Scientific and Christian Viewpoints may appear at First to be Opposing
Copyright 2018 by Joan Berry
Scientific and Christian viewpoints may appear at first to be opposing, but a closer look will reveal that they are very much in agreement and that science is not the enemy of the Biblical account of the Creation. The Creation has always been a matter of great interest to Christians as well as to those in the various fields of science. Admittedly, neither the Bible nor the Creation account were written to be sources of scientific information, but they have had an intriguing attraction for scientific investigation that many times resulted in confirmation of what Christians have taken in faith all along. From a Christian’s perspective, the creation account was where God first revealed himself; the purpose of his creations; and a as a triune God who set a plan of salvation in place that led to the New Testament and Jesus Christ. This essay will not cover theories of evolution; the topics will be limited to the importance of Genesis, purpose of creation, comparison to a Mesopotamian creation myth, Biblical creation process, and examples of agreement between science and the Biblical account of Creation.
“In the beginning . . .,” the first words of Genesis set the stage to explain the origins of our planet, nature, mankind, and God’s purpose for us. God did not need humans for company or a new place to live, he created the Earth and its inhabitants as a means to have a relationship and dwell with mankind who was expected to worship him and take care of the paradise he created for them (Hill & Walton, 2009, pp. 23, 58). God showed his presence as he created the cosmos as a place he wanted to be, and then Adam and Eve lost this special presence of God when they sinned, and God again introduced his presence in the covenant with them as to what their lives would bring to them (Hill & Walton, 2009, pp. 77-78; Gen. 3 NIV).
God could have destroyed his creation of mankind for their disobedience, but in his mercy and grace spared their lives and banished them from the garden. In the New Testament Adam is referred to as a type of him who was to come (Rom. 5:14) indicating that in some way that Jesus is connected. According to the NKJV (2007), we should consider that both came into the world under unusual circumstances as sinless people: Adam as the head of the old creation and Jesus as the head of the new creation and as such God had planned for our salvation from the beginning (p.2). It should be mentioned here that God is a triune God (God, the father (Is. 40:28), Jesus, the son (Col. 1:16), and the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4). There are many other references and these are but a few examples: Matt. 29:19 and II Cor. 13:14. During the creation process in Genesis 1:26, there is a reference … let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, which most Christians also take to mean a triune God head is involved. Some scholars think that the plural of god was often used during this epoch but meant one god, but the other verses throughout the Bible seem to refute that and Genesis implies that God being a spirit, was not talking about angels or other created beings.
Genesis has similarities to Sumerian and Mesopotamian creation myths and because these texts are older, some believe Genesis was developed from those sources, but there are major differences (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 81). The creation myths are the product of pagan societies that assigned gods to everything, but in Israelite religion there was the one and only God. For example, there was no moon god or goddess, God made the moon for light and a way to note the change of seasons – function. Mankind was created in the image of God and the world was created for them. In mythology, mankind was an afterthought and presented as a slave to the many pagan gods (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 83). Genesis presents mankind as very special: the crown of creation, made in the image of God, and granted a priestly identity at creation (Skillen, 2011, p 123). Skillen (2011) posits that this was a revolutionary break with mythologies and the pagan bond was broken forever; mankind had, under God, dignity, purpose, and freedom and was empowered (p. 123).
Genesis is literature and the record of the “beginnings” including the foundations of Old Testament theology and was not meant to be a source of scientific information, however archaeologists use its content to locate ancient ruins and scientist consult it in their investigations of nature and the cosmos (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 78). It must be remembered that science uses methods to study material things (matter and energy) and expresses results in materialistic terminologies – the mechanics of how something works, but not the meaning and purpose (Lucas, 2005, p 140). An example given by Lucas was that two people were standing on a beach; one was a scientist and the other was a Boy Scout. They both saw a bright light flashing at intervals at sea. The scientist was excited by the intensity and distance and wondered what its source could be. The Boy Scout saw it as an SOS signal and ran for help and saved many lives. The scientist could not get beyond the technical aspect of the light’s properties to wonder who was holding the light and why – the primary reason (p 140). The point could be made that God gave us the capacity to understand that science is an acceptable and often necessary way to find the truth about nature. The Bible has its limitations which does not include detailed information about scientific matters for example a course in astronomy, but we have been made in God’s likeness and are able to understand the truths in his created order which is something that modern scientists have come to realize (Lucas, 2005, pp. 143-145).
Creations that scientists have pondered are many and several will be briefly discussed here as examples of their investigations including some that are a little controversial. In the Bible firmament means heavens, and the root word refers to something hammered out as metal as a bracelet (NKJV, 2007, note p. 4). Using this as a background for Gen. 1:6, scientists believe the separation of the water above and below is a reference to the asteroid belt which separates the outer gaseous planets from the terrestrial planets (inside planets) and forms a circle as a bracelet. From 1974-1982, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) probes, Voyagers and Pioneers, detected ice and water on Neptune and Uranus, Saturn’s moons and rings, and Venus. And we know from recent robot probes on Mars that there is water there, also (NASA Missions, 2012 updated).
In Genesis 2:7, God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. This is thought of as molding man from clay (NKJV, 2007, note p. 6). Beginning in the 1960s, scientists discovered that clay has the properties of being able to store and transfer energy and contains some of the building blocks of life. This was further confirmed in 1985 by the American Research Center (Klein, n.d.).
Following are a few examples from a compiled list of scientific proofs of the Bible by J. N. Clayton (n.d.):
A place in the north void of stars was found in the 19th century and the Earth is held in place by invisible forces was discovered in 1650 (Job 26:7NIV):He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. Arcturus and other stars move through space was discovered in the 19th century (Job 38:32 NIV).
Isaiah, in the 8th century BC, declared the earth was round, discovered in modern times in the 15th century (Isaiah 40:22): He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
Blood is necessary to life discovered in the 17th century (Lev. 17:11 NIV): For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Only three centuries ago the complete meaning of what blood meant to life was discovered by William Harvey (Merrill, 1991, pp. 35-36).
Psalms 8:8: the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Oceans were discovered to have natural guided streams (or paths) in 1854.
Genesis 1:2 NIV: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Earth was in nebular form initially, discovered in 1911.
Even though science confirms what we already have accepted as truth through God, we must remember that upon learning through science out of curiosity does not eliminate the revelation of the nature of God; and that science tried to explain things without God being involved. It is important to understand that God created (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 96). The purposes of Genesis were to present God as the Creator of all, to give the account of origins of the cosmos, and proclaim the assumption that God existed and that he planned from the beginning to lead us to Christ and salvation (Lucas, 2005, p 151).
Hill, A. E., & Walton, J. H. (2009). A survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Life Application Study Bible –New International Version (NIV). (2005). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Merrill, E.H., (1991). An historical survey of the Old Testament (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic
New King James Version Study Bible (NKJV), (2nd ed.), (2007). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc
Clayton, J.N. (n.d.). Scientific proof of the Bible. Retrieved from http://www.kingjamesbible- online.org/Scientific-Proof-of-Bible.php
Klein, D.R. (n.d.). Organic chemistry. Retrieved from http://www.skeptictank.org/files//atheist2/isue11b.htm.
Lucas, E. (2005). Science and the Bible: are they incompatible? Science And Christian Belief,-28fb-46d3-96f9-a006edcc4842%40.
NASA Missions. (2012 updated). Voyager and Pioneer missions chart. Retrieved from http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html
Skillen, J. W. (2011). The seven days of creation. Calvin Theological Journal, 46(1), Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6c6d3a7c -69de-48ad-863b-bbe6e56cc20a%4111-139.