Science and the Bible: The Bible is clearly not a scientific textbook. But when it does mention scientific concepts, these are often confirmed by scientific discovery. For example, NASA confirms some fundamental scientific statements in the Bible (see below). When the Bible is confirmed by respected secular authorities we are more inclined to take the Bible seriously. Maybe it’s not myth or legend as some suggest.
So if the Bible speaks truth, we should also take note of what it says about Israel. In fact, the concept of Israel is found from Genesis to Revelation and many prophecies about Israel are coming true today, link. But for now we will just look at Science and the Bible.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is the United States government agency that is responsible for the civilian space program as well as for aeronautics and aerospace research. Amazingly, much of what NASA discovers simply confirms biblical statements given thousands of years ago. In fact, NASA itself acknowledges that man is humbled by the vast cosmos:
While the tremendous technical and scientific accomplishments of NASA demonstrate vividly that humans can achieve previously inconceivable feats, we also are humbled by the realization that Earth is just a tiny “blue marble” in the cosmos. [NASA history]
Consider a few of NASA’s scientific discoveries and predictions. You will find that science and the Bible agree remarkably well!
Science and the Bible: Atmospheric Pollution
The image shows heavy Carbon Monoxide (CO) pollution over China as monitored by NASA’s Terra spacecraft. Red denotes 220 parts per billion (0.22 ppm) and blue denotes 50 parts per billion. Exposure to just 100 ppm of CO can lead to headaches and high concentrations can be fatal, link.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct from the burning of fossil fuels, and this particular image suggests the pollution is arising from industry and vehicles. The image also shows that pollution is generally much higher in the Northern Hemisphere due to greater human population and industrial activity, although it can also be high in the Southern Hemisphere due to forest fires.
Bible prophecy says that, at the end of the age:
The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants (Isa 24.5)
Science and the Bible: Star Constellations
Did you know that the Bible refers to specific star clusters? When the man Job questioned God, he got a sharp rebuke. God asked him:
Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? (Job 38.31)
Here, ‘bind’ is from the Hebrew ‘qashar’ meaning ‘confine’ or ‘compact’, and ‘Pleiades’ is from the Hebrew ‘kiymah’, meaning ‘a cluster’ or ‘seven stars’. So the verse could read: “Can you confine the cluster of seven stars?” Modern astronomy sheds some light on the real meaning of this biblical statement.
Consider: these brilliant stars subtend about 2° to the eye (four times the diameter of the full moon). Normal adults see six or seven stars whilst those with excellent vision see about ten, link. But NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals that Pleiades is an ‘open’ i.e. not tight cluster spanning a few light years across and containing several thousand stars, link! It is much more than a small cluster of seven stars. In fact, in modern astronomy, a ‘star cluster’ usually infers thousands or even millions of stars. So in Job 38.31, is God really saying to Job, “there are really many stars in this cluster of ‘seven’, so can you really confine them to just seven“? Such an accurate scientific description in what is probably the earliest book of the Bible (c1440 BC) is intriguing!
Does the term ‘loose the belt of Orion’ have similar embedded scientific truth? Probably. The Orion Nebula Cluster has long been known as peculiar. Its stars move at a rapid speed, as if the whole cluster were flying apart, link. In particular, it is claimed that the three stars in Orion’s belt are each moving in opposite directions from each other, link. In fact, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has revealed that Orion is like a cosmic nursery, with infant stars wrapped in blankets of warm gas and dust that will one day develop into planets that orbit around the stars, link. So the term ‘loose’ (Heb ‘pathach’, meaning ‘break forth’ or ‘let go free’) appears to reflect this recent scientific discovery of a ‘cosmic birth’, link.
Science and the Bible: A Fried Earth
According to NASA the inner planets of our solar system are in danger. The trouble starts in the distant future when the sun’s core runs out of hydrogen fuel for nuclear fusion. To keep the fires burning, the sun will begin to fuse hydrogen outside the core, in a layer closer to the stellar surface. This will turn the sun into a red giant, at least 200 times wider than it is today. Mercury, Venus, Earth and possibly even Mars could be engulfed.
In 2012 a team of astronomers caught a star in the act of devouring one of its planets. They claimed a red giant appeared to have the fumes of a scorched planet in its atmosphere – something consistent with a rocky world, recently destroyed. Bible prophecy says:
the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Pet 3.10)
Science and the Bible: Time Stops Still
The following abridged story is widely circulated:
“The space program requires a knowledge of the future position of sun, moon and planets. But when NASA ran their program backwards in time they found that there is a day missing in space in elapsed time. The Old Testament came to their rescue since it records two very unusual historical events: So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven … and did not go down for about a whole day (Jos 10.13) and the LORD brought the shadow back ten degrees (2 Kings 20.11). Adding the total lost time amounted to exactly one day!”
Sadly, this story is not supported by NASA, link. On the other hand, the Bible certainly refers to observable astronomical events, as discussed below.
Science and the Bible: Blood Moons
A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth casts a shadow that blocks sunlight that normally reflects off of the moon. A total lunar eclipse can only happen when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly aligned such that the moon enters the earth’s umbra. A total lunar eclipse can last for hours as the moon passes slowly through the umbra. During this time the moon will often look reddish due to red and orange light being scattered by the atmosphere (as in sunsets) and illuminating the moon. The moon’s appearance changes from pale-white to pumpkin orange to blood red.
When four consecutive lunar eclipses are all total eclipses (a rare event), the group is known as a tetrad. According to NASA, during the 21st century there will be 85 total lunar eclipses and also 8 tetrads occurring in 2003/4, 2014/15, 2032/33, 2043/44, 2050/51, 2061/62, 2072/73, and 2090/91. Past tetrads have been of great significance to Israel, and the Bible says that something like a blood moon will occur at the end of the age as a warning sign to the nations:
The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD (Joel 2.31)
Science and the Bible: Asteroid Impact?
Asteroid impact is certainly a reality. A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) has the potential to make close approaches to the Earth and a size large enough to cause significant damage in the event of impact. According to NASA there were 1,458 known PHAs by March 2014 and 1,731 by September 2016. Clearly, there are many more we do not know about, and it only needs one to hit!
On 15 February 2013, an asteroid some 45m in diameter passed the Earth at a distance of just 27,700km. This is nearer than a geostationary satellite! On 11 March 2014, asteroid CU13, some 190m wide, passed earth at a distance of 3 million km. A potentially catastrophic asteroid some 410m wide link has a slim chance that it will impact Earth in 2032, creating a blast 50 times greater than the biggest nuclear bomb. Bible prophecy appears to describe an asteroid hitting the earth:
And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea … and a third of the ships were destroyed (Rev 8.8,9)