Many Christians, and for that matter many non-Christians, are uneasy about an alliance between science and the Bible. Non-Christians worry that the Bible will be allowed to trump or discount science. Christians worry that science will be permitted to trump or discount the Bible. An example of these worries is the following question that was posted on my Facebook wall. In my answer I attempt to alleviate the unease and worries about integrating science and the Bible.

Q: If the Bible needs to be constantly corrected by science, does that not make science god along with everyone who works in science?

A: There is no doubt that many people in the twenty-first century consider science to be god and the practitioners of science as the high priests of that god. This worship of science explains much of the unease that Christians express about integrating science and the Bible.

The Bible clearly and repeatedly exhorts us, however, to study the book of nature (science) to gain truth and revelation from God. A few such texts are Job 12:7–10, Psalm 8, Psalm 19:1–4, Psalm 97:6, Psalm 104, and Romans 1:18–20. These texts are the basis of the two-books doctrine codified in article 2 of the Belgic Confession of Faith:

“We know God by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God. . . . Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory and for our salvation.”

The Bible assures that both the book of nature and the book of Scripture are utterly trustworthy, reliable, and inerrant. Neither one, therefore, can correct or falsify the other. What they can do is clarify our human interpretation of one or the other. What they can correct is our faulty interpretation of one or both books.

Another way to look at the interface between the book of nature and the book of Scripture is to recognize that both books are perfect. That which is perfect cannot be more perfect than something else that is perfect. A useful analogy would be the 66 books of the Bible. Each one is the perfect, inerrant revelation from God. Each book has different content and addresses different subject matter. Each one, though perfect in what it reveals, is incomplete by itself. Likewise, both the book of nature and the book of Scripture is perfect and inerrant in what it reveals but each is incomplete by itself and even together they are incomplete.

In giving us Scripture, God gave us 66 different books. The multiplicity of books, as we integrate their content, assists us in correctly interpreting each one. In the same manner, as we integrate the different disciplines of science, that integration helps us to correctly interpret each discipline. Similarly, as we integrate the book of nature with the book of Scripture, that integration helps us to correctly interpret each.

In my opinion, the best guidelines for constructively integrating science and the Bible was codified by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) in their Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics. Their affirmations and denials relevant to science-faith integration (articles 19–22) are as follows:

  • We affirm that any preunderstandings which the interpreter brings to Scripture should be in harmony with scriptural teaching and subject to correction by it.
  • We deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself; such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism.
  • We affirm that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, biblical and extrabiblical, are consistent and cohere, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.
  • We deny that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.
  • We affirm the harmony of special with general revelation and therefore of biblical teaching with the facts of nature.
  • We deny that any genuine scientific facts are inconsistent with the true meaning of any passage of Scripture.
  • We affirm that Genesis 1–11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.
  • We deny that the teachings of Genesis 1–11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.

We at Reasons to Believe are so impressed with the outstanding achievement of the ICBI in carefully defining what biblical inerrancy is and what it is not that we have every member of our staff scholar team commit to its articles of affirmations and denials. In summary, neither the book of Scripture nor the book of nature is subject to correction, however, our interpretations of both will continue to be corrected as we learn more from both books, as we constructively integrate what we learn from both books and as we repent of our sinful biases. Furthermore, the constructive integration of the two books will reassure us that we are on the pathway to a more complete understanding of God’s truth if we see the adjustments in our interpretations of the two books getting smaller and smaller as we continue to learn more from Scripture and the record of nature.

Subjects: Apologetics, Bible, Interpretation, Science & Faith

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. I also am eager to equip Christians to engage, rather than withdraw from or attack, educated non-Christians. One of the approaches I’ve developed, with the help of my RTB colleagues, is a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable, and predictive. I enjoy constructively integrating all 66 books of the Bible with all the science disciplines as a way to discover and apply deeper truths. 1 Peter 3:15–16 sets my ministry goal, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience." Hugh Ross launched his career at age seven when he went to the library to find out why stars are hot. Physics and astronomy captured his curiosity and never let go. At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or "quasars," some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe. Not all of Hugh's discoveries involved astrophysics. Prompted by curiosity, he studied the world’s religions and "holy books" and found only one book that proved scientifically and historically accurate: the Bible. Hugh started at religious "ground zero" and through scientific and historical reality-testing became convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God! When he went on to describe for others his journey to faith in Jesus Christ, he was surprised to discover how many people believed or disbelieved without checking the evidence. Hugh's unshakable confidence that God's revelations in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Wholeheartedly encouraged by family and friends, communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. Thus, in 1986, he founded science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). He and his colleagues at RTB keep tabs on the frontiers of research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what's being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology. In this realm, he has written many books, including: The Fingerprint of God, The Creator and the Cosmos, Beyond the Cosmos, A Matter of Days, Creation as Science, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, and More Than a Theory. Between writing books and articles, recording podcasts, and taking interviews, Hugh travels the world challenging students and faculty, churches and professional groups, to consider what they believe and why. He presents a persuasive case for Christianity without applying pressure. Because he treats people's questions and comments with respect, he is in great demand as a speaker and as a talk-radio and television guest. Having grown up amid the splendor of Canada's mountains, wildlife, and waterways, Hugh loves the outdoors. Hiking, trail running, and photography are among his favorite recreational pursuits - in addition to stargazing. Hugh lives in Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and two sons.



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