I am a Christian. I believe in the God of the Bible, in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV)" I am a biochemist and a pharmacist by education. As such I have a desire to understand nature. I am writing this blog as my way to express the facts of true science as I understand them, from the perspective of one who believes that all things were created by God, for God and for His purposes.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moving Forward – A Scientific Faith?

So we have come to the last leg in our journey. We started out with a question - Can we believe in God and still be a scientist? Along the way we took several different steps:

Looking Upward - Psalm 19:1-2 (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. - Finding God in the universe above.

Here we studied the Big Bang theory, examined the probability of a rare Earth, and then focused on the possibility of life on any planet.

Turning Outward - Proverbs 25:2 (NIV) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. - Finding God in the world around us.

This zoomed us in on the Earth, first taking a closer look at the sky (atmosphere) above us. Then we moved closer still and looked at some of the special features of our planet itself.

Searching Inward - Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Finding God in the formation of the human body, and thus in life itself.

In this third part of the series, we defined life as best we could, examined the simplest life forms, compared Evolution and the Cambrian Explosion, dinosaurs and DNA, how complex even simple life is and how we are made in the image of God.

Now we move on to our last segment:

Moving Forward - Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - How do you take this to the next level - confirmation of your faith, or lack thereof. There is more to life than just "existing."

Those who hold that Science is the final arbiter of facts want us to believe that this is all there is, that the glorious advancement of Science will make our existence “heaven on earth” and that there is nothing beyond this life. But our belief in God give us a “hope” in our future and tells us there is more in and beyond this life if we just believe.

In this last segment, we will identify specific passages from the Bible that speak of scientific fact or theory before it was considered science! This will give us a basis for sharing how science and faith can co-exist, they do not have to be mutually exclusive. But in the end, we each must decide - Do we believe in the God of the Bible, and His science, or do we believe in secular science, which specifically eliminates God from the equation because His existence cannot be proven.

Remember, Science cannot claim that God created anything because God has to be outside of our dimensions of time and space to be able to create our universe, and science only functions within the physical universe we know. Even though God has invaded His creation, He is not physically manifested in it, as we know it scientifically. So God cannot be proven to exist in the context of science. Thus He also cannot be called on as a "proof of life" or a Creator. Science must have a reason, a physically testable reason, for the how and why something exists. God cannot be tested but He can be observed in His creation - as Paul writes in Romans 1:20 (NIV): "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

For since the creation of the world
God’s invisible qualities
His eternal power and divine nature
have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:20 (NIV)

But remember to “speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15 (NIV))” with patience, and listen to find areas of common ground when sharing with others. Do not just dump scripture on others but find out what they are thinking and help them understand the Biblical point of view. You may be surprised that you have more in common than you realize. God wants us to learn to love. We can do this by seeing how much He loves us through His Creation.

So now here are some specific examples from the Bible that can be used when discussing science and religion with others.

Some of the Bible’s scientific passages (Scientific concepts supported by Scripture):

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This verse declares the Big Bang, that in the beginning the universe was created from nothing. Up until just 80 years ago, science stated that the universe was eternal, had always existed. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the concept of the explosion of a singularity blooming into the universe, and the beginning of time, space and the physical laws was first conceived. It took until the late 1950’s for scientists even to agree on this theory. Now some are questioning it again, it seems, because it speaks of something beyond the beginning of time. This verse also shows that there was existence before the creation - God existed outside of, and before, time and physical space (the universe has a transcendent cause).

Genesis 1:2 – The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Science is just now wrestling with the concept of the earth as the only source of life. Science is starting to find exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, and claiming that they may be suitable for life. But on the other hand, science is also finding specific conditions that must exist on such a planet, hundreds of them in fact, such that the earth is the only planet so far that seems to meet them all. Even then it is a wonder the earth does meet them as the odds are strongly against it, to the limits of an impossibility.

Genesis 1:16 – God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day (sun), and the lesser light to govern the night (moon); He made the stars also.

The sun, moon and stars do light the earth, giving day and night. All are needed to allow the possibility of life, the existence of liquid water and the proper surface temperature for survival.

Job 25:2 – Dominion and awe belong to Him who establishes peace in His heights.

Science has found that all physical laws apply to the whole universe everywhere and equally (the Cosmological Principle). This shows an all-encompassing order to the universe as expressed by this verse.

Job 26:7, 10 - He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. (10) He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness.

The earth is floating in space; it is not held on the back of an elephant or resting on a pillar. It is not flat, floating above hellfire and is indeed a globe, not a pancake.

Isaiah 40:22 – …Who stretches out the heavens like a scroll and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

God is “stretching out the heavens” like a scroll - the universe is expanding and science tells us it is “flat” (not like a sheet of paper but as described by general relativity). But it is so large that the part of the universe we can see, due to the speed of light, appears to be a sphere around the earth. In any case, the universe does not appear to be infinite.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 - That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 – I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.

These two verses speak to the conservation of mass and energy, that all that was created at the beginning is all there is and will be – nothing will be destroyed nor added to the total.

Ecclesiastes 1:7 - All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.
Isaiah 55:10 – For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

These two verses suggest the flow of water from the sea to the sky to the rain, back to the land and into the sea again. This is the fundamental principle of the Water Cycle or Hydrological Cycle. Without this process, life here would be impossible.

Job 26:7 – He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.
Job 38:31-33 – Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?

This is discussing gravity. Gravity holds the planets up on seemingly nothing. The sun “rules” over the earth (holds it in an orbit). The Pleiades and Orion are the only two constellations where the stars in them are bound by gravity to one another so they move as a unit (in the same galactic location). Other constellations appear together but some of the stars are much further away from us and only look close due to our angle of view.

Leviticus 13:45-46 – As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

This section of Scripture speaks to the control of contagious diseases, using quarantines since there was no cure and the disease was contagious.

Numbers 19 (the whole chapter)
Deuteronomy 23:12-13 – You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement.

These verses show the importance of sanitation to healthy living. In Deuteronomy it is specifically talking about bowel movements and the need to bury them (any Boy Scouts among us?).

Hebrews 1:10-12 - He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Someday this universe will come to an end and be replaced by a “new heavens and a new earth.” Science is now learning that at some future time, the stars will all burn out and the universe will end. For the earth and the sun, that has been calculated to be about 2 billion years from now. But life as we know it will cease on the earth much sooner than that as the sun expands as a Red Giant star, engulfing the earth.

Next we examine what Science predicts about the origins of life compared to the Biblical view.

Origin of Life - the Scientific view compared to the Biblical view (tables from reasons.org)

Table I - Some Predictions Made by the Naturalistic (Evolutionary) Origin-of-life Scenario

  1. Placid chemical and physical conditions existed on the early earth for long periods of time
  2. Chemical pathways that produce biomolecules would have been capable of operating under the conditions of the early earth
  3. Life originated only once
  4. Life emerged gradually over a long period of time
  5. Life in its minimal form is simple

Table II - Some Predictions Made by the Biblical Origin-of-life Scenario

  1. Life appeared early in Earth’s history
  2. Life appeared under harsh conditions
  3. Life miraculously persisted under harsh conditions
  4. Life arose quickly
  5. Life in its minimal form is complex

As we learn more about early life on our planet and how life existed in the past and lives on in the present, the scientific assumptions are giving way to the Biblical ones. It seems the more we learn the more it points to God as a Creator instead of random chance.

Now not only is the Bible filled with the fundamentals of science, but it is as much as 3,000 years ahead of its time. Biblical statements, when written, in most cases directly contradicted the science of the day. As modern scientific knowledge advances, the divine accuracy of the scriptures is substantiated. Here are some examples:

Biblical Statement (NASB)Science ThenScience Now
Earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22)Earth is a flat diskEarth is a sphere
Number of stars exceeds a billion (Jeremiah 33:22)Number of stars totals 1,100Number of stars exceeds a billion
Every star is different
(1 Corinthians 15:41)
All stars are the sameEvery star is different
Light is in motion (Job 38:19-20)Light is fixed in placeLight is in motion
Air has weight (Job 28:25)Air is weightlessAir has weight
Winds blow in cyclones
(Ecclesiastes 1:6)
Winds blow straightWinds blow in cyclones
Blood is a source of life and healing (Leviticus 17:11)Sick people must bleedBlood is a source of life and healing

  • Isaiah 40:22 – It is He who sits above the circle of the earth… (“chuwg“ – circle or sphere)
  • Jeremiah 33:22 - As the host of heaven cannot be counted and... (A very large number)
  • 1 Corinthians 15:41 - …and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory - (“doxa“ – brightness)
  • Job 38:19-20 - “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? …that you may discern the paths to its home? – (“shakan” – reside)
  • Job 28:25 - When He imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure – (“mishqal” – weight, heaviness)
  • Ecclesiastes 1:6 - The wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. – (“cabab” – change direction)
  • Leviticus 17:11 - For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and… - (“nephesh” – life, living being)

The probability that the biblical writers, writing between 2,000 – 4,000 years ago, would have guessed all these details is less than one in many trillions.

In the crucible of scientific investigation, the Bible has proven invariably to be correct. No other book, ancient or modern, can make this claim; but then, no other book has been written (through men) by God. I think as we learn more through scientific study and examination, if we are reasonable and open, we will see the hand of God at work.

(Most of the biblical references come from Reasons to Believe)