Science and the Bible

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series evidence

Home church Leader Craig Smith shows how science does not contradict the bible. Although the Bible was not written to be a science textbook, the two exist in harmony. Science is often used to prove Biblical claims:

We’re talking about science and the bible.  My question is this: does science contradict the bible?  This is something that people raise fairly regularly, and I think it’s worth addressing.

I want to start off with this Richard Dawkins interview clip: he’s a famous natural selection supporter; we’re going to see what he has to say.

Dawkins is making this point over and over, that faith in some sort of creator is not based on any sort of evidence; he’s basically saying you can’t trust in this.  There’s another quote I found saying, “Faith is the great cop out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence; faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” Is this really true? Is this true that our faith in a god is based on less evidence than Richard Dawkins and his belief in no god?

First of all, let’s examine what people like Dawkins will claim.  These atheists claim first of all that naturalistic evolution is the explanation for life: meaning that gradual mutations over time along with natural selection got us to where we are today in terms of the amount of diversity in species: we just got here naturally, no sort of god involved.  The problem with this is that there is no scientific experiment or test you can use to prove this, and as we’ll see later the actual scientific evidence is not pointing in this direction; it doesn’t support this as much as he would want you to believe.

Another claim is that Christians ignore the evidence.  That’s what he was saying here, that Christians are just putting the fingers in the ears, saying “la la, I don’t want to hear it.”  And when atheists claim this, like Dawkins said in the video, he’s pointing toward a minority viewpoint, like young earth Christians.  This is not the common convention.  People like young earth Christians are not mainstream, but atheists don’t take on the mainstream, they don’t address what the bible says.

That’s what we want to look at tonight: what does the bible have to say about this, and what does the evidence say.  Do they contradict each other, or do they line up?

So, the bible: first of all, it’s not a scientific book.  By that I mean it’s not a textbook, it’s not written with all kinds of verifiable scientific evidence, it’s not written to persuade you scientifically.  It is old, Genesis was written 3500 years ago, and it covers billions of years of history in just one page.  This is a pretty vague review, what we get in Genesis.  However, what we do see in the Genesis account of creation does match what science knows, as we’ll get into.  And as we’ve studied in some of the past weeks in this evidence series, a lot of other creation accounts are really pretty silly by comparison: like you have an egg, and it hatches, and it forms the universe, or these gods get into a fight, and it resolves in creating people.  It involves all mythology and a lot is silly, but we look at the bible and it’s really straightforward.  It points out “this is what happened,” and that’s what we’ll be getting into: what does the bible actually say.

Genesis 1:1-3 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and [boom] there was light.”

So we see a few things here, first of all that there was a beginning: it wasn’t infinite, the universe wasn’t there forever.  “God said,” he spoke the universe into existence: “let there be light” and there was light.  We also see the idea of days.  The bible records in Genesis that God created the Earth in these six days. The word used there for day in Hebrew is the word yom.  Actually, that word has a range of meanings: it could mean a literal 24 hour day, or it could also mean an age, an unspecified period of time.  Like when you say “back in the day,” it’s an unspecified period of time.  So, we don’t really know for sure exactly what that means, but there is a range of meaning.

So we read in Genesis here that the first day God created light, the second day He separated sky from water, third day separated land from water, and also created vegetation, fourth day the sun, moon, and stars appeared, fifth day water and sky were filled creatures, sixth day the land was filled with creatures and, finally, man and woman were created.

In brief overview of what the bible says, God created everything out of nothing.  According to the bible, there was a finite point in history when the universe began.  And this creation occurred in progressive steps: we see this cosmological, geological, biological progression where God intermittently steps in and does some creating.

This leads us to this spectrum of different beliefs regarding the beginning of the universe: on the one hand, there is not god (this is naturalistic evolution where Dawkins would fit into), and on the other side there are beliefs about God, trying to explain differently the Genesis account.

First would be theistic evolution.  Theistic evolution basically says that God created the beginning of life, and then he somehow used evolution to allow the process to continue, and we got here through evolution.  This is held by some pretty lofty people too, some heavy hitters, like this guy Francis Collins.  He’s a notable scientist, the former head of the human genome project.  He has a lot of scientific accomplishments and publications; by comparison he makes Richard Dawkins look like a little punk.  So, there is some weight to this theistic evolution: this guy is not stupid, and he believes in it.

Then there’s progressive creation, which basically says that god progressively created: like we read in Genesis, he stepped in at different points in time to create more and more.

Then, on the opposite side of the scale, there is young earth creation.  The whole thing hinges on this silly dogma that this day in Genesis has to be a literal 24 hour period.  It doesn’t leave any room for interpretation, which really ignores all the evidence.  There is overwhelming evidence that the earth is older than 6000 years; any scientist will argue that there’s no evidence for a 6000 year earth.  But yet they hold to this.  And in reality, the bible leaves it open to interpretation, it doesn’t specify whether this is a literal 24 hour time period, or maybe a million year time period.  So really, the bible itself does not contradict the old earth seen in science, whereas this young earth creation is very dogmatic, and I would say is very stupid.  It loses its own credibility, and it leaves itself open to attack by people like Dawkins. And rightfully so, if I were Dawkins I’d make the same arguments about them, but the thing is that Dawkins, we don’t see him too often coming out and attacking the actual biblical view.  He’s often, and this is what you see people doing, when they make these arguments they’re coming out and attacking people like young earth, who deserve to be attacked.  But let’s see what the bible actually has to say, or let’s argue against what the bible actually has to say.

So what does evidence show: first of all, I would say it shows that evolution has some problems in its theory.  [diagram] This is the tree of life that Darwin proposed.  He proposed that everything started from one single celled organism, and it slowly branched through these gradual changes over time, and we ended up with this diversity of species that we have today.

OK, well what’s the problem with that? The problem is that we actually see something more like this in the fossil records: [diagram] each bar basically represents a different phylum, or a different group of animals, and then the vertical there is time. So what we actually see when we look at the fossils is that about 650 million years ago, all of a sudden all this life just exploded into existence, and that’s why we see all these bars there .  And then later on some of them disappear, they become extinct.  Actually back then, 650 million years ago, there was more diversity in the species than there are now, so the tree would be upside-down.  And there are no links found in the fossils, linking these different species together, so there are all sorts of problems there.

Another way of explaining it, evolutionists would claim that “all life is the result of natural law acting on matter.”  So here we would see a continual line representing the change of species over time.  This is what they would expect. In reality, we see something more along the lines of one species popping in, and it will be there for a certain period of time, then it will become extinct and another species will pop in, and it will be there for a period of time, and then it will go extinct.  And there are these missing intermediate fossils they don’t have, scientists are still searching for this missing link between fossils and there has really been no definitive missing link found.

But they’ve come up with some theories.  One of them is punctuated equilibrium: it basically tries to explain away these problems by saying “well, there were periods of equilibrium and then there were sudden changes from species to species.”  But actually one of the guys who came up with that theory, his name is Eldrige, he later on had this quote in one of his books: he said, “we’re faced more and more with a great leap of faith, that gradual progressive adaptive change underlies the evolutionary change we see in the rocks rather than any hard evidence.”  So this guy, this scientist, is actually coming out and saying yeah, it actually takes a big leap of faith to believe that evolution is really the answer, because the evidence is missing.

What we really do see, however, is micro-evolution.  And this is an example that Darwin himself observed.  When he wrote his book he was studying on the Galapagos Islands, and he noticed that there were different types of finches that lived on different parts of the islands, and they had adapted to their environments.  One on the left had adapted a long pointy beak, which is really good for stabbing insects.  That’s really good for the part of the island that it lived on.  But another had adapted more of a long, flat beak which is really good for digging into a cactus, which is what it eats in its environment.  So this is indisputable, we’re not making an argument out of this: we agree totally that there is micro-evolution, that is there are small changes within a species.  And we see this actually with bacteria, you can see that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics over time.  But what you don’t see is the bacteria becoming something other than bacteria.  There have actually been studies done with e.coli for example, where they study it for 25,000 generations, and it never became anything other than e.coli.  So, after 25,000 observed generations, it’s still e.coli.

What we’ve been talking about is macro-evolution, and that is unproven: one species becoming a totally different species.  But this is the jump, the leap that Darwin himself made; he said that if we can see micro-evolution, then maybe we can see macro-evolution.  But even Darwin himself recognized that there is a shortcoming.  He said that, “the number of intermediate varieties, which had formerly existed on the earth, must be truly enormous, why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology surely does not reveal any such organic change, and this perhaps the most obvious and greatest objection which can be urged against my theory.”  Darwin himself realized that this evidence didn’t exist.  He was just sort of banking on future scientists finding the evidence, which we’re still waiting for.

So, that is some of what we see between science and the bible.  Now we’re going to get into some evidence from nature which we can see: that nature requires a cause, requires a source and facilitator, requires intelligence, and requires a designer.  We’re going to get into these in more detail: I’ll take the first one, then Mandy and Nicole will get into the remaining three.

So, let’s look at science and the universe.  Here’s a very simple philosophical argument:

Everything that had a beginning had a cause.

The universe had a beginning.

Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Well, OK. The only question really, is did the universe have beginning? Up until around 1900, it was actually the widely held belief in science that the universe had always existed.  But with recent advances and breakthroughs in science in the past hundred years, they actually have come to believe pretty much undeniably that the universe had a beginning.

I’m not going to get into a lot of details on a lot of these things, you could talk to me later or research them yourself, but basically the First Law of Thermodynamics says that there’s a limited amount of energy in the universe, and the Second Law states that the amount of useable energy is decreasing.  So it’s kinda like the universe is like a flashlight, and right now the batteries are fading.  It’s a slow fade, but the batteries are slowly fading out.  So this points to a finite time when it all started.

There’s also been evidence that in space, the universe is expanding; not only expanding but accelerating, expanding faster and faster every day.  This also requires a starting point.  If you go trace it back farther and farther enough, it had to start at this infinitely small point.  This is the Big Bang theory, the most widely held view in science, saying that everything started at this small point and then exploded out into this universe that we have today.  Actually the Big Bang has been pretty well verified by science back in ’65: there’s background radiation that verified it, there were thermal ripples verified by NASA in 1989 that was predicted by the Big Bang, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity also points to an expanding universe.

So science knows for a fact that the universe had a beginning, and so there must have been some sort of a cause.  Robert Jasthrow is a pretty famous NASA astronomer. He’s not a Christian, not an atheist: he’s an agnostic and he says after spending his whole life studying astronomy, “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same.  The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.  Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in a moment of creation, to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth.  And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover.”

This is pretty powerful quote from this guy: he’s not a Christian, and he’s coming to this conclusion from the scientific evidence.  His conclusion is that the evidence lines up very well with the bible.  This kind of flies in the face of what Dawkins would want you to believe.  So I just want to raise a few questions of what science doesn’t know and some of the limitations.

First of all, what caused the big bang? According to science we don’t really know. Are there maybe other explanations?  They try to come up with some, like oscillating universes or parallel universe or multiverse theories.  But the thing is that all of these require faith. None of these have any overwhelming evidence, none of them can be really supported by science.  They all require faith, which is contrary again to what Dawkins would have you believe.

Other questions would be where did the first life come from, and how could life be so complex if it just arose out of nothing?  So these are some questions that Mandy and Nicole are going to get into.

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