Monday, 4 January 2010

The Bible and Science: The Biblical view of Cosmology

We are constantly bombarded with the claim that the Bible is unscientific! Let's consider that claim in the light of what the Bible has to say about science.

Interestingly, while secular science right up to the 20th century viewed the universe in accordance with Aristotles' philosophy that the universe was simply eternal the Bible presented the scientific reality that the universe began, all a long.

The first passage of the Bible correctly states: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' (Genesis 1: 1).

Notice that the passage does not include particular ridicolous statements such as God separating heaven and earth, which was a common understanding among the ancient thinkers (as seen in the Gilgamesh writings, the Talmud, Lucretius and the Qur'an) and which is entirely unscientific in accordance to observation such as cosmological development and accreation.

Genesis simply records the beginning of the universe we live in.

We need however to consider the words 'heaven' and 'earth' in Genesis 1: 1; these are often recognised by the modern reader as references to the actual heaven and earth. Yet in accordance with the understanding of the ancient mind these terms combined ussually denoted a definition of the universe as a whole not a seperation of two entities.

Wenham clarifies:

But in the OT, as well as in Egyptian, Akkadian and Ugaritic, "heaven and earth" may also be used to denote the universe...Genesis 1: 1 could therefore be translated: "In the beginning God created everything" (Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary 1: Genesis 1-15, p.15)

This agrees with the modern scientific view that the universe once began.

The Bible also predicted another scientific factor, namely the very recent discovery of cosmological expansion. In Isaiah 40: 22: '...He stretches out the heavens like a canopy'.

At the same time God in his revelation to Isaiah also denotes the very end of the universe, something which in modern scientific theory is referred to as the Big Crunch, basically the universe being brought together into nothing:

"All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall" (Isaiah 34: 4)

This probably describes the total vanishing of the first earth and heaven in the Book of Revelation prior to the arise of a new universe:

'Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away...' (Revelation 21: 1)

This obviously speaks of a universe with different laws, eternal laws.

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