The specific miracle referred to is in Joshua Chapter 10:Verses 12-13. Joshua is in a spot of bother on the battlefield. The Lord answers Joshua’s pleas, and prolongs the sunlight by ‘about a day’ so that Joshua has enough sunlight to win the battle. What’s so special about this miracle? Well, the story goes that this miracle can explain the on-going problem that some NASA scientists have. They’re the ones at the Greenbelt Goddard Space Center in Maryland. Their computer calculates what’s called the ‘ephemeris’ – a catalogue of what goes on in the heavens. It’s a list of the locations of the sun, moon, planets, stars, satellites, etc. When, as a test exercise, the NASA scientists ran the computer back in time, it ground to a halt with a pathetic blaze of flashing red lights. According to the story, the computer had found ‘The Missing Day’ – proof that God stopped the world turning, so that Joshua could slay his enemies.
1890 Charles Adiel Lewis Totten:
This myth began way back in 1890, when Charles Adiel Lewis Totten published his book, Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz – A Scientific Vindication. Charles Totten was not a scientist of standing – instead, he was an Army Lieutenant who had been lent out to Yale from 1889 to 1892 to teach military tactics and science to the students. He ‘showed’ (with very dodgy methodology) how Joshua’s miracle neatly explained a one-day gap in the 6,000+ year age of our universe. You can see one problem right away – the Universe is many billions of years older than 6,000 years.
1927 Dr. Harry Rimmer:
In 1927, a certain Dr. Harry Rimmer wrote his book, Harmony of Science and Scripture He devoted an entire chapter, Modern Science and the Long Day of Joshua, to how Lieutenant Totten converted an agnostic astronomer who had come across this Missing Day, by showing him the Bible. Surprisingly, Totten did not ever write this story – it was a total fabrication by Rimmer.
So now, computers enter the story.
1960’s Harold Hill:
In the 1960s, Harold Hill, who claimed that he was a consultant to NASA, began telling this same tale about Joshua’s miracle and The Missing Day. Around this time, NASA was very much in the public eye because of the race to the Moon, so claiming a link to NASA was very hip. So Hill suitably modernized his fable by adding some new-fangled impressive technology called ‘computers’. One of his talks was taped, transcribed and then passed on to the journalist, Mary Kathryn Bryan. She then published the story in her regular Mary Kay’s Kollum in the Spencer (Indiana) Evening World newspaper on October 10, 1969, a few months after the first landings on the Moon. It attracted incredible interest at the time.
But once again, there were a few problems with the truth of the story. Various newspaper journalists who tracked down Harold Hill and interviewed him face-to-face were never able to get any documentation confirming the computer finding the Missing Day. Similarly, NASA at Greenbelt released a statement denying the incident. NASA also denied that Hill had even been a consultant for them.
But ignore the lies and exaggerations, and just think about the idea of a Missing Day. You can measure the length of a piece of string only if you can get to both ends of the string. In the same way, you can find a missing day only if you have known dates on each side of the missing day. Eclipses are ideal for this purpose, because they are such well-documented and memorable events. But at the time of Harold Hill’s lectures, the earliest documented eclipse was in 1217 BC, nearly two centuries after Joshua battled the Forces of Evil. In Harold Hill’s day, there were no eclipses documented before the time of Joshua, and so there was no way to find a Missing Day. It’s mathematically impossible.
Bert Thompson, a religious man himself, wrote an article on this Missing Day in the publication, Reason and Revelation – A Monthly Journal on Christian Evidences. He wrote,