Thursday, August 17, 2023

Again: Science and the Bible (Psalm 19)

Here's a fascinating book I picked up in Kailua a couple of weeks ago. 

I love the science of geology. In fact, I love science in general. Not as much as the Bible, but close. Neither can be safely ignored. I was reminded of this fact while reading Psalm 19 this morning. Some have called this the greatest Psalm in the Psalter. I can't get enough of it. Here's how I would summarize its content. 

I marvel at the balance we find in the Bible, don't you? There is never a wedge driven between science and the Bible. God has revealed himself in the universe and in the Bible, through creation and revelation. I think many of our spiritual difficulties begin when we fail to keep these two divine self-revelations together. On the one hand, some people have great confidence in the data that God supplies in nature but seem to have no confidence at all in the second lot of data he supplies in Scripture. Equally, some Bible students are passionate about God's word but feel threatened by that other revelation of himself in nature. But we must never pit nature and Scripture against each other as antagonists. Nor should we pit science and theology against each other. There is only one God, and this God has written two books if you will. One is called the Bible, and one is called nature. I therefore find it highly ironic that there are professors of New Testament who themselves claim not to follow the Lord Jesus Christ or to believe in the Bible as God's inerrant and authoritative word on the one hand, and other New Testament scholars who will anathematize you if you attempt to integrate insights from the "secular" science of linguistics into the study of New Testament Greek. The natural and the supernatural, science and theology, belong harmoniously one with the other, and we need more patience to understand them and to seek their harmonization. We need to see them as complementary to each other, not as enemies. Linguists, for example, have taught us that the basic unit of meaning in language is not the word but the morpheme. 

This fact can be of inestimable value when studying things like the Greek verb system. 

I find that when students understand how the Greek language works, what they learn sticks with them a lot longer than if they had just memorized long lists of vocabulary and paradigms. This is why even though I am not a trained linguist I have attempted to incorporate linguistic insights into the way I teach Greek. 

I refuse to drive a wedge between the art and science of linguistics and the art and science of biblical exegesis. Why should anyone do that? 

As for the geology of Hawaii, I have never been content to merely enjoy the great natural beauty of the islands. I want to know the how and why of each island's formation, and books like the one I referred to above are very helpful to that end. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Bible, as plainly read and understood, provides an accurate history of the earth. I am amazed at the logical consistency between the empirical evidence and the plain reading of the Bible as history. That's why in college I wrote my term paper in my geology class at Biola on "The History of the Hawaiian Archipelago from a Recent Creationism and Flood Cosmology." That study had a profound impact on my perception of science and, in particular, the alleged incompatibility between science and the Bible when it comes to geological formations. 

Science is not inerrant like the Bible is. The work of modern scientists is purely human work. But this does not mean that scientific investigation is not legitimate. Only the Bible is infallible because it is the word of God. But God is still the author of the book of nature, and we would be foolish to ignore it.