Science Verses the Bible

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This page last updated on 04/17/2017.

Copyright 2001-2017 by Russ Meyer


I find it rather amusing, in a tragic way, how so many people believe there is a great conflict between science and the Bible.  I admit that it sometimes isn't straightforward to reconcile the two, but it seems quite possible to me.  The apparent conflict between the Bible and science seems to more often represent the hang-ups of the people doing the arguing rather than any real problem with the issue itself.  Anyway, my Mother-in-Law and I were discussing the Big Bang theory and the creation account in Genesis.  I thought the substance of that discussion would make a decent web article.  It also serves as an example of how it may be possible to reconcile science and the Bible.

Compare the Big Bang and Biblical creation stories.  One represents the cutting edge of scientific thought and fact.  The other represents ancient God-inspired wisdom.  (In the Bible section, it might be valuable to get out your Bible and read the verses cited because I didn't want to quote the whole passage here.)
 

The Big Bang

  1. In the beginning there was nothing...except perhaps the quantum vacuum.  There was no time or spatial dimensions.
  2. Suddenly, for reasons unknown (maybe God), ALL matter, energy, space, time, etc. sprang into existence simultaneously.  The universe was extremely hot...so hot that atoms couldn't form.  The spatial dimensions unfolded rapidly, quickly expanding the universe.  This expansion also allowed the universe to cool.
  3. After about 3 seconds, the universe cooled enough so hydrogen atoms could form.
  4. After about 300,000 years, hydrogen atoms clumped together to form the first stars and light was cast across the heavens.
  5. After a few generations of stars there was enough heavier matter (in the form of interstellar dust and gas) lying about to make planets.  At this point, our solar system, including the Earth, was formed from a large nebula of interstellar dust and gas.
  6. After a long time, plants appeared on the Earth.
  7. After another long period of time, animals appeared on the Earth.
  8. After another long period of time, people appeared on the Earth.
     

The Bible

Genesis 1:2 - The time between the big bang and the formation of the first stars

  • The earth was formless and void - The earth didn't exist yet as a separate identifiable entity.
  • Darkness was over the surface of the deep - All of space was dark because there were no stars.

Genesis 1:3 - The formation of the first stars

  • God said, "Let there be light." - The birth of the first stars about 300,000 years after the big bang.

Genesis 1:6,7 - The formation of the nebula from which the solar system was made.

  • God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."  Throughout this section of Genesis, if you interpret "waters1" to be clouds of interstellar dust and gas, it all makes sense.  (In fact, up through these verses in Genesis, if you interpret the "deep" to be space and "waters" to mean matter (like dust and gas) in space, everything tags up pretty well.)

Genesis 1:9,10 - Formation of the Earth from the solar nebula

  • God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear."

Genesis 1:11 thru 13 - Plants appear on the earth

  • God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation..."

Genesis 1:26 thru 31 - People appear on the earth

  • God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..."
     

Anyway, I think a case can be made that the creation story in Genesis is very similar to our understanding from science.  The account in Genesis isn't really very detailed, but that doesn't bother me.  After all, this passage in Genesis had to be crafted by God to speak to generations of people.  It had to be relevant to someone back in 200 BC.  I mean, how would Genesis help them, if it started talking about the big bang, the expansion of spatial dimensions, and the formation of hydrogen?  Until recently people had no clue about stuff like that.

The Bible isn't trying to be a science text.  I just don't think all that stuff is relevant to the mission of the Bible.  The Bible is supposed to reveal God to people and teach people how to relate to God.  I think it skips over all the science-like details because it's just not relevant.  It's like God is saying, "Look don't worry about how I put it all together.  All you have to worry about is your relationship with me."  Here's another way to think of it:  The owner just wants to have a good, productive relationship with his dog.  The dog should focus on that, not how his dog-house is constructed or how his owner came to possess a dog.  I mean it's all good and well if the dog learns how his dog-house is constructed and is able to do a few clever tricks with that knowledge, but without a right relationship with the owner, it's all kind of pointless.
 

Notes

  1. Consider that gas, clouds of interstellar dust, and water all behave like fluids.  The imagery in the Bible uses the word "waters" to describe the creation of the Earth.  Think of how a solar system is formed.  A swirling whirlpool of dust and gas revolving around a proto-star.  The dust and gas behave like a fluid...just like water.  Using the imagery of "water" is an excellent way to describe to someone who knows nothing of such matters what it looked like.  It's just like a whirlpool in space.