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THE COMPATIBILITY OF SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Monday Morning, September 7, 2015

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).


Most people today think that you either believe in science, or you believe in the Bible. I used to be like that. I thought that science had proven the Bible to be false long ago. There were lots of errors in the Bible – which I hadn’t studied, but it was easier for me to think that way, and it let me go on with my sins and my plans. To me, the Bible was an obsolete and ancient book that didn’t matter. I didn’t believe in God, and certainly not in Christianity. I thought Jesus was a man who had lived two thousand years ago, taught some moral lessons, been crucified, and that was all. I didn’t believe there was any life after a person died.

I thought religion was a crutch, a false idea that some old, ignorant people used to hold onto. To believe in the Bible, or even to believe in God, meant that a person had no education and no brains. That was for someone up in the mountains who hadn’t been to school, hadn’t read a book, and didn’t know anything.

All this was the opposite of the truth. In fact, the scientific universe and the Bible are in agreement, because they both come from the same God. God gave the words of the Bible. We read, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16). The Greek words translated “inspiration of God” means “God-breathed.” God breathed out the very words of the Bible. He gave the prophets and Apostles the exact words of the Scriptures. Every word of the Bible came from God, and there are no errors in it.

The same God created the universe and everything in it. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God created the universe and ordained the scientific laws by which it operates. That’s why you can look at the stars and the beauty of life and the exactness of science and see that there is a great and intelligent God behind it. The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1). “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).

The Bible is not written to be a textbook of science. But when it speaks about science, it is always truthful. Fifteen hundred years before Christ, the Bible said that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). God said that the earth is hanging out in empty space, as scientists discovered more than three thousand years later. When unbelieving men were saying that the earth stands on the back of a turtle, or an elephant, or a sea monster, or floated in an ocean, God said that the earth existed by itself in empty space. The Bible was scientifically accurate long before scientists caught up with it.

For thousands of years unbelieving pagans believed the earth was flat. But seven hundred years before Christ the Book of Isaiah said that God “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This was more than two thousand years before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, before Magellan and his men sailed around the world and proved the earth was round. There is only one shape that looks like a circle any way you look at it – and that is a sphere, which is the shape of the earth. The Bible was scientifically accurate more than two thousand years before men caught up with the Scriptures. No, the Bible is not a textbook of science, but when the Bible speaks on scientific subjects, it is always correct, because it is the Word of God Himself.

There is no inconsistency between the Bible and science. The great theologian and defender of the Bible, Dr. J. Gresham Machen said, “A thing cannot possibly be true in religion and false in philosophy or in science. All methods of arriving at truth, if they be valid methods, will arrive at a harmonious result” (J. Gresham Machen, Ph.D., Christianity and Liberalism, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1923, p. 58). Today I’m going to show you how science and the Bible are compatible in several ways.

I. First, the lawful nature of science itself rests on God, the Lawgiver.

Science rose in the context of Bible-believing Christianity. There’s no point in studying the laws of the universe if there are none! In Hinduism, this world is an illusion and everything is in flux. In paganism, everything that happens is at the mercy of imperfect and angry “gods” who do one thing after another depending on how they feel. There’s no point in studying science then!

But the God of the Bible is an intelligent and just God who makes scientific laws for the universe. This is why modern science grew following the Protestant Reformation, with its greatest breakthroughs beginning in the seventeenth century. Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote, “Because the early scientists believed that the world was created by a reasonable God, they were not surprised to discover that people could find out something true about nature and the universe on the basis of reason” (How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, Crossway Books, 2005 edition, p. 133). Christianity is the mother of science, because science rests on its intelligent and reasonable God.

In England, the greatest organization for the advancement of science was the Royal Society of London. Most of its members were religious men, and many of them were Puritans (Bible-believing Christians). Even those who were not personally converted drew their thinking from the Christian worldview of an intelligent law-giving God.

Most of the founders of science were Christians; or at least they built upon the Christian principles of an intelligent and all-powerful God. Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was the father of chemistry. He helped to found the Royal Society of London. He wrote theological essays, gave money to support Bible translations, served as governor for the Corporation for the Spread of the Gospel in New England, and in his will left money for foreign mission work. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was the greatest developer in the science of electricity and magnetism. He read the Bible every day and was a member of a church which believed, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) discovered the importance of bacteria in disease and introduced the use of antiseptics. Hundreds of millions of lives were saved because of his discoveries. He was a believing Christian and died holding a crucifix in his hands.

I could go on and on giving other examples. The greatest scientist who ever lived was Isaac Newton (1642-1727). At the age of twenty he invented calculus. He wrote the Principia, in which he laid out the laws of physics, the laws of motion that are still studied today. That book was the greatest book of science ever written.

Newton was a member of the Church of England. Although I do not think he was personally converted, he had a deep belief in God and a profound interest in the Bible. He wrote articles and papers on Bible prophecy. He said, “God governs the world invisibly, and he has commanded us to worship him, and no other God....he has revived Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who has gone into the heavens to receive and prepare a place of us, and...will at length return and reign over us...till he has raised up and judged all the dead” (see Alvin J. Schmidt, Ph.D., Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, p. 232).

In the General Scholium at the end of the Principia, Isaac Newton wrote that the order in the universe proves the existence of God:

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being...The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect...And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done.

That sounds like conservative Christian theology, but it was written by Sir Isaac Newton, at the end of the most important scientific book of all time. Newton believed in God. The early scientists knew the truth of the Scriptures:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1).

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

II. Second, the complexity of the universe points to an intelligent God.

William Paley (1743-1805) wrote a book called Natural Theology where he showed that the complexity of nature was not an accident; that it could only have been created by God. Paley said,

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to shew the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be enquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there.

In the universe we see countless things that are far more complicated than any watch! Every individual cell – and there are billions of cells in every animal – is as complicated as a factory, a city, or even a galaxy. Dr. Michael Behe wrote,

Over the past four decades modern biochemistry has uncovered the secrets of the cell....The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of “design!” The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrodinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun... Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God (Michael J. Behe, Ph.D., Darwin’s Black Box, The Free Press, 1996, pp. 232-233).

Each living cell is far too complicated to have evolved by chance. The only reason people disregard the evidence is because they don’t want to believe in God. They don’t want to believe in God because they don’t want to have Him control their lives, and they don’t want to face Him when they die. It’s the sin and rebellion of the human heart. It’s as simple as that.

In my book From Darwin to Design, I wrote,

You would never say that a computer somehow created itself out of nothing. No, it is clear that it took the thinking of thousands of people to design it and to put it together. It’s the same with the universe—only a billion times over. The structure of the universe is much more complicated and requires far more intelligence than any computer. Only a fool would say that a computer came into being by chance without anyone designing it. Only a fool would say that the universe came into being by chance—without anyone creating it. “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God” (Psalm 53:1). (C. L. Cagan, Ph.D. and Robert Hymers, Th.D., From Darwin to Design, Whitaker House, 2006, p. 56).

III. Third, the conservation of energy – the First Law of Thermodynamics – points to the just and righteous God of the Bible.

One of the strongest principles in science is the First Law of Thermodynamics. It is called the conservation of energy. It means that energy is neither created nor destroyed, but only transferred from one form to another. You can’t get something for nothing. As I wrote in From Darwin to Design,

Beginning with the seventh day, there was no more energy put into the universe, except for special miracles – which God can perform when He chooses...On the seventh day, the law of conservation of energy began its normal workings in our universe, except when overruled by God when He performs a miracle. God keeps track of every piece of matter in the universe. As Jesus told His disciples, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). (From Darwin to Design, pp. 84-85).

This corresponds exactly with the absolute justice of God.

In science, the conservation of energy is a principle that reflects the law and justice of God. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the total energy of a system cannot change. Energy cannot come from nowhere and it cannot disappear into nowhere. And when energy is transferred from one place to another, or from one form to another, this must be done according to definite rules, which state that energy is not gained or lost in the end. This scientific principle points us to the law and justice of God, who keeps track of everything in the universe – and who will judge and punish all actions that violate His moral law and His justice. The conservation of energy is the scientific expression of the fact that God is just, that He does what is right. It points to the justice of God (ibid., p. 85).

Most people in the United States think that God will let everyone into Heaven because He is a God of love. He wouldn’t punish anyone. He certainly won’t send anyone to Hell, because God is a nice guy and will overlook everything. But the First Law of Thermodynamics points to a God who insists that sin be judged and punished. The Bible says, “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The holiness and justice of God demands that sin be paid for. This is why Jesus came and shed His Blood on the Cross,

“to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25).

If you trust Jesus, your sins are atoned for, paid for, by His Bloody death on the Cross. There is no other payment for sin. Turn from your sin and yourself and come to Christ.

IV. Fourth, the principle of increasing entropy – the Second Law of Thermodynamics – points to the effect of sin and death in the world.

In science, the Second Law of Thermodynamics says that everything in the universe only goes in one direction, from order to disorder, from useful energy to chaos and waste. Unbelieving scientists say that billions of years ago the universe exploded in a “big bang” and has been running down ever since. As Jeremy Rifkin said, “the second law states that everything in the entire universe began with structure and value and is irrevocably moving in the direction of random chaos and waste” (Jeremy Rifkin, Entropy: A New World View, Bantam Books, 1980, p. 6).

I believe the Second Law. If you start with a new car, sooner or later it breaks down. You never see a broken down car turn itself into a new one! People and animals get old, get sick, and die. Entropy (disorder) always increases, never the other way round. The law of entropy contradicts the theory of evolution – but unbelievers close their minds on that point! Look at the world around you. Are things getting better or is the earth being ruined? Can things go on like this forever? Obviously not.

People who are honest about this can see no hope. Our pastor, Dr. Hymers, wrote that “Lord Bertrand Russell was a famous British mathematician and philosopher of the twentieth century...With all the accolades and honors that were given to him, you would think he was a happy man. Instead he held a hopeless attitude toward life. Before his death, Bertrand Russell wrote,

No fire, no heroism, nor intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave...[all] are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins (Lord Bertrand Russell, A Free Man’s Worship).

He was one of the most brilliant men of the twentieth century – but all he had to look forward to was ‘a universe in ruins.’ That’s where a ‘natural man’ ends his life – with no hope, no peace, no future, and no God.” (Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. “Scoffers in the Last Days,” preached June 14, 2015 at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles). Dr. Hymers went on to say that “Another famous man of the twentieth century was H. G. Wells. He wrote The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Outline of History. Mr. Wells was a philosopher, historian, and science fiction writer. He spent his life attacking Christianity. But when he was an old man he said, ‘Here I am at sixty-five still seeking for peace. Peace is just a hopeless dream.’ At the end of his life Mr. Wells said that mankind is doomed ‘to degradation, suffering and death’” (ibid.).

Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906) was a physicist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He studied thermodynamics for many years and did a great deal of research. But he never trusted Jesus. Finally he became very depressed and committed suicide. He had no hope. Without God, without Christ, there is no hope. If the atheists are right, we will live for a while and then die, with nothing afterward. Finally the earth and then the universe will die. It will mean nothing. What do they have to look forward to? Dr. Boltzmann understood that.

The Bible says there is death, disorder and ruin in the universe because of sin. When Adam sinned, it didn’t just affect himself. It didn’t just affect the human race. It brought ruin and destruction to the entire creation. The decay that science has found in the universe points to the presence and the results of sin. The Bible says,

“For the earnest expectation of the creature [the creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature [the creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature [the creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:19-22).

Because of sin, the creation, the universe, is groaning and suffering. Without God’s grace, there really is no hope. But Jesus told the Christians to “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). Jesus is coming again! “The [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Finally, the earth and the universe will be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth where there is no sin and death. The Bible says, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13). The world has no hope. Thank God, we Christians have hope – the blessed hope – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ!

V. Fifth, the mathematical specifications of the universe show that it was deliberately designed.

The universe was made for man. This is called the “anthropic principle.” It is also called the “fine-tuned universe.” The very specific numbers that are built into the laws of physics and the particles which make up everything in the universe exactly fit what is necessary for life. If they were very slightly different, no life would be possible. The scientific philosopher Paul Davies wrote,

      Is there a meaning behind existence?...It is interesting to ask just how improbable it is that the laws of physics permit complex structures to exist. How finely must these laws be “tuned”?...British astrophysicists Bernard Carr and Martin Rees concluded that the world is extraordinarily sensitive to even minute changes in the laws of physics, so that if the particular set of laws we have were to be altered in any way the universe would change beyond recognition.
      Carr and Rees found that the existence of complex structures seems to depend very sensitively on the numerical values that nature has assigned to the so-called fundamental constants, the numbers which determine the scale of physical phenomena. Among these constants are the speed of light, the masses of the various subatomic particles, and a number of “coupling” constants such as the elementary unit of charge, which determines how strongly the various force fields act on matter. The actual numerical values adopted by these quantities determine many of the gross features of the world, such as the sizes of atoms, nuclei, planets, and stars, the density of material in the universe, the lifetime of stars, and even the height of animals (Paul Davies, Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, Touchstone, 1984, pp. 241-42).

Tiny changes in the fundamental numbers of the universe would make all life impossible. If the strengths of the basic forces of the universe – gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force – were just a tiny bit different, there couldn’t be anything living.

Epsilon (ε), the strength of the force binding nucleons into nuclei, is 0.007. If it were 0.006, only hydrogen could exist, and complex chemistry would be impossible. If it were 0.008, no hydrogen would exist.

An older example is the Hoyle state, the third-lowest energy state of the carbon-12 nucleus, with an energy of 7.656 MeV [million electron volts] above the ground level. According to one calculation, if the state's energy were lower than 7.3 or greater than 7.9 MeV, insufficient carbon would exist to support life.

A similar calculation, focusing on the underlying fundamental constants that give rise to various energy levels, concludes that the strong force must be tuned to a precision of at least 0.5%, and the electromagnetic force to a precision of at least 4%, to prevent either carbon production or oxygen production from dropping significantly. (Wikipedia article, “The Fine-Tuned Universe).

Eric Metaxas wrote about this principle in the Wall Street Journal, America’s leading financial newspaper (“Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God,” Wall Street Journal, December 25, 2014). I will read you part of his article.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters [numbers] necessary for a planet to support life – every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. [I would add that if the earth’s moon were too large or too small, or if the earth’s axis were tilted too much or too little, there couldn’t be any life on this planet, because the tides of the ocean and the earth’s climate would be wrong.]

Yet here we are [says Metaxas], not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know...the values of the four fundamental forces – gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces...Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction – by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 – then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer...said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology...The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator...gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

Yes, the Universe is perfectly designed to make life possible. There is no other explanation. Unbelieving scientists will marvel at the beauty and perfection of the universe and say, “It just happened.” “It happened all by itself in a big bang.” “It just is.” But to believe that is a far greater act of faith than to believe it was designed by an intelligent and reasonable God. Some of them say that there are an incredibly large number of universes [which we can never see] where the design and the numbers were each a little different – and we happen to live in just the right one. And this even bigger setup “just happened,” just exists on its own without reason or intelligence. Well, to believe that that requires even more faith! It is far more sensible to believe that the universe was designed by God than to believe that it exists all by itself.

I’d rather believe in the Almighty God who made us. But knowing there is a God is not the same as knowing Him personally. Intelligence is not the only attribute of God. In His love and care for us, He revealed the truth about Himself and about us in the Bible. And in His love for us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross and shed His Blood to pay for your sins and for mine. Trust Jesus and your sins will be forgiven. It is my hope and prayer that someone here would trust Him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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