Science (מַדַּע, madda; Da 1:4, knowledge, as elsewhere rendered). In one passage only (1Ti 6:20) this word has also been given by our translators as the equivalent of the Greek term γνῶσις, a word which is used about thirty times in the New Test., but which in all other passages is properly rendered knowledge. It doubtless here refers to the so called gnosis, or that affectation of spiritual knowledge which set itself in array against the Gospel of Christ, and which boasted of its superior insight into the nature of things. It was from this sort of pretentious knowing that the Gnostics derived their name and they were among the earliest corrupters of the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. SEE GNOSTICS. Many readers have erroneously supposed that Paul is speaking of something else than the "knowledge" of which both the Judaizing and the mystic sects of the apostolic age continually boasted, against which he so urgently warns men (1Co 8:1,7), the counterfeit of the true knowledge which he prizes so highly (12:8; 13:2; Php 1:9; Col 3:10).
It was not until after the accession of David that the Jews became remarkable for their intellectual culture; but the patriarchs probably possessed a considerable knowledge of practical astronomy SEE ASTRONOMY, such as is still popular among pastoral tribes, probably corrupting it by an admixture of judicial astrology. SEE ASTROLOGY. The literature of the Hebrews was chiefly limited to ethics, religion, the history of their nation, and to natural history, on which Solomon wrote several treatises no longer extant. If the phenomena mentioned in Scripture had been described with the accuracy of modern physical science, they would have been unintelligible to the persons for whose use the sacred writings were originally designed. The most numerous references to Oriental science occur in the book of Job (see Schmidt, Biblischer Physikus [Zullichau, 1731, 1748]).
In modern times the appeal of rationalists and semi-infidels has especially been to the discoveries of science, especially geology (q.v.), as militating against the Bible; but in every instance a careful and candid comparison has shown their compatibility. SEE INTERPRETATION, BIBLICAL SCIENCE AND REVELATION. It is an undeniable fact that there is a Controversy between scientists and theologians, but we propose to answer in this article the question, Is there any antagonism between science and revelation? It may be well to define the position which some of the most distinguished scientists take, and which they claim to be alone tenable. Prof. Huxley says, "There is but one kind of knowledge, and but one method of acquiring it;" that that kind of knowledge makes "scepticism the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin." He describes all faith as "blind" which accepts anything on any kind of authority but that of scientific experience. He describes true religion as "worship 'for the most part of the silent sort,' at the altar of the Unknown and Unknowable," and proclaims "justification, not by faith, but by verification," as the gospel of modern science (Lay Sermon, read at St. Martin's Hall, London, and published in the Fortnightly Review, Jan, 15, 1866). He further says that "the improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority as such," and maintains that the method of the inductive sciences is the only method by which any human creature can arrive at any sort of truth. The natural consequence is that such men find themselves opposed to revelation, which assumes that man by searching cannot find all truth, and therefore teaches what is, otherwise, unknown and unknowable. Many scientists assert that their investigations prove the falsity of the statements and teachings of Scripture. That the conclusions of scientists may not harmonize with what they believe to be the teachings of Scripture we readily admit; but that the real facts taught in the one contradict, antagonize, those revealed by the other we as unhesitatingly deny. In fact, revelation, as we hope to show, really has no controversy with science. Let us glance at some of the alleged contradictions.
1. Genesis. — The first chapters of this book have been the great bone of contention, theologians having been wont to assume that Moses asserts the formation of the entire universe, or at least of our own globe, with all its internal and superficial furniture, in six literal days; while scientists at present in the main contend for an immense period of astronomical and geological eras, which they claim that they read in the nebular reductions, the rocky strata, and the vital evolutions. But a close inspection of the phraseology of Moses shows that he has not committed himself to either of these opposite opinions. He Simply states in ver. 1 the fact of God's creation of our own planet and its solar system, substantially as they now exist, without specifying any particulars as to the time, mode, or order of the process; and in the following verses he narrates successive stages of a subsequent special creation of the present vegetable and animal tribes, either over the earth generally or possibly in a particular locality only. The Bible and modern science thus appear to be discoursing upon two entirely different subjects, and cannot possibly contradict each other.
2. The Antiquity of Man. — The questions of the antiquity and unity of the human race upon the earth are indeed more explicitly touched upon in the Bible, but modern science has hitherto adduced nothing adequate to overthrow the Biblical testimony. Presumptions to the contrary, it is true, have been raised in some quarters by certain phenomena; but these admit of so ready an explanation on other grounds, and are rebutted by so many other facts, that scientists at large still hold fast to the opinion that man is of comparatively recent origin, and must have sprung from a single family.
3. The Flood. — The universality of Noah's flood as to the surface of the globe, although we admit the first inference from the Biblical account, is found on a closer examination not to be necessarily intended by its language; and a consideration of its uselessness and impracticability for the mere purpose of drowning a few thousands in a particular locality induced expositors to limit its prevalence long before the modern scientific objections were thought of.
4. The Resurrection, etc. — The doctrine of the survival of the soul after death, and of the resurrection of the body, are coming more and more to be seen to be not only not incompatible with physiological science, but to be almost necessary deductions from psychological and metaphysical reasoning, even apart from revelation. If the miraculous element be admitted into nature, and hard facts demand its occasional intervention, as well as its primal impulse, all difficulty on physical grounds vanishes from these problems of the future world. The imperceptible but frequent renewal of the material organism actually furnishes a striking illustration of the continuity of identity in the midst of apparent dissolution and atomic change.
5. Alleged Unscientific Statements. — But it is said that certain specific statements of Scripture are shown by science to be false. For instance, in natural history the coney and the hare are classed with the ruminants (Le 11:5-6; De 14:7), whereas in fact they have no cud; and the ant with non-hybernating insects (Pr 6:6-8; Pr 30:25), whereas in truth it lies torpid all winter. The answer to this is that the Scripture writers give a correct account of an actual phenomenon, although their descriptions are not couched in scientific terms. Their language is always optical, i.e. in accordance with the exterior or apparent phenomena. As, in the case of the hare, they undoubtedly refer to the constant motions of the lips, which seems like chewing the cud. They were not mistaken as to the fact which they meant to state, nor do they use language which when properly interpreted conveys a false impression. If their hearers or readers already had an impression scientifically erroneous in some respects, they were not bound to correct that impression, provided it did not interfere with the purpose or truth which they had in view. Popular language always uses this liberty, but it is not therefore chargeable with untruth. Science is simply systematized knowledge, and therein it differs from popular or general information. The facts remain the same both to the scientific and unscientific man; they are only viewed in a different light and with different associations. The Biblical writers, of course, having no scientific notions or standpoint after the Baconian school, ignore its nomenclature, and express themselves in the plain language of fact or sensible phenomena. They broach no theories, they employ no technical terms; they confine themselves to actual things in their phenomenal forms. This is a universal rule with them. Hence they seem to disagree with science whenever its rigid canon of verbal precision is applied to them, for of course their vocabulary is different; but the dispute is about words only, while the things meant are identically the same. The sacred writers, in scholastic phrase, if you please, use solecisms in grammar inelegancies in rhetoric, the argumentum ad hominem in logic, an unscientific terminology throughout — for such was their vernacular; but they never fall into error as to matter of fact. The conflict between science and revelation, when carefully scrutinized, is seen to be only a disagreement between particular theories of particular scientists and particular interpretations of particular passages of Scripture. And, furthermore, when the scientific principle of thought is compared with the theological, or the unveiling of the Holy Ghost to men, they are found to be on two absolutely different planes, and unable, properly compared, to clash with each other. The fundamental error of the scientists of our day is in their method. It is mechanical, external, superficial, false. They exalt the senses, which are the mere servitors of mind, into the mind's masters, and terrible is the bondage to which they thus doom the spirit of man. Admit that mind is a force, and that there is an infinite mind, and then that in Scripture which to many scientists is most objectionable, viz. the miraculous, becomes natural and easy of belief. The main body of scientists of the present day are firm believers in Christianity, and science has no warmer advocates than are to be found among Christian believers. SEE REASON AND RELIGION.