Essay - Science and the Bible
 
Fast Facts

 

Science is based on the principle of working out what is known to be true or most probably true and then seeking further knowledge on its terms. It sternly avoids trying to explain what is not known through something that is unknown.  Religion is about assumptions and speculations dressed up as knowledge and wisdom so science is definitely against religion.


You have no right where evidence is concerned to believe in many religious doctrines.  Even if Jesus came back from the dead it would not mean there is evidence that God did it.  It only means somebody came back.  Yet it is central to Christianity to have God raising Jesus.

Science is the best thing to show how we work and how the universe works. But it is also the the only thing.  Religion denies both of these.  Alleged revelation from God is put first.

 

Foreword

 

The biggest challenge to the reasonableness of the Bible and its truth is the view that science and Bible based religion are incompatible and locked in conflict. It is my intention to answer that perception by examining how the Bible responds to it.
 
Christianity would need to be more than just tolerant of science. It would need to embrace and encourage and praise it with utmost sincerity. For some Buddhists, science is mysticism without the magical thinking (page 114, WHY I AM A BUDDHIST, No Nonsense Buddhism for Modern Living, Stephen T Asma, Watkins, London, 2011 - sadly maligned but wonderful book, a gem!). Christianity does not give science true respect. It says all truth comes from the one source - God. If so, then science because it is always checking itself out and revising and being cautious with evidence and logic then should come before anything else as a source of truth. The fact of the matter is that a learning discipline based on evidence is good but one that even more based on it science alone occupies that place, is better. Christianity in principle does not give science its rightful place and thus should be walked away from.
 
Claims of the Bible
 
We are suspicious of miracles and revelation from God - seeing them as hangovers from a pre-scientific age. Yet the Bible states that it is the revelation from God and it endorses a worldview based on miracles including the power of God to change even the hardest of hearts.
 
If the Bible does not claim to be the word of God, then there is no point in worrying that it might disagree with science. It’s just another ancient work.
 
The Bible claims to be the word of God - and all of it is breathed out by God. 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is God-breathed (All Scripture Quotations except where stated otherwise: New International Version, Study Version (Zondervan, 2011).
 
It presupposes that God is all-powerful: Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So God then will not need to resort to lying Numbers 23:19, God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?.  To tell a lie is to try and assert control over something that may not be controllable. Deep down we do not want to believe in a God who is capable of being deceived or who can deceive. Such a God cannot be our rock and our fortress. Psalm 18:2, The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. If the Bible is God’s word it cannot err and it claims to be revelation from God and therefore a miracle - result of direct supernatural divine activity.

 

Such a claim automatically makes the Bible matter.  If science collapses it does not matter as long as the Bible is there.  This view is clearly a threat to science.  It says an infallible Bible matters and science does not for it uses trial and error and self-correction thus it is not infallible.
 
Limits of Science
 
Christian say that science is restricted in what it can discover for us so it is wrong to assume it necessarily rules out the biblical worldview. The limit needs to be seen as honouring science not as an excuse for looking down your nose at it. It is not sciences fault and it is a pity it cannot tell us more. It is a pity if it cannot debunk a religion.
 
Christians argue that, "Science can only deal with what came to be at the big bang. It cannot show that God does not exist or does not exist for that is outside its scope. If the universe came from something at the big bang, where did the something come from? Christianity answers that it was made by God who is a non-physical entity - spirit John 4:24 “God is spirit” and who did not make it from anything: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” Hebrews 11:3 (KJV). Science only deals with physical energies and entities Vernon, M. The Big Questions, God, (Quercus, 2012), p. 29
 
The problem is that this sees creation as merely a past act. Creation in Christian theology is seen as continuous. It is like a woman baking bread. Unless she focuses a magic ray on it, it will revert to dough. She has to continuously act on it to keep it baked. Science will tell us the apple fell off the tree because of gravity. Christianity will say that that it is not gravity for gravity is just God's action. Those two views are incompatible. Both mean something different by the word gravity.
 
Science cannot verify many non-physical realities. It cannot prove that we love God. It is thought that there is no conflict between the core biblical theory that God made all things and what science has learned about the origins of all things. But who decides what the core is? And the Bible spends very little time caring about God creating - it is very interested in his miracles and what terrible laws he gives out.
 
It is said, "The scientist knows that there are non-scientific realities such as love. He cannot prove it. He also knows there is no reason to assume there are non-physical realities outside of our experience such as God." But just because science cannot test for love does not mean love is a non-scientific reality. An illness can be a medical reality though no doctor can find it.
 
It is said, "Science cannot prove that we really have free will for it admits that we might be programmed to feel we really are making decisions and have freedom. If we are programmed, we cannot trust ourselves to know the truth. The Bible says we know what is right and wrong in our hearts even if we do not admit it. It is necessary for science to assume we have free will or to believe perhaps the Bible that we have it. The Christian who says, “God said I have free will”, is better off than the unbelieving scientist who merely assumes it. It is more scientific to believe a testimony from God than to merely assume it." This clearly makes religion the master. It is put over science. Science does not care how we manage to learn things but just cares that we do learn.
 
The claim that science tells us how things came to be; the Bible tells us why is untruthful. The Old Testament gives no clear answer on the meaning of life and the New Testament bases it on the resurrection of Jesus.  Also there is no real continuity between both Testaments so in effec there are two Bibles. 

 

The Bible does say how things came to be. Jesus did not rise from the dead so we could simply wonder why he did it. The answer to the how of the resurrection is that God, the master of life, raised Jesus Acts 2:32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. The how is inseparable from the why because if God was not the cause of the resurrection then the why does not matter.
 
Science ignores the supernatural. To say something has come from nothing - that is has been created - is supernatural. It is not naturally possible. The Bible teaches that only God can create or make from nothing. The Bible sees creation as a miracle endorsing a supernatural worldview.
 
Miracles
 
A miracle is to be defined as something God does to inspire us to be holier people that does not have a natural explanation. For example, Jesus dying a cruel death and being alive and well a few after days is naturally impossible. It is however supernaturally possible. God has the power to do that. The Bible speaks of the resurrection of Jesus as a supernatural sign from God verifying the claims Jesus made to be our God and Saviour. Mt 12:39,40 Jesus answered, A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
 
Believers say that science will be limited to showing that there is no natural explanation. It cannot do experiments on the supernatural so it can say no more than that. However, think about what they are saying. Science will not test a claimed miracle exhaustively so it cannot really rule out every natural explanation. It is impractical. And science has more important things to worry about than if God took away your tumour. It prioritises what to investigate.
 
The view advocated by Mark Vernon that a miracle is any event strange or otherwise that makes a person feel they have just encountered God Vernon, M. The Big Questions, God, (Quercus, 2012), p. 77 is inadequate. It is too subjective because some people believing their cow is God, feel they have experienced it. We would be unable to take such miracles seriously. Scripture tells us to live by faith and not feeling so that we might take faith very seriously - 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
 
Most Christians accept the scientific doctrines that all things including space and time began at the big bang and that there wasn’t anything until then Stannard, R. Science & Belief, The Big Issues (Lion, 2012), p. 55. Should we think that there is no conflict between miracles and science primarily because the greatest miracle of all is creation from nothing and both science and Christianity concur with that?
 
Christians complain that materialistic naturalist scientists refuse to deal with the agreement and focus on the following line of thought to deny that miracles are possible or believable.
 
Science says dead men stay dead.
 
Jesus was claimed to have risen from the dead according to the New Testament evidence.
 
The claim is untrue for dead men stay dead.
 
Line 3 should be,
 
The claim is probably true for the evidence that Jesus rose is sufficient.
 
That version of the argument honours science. Science is fundamentally concerned about evidence. The previous version of the argument only pays lip-service to science.
 
Mc Grath approvingly puts forward Pannenberg’s conviction that “The decisive factor in determining what happened … is the evidence contained in the New Testament” McGrath, A. Bridge-Building (Inter-Varsity Press, 1954), p. 164. This teaching appears in scripture John 20:30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
 
Science is about external ways of checking things out. For example, equipment is used to measure and test. The Christian encounters the risen Jesus in her or his heart John 6:56 “lives in me and I live in him” The Christian does not test the relationship that he experiences. He just experiences it and that is better than using any experiment or test. What is more scientific than that?
  
Science is Based on Faith too!


Some Christians complain, “Why do so many people today insist on adopting a literal approach to Genesis - one that inevitably puts them on a collision course with science?”Stannard, R. Science & Belief, The Big Issues (Lion, 2012), p. 19
 
This contains the hidden assumption that God telling us something was the case is unscientific.

 

The fact that the scriptures give evidence that God has spoken doesn’t make them unscientific. We put faith in what the scientists tell us and trust that they conducted experiments honestly. We just cannot get away from faith and faith is scientific. The Bible like science requires faith. The importance of the Bible is that it gives us a way to ‘divinise’ science and fill it with light and life so that it is not a source of insipid and dry facts.

 
When science is based on testimony, surely the person who grounds himself on divine testimony is the most scientific person of all? God is in a better position to tell us than anybody else Matthew 6:4, Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 
 
Conclusion
 
The Bible despite being written by ordinary and often poorly educated people should contradict science. And it does. Faith in the Bible is about non-experts wanting to feel they know better than scientific experts. Loads of lies are told to make Christianity look like the friend of science. It is its fairweather friend.
 
Bibliography
 
Griffiths, R. Ed. Hitchens vs Blair, Is Religion a Force for Good in the World? (Black Swan, 2011)

McGrath, A. Bridge-Building (Inter-Varsity Press, 1954)

 

Newman, R. Questioning Evangelism (Kregel Publications, 2007)
 
Reid, A. Apologetics (Moore Theological College, 1996)
 
Stannard, R. Science & Belief, The Big Issues (Lion, 2012)
 
Vernon, M. The Big Questions, God (Quercus, 2012)
 
Warfield, B B, On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race (The Princeton Theological Review, 1911)