Is Science the Source of Truth?
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Mankind has long deluded itself into thinking it can accurately determine truth. In the past charlatans and deluded men thought they could divine truth by observing animal organs or through drug-induced trances. Eventually, the search for truth has given way to the use of human reasoning. It has been modified and codified over the centuries. Today we call this search for truth "science." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines science as, "Knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific methods." Carl Sagan, just prior to his death, defined science as "a way of thinking, an error-correcting process by which we figure out what is true and what is not."
Science is not without its mistakes. At times it goes the wrong way before someone discovers a mistake. As a result, the scientific search for truth often leads to contradictions. Daily our papers publish new findings from some study that contradicts the knowledge we previously had. Soon another group will publish another study contradicting the previous study and people throw up their hands in disgust, thinking we will never know the real truth of the matter. This constant shifting of supposed truth has led philosophers to take the easy way out and declare that truth is relative to the beholder. There is no one absolute truth, but the truth is simply whatever you want it to be. Even back two thousand years ago, when Jesus claimed to be the witness to the Truth, his judge, Pilate, replied, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). Pilate walked out of the room, not waiting for an answer because he believed there could be no answer; yet, our Bible claims otherwise. It asserts that truth can be found and that this truth is absolute.
As the years have rolled by, science has often made claims which contradict biblical teachings. Through many societal influences, we are encouraged to believe that science is more accurate than the Bible, at least more accurate in its own realm. "After all," people exclaim, "Copernicus was ridiculed by the religious people of his day for thinking the earth wasn't the center of the universe." How often have we been told that science is based on the observation of facts; religion is just based on faith in the unobservable? Only science can be proven; religion by its very nature is unprovable and, therefore, very likely to be untrue. Too many religious people and too many Christians have accepted these statements and made no effort to defend their religion.
The Bible Is the Truth
Jesus makes a clear and blunt claim, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). God's word, the Bible, is truth. The Bible was written to deal with spiritual matters. It wasn't written to teach physical science or history, but it does mention things that fall in these realms from time to time. Just because it doesn't teach physical science, you cannot conclude that when it happens to mention a physical fact that the Bible cannot be trusted. That is the argument we use against the writings of men. No man can know everything, so each of us specializes in various areas of knowledge. A man who speaks in his area of specialty is generally considered a reliable source. But when a man speaks outside of his specialty, we generally discount his words because he is not an expert in that field. Yet, in what area of knowledge is the all-knowing God not an expert? Is there any topic that men may claim is outside of God's expertise?
Another important factor we must consider is the Bible's claim that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). If the Bible is found false or even misleading in incidental facts, then the book as a whole cannot be trusted. If there are minor errors of facts within the Bible, then we must claim that it did not come from a God who cannot lie, or we must claim that God is fallible. The only way that the Bible can come from an infallible God is for it to be perfectly accurate even to the smallest detail.
By studying this Book of God we will come to know the truth. Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
Man Does Not Have a Reputation for Accuracy
Men often are full of lies, deceit, and treachery (Jeremiah 9:3-9). We, as a people, have a tendency to follow lies because lies usually tell us what we want to hear and not what we need to hear (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Since science is a creation of man, would we expect it to be accurate or inaccurate? Consider the words of a popular scientist, 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 toward understanding." In other words, Mr. Sagan is stating that science does not have the truth at this moment and it will not have the truth in the future, but men believe it is getting closer to the truth all the time. And this is supposed to inspire confidence?
The apostle Paul speaks of such people who are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7-9). As Paul goes on to say, such men oppose the absolute truth. They are false teachers who are rejected by God and they will be rejected by people who open their eyes to their obvious lies. As if to prove Paul's point, Carl Sagan states that a scientist has no more trust in science as an authority than he does in religion, government, or superstition. Science, he says, teaches a distrust of authority and even a distrust of your own hypothesis. Hence, we must conclude that Mr. Sagan doesn't believe anyone has the truth.
Why would anyone prefer to listen to the teachings of people with Ph.D.s behind their names over the plain teachings of God? Perhaps it is pride in our own abilities and accomplishments. "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth . . . " (I Timothy 6:3-5).
But Are There Not Facts That Contradict the Bible?
At this point, I could go on and on about how men, in the name of science, have duped the unsuspecting - not only in the past but even in recent years. However, I will attempt to restrain myself and just look at one conflict between science and the Bible.
The Bible indicates the world is about 6,000 years old. Even though the dating is based on genealogical data in the Bible and sections contain small gaps in the records, there are not enough gaps to extend the age of the world to the tens of thousands of years, or even hundreds of thousands of years. Science is said to have proven the world to be billions of years old.
Interestingly, there are numerous ways to measure the age of the Earth. I have a list of about a thousand methods in my files. Yet the only ones that are given press are the ones that give the longest answers. The shorter answers, which are the most numerous, are rarely mentioned. There are more measurements that show the world to be about 10,000 years old than there are measurements showing ages above one billion years.
When measuring the time that has passed, the observer must make assumptions to cover missing information. Suppose you walk into a room and find a candle burning. You watch for a period of time and find that the candle is being consumed at a rate of one inch per hour. How long has the candle been burning? If you think about it, you would realize there is no way to answer that question. How big was the candle before it was lit? Can you be certain that the candle burns at a constant rate? If the composition of the candle was not uniform, it would not burn evenly. What if the candle was tapered at the top and was made thicker toward the bottom? The diameter of the wax affects the burn rate. What if a stiff breeze fanned the flame earlier? Fire burns hotter and faster in the presence of more oxygen. The questions are endless because we cannot observe the original conditions nor the past conditions as the candle burned.
So, how old is the earth? No one can answer that question with certainty unless he was shown how it began and how rapidly it changed since the beginning. Science claims the world preceded man by billions of years. The Bible says the world preceded man by five days. Since man was not present, man cannot claim to know how much time passed before he came on the scene. The only one who can tell us is the God who existed before the beginning.
This reminds me of another point. Since God created the world for men (Psalm 115:16; Isaiah 45:18), does it make sense that God waited billions of years to accomplish His purpose? Why would people try to blend evolution and Scripture? To claim that there was a several billion-year gap between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:3 is unreasonable. Besides, it contradicts Jesus' statement that man and woman were created at the beginning of time. While looking back 4,000 years to the creation, five days after the start of creation is at the beginning, but several billion years after the start of creation is nowhere close to the beginning.
A British engineer, Sidney P. Clementson, became interested in the accuracy of claims labs made of being able to date volcanic rock samples using radioactive dating methods. He sent off samples from twelve volcanoes in Russia and ten volcanoes from other places around the world and published the results sent to him from the labs. The ages of the samples were wildly diverse between labs for the same volcano. For all the samples the ages ranged from 100 million to 10 billion years. The fascinating part is that some of the volcanic rock was known to have been formed in eruptions within the last 200 years!
Do you remember reading about Austrailopithicus? The typical age for these fossilized remains is given as four to five million years. Have you ever wondered how they managed to date these bones? You see organic matter cannot be dated beyond 30,000 years by current theories. There is just not enough radioactive matter in living things to stretch dates even close to this point without getting high error rates. So how do they date bones? Well, they were found buried in volcanic rock, so the ages 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 I am buried six-feet underground, 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!" Besides, have you ever noticed that with each new discovery, the finder declares that his bones are older than the previous find? Could it be that in order to gain notoriety, a person must have the oldest bones on the block? It sounds to me like a "my bones are older than your bones" competition among men whose funding is based on their fame.
I love looking at cave formations, but without fail, the guides will tell you about the millions of years it takes to form the various formations. While it is true that at their current growth rate it would have taken a long time to create large sculptures, why is it assumed that the past rate was the same as today's rate? I have a photograph of the room below the Lincoln Memorial that was taken in 1968. The Lincoln Memorial was built in 1923 of limestone; yet, in the 45 years that it stood, stalactites more than five feet in length had developed! Obviously, stalactites can form rapidly given the right conditions. The speed of their development depends on the rate at which water drips, the concentration of minerals in that water, and the rate of evaporation. Each condition is highly variable over time.
Another photograph in my files is one of a dead bat entombed in a stalagmite. The body of the bat is whole. Evidently, a stalagmite can form so rapidly that a bat can be sealed before bacteria can decay the body or predators can consume it.
Just the other day I was showing a boy pictures from Texas of dinosaur tracks that are intermixed with human tracks. Of course, the current scientific theory says dinosaurs died out long before men appeared on this earth. Why is factual evidence ignored? Because such evidence contradicts what some people want to believe. Instead of modifying unworkable theories which cannot match the facts, the facts are denied or ignored. The theory has become the overruling goal. Truth is tossed out.
There is no need to compromise the truth to harmonize the Bible's teaching with science. Science is still looking for the truth and as long as scientist keep their blinders on, it will continue to look without success. Perhaps one day they will stumble on a portion of the truth, but we do not have to stumble on blindly. God has given us the truth. Where is your trust? Where is your courage?
"Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity; and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Thy truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders." (Psalm 26:1-4)