The Bible And Science And The Bible
In spite of the fact that there are many scientists who believe the Bible to be the word of God, the common conception is that you must choose either the Bible or science. This condition exists partly because of false theories about the Bible and partly because of false theories about science. Science really involves experimentation, observation and classification of facts. Conflict often comes because an interpretation is placed upon the facts which contradicts Bible teaching, or because an interpretation is placed upon Scripture which contradicts scientific fact. We believe that the God of Nature is the God of the Bible and, therefore, the two "books" cannot be contradictory.
We must realize that the Bible is not written as a book of science. Bernard Ramm made the following observations about the language of the Bible that are worthy of our careful consideration. "The language of the Bible with reference to natural matters is popular not scientific." By "popular" he means the language in which the common man converses. "The scientist writes his essay for his technical journal in the jargon of his speciality, and this jargon is a most valuable tool for the communication of his ideas. When he chats with his neighbor as they meet in some social gathering the scientist prudently recourses to the vocabulary of popular speech." Also, he observed, "The language of the Bible is phenomenal. By phenomenal we mean `pertaining to appearances.' The Bible uses a language that is not only popular but restricted to the apparent. For example it speaks of `the four corners (wings) of the earth' (Isa. 11:12) because the division of something into quarters is a frequent human operation and a convenient method of indicating place. . . such expressions are neither scientific nor anti-scientific, but the popular and phenomenal expressions of daily conversation."(1)
Men who have not understood these facts have claimed that the Bible is anti-scientific because it speaks of the sun as "going down" or "rising." The truth is that such expressions do not imply an earth-centered universe, and the very scientists who would make such criticism probably speak of the sun "rising in the East" or a "beautiful sunset." Such expressions are "popular and phenomenal expressions" and not anti-scientific.
Why the concern over whether the Bible and science agree or disagree? Some would say that the two are in separate realms and that we should not be concerned about harmonizing them. We disagree with this concept for three reasons. First, because some have used "science" to create anti-Scriptural systems. When men of science place an interpretation upon facts which contradicts plain Bible teaching, then their interpretations must be challenged. Second, the Bible does state some facts that are scientific. If these facts are rejected, the the whole Bible is unreliable and not to be trusted in anything. For example, the Bible teaches that matter was created, therefore is not eternal, that everything reproduces after its "kind" and that God created man from the dust of the earth. If scientists contend that matter is eternal, that every "kind" came through the process of organic evolution and that man descended from the ape, their theories must be challenged. Both cannot be right! Third, miracles have been attacked as non-scientific and, therefore, not to be accepted. "If the biologist denies the virgin birth and the astronomer the long day of Joshua and the geologist the creation record"(2) the Christian must stand opposed to such views. The Christian knows that he cannot reproduce the virgin birth, the creation of woman from a rib or any other miracle recorded in the Bible, but this does not contradict science. Science simply does not deal with the miraculous.
We will now notice some scientific laws and show their harmony with Bible facts. The law of biogenesis says that living organisms can be generated only by pre-existing living organisms. The Genesis account says that everything reproduces "after its kind" (Gen. 1:21). Today, many scientists deny this law in order to propagate the theory of organic evolution. A person must either accept the fact that God created and that things reproduce after their own kind, or that matter is eternal and that life originated from spontaneous generation. "Organic evolution, as usually defined, means that gradual development of all forms of life by natural processes from complex chemicals in the earth's primeval ocean .... But there is an overwhelming scientific objection right at the beginning, namely, the impossibility of accounting for the development of living organisms from nonliving chemicals in the first place. The notion of `spontaneous generation' was widely held until demolished by Pasteur and others a hundred years ago. It is known beyond doubt that there is no such process occurring in the present world . . . ."(3) The evolutionist, in denying the Bible account, must believe in spontaneous generation though he knows that not one case is documented and that it is contrary to the law of biogenesis!
Another scientific law that harmonizes with the Bible teaching is called the First Law of Thermodynamics. In 1841, "Mayer formulated the law of mass and energy conservation .... This law of energy conservation states that the sum total of all energy in the universe remains constant, but one form of energy may be converted into another. A companion law is the law of mass conservation, which states that although matter may be changed in size, shape, form, etc., the total mass cannot be changed."(4) The Bible says that the "heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them" (Gen. 2:1).
The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the universe is running down, which harmonizes with the Bible teaching that it was created. "The atheist ridicules the concept of an Eternal God, yet he himself believes in the eternal existence of matter. His belief in the eternal existence of matter is not only without reasonable evidence, it is contrary to one of the best established scientific laws, the Second Law of Thermodynamics . . . ."(5)
The Christian accepts the statements of Scripture by faith. We did not see God create the world and the various kinds of creatures, but the facts of science do not contradict the facts of Scripture. The evolutionist accepts his position by faith also. He has not observed life springing from non-living substance, nor an ape changing into a man. He believes that time, chance and environment can, and in fact have, produced the universe and all that it contains.
Why have scientists accepted this unscientific theory? In 1921, the British botanist D.H. Scott, said: "A new generation has grown up which knows not Darwin. Is even then evolution not a scientifically ascertained fact? No! We must hold it as an act of faith because there is no alternative."(6) D.M.S. Watson, Professor of Zoology in London University said: "Evolution is a theory universally accepted, not because it can be proved to be true, but because the only alternative, `special creation,' is clearly impossible."(7)
The book, "Why Scientists Accept Evolution" by Robert T. Clark and James D. Bales documents the fact that the nineteenth century scientists "accepted evolution because of their anti-supernatural bias, and not because of the weight of scientific evidence" (p. 108). They also conclude that many today "accept it for the simple reason that certain men, who were supposed to know, accepted it." Many science teachers today are totally ignorant of any objection to the theory of organic evolution. They are unaware that scientific facts can be interpreted to harmonize with the creation account.(8)
There are many other evidences that could be given of the harmony between the Bible and science. We must be careful however, not to read into the Bible so-called "pre-scientific" statements that were not intended. The amazing fact that no anti-scientific statements are found in the Bible should fortify our faith in the word of God. We believe it because of its unity, fulfilled prophecy and profound teaching, but its scientific and historical accuracy confirms our faith. It is from God and the false theories of men are not found therein.
1. Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, p. 46.
2. Ibid., p. 30.
3. Henry M. Morris, The Bible and Modern Science, pp. 33, 34.
4. A.O. Sehnabel, Has God Spoken?, p. 50.
5. Wayne Jackson, Fortify Your Faith, p. 10.
6. Bolton Davidheiser, Evolution and Christian Faith, p. 155.
8. There is an excellent booklet, "The Theory of Evolution and Special Creation," by John L. Clark and David A. Eakin which gives scientific facts and then the evolutionary and creationist interpretations of these facts.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 1, pp. 16-17