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.)

Great Christian Scientists That Believed In The Bible

Too many scientists have accepted the theory of evolution, which is in direct conflict with the Bible.  They began to teach that science and faith were incompatible, and the many people today have been told that lie for so long, they don't consider it open to question anymore.  What too many people today don't realize is that science was given to us by Christians.  Here are a few of those Christian Scientist:

Sir Frances Bacon:
One of the greatest scientist in history, he was also Lord Chancellor of England and the one founder of the formation of the scientist, which stressed the experimentation and induction rather than philosophical deduction.  Founder of the Royal Society of London and did great work in a variety of scientist fields.  In addition he was a man of great faith in the living God and His Word.  Beliefs of study included two primary areas: The Scriptures, which reveal the will of God and His Creatures, which express His Power.

Johannes Kepler:
Founder of the Physical Astronomy, built the on the foundations of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe and conclusively demonstrated the heliocentricity of the solar system.  He was the first to state what was to become the motto of many scientist- that he was merely "thinking God's thoughts after Him."  He was a earnest Christian who study two years in seminary and believed that astronomers are actually "priests to the highest God."

Robert Boyle:
Considered by some to be the greatest scientist of his generation.  Known as the Father of Modern Chemistry, he was also one of the fathers of the Royal Society of London and a great contributor to chemistry and physics.  But he was also a humble and witnessing Christian, as well as a diligent students and believer in the Bible.  He wrote a number of apologetics and left money to establish the Boyle Lectures for the Proving of Christianity.

Nicolaus Steno:
Known as the father of Stratigraphy, which is the study of the strata of the earth.  He believed that is clearly demonstrated the creation of God.  He wrote numerous theological works and eventually became a bishop.

Sir Issac Newton: 
Known to many as the greatest scientist who ever lived.  He discovered the law of Universal Gravitation, formulated the 3 Laws of Motion, developed the particle theory of light, and constructed the first reflecting telescope.  He was a genuine believer as Christ as his Savior and the Bible as God's living Word.  He wrote many books on biblical subjects and the strong papers refuting atheism and defending creationism and the Bible.

Carolus Linnaeus:
Known as the Father of Biological Taxonomy, which systematized the naming of living things.  He was a believer of the Scriptures and in Creation.

Samuel F.D. Morse:
Known as the inventor of the telegraph.  He declares his faith by the first words after sent over that system: "What have God Wrought". (Numbers 23:23)  He declared that his whole desire in life was to honor the Lord in all things.

James Simpson: 
Known as the founder of gynecology and modern anesthesiology.  He was motivated by a desire to discover how God put Adam in a deep sleep to perform ribectomy.

Louis Pasteur:
Known as the founder for the germ theory of disease. He developed vaccines to counteract great plagues and the process of pasteurization, which bares his name.  He was opposed to spontaneous evolutionists who often ridiculed him.  Through care research he destroyed their theory.

Henry Margenau:
Known as the former editor of the American Journal to Science.  He was a professor of psychics for 40 years at Harvard, received 8 doctorate degrees, and was a visiting profession at 12 universities.  When asked why there is such hostility to religion, he replied that it was common among scientists with a mild training In the field, such as high school teachers, those who have made major contributions are, in reality, religious in their beliefs.                  
(Dr. D. James Kennedy, Great Scientists And The Bible)
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
Matthew 22:36-38
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Romans 10:9
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur I.
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur II.
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur III.
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur IV.
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur V.
The Bible and Science: John MacArthur VI.
John MacArthur: The Theology of Creation.