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Monday, February 04, 2013

Scriptural Principles that Relate to Science

Here are some scriptural principles that relate to science:

1. God is creator. There is no unassailable proof of this statement. The Bible, itself, does not attempt to prove it. It assumes it. The Bible starts out by saying that God created, in Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (All Bible quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain, and are in this color.) The Bible says that the best evidence that God is creator is our faith. (Hebrews 11:3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible.) The Bible further points out that the principal agent in creation was God the Son:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made.

Colossians 1:14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins; 15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by him all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.

Christians have several views about the timing, and other details, of how things began. However, the most fundamental truth is that God created. Genesis 1:1 does not tell us why, when, or how God created. It does tell us that there was a Who involved in creation. There are people who believe that there is nothing but nature. They are called Naturalists. In other words, they do not believe that there is anything supernatural. To them, there is, and was, no Who. The Bible begins by assuming that that is a wrong belief. It does not attempt to prove this, except by telling us what God is like. (Some Christians mistakenly think that the idea of a Big Bang is a theory that claims that there is no God, or that claims there was no God involved in creation. That view is mistaken. A belief in the Big Bang can be compatible with belief in God as creator.)

Creation was called good, in Genesis 1. This does not necessarily mean that it was good in the sense that it is useful to humans. Goodness in Gods view is more important than usefulness to us!

Psalm 104:24 Yahweh, how many are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
There is the sea, great and wide,
in which are innumerable living things,
both small and large animals. 
In this passage, we read about the marvelous diversity of creation. Humans have never yet seen many of the organisms that are alive on earth today, let alone found uses for them. They are still important, because God made them, or allowed them to come into existence.

2. God sustains the natural world. Colossians 1:16-17 (above) and Hebrews 1:3a (His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power) indicate that God not only created, but that Christ is presently involved in holding things together, including your body and the monitor you are reading this on. Do we understand this? No, and we arent capable of understanding it. God is omnipotent and omniscient. We aren’t. But we do understand, from these passages, that God, especially God the Son, has not gone away and left the world. He is sustaining it now.

3. Humans have responsibility for the world around them. Humans were put in charge of Gods very good creation.
Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 28 God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Since the Fall, there have been problems with the natural world, but scripture teaches that it is still important to God, so it should be to us, as well:
Psalm 24:1 The earth is Yahweh’s, with its fullness;
the world, and those who dwell therein.

Psalm 50:10 For every animal of the forest is mine,
and the livestock on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the mountains.
The wild animals of the field are mine.
[God speaking] 



The Israelites were supposed to take care of their land by letting it lie fallow every seventh year:
Leviticus 25:3 You shall sow your field six years, and you shall prune your vineyard six years, and gather in its fruits; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to Yahweh. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 What grows of itself in your harvest you shall not reap, and you shall not gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.

Their failure to obey this command was one reason for their captivity:
II Chronicles  36:20 He carried those who had escaped from the sword away to Babylon, and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill Yahweh’s word by Jeremiah’s mouth, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. As long as it lay desolate, it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. [He is the king of the Chaldeans.]

Proverbs 12:10a says A righteous man respects the life of his animal.

4. God is revealed to us through nature. Here are Bible passages that say that we ought to learn something of what God is, and how God works, through a study of nature.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God.
The expanse shows his handiwork.
Day after day they pour out speech,
and night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice has gone out through all the earth,
their words to the end of the world. 

Acts 14:17 Yet he didn’t leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.

Revelation of God though nature includes knowledge gained through science. Some of the greatest scientists of all time, like Johannes Kepler, have believed that God is revealed through nature:
I give thanks to Thee, O Lord Creator, Who hast delighted me with Thy makings and in the works of Thy hands have I exulted. Behold! now, I have completed the work of my profession, having employed as much power of mind as Thou didst to me; to the men who are going to read those demonstrations I have made manifest the glory of Thy works . . .
From The Harmonies of the World by Johannes Kepler, 1619, translated by Charles Glenn Wallis. (The Great Books, Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1952, volume 16, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, p. 1080.)

Science is not God’s only, or main, means of revelation. (Others include the Bible, our consciences, the Holy Spirit in our lives, the church -- those who believe in Christ as savior and Lord, and, most importantly, the incarnation of Jesus Christ.) But it is one means. Properly understood, scientific findings and scripture do not conflict. However, humans dont completely understand either scientific or scriptural revelation.

5. God is a God of order. The Bible begins with a portrayal of God’s orderliness in creation. Literal or not, the description in Genesis 1 describes order and sequence. The Ten Commandments, the covenants established with Abraham, and with the Israelites, and God’s promise, (Genesis 8:22) after Noah’s flood, declare that God is a God of order. Some historians of science have written that, without the Judeo-Christian concept of God as a God of order, the development of science would have been impossible. (There were other influences, including Greek and Arab thought, in the development of science, so that science is not a strictly Judeo-Christian enterprise, but it developed among countries where most of the people were at least nominally believers.) There were some technological developments in China before similar ones in Europe, but science doesn’t seem to have developed there as a discipline, perhaps because this sense of order wasn’t part of the prevailing world-view there at that time.

6. The responsibility that humans have for nature (principle 3, above) includes responsibility to learn how it works.
Psalm 111:2 Yahweh’s works are great,
pondered by all those who delight in them

There is delight in such learning (See also principle 4) and it is our responsibility, as good stewards, to learn about Gods works. Some individuals are specially gifted in the area of learning about Gods creation -- in other words, God gives some gifts that help people be scientists.

In a previous post, I listed some scientific principles that tell us about God.

Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

Julie Laginestra said...

There have been a lot of deep discussions if God and science can coexist. Albert Einstein once stated, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." Even one of the greatest scientific minds believed there is an intelligent being behind the universe. There are numerous of scientists that argue against God, but there are many scientists that state there is no conflict between their work and their religion. When it comes to the relationship between science and religion, there should be no friction between the two. Science does not disprove God’s existence, science just make observations and make those observations into theory’s, laws, etc which never contradicts God’s work. God gives us the power and knowledge so we can understand the world he created. One of the main debates among Christians and scientists is the age of the earth. Some people interpret the Bible that the earth is approximately 6000 years old even though there is evidence supporting such as the radiometric dating that the Earth is over 4 billion years old. According to Genesis, God created the earth in six days, however, the word “day” can be interpreted as an ordinary day as we know or we could interpret it as it possibly that God had no concept of time and the term “day” used in the Bible could not mean ordinary day. When reading the Bible, there can be different interpretations of scriptures and this leads to heated disputes among scientists and different religion groups. For example, Psalm 93:1 which state “The earth is fixed and cannot be moved.” This particular verse could be interpreted as the Earth is stationary and does not orbit the sun. So when Galileo who was devoted Catholic discovered that the Earth orbit the sun, this led to massive disagreements since Galileo was contradicting the Bible. However, today because of the power of knowledge that God has granted us, we can understand this scripture by saying that earth is secure and established just like God himself has established his Kingdom.

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://biologos.org/questions/scientific-and-scriptural-truth

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Julie. I'll also respond by other means.