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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution

Science and the Bible

How should a Christian approach science that seems to defy the Bible? 

          This is a BIG issue. Many people automatically reinterpret the Bible story to be a metaphor.  But, this is extremely problematic. The Bible itself does not give you a diagram on how to interpret it… literal or metaphor.  Taking this approach seems to render the scriptures useless in debate.  I think the only thing we should agree on is that the Bible should be our starting point in how we live our lives and how we see the world… NOT the other way around.

            If we were to start with the Bible and say.. ok, the Bible says we all come from this original couple, is there any evidence to confirm this? Well, actually yes. Not too long ago the world actually believed the different races were different human races that evolved at different times in different ways (in fact, some still do). The Human Genome Project defied this and discovered that we are ALL one race. We are all human and equal. We are all a different shade of brown – some lighter some darker. There are no actual races. Therefore we could have come from one original couple as long as they were a middle brown color, as we would expect from middle eastern culture.

            Well, what about all the evidence FOR evolution that says we can’t have come from one couple? We can’t just ignore this, right? No, we can’t. BUT remember our starting point – the Bible. Can the Bible make sense of this evidence? Yes. The biggest of these is the dating methods of millions/billions of years. Evolution requires that length or else it could have never happened. So, is there a Biblical answer for why scientists come up with that long of lengths? I believe there is!

            Radiometric dating takes a rock and looks at a particular isotope’s observed decay rates and extrapolates that rate through all of history to declare a starting date for that rock. BUT there are too many assumptions at play for that date to be accurate. Take this example: you walk into a room with an hourglass pouring sand in the middle of its cycle. You want to determine how long it has been going for. You measure the rate at which the sand is going through. You extrapolate that back to determine the sand has been falling for 4.5 billion years. BUT you don’t really know if all the sand was on the top when it was originally turned over. You also don’t know if the hourglass was ever interrupted. You have assumed it has never was interrupted and that it was full when started.

            The assumptions (that they do not mention) are that:

1) all things must have a materialistic explanation (rules out the supernatural completely)

2) all things operate at the same rate at which they always have (this is based on modern observances, but factors out supernatural events such as a 6-day creation and worldwide flood)

            Now, if a 6-day literal creation and worldwide flood actually happened what kind of effect might that have on the evidence? Well, if the world was really created in 6 days then everything (rocks, trees, animals, people) would have literally popped into existence mid-life cycle… giving the appearance of age without actual age. In other words Adam would have appeared as an adult but actually only been a day old. This concept then also applies to everything else including the rocks we use to measure the age of the earth.

            Some people claim this would be deception on God’s part, but I disagree. It only appears like deception if you initially ignored the information in the Bible. You remember our starting point, right?? Not deception, ignorance.

            There are also several PhD scientists testing theories that the worldwide flood may have cause decay rates to increase. I’m not too up on the science of all that, but it does go to follow that when God intervenes in the world – things change… so assumption 2 above would fail.

            Also good to note is that if the fall did happen as the Bible lays out, the world was also altered during this. Therefore we are studying a broken, changed version of the original creation and claiming we know how it all happened… by ignoring what he told us all along how it happened!

            If we reinterpret the Bible every time science decides something could not have happened that way, then we’ve basically said that science = infallible and the scriptures = fallible.  I think most arm-chair scientists are not willing to admit that when it comes to issues or origins (past events), it is not hard facts, it is interpretations of past events based on a starting set of assumptions.  If their starting assumptions are correct, the logic follows.  But Christians who accept the Bible as truth have no reason to accept their starting assumptions.

            In conclusion, when you start with an assumption that the Bible is true when you approach the science, we can accurately reinterpret it with what the scientists may have ignored, and nothing contradicts a literal creation, Biblical narrative.

 

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

9 thoughts on “Science and the Bible

  1. > There are no actual races. Therefore we could have come from one original couple

    I’m still learning biology/genetics (so my understanding may be flawed), but I believe that there are 5 varieties of some human chromosomes. Each of us only carry 2 copies of each, so Adam and Eve could have only contributed 4 of these. Makes for fun speculation with Genesis 6:1-4. Genetic tests seem to indicate that homo sapiens have some neanderthal DNA (indicating interbreeding).

    I got my copy of the new book Science and Human Origins yesterday, which I believe has a chapter dedicated to this topic.

    > as long as they were a middle brown color, as we would expect from middle eastern culture.

    I actually think Adam and Eve were black. Genetic evidence seems to indicate a mutation or two led to the caucasian traits several thousand years ago in Europe (and this trait spread due to selection+cloudy Europe). And there’s also fun stories like this: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20011175-10391704.html

    Posted by joecoder7 | July 20, 2012, 3:42 pm
  2. The beauty of science and the scientific method though, is that NOTHING is infallible. Any theory or explanation can be modified or even reversed with additional evidence. Our understanding of atomic structure and the elements throughout history is a great example of this, as it took many new discoveries/paradigm shifts before we reached the modern version of the atom.

    The process of discovery is flawed if you start out with assumptions that cannot be disproved. This is the problem when the Bible is applied as a framework to scientific questions. Instead, the way we need to think about new scientific evidence is whether or not it fits with the current, existing evidence. If it does, then great…our knowledge is enhanced. If not, then we need to examine why it does not fit and if necessary, make new theories and laws to improve our understanding.

    Whether or not I believe in the same religion as you is irrelevant here, I’m merely stating the approach necessary for scientific discovery. I do believe though, that a lot of religious interpretation/philosophy do not fit in with the scientific method and thus should not be applied to scientific questions. Religion is important to questions of morality and purpose, but we cannot use the Bible as an infallible framework to understanding the way things work.

    Posted by EquationForLife | July 20, 2012, 4:05 pm
    • I agree. Science should be done with as little assumptions as possible. But what I think most secular scientists are unwilling to admit is that certain assumptions are necessary, namely the two I’ve listed in the article. Those assumptions, if false, are just as problematic as using the Bible as a starting assumption. Therefore, we really are in the same boat. Just one side of the argument seems to be acknowledging these presuppositions.

      Posted by Tim | July 20, 2012, 5:06 pm
  3. It’s true that we do make some assumptions in science but I think the key distinguishing factor about what a good assumption is the results that we derive from it.

    My personal favorite example is Euclid’s postulates of geometry, and the laws of thermodynamics. Both are things that are true based on evidence we have seen so far, yet there is no definitive way to prove that they are always true. However, by assuming they are true, we can derive geometric relations and thermodynamic equations that allows us to predict the future outcomes. When these predictions are successful, it further validates the original assumptions we made, and allows us to use these assumptions to make useful things (rockets, architecture…etc)

    However, the opposite is true sometimes. When Ernest Rutherford performed the famous gold foil experiment, the scientific assumption was that the atom had no large nucleus. He carried out the experiment and the results he collected did not match the assumption. As a result, our entire idea of what the atom looked like changed because the predicted results did not match the assumptions.

    This is the problem with a Biblical approach. When we make predictions using a Biblical approach, we rarely predict anything successfully. Yet, if we assume the Bible to be infallible, we can’t modify our original assumptions.

    Posted by EquationForLife | July 20, 2012, 8:45 pm
    • I understand your argument about predictions. But I think that predictions apply more to observable modern-day sciences such as medicine or aeronautics. I think issues or origins fall more under historical, unobservable sciences. We can’t actually test and retest past events for accuracy. That is a much different kind of science than medicine or technology advances that can be tested and retested until accurate. I think most scientists are unwilling to make this clarification between observational science and historical science. I think there is a BIG difference. And the assumptions are much bigger and more impactful for historical sciences than the examples you are using for observational science.

      Posted by Tim | July 23, 2012, 12:26 pm
      • I for one believe though that the laws of science today were the same years ago, and so our scientific framework today should be able to explain patterns we have observed from the past.

        Posted by EquationForLife | July 23, 2012, 1:35 pm
        • I believe the laws are similar too, but can be broken by supernatural influence (since he created them). Your belief has led to the two main assumptions I listed above in the post. By the way you haven’t necessarily observed the past, have you? Here’s a line from a textbook: “No man has ever seen dinosaurs”. Now, is that what he knows or what he thinks? He thinks that based on assumptions. There is no possible way he can KNOW that unless he talked to every single human who has ever lived. It is an assumption, and it is unverifiable.

          Posted by Tim | July 23, 2012, 2:39 pm
          • That’s true, but we can make that deduction based on the age of dinosaur fossils vs. that of human remains. I think the main reason scientists avoid supernatural explanations is because that would imply there are things that are unknowable. While I think that this might be true, it should not discourage our search for a human explanation. The search for the Higgs boson for example continued for over 4 decades before we finally made a significant breakthrough. If we just assumed that “mass” was a concept of supernatural origins, will the search have continued for so long?

            Basically what I’m saying is that as a person in science, I acknowledge that there are probably things that we will never fully understand….but I’m going to pursue answers as though they are all within our reach. God to me represents these things beyond our comprehension.

            Posted by EquationForLife | July 23, 2012, 2:45 pm

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