A while back, I was asked to write an article for the Carolina Messenger about the Bible’s Historical and Scientific Relevance. It was published last month, and I am reprinting the article in this forum as well as giving a link to the Carolina Messenger page. Be sure to check them out. There are lots of good articles there!
The Bible’s Historical And Scientific Relevance
Jesus taught that the Bible speaks truthfully about both the physical world and the spiritual world. John 3:12 is proof that Jesus “did not accept the false idea that the Bible could tell you how to ‘go to Heaven’ but not ‘how the heavens go’” (Geisler & Turek, 358). Put another way, if the Bible is not trustworthy in what it says about the physical world, it cannot possibly be trusted on spiritual matters. And so, if we are to teach, as Jesus did, that the Bible is accurate in matters of faith, we must teach that it is accurate in matters of history and science.
Failure to teach an evidence based faith is in direct contrast to Hebrews 11:1. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. We are poor stewards of the inerrant, inspired Word of God, if we accept the false notion that true science and religion are at odds with each other (Keller, 92). In fact, the honest seeker has far more information available to confirm the truth of the Bible today than in any generation before. In a world dominated by scientific thinking, few people will hear the truth of the gospel if the church fails to teach the reliability and relevance of scripture.
The Sincere Seeker
Many intelligent people have the false notion that all science is based on what is observable or known, while all faith is based on the unseen and unknown. When confronted with the unknown or unseen, the atheist responds “no God,” and the agnostic says “unknowable.” But the Bible gives verifiable, testable data when it speaks about the physical world. So the question is not necessarily, “Can a smart person believe in God” as Michael Guillen asks in his book by that name. Rather, what evidence are we giving to intellectuals to help them make an informed decision? I pray that every person would ask, as I did in my own journey, two simple questions and be willing to trust the evidence that demands a decision.
How did we get here?
No reasonable explanation has ever been given, outside of the Bible, for the most basic question of life: “How did something (matter, energy, space, time, etc.) come from nothing?” The God theory isn’t just convenient. Rather, it is the only answer to the Cosmological Statement: Every beginning has a beginner; the universe had a beginning; therefore, the universe had a beginner. Some have referred to this first cause as the “Unmoved Mover” (Craig, 97).
Einstein’s oscillating universe theory was proven false in 1922 by Alexander Friedman and others who displayed that Einstein had divided by zero in his cosmological constant or “fudge factor” (Geisler & Turek, 74). But it was the Hubble telescope that proved that the universe was not only expanding, but its rate of expansion was increasing! The universe has not always been here, oscillating in and out for eternity. Rather, it had a beginning, ex nihilio (out of nothing). The Bible explains this as, “In the beginning, God created…” (Genesis 1:1). It is a blind faith that would believe that trillions of stars, planets, and every living creature came from nothing. The evidence points to an intelligent being that caused matter to come into existence.
Is the Bible God’s inerrant Word?
The Bible is not meant to be a scientific textbook. Nevertheless, where the Bible speaks on any topic, it has been shown to be reliable. The Bible withstands attacks from every religion, theory, supposition, and fantasy; yet it shines despite rigorous scrutiny.
Inerrancy in Astronomy
Though Bible believers have been accused of thinking the world is flat, the Bible has always taught a round Earth (Isaiah 40:22). God wants us to use our ability to view the stars as a means of confirming Him. In Psalm 19, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” It is telling that many intelligent design proponents can be found in the field of astronomy. Isaiah wrote, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens”(Isaiah 40:26).
Inerrancy in Physics
There is no new energy being created in the universe today. The Bible accurately reflects this in the words, “God created” and “rested” when the “heavens and earth were finished” (Genesis 1:1; 2:1). Though scientists traditionally argued this idea, it is now incontrovertible that nothing new is being created in this system. Matter and energy change form, but nothing new is being created (Thompson, 233).
Inerrancy in History
Archeology “does not prove the truth of the Bible in its theological and spiritual statements” (Hoerth & McRay, 11). Yet, archeology can correct historians who claim that Bible stories are myths. (Bryant, 54-56). As archeology unearths more data, the Bible has maintained trustworthiness. Whether it is Tel Dan proving David’s existence, the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesser III proving tribute from Jehu, the Taylor Prism declaring Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, The Moabite Stone (c. 850 B.C),found in 1868, confirming 1 Kings 16:1, or the excavations of Nineveh, Egypt, Palestine, etc., each new dig leads to greater Biblical reliability (Bryant, 55; Hoerth & McRay, 50-129; Thompson, 240).
Unfortunately, too many people are fooled into thinking that true science and the Bible are at odds. God created an observable world so that we can seek Him while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6-7). The necessary information is available. Science has never answered how matter appeared ex nihilio or disproved any Bible statement. Christians should boldly proclaim the truth and reliability of God’s inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Church must teach these truths because the world will not show interest in matters of salvation if we aren’t proving the Bible is reliable on historical and scientific matters. Faith, of course, comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). Let them hear the whole full counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
Bryant, Dewayne. 12 Compelling Truths: Why Biblical Faith is Completely Reasonable. Nashville, Tennessee: 21st Century Christian, 2010.
Craig, William L. Reasonable Faith: Christian truth and apologetics. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2008.
Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004.
Guillen, Michael. Can a Smart Person Believe in God. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2004.
Hoerth, Alfred J., and John McRay. Bible Archaeology : an exploration of the history and culture of early civilizations. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005.
Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God : Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.
Thompson, Bert. In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration. S.l: Apologetics Press Inc, 2001.
Greg Wanderman is the minister for the church of Christ at Clover, SC