Science and the Bible
MANY OF THE WONDERS
OF God's universe have been
placed within man's ability to
understand and control. They are
"wonders" because their magnitude or
intricacy is often beyond man's
understanding. Until the last century,
the observation of the natural world
was generally accepted as evidence of
God's power and wisdom, yet now
the sciences often seem to challenge a
Christian's faith in God and the truth
of the Bible.
Science may appear threatening to Christians because many of it's experts, who are usually well educated, deny the Bible account of creation, the spiritual nature of man, or even the existence of God. The influence of these men, who are highly respected in our society, is seen in science textbooks and in the mass media. The introduction, "Scientists have found . . ." adds credibility to nearly any statement, and successes in technology (electronics, medicine, etc.) seem to validate what "scientists" say. How can a Christian cope with the assault on the truth of the Bible that comes in the name of science?
First, he must understand what science is. Webster defines science as "the establishment of verifiable general laws, chiefly by induction and hypothesis." Practically, science is the observing and analyzing of natural phenomena in an effort to discover natural laws. Scientists assume that these natural laws exist and that man can understand and describe them. These laws govern the heavens (astronomy), the elements (physics, chemistry), and life (biology). Technology refers to the application of the laws of science to control the natural world for man's purposes, and it is technology that provides the cures, conveniences, and curios that fill our lives.
Science, then, is observing, experimenting with, and controlling our world. Surely this is the meaning of God's command to "fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28). Solomon's wisdom included an understanding "of trees, of beasts, of birds, of creeping things, and of fishes" (1 Kings 4:33), and the pioneers of our modern science were educated men who believed that the creation and the laws of heaven (Psalm 148:5-6; Job 38:33) were the works of God for man, and therefore amenable to man's investigation.
Second, the Christian must remember that scientists are only men -- with the pride, prejudices, and peer pressures common to man. While scientists may be very intelligent and well educated in particular fields, the investment of time and effort in their chosen field may have made them quite ignorant in other (even scientific) areas. It is a foolish expert who does not admit his limitations in all areas but his own. When these men speak, or the media speaks for them, in areas of theology, they need not be given any more credence because of their expertise in science than an expert plumber or farmer speaking on the same subject.
Third, and most important, the Christian must realize that there are many, very different, branches of science. Those branches that are in greatest conflict with Bible truths have the least experimental foundations. In particular: Cosmology, the study of the universe; Paleontology, the study of life of past geological periods; and Anthropology, the study of the origin and development of man, are all investigations of events and processes of the past which cannot be observed or repeated and, consequently, do not have the experimental basis, and hence the certainty of conclusions, that physics, chemistry, or biology have. Unlike other branches of science, the hypotheses produced cannot be verified by direct observation, since they do not describe observed phenomena.
These disciplines, by their definitions, reject the Bible account of creation, and with this starting point, attempt to explain the present state of the universe, life, and man. As a result, conclusions that contradict the bible are no surprise.
These branches of science have not produced the benefits (subduing the earth ) that are analogous to advances in medicine or electronics that have come from chemistry, biology, and physics. There is no such thing as "applied paleontology," for example, since it is only an attempt to describe, not control.
However the media exaggerates the results of research ("HALLEY'S COMET MAY PROVIDE KEY TO ORIGIN OF UNIVERSE"), no scientific research has discovered the fundamental causes of anything. For example, the force of gravity can be measured, calculated, and predicted, but the cause of gravity is unknown. No investigations of science have found answers to man's most important questions about his own origin, purpose, and destiny, and not a single major problem of mankind (war, hunger, disease, crime, death, etc,) has been conquered by science.
A Christian should not fear science, since it is given and governed by God. He should, however, remember the fallibility and limitations of scientists, especially when they speak outside their field, or base their study on false assumptions. He should understand that man can predict and control his world in a limited way, but has not even begun to understand the universe.
Most importantly, a Christian must remember that spiritual questions, including man's origin and nature, are outside the scope of scientific investigation. He must realize that man's ability to observe and employ the laws of nature is clear evidence that man is above them, placed there by God.