Stretching the North Over the Void — Job 26:7a

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen…”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

With a sufficiently powerful telescope and a sufficient amount of time to look, we could probably find just about anything in space. A nebula shaped like a horse’s head. Clouds of interstellar gas that look like a hand. Perhaps someday an asteroid that bears a striking resemblance to the United States’ thirty-third president.

We can’t even say that all of the non-gas cloud, non-rocky body, non-star space is even empty space anymore. Radiation. Dust. Quantum foam.

So-called empty space is filled with so much stuff that it would be completely false (or at least misguided) to call it “empty.” I can certainly understand why space was once thought to be empty, but that was a long time ago.

It is that lack of voidness in the so-called void of space which interests us here. Let’s turn to the Bible.

He stretches out the north over the void …

Job 26:7a, ESV

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: This verse tells us that God stretched out the north [ref]From the world of the Bible, that would include Europe, Asia, and of course the frigid far north.[/ref] over a vast emptiness, which is exactly what we would expect an author to say if he also believed the earth was flat and existed in a vast nothingness.

But let’s not let the obvious stand in the way of apologists. “There is a place void of stars in the North,” says one. [ref]The Official King James Bible Online[/ref] Fortunately, a second apologist fills in the details by pointing to a 300 million light-year “void” in space, in the direction of the constellation Boötes, which is notably empty of galaxies. [ref][/ref] Boötes is in the northern sky, so it is reasoned that this empty expanse of space must be what the Book of Job is referring to.

The discovery of that rather empty expanse of space took place decades ago according to excerpt cited by the apologist. The New York Times reported the discovery as well, and it’s reporting doesn’t lead us to a fullfillment of biblical prescience, but instead remains grounded in scientific discovery and even points out that the void is likely anything but “void.”

Of course, all of that was in 1981, and science has marched on, since finding even larger “voids” which continue to have as little to do with the biblical text than the aforementioned one.

To wrap it all up, comparatively empty areas in space are not “void,” and even if they were “stretched out” over the North, the Bible says that the North should be stretched out over them.

There is no scientific prescience exhibited by Job 26:7.

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