The Bible’s Viewpoint
Are Science and the Bible Compatible?
“The significance and joy in my science comes in the occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, ‘So that’s how God did it!’”—HENRY SCHAEFER, PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY.
SCIENCE does much to help us understand the natural world, revealing a level of order, precision, and sophistication that points, in the eyes of many, to a God of infinite intelligence and power. In their view, science reveals not just details of the natural world but also facets of the mind of God.
That point of view finds abundant support in the Bible. Says Romans 1:20: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” Likewise, Psalm 19:1, 2 states: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling. One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth, and one night after another night shows forth knowledge.” Despite all its wonders, however, the natural world reveals only some aspects of our Creator.
Where Science Is Limited
Many truths about God are beyond the scope of science. To illustrate, a scientist may be able to describe every molecule in a chocolate cake, but will his analysis reveal why the cake was made or for whom? For answers to questions like that—which most people would regard as the more important ones—he needs to consult the person who baked the cake.
Similarly, science “gives a lot of factual information,” wrote Austrian physicist and Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger, “but it is ghastly silent about all . . . that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us.” This includes, he says, “God and eternity.” For example, only God can answer such questions as the following: Why is there a universe? Why does our planet have an abundance of life, including intelligent life? If God truly is almighty, why does he permit evil and suffering? And is there hope beyond the grave?
Has God answered those questions? Yes, in the pages of the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16) ‘But how,’ you may ask, ‘can I be sure that the Bible really is from God?’ From a scientific point of view, what the Bible says about the world around us must harmonize with scientific fact, for God does not contradict himself. Does the Bible reflect such harmony? Consider a few examples.
Scientifically Ahead of Its Time
When the Bible was being written, many people believed that various gods inhabited the world and that those gods, not natural laws, controlled the sun, the moon, the weather, fertility, and so on. But that was not the case with the ancient Hebrew prophets of God. Of course, they knew that Jehovah God could directly control the natural world and that he did so on specific occasions. (Joshua 10:12-14; 2 Kings 20:9-11) Nevertheless, John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, England, observed that those prophets “did not have to have their universe de-deified [of mythical gods]. . . , for the simple reason that they had never believed in the gods in the first place. What had saved them from that superstition was their belief in One True God, Creator of heaven and earth.”
How did that belief protect them from superstition? For one thing, the true God revealed to them that he governs the universe by precise laws, or statutes. For example, more than 3,500 years ago, Jehovah God asked his servant Job: “Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens?” (Job 38:33) In the seventh century B.C.E., the prophet Jeremiah wrote about “the statutes of heaven and earth.”—Jeremiah 33:25.
Hence, all who lived in ancient times and had faith in the writings of the Bible prophets could know that the universe was governed, not by mythical, temperamental deities, but by rational laws. As a result, those God-fearing individuals neither bowed down to created entities, such as the sun, the moon, or the stars, nor did they have a superstitious attitude toward them. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19) Rather, they saw God’s works as objects of study that reveal his wisdom, power, and other qualities.—Psalm 8:3-9; Proverbs 3:19, 20.
In harmony with the views of many scientists today, the ancient Hebrews also believed that the universe had a beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” says Genesis 1:1. Also, some 3,500 years ago, God revealed to his servant Job that the earth ‘hangs on nothing,’ or is suspended in space. (Job 26:7) And finally, more than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote that the earth is a circle or sphere.—Isaiah 40:22. *
Yes, the Bible does harmonize with scientific truths about the natural world. In fact, the two fields of study are more than compatible—they beautifully complement each other. To disregard either one is to leave unopened a door to the knowledge of God.—Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 40:26.
^ par. 14 For a more extensive discussion on the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible, please read the brochure Was Life Created? and the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● What can creation tell us about God?—Romans 1:20.
● What truths about God are beyond the scope of science?—2 Timothy 3:16.
● Why did the ancient prophets of the true God not have a superstitious view of creation?—Jeremiah 33:25.
[Blurb on page 23]
The universe is governed by precise laws—“the statutes of heaven and earth.”—JEREMIAH 33:25