Science and the Bible

From a young age I have always been interested in Science. Math, chemistry, physics, computers, biology, astronomy - all have been a special interest of mine over the years. As a Christian I have also been interested in the interface between science and Biblical faith.

As a teenager I attended debates between atheistic scientists and so-called creation scientists. Although I admired the courage of those who wished to defend the Bible, I eventually began to see serious flaws in the type of science they used to defend their arguments. Moreover, many creation scientists were attempting to defend a particular interpretation of the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, ignoring much of the evidence from science and the pleas of other Christians working in scientific fields.

As I read and researched the issues I was surprised to find out that there were many Christians working in scientific careers whose faith in the Creator and the Bible was unmovable, but who believed that the earth and the universe are very ancient (on the order of 10-15 billion years since creation).

In the last 5-10 years a large amount of evidence from the scientific study of the smallest things to the largest things in the universe has emerged which is convincing even some unbelieving scientists of the need for a Creator or Designer. The evidence is growing daily.

See my hotlist of favorite links for some selected sites on the subject. Rather than expound any more on the topic here, I have chosen to reproduce an Appendix from one of my favorite books below.

The following is a reproduced Appendix from the book Show Me God by Fred Heeren (1995, Searchlight Publications, Wheeling, IL, pp. 327-330). Mr. Heeren waived the copyright on this material so as to allow the text to be passed along to interested parties.

The Bible and the Message from Space

What can we learn from this century's greatest astronomical discoveries?

Discovery 1 - 1919: During a solar eclipse, Sir Arthur Eddington observed the bending of starlight passing the sun, matching the effect predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity. If correct, this theory of gravity means that the universe must be expanding. Einstein eventually renounced his belief in an eternal universe and admitted that the universe must have had a beginning. Astrophysicist George Smoot says: "Until the late 1910's, humans were as ignorant of cosmic origins as they had ever been. Those who didn't take Genesis literally had no reason to believe there had been a beginning."
Discovery 2 - 1927: Astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the galaxies are all retreating from us. The more distant galaxies (which show us the more distant past) are retreating from us faster than the nearer galaxies, just as one would expect if the universal expansion is slowing down from an initial surge. Famed astronomer Robert Jastrow says: "The Hubble Law is one of the great discoveries in science: it is one of the main supports of the scientific story of Genesis."
Discovery 3 - 1965: Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered cosmic background radiation coming from every point in the sky, the remnant predicted by early big bang theorists. Its precise matching with a blackbody spectrum at all frequencies is difficult to reconcile with anything other than a creation event involving the entire universe.
Discovery 4 - 1970s: Astronomers observe that galaxies are distributed more densely - and quasars become abundant - as they look farther into space, indicating that the universe has change with time. These observations argue against an eternal cosmos and for a creation event.
Discovery 5 - 1992: NASA's COBE satellite team discovered the predicted ripples in the cosmic background radiation. George Smoot, the team's leader, called these seeds for future galaxy superclusters "fingerprints from the Maker."

What does all this have to do with the Bible?

Among all the ancient peoples, only the Hebrews got their cosmology right. While the rest of the world believed in a magical, eternal universe that gave birth to the gods, only they believe in an eternal, transcendent God who gave the universe its beginning.

Like every cause, the Cause of the universe must be independent of its effect. Thus, the First Cause must be separate from the universe, not a part of it. From ancient times, the Bible has clearly presented God as non-physical, a Spirit who cannot be contained, even by the heavens. Unlike other ancient religious writings, the Bible prohibited the making of images of God, making it a point to teach that He is not a physical being.

The consensus of modern science is that the universe - and time itself - had a beginning. Nothing that is confined to time could have created the cosmos. God must not only be separate from His creation, but He must exist outside of time. Again, from ancient days, the Bible specifically defined God as the I AM, operating outside of time and existing before the universe He created.

Perhaps the universe had a beginning, but
how do we know that it didn't begin by chance?

Stephen Hawking wrote, "If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached it present state." Slightly faster than the critical rate and matter would have dispersed too rapidly to allow stars and galaxies to form. George Smoot describes the creation even as "finely orchestrated."
Carl Sagan admits: "It is easy to see that only a very restricted range of laws of nature are consistent with galaxies and stars, planets, life and intelligence.
Hawking cities the critical ratio between the masses of the proton and the electron as one of many fundamental numbers in nature. He adds: "The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to nave been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life."
The calculations of Hawking's associate, Roger Penrose, show that the highly ordered (low entropy) initial state for the universe is not something that could have occurred by even the wildest chance.
When Fred Hoyle calculated the likelihood that carbon would have precisely the required resonance by chance, he said that his atheism was greatly shaken, adding: "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics."
Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson writes, "The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming." NASA astronomer John O'Keefe says, "It is my view that these circumstances indicate that the universe was created for man to live in."

But isn't religion just a cultural phenomenon, a form of superstition?

For many it is. But perhaps the ultimate superstition is to believe that this physical universe is imbued with mystical powers that enable it to bring itself into existence and then to fine-tune itself.

In the matter of deciding who's running the universe, we all have just three choices: the universe itself, humankind, or God. Because a cause must precede its effect, the first two options violate logic, especially now that we know the universe did not exist in eternity past.

Atheism and pantheism are difficult to reconcile with modern findings. But the Bible fits perfectly, telling us that God is not just a force that's one with the universe, but who is separate from His creation. And like modern physics, the Bible points to a Creator who is super-intelligent, a perfectionist who cares about us a great deal.

Then why would God let our world get into such a mess?

Indeed, the most important implication of a perfectly designed universe is that a perfect Designer would do something about the problem of evil in our world.

So what might a super-intelligent, caring Creator do? Make creatures who have no wills of their own, so that they cannot bring evil into His perfect universe? Not if God desired to have an eternal relationship with a people who would willingly return His love. The very idea of a real will to love requires the real possibility of a person's will being used to reject.

So what might be God's options, after his race of free-willed creatures broke the harmony of His universe (as they have obviously done in our case)? He could exterminate them. He could simply overlook their injustices. He could leave them alone to let them try to straighten out their own mess.

But none of these options show the forethought of a perfect, super-intelligent, caring Creator. The Bible, the one book that gave us a true picture of God since ancient times, gives us the one solution that shows great care and forethought, though we might never have thought of it ourselves. What did God do? He died for us. He showed both perfect justice and unbounded mercy. And by doing so, He gave those who wanted to be reconciled to Him the chance to be forever changed, to be eventually made into fit company for Him throughout eternity. This was His plan "before time began." (1 Corinthians 2:7).

But what about this biblical idea of God becoming man? What about the concept of sacrifice? Aren't these primitive concepts?

If the Creator of the universe wanted to communicate to us (moderns and ancients both) what He is like, how could He show us more clearly than by becoming one of us? If He wanted to communicate to us the seriousness of breaking His moral law, how could He show us more forcefully than by demanding that the most valuable thing in the universe be forfeited as a penalty? And if He wanted to tell us how much He loves us, how could He do so more dramatically than by dying for us?

But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, has gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
--- Isaiah 53:5-6

But giving intellectual assent to the historical idea that Jesus died on a Roman cross won't change anyone's life. Biblical faith always implied personal trust, a personal relationship. This relationship gives us the ability to talk to Him, not just about Him.

This relationship, after all, is the reason He created us. It means our lives aren't pointless; we don't live only to have all memory of us snuffed out in a few generations and throughout eternity. Rather, we find access to eternity through the One who exists outside of time. This is the one relationship that can give our lives lasting value.

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