Hi everyone, hope all is well and that everyone is staying safe! I am a high school student who attends a Christian school and I had a few questions about the relationship between science and the Bible. I personally believe in Young Earth Creation (YEC) and was wondering how the Old Earth Creationists and Evolutionary Creationists view the Bible in a scientific way because the Bible doesn’t really talk about this. Also, I was wondering how people can believe both in evolution and the Bible when they sometimes contradict. Thank you to everyone who replies!
Hi, Nathaniel - and welcome!
You are correct that much that is now known or discussed in modern science isn’t found in scriptures - it would be highly anachronistic (out of place, and meaningless to original audiences) if it did!
“Contradiction” turns out to be in the eye of the beholder for much of this because, as you’ve already noted, the Bible is silent on the scientific sorts of “how it was done” details. There are some who would disagree of course, and insist that Genesis 2 discussing God forming Adam from the clay of the ground is specifying exactly how it was done. But this presumes a certain kind of reading of scripture to draw that conclusion. When scriptures use anthropomorphic language for God - most of us don’t take that to mean that God is like a man who would kneel in the dirt and use human-like hands to mold something in clay much like we could imagine ourselves doing. We don’t assume such scriptural metaphor must be taken literally any more than referring to God as “our rock” or as “our fortress” must mean God is literally those things either.
All this is to say … You have to have already decided to read Genesis in a certain narrow way before you can get to “contradiction” between scriptures and science. Such readings don’t just cause problems when matched up against creation - they also cause internal problems even within scripture itself that force one into all sorts of gymnastics to make it “come out right”. At least that would be a common critical view around here toward the young-earth flavor of creationism.
The Bible can be read in such a way that it is hostile to science just as it can be read in way that is hostile to modern medicine, or hostile to human rights and the equality of women and different races. It can be read in a way that supports human sacrifice, genocide, and slavery. But the Bible doesn’t HAVE to be read in such ways. The Bible can also be read in a way that is supportive of science, equal right and opposed to human sacrifice, genocide, and slavery. So the question is… WHY in the world would you WANT to read the Bible in a way that is hostile to science? WHY???
YEC is not only a way of reading the Bible that is hostile to science, but it frankly responds to all the evidence God sends to us from the Earth and sky by calling Him a liar. What kind of faith is that?
Thank you so much for the reply, I really appreciate it! I personally do not think that my YEC view “narrows” my view of Genesis because I understand what it is and what it’s trying to say, which gives me the awareness not to shun evidence but to dive deeper. Could you give me more insight on what you mean by that?
Well you have seemed to have answered it yourself, the Bible doesn’t answer anything for science. The Bible isn’t a history or science text book but a document that contains stories of faith and hope. The main point of the Bible is to teach us what we need to know concerning love, faith, hope, and salvation.
And as for the contradictions; we need to deal with the Bible in the manner of what it is as it is a product of its time and we need to look through those things and see the golden nuggets that really matter, that is: Faith, Love, Hope, and Salvation. The Bible was made by real complex people during real complex moments in life/history. We thus must expect to see these things in a document that involves real complex human beings who within these text show real raw emotions and feelings.
Thank you for your input Mr. McKain. Can you explain more in depth about the “hostile to science” part? I don’t exactly what you mean by this because I personally believe the Bible shouldn’t directly be involved in science even though I understand your viewpoint on how the “the Bible doesn’t have to be read” in this way. We all don’t know everything about God which is explicitly explained in Job 38. I believe in the YEC view because this makes the most sense to me and I believe that the Bible is a historical book and that God created everything already without the process of evolution. Also, I was wondering why you strongly believe that my view/faith is invalid? Once again, thank you for your time!
I really appreciate and love your response! I fully agree with you that the Bible is “to teach us what we need to know concerning love, faith, hope, and salvation” but it also is used for us to get to know God and build a deeper connection with him. Thank you for your time and the great response!!
Indeed it is to help us to get too know our Heavenly Father better but we have the best example given to us outside of the Scriptures and that is Jesus Christ who we can look at and see the Heavenly Father’s Love to ALL! It is in Jesus that we truly find the Love and Hope of the Heavenly Father to ALL humankind. I hope and pray that where ever you go on this journey that the Love of God the Father and of Christ Jesus our Lord be with you always and that you don’t get caught up in issues of debate and doctrines and have them overshadow the Gospel and Love of the Heavenly Father. Love and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Correct. Science is one of the few activities that people of different religious beliefs can join together in the same work and have worked together. This is because it doesn’t depend on a system of beliefs. Science is built upon methodological ideals according to which the Bible and our religious beliefs are quite irrelevant.
The difficult part is that the findings of science often do have an impact on our beliefs in religion. It can change the way we read the Bible for example. Now I will admit that I never faced such a challenge. I started with the scientific worldview and then read the Bible to see if I could find anything of value there. Reading the Bible in a way contrary to the findings of science was never possible for me because I was not raised Christian. I was a scientist first.
In Genesis 4:14 Cain says… and I shall be a wanderer on the Earth and whoever finds me shall slay me? What people are these? His parents? Why would you try to explain this away if you were not intentionally trying to make the Bible hostile to the findings of science which assures us that there was never less than 10,000 people on the Earth.
In the rest of Genesis 4 it says Cain had a wife and it certainly doesn’t say that Cain married his sister. In fact no sisters are mentioned anywhere. Why would you invent sisters and introduce incest into this story unless you were intentionally trying to contradict the findings of science? The explanation of who Cain and Seth married is right there in Genesis chapter 6: “when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair and they took to wife such as they chose.” In the rest of the OT the children of God always referred to God’s chosen people, so the sons of men would refer to other people which filled the world like in Genesis 4:14. Why would you change sons of god to angels when we are told elsewhere that angels do not marry? Why invent half-man half-angelic fairy-tale giant monstrosities spoken of nowhere in the Bible just to make the Bible contradict science?
So your personal interpretation of the Bible is your reason for responding to all the evidence God sends us from the earth and sky with calling God a liar. Seems more reasonable to simply accept that you got it wrong.
I said no such thing. I simply asked you a question. Why would you make God out to be a liar. Do you not believe that God created the Earth and the sky? Then explain why God would create the Earth and sky in such a way as to tell us an unending pack of lies?
Come on! The only disagreements here is on how the Bible should be understood. There is no disagreement between the evidence coming from so many different directions. The light from all of the stars agrees with the all of the geological evidence which agrees with all of the fossil evidence which agrees with all of the genetic evidence from all the different species on the planet.
What I meant by “a narrow view of Genesis” was essentially any one view that somebody might pick and then insist that it is the only faithful understanding of scripture there is. Don’t get me wrong … I do think that some understandings are more accurate, more insightful, more warranted by scholarship, … even more faithful than others. So I’m not trying to create some false across-the-board equivalency between all different views. But I’m not aware of any one view that successfully nails everything down, though some views may aspire to think they have. [And that may be every bit as much an EC conceit as a YEC conceit.] And if so, I think their narrowness is highlighted by the very pretension. Not saying you personally are doing that, but the more breathing room anybody situated in any of these views gives for details to work out in different ways and just let the text and its contexts speak for themselves, the less narrow their view becomes. And most importantly, I want to recognize that any sincere Christian can be (almost certainly is) wrong about a lot of stuff, including Genesis. So don’t let anybody here bully you into thinking your faith depends on your “correct answers” here to some of these origins questions. We are Christians here … not “Genesisians”.
I’m glad you want to delve deeper. Don’t ever let go of that. It’s something none of us should ever tire of desiring.
Interesting that you should frame your question including YEC, OEC and EC, because that pretty well describes my personal history, now that I’m a heretic (according to many YECs) , except that I have picked a label of ‘evolutionary providentialist’ to apply to myself. If you poke around here a little, it won’t take long to discover that I am all about God’s providence and that he is a loving Father. (You will also find, to my chagrin, that I am not spontaneously gracious and that I’m quick to return insult for insult and that I don’t take well to condescension. )
Some of the evidences for the antiquity of the earth are quite remarkable, and I would even call this one about girdled rocks fun (it’s also a favorite of mine because it includes a reference to God’s providence):
I was raised a YEC, but I realized that that view is not supported by either the scriptures or the evidence that God has given us in creation.
I posted this response to a similar question on another thread:
The first 11 chapters of Genesis are not literal history.
That is clear from the fact that there are two creation stories with different orders and methods of creation.
The first is Genesis 1.1-2.4a. It has the order of creation as plants, animals, man and woman. The method of creation is God made decrees, often telling the earth to bring forth life.
The second creation story begins in Genesis 2.4b. It has the order of creation as man, plants, animals, and woman. God creates with His hands.
The Bible itself makes it clear that we are not to read the early chapters of Genesis as literal history.
Our faith is not based on Genesis being a historical document. It is based on the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
By the way, you might want to look at the story of a notable Christian paleontologist, Dr. Mary Schweitzer. She went through the dilemma perceived differences between the evidence that God has given us in nature and a literal reading of scripture.
It is possible to keep your faith in Jesus while recognizing that we aren’t meant to read the early chapters of Genesis as literal history.
This is one of my favorite bits about the antiquity of the universe. The author is a Christian physicist and this is his blog site (I think he would probably be in the OEC camp):
Interesting. Good read. I don’t know if I buy the argument with respect to size since I don’t see how the expansion rate is made necessary by anything. But I do think there is good reason is think that 13.8 billion years is not a very long time considering all that needed to happen in order to make the life we have possible.
Furthermore the quote form Contact was about whether there is life elsewhere in the universe and I don’t think the authors arguments alters this in the slightest. I certainly do not see why the existence of life elsewhere would be a problem for Christianity in any way. I am reminded of words of C.S. Lewis via Aslan, “No one is told any story but their own,” meaning that life elsewhere is simply none of our business – and the structure of the universe seems to support this (the universe is NOT our playground). The God I believe in is certainly big enough to handle an infinite number of worlds full of life and histories.
Nor do I. I don’t think it very likely for a number of reasons (and Michael Strauss’ piece it a little part of it). C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, although it is about life on other planets in our solar system, gives some ways to think about intelligent life elsewhere, should it be discovered, and it certainly doesn’t preclude it, obviously.
The size of the universe is a double edged argument for life elsewhere. The enormity of the universe really makes it hard to believe there is no life elsewhere, but the same argument weighs against the likelihood of there ever being contact with life elsewhere. So while I don’t find life elsewhere unlikely, I find the possibility of aliens visiting us to be EXTREMELY unlikely – far far far far beyond what I can find even remotely credible. I frankly find faeries, golems, dragons, wizards, psychics, magical fruit, vampires, talking animals, werewolves and such a great deal more believable (and BTW I don’t believe in any of those).
Ha! I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that I did, but what I was thinking of, rather, was the relationships of other sapient creatures elsewhere with each other and with God. Lewis’ trilogy does address that, regardless of any creature’s appearance.
Amen! This exactly how I feel as well and hope the same for you as well. God bless you and have a wonderful time!!
This actually makes quite a lot of sense and that is also what I have learned. It is great to know this even though I am a devoted Christian.
I get where you’re coming from but the Bible definitely leaves out key facts that we just have to interpret ourselves.
I totally believe that God created everything and you might have a stronger opinion against YEC which is totally understandable! I am still trying to know God more and understand the Bible more while looking at different viewpoints like OEC and EC and etc.
I get it and thank you for the clarification. I am currently starting to learn more about different views and how people interpret the Bible so I totally understand. I’m going to admit to myself that I am quite narrow-minded about this topic and was here to learn more! I appreciate your response!!
This means a great deal to me. Thanks!
Exactly my point. I am definitely still growing as a Christian and want to explore new views and insights on how others view the Bible and science together.