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Can a scientist believe the Bible?

December 1998 | by Edgar Andrews

The simple answer to the question is ‘yes’. Otherwise I would not be writing this article. I know that today science is often presented by the media as something that makes God redundant. But in my forty-five years as a professional scientist I have met very few atheists among my fellow scientists, and many who believe in God.

The founders of modern science

Most of the founders of modern science were practising Christians. I am referring to people like Isaac Newton, who discovered the laws of gravity and motion; Robert Boyle, who first explained the behaviour of gases; Michael Faraday, the ‘father’ of electricity; and Robert Maxwell, whose electromagnetic theory underlies the science and technology of radio and television. Most geologists and biologists before Darwin were also believers in God.

Michael Faraday
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Not only did these men believe in God, but they also saw their scientific work as vindicating this belief. Thus Newton declared that he conducted his researches ‘with an eye to those discoveries that would most work with reasoning men to a belief in the Deity’.

Searching questions

Admittedly, there are some very vocal people in the scientific establishment who claim that science disproves God or at least that it disproves the Bible. Unfortunately, these people are cultivated by the mass media, especially British television. They promote the idea that everything in this world, including human beings themselves, are the products of chance. A blind process of evolution, they say, has led to the origin of life on this planet and the rise of intelligent species. There is no need for a Creator, since ‘creation’ can be explained by the random interplay of genetic mutation and natural selection, processes driven only by the laws of nature. But these opponents of the Christian message are silent when asked some searching questions.

Laws of nature

Firstly, where did the laws of nature come from in the first place? No one believes that they evolved. They must have been in place from the very beginning of the universe. Yet these laws are highly specific. The law of gravity states that the force between two objects varies as the square of the distance between them. Why? Why not distance cubed? Or distance to the power two-and-a-half? Every law of nature is precise, elegant, and distinct, and this goes even for the laws of chance and statistical variation. Is this just accident? Or do these laws bear the hallmarks of intelligence?

Chicago, USA, image by giallopudding/Pixabay
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Why does science exist?

This leads me to the second question. Why is science possible at all? Science only exists because the universe is law-abiding. Science would be impossible if the laws of nature changed from day to day, or from place to place. Scientific experiments would never give the same result twice. The aeroplane that flies today might not fly tomorrow. Engineering would be impossible.

But there is another point. How is it that human beings can understand the way the world works? The answer is, of course, that we are rational beings. We can think logically and mathematically, and write down the laws of nature in propositions and equations. The ability of rational beings (ourselves) to analyse nature and delve into its mysteries indicates to me that nature is itself rational. It must have been designed by something or someone who is at least as intelligent as ourselves! As Johann Kepler declared, on discovering the laws of planetary motion: ‘O God, I am thinking your thoughts after you!’

Where did it all come from?

My third question concerns the origin of the universe. Once matter and energy existed, along with the laws of nature that control them, it could be argued that everything looked after itself and the universe ‘evolved’. That is not my view, but it is arguable. However, it can never tell us where energy and matter came from in the first place.

Some scientists try to get around the problem by saying ‘it was always there’; that is, the universe never had a beginning. But most of the scientific evidence points clearly to a beginning, popularly known as the ‘big bang’. Just how it happened can be disputed, but the current scientific view agrees with the Bible in saying that there was a beginning.

Why I believe the Bible

The Bible answers these and other questions that science can never answer. It tells me that there is an eternal God, outside of space and time, who has called all things into being. The very first words of the Bible are ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’. But he did not only create all things, he sustains them as well. So the apostle Paul, preaching to a group of Greek philosophers in Athens, could say of God, ‘He gives to all life, breath and all things’ and ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:22-31). I find this highly satisfying. It makes sense of existence in a way that a mindless process of evolution never can.

Of course, it also makes many people uncomfortable, because it implies that God knows all about us and that we are accountable to him. That indeed is what the Bible teaches, and I believe it to be true. Why? Because it answers another fundamental question, namely, whether there is any moral basis to life.

Some would have us believe that we are just animals, evolved by chance from lower forms of life. If they are right, morality (if it exists at all) is nothing more than convenience; that is, good and evil are defined by what benefits me or does me harm. It is a side-effect of the selfish gene. Perhaps some would prefer it that way, but most of us find it more logical to believe that there are basic rules for human life and conduct that we break at our peril. And if there are such basic rules, who made them? Again the Bible gives the answer. They are God’s laws, eternally valid and suited to our nature and our needs. The Bible spells out those laws for us, telling us what God requires of man.

God’s word to me

If all the Bible did was to answer my intellectual questions, it would be worth believing. If it only told me what my Creator demands of me, it would be worth following. But it tells me much more than that. It explains my nature as a human being, and tells me that I am a sinner. That is, one who does not obey God’s laws, indeed, one who rebels against the rules that he has made. This teaching, though uncomfortable, explains a lot! It explains why men cannot live in peace, purity and honesty. It explains much of the trouble we experience in life. But it also speaks to my conscience and my heart, and makes me feel my sin before a holy God.

Unpleasant though this may be, it is for my benefit, says the Bible. Unless the patient knows he is sick, he will not visit his doctor. The Bible shows us our sin that it might also show us God’s great remedy for sin, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ. ‘God made him to be sin for us’, writes Paul, ‘that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Those who seek God’s forgiveness through the merits, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will not be turned away.

I was a nineteen-year-old science student when God spoke to me through the pages of the Bible to tell me these things. I met my Saviour Jesus Christ in the pages of Scripture and I was ‘born again’ through the work of his Holy Spirit in my heart. I believe the Bible because it was, and still remains, God’s word to me.