Taylor: Science and the Bible

Science acknowledges and corrects its errors; believers not so much

The signboard for a local church asked, “Are Science and the Bible compatible?”

Well, of course they are. If you cherry-pick the right verses, you can show that the Bible knew about everything from DNA to autism long before science discovered them.

After all, the Bible contains 66 books, around 780,000 words, credited to 40 different authors. But the book of Isaiah had at least three authors. Several of Paul’s letters were written by someone who wasn’t Paul. Tradition says that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, but a careful examination reveals that at least four groups shaped sections of the narrative to suit their own priorities. The Psalms identify more than a dozen different writers, plus another 47 by that prolific author, Anonymous. And the Proverbs are a collection of folk wisdom, by who knows how many people.

Total, up to 100 authors.

If you took any library shelf containing the writings of 100 different authors, you could almost certainly find in those texts at least one sentence that would support any idea at all.

So yes, science and the Bible can be compatible.

But using the same process, you could pick texts to prove that the Bible and science are hopelessly incompatible.

I wonder, though, why it’s so important to prove that the Bible and science can be compatible. Is there an underlying assumption that if they aren’t compatible, one of them must be rejected?

Given the theology of this particular denomination, I bet it wouldn’t be the Bible. The Bible, they would insist, is a complete and inerrant revelation of God’s intentions. And God cannot be wrong.

But the Bible is not God’s only word.

As a letter writer to a Christian Reformed Church periodical argued several decades ago, he saw no conflict between science and the Bible. He called the Bible God’s faith textbook; he called the world God’s science textbook.

I would go farther. I would argue that God IS science.

God is the laws of physics that enabled the universe to explode into existence. God is the laws of chemistry that allowed certain atoms to bond with other atoms, forming new materials. God is the principles of biology by which individual cells cluster together to function more effectively—including becoming human bodies. God is the social sciences that explore how we human beings relate to each other, and to all other beings. God is the immutable, unchanging laws of mathematics that ensure two and two will always make four.

When the Bible disagrees with science, it doesn’t mean that God was wrong. It means simply that the people trying to discern ultimate truths grasped only part of the picture. Just as Ptolemy got only part of the solar system right, Einstein missed quantum theory and Newton had flaws in his calculus.

Later generations of scientists corrected those mistakes.

Bible writers did the same. The prophets revised earlier understandings of a vengeful God; the New Testament records a shift to a loving God.

But in one sense, I suppose, the Bible and science are not compatible. Science acknowledges and corrects its errors; true believers seem unwilling to do the same with the Bible.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Vernon Public Art Gallery's new Regional Reach program which sends supplies and lessons to classes, has been a hit in the North Okanagan classrooms. (VPAG photo)
Travelling art kit a hit in North Okanagan schools

Art Gallery’s new Regional Reach program delivers art education to the classrooms

A kaleidescope of colours was captured over Lake Country Sunday, Feb. 28. (Wendey Innes-Shaw photo)
Colourful close to month with North Okanagan sunset

From all angles: Vernon and Lake Country photographers capture sunset Feb. 28

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society is set to take over Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema on 30th Avenue June 1 as fundraising for building upgrades is a third of the way to its goal. (Photo contributed)
Historic Vernon cinema rolling into society’s hands

Okanagan Screen Arts Society will take over and run with volunteers the Towne Cinema starting June 1

(File photo)
UBCO introduces another reading break in November

The break only affects the Okanagan campus

A student from Dawson Creek is the winner of Tolko’s Orange Shirt Day design contest for 2021. (Tolko photo)
Vernon-based Tolko contest features northern winner

Student from Dawson Creek beats out entries Canadawide for Orange Shirt Day design contest win

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Pastafarian Gary Smith, pictured here dressed as a pirate, wanted to wear his tricorn (also pictured here) in his driver’s licence photo, arguing that the display was a religious observance. Photo: Facebook
B.C. Pastafarian loses Supreme Court fight to wear pirate hat in driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith of Grand Forks, put his case to the Supreme Court in Rossland in early February

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

City council passed resolution in support of an expansion of the licence area at Salmon Arm’s Marionette Winery for the inclusion of a lounge area. (Marionette Winery/Facebook)
Salmon Arm council supports lounge addition at Shuswap winery

Marionette Winery expanding licence area to host small gatherings

An injured skier was helivaced from Apex Mountain Resort to Kelowna General Hospital Monday, March, 2021. (Linda Geggie / Facebook)
Injured skier helivaced from Apex Mountain Resort

The skier was taken to Kelowna General Hospital

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Most Read