There are many misconceptions and contradictions in old religions, yet the “best” must be those associated with outdated knowledge of our place in the universe.
Thinking of Earth as the center of everything, and of one’s own location as the center of Earth — this perception might be considered arrogant, but it comes naturally with ancient knowledge. After all this is what we see at first glance. Basing one’s rules on this perception is nothing more than the next natural step.
The less natural process is to keep things in place after you do learn new things. This is the stage when hilarious problems may pop out, with even more hilarious solutions.
Take our solar system for example. For years we simply “knew” the Sun travels from east to west during daytime. Old cultures wondered about the location of the Sun during the night, and came up with astonishing explanations. Some even included mysterious openings in the sky, through which the Sun escapes in the evening (ancient Talmudic discussion), and with that came a myriad of religious rules associated with this strange orbit.
The cycles of the moon also gave birth to many pseudo-scientific theories, with which came many more rules and rituals. Equipped with our modern knowledge, much of this looks extremely funny. How do you bless the new moon when you’re on it? Struggling to maintain the old traditions, modern rabbis and priests find solutions to such tough problems. Still the real question is not how you do it, but why keep doing it now you know it’s not a “new” moon at all?
Such conflicts between science and traditions are often presented by preachers as “no problem at all”, which only makes the problem worse. Thus we are left with rules about “keeping the Shabbat” while crossing the international dateline or travelling in space, and with rituals concerning the Foundation Stone in Jerusalem, allegedly used to spawn the whole world, in practice largely made of Cretaceous shells of oceanic creatures.