The Bible was written in a time when modern scientific method and results were unknown.
The New Testament was written just after the Roman Republic turned into an Empire.
Technology was improving, but even things like stirrups for horses had not yet been
invented. The earliest parts of the Old Testament were written in the Middle Bronze
Age, when the people who wrote it did not know how to extract iron from iron ore.
In spite of this the Bible doesn’t read like a Bronze-Age book. The statements about
the world are in general consistent with what modern science has shown, albeit at
a low level. The Bible was never intended to be a scientific text book, and has needed
to be understood by people down the ages, from a Bronze Age farmer to a modern Nuclear
Physicist. This means that the Bible tends to ignore deep scientific theories, but
nevertheless it generally makes statements that are known to be scientifically true.
Here are some examples:-
It is he [God] who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like
grasshoppers; (Isaiah 40:22) The Hebrew word translated “circle” refers to objects
which are rounded in three dimensions. The Bible tells us that the earth is approximately
He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)
This second passage indicates that the earth is not supported, as many ancient cultures
seemed to think, but is unsupported in space.
The Water Cycle
Ecclesiastes tells us that the water in the rivers is recycled from the sea:
All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams
flow, there they flow again. (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
This seems commonplace to us nowadays, but the water cycle was not discovered until
quite recently. The person credited with finally solving the problems is Bernard
Palissy, who wrote in the 16th century AD. Aristotle hypothesised that water in the
rivers came from the sea, but this idea was rejected because the sea is salt and
the rivers contain fresh water. However, the Bible contains not only the general
idea that the water in the rivers comes from the sea, but includes an idea of the
For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies
pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of
the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? (Job 36:27-29)
This would be comprehensible in the Bronze Age (when the Job quotation was written)
but does not need change to fit modern science. This is typical of the Bible.
The Big Bang
The Bible is clear that the universe had a beginning and that there is a moment or
a short period of time in which God made it. In the beginning, God created the heavens
and the earth (Genesis 1:1). For most of history mankind has preferred to believe
that the universe has simply always been in existence. It was because of this Christian
understanding that Georges Lemaitre, the modern inventor of the Big Bang Theory hypothesised
that the universe was created. He then went on to show that it fits scientific data.
The Bible only makes simple statements about scientific fact, but has managed to
avoid the errors of mankind in the ancient world. The interesting question is how
the Bible writers knew which of the things they heard were going to prove incorrect
and which would stand the test of time.