Did Goliath Need Glasses?

  Most of us think of Goliath, the Philistine giant slain by David, as someone huge and fierce-looking. According to a new theory, however, there's one more detail we can add to our mental picture: glasses. Well, not glasses perhaps, but certainly the need for an eye doctor. While this theory may be one scientist's fanciful speculation, it is, nevertheless, an example of the new-found respect that science is showing for the words of Scripture. According to Vladimir Berginer, a professor of neurology at Ben Gurion University in Israel, Goliath may have been suffering from a condition known as acromegaly, a disease that affects the pituitary gland. With this condition, a benign tumor on the pituitary gland would cause too much growth hormone to be released, causing the gigantism described in the Bible. In addition, people suffering from acromegaly often suffer from tunnel vision which restricts their field of vision to a narrow area directly in front of them. According to Berginer, this condition not only explains Goliath's great height, it also explains why David was able to defeat him so easily—Goliath never saw him coming. Berginer has submitted a paper about his theory to a London journal. I don't know whether his theory holds water, but it's worth noting that scientists are increasingly using biblical texts in their research. This is an about-face from the way academics regarded the Bible just a few years ago. As Jeffery Sheler points out in his new book, Is The Bible True?, for more than a century fields such as archaeology and biblical scholarship were dominated by what could be called "minimalists"—people who believed that the Bible contains little or no history. When scientific methods were applied to the Bible, it was usually an effort to disprove the truth of biblical narratives. But the past few decades have seen what Sheler calls "refreshing winds of change" blowing across the biblical landscape. Sheler says " biblical archeology... [has] produced breathtaking discoveries that... [shed light] on the historicity of the scriptures." These discoveries have corroborated biblical narratives that earlier scholars had written off as myth. Now, scholars like Berginer are beginning to look to the Bible as history. Not so long ago, no scholar would have dreamed of submitting a paper on Goliath to a scientific journal—not when his peers believed that Goliath was a fictional character. But the growing body of scientific evidence now means that Berginer's hypothesis are beginning to be taken seriously. Parts of what the Bible says are, frankly, beyond the scientific method—the resurrection of Jesus and life after death are just two examples. But the kind of discoveries that Sheler describes in his book sends a clear message: Believing what the Bible says is a very reasonable thing to do. In fact, simply dismissing the Bible out-of-hand is ignorance. Over the next few weeks, I'll be telling you more about exciting developments in biblical archaeology that you will want to share with your neighbors. Because there's a worse kind of tunnel-vision that the one that may have cost Goliath his head: It's the kind that blinds us to the truth of Scripture.


Chuck Colson


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