Christ and Science
April 14th, 1965 @ 12:00 PM
CHRIST AND SCIENCE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Peter 1:21
4-14-65 12:00 p.m.
And today the subject is Christ and Modern Science. In the third verse of the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord, in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, He said—our Lord said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” [John 17:3]. The word “science” is just a Latin word for “know,” to “know”: “science,” and our Lord here avows that the true science, the true knowledge, is to know God, and Jesus our Lord.
I live in this kind of a world. The college student returns from his school, and he says to me, “Pastor, I have discarded the faith. I don’t believe in God anymore. I don’t believe in Christ anymore. I don’t believe in the Bible anymore. I don’t believe in the church anymore. I have abandoned the faith.” So I ask him, “Well, why?” And the reply: “Well, my professor of chemistry said so-and-so, and my professor of physics said so-and-so, and the professor of anthropology added so-and-so, and my professor of history said so-and-so.”
Now, a very typical conversation will be this, and I am going to follow one: “Pastor, I have given up the faith. I don’t believe in the Bible anymore, and I don’t believe in God anymore. I have learned in school that I came from a green scum. I have found out that there is no meaning of life. We are just an accidental and fortuitous concourse of meaningless purposeless atoms. I once was a paramecium, then I was a tadpole, then I was a fish, then I was a bird, and then I was a marsupial, and then I was a monkey, and then I was an ape, and finally I got to be as I am now.” Reminds me of that old quatrain:
Once I was a tadpole beginning to begin,
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in,
Then I was a monkey in a banyan tree,
and now I’m a professor with a Ph.D.
So I ask the college student—now, this is an actual conversation going on—so I ask the college student, “What makes you so sure that you once were a green scum, then a tadpole and a paramecium? What makes you so sure?”
“Oh,” answers the college student, “it is a proved fact. The scientific explorations of the genetic mutations of Drosophila have proved it.” Now, Drosophila is their name for a fruit fly. And what they have done is they have exposed Drosophila to X-rays and have increased the rate of mutation of his genes by hundreds of millions of times, as though he had evolved through millions and millions and millions of years. So the student says to me, “That has been proved by Drosophila. Why, they have Drosophila now that are big and some that are small, and some that are red and some that are green, and some that are, are, are beyond anything you can describe. And that proves that I came from a green scum and once was a tadpole.”
“So,” I reply to the college student, “Why, my young friend, my young friend, did you ever think of this? I do not question that by the means of X-rays they have speeded up the possibilities of the mutation of the genes of the Drosophila by thousands and thousands of times. But what I want you to consider and remember is this: that though through that mutation, they have taken Drosophila as though he had evolved through hundreds of millions of years, yet after all of that mutation and after all of the exposure of chromosomes to X-rays, he is still a Drosophila! He is not a June bug or a bumblebee! They have not broken that iron chain of species yet! Not yet!”
But that is beside the point. What I cannot understand is this: that the college student comes back and he says, “Because the professor of chemistry wrote thus-and-so, and the professor of biology said so-and-so, and the professor of physics added so-and-so, therefore I am giving up the faith,” as though all a man is, is a concord and a concourse of chemical reactions or a combination of a physical phenomenon; that he’s nothing but a certain mass of laws that can be observed and written down. Why, my friend, there is so much more to a man than chemistry and physics, as almost for us to say that a man is something else besides a physical animal. He is a living soul, created in the image of Almighty God [Genesis 1:27], and that image is in the life and soul of every man who was ever born or ever will be born! And of these things that really concern us, science has no answer at all. Every fundamental question that I want to know an answer to, science has no answer at all! All that science is capable of is to observe the observable and write down what is seen. But the things that concern the meaning of life, dreams and hopes and sorrows and despairs, they have no answer at all. And the things that concern death, and the soul, and the life that is to come, and the future that lies beyond this grave, no scientist has any word or ever shall have any word. There are no answers in science to any question that actually and really I want to know.
Why, could you imagine a man in despair and in sorrow saying, “Where is my book of chemistry? Where, oh, where is my book on anthropology?” Could you imagine a man in soul conflict making a tremendous decision that changes the whole character of his life, saying, “Bring me my book of physics”? Or could you imagine a man dying, facing the ultimate judgment of whatever might lie ahead, saying, “Oh, where was that lecture that I wrote down from the lips of that professor of chemistry or of psychology?” But I can easily imagine this: when Sir Walter Scott, the immortal Scottish bard, lay dying, he said to his son-in-law Lockhart, “Son, bring me the Book.” And in the midst of the vast library of the Scottish bard, Lockhart replied, “Sir, what book?” And Walter Scott replied, “Son, there is just one Book. Bring me the Book.” And Lockhart brought him the Bible.
“There is just one Book,” said the dying sage,
“Read me the old, old story.”
And the winged words that can never age
Wafted him home to glory.
There’s just one Book. But the college student says to me, “But pastor, I don’t believe in the Book. I have discarded the Holy Scriptures. I have learned that they are filled with historical inaccuracies and scientific errors.” Well, that is quite a sentence, and that is quite an indictment, so let’s look at it for a moment.
So the Bible is filled with historical inaccuracies. My friend, listen to me. In the science of archaeology—and for years and years and years that the archaeologist has been digging and digging and probing and finding and comparing, there has never yet been one piece of evidence turned up by any spade of any archaeologist in history that has ever refuted any word of history or record in the Holy Scriptures, not one! But, on the other hand, every spade of dirt or debris that has ever been turned by any archaeologist, in any age, in any country, at any time, has corroborated and reaffirmed the Word of God without exception, without exception.
Why, in my lifetime I can remember the critics and the scoffers making fun of “the inaccuracies, the historical errors in the Word of God.” “Why,” they said, “it says in the Bible that ‘Moses wrote,’ but when Moses lived there was no such thing as writing.” Now we have discovered that centuries and centuries and centuries and centuries before Moses, mankind was writing. Then the scoffers said, “Why, there is no such a thing as a Flood, such thing as that never happened.” Then the archaeologist, probing down in the Mesopotamian Valley in the civilization of the Chaldees, found that the civilization and the civilization and the years and the years—and then suddenly it stopped, and then a solid layer, eight feet of alluvial deposit—then civilization started again. Imagine that kind of a flood that, under the pressure of the weight of the earth for these thousands and thousands of years, still left an alluvial layer eight feet thick. “Oh,” they said, “the Hittites—ha, ha, ha—the Hittites.” And the Bible again and again and again and again refers to the Hittites. “There never was any such people as Hittites,” they said. And recently it was discovered, the whole empire of the Hittites that covered no small part of the entire civilized world! And the Gospel of John, why, they said, “The Gospel of John could not have been written by the apostle. It would take at least two hundred years for the advanced theology of the Fourth Gospel to develop. It is impossible and inconceivable that it could have been written by the holy apostle John.” And then, not very long ago, they discovered a papyrus in the sands of Egypt, where it had been hermetically sealed and preserved to this present day. And the papyrus had been written about 98 AD, and it quoted from the Gospel of John as from the Holy Scriptures of God.
“Yeah, but, pastor, what about those scientific errors in the Bible?” And here we enter into a field where the greatest enemy of the Holy Scripture is the theologian himself. There is hardly a theologian that walks on the face of the earth today that believes in the correctness and the infallibility of the Word of God. I quote from one: an eminent theologian apologizing for the Bible says—and I quote from it, “Of course there are scientific errors in the Bible. However, however, however, we can excuse such mistakes on the ground that the Bible is not a textbook of science, and therefore we do not expect it to be scientifically accurate.”
Well, I have one response to an eminent theologian who writes a thing like that, and it is this: if this Book is filled with scientific errors, then it is the work of mortal men, and it is not the work of God! Simply because the Lord God who made all this universe, and created all these laws, and flung this sphere into its orbit around the sun, the Lord God who made this universe knew all these things from the beginning! We are just now discovering them. We are just now finding them out. But if He wrote this Book, and He knew them from the beginning, if He put scientific errors in the Bible, then He did not write it! A mortal man wrote it!
So, let’s look at the Bible, and let’s see these scientific errors that are in the Book, they say. First, let us be very sure and very careful for two things: one, let us be sure of our scriptural facts, and second, let us be sure of our scientific facts. Now, let us be sure of our scriptural facts. A graduate of the University of Michigan who lived in Detroit answered an advertisement in a paper. And the preacher had advertised in the paper a reward for anybody that would find an assertion in the Bible, a statement in the Bible that contradicted a fact of science. So she wrote and claimed the award. And this is what she said: “It has been scientifically demonstrated,” she said, “that apples cannot grow in the Mesopotamian Valley. Now certainly the garden of Eden was located in the Mesopotamian Valley, and Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden because they ate an apple. Therefore, since it is scientifically demonstrated that apples cannot grow in the Mesopotamian Valley, therefore Adam and Eve could not have eaten an apple—and therefore, not expelled therefrom. Therefore, that is a scientific error in the Bible.” And when the preacher wrote back and said, “But my dear sister—but my dear, the Bible does not say Adam and Eve ate an apple. It says they ate of the forbidden fruit and they died” [Genesis 2:17; 3:2-6]. Well, she wrote back and said, “You know, I cannot find in the Bible where it says an apple, but I know it was an apple because my teacher at the university said so.” Let’s be sure of our scriptural facts. And second, let us be sure of our scientific facts. Science changes all of the time. It is like a chicken. It is always molting, always. Did you know that on the bookshelves of the Louvre Library in Paris, in that one library, there are about three and one-half miles of volumes of books that have been rendered obsolete on scientific questions, rendered such in the last fifty years? Did you know every generation has wanted to update this Book, to rewrite it according to the latest scientific facts and fads of the hour? What if they had done that in 1000 BC? What if they had done that in 500 BC? What if they had done it in 500 AD? What if they it had done it in 1000 AD? What if they had rewritten this Bible according to the scientific facts of any age and of any time? By now, it would have been a useless volume filled with every weird, obsolete absurdity that mind could imagine. Consider the miracle of the Word of God, the Holy Book that I hold in my hand. Consider it: the Bible was written by forty men over a period of 1500 years, and for about 2000 years it has now remained unchanged, and yet—and yet there is not one instance of the weird, monstrous absurdities of the background of the authors of the Bible to be found on the pages of this sacred Book; not one.
For example, the Book says that Moses was learned, was taught, instructed, in all of the science of the Egyptians [Acts 7:22]. In the science of archaeology, we can hold in our hands the very text that Moses studied. Those ancient Egyptians had a science of cosmogony, the science of the origination and creation of the world. And according to the science of the Egyptians, this was the creation of the world: there was a winged egg flying around in space, and when the process of mitosis was finally finished, this earth emerged. So, I turn in God’s Book to read about that flying ovoid. That was according to the science Moses was taught in his day, in the cosmogony of the Egyptians! And instead of reading about a flying egg and the emergence of this earth, I read the ten most meaningful of all of the words ever penned in human speech: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. Or again, according to the science that was taught Moses—they had one of anthropology—according to the science of the Egyptians in Moses’ day, they were naïve evolutionists: they believed that men had been hatched in the generations past; that they had been hatched out of little white worms that were left in the slime after the annual deluge, overflow of the Nile River. And maybe they have a better thesis and theory than we have. Maybe it is nicer to have grandpa and grandma in our ancestry from nice white fish bait than from some flea bitten ape in a primeval jungle. Maybe they were right, maybe they were right. I presume that the Egyptians postulated that theory of evolution on the basis of having watched the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In any event, that was the science of anthropology of the Egyptians, in the days when Moses was learned in all of the arts and all of the wisdom of his day [Acts 7:22].
Now I turn to the Bible to read all about those little white worms out of which man was hatched. And instead of that according to the latest science of his day, I read these sublime words: “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” [Genesis 1:27]. Why, it is an astonishing and a miraculous thing! And that you will find all through the Word of God—for the 15 centuries in which it was written—against the background of the weirdest absurdities that you could ever imagine. No small part of the background of the Bible was Babylonian, Chaldean; and those Chaldeans had a cosmogony and an anthropology that was something! What they said was that the chaos monster Tiamat warred with the great god Marduk, and that Marduk overcame Tiamat, and when Marduk overcame Tiamat, why, he flattened the body of Tiamat, and that flattened body of Tiamat is the earth. And then, according to the anthropology of the Babylonians, in the latest science of their days, Marduk spit, and where he spat, men came up. And then men spat, and where they spit, woman came up, and then woman spat, and where they spit, animals came up. When I read that latest science according to the Chaldeans, I thought about that sign—a fellow went into a warehouse and saw there a sign: “Don’t smoke, remember the Chicago fire.” And he wrote underneath it, “And don’t spit, remember the Jamestown flood.” So I turn in my Bible to read all about Tiamat and Marduk and the spitting on the earth that gave birth to men, women, and animals, and I find instead those marvelous and incomparable revelations of the mercies of God as He set in the garden of Paradise the man and the woman that He made and gave them one eternal commandment: “Hear My voice, and obey My word and thou shalt live forever. But interdict My word and disobey My commandment, and in the day that you disobey, you die” [Genesis 2:17]. And that revelation from God is as true to this minute as the day the Lord uttered it. “In the day that you transgress, you die” [Genesis 2:17]. Something dies within you. My body dies, my soul dies, and I look to heaven for help, and salvation, and succor, and refuge. “O God,” a dying man lifts up his voice, pleading for healing and salvation, “Lord, remember me” [Luke 23:42]. That is the Book!
But may I continue just for a moment, and then we will have our closing prayer? The scientific accuracy of the Bible is miraculous. May I just point out one or two? Look at this. In Job, “God stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” [Job 26:7]. And God hangeth the earth upon nothing! When Job wrote that, every man, and every thinker, and every philosopher, and every scientist in the earth believed that the earth was founded upon some solid foundation. The Egyptian believed that it was held up by five pillars, one at each corner of the earth and one in the middle. Now, I could see how they could look over the corner and see the four at each corner, but I tell you that fifth one underneath was a pure postulation! But that was the science of the Egyptians. And the Greeks, why, there is not a single boy that goes to school that does not know the science of the Greeks. They believe that this earth was held on the shoulders of a giant by the name of Atlas. But I like the Hindu scientist’s best of all. He said that this earth was held up on the back of a gigantic elephant, and that the elephant stood on an immense turtle, and that the turtle was swimming in a cosmic sea. I like that one best of all. When Job wrote that God hangeth the earth upon nothing [Job 26:7], there was not a scientist or philosopher or teacher in the earth, nor for thousands of years thereafter, who believed what Job had written there. Look again in Isaiah, “He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth” [Isaiah 40:22]. Why, that was written thousands of years before it was established that the earth was round, yet God looks upon the “circle the earth.”
Just once again and I close. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” [Hebrews 11:3]. Let me translate it another way: “so that visible things are made of entities which are invisible.” Two thousand years before atomic fission, the sacred author, inspired, said “so that things that are seen, visible, are made of little entities that are invisible.” I stand amazed at the miracle of the Word of God.
There is only one Book, said the dying sage,
Read me the old, old story.
And the winged words that will never age,
Wafted him home to glory.
There is just one Book.
And our Lord, in the deep and abiding conviction that a man can build his life and his soul upon the immutable, irrefutable, infallible Word of God, may we face every crisis, every future, and someday every dying hour in the confidence that God is exceeding, abundantly able to do above all that we ask or think [Ephesians 3:20], and every promise in Christ, in God, is an everlastingly “Yea and Amen” [2 Corinthians 1:20]. In His Spirit, in His grace, in His love, in His mercy, in His precious name, amen.
a. New York Trial<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> But the man who recognizes the corroborating truth between science and the Bible has an easy task. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Compare: Truth is easy to remember. Easy to defend. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
1. Archeology<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> A miracle, every spade of dirt turned, verifies the Bible. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. Moses wrote – Ugaritic, tablets of Ras Shamra, Ebla<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
b. Hittites<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
c. Belshazzar – Herodotus, 70 years<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
d. Gospel of John<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
2. Comogony<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. Moses, Acts 7:22. Flying ovoid, mitosis…
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
b. Psalm 102:25-27 = Hebrews 1:10-12 A scientific restatement of Sir James Jean in “The Wider Aspects of Cosmogony”: The universe a clock running down; energy resulting from change produced when the more complex is broken down into the simpler; uranium, radium,<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
3. Anthropology<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Compare: Marduk, Tiamat, spitting. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
4. Astronomy<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. Job 26:7 “upon nothing”<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Compare: Egyptian – upon 5 pillars. Greek – back of giant Atlas. Hindu – balance on back of giant elephant, on immense turtle swimming in cosmic sea. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
b. Isaiah 40:22 “circle”<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Round? But Isaiah 11:12 an English phrase: “The Marines set the U.S. at the “4 corners of the earth.” <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Hebrew kanaph, 41, distant, extreme parts <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
5. Physics<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
a. Job 28:25 “weight of air”<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Evangelista Torricelli went to Florence, met Galileo, acted as his amanuensis till latter part of Galileo’s life. 1643 invented the barometer – at same time discovered that air has weight. But centuries before…. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
6. Atoms<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Hebrews 11:36 A magnificent statement of the atomic theory. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
7. Cytology<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> I Corinthians 15:39 <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Cell structure, protoplasm <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Today, a piece of bone, blood, flesh, skin, hair, different chromosomes. Paul a good cytologist. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> But the purpose – our salvation. Not Washington – backwoods girl <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> Read me from the Bible. Sing me a song from the Bible, “Sweet by and by”. Pray me a prayer from the Bible. <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]> <![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>