Are Science and the Bible Compatible?

“The significance and joy in my science comes in the occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, ‘So that’s how God did it!’”— Henry Schaefer, professor of chemistry.

Science does much to help us understand the natural world, revealing a level of order, precision, and sophistication that points, in the eyes of many, to a God of infinite intelligence and power. In their view, science reveals not just details of the natural world but also facets of the mind of God.

That point of view finds abundant support in the Bible. Says Romans 1:20:

“[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”

Likewise, Psalm 19:1, 2 states:

“The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling. One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth, and one night after another night shows forth knowledge.”

Despite all its wonders, however, the natural world reveals only some aspects of our Creator.

Where Science Is Limited

Many truths about God are beyond the scope of science. To illustrate, a scientist may be able to describe every molecule in a chocolate cake, but will his analysis reveal why the cake was made or for whom? For answers to questions like that—which most people would regard as the more important ones—he needs to consult the person who baked the cake.

Description : Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian phys...

Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Similarly, science “gives a lot of factual information,” wrote Austrian physicist and Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger, “but it is ghastly silent about all . . . that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us.” This includes, he says, “God and eternity.” For example, only God can answer such questions as the following:
Why is there a universe? Why does our planet have an abundance of life, including intelligent life? If God truly is almighty, why does he permit evil and suffering? And is there hope beyond the grave?

Has God answered those questions? Yes, in the pages of the Bible.

16 All Scripture is inspired of God+ and beneficial for teaching,+ for reproving, for setting things straight,* for disciplining in righteousness,+ 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

‘But how,’ you may ask, ‘can I be sure that the Bible really is from God?’ From a scientific point of view, what the Bible says about the world around us must harmonize with scientific fact, for God does not contradict himself. Does the Bible reflect such harmony? Consider a few examples.

Scientifically Ahead of Its Time

When the Bible was being written, many people believed that various gods inhabited the world and that those gods, not natural laws, controlled the sun, the moon, the weather, fertility, and so on. But that was not the case with the ancient Hebrew prophets of God. Of course, they knew that Jehovah God could directly control the natural world and that he did so on specific occasions.

12 It was then, on the day that Jehovah routed the Am′or·ites before the eyes of the Israelites, that Joshua said to Jehovah before Israel: “Sun, stand still+ over Gib′e·on,+ And moon, over the Valley* of Ai′ja·lon!” 13 So the sun stood still and the moon did not move until the nation could take vengeance on its enemies. Is it not written in the book of Ja′shar?+ The sun stood still in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to set for about a whole day. 14 There has never been a day like that one, either before it or after it, when Jehovah listened to the voice of a man,+ for Jehovah was fighting for Israel.+(Joshua 10:12-14)

Isaiah replied: “This is the sign from Jehovah to show you that Jehovah will carry out the word that he has spoken: Do you want the shadow on the stairway* to move forward ten steps or back ten steps?”+ 10 Hez·e·ki′ah said: “It is an easy thing for the shadow to extend itself ten steps but not to go back ten steps.” 11 So Isaiah the prophet called out to Jehovah, and He made the shadow on the stairway of A′haz go back ten steps after it had already descended the steps.+ (2 Kings 20:9-11)

Nevertheless, John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, England, observed that those prophets

“did not have to have their universe de-deified [of mythical gods]. . . , for the simple reason that they had never believed in the gods in the first place. What had saved them from that superstition was their belief in One True God, Creator of heaven and earth.”

How did that belief protect them from superstition? For one thing, the true God revealed to them that he governs the universe by precise laws, or statutes. For example, more than 3,500 years ago, Jehovah God asked his servant Job:

“Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens?” (Job 38:33)

In the seventh century B.C.E., the prophet Jeremiah wrote about “the statutes of heaven and earth.”—Jeremiah 33:25.

Hence, all who lived in ancient times and had faith in the writings of the Bible prophets could know that the universe was governed, not by mythical, temperamental deities, but by rational laws. As a result, those God-fearing individuals neither bowed down to created entities, such as the sun, the moon, or the stars, nor did they have a superstitious attitude toward them.

15 “Therefore, watch yourselves closely*—since you did not see any form on the day Jehovah spoke to you in Ho′reb out of the middle of the fire— 16 that you may not act corruptly by making for yourselves any carved image having the form of any symbol, the representation of male or female,+ 17 the representation of any animal on the earth or the representation of any bird that flies in the sky,+ 18 the representation of anything creeping on the ground or the representation of any fish in the waters under the earth.+ 19 And when you raise your eyes to the heavens and see the sun and the moon and the stars—all the army of the heavens—do not get seduced and bow down to them and serve them.+ Jehovah your God has given them to all the peoples under the whole heavens. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19)

Rather, they saw God’s works as objects of study that reveal his wisdom, power, and other qualities.

When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, The moon and the stars that you have prepared,+ What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, And a son of man that you take care of him?+ You made him a little lower than godlike ones,*And you crowned him with glory and splendor. You gave him dominion over the works of your hands;+You have put everything under his feet: All the flocks and cattle,As well as the wild animals,*+ The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.  O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is throughout the earth! (Psalm 8:3-9)

19 Jehovah founded the earth in wisdom.+ He solidly established the heavens in discernment.+ 20 By his knowledge the watery deeps were split apart And the cloudy skies dripped with dew.+ (Proverbs 3:19, 20).

In harmony with today’s views

In harmony with the views of many scientists today, the ancient Hebrews also believed that the universe had a beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” says Genesis 1:1.

bibles

bibles (Photo credit: fancycwabs)

Also, some 3,500 years ago, God revealed to his servant Job that the earth ‘hangs on nothing,’ or is suspended in space. (Job 26:7) And finally, more than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote that the earth is a circle or sphere.

22 There is One who dwells above the circle* of the earth,+ And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He is stretching out the heavens like a fine gauze, And he spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.+ (Isaiah 40:22).* {For a more extensive discussion on the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible, please read the brochure Was Life Created? and the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.}

Yes, the Bible does harmonize with scientific truths about the natural world. In fact, the two fields of study are more than compatible — they beautifully complement each other. To disregard either one is to leave unopened a door to the knowledge of God.

105 Your word is a lamp to my foot, And a light for my path.+ (Psalm 119:105)

26 “Lift up your eyes to heaven and see. Who has created these things?+ It is the One who brings out their army by number; He calls them all by name.+ Because of his vast dynamic energy and his awe-inspiring power,+ Not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:26.)

We may conclude that in the Bible we can find a scientific accuracy in describing basic “kinds” of life. Those description which have been proven by the years strengthens also the credibility in other areas, including history and prophecy.

We should find the God of gods as the Source of infinite power, or energy.

23  Understanding the Almighty is beyond our reach;+ He is great in power,+ And he never violates his justice+ and abundant righteousness.+ (Job 37:23)

Standing still at God His wondrous works

We cannot order God His speech by reason of darkness, but we can stand still and consider the wondrous works of God in everything we can see around us. Human beings do want to have an explanation for everything, but they just can not. Never shall human being have the same knowledge as the Supreme Being Who is the Source of the “vast dynamic energy” that produced the universe. (Isaiah 40:26)

Scientist shall not be able to change the system in the essence, but it will be God Who shall use his supreme power to sustain His creation. Many people even would like to tell others that the world would become destroyed and shall not exist any-more after some time, but the Bible says regarding the sun, moon, and stars that the Creator God shall keep them established forever and ever.

148 1 Praise Jah!* Praise Jehovah from the heavens;+ Praise him in the heights. 2   Praise him, all his angels.+ Praise him, all his army.+ 3   Praise him, sun and moon. Praise him, all shining stars.+ 4   Praise him, O highest heavens*  And waters above the heavens. 5   Let them praise the name of Jehovah,
For he commanded, and they were created.+ 6   He keeps them established forever and ever;+ He has issued a decree that will not pass away.+ (Psalm 148:1-3-6).

Many human beings searched for explanations and wanted to explain the beginning of the universe. Though in simple terms the the Bible explains creation in a way that harmonizes with science and also gives answers to questions that science cannot, — such as, What is God’s purpose for the earth and for mankind? *

The astronomer Allan Sandage once said:

“Science cannot answer the deepest questions. As soon as you ask why is there something instead of nothing, you have gone beyond science.”

+

Preceding articles:

Bible containing scientific information

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

Science and the Bible—Do They Really Contradict Each Other?

Next: Reconciling Science and Religion

Dutch version / Nederlandstalige versie: Stemt de Bijbel overeen met de wetenschap

++

Additional reading:

  1. The True God, Divine Creator or God of gods
  2. Incomplete without the mind of God
  3. Suffering
  4. Suffering-through the apparent silence of God
  5. Hope for the future
  6. Gods hope and our hope
  7. Prophecy pamphlet
  8. Is it “Wrong” to Believe that the Earth is a Sphere? Inclusive the first generation of Christadelphians their views
  9. A dialogue about the earth moving and spinning around the sun
  10. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  11. Everyday beauty

+++

  • Why I Love the Bible (richardmansel.com)
    the Bible is more than just a book. It is a living thing, breathing wisdom and power. It is a message from God and a window to the future. Nothing else exists like the Bible in the entire universe.
  • Answers in Genesis takes on Bill O’Reilly over Bible comment (tnchristiannews.wordpress.com)
    The Bible is the history of mankind; to call it only a theological book is to miss the whole point of Christianity.
    +
    The Bible Is a book of history–it’s a book of historical science. That’s why I teach thousands of kids each year to say “The Bible is the history book of the universe.’
  • Costco apologizes for labelling Bible as fiction (sunnewsnetwork.ca)
    A California pastor who tweeted a photo of a Bible labelled as fiction at his local Costco says a boycott of the chain is unnecessary.But Caleb Kaltenbach told the show Fox and Friends it is at times like this that “Christians in America need to stand up for their faith.”
  • Abusing Love: Why God’s “Love” Makes Me Cringe (n8carlson.wordpress.com)
    God’s love is manifest in the Gospel. The Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The Gospel is for the salvation from sin for believers. It is offensive. The Gospel tells an individual that they are a sinner, that they have rebelled against God, and that they cannot do anything to fix that. The Gospel does not affirm people as good people. It is not tolerant. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is God’s way and no other’s.
  • Unified Truth: Faith and Reason (str.typepad.com)
    Personally, not a huge fan of Thomas Aquinas. Greek philosophy is not compatible with Christian theology, except in a few areas. In Greek philosophy, the body is bad. In Christian theology, the body is good and will be redeemed eventually by God. Greek philosophy has brought us off course in our understanding of eschatology and other important things on many occasions in the church. I am a bit wary about some of what Thomas Aquinas believes because of that. (Jared Berryman)
    +
    As Aquinas did, Evangelicals conflate reason with truth. With their puffed-up minds, they think that if an argument can be made concerning Scripture using reason, then their reasoning constitutes the truth. For example, some of these wisdom lovers claim that God’s greatest attribute is His sovereignty. Surely reason tells us this apparent fact, but it isn’t found anywhere in Scripture; rather, it is their philosophical presupposition. (Sebastian Gonzales)
  • Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org)
    prior to the Enlightenment, wisdom was closely connected to reason. For them to reason, reflect, imagine, conjecture, was part of what it meant to act faithfully in accordance with being in the image of God. As it related to the four causes expounded by Aristotle and adhered to by Thomas, wisdom is an understanding of the final cause. Sadly, this has all but been lost in science and philosophy today.Is it possible that one reason Philosophy is ridiculed by so many today as irrelevant and outdated is because it lost its way a few hundred years ago and has never fully found the way back to the path. If philosophy was still about the blending of the theoretical and the practical, the reflection and the proper moral action, one can imagine that there would be many who would come to love and live wisdom.
  • Jerry Coyne’s Twisted History of Science and Religion (forbes.com)
    What’s truly amazing is just how much science early Christians were doing. John Philoponus (c. 490 – c. 570) was one of the first Christian professors in Alexandria. Historians today are stunned by his achievements.As a Christian, Philoponus was happy to ditch pagan orthodoxy and start afresh. So he was the first to actually do the experiment of dropping stones, proving Aristotle wrong about falling objects. Alas, shortly after he died, Egypt was invaded by the Persians and then by the Arabs. Alexandria lost its status as an important center of learning, while the Byzantine Empire went into siege mode as it fought an existential struggle for survival. Not a great environment for science!
    +It is truly amazing how many alleged instances of Christianity holding back science turn out to be completely bogus. Legends that the Church banned zero, fought lightning rods or anesthesia, excommunicated Halley’s Comet, and forbade human dissection all turn out to be false. The most widely cited example – the persecution of Galileo – was as much about politics as science. (Galileo purposefully insulted the Pope, which was not a wise move. For more on Bruno, the trial of Galileo, and a whole lot more, see James Hannam’s book, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution.)Dr. Coyne continues:

    There was and still is, of course, opposition to science by Christians. The greatest opponent of biology’s greatest theory—evolution—has always been Christianity.

    Untrue. The writings of influential Church Father Thomas Aquinas hint that he would have accepted evolution. Besides, singling out Christianity as uniquely opposed to “biology’s greatest theories” overlooks the biggest enemy of genetics in the 20th Century: Soviet Communism. Communists rejected the work of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel (the latter, of course, a Catholic monk). Instead, they embraced the Stalin-approved Lamarckian vision of Trofim Lysenko, setting back Soviet genetics by decades.

  • How to falsify a religion using scientific or historical evidence (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
    The absolute origin of the universe out of nothing is also incompatible with atheism, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. because they also require an eternally existing universe.
    +
    If you prove that the universe is eternal than would falsify the Bible’s claim that God created the universe out of nothing. That would be a scientific disproof. If you could find the body of Jesus still inside a tomb, that would falsify the Bible’s claim about a resurrection. That would be a historical disproof. The nice thing about Christianity is that we make lots of testable claims. Christianity is about forming beliefs that are in line with the available evidence.
  • What Caused the Big Bang? A Master Mason and Knight Templar Offers a Unique New Approach to Multiverse Cosmology (prweb.com)
    “When you understand that Consciousness and Identity are convertible, your spiritual understanding explodes. You no longer need any form of religion, belief, doctrine, or even a conventional identity,” Augustine stated. “My work can expand a person beyond their boundaries and into a new and higher level of Consciousness and spiritual understanding. This is why my subtitle of my book is ‘Consciousness and Enlightenment in the Internet Age and Beyond.'”
  • Creation (illustrationstoencourage.wordpress.com)
    Modern science agrees that the universe had a beginning. A recent scientific model suggests it to be almost 14 billion years old.
    +
    The false ideas of creationists could lead you to dismiss the Bible altogether. On the other hand, if the Bible actually contains a credible account of creation, you stand to benefit from its storehouse of “practical wisdom.”—Proverbs 3:21.
  • What Is the Meaning of Life? (illustrationstoencourage.wordpress.com)
    The question of the meaning of life may be asked in many ways, such as Why are we here?        or Does my life have a purpose? The Bible shows that our purpose in life is to build a        friendship with God. Consider some of these fundamental truths that the Bible reveals.
  • I Don’t Feel Good About My Life—Can Religion, God, or the Bible Help? (illustrationstoencourage.wordpress.com)
    The Bible, an ancient book of wisdom, provides answers to life’s important questions and can help you to feel better and have a sense of well-being.
  • Jehovah’s Witness Systematic Theology: Doctrine of Jehovah (trueforms.wordpress.com)
    “True, you cannot see God because he is an invisible spirit. (John 1:184:241 Timothy 1:17) By learning about him through the pages of the Bible, however, you can come to know him as a person.”
    (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, What is the Truth about God?)

    “No human has ever seen God because he is a Spirit, which means that he is a higher form of life than the physical creatures who live on earth. (John 1:18; 4:24) Nevertheless, we can discern God’s personality from the things he has made. For instance, the variety of fruits and flowers tells us of his love and wisdom. The size of the universe tells us of his power.—Read Romans 1:20.

    We can learn even more about God’s personality by reading the Bible. For example, it tells us what God likes and what he does not like, how he treats people, and how he reacts in different situations.—Read Psalm 103:7-10.”
    (JW, Good News from God, Who is God?)

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14 thoughts on “Are Science and the Bible Compatible?

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