Science and the Bible

I recently saw an interview with the host of the NOVA TV show, Neil deGrasse Tyson. The interviewer showed a picture of the earth as a dot in an ocean of stars, and then showed a clip of a previous guest, a preacher at a mega-church, struggling to explain it.

So allow me: Genesis describes a vast universe, with stars as numerous and uncountable as the sand. Genesis 15:5, 22:17; Hebrews 11:12. The naked eye can’t see stars in this number. Rather, it’s modern science that confirms the Genesis story – that the number of stars in the universe is as innumerable as sand.  See, e.g. http://www.universetoday.com/106725/are-there-more-grains-of-sand-than-stars/

A knowledge of space is also found in Job, possibly the oldest book of the Bible, which says that God “hangs the earth upon nothing.”  Job 26:7.

The Bible describes an eternal God, for whom a thousand years are like yesterday when it is past. Psalm 90:4. Psalm 90 was written by the same Moses who wrote Genesis. If science discovers that the earth and the universe are billions of years old, and mankind’s roughly 6,000 years of civilization is a blink of the cosmic eye – well, the Bible agrees, or at least it’s easy to read that way.

Of all the people I’ve known who walk closely with the Lord, none has ever been bothered about not understanding something in the Bible vs. science. When you have a relationship with God, you know Him and you know He is real. He lives inside you.  (Ephesians 3:17).  And you know that you don’t understand everything. The Bible teaches it. (1 Corinthians 13:12; Isaiah 55:9). A humble person doesn’t let pride get in the way. As I used to teach deposition witnesses: Be honest. Part of being honest is admitting what you don’t know. And I do write separately about not being married to doctrines not expressly found in the Bible.  (Mark 7:13. “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition”).

The creation story in Genesis is extremely short, and there’s a lot we don’t understand about it. A day is defined as light, not 24 hours. Genesis 1:5. Our sun wasn’t put in place until the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19. We’re not even sure how long Adam was in the garden. Some speculators look only at the genealogies and conclude the whole universe is about 6,000 years old. Others believe there is a huge gap of time between Genesis 1:1, where the earth was created, Genesis 1:2, where the earth is without form and void. This view is supported by Isaiah, who wrote that the earth was not created without form (Isaiah 45:18), but inhabited (translated “to be” inhabited).  Alternatively, some interpret the word “create” to mean “fill.”  And there are other theories as well.  One holds that the earth was taken out of eternity and placed in time because of sin (see here & here).  Another holds that there have been more than one creations.  (E.g., Genesis 2:4 refers to a single day of creation instead of seven.  Compare this to our current creation growing old like a garment, and being folded up and changed. Psalm 102:25-26; Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 34:4).  Regardless, there’s a lot we don’t understand, even while believing every word is true.

Bible prophecies are known to have gaps of time that are not expressly stated.  Prophecies of the Christ both suffering and reigning caused a lot of confusion in Jesus’ day.  But think of prophecy like a person describing their life by only mentioning critical moments of change.  For example: I graduated school, got a job, met a girl, got married, bought a house, had kids, they went to school, etc.  It’s understood that you live your life in the times between these events.

If I may speculate too: It appears that by the time of mankind, a long time was already past, Satan’s rebellion had come and gone (Ezekiel 28:12-17, Isaiah 14:12-14, Luke 10:18, Genesis 3, Revelation 12:9), and God was doing something new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  For example, the Bible mentions beings existing before Genesis:

•  Job 38:4-7Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earthWhen the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy

•  Proverbs 8:22-23.  The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.  See also Proverbs 3:19.  The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. [Wisdom” and “Understanding” may be names of spirit beings, if you read these chapters in context.]

Peter understood creation a little differently than our tradition:

•  2 Peter 3:5-8. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world [Greek: kosmos] that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The King James translators, who predated the science age, took a similar approach:

•  Genesis 1:28.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

A Unique Earth

What’s so unique about the Earth is God’s work here: Making a new creation of mankind in the universe. Sending his Son to redeem man.  Hosting the ultimate showdown between good and evil.  Demonstrating “the manifold wisdom of God … to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 3:10.

•  1 Corinthians 4:9. For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe [Greek: kosmos], to angels as well as to human beings.

God’s purpose statement is found right in Genesis, and elaborated on throughout the Bible.  We are called to be transformed into Jesus throughout this life.  Earth is a University for the sons of God.  This purpose was established in Christ before the foundation of our cosmos.

•  Genesis 1:26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion….

•  Romans 8:28-29. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  [i.e., even the worst circumstances can be used to make you more Christ-like, such as Job or the patriarch Joseph.]

•  Revelation 13:8. the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Greek: kosmos]

My opinion:  The existence of life elsewhere is no threat to Christianity.  (Although some use the idea of aliens as a mask for the demonic.)  Our God is full of life (John 1:4 & 14:6), and if we are to be Kings and Priests (Revelation 1:6 & 3:21), it must be over something….

Science, Wisdom, Understanding & Wealth Come From God

In the interview with Tyson, he said he doesn’t argue with religious people, but he seemed to suggest that religion hurts kids’ ability to understand science. This is untrue. Gifts in science and understanding come directly from God, as does the ability to gain wealth.

•  Proverbs 8:1-12.  Doth not wisdom cry? … Unto you, O men, I call … I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

•  Deuteronomy 8:18. But you shall remember the Lord your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto your fathers, as it is this day.

The Bible is more than truth. It’s alive and active.  (Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:10-11; Jeremiah 23:29; John 1:1; 2 Peter 1:20-212 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 12:6).  Science may conflict with people’s presumptions about the Bible. And the Bible may conflict with junk science that denies God. (People have tried for many decades to create life by electrocuting a protein mix, with no luck. And they won’t consider actual evidence of God, such as miracles and healings and other testimony.) But in truth, we haven’t discovered the half of what science has to offer. (Proverbs 8:1-12; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 2:9). I’ve even heard two prophets mention “universes” plural.

 

[written July 8, 2014, and updated with additional scripture in November 14, 2014; additional theories of creation added March 5, 2015]