Is there any scientific knowledge to be found in the Bible?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

I have written threads before, rebutting AiG on this subject, so it should be clear that my current position is no. But what do you think?


(James McKay) #2

If you define scientific knowledge as being knowledge gained using the scientific method, then the answer is no, because the scientific method hadn’t been invented in Bible times.

Having said that, the Bible does contain certain things that seem to be precursors to the scientific method. For example, the insistence on two or three witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1, Matthew 18:16, Deuteronomy 19:15, Deuteronomy 17:6) is a foreshadowing of the whole principle of reproducibility, and then there are also the verses that insist on honest weights and measures (Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Leviticus 19:35-36; Ezekiel 45:10; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 20:23; Hosea 12:6-7; Amos 8:4-8; Micah 6:10-13).


(Phil) #3

While there are facts about the state of the natural world in the Bible, science really did not exist when it was written, so I would agree the answer is no. However, there are some parallels between the scientific method and Jesus’ mode of teaching in parables, as he encouraged his followers to observe what was happening in the stories he taught, and formulate the ideas and principles that explained the meaning, rather than just lecture rote knowledge.


#4

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go…”–Galileo Galilei

It would seem that the Bible was never meant to be a scientific textbook, so any correlation between scripture and modern scientific knowledge would be happenstance. It’s a bit like looking to Aesop’s Fables for scientific knowledge of animal behavior.


(James McKay) #5

Another, more interesting question though. I think the original question can be better phrased as follows:

Does the Bible contain any facts about the natural world which were not known at the time, but which were subsequently confirmed centuries later by scientific discoveries?

@BradKramer has a post about this a while ago:

While I’d agree that a lot of the examples that get bandied about do tend to be eisegesis rather than exegesis, there are a few verses here and there that make me raise my eyebrows a bit. For example, could Isaiah 40:6-7 be a reference to (shock, horror) universal common ancestry…?


#6

We shouldn’t try to get scientific knowledge out of the Bible. For one thing, it’s just not there. For another, it’s an admission that scientific knowledge is most important kind of knowledge there is.


(George Brooks) #7

Science?

How many unscrupulous ranch apprentices tried to apply this “science” of animal husbandry during the 1000 years before the birth of Jesus?

Gen 30:37-43
Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the rods.

He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the runnels, that is, the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the rods and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

And Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own droves apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock.

Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding Jacob laid the rods in the runnels before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the rods, but for the feebler of the flock he did not lay them there; so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.

Thus the man grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, maidservants and menservants, and camels and asses.

Was this “science” or “magic”? What would you call it if it actually worked?


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #8

As others have said: not as such.

However, I wanted to add one thing to the discussion. Knowledge about the natural world was considered one subcategory of wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures. This is why, for instance, in the Wisdom Literature, we occasionally see descriptions of the natural world. If you read God’s answer to Job, for example, of course the take-away is that we are insignificant, but along the way, all of us as readers are invited to marvel in depth at a whole litany of natural wonders, elaborated over multiple chapters. The author is reminding us of our insignificance, while at the same time showing his wisdom as a keen observer of the world around us.

I say this to point out that, while the Bible is not a reliable source of modern scientific knowledge, it is a reliable source of inspiration to pursue scientific knowledge of the natural world, as we seek to understand our Creator and the world He has so lovingly created.

And, appropriately, I think that most scientists who dedicate their lives to this sort of pursuit do experience something of the humility of a chastened Job, as they, too, come to understand just how much it is that they don’t know.


(David Heddle) #9

Perhaps of interest, I just wrote about this.


(Wookin Panub) #10

A resounding, YES! God is science. The bible is not a science book but it is the foundation for science. In the book of GENESIS, (Genesis 2:21) "21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man."

God made the male first and taken a rib from Adam to form a female. Males have both “X” chromosomes and a “Y” chromosome, which means that Eve was able to reproduce both male and female. But if God had created the female first, then Eve could reproduce only females, since females would lack the “Y” chromosome to reproduce males


(David Heddle) #11

If pushed, I would say that the first three words (in any standard English translation) of the bible comprise the only definitive scientific statement in scripture.


(Phil) #12

Uh, that is not how it works.


#13

But females have 2 “X” chromosomes that are different. If God duplicated the X that means every female descendent of Eve would have identical X’s.

Of course since God just poofed Adam into existence why would He be constrained to use the X from Adam in the first place?


(Wookin Panub) #14

Actually it does


(Wookin Panub) #15

You are asking why God would do something? That’s like me asking, why couldn’t God just create Adam and Eve both with “X” chromosomes?


#16

Pi = 3?
Rabbits chew cud?


#17

And Jesus was haploid. Or if not, genetically female. Possibly sterile.


(David Heddle) #18

I have had this successful exchange a couple times when someone claimed the bible teaches Pi = 3:

Q What is the circumference of the earth?
A (I hope for) 24 thousand miles
Q And the diameter?
A (I hope for) 8 thousand miles


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #19

If God had created the female first, and then pulled a rib from her to make the man, then He would have had to do something miraculous and create Y chromosomes for the man in the process of creating him.

But the thing is, no matter how you slice it, the story requires a miracle. Ribs aren’t babies. The DNA of the second human would have had to have been miraculously “fixed” by God one way or another, and somehow, a rib would have to act like a fertilized embryo.

So is one miracle really more “scientific” than the other?


(Jay Johnson) #20

Right! The whole YEC search for evidence to support their literal interpretation makes no sense. They hold that position as a matter of faith, because they believe the Bible requires them to believe it. Yet, if the belief is truly based upon taking “God’s word” rather than “man’s word” on origins, then why is it necessary to justify that belief with any scientific evidence at all?