The Bible's Scientific Accuracy
Table of Contents
- Christians are called to reason
- How Should a Scientist Approach the Bible?
- Two world views in Science
The primary purpose of the Bible is not to be a science book. A textbook may have a chapter describing the solar system yet the Bible has only a few passages. It is the timeless quality that makes the Bible's science important, compared to science books which must be revised every few years or become obsolete.
This study will start by using the scriptures to adjure Christians to reason and learn knowledge. Though some already do, others seem to believe that reasoning goes against faith.
I will also adjure the skeptic to approach this study with an open mind. I am not asking him to be mindless or gullible, rather to truly understand the thought before he starts scoffing at it. We will look at what it means to be a scientist and then apply scientific techniques to the Bible's controversial passages.
Some skeptics will always be skeptics. Someone once said, "It is impossible to wake up a person who is pretending to sleep". For the skeptics who are honest, I will try to address some of the accusations against the Bible's infallibility and we look at its science.
Christians and skeptics are both called to reason
"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." - Richard Dawkins
The Separation of Reason and Faith?
Richard Dawkins could not have stated the skeptic's belief more clearly; many believe that in order to become a Christian they must reject all reason. Unfortunately, some Christians agree, take Martin Luther for instance.
"Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding." - Martin Luther
Though Martin Luther was a reformer and is a popular church leader, nothing could be further from the truth. And there are few errors that have made it more difficult to reach our culture than this one, yet rather than try to reason this out let us, as Martin Luther would have suggested, draw our understanding from the Word of God.
Isaiah 1:18 ~ 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.
Is the blessing to those who will reason or, as Martin Luther believes, to those who will not? In light of what the Lord said, how can Christians expect their scarlet sins to become as white as snow if they will not reason together with God? Years later, Luke (who wrote the book of Acts), would show the importance of reasoning by making this observation about Paul,
Acts 17:2 ~ And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.
Paul's manor was to reach people through reasoning, this is not only Luke's opinion, all of Paul's epistles are full of reasoning. Jesus also expected his audience to use their reason; here is one of many examples.
Matthew 9:5 ~ For which is easier? To say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk!
Jesus did not tell the people which saying was easier to say, rather by asking His question, He expected them, by reasoning, to conclude that both sayings were equally easy to say. The Gospels record Jesus reasoning with people regularly. Nor does God ever condemn reasoning in the scriptures. Nevertheless, the time would come when church leaders would tell their flock that reason contradicted faith and therefore should be avoided. Again, Martin Luther said it succinctly:
"Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God." ML www.goodreads.com
Many errors entered into the state church after she surrendered reason. For example, in the early 1600s, about a century after Martin Luther, Galileo through scientific observation presented proofs that the earth orbited the sun. Yet his theory contradicted the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church - that the sun orbited the earth. Rather than looking at his research, the infallible Inquisitors got the following confession out of Galileo.
I, Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei of Florence, aged seventy years, being brought personally to judgment, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lords Cardinals, General Inquisitors of the Universal Christian Commonwealth against heretical depravity, having before my eyes the Holy Gospels which I touch with my own hands, swear that I have always believed, and, with the help of God, will in future believe, every article which the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome holds, teaches, and preaches. But because I have been enjoined, by this Holy Office, altogether to abandon the false opinion which maintains that the Sun is the centre and immovable, and forbidden to hold, defend, or teach, the said false doctrine in any manner ... I am willing to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of every Catholic Christian, this vehement suspicion rightly entertained towards me, therefore, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally every other error and sect contrary to the said Holy Church; and I swear that I will never more in future say, or assert anything, verbally or in writing, which may give rise to a similar suspicion of me; but that if I shall know any heretic, or any one suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor and Ordinary of the place in which I may be. I swear, moreover, and promise that I will fulfil and observe fully all the penances which have been or shall be laid on me by this Holy Office. But if it shall happen that I violate any of my said promises, oaths, and protestations (which God avert!), I subject myself to all the pains and punishments which have been decreed and promulgated by the sacred canons and other general and particular constitutions against delinquents of this description. So, may God help me, and His Holy Gospels, which I touch with my own hands, I, the above named Galileo Galilei, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and, in witness thereof, with my own hand have subscribed this present writing of my abjuration, which I have recited word for word.
Now because of this senseless behavior, we have far greater obstacles to overcome when we try to share the Christian Faith. Skeptics seeing these errors, and seeing that some leaders in the church abhor reason, have tried to embrace it. In the late 1700s, with the French revolution, they threw off the church and tried to replace it with an Age of Reason. Yet while those skeptics laugh at the errors in the state church, they were not being reasonable themselves. While it is reasonable to reject a church that will not acknowledge its errors. It is not reasonable to reject the existence of God based on the behavior of a church controlled by politics. Today most university professors believe that it is irrational to allow any evidence for God to be examined seriously. It is their refusal to examine the evidence that has made them as irrational as their predecessors. An example is seen in Ben Steins' movie, Expelled: No Intellagence Allowed.
As a side note, a new error, ecumenicalism, is trying to infect the church. The error is that doctrine is not important, what matters is that we start loving one another. The church leaders who think that doctrine is not important will give future skeptics many more illustrations to laugh at. While the word doctrine has a negative connotation with some, the archaic definition is: "Something taught, a teaching". Why is doctrine important for Christians? First, we will approach it from scripture.
2 John 1:9-10 ~ Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed.
1 Timothy 4:16 ~ Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Both John and Paul made it clear that those who do not hold the right doctrine do not have God or salvation. Nothing can be more important for a Christian than this. Nor can one without God or salvation forward God's kingdom.
Skeptics should also understand doctrine is important. Is it not their doctrine, what they learn at our universities, that keeps them from being able to seriously examining the Bible? Paul said:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 ~ For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths.
We can also deduce that doctrine is important by using our powers of reason. What you believe effects the way you act. Even for those who do not believe doctrine is important, that doctrine affects the way they behave. Therefore, the scriptures adjure us to seek knowledge of God.
Hosea 6:6 ~ For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
1 Corinthians 15:3 ~ 4Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Matthew 11:29 ~ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
We do not sacrifice brains to be Christians. Rather, the Bible believing Christian is called to use his head. If we do, we will not only be better Christians, we will be able to be used by God to reach the skeptics who will not sacrifice their intelligence to enter the kingdom.
The World is Made Up of Two Types of People
If you found this webpage by searching the internet for Bible science, I think you have found two camps. Skeptics who believe the Bible is full of errors and believers, who like myself, believe that the Bible is inerrant. While these websites all try to prove the author's beliefs, we can divide both these camps into two types of people. The first type of person tried to look at Bible's science in a genuine search for truth. This includes some unbelievers.
Some unbelievers have raised legitimate issues, and we will not reach these people if we are unwilling to address those issues. Nor is it reasonable to expect them to listen to us until we shed the image of being unable to reason.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so" - Mark Twain
The truth is that skeptics honestly believe their worldview. For the skeptics out there, we Christians honestly believe our worldview. This page is dedicated to those on both sides who are trying to be honest. Faith is not believing what you know ain't so; For Christians faith is believing a leader exists, and believing that you can trust him to do the right thing. We have faith in God and believe he always tells the truth.
The second type of website was one that mocked the beliefs held by its opponents. A few non-thinking Christians seemed to ridicule unbelievers rather than try to reach them. Some pastors believe you should not discuss the apparent errors in the Bible. Even so (in my opinion), most of the mockers are skeptics. Many of them do not think deep, for example, they post apparent errors in the Bible that could be easily resolved if they would do any research. It seems that rather than doing the research, they are only trying to justify their unbelief. Paul warned us about this mentality.
Romans 1:28, 32 ~ And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,
[Paul makes a lists of their sins, then concludes by saying]
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
I mean if everybody is living the same way, God cannot punish everybody; right? In answer, Jesus explained how men will be judged when he said:
John 3:19-20 ~ And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Then speaking of people with this spirit, Jesus (quoting Abraham) said:
Luke 16:31b ~ If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.
The unteachable skeptics may deny this, yet their lifestyles prove otherwise. Just interview any student and you will find that our universities will tolerate every lifestyle, except a Christian one.
Question 1: What is Science?
The word science comes from the Latin word "scientia", meaning knowledge.
Science is the observation, identification, description and experimental investigation of natural phenomena. Science organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions, (called theories), about the world.
Question 2: What is a Scientist?
A scientist is someone who is searching for knowledge. A real scientist is learning and he tests what he is learning to be sure that it is true. Though it is missing from the modern definition, a real scientist must seek for truth. He is not afraid to test his beliefs, to make sure that they are true. This is not as easy as it seems, if we want to be a scientists, we must recognize we ourselves have many bias that blind our objectivity.
For example, many scientists believe that the earth is over four billion years old. There are also many scientists who believe the earth is less than ten-thousand years old. If a person from either camp cannot look at the evidence presented from the other, without scoffing, it is because he is not a real scientist. If a person from either camp is incapable of critically examining the evidence for why he believes something, he is not a real scientist.
Question: You either believe the earth is young or old. Can you present any evidence to dispute your own position?
If not, Why? Not only do your opponents, see you as unlearned, therefore making him difficult to reach. They also see you as unscientific, or not searching for truth.
Question 3: What is Mythology?
Modern science is good at making observations. Yet, because our schools do not teach critical thinking skills and because of our personal biases, good observations often turn into faulty conclusions.
1 Timothy 6:20 ~ O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.
I have a theory; most of the science (knowledge) of one culture is perceived as mythology by another. For instance, the Greeks once believed as true (or at least there was a root of truth), in what we today call Greek mythology. An example can be found in the following narrative recorded in the book Acts. The town clerk trying to reason with some men of Ephesus:
Acts 19:35-36 ~ And when the town clerk [scribe] had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
On August 7, 1996, President Bill Clinton reported that a rock, containing ancient life, fell from Mars. The news media raved about the discovery, yet nobody spoke critically of the report. If the President had said, "Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against", the journalists would have all nodded their heads in assent.
Today our modern town clerks are screaming, "What man is there that knoweth not the theory of evolution. Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against". In our public schools (At least in the USA), students are forbidden to mention a creator God in a positive manor, (that is without cursing). If there is evidence for a creator God, or intelligent design, you will not be permitted to see it in the textbooks or in the classroom. This is not for lack of evidence, but, because of the political climate and fear of a lawsuit. At the same time, Darwinian evolution cannot even be criticized. Not because there are no problems with the theory, but, because of the same political climate.
How can true science be taught in such an environment? When was true science ever decided in a courtroom? Laugh now, but the intellects of tomorrow will classify much of today's science as mythology.
1 Timothy 6:20 ~ O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.
If the Biblical Miracles are not Mythology, What Is?
Luke 16:31b ~ If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.
In 1980, the actor Peter Sellers died at the age of 54 from a heart attack. Sellers had visited psychic healers for the previous sixteen years to cure his heart troubles, during which time his heart condition only continued to deteriorate. This is only one example of a magician who by working counterfeit miracles causes many to view all miracles as myths. It seems we should be suspicious at even the mention of miracles. Yet we should also consider that the opposite is true. There must be charlatans who perform phony miracles for the Bible to be true, for Jesus taught,
Mark 13:22 ~ For false Christs [a person who claims to have a special anointing] and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:5 ~ For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ [or I am specially anointed]; and shall deceive many.
While the existence of con artists posing as Christians does not prove the Bible is true, if there were none, Jesus would have been a false prophet. Therefore, false prophets and the phony faith healers actually encourage me in my faith and at the very least, they should not be a hindrance to believing the Bible. A real scientist will not reject miracles categorically without a thorough investigation.
Unfortunately, the questions of Biblical miracles are often decided by worldviews, not by observation. For example, Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) produced the following theorem to disprove miracles.
- Miracles are violations of natural laws
- Natural laws are immutable
- It is impossible for immutable laws to be violated
- Therefore, miracles are not possible
(When Skeptics Ask, Norman Geisler pg 76)
For the skeptic, this may be a satisfying answer. What is observable is all there is and there is no mechanism in what we observe that can cause a miracle.
The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be. - Carl Sagan
For the Christian, this is an unsatisfying answer. Both skeptics and Christians believe many things that they have not actually observed. Einstein used thought experiments to teach relativity; though he used rocket ships, we could test Spinoza's theorem doing thought experiment using an imaginary fishbowl. Our fishbowl is a self-contained world. Since the laws of nature are the same in the fishbowl as they are out of the fishbowl, we can understand life its cycles and make predictions about its future. In the real world, we know by the laws of nature that bread cannot just fall from heaven, same for our fishbowl, bread cannot just fall from heaven. If the fish believes that the fishbowl is all there is, he would believe that (remember this is only a thought experiment) food showing up from nowhere was a violation of natural law. Does this prove that the person who owns the fishbowl cannot feed his fish?
If there is a God then miracles are at least possible, and God's manipulation of events in the cosmos would not violate the laws of nature anymore than the behavior of one who owns a fishbowl.
Now, if God did visit the earth, would we not expect miracles? Yet for the true skeptic this is a no win situation. He does not believe because of the miracles, yet he would not believe if there were no miracles. In fact, if Jesus did not perform miracles, he would have no right to expect us to believe his revelations anymore than we could be expected to believe the revelations of one who is preaching on a street corner.
While some suggest that the Bible could almost be believed if it did not have the miracles/myths, Jesus said.
John 15:24 ~ If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
It is because of the miracles that God can expect us to believe. Of course, there must be substantial proof for these miracles. Yet, we defined science as being observation and experimental investigation of natural phenomena, how can science deal with miracles? The same question can be asked about the Big Bang Theory. The universe's beginning was unobserved and is unrepeatable, yet this does not stop scientists from proposing naturalistic explanations for it.
Scientists may never be able to repeat miracles, or understand how God performs them. Yet, like the fish in the fishbowl that can observe the food from an unexplainable origin, we can make observations about miracles. And, going one step further, if we can observe miracles, that answers the first question; miracles are not mythology.
Let us observe four miracles, to establish the fact that they are observable:
Miracle 1. Prophecy
Isaiah 46:9-10 ~ Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
The study on The Bible's Prophetic Accuracy takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon. This study shows how detailed prophecy is unique to the Bible and how it would have been impossible to add these passages to the Bible at a later date. These prophecies are miracles that prove God authored the Bible.
Miracle 2. The First Living Cell
The first living cell is a miracle. Scientists have been studying this since the invention of the microscope. Though Darwinists have tried, they have not even come close to an explanation. For an idea of the problems involved in the appearance of the first living cell, one has to think like an engineer and simply design an automated, self-sufficient, self-replicating factory. The complexity and problems of the first cell is similar.
It is just as impossible for the first replicating cell to appear without outside help, as it would be for your factory. Like our thought experiment with the fishbowl, it is far more reasonable to believe that the owner placed the life in the fishbowl, or in the cosmos, than to believe that life just showed up.
Psalms 139:14 ~ I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [If David only knew!]
Miracle 3. The Universal Flood
2 Peter 3:3-6 ~ Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
If Peter said that the scoffers were being willingly ignorant of the flood, this means that there is scientific evidence for the flood that they refuse to evaluate. As scientists, we may not be able to observe how this flood happened, but we can observe the evidence that the flood did happen. We will look at a few facts.
First, there are flood accounts from all over the world.
This is the one universal event that is in the history of every people. While different myths have surrounded the different accounts, the places where their stories are the same should be given serious consideration. These similarities include God destroying the earth because it became evil in his eyes, some people finding God's favor in God's sight causing him to spare them.
One explanation for these universal flood accounts is that early missionaries spread them. If this were a valid theory, why are no other Biblical accounts universally remembered? Another explanation for these universal flood accounts is that this flood really happened.
Second, there is fossil evidence all over the earth of a catastrophic flood.
Darwinists teach that fossils are in geologic columns and believe this is evidence for long time spans. Yet there are many problems with the theory that the different fossils represent different geologic ages.
Evolutionists have no adequate explanation for poly-strata fossils. How could a tree stand though millions of years till it was buried?
In some formations the fossils that are laid down in the wrong order. While this does not prove a flood, unless a reasonable explanation is given, an evolutionary mechanism should be rejected.
There was a sudden explosion of life in the Cambrian layer. There are more phyla (A principal taxonomic category that ranks above class and below kingdom), than are alive today. The theory of evolution implies that things get more complex and more diverse from the point of origin. However, the fossil record turns out to be reversed. We have more diversity in the very beginning, and in fact, they have been dying off over time. This follows the second law of thermal dynamics.
Folded Mountains: All the sedimentary layers are parallel with each other, implying they were laid down at the same time. Not only was horizontal compression needed to buckle these layers, they had to have been pliable at the time of compression. This also implies they were laid down at the same time. Today, these surface rocks are quite brittle. (Picture from http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/)
These and many other problems are addressed by creation scientists, yet rather than answer them in a scientific debate, Darwinists scoff and ridicule them.
Ridiculing a person for believing a different theory is not scientific behavior (remember Galileo) and therefore Darwinists that ridicule others are not in a search for the truth. There is enough evidence for Noah's flood that it would take a full web site so rather than superficially covering it here, I recommend some sources in my evolution page for those who wish to examine the evidence from the creationist side.
Miracle 4. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Romans 10:9 ~ 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.
If this verse is true, then God has given us enough evidence for the resurrection to hold us accountable. Unfortunately, most scoffers will never take a serious look at the evidence, yet they often propose one of the following theories.
Jesus' apostles stole His body
After stealing the body, they showed an empty tomb and claimed that Christ had risen. It would be easier to just walk into bank vault, steal a whole bunch of money and walk out than to walk past a company of Roman soldiers to roll away a tombstone that they are guarding with their life, and steal a body.
Why were there guards? Pilot had already given Jesus' body to one of His disciples. After the disciples laid the body in a sepulcher, the soldiers were to prevent anybody from taking Jesus' body. That the religious leaders thought of placing a guard proves that there were predictions of the resurrection before Jesus had died.
Jesus only passed out and later revived
This (called the swoon theory) states that Jesus did not really die, he only passed out, later in the cool tomb, He revived. Could anybody really survive a Roman crucifixion that ended with the chest cavity being pierced with a spear? The spear very likely pierced Jesus heart as the soldier did it to make sure he was dead.
Then, in this condition, Jesus rolled the stone away (without alerting the guards), found his disciples and instead of convincing them to take Him to an emergency room, He convinced them that He had risen from the dead. This would be a miracle.
Jesus enemies stole His body
If the religious leaders had removed the body, it would have been very foolish for the disciples to claim that Jesus rose from the dead. The religious leaders would only have to produce the body to discredit the apostles.
The disciples did not need a bodily resurrection to start a new religion. They could have just as easily claimed that Jesus had a spiritual resurrection. This would have been much easier to believe, therefore easier to start the religion, without the risk of somebody producing the body.
The women went to the wrong tomb
It is incredible that anybody would believe that these women would have believed that their Lord resurrected rather than first realize that they were at the wrong sepulcher. Suppose you went to an address you had never been to before and found nobody living at that address. Would you assume they were taken away in the pre-trib rapture? Or, would you double-check your directions?
A final possibility
If God is real, the resurrection is not a difficult miracle for Him. So what evidence is there for this miracle?
The Christian religion calls its faithful to honesty, it was not in the nature of the founders to conspire together and tell such a horrendous lie.
1 John 2:21 ~ I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
3 John 1:4 ~ I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Jesus was seen by over five hundred disciples.
The apostle Paul wrote the following passage to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 15:6 ~ After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
If this were a lie, it would have been easy to refute. It is well known that Paul had adversaries outside the church. If his letters were full of blatant lies, he would also have had adversaries in the church. At the very least the church would not have passed his embarrassing letters on until they finally became cannon.
Many died for their belief in the resurrection, as most of the apostles did.
Secular history records what Nero did to the church. The apostles had to believe what they taught to withstand torture and death. Cult leaders and false teachers will lie for monetary gain and to receive the admiration of men, they will not die to perpetuate their lies.
Old Testament prophets predicted the resurrection.
Not only did Jesus predict His own resurrection (the fact that there were soldiers stationed at the sepulcher prove this), the Old Testament prophets predicted it also. In fact, they foretold His entire life.
If there were no God, all theories would be equally impossible. Is Karl Sagan right? Is the fishbowl all there is? If there is a God, the reason many will not believe the resurrection is that it requires that they change their life (repentance). Isn't this an example of world view rather than the observation of the facts determining the theory?
While many believe that religious claims are outside the scope of scientific observation and therefore not science. The evidence of miracles (the same way some scientists believe evidence of the big bang) are observable.
I hope this section Christians and skeptics are both called to reason has been challenging. When we talk of science, for it to have meaning, we must also search for the truth. If you like Martin Luther despise reason, this is not a study for you. However, for the Christians and skeptics alike, this is an invitation to reason. So let us become true scientists, recognizing and overcoming our biases is the goal, our desire is to uncover the truth.
How Should a Scientist Approach the Bible?
If God speaks through the Bible, we should expect the Bible to speak accurately of scientific phenomenon. If God is honest as Christian's claim, the Bible should not be misleading when it speaks of scientific facts. Yet, as the Bible is not primarily a textbook, we must not approach it as one. Here are some tips on how to avoid common errors when we look for the science in the Bible.
Biblical Inerrancy Does Not Imply the People Were Inerrant
Many misunderstand what the Bible is teaching because they do not observe who is speaking. It is worth noting that the Bible quotes every type of person including false prophets. The Bible even quotes Satan himself speaking. When the Bible quotes a person, for example, this religious leader who is condemning the disciples of Jesus,
John 7:49 ~ "But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed."
We do not have to believe that because the Bible quoted him that what he said is true, rather that this is only an accurate record of what the person stated and of the events as they happened. If, as we see here, the Bible can quote an ignorant religious leader, could it also quote a person who is ignorant of certain scientific facts? The only time we can demand that the Bible's science be accurate is when the Bible leads us to believe that the person speaking knows his subject, is lead of the Holy Spirit or has a gift of prophecy.
Poetry or Prose
First the definitions:
Prose: Ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure. To speak or write in a dull, tiresome style. To the reader of prose, the subject matter is important rather than the style of writing.
Poetry: The poetic works of a given author, group, nation, or kind. A piece of literature written in meter or verse. A quality that suggests poetry, as in grace, beauty, or harmony. A good poet can make any subject interesting, to the one who enjoys his style.
It is important to understand this difference between prose and poetry. To quote an Indian poet:
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." - Rabindranath Tagore
As Tagore's thoughts were on philosophy, rather than astronomy, you may be able to understand what he meant by 'sunset'. Yet there is always that know-it-all, you know the guy, who says that such people are ignorant of basic scientific facts. Everyone knows that the sun does not set; rather the earth rotates!
Nobody likes to appear foolish; can you use the word sunset? Or should you use a synonym for sunset that acknowledges it’s the earth that rotates? I looked up synonyms for sunset and found: close of day, crepuscular light, dusk, eve, evening, eventide, gloaming, nightfall, sundown, twilight. There was even a definition: "fall of sun below horizon".
Neither the synonyms nor the definition of the word sunset acknowledges the fact that the earth is rotating, rather than the sun setting. If your goal was to describe the motion of the earth, we could expect you to be more precise. Any Archaeologist who stumbles on a thesaurus a thousand years from now can assume that our whole culture is ignorant of some basic cosmological truths. In the meantime, we can we can enjoy our sunset. The mindless person who deliberately misunderstands you does not prove that you do not know that it is the earth rotating and not the sun setting.
The following is a verse that the Skeptics use to point out that the Bible is scientifically inaccurate. It is an excerpt from the Book of Joshua.
.Joshua 10:13 ~ And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day
Here is that problem of the sunset again. While most of us believe that the earth spins rather than the sun orbiting the earth, what Joshua knew about cosmology, we can only speculate. Today when we define the word sunset, everyone understands that we are speaking relative to the earth. Why is it so hard to understand this verse the same way? Joshua was recording a miracle, anybody who reads his account of the battle can understand what happened. Joshua was not even pretending to teach astronomy. He was speaking of the sun's motion relative to the battlefield. If this miracle happened today, we would record it the same way.
The following is another verse that Skeptics use to prove that the Bible is scientifically inaccurate.
Isaiah 11:12 ~ And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Everybody knows that the earth does not have corners, just as everybody knows that a compass's points are really directions the north, east, south, and west. Yet skeptics point to the above verse in Isaiah to prove that the Bible has errors. Yet if he had kept reading, Isaiah also said:
Isaiah 40:22 ~ It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.
Since Isaiah knew that the earth was round, is it not reason to believe that Isaiah 11:12 was an idiom? Or at least poetry? Rather than stumbling over the words four corners or sunset, if we chose to, we could see some of Isaiah's observations.
- Isaiah said the world was round, today most of us believe that the world is round.
- Isaiah said the Lord stretched out the heavens, today most scientists believe that the universe is still expanding.
- At the end of time, God will gather the outcasts of Israel from the four corners of the earth; we are starting to see this prophecy come true today.
Many examples seem more like excuses to not believe, than a serious examination of the Bible. The pseudo scientist is blinded by his bias where as the real scientist knows that he has a bias and works to overcome it in his search for truth.
Do Not Be Quick to Reject the Bible for Errors.
We must again look at our personal bias. Let me give you an example. Suppose you are a man who lives with an unfaithful wife. One day you come home from work early and see a man sneaking out your back door. What would you suspect? Now suppose you are a man and your wife can be trusted without reservation. Again, you come home from work early and see a man sneaking out your back door. Though you may not be able to imagine what happened, you know that your wife will be able to provide a reasonable explanation. Maybe he was delivering a birthday cake that she was trying to keep a surprise.
If you start by believing the Bible has errors, like the husband who cannot trust his wife, when you read a verse like this one:
Job 9:6 ~ Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
You may reason, "The Bible teaches that the earth is on pillars, there is another scientific error" and become more affirmed and closed minded in your opinion.
If, like the second husband, you have come to trust the Bible without reservation, you may not have an immediate explanation but your faith will not waiver. For myself, after reading the Bible and enjoying its transforming power in my life, I have become like the second husband. As time has passed, most of the apparent contradictions have been answered, as this one was in a later verse:
Job 26:7 ~ He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
The same person, Job, is speaking and he is speaking in the same book. Therefore, he knew the world wasn't placed on some sort of granite or marble pillars after all. What then was Job trying to teach? The skeptic will never find out, only the one on an enduring search for truth will.
Here is another example from the skeptics of an apparent contradiction in the Bible. Did Solomon have four thousand stalls, or forty thousand stalls for his horses and chariots?
2 Chronicles 9:25 ~ And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
1 Kings 4:26 ~ And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
In one apologetic book the author suggested that this was a copyist error and therefore not evidence against the Bible's inspiration. Although not a very satisfying answer, this apologist is like the husband of the faithful wife. In time, with a little closer examination, he may find that:
- 2 Chronicles 9:25 teaches that Solomon had four thousand stalls for his chariots.
- 1 Kings 4:26 teaches that Solomon had forty thousand stalls for the horses that pulled his chariots.
A ratio of ten horses to one chariot seems reasonable. A chariot does not tire out, horses do, it makes sense in a battle that horses would be driven hard and need to take shifts. Other factors like injuries, even if it were only a split hoof, would need immediate replacement. If one is willing, he can easily resolve most contradictions with a little study.
Finally, some apparent contradictions cannot be resolved with the information at hand. Imagine living in the eighteenth century and while studying your Bible you come across the following verse.
Revelation 13:15 ~ And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Since there was no such thing as talking images before the 1900s, perhaps an 18th century theologian could explain this verse by saying that the apostle was speaking symbolically. Skeptics could use this as proof that the Bible not only has errors but that it is insensible.
Those who literally believed that someday there would be talking images sure looked foolish. It may have been some such verse that inspired Mark Twain to say, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so". While this prophecy is still in the future, today talking images are not hard to imagine, and skeptics would not use images that talk as proof the Bible has errors.
1 Corinthians 1:19-21 ~ For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The skeptics can give many other examples of apparent errors in the Bible, most can be easily resolved, though not all. A real scientist does his research before he draws his conclusion. Finding these answers is far more satisfying for the scientist than closing the ears can ever be to the scoffer. You know the guy, the one while being presented one answer is not listening; rather he is waiting for you to stop talking so he can present three more objections.
1 Timothy 6:20 ~ O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.
It is important for this reason that you do not learn about the Bible from a skeptic. Why receive any instruction from a person who hated the subject he was teaching. They are more likely to be poorly educated themselves. They are teaching when they should be learning. They create straw-men arguments. After showing you an error, like Job 9:6, they will discourage you from seeking the hidden treasure in the Bible. Their goal is to make you like them. For the serious Bible student, 23 Mistakes Not to Make While Studying Your Bible, will help anyone avoid making the most common errors.
Recognize There Are Often Hidden Assumptions in Science
I will use Radiocarbon dating for an example of how hidden assumptions affect our experimental results. First the simple facts. (To keep it simple, I will not add variables like nuclear tests and volcanoes.)
The sun's rays impact nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere, which through a nuclear reaction, creates carbon-14 (among other things). About half of this Carbon-14 (unlike its Carbon -12 and Carbon-13 counterparts) decays every 5730 years. This carbon-14 finds its way into carbon dioxide and mixes with the other stable carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Green plants, by photosynthesis, take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and break it down into carbon, which they use to make organic material, and release the oxygen back into the atmosphere.
Animals and people that eat these plants have in their bodies the same ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 as is present in the atmosphere. When plants or animals die, they stop taking in carbon (carbon dioxide or food). As a result of radioactive decay, an animal that dies today will have a ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in 5730 years that is half of what is in the atmosphere today.
Now the assumptions:
If you believe the earth is over four billion years old:
Let's say a specimen from an archeological dig is found to have a ratio that is one-fourth the carbon-14 to carbon-12 that is present in the atmosphere. This specimen will be dated to 11,460 years old. Half the carbon-14 decaying in the first 5730 years; and half the remaining carbon-14 decaying in the next 5730 years.
If you believe the earth is about six thousand years old:
Let's say a specimen from an archeological dig is tested and found to have one-fourth the carbon-14 to carbon-12 that is in the atmosphere. This specimen will have to date to less than six thousand years.
At the beginning of creation, the sun was not around long enough to make any carbon-14. There would be no carbon-14 in the atmosphere. A specimen with any carbon-14 present would have to have lived after enough carbon-14 was created (the present rate is about 16.5 pounds per year), and had time to bind with oxygen to become carbon dioxide, be absorbed by a plant and finally eaten by the specimen being tested.
A scientist who believes that the earth is young will calibrate his scale far differently than a scientist who believes the earth is old. Those who believe that carbon dating proves the earth is older than six thousand years have never been taught to think about their assumptions.
Many scientific errors in the Bible can be resolved if we understood that we are often making judgments based on assumptions.
Bible Science Taught as Faith
A science textbook may give an entire chapter to discussing the solar system. The Bible has only a few passages for the same topic. This does not mean the Bible is not scientific, rather it means that it is not a textbook. We must look at quality not quantity when we examine the Bible.
When God gave Israel His commandments, He asked them to keep them out of love and thankfulness for what He had done for them. The main thing was for Israel to be obedient. If they obeyed, whether or not, they understood the science they would have had the benefit. Therefore, God did not say thou shalt not commit adultery so that you do not become infected with a sexually transmitted disease, He said,
Exodus 20:14 ~ Thou shalt not commit adultery.
THEN WITHOUT MAKING A CONNECTION, HE SAID THAT IF ISRAEL WOULD OBEY HIM:
Deuteronomy 7:15 ~ And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
Today we see the connection between casual sex and STDs. Those who keep the Ten Commandments, whether they understand the science or not, will escape the epidemic of STDs plaguing those who are mocking the Bible's science. If you study the Bible carefully, you will see many examples of science being taught as faith.
Comparing the Bible to Faulty Science
Christians should be careful when defending the Bible to not compare it to faulty science. Not very long ago, bloodletting was a common practice among doctors to treat certain ailments.
If you were living 250 years ago, would you believe that the Bible had errors if it condemned this practice? Would you be open to or even see this as science in the Bible?
Leviticus 21:5 ~ They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
When a theory flops, we do not want our credibility to flop also. Today as secular scientists try to create new theories based on the big bang theory. Christians should be careful in trying to prove the Bible's science by comparing it with these theories. For example, it is a mistake to try and mix the Bible's account of creation with evolution. Someday when the theory of evolution is examined scientifically, we do not want to be embarrassed with the proponents of the hybrid day-age theory.
Threats to Position Affect One's Science
1 John 4:1 ~ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
As we already mentioned, in the mid 1600s, the Roman Catholic Church believed that the sun orbited the earth. When Galileo suggested that it was the other way around, she felt her authority threatened. Rather than looking at his evidence with an open mind, the religious leaders demanded that he recant. This Galileo did with a public confession to avoid torture. Yet to this day, their proud unteachable behavior is still an embarrassment to the Roman Catholic Church.
However, in more recent times, the world's leaders have shed their religious cloak, yet the same spirit of error remains to this day. Today's political and academic leaders fear that if the public should perceive the Bible as the Word of God, they would lose their power. Therefore, they cannot reconsider its truths, rather they will fight at any cost.
"No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power." - Jacob Bronowski
Unfortunately, for true science and real advancement of the human race, these politicians control our universities.
Two worldviews in Science
Nowhere are your beliefs more apparent than in the study of the Bible's science. Your belief on the existence of an all-powerful God will be a major factor in your deciding if the Bible has scientific errors or not. Let us look of some examples of how this is so.
Two Views of the Fossil Record
We touched on the fossil record already, so let's see how our perception of them is based on one of the two worldviews. Currently there are two main theories for how the earth got started; evolution (without God) and creation (with God).
The atheistic evolutionist sees:
- The earth being laid down over millions of years in the different layers called the geologic column.
- The simple organisms are on the bottom, more complex ones are on top.
This is just what one would expect from evolution and evolutionists see no contradictions.
The theistic creationist sees:
- A major worldwide catastrophe. Worldwide, since fossils are worldwide. A catastrophe, because it takes a sudden burial to make fossils.
- In such a catastrophe, more factors than just complexity sort the organisms.
- Slower animals would be buried first. (shellfish would therefore be buried before birds)
- Animals with more mass would sink deeper in the sediments. (shellfish would be buried lower that birds)
- Those already underwater would be buried first. (shellfish would be buried before birds)
- Animals with smaller brains would be buried first. (shellfish would be buried before birds)
- There would be more fossils of shellfish than birds.
The creationist sees just what he expects, with no contradictions.
2 Peter 3:5-6 ~ For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
While both world views make the same observations. It is only the world view that determines the conclusion one reaches when examining this evidence, and finally determines your opinion about Biblical inerrancy.
Two Views of Psychology
Modern Psychology is another area where the contrast between the two worldviews is striking. While there are Christian psychologists, they are either compromising Jesus' teachings or compromising what they learned as psychologists.
The atheistic worldview believes that psychology is a science and its proponents have tremendous political power. You cannot imprison a murderer without giving him his constitutional rights. However, a psychologist can have a person, who has committed no crime, imprisoned in a mental hospital without any rights. NBC news reported a recent example where a six year boy was taken to a psych-ward by ambulance for two days, specifically against his mother's will, for drawing a violent picture from a video game.
Modern Psychology goes beyond just contradicting the Bible, many of the fathers of Psychology displayed strong animosity against Christianity, including:
Sigmund Freud: The inventor of psychoanalysis and most famous psychological theorist of all time. He was not only an atheist; he was openly hostile to Christianity calling it "the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity". Freud believed that all religions were a great hindrance to society and wrote much on this subject trying to explain its origin. Freud himself was also obsessed with sex and linked every personal problem of man to the sexual drive.
Albert Ellis: The developer of rational emotive behavior therapy and pioneer of cognitive-behavioral therapy. He is one of the most influential psychotherapists in history. The American Humanist Association recognized Ellis as Humanist of the Year in 1971. He would debate the proposition that "religion contributes to psychological distress." He also believed that God’s commands forbidding fornication were not only needless; they could harm emotional health.
Carl Rogers: Many regard his influence on psychology as second only to Sigmund Freud. He was one of the founders of the Association for Humanistic Psychology and the Center for Studies of the Person, and a pioneer in the "human potential movement".
These and other leaders in modern psychology have rejected Christianity, Their rejection has caused them to lose objectivity in their search for truth and therefore reject the science that is in the Bible (The 12 step program being one of the few exceptions).
Yet Christians who follow Christ's teachings have found them to be sound. They can testify to being cured of chemical dependencies, anger problems, depression and other disorders listed in the DSM-IV.
You can look at our own studies on Healing for Depression or Does Your Child Have ADHD? for examples of the Bible's science.
Modern psychology not only contradicts the Bible, many of the theories proposed by its proponents are contradictory to each other. There are many sources exposing the errors of modern psychology. Since my bias is so strong, someone else will need to write a paragraph or two showing how modern psychology has benefited mankind, if it stays on topic, I will add it to this study.
Two Views in Education
These two views are best represented by the difference between the public schools which have removed all vestiges of Christianity and home schooling, which was started as and still is a predominantly Christian movement.
In our public schools (at least in the United States), the political climate decides truth, not objective investigation. This is seen by low scores, drug use and violence in public schools.
Low Scores: Our scholastic achievements started dropping the moment they removed Christianity from our Schools.
Drugs: Joseph A. Califano Jr., who served as health secretary during the Carter administration, tells WebMD that parents, school administrators, and government officials need to "wake up to the reality of increasingly drug-infested schools." [...] Based on survey responses, researchers concluded that 80% of the nation’s high school students and 44% of middle-schoolers have personally seen illegal drugs used or sold and/or students drunk or high on the grounds of their schools.
During the 1999-2000 school year, 20% of all public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault. 71% of public schools reported violent incidents and 46% reported thefts. In several surveys, 7-9 percent of students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon such as a gun, knife or club on school property in the preceding 12 months.
Compare this to children that are homeschooled.
"Homeschool children in a study averaged in 85th percentile while the public school students averaged in the 50th percentile on nationally standardized achievement tests."
According to a July 2010 study, by Dr. Michael Cogan,
The homeschooled students enter college with a higher ACT scores of 25.0 compared to 14.7 for public schools.
Dr. Brain D. Ray researched homeschooled children:
And found that 71% of previously homeschooled adults served in their communities compared with the public at 37-39%.
And found that 59% reported being very happy with life (compared to the general population at 27.6%).
And found that 94% had the same religious views as their parents. (Source: www.brighthub.com)
Most of my statistics come from homeschooling sources because it is far easier to find meaningful statistics from them, than from public school sources (It is not just my bias). Since our public education used to produce high scores, the only way public education can now have any real scientific claim, would be if they were dummying down our children on purpose. Conversely, if the scientific principles taught in the Bible were backward, homeschooling would not be successful.
Which worldview do you hold to?
We can look at many other areas in science or at the above examples more closely to see more contrasts. It is obvious that today's secular and politically controlled science does contradict the Bible. Nor is there any hope for them (as a body of scientists), to overcome their prejudice. Yet individuals, after a careful study, often do change sides, as I myself did. In the mean time, I hope the skeptic reading this has been challenged to see that his opinion is based on his worldview as much as any physical evidence. And I hope my fellow Christians have gained some useful witnessing tools after reading this study.
In time, like the story of Galileo, much of our contemporary science will falter and be exposed for what it is. Let me rephrase that, science that is controlled by the political climate will embarrass its proponents in time. Yet Christians must also watch their biases, and hunger only for truth. We must all use caution when we learn science from those who have political or monetary motives for their beliefs. And, as far as possible, try to see both sides in a question.
Luke 11:35 ~ Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
While many websites have shown examples of the Bible's science, I hope this has helped you learn how to scientifically investigate the Bible for yourself. May God give you the grace to receive the truth. May God especially bless those who received the truth though it was at great personal cost.
Written by Jeff Barnes