A commonly held belief today is that you can’t be both a Christian and a scientist since scientists live by the light of reason and not faith. Interestingly, the reason man was originally bold enough to venture scientific theories was because scientists believed in a rationally thinking God, a God of law and order, and therefore believed there must be knowable laws and orders governing the universe. After this period (known as the Enlightenment), many scientists saw no need for God because they had discovered the laws God set up years ago.
Are the Bible and science compatible or incompatible? That’s the subject of this lesson.
Point 1: What Is the Bible For?
The Bible was written not as a science book but to deal with man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with man.
It is a book to teach us how to be saved and to help us with our daily life.
2 Timothy 3:14-17: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
As such, it is an abuse of the Bible to try and use it as a science book.
Analogy: Though a telephone directory contains words in alphabetical order, we would never use it as a dictionary. Similarly, if we wanted to order a pizza we would not have much success looking up the P’s in the dictionary. We have to use something for the purpose for which it was intended!
Where the Bible references science, it is dead accurate.
- The water cycle in Ecclesiastes 1:7, Amos 5:8 and Job 36:27 was really only understood in the 1800’s.
- In Genesis through Deuteronomy, many medical principles are embedded in the hygienic laws for the Israelites—principles which have only been understood in the last few hundred years.
- Only in recent years has science discovered that everything we see is composed of invisible atoms. Here, Scripture tells us that by stating, “so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).
- Medical science has only recently discovered that blood-clotting in a newborn reaches its peak on the eighth day, then drops. The Bible consistently says that a baby must be circumcised on the eighth day.
- At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth as free floating in space: “He…hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).
- Solomon described a “cycle” of air currents two thousand years before scientists “discovered” them. “The wind goes toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits” (Ecclesiastes 1:6).
- Luke 17:34–36 says that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur while some are asleep at night and others working at daytime activities in the field. This is a clear indication of a revolving earth, with day and night at the same time. Luke 17:34–36: “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
The Bible’s accuracy on scientific matters is in sharp contrast with books like the Qur’an, which states that the sun and stars revolve around the earth (21:33). Shooting stars protect galaxies from evil spirits (15:18). Weird?
Since the Bible deals primarily with man’s relationship with his creator, it tells us more of the “why’s” in life vs the “how’s.”
Consider the following illustration.
It was a warm summer evening. Two people were walking along the beach listening to the gentle lapping of the waves and looking at the star-studded sky. They both spotted a light flashing out at sea. One of them was a retired physicist, the kind of scientist who thought of nothing but his work. Science was his life. He rushed to his car, where, being the sort of person he was, he kept all kinds of scientific equipment. He got out a stopwatch and timed the flashes. He got a photometer and measured the brightness of the flashes. He set up a spectrometer and recorded their spectrum. He noted the position of the light against the background of stars. As he drove home along the coastal road he stopped a couple of times and noted the position again, doing some triangulation calculations. When he got home his wife said, “You seem excited dear; did you see something interesting tonight?” “Yes,” he said, “I saw what I deduced was a heated tungsten filament of 2,500 lumens from a distance of about 850 metres off shore.”
The other person on the beach that night was a teenager going home from Sea Scouts. When he got home his mother said, “You look excited, dear, did you see something interesting tonight?” “Yes,” he said, “I saw a boat signalling SOS and telephoned the coast-guard, and they sent out the lifeboat.”
Life is about perspective. We miss the meaning of life if we only ask the how’s and not the why’s!
Point 2: Is the Bible a Science Book?
No! Be glad that the Bible was not written as a science book. If it was, these would be some of the drawbacks.
- The Bible would be tediously long, exhaustive and exhausting, as every aspect of science would be covered.
- The false notion that “scientific truth” is “the truth” would be upheld. There are intangibles in life like faith, love and hope that cannot be scientifically quantified and would therefore have no mention in a science book – it simply would not meet your needs!
- No-one would have been able to understand it when it was written.
- What would be up-to-date in 50 years’ time and included in the Bible would be beyond us now!
- The central message of the gospel would be lost as we trust in science as our saviour.
As it is, the Bible is thick enough to last a lifetime of careful study but thin enough not to be overwhelming. God is wise and knows what he is doing.
Ecclesiastes 12:12: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.”
Point 3: What About Science in Genesis?
We live in an age in which the history of evolution and the big bang are often parroted as reasons for not believing. What does the book of Genesis tell us scientifically?
- Dinosaurs – Not mentioned at all in Genesis. Dinosaurs had no real significance to ancient man. The Bible wasn’t just written for us today but for people thousands of years ago – why fill it with unnecessary details about giant creatures that ancient man would have seen no evidence for – this would not have helped (Also there is a theory that the earth was made mature, with fossils)
- Definite beginnings – Until the 1960’s, many scientists still held to the belief that the universe always existed, though now we understand this conclusively not to be the case, just as the book of Genesis tells us: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
- Beginning not by chance – A random beginning cannot adequately explain the obvious design features in creation.
- Structure and order – This is the basis on which modern scientists first ventured when seeking laws that govern the universe. They believe that a rational God must have created the universe. Therefore there were rational, knowable laws. Even today, the search for the “Higgs boson,” or “God Particle,” the missing link of science, is proof that scientists know there are holes in their theories about which they are still looking for answers.
- Original conditions on earth not suited for life – God had to create the right conditions. Genesis 1:2-28 describes the order of what Man falsely calls evolution, and where man is still looking for the missing link such as worm blooded animal from cold blooded animal, God says there is not one. I made the fish in the sea FULL STOP, then I made the warm blooded animals.
- Orderly progress or progression – God started small and simple and worked up from there.
- There are certain limits of reproduction – God started small and worked up from there.
- Man is the apex of creation – He is not an afterthought.
- Dimensions of the ark – The established dimensions for a sea-worth vessel are 30 x 5 x 3. In fact, the first cement ship ever launched had the dimensions of 30 x 5 x 3 – these are the basic ratios long established by trial and error for maximum sea-worthiness. These are the dimensions that God instructed Noah to use in building the ark
Point 4: Has Science removed God?
Modern man suspects that, given enough time, science will be able to explain everything and maybe even to accomplish anything. If this is the case, then we could question: who needs God? Science indeed has its place, but must be kept in the right place. Science is often given the wrong place in life because of two illusions.
A. The illusion of complexity: It seems to many that faith is for simpletons and science is for the intelligent because it deals with extremely complicated matters. However, complexity is also a very good argument for intelligent design.
Beware of being swamped in grand sounding facts and possibilities that present more of a smoke screen than the truth. Keep in mind that the line between facts and theories is often fuzzy. For example, the theory of evolution has many discrepancies and loose ends, and is still referred to as a theory. Much of the reason for that is that scientists are not convinced that there is anything better to replace it!
B. The illusion of objectivity: The illusion is that scientists are more objective and therefore hold a more intelligent position than a believer in God. People ask, “Why is it that the most intelligent people don’t believe in the Bible?” Probably the same reason most uneducated people don’t believe in the Bible – they have never sincerely read it and understood it.
Many a learned scientist has died miserable, unfulfilled and bitter.
Famous Last Words – Many intelligent people have propounded atheism for much of their lives. Yet their dying words reveal much about truth in this world.
Sir Thomas Scott, former president of the British House of
Lords, said his last words to his doctor, “Until this moment I thought there was neither God nor hell. Now I know both are a reality.”
Voltaire, famous anti-Christian atheist, had a terrible end. His nurse said, “For all the money in Europe, I would not want to relive that evening. He cried for forgiveness the whole night.”
David Hume, the atheist, one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment, desperately shouted his last words, “I am in the flames!”
Jaroslawski, former president of the International Atheist Movement, was heard to say to his children, “Please burn all my writings. Behold, the Holy One! He has been waiting for me a long time. He is now here!”
Sir Winston Churchill whispered, “What a fool I have been.”
Jagoda, former secretary of the Russian Secret Police, cried, “There is a God. He’s going to punish me for all my wrongdoing.”
Lenin died in mental derangement, imploring chairs and tables for forgiveness.
Jesus said, “It is finished…into your hands I commit my spirit.”
The Truth About Intellectuals – These people are some of the founders and building blocks of the atheist movement of today. Let’s examine their lives and backgrounds and see where their ideas led.
- Charles Darwin. He wrote “The Origin of Species” in 1859 while not
· History of insanity in his own family, authoritarian father.
· Ran away, suffered from depression.
· Semi-invalid for the latter part of his life. By 1871, when he wrote “The Descent of Man,” he was anti-Christian. He was very influential as he popularised evolution by explaining a mechanism for it (random mutation and natural selection).
- Frederich Nietzsche.
· Talked about the concept of the “superman.” Was vehemently anti-Christian. Believed “God is dead,” and with him, morality. His influence on the “Anti God” movement today cannot be underestimated!
· Dad died when he was 4; mum was a priest.
· He became a homosexual, contracted syphilis, went mad.
· A woman hater – “Thou goest to woman—don’t forget your whip.” His motto, “Be hard and live dangerously.”
· Believed there is no good or evil, since there is no God. Predicted 20th century would be the bloodiest in mankind’s history.
· In “Antichrist” he wrote, “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are too venomous, too underhand, too underground, and too petty.”
- Sigmund Freud.
· “Father of psychoanalysis.”
· He hated his father; as a young boy saw his mother naked, became fascinated with incest and competition with his father.
· He had a recurring dream of having sex with his mother, murdering his father. Assumed all society has this desire.
· Smoked 20 cigars/day at age 79. Was a drug addict and severely depressed.
Luke 6:42-45: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. “
John 7:17: “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
Look at a teacher’s life as see if it add up, is it a life that you would want to imitate?
Science and the Bible are not enemies but can happily coexist. Some theologists have come up with bad science, and some scientists have wrongly quoted from the Bible. Let’s keep science and the Bible in their proper contexts and there will be no problem. Only the Bible will give us the answers that can secure our eternity.
Are we really satisfied to live in a purely cold scientific world devoid of meaning?
Challenge: Set time to regularly study the Bible.