Is Science the Source of Truth?
Mankind has long fooled themselves into thinking they can accurately determine the truth. We call this process of searching for truth "Science." Science is defined in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "Knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method." Carl Sagan, a famous scientist often seen on television, described it this way, "Science is a way of thinking, an error-correcting process by which we figure out what is true and what is not."
Notice that these definitions imply that science does not have the truth. It is only a way to search for the truth. In the process of this search, people are going to realize that they have made mistakes and they will have to change their thinking. As a result, we often see science producing contradictions. Daily, I find articles in my local paper about a new finding from some study that contradicts the knowledge we previously had held to be true. This constant contradiction has led some philosophers to take the easy way out and declare that truth must be relative to the beholder. In other words, they do not think there is an absolute truth. What is true for you may not be true for me. It is an old idea. When Jesus claimed to be the witness of the truth, Pilate replied, "What is truth?" (See John 18:38.) Pilate wasn't looking for an answer from Jesus. Pilate did not think that there was an answer to his question. However, the Bible claims otherwise. It claims to be the source of absolute truth.
There are times when science conflicts with biblical teachings. Through many influences, we are encouraged to believe that science is more accurate than the Bible in its own realm. After all, wasn't Copernicus ridiculed by the religious people of his day for thinking that the earth wasn't the center of the universe? What people neglect to comment on is that the Bible never said the earth was the center of the universe. That belief was just a popular tradition that existed without foundation. How often are we told that science is based on the observation of facts and religion is just based on faith in the unobservable and the untrue? Too many religious people and far too many Christians have accepted these lies as true. They never have questioned its foundations.
First, let us establish one fact. The Bible is the truth. In John 17:17, Jesus said that God's word is truth. It is true that the Bible deals with spiritual matters. It wasn't written to teach physical science or history, but it sometimes mentions things in these realms. Just because the Bible is not a teacher of physical science, doesn't mean that when it mentions a physical fact it cannot be trusted. This is the way that we deal with the writings of men. The realm of knowledge is so wide that no single person can be an expert in all areas. When a person writes in his own realm, we tend to trust his statements. However, if a nuclear scientist starts to write about the U.S. Tax Code, we wonder what makes him an expert.
The Bible is not from men, it is from God. God can be an expert in everything because everything is made by him. In Hebrews 6:18, a statement is made that it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, if the Bible is found false, or even misleading, in small incidental facts, then it means the book as a whole cannot be fully trusted. If the Bible is found to contain a falsehood, then we must either claim the Bible does not come from God or we must claim that God is fallible.
We believe that the Bible does come from God and does not contain false statements.
If we study the teachings of God, then we will come to know the truth. (See John 8:31-32.)
It is men, not God, who are known for their inaccuracies. In Jeremiah 9:3-9, we are told that men are full of lies, deceit, and treachery. It is unfortunate, but many people prefer to follow a lie. (See II Thessalonians 2:9-12.) This is because the truth often makes people feel uncomfortable. They would rather listen to a lie and feel good about themselves.
Science is based on the works of men, who are often fallible and erroneous. Let us take another quote from Carl Sagan. "Science thrives on errors, cutting them away one by one. False conclusions are drawn all the time, but they are drawn tentatively. Hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved . . . Science gropes and staggers towards understanding." In other words, science doesn't have the truth right now and will not have it in the future, but hopefully, we are getting closer to the truth all the time. What a contrast to the Bible's claim to be the truth! It is interesting that the Bible talks about people who claim to be looking for the truth but are never able to obtain it. (See II Timothy 3:7-9.) It labels such people as false teachers!
Carl Sagan goes on to say that a scientist has no more trust of science as an authority than he does of religion, government, or superstition. In other words, science teaches people to distrust authority and to distrust their own hypothesis. It is a wonder that people actually prefer to listen to the teachings of people with Ph.D.s behind their names over the plain teachings of God. Paul states in I Timothy 6:3-5 that if we do not consent to God's teachings, then we are proud, ignorant people without truth in our lives.
Despite all this, we need to take a look at some of the big conflicts between science and the Bible. There are numerous things we could talk about and I have a large set of information on all sorts of conflicts, but I picked out a few examples to illustrate our point.
The Bible says the world is about 6,000 years old, but science has proved the world to be billions of years old. We must first notice that if a person does not want to believe in God, they need an explanation for how this world came to be without a God. Without a designer, you must rely on random chance to get things to come into being. However, the odds against the world forming by random chance are so long that a person needs a huge quantity of time to make the solution even thinkable. Therefore, you will expect people who don't want to believe in God to concentrate on evidence that tends to give answers saying that the world is very old.
There are many ways to measure the age of the earth, but the ones trumpeted are the ones that give the longest answers. The measurements that give short answers are rarely mentioned. I have a list of different ways to measure the age of the earth. Most of these methods give an answer in the neighborhood of 10,000 years.
Suppose you walked into a room and find a candle burning. You watch it for a while and discover that it is being consumed at a rate of one inch per hour. Being the crazy science teacher that I am, I would like to know how long has the candle been burning. Like most people, you are saying, "Wait a minute! How long was the original candle? Can I be certain that the candle burned at a constant rate? What if the candle was tapered at the top and is thicker at the bottom? A thin candle burns faster than a thick candle. What if a stiff breeze fanned the flame earlier and made it burn faster at some earlier point?" As you see, current observation cannot answer all our questions about the past.
Similarly, when someone asks, "How old is the earth?" No one can know the answer unless you are shown how the earth began and how rapidly it has changed since that time. We don't have time travel. People today cannot go back and observe the beginnings of this world. They can only look at the current facts and make guesses about what happened in the past. For a Christian, though, think about this. Since the world was created for man, see Psalms 115:16 and Isaiah 45:18, does it make sense that God waited billions of years to accomplish His purpose?
Let us look at another piece of evidence. Sidney P. Clementson, a British engineer, has analyzed the published studies of rock samples from twelve volcanoes in Russia and ten samples from other places around the world. He sent rock samples from each volcano to dating labs and asked how old were the rocks. The answers were in the range from 100 million to 10 billion years old by the typical radioactive dating methods. However, it is known that these volcanic rocks were all formed within the past 200 years!
Have you read about Australopithecus and the 4 to 5 million year age for their fossils? Have you ever wondered how they arrived at these ages? You see, most organic matter is dated by measuring carbon-14, which decays over time. By bones don't contain carbon. Bones are made of calcium. In addition, carbon-14 is only good for about 17,000 to 30,000 years in theory. So how do they come up with a 4 million year age for some bones? These bones were found buried in volcanic rock. The age of the bones are assumed to be approximately the age of the surrounding rock. I don't know about you, but when I die and am buried 6 feet under, I hope no one thinks I'm as old as the dirt I'm buried in. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Old as dirt!" Have you noticed that with each new discovery, the finder declares that his bones are even older than previous finds? It more like a bunch of kids than grown scientists. "My bones are older than your bones!" If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to have the older finds.
One last piece of evidence. I love looking at cave formations, but without fail, the guides will tell you about the millions of years that it took to form the various formations. It is true that at their current rate of formation, it would take a long time to grow to their current size. But who says the rate of growth is constant? I have a picture of the basement of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was built in 1923 and the photo was taken in 1968. The photo shows some very large stalactites and stalagmites. Some of these stalactites are over five feet long! Stalactite and stalagmite formation's growth are dependent on the rate the water drips, the concentration of minerals in the water, and the rate the water evaporates. All of these factors are highly variable over time. I also have a picture of a whole bat trapped in a stalagmite. Evidently, stalagmites can form so rapidly at times that a bat can be entombed in it before bacteria can decay the body or predators can consume it.
There is more evidence available that shows the world is young than there is showing the world is old. Why are the old dates preferred? Because an old date would prove that God does not exist.
However, I prefer to stand for the truth. Test me and see that I will walk in the Lord's truth. See Psalms 26:1-12. There is no need to feel we must harmonize the Bible with science by compromising the truth. Science is still looking for the truth. Maybe, one day, they will catch up with the facts that every Christian has known for years.