Some people believe that God is revealed in His creation. They believe that the universe testifies to a Designer and that if we study the universe, we can better understand the nature of God. Some have even gone so far as to claim that nature is like a 67th book of the Bible. They reason that, since God is not a deceiver, we can trust His revelation in nature just as we can trust His revelation in Scripture. Of course, it's true to a point that God is revealed in nature. I've blogged before that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). The universe is sublime and does indeed bear witness that there is a Creator. The enormity of the universe affirms the enormity of God. That old hymn comes to mind, “When I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made... then sings my soul, 'How great Thou art!'” But when we begin to compare the general revelation from nature to the specific revelation of Scripture, a few problems come to mind.
First there is the fundamental difference in the confidence we can have in nature compared to Scripture. As wondrous as our world seems now, we know that it is not how God made it. The perfect world that God created was cursed at the Fall of Adam and also judged during the Flood. The Bible tells us that the whole creation suffers and groans under the curse (Romans 8:28). The Scriptures, on the other hand, are perfect. Jesus affirmed that the Scriptures are more absolute and enduring than the creation when He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). It's folly to compare the broken creation to the perfect Scriptures.
What's more, science is more of a journey than a destination. Science literally means “knowledge” and we can never claim to have perfect or complete knowledge. Much of what we once believed “scientifically” was later shown to be wrong. Even among the things we claim to know now, there is hardly anything we can claim to know everything about. Our understanding of any given “fact” is limited and can only be improved upon. As we study more, we may even find out that what we thought we knew about the fact was wrong all along. However, Scripture will never be proven wrong. It is perfect and complete as it is. While we continuously learn more things scientifically, there is no more revelation of Scripture. We should continuously strive to better understand the Bible but the Scriptures themselves can never be improved upon.
This leads us to our second point which is the matter of interpretation. Contrary to the popular adage, facts do not speak for themselves; we invent theories which are attempts to explain the evidence. In a previous blog, I cited this interesting quote: “When the rocks say they are 4 billion years old and the Bible says they are less than 10,000 years old; who do you believe: the author of the Bible or the author of the rocks?” The irony is, that God is the author of both! In the Bible, God has revealed information regarding what has happened to the rocks and we should be using the Bible to help us understand more about the rocks. A more accurate quote would be, “Which are you going to trust: what the Bible says about the rocks or what scientists say about the rocks?”
In 1832, Charles Lyell (a pioneer in geology) was speaking at King's College London when he made this telling statement:
“for the sake of revelation as well as of science – of truth in every form – the physical part of Geological inquiry ought to be conducted as if the Scriptures were not in existence.”
There you have it. If you claim to trust the testimony of dumb rocks, you are actually trusting in the interpretation of the rocks made by men who interpret the evidence with the assumption there are no Scriptures. What's worse is that some Christians allow the conclusions of these scientists to govern their interpretation of Scripture. They are, in a very real sense, making Scripture subservient science. It should be the other way around; we should use the Bible to help us understand the world and not vice versa.
Finally, if nature were truly another book of the Bible, it is a poor witness in leading souls to Christ. The rate of atheism among earth scientists is much higher than among the general population. If the wonder of the universe speaks so strongly about the existence of God (which it does), then we would expect the opposite to be true – the overwhelming majority of scientists should be believers. Not only are many scientists atheists, many of the most high profile scientists are militantly against the idea of God. You might have heard about Dr. Stephen Hawkings' recent assertions that tacitly say there is no God. It has created quite a buzz in the news but his attitude isn't new. 30 years ago, Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Moreover, there is that most militant of all atheists, Richard Dawkins, who said, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
The Bible warns us to not add to Scripture (Revelation 22:18). I believe that someone should think twice before proclaiming anything – even the creation – to be a “67th book of the Bible”