A common refrain that one hears today is, “Well, I believe in science!” And that’s quite good, as long as one knows what they mean by that statement. So the question for this article relates to defining just exactly what might be meant by such an affirmation.
To illustrate my point, if I were to ask you, “Do you believe in science?” What would you say? And if you said yes, what would that mean to you?
For instance, does it mean that you believe and accept every statement of fact written down in a book of science? Hmm. Does it matter to you when that book was written? And if it does, will you still believe in every single assertion of fact written down in a book of science today, in fifty years?
Does it mean that you believe in scientific instruments, their measurements, and their test results? Does it matter if they are used with the right procedure? Does it matter if the instrument was calibrated? Does it matter if the results are based on assumptions that can’t necessarily be proven? Does it matter if the results have multiple interpretations, but only one conclusion is selected and presented as the definitive answer? Does it matter if the results of the test can be highly manipulated by the assumptions and methods used by the technician, based on preconceived biases that they may or may not be aware of?
How about facts? Do you believe in facts? If so, what constitutes a fact? Clearly, a color, a width, a composition, a density, a velocity, physical laws, etc. are measurable and repeatable quantities that can be determined objectively and represent facts. But how about scientific conclusions about objective facts? Does consensus mean that subjective interpretations have become objective, and therefore incontrovertible facts?
And back to the question about statements of fact found in scientific books, when information and conclusions change over time, what kind of information generally changes, objective measurements or subjective interpretations? In other words, is it our measurements of the properties of things like Carbon-14 that have changed over time, or rather is it our understanding of the uses and interpretations of things like Carbon-14 testing and dating that have developed over time?
Or does it mean that you believe in scientists? Does it matter which ones? Are some more trustworthy than others? Do you believe everything they believe and espouse, or only some things? If so, how do you know what to believe and what not to believe?
I hope that you see some of the challenges for the statement, “I believe in Science!” In fact, stated in that way, it requires just as much faith as religious people are often accused of needing to continue in their beliefs.
I’ll tell you what I believe in. I believe in objective reality, which when measured or characterized with an objective method, yields an incontrovertible and objective fact. In other words, things that do not depend on interpretations or unproven assumptions.
I also believe in the revelation of God, as recorded in the sixty-six books of the Bible. People have been studying the Old Testament of the Bible for about 3500 years, and the books of the New Testament for almost 2000 years. And after all that time, they are as trustworthy today as when they were first written. Science can hardly boast a similar claim.
So how do I reconcile Science and the Bible? By remembering the difference between measurements and observations of objective reality and the interpretations of what those measurements and observations mean. Most of what is reported as fact these days are actually just interpretations of data and observation, which is filtered through and interpreted based on the scientist’s worldview and a set of associated assumptions. Therefore, the facts are not what they concluded, but simply the data they harvested before they made their conclusions. A biblical scientist can look at the same data and come to a completely different conclusion than a scientist with a secular and naturalistic worldview.
I’ll give an example using the Grand Canyon. The data are the lengths, depths, and widths of the canyon, the number of layers of rock in the exposed cliff faces and their respective thicknesses and compositions, and the recorded observations of the canyon that we have over the past 150 years or so, etc. That’s it. It’s age, how it was formed, and what it teaches us about the earth are all subjective interpretations that are highly influenced by a scientists worldview. Young earth biblical scientists have no problem scientifically explaining the stratification and rapid formation of the Grand Canyon under the catastrophic influence of a global flood approximately 4500 years ago. We can’t prove it, because we weren’t there, but it can’t be disproven either. The only thing that can be done is to present a counter hypothesis, which in the case of the old earth scientist, would be based on a non-cataclysmic assumption using the current erosion mechanism of the Colorado River, resulting in an estimated age of 5-6 million years.
So, I hope you will think twice about what it means to say, “I believe in Science!” If you mean, I believe in objective reality, then great, but saying so is about as meaningful as saying that “I believe the sky is blue!” Or, “I believe in gravity.” If you mean, I believe in scientific consensus, then what you might really be saying is that you believe in scientists not the Bible. And just be warned, scientists often make mistakes and they can be loathe to admit them. Furthermore, most scientists have accepted a secular and naturalistic worldview that rejects the testimony about the world given in scripture, which leads them to make some pretty wild and often self-contradictory conclusions. Biblical scientists, on the other hand, have no trouble explaining the world using scientific principles and objective observations interpreted in the light of the testimonies about the world and its origins as recorded in the Bible.
When scientists say that Science has disproven the Bible, what they really mean is that scientists have claimed to disprove the Bible. And those claims are supported by assuming that the account of the origin of the universe, as recorded in the Bible, is false to begin with. Then they use their own naturalistic assumptions to justify a conclusion that their original assumptions were correct. Which is fine, as long as you don’t mind believing in things that are absurdly improbable. In other words, they can’t really disprove the Bible, they can only supply an alternate explanation, and that explanation doesn’t have to be even remotely probable for them to claim victory, it just needs to be conceivable. For example, what is the probability of forming, by accident, just one important protein, called hemoglobin, that is found in your blood? Well, hemoglobin is formed from four subunit proteins of 141 to 146 amino acids each, or about 572 total amino acids. The human body has twenty-three different amino acids available as building blocks, so the probability of getting hemoglobin by accident is approximately 23572 or 1 in 1×10750 (1 with 750 zeros behind it), which is a number so large its impossible to even conceive of. Why? Because the total number of atoms in the known universe is estimated to be somewhere around only 1×1080, and if we can’t really even conceive of that number then the other is beyond ludicrous. So, when secular scientists propose, just for example, that hemoglobin and the other 50,000 or so proteins in your body just developed slowly over time by random chance, is that really where you want to place your faith? Or might it be wiser to acknowledge that an infinitely powerful and all-knowing God just made it that way?
So when it comes to trying to reconcile Science and the Bible and decide where best to place your faith, just remember the difference between objective facts and subjective interpretations when you are talking about Science and truth. I’ll leave you with a few passages of scripture that I like to think about when deciding how much credence to give secular scientific thought as compared to the Bible…
Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:15-16
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:3-7
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.
Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past. For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done. Saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:8-10