Scientific advancements have come so far since the Bible was written, our world has changed, how do we face these questions about our faith with a book that was written thousands of years ago?
This question has been a popular one among Christians and secular people, I think for obvious reasons. The Bible is a compiled document well over 2000 years old, is it even relevant? Can we really know and trust biblical knowledge.
The story we tell ourselves of how and why we got here is really important. One thing that we need to understand is that the experts of how we got here and the meaning of life used to be the philosophers. Today these experts are scientist. The story we tell ourselves about life revolves around what scientists say. They have become the new experts.
For example, in 1492 all scientists knew that the world was a sphere and that if you said across the sea you wouldn’t fall off the other side. However, the common worldview was that you fall into an abyss. Science changed all of that. For a while astronomers were convinced that the earth was the center of the solar system. A few years later, scientists understood that all planets orbited the sun. Charles Darwin is a lightning rod of a figure in this modern debate. The reason why he is so important is because we are now telling his story of how we got here. The world tells our selves that only the strongest survive and for thousands of years only the strongest of the species have made it. I just watched the film. “I AM,” directed by Tom Shadyac and he makes a point to talk about this as well. The problem is that story we are telling ourselves isn’t entirely true. Weak people survive all the time through mutual cooperation and love. Although I have never read Darwin cover to cover, I trust that Tom Shadayac isn’t lying when he says that Darwin comes to this same conclusion.
Science is advancing every day. With it, the way that we live life changes.
The scientific method is great and it has really saved our world a lot of trouble. I am betting that you cook with some kind of vegetable or olive oil at home. It is no mistake that you do this. The reason you do is because of new research on the subject of trans-fats. Before the vegetable oil, people commonly cooked with Crisco. Crisco was an invention that was marketed as the healthier alternative to animal fats but people largely went away from it because of new research that showed trans-fats were bad for you. Before Crisco was lard and before lard the most common shortening that you would use was pig fat. Research changes the way we behave because we view the results as truth.
For the most part there is nothing wrong with altering what we do based on research. Research & studies are good to help us understand what is good for us.
However, we must be aware of the misleading label of “research.” The word itself instills a kind of trust that makes us bypass our normal safe guard questions like, who is behind the research? What are these people ultimately selling? There is research that is done for the good of humanity and then research that is done for the good of the corporation.
The problem with our society is that we see research as unquestionable truth. How many times have you heard this phrase on the news, “new research says that ___…???” We then alter our habits accordingly. In our world, research = truth.
The by-product of scientific research is the belief that truth is only true if it can be tested and repeated. If the truth is only true if we can test it, then what about things that science can’t speak into? Our culture’s underlying assumption is that science is the new authority on how to live a good life.
Owen Flanagan is a distinguished professor and scientist at Duke University. While talking about the conflict between Israel and Palestine he was asked what he believed God would have to say about it. He remarked, “I think most scientists would say it is absurd to think that anyone knows what God intended for any piece of earth.”
Dallas Willard replied: “If science has nothing to say about God’s intentions, why should anyone care about what “most scientist” thinks about them, any more than what most accountants or truck drivers think about them?” (Willard, Dallas. Knowing Christ Today, 59)
Willard skillfully made the point that our culture has run to science for explanations of what is happening in the world. We’ve been conditioned to believe that science is the only source of reliable knowledge and truth, when in reality it is a source of knowledge and truth. The reality is that there another source of truth.
I think the Bible is a very reliable source of truth and more than that; it is a source of historical knowledge. A few weeks ago I heard an interview with Reza Aslan who has written a new book called, Zealot the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. (Still on my to-read list) He claims to be a historian and yet he referred to the four gospels as works of faith, lacking historical significance. This is crazy, mainly because we know that much of the gospels including locations can be backed up historically. Our world has labeled any Biblical knowledge as faith, effectively ridding the Bible of truth.
This brings us to the question that our culture is shouting from the rooftops. What is truth? I think truth is grounded in reality, which is what is really going on. As far as I know, no one has ever been able to demonstrate that reality is secular. The question of what is the truth really brings us to the heart of the matter. This is the question that individuals need to ask themselves, it is irresponsible not to. Can truth only be found in science? Or are there things in life that scientist can’t speak to? I know it pulls the rug out from under some folks when you assert that science can’t prove everything. But ask yourself, what could science never prove?
I challenge you to ask yourself some difficult questions.
- What is reality?
- Is reality secular?
- What is knowledge and who has it?
- Who are the experts in life today and through out time?
- What is truth?
A quick thought on moral relativism
When we want to ask the question, “is there real or one truth out there?” Our humanity inevitably wants to land on moral relativism. We will almost always choose the least offensive thing because we want to be right and we do not ever want to be in the position of calling someone else wrong. The flaw with moral relativism (Basically, everyone is right in their own eyes) is that there are finite and fixed truths. I can ask a billion people how tall I am and I can have a billion different answers. But what really matters is how tall I actually am. The challenge is to be bold and proclaim actual truth that you can stand behind.
So seek it out.