Bible and ScienceJuly 1, 2017
The world today is vastly different from that of the Bronze Age. For our ancient ancestors, most of the world lay beyond their visible perimeter, so they could only imagine what it could be like. After thousands of years’ efforts toward technological advancement, our perimeter widened, and myths were gradually broken down to make way for science.
However, we come to realize that we are actually not the first ones to get to the facts. Something actually preceded us: it is the words of the Bible. In the ancient scrolls, scientific facts established only recently were already written thousands of years ahead of us.
Could it be true that the Bible actually precedes modern science?
Bible: Preceding Modern Science
When was the Bible written? One of the oldest books in the Bible, the Book of Job, was written in about 1,500 B.C. during the Bronze Age. Another book which contains numerous secrets about the universe is the Book of Isaiah, written around 700 B.C..
1. Earth Suspended in Space
Today, it is common knowledge that the earth is suspended in space. With satellite images, we can even view the appearance of our home planet in its full glory. However, was it always common sense that the earth should be floating in mid-air?
In the past, people thought it logical that the earth should be supported on something. This was because they observed things falling when they let go of them, so they naturally assumed that the earth would also fall if it were not held up. Such a thought was evident amongst the many different concepts of the universe.
It was not until the 17th century when the Law of Universal Gravitation was formulated to prove that the earth could float.Did You Know?Law of Universal Gravitation
People used to believe in the geocentric theory—the earth was in the centre of the universe, stable and unmoving, while the sun, moon and other celestial bodies circled the earth1). This idea was later challenged as Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler suggested the heliocentric theory—the earth and other planets circled around the sun instead2). This model, however, was not well-received. Particularly, Galileo was even trialled during the Inquisition for his Copernican beliefs3).
Sir Isaac Newton, too, tried to understand the elliptical motion of celestial bodies like that of the planets around the sun. Under normal circumstances, objects should move in a straight line rather than in an ellipse—it seemed like a force was ‘attracting’ the planets towards the sun, but what was it?
Finally, sometime during the 17th century, he realised what this force was. It was the exact same one that caused the famous apple to fall—gravitation. He realised that this force exists universally, that even celestial bodies are ‘attracted’ to one another4). This proved, once and for all, that the heliocentric theory is true, and that the earth is hovering in space, racing around the sun.
In the Bible, however, it was already written 3,500 years ago:
Job 26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
Considering that these words were written when the fact went against the commonly accepted logic, its accuracy only proves to be even more astounding.
2. Water Cycle
Before science explained about evaporation, humankind had only known of water raining down from the sky, not travelling hundreds of kilometres up to the heavens. Yet rain keeps falling, so why do the seas not brim and spill over? The ancient Greeks believed that the rainwater seeped through the earth’s depths and fed underground springs.
Imaginative theories like this came to be overthrown in the 16-17th century, when the water cycle was finally deduced.Did You Know?Hydrological Cycle
In around 1580, Bernard Palissy first asserted the idea that rivers were maintained solely by rainfall5). Finally, in 1674, this was backed up scientifically by French physicists Pierre Perrault and Edme Mariotte who demonstrated their hypothesis of the Hydrological Cycle6).
Even so, people started accepting this idea as mainstream science only in the early 19th century7).
Prior to this scientific discovery, the Bible had already described the water cycle vividly.
Job 36:27-28 He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
“Draws up the drops of water” describes the process of evaporation and “distill as rain”, the next two stages of condensation and precipitation. Could this have been conceivable by man’s speculation? To those living in the Bronze Age, this passage in the Scriptures must have remained a mystery.
3. Earth’s Core
In 1864, Jules Verne published the bestseller Journey to the Center of the Earth, describing the fictional adventures of explorers travelling under our planet’s surface. While people then may dream of venturing the world beneath our feet, scientific discoveries of the 1900s revealed to us that it was simply impossible since the world below us is actually a world of fire.
Did You Know?Earth’s Core
Andrija Mohorovicic proposed about the earth having a second layer—the mantle—beneath the crust8), while Beno Gutenberg believed that the outer layer of the core was a liquid layer9). Finally in 1936, Danish seismologist, Inge Lehmann deduced the earth’s inner core to be a solid iron-nickel alloy, with a temperature of approximately 5,400 degree Celsius after studying seismograms from earthquakes in New Zealand10).
Surprisingly, however, the Bible clearly recorded this fact approximately 3,500 years ago.
Job 28:5 The earth, from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire;
While living our daily lives on the cool surface of the earth’s crust, how is it possible for anyone to deduce the burning core of the earth without state-of-the-art technology?
4. Earth and the Universe
What is the size of the earth compared to the universe? In some of the earliest thinkings, it was believed that the universe was not much bigger than the earth, and that it consisted of only the earth with the moon, sun and planets revolving around it. Outside this system, an outer sphere of fixed stars enveloped it.
As science developed, mankind started realising the astronomical scale of the universe and just how tiny the earth is in comparison.
Did You Know?Cosmic Distance Ladder
With the invention of the telescope in the early 17th century, we were able to view things beyond the earth in much greater detail.
Afterward, the “cosmic distance ladder” was deviced to further deduce the size of the Universe that is of mind-blowing proportions:
- Bouncing radio waves off neighbouring planets: measures distances within the solar system11)
- Parallax measurement: first successful implementation by Friedrich Bessel in 1838, measures up to about 100 light-years12)
- Main sequence fitting: measures distances of stars within our galaxy13)
- Cepheid variables: discovered by Henrietta Swan Leavitt in 190814)
- Measuring brightness of exploding white dwarf stars: discovered by Edwin Hubble, measures up to billions of light-years15)16)
- Redshift: discovered also by Edwin Hubble in 1929. This method allowed us to measure the diameter of our observable universe, which is about 93 billion light-years17).
Recently, computer algorithms were also used to look for meaningful patterns in data, and it is estimated that the actual universe is at least 250 times the size of the observable universe18).
Note: 1 light-year is the distance light travels in vacuum in 1 year, which is about 9.5 quadrillion metres19).
Comparing the earth with the universe, the earth is indeed like fine dust. However, in 8th century B.C., the prophet Isaiah already wrote:
Isaiah 40:15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Even now, it is difficult to fathom the actual magnitude of the size of the vast universe. Then, how could prophet Isaiah have written this way?
Bible: The Records of the Creator
Are you in awe that the Bible actually precedes science? When the Scriptures were written, no one could confirm its veracity and accuracy. As we began moving towards civilisation and technological advancements, the words in the Bible were, one by one, verified as facts.
Can the Bible, then, be authored by the thoughts of man? We are still on our journey to discovering the world around us. The One who can possibly possess such understanding before time is the creator of the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Reading the words of the Bible, one can truly feel the breath and existence of God. Let us continue exploring the Scriptures which also reveals the omniscience of our mighty creator.
- “GCSE Bitesize: Models of the Solar System.” BBC.
- “GCSE Bitesize: Models of the Solar System.” BBC.
- “GCSE Bitesize: Galileo.” BBC.
- “Why Do the Planets Go around the Sun?” NASA.
- “The Hydrologic Cycle.” NGWA – The Groundwater Association.
- Linton, Jamie. “Chapter 5, The Hydrologic Cycle(s): Scientific and Sacred.” What Is Water? The History of a Modern Abstraction, UBC Press, 2013, pp. 116.
- Linton, Jamie. “Chapter 5, The Hydrologic Cycle(s): Scientific and Sacred.” What Is Water? The History of a Modern Abstraction, UBC Press, 2013, pp. 117–118.
- King, Hobart. “Mohorovičić Discontinuity – The Moho.” Geology.
- “Beno Gutenberg.” Beno Gutenberg | Earth 520: Plate Tectonics and People: Foundations of Solid Earth Science
- “Inge Lehmann.” Inge Lehmann | Earth 520: Plate Tectonics and People: Foundations of Solid Earth Science.
- Koupelis, Theo. “Chapter 11, The Sun.” In Quest of the Universe, 4th ed., Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2004, p. 361.
- “Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 23 Apr. 2009.
- “Main Sequence Fitting.” Main Sequence Fitting – Cosmic Distance Ladder – NAAP.
- Contributor, Elizabeth Howell Space.com. “Henrietta Swan Leavitt: Discovered How to Measure Stellar Distances.” Space.com, 11 Nov. 2016.
- Baraniuk, Chris. “It Took Centuries, but We Now Know the Size of the Universe.” BBC, BBC, 13 June 2016.
- “Dark Energy – Type Ia Supernovae.” HubbleSite , HubbleSite.
- “Hubble’s Distance – Redshift Relation.” Measuring the Distance to Nearby Galaxies.
- “Cosmos At Least 250x Bigger Than Visible Universe, Say Cosmologists.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 22 Oct. 2012 ↪
- Convert Light Years to Kilometers ↪