it was my very first doubt on this blog). But when thinking about the difference between the scientific method and the religions method the other day, I found myself thinking about the rainbow after the flood. Science does a pretty good job of explaining why there is a rainbow when the sun comes out, after the rain.
What I find interesting about the religious explanation is that the majority of Christians these days don't seem to understand the symbolism that is in the original text, and so they misunderstand the original intent of the story, as far as I can tell.
Modern translations tend to say something like this: "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:13 NIV).
Older (and more literal translations) say something more like this: "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:13 KJV).
Not much of a difference, you're probably thinking, 'bow' and 'rainbow' are basically the same thing, aren't they? Well, no. A rainbow is a rainbow, but a bow can mean a rainbow, or it could mean a weapon, as in a bow and arrow. Indeed, this appears to be the primary meaning of the word as used in the OT Hebrew.
What has just happened in the biblical story? God has warred against humanity and pretty much wiped it out. The appearance of a rainbow is explained as being a symbol (or maybe the real thing) of God putting down his weapon as a token that he is at war with us no more. So whenever we see the bow in the sky, we know that it is not in his hands, ready to unleash death on us again.
But by translating Genesis with the word 'rainbow', the entire message of this verse is lost. The bow switches from being a sign of war (albeit war ended) to being a sign of peace.
A very minor thought, but I thought I'd share it... I wonder how many other subtleties like this have been lost in translation?