Is science right? Whenever there is an apparent contradiction between scientific evidence and the teaching of Scripture, which should we trust? The truth is that both factual scientific data and the Bible can be misinterpreted or misquoted, so we need to exert a good faith effort to understand both correctly. Yet, assuming there still seems to be a conflict between science and God, what should we do? Christians say the Bible is right, yet we may harbor subliminal doubts, questioning why, if God is wise enough to create the universe and beyond, His Word seems to contradict science? We shouldn’t.
“And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)
The problem with the science versus Bible issue is that while both the laws of science and the Bible are from God, it is we humans who take what came from Him and run with it, so to speak. We human beings–who are so susceptible to mistakes–are the ones who do the research, the experimentation, the compilation and the interpretation of what exists in the natural world God created. We are also the ones who translate from the original languages the Bible He gave and interpret its meaning. So, while both God’s creation and His Word is perfect, what filters down to us through human hands and minds may not be.
Take, for example, the issue of a flat earth. There is a lot of confusion today as to who, if anyone, actually believed this seemingly preposterous theory-some even going to the extreme of advocating that it was espoused by Christianity, dubbing it the “flat earth theory.” Yet, regardless of who believes what, God’s Word correctly translated, is always truthful:
“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers…” (Isaiah 40:22)
Another such case is today’s verse, which says we have already been made to sit together with Christ in the heavenly places. Clearly, we’re still alive here on earth at this moment! How can this apparent contradiction to the “obvious” laws of science be reconciled?
Scientists have recently begun hypothesizing that in some, albeit difficult to comprehend, way the past, present and future may actually exist simultaneously. It’s not an intuitive concept, and it is not necessarily correct that every other speculation associated with this concept is correct, but it confirms our conviction that no matter what, God Himself makes no mistakes–He says what He means to say and means what He says. So, what should we do when we are confronted with a seeming scientific/Biblical contradiction?
The first thing I must do is resolve in my heart and mind that what God says is true, regardless of how apparently unlikely it is, and whether or not I understand it.
The second thing I need to do is make sure I’ve got both the science and the Bible end of the issue right. This may be difficult for those of us who are neither scientific nor Biblical scholars, but with a little honest effort and a teachable mind, even a non-academic can educate himself enough on the issue to arrive at a good approximation of the situation.
Regarding the science end, we must be careful to examine both sides of the argument, because issues presented as clearly resolved frequently aren’t. We must, furthermore, be careful to differentiate between fact (observable or reproducible evidence) and speculation–whether correctly identified as such or called by a more authoritative sounding misnomer such as “theory.”
On the Biblical side, we must likewise be careful. We must become at least marginally competent with basic study tools like a Bible dictionary (which translates words from the original language for those of us who do not know them), and we must educate ourselves on the significance of the tenses used. We must study each issue carefully, looking up the words and following basic accepted rules of Biblical interpretation (like not taking a passage out of context). We must not be arrogant, thinking God will allow countless previous Christians to stumble in darkness while allowing only me a correct understanding. We must, furthermore not close our minds.
By this, I do not mean we are to accept as truth what is currently popular if Scripture does not teach it. What I do mean is that I should not assume that something cannot be correct if previous generations hadn’t envisioned it. Take the prophecy in Revelation about the mark of the beast on the forehead or the hand. Previous generations might have imagined this as a cut made by a knife or a brand burned on, but because of technological advances we now understand that it might be an imanted data chip of some kind.
In the end, we must realize what we started out with: God makes no mistakes–scientific or Biblical. What comes from Him is perfect, right and true. It is only when we begin to work with what He created or said that it becomes at risk of misinterpretation or misrepresentation.
Thank You that “all that…[You have] made…was very good.”(Genesis 1:31 NIV) and that “Every word of…[Yours] is flawless…” (Proverbs 30:5 NIV) Help me be faithful and diligent in all I do, and “Do…[my] best to present…[myself] to…[You] as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) Amen.