S c i e n c e
Science and the Bible
By Andrew Harris 28 November 1999 ©
Christianity is often seen as the Bible versus science. However the apparent 'conflicts' between the two arise because of misconceptions promoted by churches which do not teach the Bible but rather their own philosophy, and those who wish to denounce Christianity altogether.
All science is knowledge but not all knowledge is science. The word 'science' really means 'to know' and the term relates to those things that we know from a process of observing, theorizing and testing the theories. To be truly scientific fact, a theory must be capable of being tested so as to produce a repeatable result. That is the test must produce the same result every time for it to be recognized as scientific fact.
Scientific fact, is factual and exact knowledge about nature. It comes from careful observation, theorizing and testing which always produces the same result. We use such knowledge in chemistry, biology, physics and medicine.
The absolute and the partial
This scientific knowledge is not absolute. It is not complete, perfect and unchanging. As we learn more about the universe around us, our knowledge increases and we add to our store of scientific fact. Often as we learn more we have to admit that what we knew previously was wrong or at least not sufficiently accurate.
The Bible on the other hand, is absolute knowledge, that is it is perfect and does not change over time. We must be careful of anyone who tries to change the simple but profound truths of the Bible. We must also be careful of trying to interpret the Bible (absolute truth) in terms of science (partial truth). Rather the partial must be understood from the absolute. Scientific knowledge should always be interpreted in the light of scripture and not the other way around.
No statement in scripture conflicts with true scientific fact
The Bible is God's account of His progressive revelation and dealings with the human race. However it does also make some statements about scientific facts. There is no statement in scripture that is not in accord with true scientific fact. For example the food, hygiene and sanitation laws given to Moses represent medical knowledge literally thousands of years ahead of its time. Numerous facts mentioned in passing in the bible are 100% scientifically accurate, these are often facts that the people of that time could not possibly have known. The Genesis account of creation agrees totally with the known process of the worlds formation.
Contrast this with the weird and wonderful legends of 'creation' coming from other cultures. These include brolgas fighting over an egg, which becomes the sun; Maori gods forced to become the earth and the sun; Aztec god-child buried for grass and plants to grow from her body; Indian god-children rescued from a snake to become the earth and sky. There is no correlation with scientific facts in these stories.
Bible writers make many 'scientific' statements. These statements reveal an astounding understanding of the physical world on the part of Job, Isaiah, David and Solomon and others. The facts they indicate were well beyond their capacity to know or understand at the time of writing. The only inference that can be drawn is that the designer Himself gave them this knowledge.
Consider some of these Bible statements
Have you entered into the treasures of the snow or have you seen the treasures of the hail
How did Job know that each snow crystal is shaped with a unique hexagonal design? Each one beautiful, each one different, real treasures that could not be revealed until strong microscopes were invented.
He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.
The Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy held that the earth was 'supported' and fixed at the center of the universe. This was prominent in scientific thinking until the sixteenth century. The fact that gravity literally holds the earth in nothingness could not have been known to Job, and as a stab in the dark, this statement totally defies what people commonly experience. How could Job have known?
Can you bring forth Mazzaroth (the 12 constellations) in his seasons, or can you guide Arcturus?
Arcturus, in Ursa Major, has recently been found to be moving with special direction. This movement is not visible to the naked eye. How did Job know about this?
6All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. 7To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
The concept of the water cycle, involving evaporation, condensation and precipitation was not generally accepted until the 16/17th century, 3000 years after scripture!