scripture.
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Jerry wants to share his vision with those thinking it might work for their church, school, or group. But his deep-felt desire is not to be “pushy” in offering the program. To that end, he considers it a privilege to visit with one or more involved with candidate institutions to simply present a one hour example of a seminar session for consideration.
No obligation would result from the presentation. Jerry would leave, and the group contact him at a later date if there is interest in the lesson series or simply a single presentation explaining Biblically Based STEM Study. Likely, the study would be held on Sunday or Wednesday evenings, or, perhaps, in the adult Sunday-school hour. For schools, a class session or auditorium presentation could be considered for the series or single presentation. (Again, there is no charge for the program, other than a modest cost for the optional course materials, if the seminar format is chosen. No charge would be requested for a single introductory presentation. For single sessions, a free handout would be given attendees. Jerry has given hundreds of talks on this basis over a score of years.)
Contact Jerry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-474-2974
Throughout Jerry’s NASA career, he has sought to contribute approaches, studies, methods and practices that “no man has done before.” In Captain Kirk fashion he was able to do so in these projects.
One: The Space Educators’ Handbook, a digital data base collecting public domain NASA picture, video, and printed resources organized in a digital distributable (diskettes at first, then CDROM, DVDs, and finally the world wide web as the first of its kind in October of 1989)
Two: Christa McAuliffe’s Lost Lessons, using long forgotten videos of Christa and the Challenger 7, conducting practices of Christa’s planned on-orbit lessons in the NASA JSC mockup facility as well as the zero-g aircraft, the lessons were recreated as though they had been performed in space despite the tragic loss of Christa and her astronaut crewmates.
Three: A dramatic recreation of President John Kennedy’s Rice Stadium Space Race Speech. Present as a student, it motivated Jerry to overcome academic and athletic scholarship failings to graduate with a BSEE degree. The performance has been given 100s of times to educational venues. It became the focus of a student success program – FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” STEPS TO SUCCESS presented hundreds of times for high school and college age youth at NASA JSC and throughout Texas.
Four: An adaptation of the above program for Christian venues where the Scripture Romans 8:28 replaces FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION with “All things work together for good…”
Five: A book called the PROVERBS 32 MAN, adapting men’s verses in Proverbs to an added chapter of Proverbs 32, The Man of Integrity, a counterpart to Chapter 31, the Woman of Virtue
Six: A book of Acts type treatment of Manned Space Exploration based on a “God’s Eye View” from an Acts-like perspective of events in Manned and Terrestrial Space Exploration - The book and website are entitled: SPACE ACTS the SECOND Millennium: Revelations of Space and Terrestrial Exploration. (www.spaceacts.com)
After being a keynote speaker for several college STEM events, Jerry sought to adapt the NASA experience to his Christian faith as yet another project.
However, if he simply treated the endeavor as a summary study reviewing talks, books and Christian publications addressing related works, he really had not accomplished much. His purpose is to contribute new ways of treating STEM as revelation knowledge that few, if any, had previously considered, published or taught. Like many people of the Old and New Testaments, this became a journey where the Lord revealed Himself along the way.
He prayed for revelations in this behalf trying to open his mind and spirit focusing on comparing what he’d experienced STEM-wise in the space program with STEM–like knowledge those in Bible times encountered. At the onset he simply prayed for revelation performing mental journeys, retrieving sermons heard, devotionals read and testimonies spoken for STEM comparisons. As a thought would come to mind, he would begin writing line-by-line what was revealed. From these writings he planned to later organize a twelve lesson seminar.
Jerry realized that God had to be his collaborator and co-author in this endeavor, or it would be a useless pursuit. Of course, he realized that this in no way could be considered Scripture, but simply was to make Scripture come alive in a STEM sense. Hoping to expedite a search for STEM topics in Scripture, a list of 150 Bible stories was assembled. From the account of Balaam’s talking donkey to John’s exile, Jerry examined their content as potential STEM resources. His purpose was to emphasize the level of STEM knowledge and practices among biblical peoples. For example, God’s sustenance of the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years combined the miraculous manna feeding with STEM endeavors of the most advanced types.
This revelation is based on the verse that “neither their clothes nor their shoes wore out.” (Deuteronomy 29:5) From a STEM perspective, this is revealin: Imagine 40 years wearing the same sandals! Yes, God had helped, but, his assistance might have come via discovery of advanced STEM techniques practiced by the thousands of Israeli sojourners and the materials brought with them from Egypt or discovered in the Sinai wilderness.
The Lord revealed an article about an Egyptian fabric discovered to be all but indestructible. So durable was it, as the ancients had woven it, that modern textile companies were considering resurrecting its use from thousands of years in the past. Likewise, the cobblers among those Jewish nomads employed sandal materials better and more pliable than used presently. Curing of shoe leather must have been so advanced that walking those thousands of miles for 40 years would show little wear on sandals or feet. (Scripture also states that their feet did not swell.)
How those thousands of Israelites accomplished such nomadic skills remains, in part a mystery, but it is apparent that an advanced STEM-like capability to know weather patterns, water locations, and logistics of seasonal settling and judicious relocation of tents, herds, and agricultural resources was advantageous for survival.
The point is that in many cases, God did not need to bring water from a rock or manna from above, it was the STEM brilliance of the people which sustained them for 40 years. No Man of Steel, Superman like garments were needed in the case of clothing. What was brought from Egypt or discovered in the Sinai would suffice due to biblical STEM innovation and inventiveness. The Bible simply states that the shoes would not wear out likely by virtue of their use and care. (Jerry recalled he once had a baseball glove which was similar in durability and longevity because care and maintenance preserved it for decades.)
As a side-benefit, Jerry decided to pursue a study of adapting the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness to sustaining life for human exploration of the solar system. If the same practices can be extended to space exploration, our astronauts, living on Mars in future years, will greatly benefit.
NASA had done a similar study in adapting settler practices of American wagon trains journeying west. Their horses and oxen needed oats to sustain them. Rather than transport the livestock feed west in “feed-wagons”, the settlers counted on the vegetation along the way. The principle is employed by NASA’s plans to colonize the Moon. It is known as using “in situ” resources to synthesize oxygen from lunar rocks rather than launching oxygen tanks from Earth to Moon for Moon base use.
Jerry, in this study, hopes to discover similar benefits for human solar system exploration. With the Lord as his partner, perhaps, this will be the case.
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