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"And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him." (Gen.22:2-3)
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Br. Samuel Babu, Believers Brethren Assembly, (BBA), Majlis - Bahrain For the last few days, we have been relentlessly praying for Br. Samuel Babu, who suffered Cardiac Problems and was admitted in Salmaniya Medical Complex, Bahrain. It was well pleasing for our Lord to call HIS child to the Eternal Home, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no sickness and no death. He went to be with the LORD around 10:30 PM Bahrain Time today (Friday 23rd 2015). Let us uphold the grieving family members to the Throne of Grace. May the Lord bestow upon them heavenly Grace, Peace and strength and console them with the word of God.
 
 
 
BIBLE & SCIENCE

BIBLE AND MODERN SCIENCE

Examination of Some Passages -- I

Dr. Johnson C. Philip, ThD, PhD, DSc

 

We have stated before that Bible is not a textbook of science. Yet there are a large number of verses that touch upon nature and natural processes that can be called scientific topics. The writers of these passages use everyday language, yet the meaning expressed by them turn out to be true even to minute details.

A large number of passages can be cited from the whole of Bible, and any kind of objective testing will show that every one of these verses is in conformity with the above assertion. The only care to take is not to distort what the original authors have said in their common language of accommodation. For example, when a Biblical author speaks about the "rising" of sun we should not misinterpret such a passage to mean that the author wants to depict the sun as revolving around the earth !

It is impossible in this small book to discuss all the Biblical passages related to science, but a number of representative verses are examined below.
 

I)THE  ORIGINAL CREATION: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". (Genesis 1:1)

The above verse puts a limit to the time for which the Universe has existed. Many theories current in the past decade postulated an eternal universe: a universe that always existed and that did not require a creator or a creation by virtue of its eternal existence.

However, new discoveries of the past few years have revealed that the universe has a finite age. It could not have existed for ever because in that case it would have died out long ago. The above verse says the same thing. There was a certain moment of time in the finite past when God created the universe. It did not exist from eternity past.

II) CREATION OF THE EARTH: And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep" (Genesis 1:2)

In the early years of the twentieth century, the above verse was said to contain two scientific inaccuracies. First, they said that nothing could be seen in the heavens which was without form and void. Second, there was no celestial body which was covered with darkness.

The accuracy of the above verse was established very soon when Dr. E.P. Hubble started studying nebulae with the help of the first 100-inch telescope. His discoveries with the spiral nebulae and the "dark nebulae" confirmed that stellar bodies do exist which are without form and void and which are dark.

III) LIGHT AND DARKNESS: "And God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness He called night". (Genesis 1:4b-5a)

A careful reading of the above verses will reveal that according to it both light and darkness are present at the same time on the earth's surface.

Man has known for thousands of years that there is a dividing line between light and darkness on the disc of moon; but it was only in A.D. 1543 that Copernicus made it clear that to an observer in space, there is exactly such a dividing line for the earth too. This phenomenon was actually seen only in the sixties when the space age began. Moses wrote the above verse about the earth around 1500 years B.C., but his science turns out to be accurate.

IV) THE FIRMAMENT: "And God said Let there be a firmament and let it divide the waters from waters". (Genesis 1:6)

"And God said let there be light in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days, and years." (Genesis 1:14).

At the first glance the word firmament seems to suggest that the heavens are like a solid hemisphere. Many radical thinkers have tried to impose such an interpretation on the Bible, but such ideas cannot be defended on the basis of sound exegesis. The Hebrew word used here is 'RAQUIA', which means expanse or atmosphere. The word suggests something thin and spread out, an apt description of the atmosphere.

The recent revival of the Evolution/Creation controversy has generated very much interest in the "canopy theory" based on the references to firmament. Many theologians and scientists, using all the relevant verses from the Bible, and also the data presently available from science, have postulated the presence of a "canopy" that surrounded the earth that collapsed at the time of Noah's flood. This is an excellent hypothesis and a good number of learned publications have appeared on it.

V) CONSERVATION OF MASS: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His works which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made," (Genesis 2:1,2).

"...the works were finished from the foundation of the world," (Hebrews 4:3 b).

The above verses make it clear that on the seventh day of Creation, God rested from His work, i.e. He ceased the creation of the material universal.

The Law Of Conservation Of Mass is a fundamental principle of physics. According to it, "matter may be changed in size, state, or form but it cannot be created or destroyed". This law of Physics can be inferred from the verses quoted above. Since God has already finished His Creative act, no more creation of matter is going on in the universe.

Some adherents of the theory of evolution had proposed what is known as the "Steady-state" theory, and some astronomers made it very popular in this century. According to them, our universe is an eternal, never ending one; it has always existed and it will continue to exist for ever. They proposed further that new matter (and energy) is being created continuously to maintain a balanced and stable universe.

The steady-state theory was very popular for many years owing to a number of reasons, that included the way it avoided the issue of the origin of universe. Today the theory has fallen from favour because it conflicts with many fundamental laws of physics. Today all the observations of Physics and Astronomy point to the veracity of the Biblical statements that no creation is going on in the universe. Matter in conserved.

VI) CONSERVATION OF AGRICULTURE: "And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather the fruits thereof; But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave, the beasts of the field will eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard". (Exodus 23: 10-11).

Even though God has ordered us to subdue the earth, the rules quoted above show that He is interested in some form of conservation too.

In his greed for maximum profit, man cultivates every last inch of the ground for the maximum possible days every year. But the resultant infertility of the fields has been alarming. Agricultural scientists have been trying to solve this problem in many ways. One method, that is standard all over the world today, is to rotate the crops. But even such a rotation in itself is not enough for conservation because the fields very soon start showing the signs of depletion.

The best method to date is to leave the fields uncultivated once every seven years. This rule is very much important for the large forest areas which have been cleared for planting crops. In addition to such conservation, the crop of the seventh year was to be left for the poor and the animals. This reminds that Lord is interested not only in the welfare of the land and its flora, but also in helpless humans and animals.

VII)WASHING FOR HYGIENE: "And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water." (Exodus 29 : 4).

"And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his cloth, and shave off his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean; and after that he shall come into the camp and shall tarry abroad his tent seven days". (Leviticus 14:8).

Washing for hygiene is a very important act. It is one of the easiest and effective methods of personal hygiene. Hence the Old-Testament laws were quite specific and compulsory about washing after touching a dead animal, a dead human being, or any unclean thing.

We could understand the exact purpose and advantages of washing only in the twentieth century. Practising the correct procedure of washing prevents the spread of infection. Yet this fact was not clear to doctors before the modern era .

According to Dr. S. I. McMillian, even during most of the nineteenth century, medical surgeons did not know the importance of washing before their operations. "Usually the patient came into the operating room, took off his dresses, and lay down on the operation table. The surgeon just took off his coat, rolled his shirt sleeves, took some instruments out of a bag or cupboard and started to operate". In between the operation he would ask his students to study some details; then they would also handle the same cut by their bare hands. The tragic results are obvious to us.

Today a doctor has to wash up to his elbows for ten to fifteen minutes, put on gloves, and use sterilized instruments and cotton for even a minor operation. Students are generally confined to a glass-walled gallery. All of this is a result of twentieth century developments, and so one wonders at the detailed instructions that were given in the Bible some 3000 years ago.

VIII)CLEAN WATER: Leviticus 11:29 to 36 is a detailed description of clean/unclean water. Pure water is so essential for mankind that such detailed instructions became necessary.

Man learned only in the twentieth century that Cholera, Jaundice, Amoebic Infection, Ringworms and countless other diseases spread through unclean water. The World Health Organization has been campaigning actively to keep all sources of water clean and uncontaminated.

The book of Leviticus, written over 3000 years ago, not only stresses the necessity of clean water but also outlines the procedure to identify clean/unclean water. This makes a lot of scientific sense today.

IX) MEAT FIT AND UNFIT FOR EATING: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat." (Leviticus 11:1-3)

The whole of Leviticus 11 is a summary of what meats are permitted/prohibited for eating. According to the above verses, the Israelites were allowed to eat only those animals which chew the cud and have divided hoof. The reference is to the Artiodactyla order of mammals, which are herbivorous and have hoofs with even-numbered digits. ('Divided hoofs' in Greek is, ARTIOS meaning even, and DACTULOS meaning finger or toe).

Among the above group are sheep, goats deer and cattle. The pig, camel, and here were prohibited by this rule. It is now clear that the "unclean animals" were often carriers of parasitic infection. Since there was no method for checking such infection, or to destroy it with proper cooking, the prohibition imposed by the Bible makes a lot of sense. This becomes more obvious when we compare the un-hygienic eating habits and customs of the nations that lived around the Israelites.

"These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat." (Leviticus 11:9).

The above verse sets the rules for eating aquatic creatures. These rules extend up to the twelfth verse, after which there are rules governing the eating of insects and birds.Today we know that the birds, fishes, and insects allowed for consumption are medically the safest and the best for our food.

Even out of the permitted class, eating the flesh of the naturally dead creatures was forbidden. For example, "Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself". (Deuteronomy 14:21)

Man learned only in modern times that this kind of meat is harmful for consumption because the creatures might have died of infectious diseases. Moreover, they might be carrying fleas, ticks, lice etc., which are carriers of deadly diseases like bubonic plague, spotted fever, typhoid etc. Anyone caught today selling such meat would be punished; such laws were enforced only during modern times but the prohibition in the Bible is over 3000 years old.

X) QUARANTINE FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: "Quarantine" is a well-known and well-proven method for restricting the spread of communicable diseases. Quarantine means:

1. A place or period of detention of ships or persons coming from areas known or suspected of infection.

2. To obtain or isolate on account of suspected contagion.

3. To place restrictions on the entry or leaving of premises where a case of communicable disease exists.

The above mentioned ideas and practices became established as having worth only during modern times, but quarantine of contagious diseases was established in Israel as one of the basic rules of health.

In Leviticus 13th chapter we read of a number of skin-disease symptoms which have a tendency to spread very fast. But detailed instructions have been given there to keep the diseases in check. Since modern medicines were not available then for cure, isolation was the best means of prevention. Leviticus 13;45 says, "All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled, he is unclean, he shall dwell alone, without the camp shall his habitation be."

Since those people had no way of disinfecting unclean clothes, they were ordered to burn them. The lepers were ordered to put a covering upon their upper lip and cry "unclean, unclean". These were an added precaution for all bypassers to move away from the source of possible infection.

For contrast, the above should be compared with the present-day practices in India and neighbouring countries. Lepers and beggars with infectious skin diseases are allowed to roam on the streets freely. Most swimming-pools do not insist upon a shower before people take a swim. Usually there is no bar for people with skin diseases.

When such ignorance is widespread even in the twentieth century, the Biblical laws of quarantine make amazing reading.

              To be continued....

 
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