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Science And The Bible
 
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Published: 17 years ago
 

Science And The Bible



Skeptics tell us that Science contradicts the Bible, but all the evidence of the last 200 years refutes that! The truth is: The only Science that really contradicts the Bible is bad science. Students on college campuses today believe that Science does, indeed, contradict the Bible because of the teaching of biased and uninformed professors. It is high time Christians learned the truth--that though the Bible is not a textbook on science, every one of its claims about the physical universe is true. Throughout history, whenever the Bible has contradicted science--the Bible is not the one that has had to change! In fact, if one looks at a science textbook from 50 or 100 years ago, it is truly amazing to consider the number of things that were stated as the assured results of science, which are now known to be untrue!

For example, 100 years ago it was emphatically stated that the atom could not be split. Yet, we know all too well, as do the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it can be split, and with powerful consequences! No, the Bible is not a science textbook--it is a narrative of God's reaching out to a lost world by redeeming it. However, whatever the Bible says about science, history, geography, or anything else, it is true--precisely because its Author is God. It is our job to be able to explain that to the skeptics who come our way.

THE INNUMERABLE STARS:
For centuries, scholars taught that the stars were very limited in number and could be counted without a great deal of trouble. Hiparchus, in 150 B.C., said that there were less than 3,000 stars. Ptolemy, the famed astronomer of Egypt in 150 A.D., said he had counted precisely 1,056 stars. Yet Jeremiah 33:22--which was written 2,600 years ago--told us that "the host of heaven cannot be numbered." It was not until Galileo invented the telescope that he realized the stars were innumerable (in 1608 A.D.)

A WATERY EARTH:
In 1000 B.C. Solomon said that the earth had at one time been under water, yet vast numbers of scientists believed that to be absolutely untrue until modern times. In 1885 geologists first found evidence that all land surfaces had been under water--and it is clear now that even the oldest and highest mountains show traces of sedimentary origin.

CHANNELS IN THE SEA:
In 2000 B.C. the Bible first said that there are channels in the oceans (Job 38:16), but science didn't know that for thousands of years. They thought the floor of the ocean was made up of flat sandy beds like the desert. It wasn't until 1873, when the British ship Challenger examined the sea bottom, that scientists discovered there were vast channels and recesses--some as much as 5 1/2 miles deep and greater than the Grand Canyon--at the bottom of the sea.

SPRINGS IN THE DEEP:
God asks Job (Job 38) if he had entered into the "springs of the sea." Why, such things were unheard of! Yet Moses confirms their existence 500 years later. Science didn't confirm it until 1930, when deepsea diving equipment allowed them to discover underground rivers and in 1945, when huge springs were discovered in the depths of the oceans.

WHAT CAUSES RAIN?:
Job 38:25-27 reveals that lightening causes rain! But science didn't agree until 4,000 years later when, in 1964, it was discovered that the discharge of lightening, particularly bolts that travel from the earth up to the clouds, changed the electrical polarity of rain droplets, causing them to coalesce as raindrops and fall to the earth. Tests show that without this electrical charge, these droplets simply ricochet off one another harmlessly.

THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS:
The Bible teaches that all creation ended after the 6th day (Genesis 2:1-2; Hebrews 4:3). That means there was no more matter, energy, heavens, or earth being created after that time. However, through the centuries various writers and scientists contradicted that concept until the 1840's, when Robert Mayer formulated the Law of Mass and Energy Conservation--known as the first Law of Thermodynamics. It states that the total of all mass and energy in the universe remains constant. One form of energy or mass may be changed into another, but the total cannot be increased or decreased. This was an incredible discovery that once and for all confirmed what the Bible said 1,450 years before Christ. Shortly after that, they realized that though mass and energy remain constant, they are constantly decaying. The Bible states this in Isaiah 51:6, Psalms 102:26, and Hebrews 1:1. But it was not until the 1800's that the Second Law of Thermodynamics--the Law of Entropy--confirmed it with science. It was found that there is a constant amount of energy in the universe, but in all kinds of energy transferences there is a loss of useful energy. For example, in creating heat, the sun is diminishing at the rate of 4,600,000 tons per second! And it is not just the sun; the Law of Entropy says all things are growing older, wearing out, running down, and decaying. The Bible knew that thousands of years ago.

WHAT IS THE UNIVERSE MADE OF?:
There are a number of theories, but the Bible says it was made out of nothing which appears. In other words, it was made out of things that are invisible (Hebrews 11:3). It wasn't until approximately 100 years ago that W.C. Roentgen discovered the X-ray and in the 1920's when the electron microscope came into existence, that science ascertained that the universe was literally made of invisible atoms.

WHAT HOLDS THE ATOM TOGETHER?:
The parts of the nucleus of the atom are so charged that they should repel each other--to the degree that every atom in the universe ought to be engaged in an atomic explosion! However, scientists have found something they call a "force" which holds atoms together and keeps them from exploding. Science can't even explain this force; they have merely given it a name. What is it? The Bible says it is Christ that is keeping the universe from flying apart (Colossians 1:17)

DIVISIONS OF CREATION:
The first chapter of Genesis tells us there are 3 divisions of created things; vv. 1-10 tell of the origin of minerals; vv. 11-13 tell of the origin of the vegetable kingdom; and vs. 20-31 tell of the origin of the animal kingdom. These were not known in any of the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, Asyria, or Babylonia but they were discovered by Carlous Linnaeus in modern times.

ONE BLOOD:
It is obvious today that all mankind is of one blood, because we can donate and help one another with our blood. The Bible stated it in Acts 17:26, but science didn't concur until thousands of years later. As recently as 1775, anthropology taught that there were five incompatible races of men with different kinds of blood. It was not until 1900 that Karl Landsteiner discovered plasma and helped science understand the Common Blood Theory--that all blood was the same.

(Does Science contradict the Bible? Dr. D. James Kennedy)

Science And The Bible
The conflict between science and the Bible has been bitter, especially in the last 150 years. Most reasons for this hostility relate to what one perceives to be the nature and procedure of either domain. For many, the alleged conflict is resolved by separating the two spheres entirely. This is sometimes done by limiting the role of religion or the Bible to matters of faith and science to matters of fact. Specifically, some Christians in science argue that the Bible tells us “Who and Why” (God), and science deals with “How.”

However, this neat separation of the domains of science and the Bible is unsatisfactory since the Bible does not so limit itself to questions of Who and Why. It often makes assertions of fact about the scientific world. Neither does science limit itself merely to questions of How. It also deals with origins.

From a Christian perspective the relation between the Bible and Nature is the relation between two revelations of God, special revelation and general revelation. The first is found in God’s revelation in Scripture and the latter in his revelation in Nature. Between these two, when properly understood, there are no conflicts, since God is the Author of both, and he cannot contradict himself.

However, since scientific understanding is merely a fallible human understanding of Nature and since Bible scholars have only a fallible interpretation of infallible Scripture, it is understandable that there will be contradictions in these areas. The situation can be diagrammed as follows:

1. Scripture----no conflict

2. Theology----some conflict
Biblical theology involves human understanding of the biblical text. As such, it is subject to misunderstanding and error. Likewise, science is fallible human attempts at understanding the universe. So conflict is inevitable. For example, most scientists believe the universe is billions of years old. Some Bible scholars hold that it is only thousands of years old. Obviously, both cannot be right.

Principles of Reconciliation
Before areas of specific conflicts are noticed, several guidelines are useful to the nature and procedure of both disciplines.

Either Group Is Subject to Error
Informed persons from both sides, both Bible interpreters and scientists, have made mistakes. Many Bible scholars once believed the sun revolved around the earth (as did many scientists); some believed the earth to be square. But they were wrong. Likewise, the model of an eternal cosmos has been discarded in favor of the big bang model. Evolutionary theories about inheriting acquired characteristics have been overthrown.

Either Group Is Subject to Correction
Another important principle is that both areas are subject to correction by the other. For example, scientific fact has refuted the flat-earth theory. Hence, any interpretation that takes verses about the “four corners of the earth” as literal depictions of geography are wrong. Science has proven them wrong.

Likewise, scientists who insist that the universe is eternal hold a theory that has been proven false, both by science and in critiques by Christians.

Not all conflicts are so easily resolved
Very few things are proven with certainty in science. Some things are only probable or highly probable. For example, that the earth moves around the sun is not absolutely proven. This theory fits the facts as they are known and is a highly probable scientific interpretation of Nature that conflicts with a disputable interpretation of Scripture, then we should assume the latter is wrong. And vice versa. For example, macro-evolution is disputable and the creation of the universe, first life, and new life forms is highly probable. Hence, creation should be accepted as true and macro-evolution rejected.

The Bible Is Not a Science Textbook
One principle that some overzealous Christian apologists sometimes forget is that, while the Bible makes no scientific mistakes, neither is it a science textbook. It does not speak in technical scientific terms nor with precision. It uses round numbers. It employs observational, rather than astronomical, language. The Bible only affirms partial truths in the various areas of science. It does not teach much geometry, any algebra, or trigonometry. One cannot assume conflicts without taking these factors into consideration.

Science Is Constantly Changing
Science understandings change continually. That means an apologist of years ago who succeeded in reconciling the Bible to some view of science might have been absolutely wrong since there wasn’t a real conflict to reconcile. Perfect conformity may be wrong today as well, since science may change tomorrow. Given that science is a tentative and progressive discipline, never reaching a final conclusion on everything, it behooves us not to assume that there are scientific errors in the Bible unless:

1. Something is known for certain to be a scientific fact, and

2. It conflicts with an interpretation of Scripture that is beyond all doubt.
For example, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible teaches that a theistic God exists. Hence, one would have to prove that it was a scientific fact beyond all uncertainty that God did not exist in order to show a real conflict. It is unlikely that real conflicts between science and the Bible will ever be demonstrated. Some apparent conflicts deserve note, along with some probable and even highly probable views of modern science that find an amazing parallel in the Bible. It is to these that we first turn.

Bible and Science Converge
Given that not much scientific information was known in Bible times, the Bible speaks with considerable scientific credibility, an evidence of its supernatural nature.

Origins, Universe had a beginning
The very first verse of the Bible proclaims that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It was common in ancient views to consider the universe eternal, yet the Bible taught that it had a beginning. This is precisely what most scientists now believe in accepting the Big Bang theory. Agnostic astrophysicist Robert Jastrow wrote that “three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion: All indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (God and the Astronomers, 111).

Order of events
Genesis 1 also indicates a progressive creation, universe, followed by formless earth, followed by what happened to give form to the earth. This is a much more scientifically sophisticated conception than held by the common ancient creation story. The Bible affirms that God said in the beginning, “Let there be light. And there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Jastrow wrote of the parallel of this statement with modern science, “the details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commence suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy” (ibid., 14).

No new matter is being created
The Bible declared from the beginning that creation is complete. God rested from his work (Gen. 2:2) and is still at rest (Heb. 4:4f.). In short, no new matter (energy) is coming into existence. This is precisely what the First Law of Thermodynamics declares, namely, that the amount of actual energy in the universe remains constant.

Universe is running down
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the universe is running out of useable energy. It is literally growing old. This is precisely what the Psalmist said: “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded” (Ps. 102:25–27).

Genesis declares that life first appeared in the sea (Gen. 1:21), and only later on land (1:26–27). This accords with the view that multicellular life teamed in the Cambrian waters before it multiplied on land.

Life produces after its kind. In Genesis 1:24 God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” According to agnostic paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, “Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless” (Gould, “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” 13–14). In that fossil record, as in Genesis, human beings were the last to appear.

Humans made from the earth
Unlike ancient myths or the Qur’an, which claims that humans were made from a “clot of congealed blood” (see Sura 23:14), the Bible states that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). Further, it adds, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). According to science, the constituent elements of the human body are the same as those found in the earth.

Earth Sciences
Water returns to its source. Scripture affirms that “All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again” (Eccles. 1:7; cf. Job 37:16). While the author may not have been aware of the exact process of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, his description is in perfect harmony with these processes.

The earth is round
Isaiah spoke of God who “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (40:22). This is a remarkably accurate description for an eighth-century b.c. prophet (see Isaiah, Deuteronomy). And Solomon had given the same truth in the tenth-century b.c. (Prov. 8:27).

The earth hangs in space
In an era when it was common to believe the sky was a solid dome, the Bible accurately speaks of God spreading out the northern skies over empty space and suspending the earth over nothing (Job 26:7).

The Bible is not only compatible with true scientific findings, but it anticipated many of them. Scientific knowledge is compatible with the truths of Scripture.

Other scientific findings
Many other things discovered by modern science were stated in the Bible hundreds and even thousands of years in advance. These include the fact that: (1) the sea has paths and channels (2 Sam. 22:16; Ps. 8:8; Prov. 8:28); (2) the sea has boundaries (Prov. 8:29); (3) life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11); (4) disease can be spread by physical contact (Lev. 13).

Geisler, N. L. 1999. Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Baker reference library . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.

Can the Bible be Trusted in Science and History?
Some have suggested that Scripture can always be trusted on moral matters, but it is not always correct on historical matters. They rely on it in the spiritual domain, but not in the sphere of science. If true, however, this would render the Bible ineffective as a divine authority, since the spiritual is often inextricably interwoven with the historical and scientific.

A close examination of Scripture reveals that the scientific (factual) and spiritual truths of Scripture are often inseparable. For example, one cannot separate the spiritual truth of Christ’s resurrection from the fact that His body permanently vacated the tomb and later physically appeared (Matt. 28:6; 1 Cor. 15:13–19). Likewise, if Jesus was not born of a biological virgin, then He is no different from the rest of the human race on whom the stigma of Adam’s sin rests (Rom. 5:12).

Likewise, the death of Christ for our sins cannot be detached from His shedding literal blood on the cross, for “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). And Adam’s existence and fall cannot be a myth. If there were no literal Adam and no actual fall, then the spiritual teaching about inherited sin and eventual or physical death are wrong (Rom. 5:12). Historical reality and the theological doctrine stand or fall together.

Also, the doctrine of the Incarnation is inseparable from the historical truth about Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1, 14). Further, Jesus’ moral teaching about marriage was based on His teaching about God’s joining a literal Adam and Eve together in marriage (Matt. 19:4–5). In each of these cases the moral or theological teaching is devoid of its meaning apart from the historical or factual event. If one denies that the literal space-time event occurred, then there is no basis for believing the scriptural doctrine built upon it.

Jesus often directly compared OT events with important spiritual truths, such as His death and resurrection which were related to Jonah and the great fish (Matt. 12:40). Or, His second coming as compared to the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37–39). Both the occasion and the manner of that comparison make it clear that Jesus was affirming the historicity of those OT events. Indeed, Jesus asserted to Nicodemus, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)

In short, if the Bible does not speak truthfully about the physical world, then it cannot be trusted when it speaks about the spiritual world. The two are intimately related.

Inspiration includes not only all that the Bible explicitly teaches, but also everything the Bible touches. This is true whether the Bible is touching upon history, science, or mathematics. Whatever the Bible declares, is true—whether it is a major point or a minor point. The Bible is God’s Word, and God does not deviate from the truth in any point. All the parts are as true as the whole that they comprise.

(Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. 1992. When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties . Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.)

 

 
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