Discovering God's Fingerprints                                                           Dr. Robert C. Newman

Hershey Ev Free Ch, 20 Sept 97                                                       Biblical Theol Seminary

 

                                    WORKSHOP ON ASTRONOMY IN THE BIBLE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

            Is religion, like music or food, a matter of taste?

            Each religion claims to tell us how things really are.

            Only Christianity offers much evidence to support its claims.

            Here we compare Biblical statements in several areas of astronomy with those of various ancient writers and with modern science.

 

THE UNIVERSE HAD A BEGINNING

 

            Bible:

                        Genesis 1; Ps 19:1-4; Rom 1:18-20; Col 1:15-16; Heb 11:3

            Other Ancient Sources:

                        Nearly all see the universe with a beginning (except some Greek philosophers).

                        But nearly all see matter as having always existed.

            Modern Science:

                        The history of cosmology in the past century has been a struggle to avoid the mounting evidence that the universe had a beginning.

            How did the Bible get it right, and why do so many scientists want to avoid this conclusion?

 

THE UNIVERSE IS DESIGNED

 

            Bible:

                        Genesis 1-2; Job 38; Proverbs 8; Jer 10:12

            Ancient Sources:

                        Some have personal beings involved in some aspects of creation, but for others creation seems to be just there.

                        Some of the Greek philosophers saw a Designer behind nature; others thought our Cosmos was an accidental product of Chaos.

            Modern Science;

                        The phenomena related to the recent discussions of the "anthropic principle" point strongly to a Designer behind nature.

            The natural reading of the data is that there is a Designer responsible for the "fine tuning" in nature.

 

THE UNIVERSE IS RUNNING DOWN

 

            Bible:

                        Psa 102:25-27; Hebrew 1; poss 2 Pet 3:10-13

            Ancient Sources:

                        Various views:  universe degrading (mythical ages of mankind), recycling (Hindu), eternal (Aristotle)

            Modern Science:

                        Entropy, etc., point to running down universe.

                        Disagreement on whether it will end with a bang or a whimper.

 

THE SIZE OF THE UNIVERSE

 

            Bible:

                        Ps 8:3‑4: amazing to Psalmist that God cares about man

                        Jer 31:37: heavens immeasurable

            Koran:

                        Sura 2: earth a bed, sky a dome

                        Sura 22: holds sky from falling down

                        Sura 34: let a part fall

            Anaximander, About Nature:

                        sun most distant object, about 28x size of earth away

                        so universe about 28x size of earth

            Modern Science:

                        objects apparently 10 billion light years away

                                    (1 light year = 6 trillion miles)

                        no end in sight

 

THE NUMBER OF STARS

 

            Bible:

                        Gen 15:5: large number

                        Jer 33:22, Gen 22:17: uncountable, like sand

            Hipparchus, Ptolemy:

                        ancient catalogues, about 1000 stars

                                    (only about 6000 visible without telescope)

            Democritus:

                        speculated there are an infinite number of worlds

            Modern Science:

                        100s of billions of stars in each of billions of galaxies

                        Sir James Jeans, The Stars in Their Courses, 137:

                                    no. of stars like no. of grains of sand in all oceans of earth

 

THE EARTH'S SUPPORT

 

            Bible:

                        Job 26:7: earth hangs on nothing

            Hindu Vedas:

                        earth flat & triangular

                        7 stages: honey, sugar, butter, wine, etc.

                        supported by elephants

            Greek mythology:

                        Atlas holds the earth up

            Greek philosophers: earth supported by

                        water (Thales)

                        air (Anaxagoras)

                        nothing (Anaximander, contra Aristotle)

            Modern Science:

                        support is by non‑material, invisible forces

                        a balance of gravity and inertia

 

THE EARTH'S SHAPE

 

            Bible:

                        Job 26:10: boundary between light and darkness on earth's surface is a circle

                        Luke 17:34‑36: different times of day in different places

            Greek philosophers:

                        flat (Hecataios)

                        pillar‑shaped (Anaximander)

                        round (Pythagoras)

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

            Have to postulate very lucky guesses to avoid Biblical evidence

 

            Did the Jews have some innate ability to pre-know science? 

            Hardly!  Consider ancient Jewish attempts to write Scripture:

                        1 Enoch 72:3‑7: sun's chariot, gates, winds

                        3 Baruch 3:6‑8: bore thru heaven's dome

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 

Barfield, Kenny.  Why the Bible is Number 1:  The World's Sacred Writings in the Light of Science.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker, 1988.  This is the most detailed book I have seen on this subject.  Consists of three parts:  (1) The Body Inside:  Sacred Revelations and Medicine; (2) The Sky Above:  Sacred Revelations and Astronomy; (3) The Earth Beneath:  Sacred Revelations and Earth Science.  Each part has a parallel scheme of treatment:  1st chapter sketches ancient "secular science"; 2nd chapter gives extra-biblical religious views; 3rd and following chapters give biblical materials.  Total of 25 chapters.

 

Bossard, David C.  "Sharp Points:  God's Conspiracy to Evangelize the Inquiring Mind."  IBRI Research Report 46 (1997).  A survey of some of the "goad hard to kick against" placed by God in the way of "progress" to remind a doggedly secular world of his presence, his active interest in his Creation, and the truth of biblical claims about humanity and the Creation order.

 

Campbell, William.  The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science.  Middle East Resources, 1992.  Best book to date comparting the relative merits of the Qur'an and the Bible to be revelation from God.  A response to Maurice Bucaille's book in favor of the Qur'an.

 


Heeren, Fred.  Show Me God:  What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God.  Wheeling, IL:  Searchlight Publications, 1995.  Evidence for God from cosmology.  Very readable; interviews with major researchers.

 

Morton, Jean S.  Science in the Bible.  Chicago:  Moody Press, 1980.  A large collection of short pieces that are easy to understand.

 

Newman, Robert C.  "A Critical Examination of Modern Cosmological Theories."  IBRI Research Report 15 (1982).  The basic scientific data relevant to the nature of the universe indicates that it is created.

 

Newman, Robert C. and Herman J. Eckelmann, Jr.  Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth.  Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity, 1977; reprint Hatfield, PA:  IBRI, 1991.  A suggested harmonization between the Genesis account and the best current model for the origin of the sun, earth and solar system.

 

Newman, Robert C. "Scientific Problems for Scientism."  Presbyterion 21 (1995): 73-88; reprinted as chapter 11 in Evangelical Apologetics ed. by Michael Bauman, David Hall and Robert Newman (Camp Hill, PA:  Christian Publications, 1996), 245-268.

 

Ross, Hugh.  The Fingerprint of God:  Recent Scientific Discoveries Reveal the Unmistakable Identity of the Creator.  2nd ed. Orange, CA:  Promise Press, 1991.  The best available tour of modern cosmology from an evangelical perspective.  Part three covers biblical cosmology.

 

Ross, Hugh.  The Creator and the Cosmos:  How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God.  2nd ed. Colorado Springs, CO:  NavPress, 1995.  Evidence for a Creator who carefully designed the Cosmos.

 

Ross, Hugh.  Beyond the Cosmos:  What Recent Discoveries in Astronomy and Physics Reveal About the Nature of God.  Colorado Springs, CO:  NavPress, 1996.  How recent evidences of extra-dimensionality in the universe can help us understand a number of theological puzzles about God's nature.

 

Waller, Lynn.  How Do We Know the Bible is True?  Reasons a Kid Can Believe It.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1991.  A nice treatment of Christian evidences for kids (upper elementary and junior high, I would judge), with a chapter on science in the Bible.