do science and the Bible compare?
1) an alternative to religion?
have a foundational belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by
men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily." 1
our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that
what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere."
5.1 Is science an alternative to religion?
Christians believe the
universe to be a product of divine origin. This belief proceeds primarily
from the resurrection of Jesus and the historical testimony of the Bible.
Atheism, by contrast, denies the certainty of any supernatural origin or
divine influence in the world. Atheistic belief is based upon the premise
that God has not been proven to exist, and upon a purely empirical interpretation
of the natural world. However, both Christians and atheists employ science
in support of their case.
does science support the Bible or refute it? This is not
a simple question and it will take many sections to address it fairly.
In brief, science
is not an alternative to a Christian worldview, but merely a method of gathering
information. Science is a method which is not in conflict with the Bible
and can effectively and legitimately affirm the believability of the Bible.
Science is often portrayed by secular thinking as a more rational alternative
than belief in God. As such, science in this respect has actually become
the dominant religion of modern American culture. Many scientists themselves
held similarly lofty views of their profession one hundred years ago, but
the scientific perspective has changed since then.
Beginning shortly after
the advent of the twentieth-century, a paradigm shift in scientific thinking
occurred. New observations about the universe were radically different from
the comparatively simplistic beliefs previously held. These new perspectives
on the nature of the universe were so different that much of the general
populace then, and now, still viewed science and the universe through obsolete
To ensure that today's
readers understand the position of science, the nature of science, and how
those relate to the Bible, we will examine a brief history of the modern
scientific perspective, a discourse on what exactly science is and is not,
the track record of the accuracy and trustworthiness of the scientific method,
and the scientific accuracy of the Bible.
5.2 The history of the modern scientific perspective.
FROM THE 1600'S
Between the late
seventeenth-century and early nineteenth-century, history and historical
precedent began to be viewed as less relevant to learning than reasoning
and empiricism (the view that sensory experience is the only source
of knowledge). One cause of this was the tremendous success of Isaac Newton's
laws in predicting the behavior of objects in motion. The measurable efficiency
of these laws gave great confidence to the concept of equivocating theories
and formulae with actual facts and evidences. The effect this had on science
graduated into completely new perspectives on the universe.
One major new perspective
was called the philosophy of mechanism, or determinism. Determinism
was the belief that the nature of the universe was like that of a giant
machine. The universe was thought to be an enormous but fundamentally simple
mechanism about which all events and characteristics could be determined
with mathematics. The belief that everything could be so determined, and
the belief that the universe was both unchanging and eternal, was sufficient
confirmation for many skeptics that God did not exist. Their reasoning was
-- DETERMINISM UNSEATS GOD
In the past, things
or events in the universe that were unexplainable had often been attributed
to be mysterious workings of God. If God is spirit and spirit is invisible,
then God's workings must be equally invisible. Understanding them was his
The planets, for example,
were restrained from flying out of their orbits by nothing other than his
sheer will. But now, Newton's theories of mechanics explained the planets'
motion and therefore, presumably, the universe. Charles Darwin's book Origin
of Species, itself part cause/part effect of this new worldview, provided
what some considered the first tangible basis for an alternative to the
divine creation of life. Thus, belief in God was losing out among scientists,
not by being disproved, but by a diminishing need to use divine intervention
as an explanation of that which had previously been thought unexplainable.
Scientists such as Darwin
had not set out to disprove God, but to simply escape the necessity of having
to use "mysterious workings" as a fallback whenever faced with
an unknown. Unknowns typically ended up being the result of some pattern
within nature that had not yet been discovered. With this in mind, deterministic
interpretation of the natural world, limiting itself to empirical observation,
saw nothing beyond those patterns. This
ignored God as a first-cause. That, consequently, eliminated the importance
of his existence, and eliminated any purposes behind those things which
he had supposedly created.
Determinism may have
been an alternative chosen predominantly by those who had never accepted
Christianity in the first place, but it won its share of converts.
-- RELATIVITY UNSEATS DETERMINISM
The idea that determinism
rivaled God as an explanation to the universe seemed to signal that science
had arrived. The universe did not need God as part of its explanation, therefore
God must have never existed to begin with. But this idea, along with
determinism's other thought-to-be-eternal-truths, began to fall apart in
light of the dawn of twentieth-century science.
Albert Einstein's theories
of relativity superseded Newtonian mechanics and totally refuted Newton's
absolutes of motion and rest. Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle,
which said only the speed or location of an electron can be known at any
given time - never both - proved the impossibility of determining any atomic
and, hence, any subsequent event with certainty. A living cell, which in
Darwin's time was thought to be an elementary building block of life, proved
to contain a myriad of complexities, sub-components, and vast information
chains of which no one had even dreamed.
The new truths of
science now said that the universe was not static, not eternal, and just
about everything concerning mechanics was more complex than thought 100
years ago. The simplistic illusion called determinism had come to an
Scientists have since
distanced themselves from deterministic philosophy thanks to Einstein's
and Heisenberg's work. Although determinism is as good as dead to science,
its simplistic form of reasoning continues to live on in certain other systems
of belief which it had influenced; most notably scientific materialism and
persists partially due to the high level of understanding required to appreciate
the more avant-garde nature and profound implications of Einstein's and
Heisenberg's work. Together, their discoveries are proof that determinism
was a product of scientific errors and not an accurate portrayal of reality.
Until this truth is more widely realized, the fallacy that science is any
kind of alternative to religion will continue to be believed and people
will continue to erroneously reason, "God doesn't exist because I don't
think he has to."
-- WHAT SHOULD ALL BELIEFS, SCIENTIFIC OR RELIGIOUS, BE
Now that scientists
have humbly returned to admitting there are still unknowns in the universe,
does science again require God to fill in the blanks? Even if so,
should God be used to fill in the blanks?
Here is an opportunity
to avoid the same misconception that got God thrown out of the picture the
first time. Just as it is presumptuous for a high school student to answer
an algebra question with the words "God only knows", it is just as presumptuous
for the scientist to substitute his or her own ignorance with concluding
miraculous intervention. Ignorance of the universe is not proof that
God exists and should not be invoked as such. Logically speaking, if
God exists, he exists regardless of whether or not we need him to exist,
whether or not we want him to exist, and whether or not we perceive him
Not unlike their theistic
counterparts of medieval times, modern non-theistic scientists now invoke
their own deities of time and chance to fill in for what they cannot
prove and cannot explain. Since there are no
transitional forms to prove macro evolution, for example, evolution
is still a certainty for this simple assumption: "Given enough time
and chance, anything (!)
can happen." Fish turn into men, monkeys type out Shakespeare, tornadoes
assemble mobile homes, and evidence-vacant theories turn into never-to-be-questioned
As for the nineteenth-century
theists who invoked God to answer unanswerable questions, they were not
necessarily displaying any relationship with the God of the Bible. They
more than likely had faith merely in the idea of a god. Their faith may
have been based on lack of information instead of knowledge of the truth.
What determinists should
have accepted is that the only reason to believe anything is by that
which is known, not by that which is unknown. Similarly, our belief
in God should not be based on what we don't know, rather it
should be based on what we do know. Belief in God should
be based on the knowledge of the revelation of Jesus Christ and the evidence
in and of the Bible.
part two - Is science an alternative to religion?
war of philosophies
The Bible and scientific accuracy