How Do We Reconcile Science and the Bible?

How Do We Reconcile Science and the BibleBy Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)

We do not reconcile that which is not in conflict. It is important to remember that science is a “methodology” of investigating the natural world. As a method of investigation there is nothing that is in conflict with any biblical proposition. The conflict does not lie in a methodology of investigation and the bible; rather the conflict is located between the various conclusions of scientists and the Bible. We need to remember that science as a methodology “says” nothing, scientists say things. Furthermore, what we conclude in our scientific investigations will be largely affected by the presuppositions we bring to the investigation. Our worldviews are the lens through which we interpret the data of the natural world, and it is this interpretive lens that we must always keep in mind since these lenses determine our interpretation.

It is vitally important as well to recognize that the Bible itself is not a science textbook. It is not comprised of equations and hypothesis seeking to tell us about the natural world. While it does say much about the natural world (and the spiritual world), the intention of the Bible is not to engage in scientific methodology (although at times, a sort of scientific method is used). For this reason, we need to be understanding when the Bible does not utilize categories and concepts familiar to our modern scientific sensibilities. I think a fallacy in the thinking of many is that if something was not verified through a scientific investigation then it cannot be trusted. Usually when it is mentioned that the Bible is not a science text, the skeptic automatically sees this as a detriment to the Bible. This is done because of the often-presupposed notion that only through science can people gain access to knowledge about reality. This is not only a very narrow way of thinking, it is blatantly false. Such thinking is the result of an implicit adoption of scientism (a view which posits that all knowledge comes through scientific investigation). Ironically, such a position actually refutes itself, since the statement that all knowledge is gained through scientific investigation was not itself verified through scientific investigation.

On the other hand, we need to distinguish between statements in scripture that teach something regarding the natural world, and statements in scripture that are providing perspectival language (language which presents things from the perspective of the observer). A good example of perspectival language would be references to the sunrising and the sun setting. We know that the sun does not literally rise or set, but this is the language that we use to describe things as we “see it”. Surely, we cannot attribute falsehood to the biblical writers when they use these linguistic constructs. Hence, there is a vast difference between what the bible “teaches” and what the Bible “records”. Within the biblical doctrine of inspiration, the writers utilized their own linguistic constructs and styles which included the notion of describing things as it seemed to them.

People will always have an ax to grind against the Bible but it is the job of the apologist to keep things focused on the facts. When fallacies are made, we need to point them out. Furthermore, we need to be aware of our own fallacies in our thinking. Keeping this in mind, it is indeed fallacious to think that the Bible needs to be reconciled with science since the Bible need not reconcile itself with a methodology which is itself grounded in a biblical understanding of the world.

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