Science Attests the Accuracy of the Bible
DO SCIENTIFIC discoveries contradict the Bible? In reply, it must first be said that the Bible is not a book of science. However, when it touches on scientific subjects, it refutes unproved human speculations and theories. The discovery of universal laws has again and again confirmed the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures and the truthfulness of King David, who said with regard to God: “The substance of your word is truth.” (Ps. 119:160) Let us examine the fields of astronomy, medicine, botany, anatomy and physiology, to see if these sciences really confirm the accuracy of the Bible.
It is a well-known fact that the opening chapters of Genesis have been the object of mockery and of particularly scathing attacks. In flat contradiction of the assertions made by many of Christendom’s clergymen to the effect that Genesis is merely a collection of poetry and legends, in the fifth century Catholic “church father” and scholar Augustine stated that the Genesis “account is not the kind of literary style where things are stated figuratively, . . . but from beginning to end it relates facts that have really happened, as in the book of Kings and other historical books.” (De Genesi ad litteram, VIII, 1, 2) An examination of the first chapter of Genesis will reveal that the Bible was far ahead of contemporary conceptions.
Long before Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), who believed that the stars were driven into the sky like nails, Genesis (1:6-8) described the heavenly vault as an “expanse” (New World Translation), or “firmament” (Douay Version). The word “firmament” comes from the Latin firmare, which means to give consistency, to make firm, or solid. Jerome used this expression in the Latin Vulgate in translating the Hebrew word raqia that, to the contrary, means “extended surface,” “expanse.” According to T. Moreux, former head of Bourges Observatory, France, “this expanse, which to us constitutes heaven, is designated in the Hebrew text by a word which the [Greek] Septuagint, influenced by the cosmological ideas prevailing at the time, translated by stereoma, firmament, solid canopy. Moses transmits no such thought. The Hebrew word raqia only conveys the idea of extent or, better still, expanse.” The Bible has therefore described, most accurately, the expanse or atmosphere above us.
Genesis speaks of luminaries that shine upon the earth “to make a division between the light and the darkness.” (Gen. 1:14-18) Now, those words were written by Moses in the 16th century before our Common Era. Note just one of the fanciful conceptions then existing on this subject. Paul Couderc, astronomer at the Paris Observatory, writes: “Up until the fifth century before our common era, men were mistaken as regards the fundamental question concerning day and night. For them, light was a bright vapor, while darkness was a black vapor which, in the evening, ascended from the ground.” What a contrast with the succinct but scientifically accurate statement made in the Bible concerning the cause of day and night on our planet!
Those who lived at the time the Bible was being written entertained strange ideas concerning the shape and the foundation of the earth. According to ancient Egyptian cosmology, “the universe is a rectangular box, placed in a north-south position, like Egypt. The earth is located on the bottom, as a slightly concave plain with Egypt in the center. . . . At the four cardinal points very high peaks hold up the sky. The sky is a metallic cover, flat or curving outward, pierced with holes. From it hang stars, like lamps hanging on cables.”
Had such childish theories been abandoned centuries later? Far from it. Greek astronomer and philosopher Anaximander (sixth century B.C.E.) held: “The Earth is cylindrical, three times as wide as it is deep, and only the upper part is inhabited. But this Earth is isolated in space, and the sky is a complete sphere in the center of which is located, unsupported, our cylinder, the Earth, situated at an equal distance from all the points of the sky.” A century later, Anaxagoras believed both the earth and the moon to be flat.
The Bible was far ahead of the scientific conceptions taught at that time. In the 15th century before the Common Era, it described the Creator as “hanging the earth upon nothing,” and in the eighth century B.C.E., it spoke of “the circle of the earth.” (Job 26:7; Isa. 40:22) Is that not exactly how the earth appeared to you on your television screen when the astronauts photographed it from the moon?
MEDICINE AND BOTANY
The Bible refers to plants and trees that grew in various lands. For example, it accurately refers to the curative powers of balsam, obtained from several evergreen trees. Writing in the French Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, C. E. Martin explains: “Small quantities of mastic [resin] drip naturally from the tree, but in order to obtain more, longitudinal incisions are cut in the trunk, allowing the resin to flow freely. . . . It had the reputation of calming pain and healing wounds; balm of Gilead, renowned for wounds, is mentioned in a figurative sense by Jeremiah (8:22; 46:11; 51:8); it is also mentioned proverbially in modern-day language.” Many Roman and Greek historians, such as Pliny and Diodorus of Sicily, made mention of this balsam.
According to the Bible record, in the ninth century B.C.E. the Hebrew prophet Jonah journeyed to Nineveh, ancient capital of Assyria. As a result of his missionary activity, “the men of Nineveh began to put faith in God.” (Jonah 3:5) Later on, he camped east of the city and was provided relief from the sun under a bottle-gourd plant, which came up overnight, in order to become a shade over Jonah’s head. (Jonah 4:6, 10, 11) Is it true that the bottle-gourd plant (Cucurbita lagenaria) develops so rapidly? The French Bible Dictionary, published under the direction of F. Vigouroux, states the following: “It is known that the gourd plant grows very rapidly in hot countries and that it is used for covering with verdure the walls of houses and shelters where it clings, like the Virginia creeper, providing a protection against the heat by means of its large leaves. . . . In the symbolic paintings found in the catacombs based on the story of Jonah, it is always this plant that is portrayed.” So it was nicely consistent with the fact that a normally rapidly growing gourd plant should be miraculously caused to grow up in one night by Jehovah’s power in order to shield Jonah from the hot rays of the sun.
Describing the fate of national groups that are opposed to God’s sovereignty, the Bible states that they will be “like a thistle [Hebrew, galgal] whirl before a stormwind.” (Isa. 17:13) The Encyclopædia Judaica says: “The biblical galgal has a unique way of scattering its seed. At the end of the summer it detaches from the ground, and its prickly leaves, resembling sails, fly in the wind and scatter the seeds.” Nogah Hareuveni, author of the booklet entitled “Ecologie dans la Bible” (Ecology in the Bible), refers to the galgal thistle, writing: “The plant that bears this name starts its rapid growth in March. . . . In a few weeks this apparently innocent galgal becomes a prickly monster, its leaves and flowers being covered with sharp thorns. In summer, the plant begins to dry up, but it appears so firmly rooted and so threatening that it seems impossible to get rid of it. When the galgal is fully developed, something strange takes place underground between the stalk and the roots: a cellular separation occurs between the stalk and the roots, and it requires only the least breath of summer wind to sweep away the whole plant.” And so, just like this thistle, which seems fearsome but which the wind can so easily sweep away, those who oppose divine sovereignty will be swept away. The Biblical comparison “like a thistle” is accurate.
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY
If the Bible originates with the Creator of man, we should be able to find in its pages convincing proof that it is not the product of human wisdom. As we have already seen, people of ancient times had some very fanciful ideas about man’s origin. Similarly, medical texts from ancient Egypt reveal great ignorance in the field of medicine. Although Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” he wrote that man was formed, not out of Ra’s tears but “out of dust from the ground.” (Gen. 2:7; Acts 7:22) Has modern medical science confirmed the fact that man was formed from mineral elements from the earth’s soil?
In their joint work Les oligoéléments (Trace Elements), Andrée Goudot and Didier Bertrand, member of the French Agricultural Academy, inform us: “In all the living organisms studied, in addition to carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, chlorine, magnesium, potassium and sodium, the presence of the following elements can be considered to be a proved fact: six nonmetallic elements: fluorine, bromine, iodine, boron, arsenic and silicon; a transition element: vanadium; and thirteen metals: iron, zinc, manganese, copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rubidium, cesium, aluminium, titanium, chromium, molybdenum and also probably tin, lead, silver, gallium, strontium and barium.” All these substances are to be found in the earth’s crust, proving that man is truly formed from the ground, as the Bible states.
For many centuries, the Bible has stated that the blood of a creature represents its life, or soul. “The soul of every sort of flesh is its blood.” (Lev. 17:14) Is this position medically sound? It is a scientific fact that blood is intimately involved in the life processes. Furthermore, science has discovered quite recently that each person’s blood is specific and unique. Léone Bourdel, professor at the French Higher School of Anthropobiology, writes as follows: “The genetical combinations in procreation are such that our blood is unique, never identical to that of either of our parents, nor to that of our children. And we make this same blood all our life. In fact, no matter how many transfusions we may receive, we will never adopt the blood that the donor has given us; it is always our own blood that prevails and that is renewed perpetually and identically.”
REASONS FOR BELIEVING THE BIBLE
To paraphrase Aldous Huxley, quoted earlier, ‘finding good reasons for what one believes for other good reasons’ has been the purpose of this discussion of the question “Should You Believe the Bible?”
First, we have seen that the Bible itself does not ask us to have blind faith. It invites us to use our “power of reason” and to “make sure of all things.” (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Thess. 5:21) We have seen that archaeology backs up the historical accuracy of the Bible. Moreover, it has been shown, by means of a few examples, that even in its minutest details, the Scriptural record is scientifically sound.
These are “good reasons” for believing the Bible. But there are “other good reasons”—in fact, even better reasons, for it is quite clear that faith in God and reliance on his Word cannot depend merely on archaeological discoveries and scientific investigations. In addition to its intrinsic value as a moral guide, the Bible is the only book that provides us with the revelation of God’s will and purpose for mankind. Yes, this divinely inspired Book of Books gives us real hope for the future of our earth and mankind upon it, as the concluding article of this series will show.
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Egyptian concept of the universe
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