Are God and Science Compatible?

God created everything that science studies. So, though the Bible may not be a science textbook, what it does state is scientifically accurate.

Many of the fathers of modern science who expanded our scientific knowledge were Bible-believing Christians. They had a belief in a Creator God and did not see a conflict between science and religious belief.

This is still true among many scientists today, despite the loud cries of vocal atheists and agnostics in the field. A survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2009, revealed that a majority of scientists (51 percent) say they believe in God or a higher power.

Some, like astrophysicist Hugh Ross, have been amazed to find how thoroughly scientifically accurate the Bible is.

Dr. Ross spent two years going through the Bible with two notebooks—one to record scientific facts accurately stated in the Scriptures, the other labeled “Established Errors in the Bible.”

One notebook became very full, he said, while the other remained empty.

“The Bible states that the earth is spherical. … The Bible went against the science of its time. It talks about the stars exceeding the billions when astronomers were saying there were only 6,000. The Bible correctly describes the laws of physics—you won’t find that in any other holy book.

“It talks about which star clusters are gravitationally bound. That really impressed me. … Not until 20 years ago did we know whether or not the Pleiades star cluster [mentioned in Job 38:31] was bound. … Here we are discovering something the Bible had mentioned 4,000 years ago” (Hugh Ross, Can Science Prove There’s a God? An Astronomer’s Quest, audio recording).

<p>Only recently have scientists discovered that the Pleiades star cluster is gravitationally bound, as the book of Job alluded to thousands of years ago (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA photo).</p>

Only recently have scientists discovered that the Pleiades star cluster is gravitationally bound, as the book of Job alluded to thousands of years ago (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA photo).

Consider some of these amazing facts and ask yourself, Do they not reveal that the all-wise God is truly the author of the book we call the Bible?

Biblical laws of health and sanitation

There were many laws of health and sanitation in the Bible that governed the daily lives of the Israelites. These laws show advanced knowledge that modern medicine did not understand until 3,500 years later. They stand in direct contrast to the medical practices of the Egyptians of the same era contained in the Papyrus Ebers, a medical book from 1500 B.C.

An example of the medical ignorance of these medical practices is an Egyptian prescription for healing a splinter wound: “To splinters, the ancient Egyptian doctors applied a salve of worm blood and donkey dung. Since dung is loaded with tetanus spores, a simple splinter often resulted in a gruesome death from lockjaw” (S.I. McMillen, M.D., and David E. Stern, M.D., None of These Diseases, 2000, p.10).

God made a promise to the Israelites that if they followed His commandments, which included those concerning health and sanitation: “I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

God’s laws of hygiene

Cholera is a problem in many developing countries due to human waste not being properly taken care of. Charles C.J. Carpenter, in a modern medical textbook, makes the following statement about cholera: “Careful hygiene provides the only sure protection against cholera” (Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 11th edition, 1987, “Cholera,” p. 619).

God gave instructions about basic hygiene to the Israelites as they came out of Egypt: “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse” (Deuteronomy 23:12-13).

This is similar to a modern instruction mentioned in a backpacking guide. Backpacking Basics by Thomas Winset says:

“Go at least 100 yards from water, trails, and camp, somewhere off the beaten path, and dig a hole at least 4 inches deep. To dig, use your heel, a stick a rock—or a plastic trowel, which I carry for this purpose. … Finally, cover up the results” (quoted in Stern and McMillen, p. 34).

God showed the nation of Israel the basics of hygiene and human waste thousands of years ago, and yet many countries today still do not follow these practices. When they do, they eliminate cholera and many other diseases.

God’s laws of quarantine for disease control

God gave regulations to Moses that are the equivalent to the modern concept of quarantine (Leviticus 13; 14; 22; Numbers 19:20).

Infected persons were commanded to isolate themselves outside the camp until healed, and they were to shave and wash thoroughly. The priests, acting as medical control officers, were instructed to change their clothes and wash thoroughly after inspecting a disease victim.

“Until this century, all previous societies, except for the Israelites who followed God’s medical laws regarding quarantine, kept infected patients in their homes—even after death, exposing family members and others to deadly disease” (Grant Jeffrey, The Signature of God, 1998, pp. 178-179).

Leprosy swept through Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. England, Sweden, Iceland and Norway showed alarming increases in leprosy cases in the 16th and 17th centuries. But when the authorities began to institute the quarantine, in the form of segregation of leprosy cases, it was again brought under control. Also, the Black Death was finally conquered by isolation of the sick through the use of quarantine.

God’s instructions regarding quarantine to prevent the spread of leprosy and other infectious diseases were 3,500 years ahead of science. It wasn’t until 1873 that leprosy was finally shown to be infectious and not hereditary.

“A careful examination of the medical treatises from the Egyptians and the comprehensive Babylonian Code of Hammurabi reveals absolutely nothing about preventative medicine to enable people to avoid these deadly diseases that devastated ancient societies. However, the presence of incredibly advanced and accurate knowledge of diseases, sanitation, and preventative medicine in the ancient Scriptures is one more incontrovertible proof that the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God. It is fascinating to note that a total of two hundred and thirteen out of the six hundred and thirteen biblical commandments found in the Torah were detailed medical regulations” (Jeffrey, p. 169).

These medical practices outlined in the Bible were several thousand years ahead of their time, showing the divine inspiration of the Bible.

In addition to the health and sanitation laws in the Bible, there are other sections of Scripture that show a scientific knowledge far ahead of its time. Let’s look at a few of these.

Precise dimensions of Noah’s ark

In the book of Genesis, God gave Noah directions to build an ark: “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks” (Genesis 6:14-16).

It turns out that these dimensions are similar to those of a modern cargo ship and are ideal for stability. In 1993 South Korean architects of the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineering conducted a study on three different safety parameters—structural safety, overturning stability and comfort. Their modeling and analysis found that Noah’s ark was virtually impossible to capsize and could survive waves higher than 100 feet.

<p>Modern modeling of Noah's ark: A Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineering study found that Noah’s ark would have been virtually impossible to capsize—another example of how the Bible does not conflict with science.</p>

Modern modeling of Noah's ark: A Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineering study found that Noah’s ark would have been virtually impossible to capsize—another example of how the Bible does not conflict with science.

Many other cultures have flood legends similar to the account in the Bible, but their ark descriptions were not seaworthy. For example, the Babylonian Gilgamesh flood legend described an ark that was shaped like a cube, which would be extremely unstable.

God’s directions to Noah showed a knowledge of ships that was ahead of its time. For more, see “The Biblical Flood: Fact or Fiction?

The hydrologic cycle

The continuous process by which water is circulated throughout the earth and its atmosphere is called the hydrologic cycle. This is accurately portrayed in several passages of the Bible, including the following: “For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man” (Job 36:27-28).

The hydrologic system as a whole wasn’t clearly understood until the 17th century, but the Bible described it accurately millennia ago.The hydrologic system as a whole wasn’t clearly understood until the 17th century, but the Bible described it accurately millennia ago: “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).

The complex nature of how water is supported in clouds despite being heavier than air is clearly implied when God declared to Job, “Do you know how the clouds are balanced, those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:16).

Second law of thermodynamics: increased entropy

There are two physical laws that are involved with much of the physical universe. These two laws are the first and second laws of thermodynamics. These laws are a product of the research to develop and use the engines and machinery of the Industrial Age, and they help us understand the universe.

Henry M. Morris, a hydraulic engineer who served as professor and department chair of civil engineering at Virginia Tech, explains these laws in his book Studies in the Bible and Science: “One could say that any event occurring in space and time is a manifestation of some form of exchange of energy. The particular event or process basically is just this—a transformation of one or more forms of energy (kinetic, electrical, chemical, light, heat, sound, electromagnetic, nuclear or other forms of energy) into one or more other forms. In this process, the total energy remains unchanged; no energy is either created or destroyed, although its form may and does change. This is the first law of thermodynamics, the law of conservation of energy. But in the process, some of the energy is transformed into non-usable heat energy and thus becomes unavailable for future energy exchanges. The concept of entropy has been developed to describe this phenomenon. …

“The second law of thermodynamics describes this by stating that there is always a tendency for the entropy of any closed system to increase. Or, in more general terms, the second law states that there is always a tendency for any system to become less organized. Its disorder or randomness tends to increase. If isolated from external sources of order or energy or ‘information,’ any system will eventually run down and ‘die’” (1980, p. 113).

The second law of thermodynamics—unlike the theory of evolution, which says the complex organisms of today came from simple forms of the past—states that when an isolated system is left to itself, the disorganization will tend to increase.

The Bible, too, describes the effects of the second law of thermodynamics: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

The Bible also says, “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

These are just a few examples of how the Bible is scientifically accurate. God’s Word does not contradict science. It was inspired by the Creator God who created the physical laws upon which science rests.

Read more about the Creator God in this section on “Is There a God?” Find more about the accuracy of God’s Word in the section “Is the Bible True?”

About the Author

Jim Springer

Jim Springer worked for over 30 years for Caltrans as a civil engineer and was an elder in the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, before his death in 2015.

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