The Big Question 67: Are Genesis and Science Compatible?
May 18, 2021 1223
Are Genesis and science compatible?
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It describes how God created everything and it’s got some pretty big miraculous happenings in it.
Most people today would say “nah you can’t make Genesis agree with science” but it’s not really so simple. It depends on how you read Genesis. It also depends on how you understand science.
But whichever way you read the book of Genesis I do think that it’s the message of Genesis that’s most important and not necessarily its specific details. And it’s the message of Genesis that actually provides us with the foundations of modern science. Ancient civilizations had knowledge but never developed science as we know it because they didn’t have these foundations.
So what are they?
First of all Genesis 1 gives us solid reasons for us to trust our minds and our reasoned conclusions and without that there could be no science.
Genesis tells us that human beings were intentionally created as rational beings by a thinking and purposeful God and if our minds are just the result of the random clash of atoms and they’re just the product of and part of the universe then we have no reason to trust our thoughts as being valid or even real. In that case how could you trust the results of the scientific endeavour as being valid?
Next, the book of Genesis asserts that there is a real world to investigate. You may be surprised but the ancient Greeks didn’t really focus on that. That’s why they didn’t develop science as we know it.
The ancient Greeks invented philosophy. They were all about thinking. For the Greeks study was a journey within the mind but science requires you to go out into a stable predictable and real world out there that you can investigate through repeatable observations and essentially that is precisely the kind of world that Genesis 1 presents to us.
In fact, Genesis essentially calls out to us to get out there and to investigate an ordered and rational world.
Finally the book of Genesis tells us that the universe is governed by laws. Genesis starts with the words “In the beginning God”. This tells us that God is both prior to nature and beyond nature. Because of that there can be laws of nature.
If you systematically investigate nature you will have every reason to expect to find regularity patterns and systems. It is the same Christian worldview that promoted and encouraged the development of modern science. So I think that science owes a lot to Genesis.
So can Genesis agree with science? Even if it’s not always easy to tie up all the loose ends, I’d have to say absolutely.