Is the Bible at odds with science?
The Bible tells us that miracles happen! The birth of Jesus to a virgin, and His resurrection from the grave are cardinal elements in the faith of Christians. The origin of life itself stems from the mind and act of God. Incredibly, some scientists teach that we evolved from single cells, which in turn developed over billions of years from electrical charges. In the face of the amazing complexity of living beings, they still find no evidence of intelligent design in the universe.
Thus science is often pitted against the Bible, but everything depends on what we mean by science. Science is based on careful observation, on precise description of natural events and phenomena. Scientific conclusions are based solely on reasoning from factual evidence. Every Christian should have great respect for the scientific method and accept its validity. However, some well-meaning Christians take the position that science and the Bible are implacable enemies, and they go through life with a chip on their shoulders. This attitude contributes nothing to anyone's understanding.
Unfortunately, some scientists regard the Bible as an antiquated collection of myths and primitive nonsense. In their worldview there is no place for intelligent design. Once they have dismissed the Bible they look down on believers as people still trapped in their outdated faith systems. The two sides appear to be locked in endless conflict.
Both sides could use a dose of humility. We remember that when Nicolaus Copernicus declared that the Earth was not the center of the universe, he was declared a heretic. Later, Galileo was put on trial for declaring that the sun was the center of our solar system. Church authorities demanded that they recant. (It should be noted that the Bible itself is not the culprit in this conflict.)
Clearly science has made astonishing discoveries and exposed entrenched beliefs as false. Every Christian should support the quest of science as it seeks to uncover and understand the amazing mysteries of the universe. One's sense of wonder at the complexity and enormity of the universe can only be deepened and enriched.
At the same time, some scientists fall into the trap of calling theories facts when they are only theories. This actually violates the scientific method. Among these enormous and unproved assumptions are those concerning the origin of life and the denial of the supernatural. For such scientists, the conclusion is that we got here by chance and will end up in nothingness. This position is fundamentally unsupportable, and the Bible provides a wonderful and totally reasonable alternative. It is an alternative that involves faith in the timeless existence of the being the Bible calls God.
There is a very sinister idea making the rounds these days, an idea even taught in the schools as the truth. That idea is that science is grounded only in facts and religion is grounded solely in faith in the Bible. Therefore, the theory goes, when it comes to the origin of life, evolution may be taught in the schools, but not creation. The truth is that both of these views are grounded in a huge leap of faith and both claim to be reasonable. The creationist indeed places her faith in intelligent design, and finds in this faith a reasonable explanation of life and its origin. However, the evolutionist also operates by faith: faith in the inexplicable and wholly random origin of something out of nothing! Make no mistake, this is a leap of faith, an astounding assumption not based on any observable facts. For Christians, faith in intelligent design as explanation for the origin of life is far more reasonable than faith in randomness and blind chance.
When it comes to miracles, it is fair to conclude that they lie outside of science, but are not opposed to science. God can and does intervene in history, so scientists (and all of us) do well to be humble in the face of miracle. But Christians (and everybody else as well) also do well not to call something a miracle just because we don't understand it. When both these positions are understood and accepted, science and the Bible are not at odds. They are both gifts from God.
Let's remember, too, that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. Although Christians accept the Bible as entirely true, it does not use scientific terminology. After all, it was written thousands of years ago! So it uses terms such as "sunrise" and "sunset", even though we know that the sun does not rise or set. The Bible is a casebook of divine love and admonition, as well as the very human response of failure and triumph.
So although the Bible is not a scientific treatise, it is our guidebook for life. It teaches us amazement in the face of life's mysteries. On our sickbed when all the answers of science have been exhausted, we throw ourselves on the hope so wonderfully described in the Bible. We live here by faith and reach for life beyond the grave. In its pages we find the story of our origin and destiny. Has it become your guidebook, too?
Published Friday, December 27, 2013