Has Science Disproved the Bible?
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, and activist of the twentieth century, once said, “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence. It will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” Humanistic views such as this have gained momentum in recent decades. There are many, especially in the liberal, secular education system, who believe, as Russell, that religions, including Bible-based faith, will simply vanish away as naturalistic knowledge increases. A frequent charge made by atheists and agnostics is that science has disproved the Bible (and even the existence of God). This declaration can and should provoke serious investigation on our part.
Science and Faith
To answer this indictment, we must first effectively define the terms “science” and “faith.” Yet in examining these two words, we must sift through prejudiced assumptions and statements. (For example, Robert Ingersoll, an agnostic orator of the nineteenth century, insisted, “Our ignorance is God. What we know is science.”) “Science” must be defined and understood by three limiting principles:
Principle #1: Science is limited to observable data. The simple definition of “science” is “systemized knowledge derived from observation, study, etc.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Geneticist John Klotz explained science as “man’s groping for truth.” He went on to say that “science deals only with the natural, with things that can be apprehended with the sense organs. Science deals with those things that can be measured.” Scientific information is thus confined to what can be observed and studied with the senses.
Principle #2: Science is limited to reproducible data. This means that tests and experiments must produce results that can be duplicated under different conditions, namely different operators, apparatus, laboratories, and/or after different intervals of time (IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology). The scientific method is not applicable to single, unique events.
Principle #3: Science is limited to naturalistic explanations. Since scientific research is restricted to that which is observed and measured with the senses, it cannot explain anything outside of natural law.
However, just as the definition of “science” must be cleared of conjecture and presumption so must “faith” (Friedrich Nietzsche unfairly alleged that “faith” is “not wanting to know what is true,” and even the American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”).
The Bible, which claims to be the word of God and the source of faith (1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 10:17), testifies to a very different meaning of “faith”: Faith is the foundation of hope and the proof of the invisible (Heb. 11:1). It can be these, because it is grounded in truth and confirmed by evidence (Jn. 17:17; 1 Jn. 1:1-3). Jesus Himself did not expect anyone to believe without proof (Jn. 10:37-38), yet John added that faith is possible even for those who have not viewed the evidence first-hand (Jn. 20:30-31; 20:25-29; 1 Pet. 1:7-8). Faith is not “blind,” as Nietzsche and the American Heritage Dictionary malign it. It is based on the valid, historical evidence of eye-witness testimony and confirmed by substantial evidence (Jn. 21:24; 2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 1:1-3).
Science Cannot Disprove the Bible
Due to the limitations of science, it will never be capable of refuting the inspiration and validity of the Bible:
The events recorded in the Bible cannot be observed or reproduced (Principles #1 and #2). They are historical events and are, therefore, non-scientific. This fact is even recognized by scientists: “Scientific study is limited to organisms and processes that we are able to observe and measure. Supernatural and religious phenomena are beyond the realm of scientific analysis because they cannot be scientifically studied, analyzed, or explained. Supernatural explanations can be used to explain any result, and cannot be disproven by experiment or observation” (The Living World, George B. Johnson). This does not mean that historical facts are any less true. For instance, the existence of Abraham Lincoln and his presidency cannot be proven through science, but historical evidence (eyewitness testimony, written documents, structures, and archeological findings) confirms that he lived and served as president. Thus, science itself will never disprove the Bible, because the Scriptures’ account is non-observable, non-measurable, and non-reproducible.
The Bible testifies to supernaturalism (that which is above and beyond the natural realm). Unique, supernatural activities and persons (creation, miracles, God, Jesus) cannot be disproved by science, because they are outside of natural law (Principle #3). Any evidence against such must come from non-scientific sources.
Science Supports the Biblical Account
While scientific data can neither prove nor disprove the Bible, it can provide evidence for or against it. Many atheists and agnostics claim science overwhelmingly invalidates the Bible, but open-minded investigation shows the Scriptures to be completely accurate when it comes to matters both non-scientific and scientific. In fact, the Scriptures even mention things that have only recently been discovered by modern scientists. This is often called the “scientific foreknowledge” of the Bible. Consider the following examples:
Five components of the universe: time, force, energy, space, and matter. Bible: Gen. 1:1. Science: Nineteenth century.
Creation finished. Bible: Gen. 2:1. Science: Nineteenth century (First Law of Thermodynamics).
Mankind of one blood. Bible: Acts 17:26. Science: Twentieth century.
Earth wearing down. Bible: Isa. 51:6; Ps. 102:26; Heb. 1:11. Science: Nineteenth century (Second Law of Thermodynamics).
Ocean springs. Bible: Gen. 7:11; Prov. 8:28; Job 38:16. Science: First century.
Ocean currents. Bible: Ps. 8:8. Science: Nineteenth century.
Ocean trenches or canyons. Bible: Job 38:16; 2 Sam. 22:16. Science: Nineteenth century.
Water cycle. Bible: Eccl. 1:7; Amos 9:6. Science: Sixteenth century.
Circumcision on the eighth day. The highest levels of Vitamin K in the body are present (without modern medicine) on the eighth day following birth. This vitamin produces prothombin which prevents hemorrhaging, making day eight the best day for surgical procedures. Bible: Lev. 12:3. Science: Twentieth century.
Not only do the accusations of critics that the Bible is proven false by science not hold up, they are demolished by the scientific foreknowledge of the Scriptures. The only explanation for this is Divine revelation. God alone knew and revealed thousands of years beforehand what man has only recently discovered.
“Has science disproved the Bible?” By no means. The Scriptures have not only held their ground, they have been reinforced by modern scientific findings. The word of God is living, active, and as sharp as ever (Heb. 4:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-6), and as Christians, we must be prepared to contend for and defend the faith and our hope (Jude 3; 1 Pet. 3:15).