Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is the Bible Unscientific?

In his book Farewell to God: My reasons for rejecting the Christian faith, Canadian evangelist Charles Templeton elucidates that his apostasy began with a seed of doubt sown in his heart concerning the creation account in Genesis chapter one (Templeton, Farewell to God, p. 7). This led to his rejection of the entire gospel of Christ, and inevitably, Scripture itself.

Christian students in most developed countries, including Singapore, have to endure constant ridicule from lecturers of the pseudo-scientific theory called Neo Darwinism. Is it then true that, for us to be scientific, we should reject certain biblical teachings, particularly the creation account of Genesis 1?

A common allegation of the skeptics is “the Bible is unscientific.” Therefore, creation should be relegated to the realms of myths and fairy tales. The perennial mantra - “evolution is science but creation is religion” - is routinely chanted at debates and school boards. I once read a comment made by an atheist regarding the “mythical” Bible. He was absolutely indignant, perhaps paranoid, with the suggestion that creation could be taught in public schools as an alternative theory of origins. He commented that, “If a concept is part of Christianity, if it is taught in the Bible, it does not belong in public education.” I wonder if he had really given that statement a careful evaluation. I am convinced that if he had, he would immediately retract that remark.

There was this fictitious dispute between an atheist and a bible student regarding the veracity of the Bible. The atheist would not believe the Scriptures unless the student could prove beyond reasonable doubt that at least one verse in the Bible is scientifically accurate. All of a sudden, without prior warning, the student grabbed the atheist’s nose, and started to twist it back and forth with remarkable fervor. After a short while, the poor atheist’s nose started to bleed. The atheist vehemently demanded that the student explain his actions, especially the reason for wringing his nose.

In the same breath, the student answered, “You wanted me to prove a verse in the Bible. I have just proven Proverbs 30:33 to be scientifically accurate.” It is stated in Proverbs 30:33 that “the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood”. Anyone with a basic knowledge of anatomy will immediately realize that this “wringing” will result in epistaxis (nose bleed) secondary to trauma. This bringing “forth” of “blood” will occur beyond a certain intensity and strength. Depending on whether medical aid is provided, the duration of epistaxis varies. Even the atheist has to concede that Proverbs 30:33 is scientifically accurate.

Although the Bible is a religious text, it is absolutely precise when it touches on science, geography, archaeology, anthropology and history. If the Bible is indeed inspired, inerrant and infallible, it must not be erroneous whenever it expounds upon secular topics such as science. Skeptics and atheists have tried to discredit the Bible as the Word of God by attacking its scientific content. Nevertheless, scientists have never disproved the Bible. Far from being disproved, there are a growing number of scientists who are convinced that the creation account enunciated in the Bible, when compared to evolution, is better supported by secular science.

If skeptics insist on rejecting biblical statements as myths, they must also reject the following scientific statements in the Bible:

1. A spherical planet Earth mentioned in Isaiah 40:22, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth”

2. Gravity mentioned in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

3. The Hydrologic Cycle in Ecclesiastes 1:7, “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”

4. The unaccountable number of stars in Jeremiah 33:22, “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured”

5. The importance of blood to life in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Many doctors in the past practiced “blood letting”, which is the cutting of veins to release the “bad blood” of patients. This resulted in many unnecessary deaths through excessive blood loss and hypovolemic shock. In 1799, US President George Washington died by this erroneous “medical” procedure. Many deaths would have been prevented if only doctors had given heed to Leviticus 17:11.

6. The Earth is hanging in space, mentioned in Job 26:7, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

7. The presence of undersea currents in Psalm 8:8, “ … and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”

8. The atmosphere has weight in Job 28:25, “To make the weight for the winds”

9. The universe is running down, i.e. the Second Law of Thermodynamics in Psalm 102:25-26, “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.”

10. The expanding universe in Psalms 104:2, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” This fact is reiterated in many other verses of the Bible, such as Isaiah 42:5.

11. Underwater hydrothermal vents and fountains in Job 38:16, “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?” Also mentioned in Proverbs 8:28, “When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep.”

12. Light can be parted (via prisms) in Job 38:24, “By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?”

13. Winds moving in circuits in Eccles. 1:6, “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”

14. The existence of microbes and the importance of quarantine in Leviticus 13:46, “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” It is interesting to note that between AD 1347 and 1352, more than one third of the population of Europe died because of the bubonic plaque. If they had followed biblical instructions of quarantine and sanitation, many lives would have been saved.

The above listing is by no means exhaustive. The logical fallacy of the statement, “If it is in the Bible, it is not science but religion,” should be clear to all who think candidly. Each of the aforementioned examples is intricately linked to a Christian doctrine. Should we therefore repudiate all the above scientific facts just because they are part of Christian theology? Moreover, I believe that creation ex nihilo is a vital doctrine of the Christian religion. Does this automatically disqualify creation as a scientific hypothesis? Preposterous!

If scientists are able to dissociate themselves from an a priori commitment to the evolutionary paradigm, and examine all available evidence, I sincerely doubt they would come to the ‘empirical’ conclusion that molecules evolved to man.

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