Adjustments Between The Bible And Science. -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 049:193 (Jan 1892)
Article: Adjustments Between The Bible And Science.
Author: G. Frederick Wright

Adjustments Between The Bible And Science.

Modern science may be said to begin with the discovery that the earth is round and revolves about the sun. The shock which these discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo gave to the religious world was more serious than any which has been given by any subsequent scientific discoveries. The fact that Christianity has not only survived this rude shock, but has flourished more abundantly than ever since then, should serve to dissipate the fears and strengthen the confidence of any who are alarmed at the present aspect of affairs. If we remember that an oak tree has withstood the onset of a tornado we shall be less concerned about it when we see its branches swaying in a storm of moderate violence. It is well, however, to bear in mind that the opposition of the ecclesiastical authorities to Galileo in his time was based both upon the supposed teachings of Scripture and upon ideas of the constitution of the universe inveterately associated with the apparent movements of the heavenly bodies, and that in both cases the interpreters were mistaken. The sun does indeed seem to move around the earth every year, and the whole heavens seem to do so every day. But the appearance is deceptive. Yet nature is not untrue, for it is not essential that she should cheaply surrender her secrets to the superficial observer, when closer inspection and more careful comparison of facts will reveal the simpler truths of modern astronomy.

In this case nature has not necessarily deceived us, but men had deceived themselves by forming a conclusion before the facts were all in, and before they had given the proper amount of attention to the collection and comparison of the facts. It was just so in the interpretation of the astronomical references in the Bible. The Bible does indeed speak of the “four corners of the earth,” and of its “immovability,” and of the “windows of heaven,” and of the “rising and setting “of the sun, and of the sun, going forth, rejoicing as “a strong man to run a race,” and of the sun and moon and stars as having been appointed for marking the seasons of the day, the month, and the year. But, before the days of Galileo, the interpreters of the Bible had misunderstood this language just as they had misinterpreted the corresponding facts of nature. The language expresses the apparent truth of the phenomena, and is the same language used to express those very thoughts

at the present day. We still speak of the four quarters of ‘die globe, of the immovability of the earth, and of the rising and setting of the sun. The language of the Bible is the language of everyday life, and not the technical language of science. In this case there has been progress in interpreting the Bible, just a...

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