Telescopes and Microscopes—Have Their Revelations Undermined or Strengthened Your Faith?
PENZIAS and Wilson blamed the pigeons. When their sensitive radio equipment kept picking up a strange hiss, the two scientists checked and discovered a couple of pigeons roosting in their giant antenna. But when the irritating hiss persisted even after evicting the feathered trespassers, it dawned on them that what they heard came from the depths of outer space.
Scientists believe that what Penzias and Wilson thought was mere static was actually the echo of a “big bang”—a cosmic explosion that gave birth to our universe eons ago. Their discovery, along with a mounting body of corroborative evidence, has led some scientists to consider a startling possibility: The Bible is correct in saying, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1.
For example, in the June 23, 1983, issue of New Scientist magazine the following headline appeared: “The emergent science of cosmology does not and cannot deny the existence of God.” The writer, a professor of physics, said:
“In the last few years more and more scientists have been struck by what they regard as a string of improbable ‘accidents’ or ‘coincidences’ that are built into the laws of physics to enable the universe to produce the familiar systems we see—galaxies, stars, atoms and, most significant of all, us . . . The most minute change in the relative strengths of gravitational and electromagnetic forces would turn stars like the Sun into blue giants or red dwarfs. All around us, we seem to see evidence that nature got it just right.”
Obviously the telescope has not eliminated the basis for belief in a Creator. Is it possible, then, that the Bible, the world’s foremost religious book, can also be taken seriously? Yes, for both the telescope and the microscope give compelling reasons for doing so. Consider just a few of them.
“STAR DIFFERS FROM STAR”
Science textbooks are often no sooner printed than they are out of date, so frequently do new discoveries nullify old convictions. Yet, though written centuries before telescopes and microscopes were even conceived of, the Bible often speaks about scientific subjects with remarkable accuracy.
One instance is at 1 Corinthians 15:41 where the apostle Paul says: “The glory of the sun is one sort, and the glory of the moon is another, and the glory of the stars is another; in fact, star differs from star in glory.”
To the casual observer most stars look alike, except perhaps for their difference in brightness. Astronomers nevertheless say that stars also vary in color, from white, bluish-white, yellow, orange, orange-red to red. Pulsars—believed to be fast-spinning collapsed stars—have a rather unique “glory.” Like clicking turnstiles, they flash radio signals with split-second regularity. The Crab and Vela pulsars even flash visible light. Stars differ greatly in density. They also vary greatly in size. The supergiant Betelgeuse is, according to conservative estimates, more than 250 million miles (400 million km) in diameter! If it stood in the place of our sun, Betelgeuse would engulf the earth and the rest of our solar system clear out to where Mars orbits!
How could the apostle Paul have written scientific truths when he did not even have an instrument as crude as Galileo’s to inform him? Divine inspiration is the logical answer.
“STATUTES OF THE HEAVENS”
“Can you tie fast the bonds of the Kimah constellation, or can you loosen the very cords of the Kesil constellation?” asked God. “Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens, or could you put its authority in the earth?” (Job 38:31, 33) For centuries, men were unaware that “statutes,” or laws, governed the movements of heavenly bodies. Applying the discoveries of Johannes Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and others, astronomers have come to understand that gravitational forces are the “bonds” holding stellar constellations—such as “Kimah”—together.
Astronomers also say that stars are not stationary, but, rather, as one astronomer puts it, ‘rotate around the center, or nucleus, of the galaxy like a giant merry-go-round.’ Our own sun takes an estimated 200 million years to journey around the Milky Way. The Bible is correct in indicating that stars have orbits.
LIFE ONLY FROM LIFE
The microscope, too, gives credibility to the Bible. Consider the biological law stated in Genesis chapter 1: Living things reproduce ‘according to their kind.’ Today’s powerful microscopes have helped scientists better understand reproduction and the genetic boundaries that prove the Bible’s statement scientifically sound.
At Psalm 36:9 the Bible further states concerning God: “With you is the source of life; by light from you we can see light.” For centuries men believed Greek philosopher Aristotle’s theory that life arises spontaneously from nonliving matter. As late as the 17th century, even educated people still believed that mice bred from old rags, weevils from wheat, frogs from mud and eels from dew.
The issue still raged when Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859. Many cited the supposed spontaneous generation of bacteria as support of evolution and as an explanation of the origin of life. In the same year French scientist Pouchet “proved” that microorganisms bred from water, air and hay. Another French scientist, Louis Pasteur, however, challenged these claims, showing that bacteria carried in the air on dust particles could have infected Pouchet’s experiments.
Undaunted, Pouchet repeated his experiments, this time in the dust-free air of the Pyrenees Mountains. Further, he boiled his mixture of hay and water to kill any existing bacteria. So when this mixture soon teemed with bacteria, he was sure he had finally proved spontaneous generation. In the 1870’s, however, Irish scientist John Tyndall discovered that hay bacteria form heat-resistant spores that can survive boiling for many hours. Alas for Pouchet! His hay mixture was not properly sterilized. Tyndall’s experiments thus brought a deathblow to the theory of spontaneous generation.
With modern microscopes, scientists can now see just how cells divide and multiply. That life comes only from preexisting life is now an established scientific fact—a fact the Bible pointed out centuries ago!
“EVEN THE EMBRYO OF ME”
At Psalm 139:16 the Bible says: “Your [God’s] eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing.” Note that the Bible claims that ‘all the parts’ of an embryo are “in writing.” By this poetic device the psalmist apparently refers to something scientists have only recently discovered: the DNA, or genetic information, in each cell. The South African magazine Huisgenoot reminds us that “nobody has ever been able to ‘read’” this genetic material, “not even under the most powerful electron microscope. But scientists know that these particles of information are unique in each person and determine his personality and appearance.”
THE BOOK THAT BUILDS FAITH
Professor Merlyn Mehl, a physicist at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, recently said: “It is hard to imagine how anyone schooled in scientific reasoning cannot but be struck by the veracity of the Scriptures. The same unity and harmony apparent in the inanimate physical world is clearly visible in that most awesome of books—The Bible.” Of course, the Bible is not a scientific textbook. It does, nevertheless, answer the questions that really matter to man. Science makes its revelations about the universe and analyzes the intricate mechanisms of life processes. But of how much value is all of this if we do not know the purpose of life? Only the Bible gives satisfying answers to these questions.
The psalmist David realized this. Like today’s astronomers, he spent much time studying the starry heavens. “The heavens are declaring the glory of God,” he observed. But David realized that marveling at nature was not enough. In the same psalm he continued: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice.”—Psalm 19:1-4, 7, 8.
The telescope and microscope have shown dramatically that, from macro to micro, the world we live in is awe inspiring and complex. The problems we must grapple with are likewise complex, far too complex for man to handle without divine aid. “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Mountains of scientific data simply cannot save man as he appears to plunge headlong toward self-extinction. Thinking individuals, therefore, look elsewhere for answers. And these answers are found in a book that has withstood the ravages of time—and now even the scientific scrutiny of the telescope and the microscope.