Does Science Contradict the Scriptures?

It should be a matter of grave concern to Reformed believers that the doctrines and ideas of non-Christian theoretical thought seek to challenge the authority of the Bible at all pOints. Our covenant children are particularly vulnerable to these challenges, for anti-Christian thought is continually presented in colleges and universities in all fields of study. Because of continual exposure to false doctrines throughout college days, the faith of young Christians in the Savior is often greatly marred if not entirely destroyed. Of particularly powerful influence in turning young believers away from belief in the full inspiration and authority of the Scriptures is the cosmogonic picture of modem science, i.e., the current ideas concerning the origin of the universe.

What can be done about this situation in order that Christian college students may be prepared to meet the attacks against Christianity in the name of science? A greater understanding of modern science, but particularly of the Bible, is of paramount importance. Now, of course, we cannot all become scientists and acquire a thorough understanding of the theory of relativity or of quantum mechanics, but we can acquire an understanding of the basic philosophical principles underlying modern science. And, above all, we can seek to interpret these principles in the light of Scripture.

First we shall listen to the metaphysical conclusions of some modern scientists in the light of present knowledge of the universe. We shall then briefly describe the current theories of cosmogony. In conclusion we shall discuss the basic principles of modem science and examine them in the light of God’s Word.

Modern Scientists Speak If one reads some of the books written by scientists during the past forty years on the relationship between science, philosophy, and religion, he concludes that the authors vary considerably in their attitudes toward Christianity. Some men seem indifferent to Christianity. Some are unfavorable toward it. Still others are openly hostile. Although several of these scientists may, in the final analysis, bow before some “God” or Supreme Being, they never find the God of Christianity from an examination of the facts of science. In no case does any avowedly non-Christian scientist come to the conclusion that science proves the truth of Scripture.

In 1930, the famous British astrophysicist and mathematician Sir James Jeans published his popular book The Mysterious Universe. He summarized the then current knowledge of the structure of the universe. In a final chapter appropriately entitled “Into the Deep Waters,” he drew metaphysical conclusions based on the physical data. We might perhaps be encouraged by some of the things he said. “As we trace the stream of time backwards, we encounter many indications that, after a long enough journey, we must come to its source, a time before which the present universe did not exist.”1 And again, “Modern Scientific theory compels us to think of the creator as working outside time and space, which are part of his creation, just as the artist is outside his canvas.”2 Indeed, this seems to be encouraging! Is not this really the Reformed doctrine of creation? Has not Jeans shown that science proves the existence of our sovereign, omnipotent Creator who created heaven and earth, dependent upon Him yet distinct from Him, at a definite absolute beginning? To all appearances this is true. But let us listen further to Jeans. “…the universe can be best pictured, although still very imperfectly and inadequately, as consisting of pure thought, the thought of what, for want of a wider word, we must describe as a mathematical thinker.”3 Again, “We discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds—not, so far as we have discovered, emotion, morality, or aesthetic appreciation, but the tendency to think in the way which, for want of a better word, we describe as mathematical.”4 Such a “creator” cannot be considered to be the God of the Bible, for Jeans reduced his “God” to an impersonal, nonmoral, characterless, universal Mind thinking abstract mathematical thought.


In reality Jeans not only did not find our God, but he virtually denied the possibility of the existence of a God who can reveal Himself authoritatively to His creatures in creation and particularly in Scripture when he said that

“…our earth is so infinitesimal in comparison with the whole universe, we, the only thinking beings, so far as we know, in the whole of space, are to all appearances, so accidental, so far removed from the main scheme of the universe, that it is a priori all too probable that any meaning that the universe as a whole may have, would entirely transcend our terrestrial experience, and so be totally unintelligible to us. In this event, we should have had no foothold from which to start our exploration of the true meaning of the universe.”5

For us the God of Scripture is that foothold, or final Authority, from which we may begin in our exploration of the meaning of the universe. Thus Jeans, in so many words, denied that the absolutely authoritative God of Scripture exists.

Jeans certainly was not openly hostile to our God. He did not even mention the Bible. More antagonistic to Christianity, however, is Fred Hoyle, a leading astronomer at Cambridge University. Although Hoyle prefers to remain silent on the question of the existence of God, it is evident that he rejects the God of Scripture by his rejection of the Scripture.

“And now I should like to give some consideration to contemporary religious beliefs. There is a good deal of cosmology in the Bible. My impression of it is that it is a remarkable conception, considering the time when it was written. But I think it can hardly be denied that the cosmology of the ancient Hebrews is only the merest daub compared with the sweeping grandeur of the picture revealed by modern science. TIllS leads me to ask the question: is it in any way reasonable to suppose that it was given to the Hebrews to understand mysteries far deeper than anything we can comprehend, when it is quite clear that they were completely ignorant of many matters that seem commonplace to us? No, it seems to me that religion is but a desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves. Here we are in this wholly fantastic Universe with scarcely a clue as to whether our existence bas any real significance. No wonder then that many people feel the need for some belief that gives them a sense of security, and no wonder that they become very angry with people like me who say that this security is illusory. But I do not like the situation any better than they do. The difference is that I cannot see how the smallest advantage is to be gained from deceiving myself. We are in rather the situation of a man in a desperate, difficult position on a steep mountain. A materialist is like a man who becomes crag-fast and keeps on shouting: “‘I’m safe, I’m safe’ because he doesn’t fall off. The religious person is like a man who goes to the other extreme and rushes up the first route that shows the faintest hope of escape, and who is entirely reckless of the yawning precipices that lie below him.”6

Hoyle closed his book with an outright denial of the absolutely authoritative revelation of God in Scripture, and therefore a denial of the God of Scripture, by saying that “Perhaps the most majestic feature of our whole existence is that while our intelligences are powerful enough to penetrate deeply into the evolution of this quite incredible Universe, we still have not the smallest clue to our own fate.”7

The lnhabited Universe by Kenneth W. Catland and Derek D. Dempster is an example of open hostility to the one living and true God. “Christianity, at its most dogmatic, is unsatisfying to thinking people and cannot long survive.”8 The Christian “…is willing to accept anything that serves as a foothold, despite all reason, and is content to replace thought with a blind unreasoning faith. Hence the success of fundamentalists like Dr. Billy Graham whose ‘Hell-fire’ teachings (ironically, in the name of Jesus) put fear in place of love.”9 Rather, they ask us to believe in a great ethical teacher, Jesus, produced by the process of evolution: “Is it really any more fantastic, then, to think of Jesus and the other great figures of religious history as the products of natural processes.”10 And they challenge the credibility of the nature of the Christian’s God; “…the idea of god who rewards good and punishes evil is primitive…a homosexual, or even a murderer, may be guilty in the eyes of society but he can scarcely be guilty in the eyes of a just god.”11 And again,

“In view of all that man has discovered it may seem incredible that many Christian people still regard everything the Bible has to say as literal truth from which nothing can be subtracted. To them, the story of Adam and Eve is more credible than evolution; the Flood and Cod’s despairing of mankind is more acceptable than the quality of mercy, and passive adherence to the written word is superior to the freedom of thought and experience. In fact, the Bible is so full of contradiction, particularly regarding the nature of God, that it is difficult to understand how anyone can still regard it as an infallible document.”12

The authors indeed made sweeping assertions concerning the nature of God. In short they unwittingly claimed for themselves exhaustive knowledge of all reality by stating, in so many words, that the God of the Bible cannot possibly exist. Not only did they tell us what God cannot be, they told us what God is.

“We might begin with an Infinite Consciousness. ‘We cannot begin to analyze such a condition, only to record the fact that something with these attributes must exist (if that term is valid) without contrast or comparison. It is a state of rest. We might call it ‘the Dormant Mind.’ In this state, there is neither reason nor unreason, harmony or discord, good or evil; such things can only be experienced by comparison, which is unique and absolute. In order to realize itself-to progress—the All-embracing Consciousness must assume creative powers. It must create from within itself another complex. But what can be created which will permit growth and evolution of the Whole? It is no use the Whole creating facets of itself—for these would be mere puppets which would dance but only at the call of the Master. What is required is something that, while remaining part of the Whole, will be capable of independent growth and expression, for only in this way can the Whole secure its own evolution. This might be called ‘The Awakening.’ Here in the ‘material universe’ is cast, and yet not rigidly in form as a sculptor would create his masterpiece, but in the subtle interplay of vibrant energies—the building together of atoms. It is much more a creation of thought than of structure, like thought-waves rippling towards an idea. There is no cataclysmic explosion that brings the universe into being in one searing instant but the subtle emergence of vibrant energies; ‘and with the thought,’ space and time come into existence.”13

Are we not greatly indebted to Gatland and Dempster for enlightening us to the fact that our Cod cannot possibly exist? But they did not stop there. We should be doubly grateful that they told liS what kind of a God we really ought to believe in.

“The above quotations should give the reader some idea of bow modern scientists view the questions of the existence of God and of creation. In each case we find that creation according to science is not the creation of the Bible, and that any god of the scientist is certainly not the God of the Bible. Must the facts of science force us to the same conclusions? To answer this question we must briefly survey the facts and current hypotheses regarding the origin of the universe.

Modern Theories of Cosmogony

The basic theories of cosmogony of the current day are based on the concept of the expanding universe. Now the universe is composed of countless galaxies, such as our own Milky Way. These galaxies are gaseous, rotating, spherical masses or spiral disks composed of stars and interstellar dust and gas. The sun is simply one of the millions of stars situated within the Milky Way disk. Our galaxy and other galaxies are thought to be billions of miles in diameter and are located trillions of miles from each other. Several lines of evidence indicate to us that all the galaxies are rapidly receding from one another. In the words of George Gamow, prominent physicist at the University of Colorado, “The entire space of the universe, populated by billions of galaxies, is in a state of rapid expansion, with all its members flying away from one another at high speed.”14 Gamow would liken the universe to a balloon and the galaxies to spots on the surface of the balloon. As the balloon expands, the spots recede from one another.

It is Gamow who is the leading exponent of the evolutionary, or “big bang”, universe theory, one of the two major cosmogonical hypotheses now in vogue. Gamow reasons that, if the universe is truly expanding, as we go back in time we would expect to find the galaxies closer together than they are now. If we go back far enough in time, all galaxies, and therefore all matter and energy in the universe, would be condensed into a relatively small area. This primordial universe would be a vast sea of sub-atomic particles and radiant energy. According to Gamow’s picture, about five billions of years ago this material was so condensed that it built up enormous temperatures and pressures. Under these conditions the various chemical elements were formed by fusion of the sub-atomic particles. Apparently the pressure and temperature became so great that the primordial universe exploded (the “big bang”) and hurtled outward into space where it rapidly condensed into individual “islands” of gas to form the countless galaxies, composed of the stars and their planets.

Now the Christian believer may he tempted to think that here is an instance where science has proved the veracity of the Genesis account of creation. Indeed do we not have here the absolute beginning with Camow’s big explosion? No, we do not. Camow has said nothing concerning an absolute origin of the material which exploded to form our universe. On the contrary he assumes that the universe is eternal. The condensed state from which the present universe expanded was simply the result of an earlier collapse of a previous universe. “…the Big Squeeze which took place in the early history of our universe was the result of a collapse which took place at a still earlier era, and…the present expansion is simply an ‘elastic’ rebound which started as soon as the maximum permissible squeezing density was reached.”15 This cosmogonical model “…suggests that from an infinitely thin state an eternity (italics mine) ago the universe contracted until it reached the maximum density, from which it rebounded to an unlimited expansion which will go on indefinitely in the future.”16 It is evident that such a theory rules out the creation of the universe by the God of the Bible. An eternal universe reduces God from the self-sufficient position which Scripture accords Him. God could at best be eternally co-existent with such a universe, and therefore could not sovereignly control it.

The alternate cosmogonical hypothesis is that of the steady-state universe, or continuous creation, as advocated by Fred Hoyle in his easily readable hooks The Nature of the Universe and Frontiers of Astronomy. For Hoyle, the idea of an expanding universe indicates that the matter and energy in the universe are continually thinning out and that the universe is gradually running down. Eventually (billions of years to go, of course ) we will have a dead universe on our hands. Hoyle does not like this notion of staticism, “if only because a static universe would be very dull.”17 In order to keep the universe going for all eternity, he advances a dynamic theory—the continual appearance of hydrogen atoms in interstellar space. This background material, which would form at the rate of approximately one atom per thousand years in a space the size of the average physics laboratory, supposedly will form the galaxies of the future. With such new material being formed all the time, the universe will be able to continue on into eternity. just as, according to Hoyle, it has come out of an eternity (pp. 112–113 in Th e Nature of the Universe).

How does Hoyle explain the continuous creation of new matter? Is it perhaps created by God? No indeed! “Where does the created matter come from? At one time created atoms do not exist, at a later time they do…Matter that already exists causes new matter to appear.”18

Such are the leading contemporary views of the universe. It would seem that our present knowledge of the universe would drive us away from the God of the Bible and from belief in an infallible, inerrant Bible. Are we intellectually compelled to depart from the faith once delivered to the saints? Must we face ultimate mystery and confess with Jeans that the universe is really meaningless for us? Are we really blindly believing in Jesus Christ despite all reason as Catland and Dempster have accused us?

The Basic Philosophical Principles To answer such questions we must turn to Scripture. There we find no attempt to prove God’s existence. Scripture takes His existence for granted. It claims that, as sovereign Creator and providential Ruler, He must be the ultimate reference point in all human research and experience. He therefore is the starting point, the foothold for which Jeans sought, in scientific investigation as well as in religious experience. It is only if we listen to His voice speaking in Scripture with absolute authority that we can make real progress in science. Such a viewpoint takes it for granted, of course, that the universe is God’s creation as the Bible tells us. If we take God as our starting point, our investigation of the universe cannot but lead us to the conclusion that He is its Creator. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20).

Now the modern scientist would argue that such reasoning is circular, and therefore faulty. Indeed it is circular, but it is not faulty. The modem scientific method itself is circular. The scientist would not necessarily admit this. He would claim to be more “objective”. He would wish that the Christian were more “objective”, too. “If the God of the Bible really exists,” he might say, “an unbiased examination of the facts of science should prove His existence beyond all question. But let us not make any metaphysical presuppositions such as the Christian has done.”

While the Christian indeed presupposes the existence of his God on the basis of Scripture, the scientist supposedly—makes no such assumption. In claiming to be free of meta:physical presuppositions, however, he really has made the assumption that the reality he investigates is so constructed that it can be investigated by his “neutral” or “open-minded” method. But such an “open-minded” method assumes the existence of an “open” universe in which all things are possible, perhaps even Christianity. It is then the duty of the scientist to find out “objectively” what is actual in this limitless universal ocean of possibility.

Christianity itself, however, tells us that reality is not constructed in such a way that we can study it free of metaphysical presuppositions, or “open-mindedly.” It is not an “open” universe in which anything can happen. It is a creation of God in which only that which He decrees is possible. According to Christianity reality and possibility are identical. How then can an “objective” scientist test the veracity of Christianity, when Christianity demands a scientific method involving a metaphysical presupposition, that of the existence of the self-sufficient One and of the universe as His creation? Indeed the non-Christian scientist will invariably come to the conclusion that supernatural Christianity is false.

The non-Christian scientist’s faulty method is a result of his faulty theology. The Bible tells us that all men are sinners. They therefore hate God (Rom. 1:30) and will not retain Him in their knowledge (Rom. 1:28). They may claim to be “open-minded” toward God, but as sinners they are anything but that. Even the great scientist, despite his genius, hates God because he is a sinner. All men therefore are in rebellion against Him unless they have by grace been redeemed through faith in the Christ of the Bible. They are, in the words of Jesus, “for me or against me.” We should therefore not be surprised or disturbed when scientists make their not infrequent anti-Christian pronouncements. If they are non-Christians, they have already started their investigation of the universe against Christ.

As a sinner, man worships himself rather than the Creator (Rom. 1;25). He is willing to have any kind of God but the One who speaks in Scripture. He is willing to have only a God who did not create the universe out of nothing. who does not sovereignly rule over the universe and control whatsoever comes to pass, who does not hold men responsible for their actions, who does not have exhaustive knowledge of His creation, who does not speak with absolute authority, and who does not command us to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. He does not want a God who is the ultimate point of reference for all human experience. In short he does not want a self-sufficient God upon whom he is entirely dependent. He rather seeks to take God’s place as sovereign, as sell-sufficient, as autonomous. He seeks to interpret the universe without God’s help.

Consequently man the sinner, having rejected the God of the Bible in all his activity, assumes that the universe is not His creation. The universe therefore has not been exhaustively interpreted by him. The universe is “just here somehow”, and all facts therefore are brute facts, that is, wholly uninterpreted facts for whatever gods there may be as well as for man. No authoritative revelation is therefore possible. And in rejecting the authoritative revelation of God in Scripture, man assumes that his mind is the ultimate judge of what is and what is not fact. In effect man becomes the creator of facts and the giver of laws. He virtually becomes God.

Is it any wonder that, jf man the sinner hates Cod and His Word, modern science, based on the pretended autonomy of the mind of man, does not think very highly of facts which speak of the supernatural revelation and intervention of God such as the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, or the special creation of Adam and Eve? TIle heart of the matter is not that the facts of the Bible are intellectually unbelievable. It is that the heart of man is desperately Wicked. Despite his claims to “open-mindedness,” he just docs not want to believe the Bible. The sinner as a hater of God does not want to be told that he is going to hell. He does not want to be confronted with the claims of Cod. He cannot stand to be confronted with the holiness of his Creator, for this further reminds him of his awful sinfulness. His whole life, whether consciously or subconsciously, is an attempt to suppress in unrighteousness the truth (Rom. 1:18) that is clearly revealed in nature and in his own conscience (Rom. 2:15). To be sure man has discovered much scientific truth in spite of his rejection of God and because of the common grace of God. But as a corrupt creature man has produced a corrupted science. Indeed science basically is grounded on false premises and hence leads to false conclusions.

The non-Christian scientist’s objection that the reasoning of the Christian physical scientist is circular is indeed correct. The Christian does presuppose the existence of the God of the Bible and does base his scientific philosophy upon the principles of His Word. He does assume the createdness of all the facts and laws of the universe. But we must recognize for ourselves and stress to Christians of college age that non-Christian thinking is every bit as circular. Christian thought begins with God and ends with Him, but unbelieving thought begins with man and ends with man. It presupposes a non-created universe of pure chance. It assumes the ultimate ability of man’s mind to know the truth, despite claims to “open-mindedness”. Neutrality is nothing other than a denial of the truth of Christianity. He that is not for Christ is against Him.

Let us stress to our children that they can believe Christianity and trust in the Christ of the Bible on the authority of God as He speaks in the Bible, Such authority is not simply that of an expert or great genius, God is not just giving us excellent advice because He knows a lot more than we do. He is commanding us to follow Him and believe His Word because He has created all things and knows everything exhaustively, He therefore speaks with absolute authority, and this He does in the Bible.

If our children do not want to listen to the voice of God, they will listen to the voice of finite, sinful experts. And then they should ask themselves how they know that the assumptions of the non-Christian are right. How do we know that the universe is a universe of chance? How do we know it has not been created? How do we know that anything can happen in the universe? How do we know that there is no Being who can speak to us with absolute authority? How do we know truth, fact, and law when we see it? How do we know that our minds are virtually self-sufficient? How do we know that the God of the Bible docs not exist? How do we know the universe is not what God says it is?

The choice is clear. There can be no intellectual reason for rejecting the record of the Bible. The matter is basically spiritual. One can humbly bow before God and place faith in Him who created the universe and is absolutely qualified to give us the answers, or one can sinfully resist Him and place faith in man by listening to those who are unregenerate sinners, who hate God, and who will refuse to give Him place in their scientific methodology and therefore have no foothold but their own prejudiced minds. One can believe and trust with all his heart the Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom, or one can blindly follow the man-made assumptions which lead to a totally meaningless view of the universe,

And for physical science, as for every other field of human endeavor, there is no hope apart from its redemption through Christ. When this truth is understood by faith, men who have themselves been redeemed by Christ will seek to make Scripture their rule of faith and practice in science as well as in the more personal dimensions of their religious life. As Christians, perhaps it is time that we started to listen to God in earnest.


1. The Mysterious Universe by Sir James Jeans ( New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958), p. 175.

2. Ibid., p. 177.

3. Ibid., p. 165.

4. Ibid., pp. 181–182.

5. Ibid., pp. 150–151.

6. The Nature of the Universe by Fred Hoyle (New York: New American Library, 1955), pp. 121–122.

7. Ibid., p. 124.

8. The Inhabited Universe by Kenneth W. Catland and Derek D. Dempster (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcetl Publ., 1963), p. 186.

9. Ibid., p. 182.

10. Ibid., p. 176.

11. Ibid., p. 175.

12. Ibid.,p. 171.

13. Ibid ., p. 166–167.

14. The Creation of the Universe by George Camow (New York: New American Library, 1957), p. 31.

15. Ibid., p. 36.

16. The Universe: a Scientific American Book (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), pp. 69–70.

17. Fred Hoyle, op. cit., p. 98–99.

18. Ibid., p. 108.

Only by carefully distinguishing the “facts” which science presents and the interpretation given to them on the basis of assumed presuppositions will the Christian student be able to face the problems which confront him in college courses without compromising his loyalty to the Christ of the Scriptures. Davis A. Young, graduate of Princeton (1962) and awarded the MS degree in geology and mineralogy by Penn State, addresses himself tot his subject of deep concern to the Christian student, his parents and the believing church. Here the lines between Christian and non-Christian thought are clearly drawn.