Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Told you so

How many times have you heard somebody say that Christianity and science are mutually exclusive?  Do you agree or disagree?  The Bible has great stories, beautify poetry, prophecy, and spiritual instruction …but does it tell us anything about science?  Should it tell us anything about science?

I’ve talked to quite a few people who believe that the Bible should not be considered when talking about science.  I’m not a scientist, so I may be completely wrong, but I want to share with you some of the things I found in my research.  I thought this stuff was really, REALLY interesting, and I had never known the vast majority of it before, so I learned a lot.  The amazing thing, for me, is that it’s taken so long to see what has been right in front of us all the time!

Back when I was in high school, I remember reading through Leviticus and being struck by how the health rules that God gave the children of Israel were so specific and so logical (by our thinking, progressive by the ancient world’s thinking).  One of the most basic (again, basic to us) things that God told Aaron to tell the children of Israel was the concept of washing…  That seems like such a small thing doesn’t it?  But do you know how long it has taken to catch on?  Believe it or not, from the time Leviticus 15:13 was written until the mid-1800’s, washing was not considered that important…not even for doctors! 

A doctor from Hungary named Ignaz Semmelweis, was the first guy to really put together the idea that ‘something’ was being passed from one patient to another by the doctor himself, because nobody thought it was important to wash his hands in-between.  He even wrote a book about, but his colleagues were so resistant to his ideas that they got him to retire.  Another person that you’ve heard of before started a similar campaign here in the United States, Oliver Wendell Holmes.  People didn’t take his advice much better than they did Dr. Semmelweis.  It wasn’t until Joseph Lister came along, that people started putting things together.  All they had to do was read the Bible, right?

In Deuteronomy 23:12,13, God told the Jews they needed to dig outhouses.  Again, you’d think that nobody would have to be told to do that, and yet, up until some time in the 1800’s, folks just dumped the sewage into the street!  EEEEWWWW!  Not surprisingly, millions of people died of diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever. 

Back in Leviticus19:11-22, God gave the Israelites a recipe for an anti-bacterial soap to use for cleansing themselves after they had touched a dead body.

And then there’s the whole quarantine system that God laid out in Leviticus 13.  Again, it was an awfully long time until we managed to stumble onto it on our own.

Still say the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about science?


What about earth science?  Well, We know that most folks up until the late 1400’s believe that the world was flat.  Actually I hear there are some folks who still believe it – The Flat Earth Society.  Anyway, if folks had just read Isaiah 40:22 and Job 26:10, they would have understood that the earth is round.  Oh, and how does the earth stay where it is?

Well, if you when the Greeks and Romans did, you believed that a titan held the earth on his back.  Others thought it was a turtle or an elephant that held the world on its back.  The Jews knew better though.  In Job 26:7, it says, “He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.”  That’s an exceptionally accurate description for how the earth looks from space isn’t it?

Another thing the Bible describes is the way water moves from ground water to clouds to rain and back again.  Scientists call that the Hydrologic Cycle and they didn’t figure it out until the early 1600’s.  But Solomon knew.  In Ecclesiastes 1:7 he describes it.  We can read about it in Job 36:27-28 as well:  “For He draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly.”  Wow!  That’s exactly how I described it when I taught my 4th graders about the Water Cycle.  I didn’t know about this verse in Job then…and I couldn’t have used it if I had…but the textbook we used said the same thing—just not as poetically.

Did you know that God told Moses how to purify water?  In Exodus 15:25 we read, “Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord shoed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and waters became sweet.”  Well, since Moses’ time, chemists have learned how to do this.  They call it “ion exchange” and cellulose helps this process along.  Cellulose is the main thing that makes up plants, so the right king of tree could have turned undrinkable water into drinkable water.

Are you impressed yet?  Well, back in Job 28:25 we can read that air has mass or weight.  It wasn’t until 1640 that a guy names Evangelista Torricelli demonstrated that fact to the scientific world.

A guy named Matthew Maury was reading Psalms one day and decided to study the ocean to find what the psalmist called “the paths of the seas.”  He found them!  He became a world famous expert on shipping lanes and navigation.  A monument to him has this inscription:  “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the Genius Who First Snatched from the Ocean and Atmosphere the Secret of Their Laws.  His Inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm 8:8, Psalm 107:23-24, and Ecclesiastes 1:6.”

Both Solomon and Jeremiah were inspired by God to describe the patterns that the winds of earth follow.  We know now that air currents follow certain paths: they move from the equator to the poles and back again.  In Ecclesiastes 1:6 and Jeremiah 10:13 describe that movement as only inspiration could have told them.

On the subject of stars, the Bible was 3,000 years ahead of earthly science.  Up until the 1600’s and Galileo’s invention of the telescope, different people thought they could absolutely number the stars – about 1,000 was the number they came up with.  Abraham knew better because God told him so in Genesis 15:5.

In Amos 5:8, Amos mentions the Pleiades.  He states that there are 7 stars in it.  But the up until the last century, we thought there were only 6 stars in the Pleiades.  Hmmm…how did Amos know there were 7?

Some other things that God told us in the Bible long before science figured out:
¯  Things are made of invisible elements (atoms)  (Hebrews 11:3)
¯  The rotation of the earth (Job 38:12)
¯  Every star is different (1 Corinthians 15:41)
¯  Men and dinosaurs lived at the same time (Job 40:15-24)
¯  Light moves (Job 38:19-20)
¯  Blood is the source of life and health (Leviticus 17:11)
¯  The ocean floor has mountains and valleys (2 Samuel 22:16; Jonah 2:6)
¯  The ocean has springs (Job 38:16)

And then there’s this one.  In Genesis 17:10-12, God told the Jews that all the male babies should be circumcised on their 8th day of life.  Well, just in the last ½ century, a study in Boston found that Jewish women were 8.5 times less likely to contract cervical cancer than were other women.  And in a study just 4 years ago, doctors found that HPV (the virus linked to cervical cancer) in 3 times more prevalent in non-circumcised men.  And if that isn’t interesting enough, medical science now confirms that the 8th day of life is the absolute best day to be cut.  On that day the blood clotting factor, prothrombin, is at its highest level!  Now I think that’s really exciting information.  God loves us so much that He has made our bodies and our planet just exactly the way they need to be for us to be happy and healthy.

Think about this:
“True education does not ignore the value of scientific knowledge or literary acquirements; but above information it values power; above power, goodness; above intellectual acquirements, character. The world does not so much need men of great intellect as of noble character. It needs men in whom ability is controlled by steadfast principleGod is the author of science. Scientific research opens to the mind vast fields of thought and information, enabling us to see God in His created worksIgnorance may try to support skepticism by appealing to science; but instead of upholding skepticism, true science contributes fresh evidences of the wisdom and power of God. Rightly understood, science and the written word agree, and each sheds light on the other. Together they lead us to God by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which He works.”—E.G.White CT 426 (1913). {2MCP 739}
OK, so we’ve established that the Bible is inspired.  The prophecies are true; the archeology is viable.  Can we stop no and say that the science of the Bible is any less reliable?  I know, I can be pretty simplistic, and I’m certainly not a scientist, and maybe I’m missing something important, but I’m convinced that the Bible can be trusted in all areas to be truthful and accurate.  What do you think?

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