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Has Science Proved the Bible Wrong?

The Relationship Between Science and Scripture


The relationship between science and Scripture is often perceived as one of conflict. However, when both are properly understood, they can be seen as complementary rather than contradictory. The Bible is primarily a theological and historical document, revealing God's interaction with humanity and His plan of salvation. Science, on the other hand, seeks to understand the natural world through observation and experimentation. When interpreted correctly, both Scripture and scientific findings can coexist harmoniously.


2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." This verse underscores the divine origin and purpose of the Bible, which is to provide spiritual and moral guidance rather than detailed scientific explanations. Similarly, Psalm 19:1 declares, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." This acknowledges that the natural world reveals God's majesty and power, suggesting that scientific discoveries about creation can enhance our understanding of the Creator.



The Bible and Cosmology


One of the most significant areas of perceived conflict between the Bible and science is cosmology—the study of the origins and structure of the universe. Critics often point to the biblical creation account in Genesis as being at odds with the Big Bang theory and the age of the universe.


Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This foundational verse aligns with the concept that the universe had a definitive beginning, a view supported by modern cosmology through the Big Bang theory. While the Bible does not provide a scientific account of creation, it affirms that the universe was purposefully created by God.


The age of the universe, estimated by scientists to be around 13.8 billion years, is often seen as conflicting with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation days as 24-hour periods. However, many conservative evangelical scholars interpret the "days" of Genesis 1 as creative periods of unspecified length, allowing for an old earth view that is consistent with scientific evidence. This interpretation aligns with 2 Peter 3:8, which states, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day," emphasizing that God's perspective on time differs from human perception.



The Bible and Biology


Another area of perceived conflict is the origin of life and the theory of evolution. The Bible's account of creation in Genesis describes God creating distinct kinds of living organisms, culminating in the creation of human beings in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). This account is often contrasted with the scientific theory of evolution, which posits that all life forms evolved from common ancestors through natural selection.


While we reject theistic evolution as unbiblical, it is important to emphasize that the Bible's primary purpose is to reveal God's relationship with humanity, rather than to provide a detailed scientific explanation of biological processes. The account of creation should be understood as a series of creative periods during which God brought various forms of life into existence.


Psalm 139:13-14 highlights the intimate and purposeful creation of human beings: "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." This passage emphasizes the theological truth that humans are created with purpose and dignity by a loving Creator, a truth that remains regardless of the specific mechanisms of biological development.



The Bible's Insights into Science


The Bible, though not a scientific textbook, contains insights and statements that align with scientific discoveries made thousands of years later. These insights demonstrate the advanced understanding of natural phenomena in the Scriptures, providing further evidence of their divine inspiration.


Fixity of Kinds: "According to Their Kinds"


Genesis 1 repeatedly uses the phrase "according to their kinds" to describe the creation of plants and animals. This phrase implies a fixity of kinds, suggesting that distinct types of organisms were created separately and do not evolve into entirely different kinds. Modern biology recognizes the stability of species' genetic boundaries, affirming the biblical account of fixed kinds.


Astronomy: Stars and the Vast Universe


The Bible's description of the stars and the universe reflects an advanced understanding of astronomy. Genesis 22:17 states, "Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore." Jeremiah 33:22 echoes this, saying, "As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me." These verses acknowledge the immense number of stars, a fact confirmed by modern astronomy, which estimates billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars.



Earth's Position and Shape


Isaiah 40:22 states, "It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in." This reference to the "circle of the earth" aligns with the understanding that the earth is spherical, a fact not commonly accepted until much later in history.


Job 26:7 provides further insight into the earth's position in space: "He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing." This description accurately portrays the earth as suspended in space, a concept that aligns with modern astronomical understanding.



Earth's Perfect "Address"


The Bible implicitly acknowledges the fine-tuning of the universe to support life on earth. The specific conditions necessary for life—such as the earth's distance from the sun, its orbital path, and the presence of a stable atmosphere—are seen as a result of divine design. This fine-tuning is highlighted in passages like Psalm 104:5, which states, "He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever." The precision required for these conditions aligns with modern scientific recognition of the fine-tuning of the universe.



The Atmosphere and Photosynthesis


Isaiah 45:18 declares, "For thus says Jehovah, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), 'I am Jehovah, and there is none else.'" This verse underscores the earth's suitability for habitation, which includes the presence of an atmosphere that supports life.


The process of photosynthesis, essential for life on earth, is a testament to the intricate design of creation. Psalm 104:14 acknowledges the role of plants in sustaining life: "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth." The understanding that plants convert sunlight into energy, providing the basis for the food chain, reflects the wisdom of the Creator.



Self-Reproducing Cells and Complexity of Life


The complexity of life, from the self-reproducing cell to the human body, points to intelligent design. The Bible emphasizes the intentional and intricate creation of life. Job 10:8-12 speaks to this complexity: "Your hands fashioned and made me altogether, and would You destroy me? Remember now, that You have made me as clay; and would You turn me into dust again? Did You not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese; clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews? You have granted me life and lovingkindness; and Your care has preserved my spirit." This poetic description highlights the complexity and wonder of human creation, aligning with modern biological understanding of the intricacies of life.



Natural Cycles for Life


Ecclesiastes 1:7 observes, "All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again." This statement reflects an understanding of the water cycle, which is essential for sustaining life on earth. The continuous movement of water through evaporation, condensation, and precipitation is a fundamental natural process recognized by science.


Earth's Protective Shields


The Bible also alludes to the protective features of the earth. Psalm 47:9 states, "The princes of the peoples have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted." This can be seen as a metaphorical reference to the earth's protective shields, such as the magnetic field and the ozone layer, which protect life from harmful solar radiation and cosmic rays.



The Role of Faith and Reason


While scientific discoveries can enhance our understanding of God's creation, faith ultimately plays a crucial role in accepting the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Faith in the reliability of Scripture is not contrary to reason but is supported by reasonable evidence and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.


Christian apologetics bridges the gap between faith and reason, demonstrating that belief in the Bible is intellectually viable and spiritually enriching. As 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." This call to defend the faith includes providing well-reasoned answers to challenges regarding the relationship between the Bible and science.



The Testimony of Jesus and the Apostles


The testimony of Jesus and the apostles provides additional assurance of the Bible's reliability. Jesus affirmed the authority and reliability of the Old Testament, stating in Matthew 5:18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Jesus' endorsement of the Scriptures as trustworthy and enduring underscores their divine origin and reliability.


The apostles also affirmed the reliability of Scripture. Peter, in 2 Peter 1:16-21, emphasizes the prophetic nature of Scripture and its divine inspiration. Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:16, asserts the usefulness and divine origin of all Scripture. These affirmations from Jesus and the apostles reinforce the Christian conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.



Addressing Ethical and Scientific Challenges


Some critics argue that the Bible contains ethical or scientific errors, challenging its reliability. However, many of these challenges arise from misunderstandings of the Bible's purpose and genre. The Bible is not a scientific textbook but a theological and historical document that conveys spiritual truths through various literary forms.


For example, the creation accounts in Genesis are often critiqued for their perceived conflict with modern scientific understandings. However, the purpose of these accounts is not to provide a scientific explanation of the origins of the universe but to convey theological truths about God's creative power and the relationship between God and creation. Recognizing the genre and intent of these passages helps reconcile perceived conflicts with scientific knowledge.


Ethical challenges, such as the Bible's depiction of violence or its treatment of women and slavery, must be understood in their historical and cultural context. The Bible records the realities of ancient societies and God's redemptive work within those contexts. While certain practices described in the Bible reflect the cultural norms of the time, the overarching biblical narrative reveals God's progressive revelation of justice, mercy, and love.



The Consistency and Coherence of the Biblical Narrative


Despite being written over a span of 1,500 years by more than 40 authors from diverse backgrounds, the Bible exhibits remarkable consistency and coherence. This unity is evident in the overarching narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration that runs throughout the Scriptures. The consistency of themes, prophecies, and teachings across different books and authors points to the divine inspiration of the Bible.


For example, the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53, written around 700 B.C.E., finds its fulfillment in the New Testament account of Jesus' crucifixion. Isaiah 53:5 states, "But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his scourging we are healed." The precise fulfillment of this prophecy in the life and death of Jesus underscores the coherence and reliability of the biblical narrative.



Conclusion on the Compatibility of Science and Scripture


The Bible, when interpreted correctly, is not at odds with scientific discoveries. Alleged conflicts can often be resolved through a careful examination of the context, language, and literary genres of the biblical text. The Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, along with a recognition of the distinct roles of science and Scripture, provides a robust framework for understanding the harmony between the two. Faith in the Bible's reliability is grounded in reasonable evidence and the testimony of Jesus and the apostles, demonstrating that the Bible is a trustworthy and reliable revelation of God's truth.


About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).


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