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The Bible and Science: Facts and Theories 2

Are the Bible and Science in conflict?

5. The Bible

The observable facts in the Bible
We have been looking at the observable facts in science. We now want to see what the equivalent is for the Bible. If we think about it, we’ll see that it is the text of the Bible thatwe can think of as the observable facts. We looked carefully at the observable facts in science, so we must look equally carefully at the text of the Bible.
So let’s see what the Bible text says about the start of things. Let’s look at the first fewwords of the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1 v 1
Leaving aside for the moment the argument about whether a Creator was involved, thissentence tells us that the universe, including our earth, came into existence at somepoint called “the beginning”.
The Bible then goes on to say:
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of thedeep. Genesis 1 v 2
We are told that at one stage our earth was covered with water, uninhabited and dark.
Opinions vary among Bible studentsover what the text is saying about the beginning of the universe and our earth, and how long it all took. For instance, some Bible students think that there could be a time gap between “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and “Now the earth was formless and empty”.  So they think the Bible could be saying the universe was made some unspecified time before planet earth came to be how it isnow.
Regardless of these differences of opinion about details, we can see that the Bible text tells us that planet earth came into existence and was at one stage covered with water,totally uninhabited and dark.
The first two chapters of the Bible then tell us that our world as we know it today came into being in six stages. The record seems to be of what someone on the earth would see as events happened. At each stage God gives instructions, and the record thenconfirms that the instructions are carried out.
The Bible tells us that at the first stage the instruction from God is:
“Let there be light.” Genesis 1 v 3
For the first time, light reaches the water that covers the earth.
We are also told that:
God … separated the light from the darkness.God called the light “day,” and the  darkness he called “night.”Genesis 1 v 4 and 5
The waters now experience the vital cycle of day and night. The instructions for the second stage are:
“Let there be an expanse between the waters toseparate water from water.” Genesis 1 v 6
We can see what this means when we read:God called the expanse sky.Genesis 1 v 8
The water round the earth is separated to form clouds and sea. There is now a space for life, but with an abundant supply of water, which is vital to sustain life.
 At the third stage the instructions are:
“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” Genesis 1 v 9
“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”.Genesis 1 v 11
Land appears together with plant life. Vegetation flourishes in the environment provided at this stage.
The fourth stage instructions are:
“Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky toseparate the day from the night, and let themserve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” Genesis 1 v 14
Probably the clouds separate and the sun and moon appear. The cycle of the seasons is now established so that life can be supported.
For the fifth stage, the instruction is:
“Let the water teem with living creatures,and let birds fly above the earth acrossthe expanse of the sky.”Genesis 1 v 20
Life appears in the sea and in the air.
The final instructions in this great project are:
“Let the land produce living creatures accordingto their kinds: livestock, creatures that movealong the ground, and wild animals, eachaccording to its kind.” Genesis 1 v 24
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,and let them rule over the fish of the sea and thebirds of the air, over the livestock, over all theearth, and over all the creatures that move alongthe ground.” Genesis 1 v 26
The land animals appear, with man last of all.The record makes no attempt toexplain how it is done.So, we have seen that the Bible is telling us that everything came into existence in sixstages.
At the end of the first stage we read:
And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.Genesis 1 v 5
There are similar statements at the end of the other stages.These statements are telling us that the stages are all a day in length.
The second book of the Bible – Exodus – supports these statements in Genesis:
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is inthem. Exodus 20 v 11
If we look at how the Bible uses the word “day”, we see that it usually refers to a 24-hour period. But if we look carefully at the text of the Bible, we see that occasionally itrefers to longer time periods. One example of this occurs in the creation account itselfin Genesis chapter two. The Bible talks about:
“the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”Genesis 2 v 4
This “day” contains the whole six days of creation that we have just been looking at. Weuse the word “day” in the same way today when we talk about “our day and age” or“Queen Victoria’s day”. So we can see that the text is flexible in its use of the word“day” in the creation account.
In the rest of the Bible there are some general comments about the God of the Biblebeing the Creator. However, none of these comments gives us any more information
about the mechanisms involved. The Bible is not a science textbook. It is moreconcerned about why we are here and the purpose behind our existence.
6. Summary – the Bible
This is what the Bible text tells us about how we got here:
      Our earth had a beginning.
      At one stage in our planet’s history, it was uninhabited and covered withwater.
      Life then appeared on our planet in stages, with man appearing last of all.
      We should bear in mind that there are differences of opinion about how long all thistook.
      It may surprise us, but that’s about all the Bible text actually tells us about the start ofeverything.

 7. Bible and Science conflict?
We will now look at the observable facts in Science and see if they conflict with theBible text.The table below summarises what we have seen:
Observable facts from Science
The Bible text
• “Red shift” in light coming from space
• Background radiation in universe
• Animals in fossil record appear fullyfunctional
• The cell is always complete and fullyfunctional
    Our earth had a beginning
    At one stage in our planet’s history, it wasuninhabited and covered with water
    Life then appeared on our planet in stages,with man appearing last of all
 
 
The fact that the light coming from the universe is different from that which comes fromour sun, and that there is a background radiation, doesn’t conflict with the Biblicalstatement that the universe had a beginning.
If we accept the scientists’ belief that the red shift means our universe is expanding,this would agree with the Bible statement that the universe had a beginning.
The observable fact that the fossils and the cell appear fully formed agrees with theBible statement that life appeared fully formed in stages, with man last of all.
If we consider time periods for the start of things, there is no conflict if we restrictourselves to observable facts. When we think carefully about it, all the dating methodsare based on assumptions. The oldest objects of known age are only a few thousandyears old. We have no object which says, “I am 40 million years old – use me as acalibration sample”. So we don’t have all the facts.
Remembering what we saw in the examples from medical history, if we don’t have allthe facts, we can reach wrong conclusions. In dating methods we don’t have all thefacts either, so our conclusions could be wrong.
We can see that, whatever view we take of the Bible text regarding time periods, thereis no conflict with science because there are no observable scientific facts to enable usto check our theories.

 

 
 8. Frequently asked questions
1. Where do dinosaurs fit in the Bible record?
There is no doubt that dinosaurs once existed on the earth. The facts of the fossilrecords show that. But that is the only fact we have about them. As all datingmethods contain untestable assumptions, we cannot be sure when they existed.
There is no mention of these animals in the Bible record.There are places in the Bible record where they could fit in, but we are given nofacts in the Bible.
It is the opinion of some that they existed before the time referred to inGenesis 1 verse 1 when the present order of things came into being. Others are ofthe opinion that they lived before the flood of Noah’s time and were destroyed inNoah’s flood.
2. Where do the fossils fit in the Bible record?
Like the dinosaurs, the animals in the fossil record could have occurred in an erabefore our own or could have been wiped out in the chaos that would haveoccurred in the flood of Noah’s time.
9. Summary:
Observable facts from Science
The Bible text
• “Red shift” in light coming from space
• Background radiation in universe
• Animals in fossil record appear fully functional
• The cell is always complete and fully functional
    Our earth had a beginning
    At one stage in our planet’s history, it was uninhabited and covered with water
    Life then appeared on our planet in stages,with man appearing last of all
 
 
There is no conflict between the observable facts from Science and the Bible text

 

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