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Is the Astronomy in the Book of Job Scientifically Consistent?
by J Warner Wallace
Yesterday I posted a number of scientific consistencies found in the Old Testament. While I think there are good reasons why God might not reveal advanced scientific details in Scripture, I do expect God’s Word to be scientifically consistent with the world we experience. One interesting scientific consistency seems to exist in the ancient book of Job. I am obviously not a scientist or astronomer, so I’ll try to provide links to the references you might use to further investigate these claims. As you may remember, Job was extremely wealthy and had a large family. Tragedy struck and Job lost his wealth, his children and his wife. Job eventually began to accuse God of being unjust and unkind. In response to Job’s complaining, God challenged Job’s authority and power relative to His own. God asked the following series of questions to demonstrate Job’s comparative weakness:
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
The text refers to three constellations, Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus (the fourth, Mazzaroth, is still unknown to us). In the first part of the verse, God challenged Job’s ability to “bind the sweet influences of Pleiades.” It’s as if He was saying, “Hey Job, you think you can keep Pleiades together? Well, I can!” As it turns out, the Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters) is an open star cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is classified as an
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open cluster because it is a group of hundreds of stars formed from the same cosmic cloud. They are approximately the same age and have roughly the same chemical composition. Most importantly, they are bound to one another by mutual gravitational attraction. Isabel Lewis of the United States Naval Observatory (quoted by Phillip L. Knox in Wonder Worlds) said, “Astronomers have identified 250 stars as actual members of this group, all sharing in a common motion and drifting through space in the same direction.” Lewis said they are “journeying onward together through the immensity of space.” Dr. Robert J. Trumpler (quoted in the same book) said, “Over 25,000 individual measures of the Pleiades stars are now available, and their study led to the important discovery that the whole cluster is moving in a southeasterly direction. The Pleiades stars may thus be compared to a swarm of birds, flying together to a distant goal. This leaves no doubt that the Pleiades are not a temporary or accidental agglomeration of stars, but a system in which the stars are bound together by a close kinship.” From our perspective on Earth, the Pleiades will not change in appearance; these stars are marching together in formation toward the same destination, bound in unison, just as God described them.
The next section of the verse describes the Orion constellation. God once again challenged Job, this time to “loose the bands of Orion.” God was referencing the “belt” of Orion; the three stars forming the linear “band” at Orion’s waist. God appeared to be challenging Job in just the opposite way he had in the first portion of the verse. Rather than bind the Pleiades, God challenged Job to loosen Orion. It’s as if He was saying, “Hey Job, you think you can loosen Orion’s belt? Well, I can!” Orion’s belt is formed by two stars (Alnilam, and Mintaka) and one star cluster (Alnitak). Alnitak is actually a triple star system at the eastern edge of Orion’s belt. These stars (along with all the other stars forming Orion) are not gravitationally bound like those in Pleiades. Instead, the stars of Orion’s belt are heading in different directions…