During the 1700s, various "Enlightenment" philosophers of western culture wrote articles and books which attempted to portray the Bible's view of the world as being backward, and superstitious, and un-scientific.
For example, Voltaire (1694 -1778) maintained that the Middle Ages were a time of darkness and ignorance. Marquis de Condorcet (1743 -1794) emphasized how great a step in mankind's progress it was to get rid of the shackles of barbaric, "superstitious religion," and advance into enlightened human reason, especially through science. Similarly, others such as Hume and Gibbon philosophized in the same direction.
In their work on philosophy of science, called The Soul of Science, (Wheaton:Crossway, 1994), Pearcey and Thaxton explain how this same anti-Christian viewpoint of the enlightenment continued to spread through the "positivists" in the 1800s. The positivists "portrayed the development of science as the inevitable 'march of mind' from darkness and superstition into the light of reason ---with 'reason' defined by the modern secular mind" (p.47).
One of the boldest expositors of this positivist viewpoint, was A.D. White, who wrote History of the Warfare of Science with Theology (1896). Pearcey & Thaxton summarize his work : "White combs through Western history for examples of Christians who resist scientific concepts later accepted by mainstream science, chalking up their resistance to fear and dogmatism while lavishing praise on any historical figures lucky enough to have anticipated modern concepts" (Soul of Science, p.48).
What White and the anti-Christian writers of the "Enlightenment" disingenuously ignored, was that modern science and the scientific method was founded on and grew up out of the Christian biblical worldview, assumptions and culture of Europe, as a result of discussion between Christian researchers and thinkers --such as Isaac Newton and Gregor Mendel. (See: "The Foundation of Science is The Biblical Worldview").
Disputes about new ideas in science should come as no surprise. --When there is discussion about new ideas there are often disagreements --and, naturally, the Christian founders of modern science also had disagreements then (including arguments with church officials and society at large) --just as there are disputes among scientists (both secular and Christian) today. No surprise there. --But positivism has left many people with a warped view of the history, and the proper functioning of scientific review --and religion's role in it.
Contrary to the positivist view of things, many of the principles of modern science were already spoken of in the Bible as facts of nature many years before scientific research finally made the empirical discoveries. We'll touch on a number of these areas here.
The "Big Bang" and Expanding Universe
It is now quite well established (as discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1929) that the universe is expanding sort of like a raising lump of dough, whereby every galaxy (like raisins in the dough) is getting further apart from the center and from all the other galaxies ...except this is happening at a speed of thousands of miles per hour. --In fact, the rate of expansion is increasing, and the best understanding today has the expansion going on forever (ref.: the "flat universe" model).
Now, if we "reverse the film" on the expanding universe, and go way back, we would end up with all the matter in the universe located in a small area, which would be the beginning point. Such a "beginning" which expands out to today's universe is compatible with what is presented in the Bible. The Bible starts out by saying, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
-- So, the best science confirms a "beginning" to the universe.
It should be noted that in Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew word for "created" ("bara") basically means a "creation from nothing," as something is brought into existence. A start from nothing, is a very good description of what cosmologists (such as Stephen Hawking) call a "singularity," which is the starting-point of the Big Bang.
---A "singularity" is: all the potential mass (matter), energy, and dimensions (including time) of the cosmos, reduced down to an infinitely small point of ZERO volume. -- Note, that the dimesions also started at the point of ZERO length.
---This same concept is brought out again in Hebrews 11:3 which declares that "the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." The original starting-point for the universe was invisible, and had zero volume --just as the Bible teaches... as no other ancient writing does.
Furthermore: Cosmologists and physicists teach that matter, 3-dimensional space, and even time itself virtually did not exist before the Big Bang; (when God created them).
-- Here it is fascinating to NOTE: 1Corinthians 2:7, 2Timothy 1:9, and Titus 1:2 state that time itself (with all its eons and ages) had a "beginning." ---NO other ancient literature (particularly before the Bible) states that time had a beginning!
Then, having started from this "beginning" point, the Bible even says about God: "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea" (Job 9:8); and "He stretches out the heavens like a tent" (Psalm 104:2); and "He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in" (Isa. 40:22); and "the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens" (Isa. 51:13); ...there are about nine such biblical references. --Notice that God stretched the heavens out in the past, and some of those verses declare that He still "stretches" the universe out today!
This "beginning" from nothing, and the "spreading" or "stretching out" of the heavens (an excellent portrayal of the expanding universe due to the Big Bang since the instant God created the universe) are words of biblical prophets that were written from about 1500 BC. ---which is about 3000 years before Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding!
There is no other ancient literature, religion, or scientist(s) in the world which produced such an accurate portrayal of the "Big Bang" ---including the expanding universe, with a "beginning" from nothing (from what is invisible), and the beginning of time--- BEFORE it was all revealed by God through the prophets in the Bible ---and such a portrayal was not clearly made by science until this last century.
... It is true that Mohammed's Quran makes a statement about the expanding heavens (in Sura 51:47), but this statement was made about 2000 years after God revealed it through nine such statements in the Bible ---and we know that Mohammed most probably reproduced this idea from the Bible, because he was an intelligent man with a good memory who had discussed the Bible at length with both Christians and Jews, as you can read about by clicking here and here and here.
---Still, despite Mohammed's knowledge of the Bible, he did not mention that the heavens (or universe or cosmos) were created essentially out of nothing (out of what is invisible) nor does the Quran mention that time had a beginning.
The Law of Increasing Entropy
It has been established that in all physical processes, every ordered system tends over time to become more disorganized, and also to lose energy in the form of heat, and to slow down; ---everything gets old and wears out, or runs down. This increasing randomness, disorder, and cooling is called "Entropy," and this situation is described in physics by the "Second Law of Thermodynamics."
We see this principle expressed in the Bible (in about 1000 BC), when it says (concerning God): "In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end" (Psalm 102:25-27).
We know that if the stars in the heavens get very old, they will all burn out, and they will all undergo "heat-death" until everything in the universe cools off to the same temperature. ---In the first century AD, the apostle Paul brings out the same idea when he writes, "For the creation was subjected to frustration ...in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay..." (Romans 8:20-21).
So, the Bible accurately describes the modern Law of increasing Entropy, as the entire material universe relentlessly runs down and loses available usable energy, in a process of "decay."
The Number of the Stars in the Universe
In the years 161-126 BC, the man who is said to have first started the study of astronomy, Hiparchus, counted the number of stars in the heavens, and put the number at 1,080. This number was considered to be fairly accurate 300 years later, when Ptolemy announced that the number was more like 1,056.
It wasn't until the invention of the telescope that people realized that the number of the stars was huge ...in the countless millions. The Bible didn't make the mistake of saying that the number was merely a few hundred or thousand, but rather, in about 600 BC, the prophet Jeremiah says the number is "countless as the stars of the sky and measureless as the sand on the seashore" (Jer. 33:22). Also, from the year 1500 BC, the same concept comes from Genesis 22:17. And this is correct, because we now estimate the number of stars to be approximately 10 to the 26th (which may also be a fair estimate of the number of the grains of sand on all the earth's sea-shores), but the actual number is "countless" for us to attempt to precisely count. ---However, God, who is infinite in knowledge, knows the exact number, as the Bible says, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name" (Psalm 147:4).
The Immense Size of the Cosmos
The Bible makes it clear that the knowledge of God, and His ways of doing things, are virtually infinite beyond that of mankind, ---and the size of the starry cosmos is used as an illustration of this, when God says (in 700 BC), "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).
The Roundness of the Earth
At different times and in different places it has been thought that the earth is flat. In fact, as recently as the 16th century, sailors would threaten to mutiny on ocean-going ships that sailed too far from land, for fear of sailing off the edge of the earth, which was thought by many to be flat like a table top. There are even a few who believe in a flat-earth today!
(Some have wrongly thought that the Bible teaches a flat earth, but it does not. The Bible speaks of the "four corners" of the earth (in Rev. 7:1), but this is only a figurative way of referring to the "four points" (basic directions) of the compass ---and this same verse speaks of the "four winds," which refers to the same thing.)
In comparison, the Bible actually says, "He (God) sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers" (Isaiah 40:22 NIV). In that verse, the word translated "circle" is the Hebrew "khoog", which can also be translated as "roundness," "circle," "circuit," or "compass" (ref: Strongs Dictionary, 2329). The roundness of the earth is a viewpoint from space that no mere man had in 760 BC when those words were written. (Although, it might easily be suspected that the earth is round, by looking at the sun and moon). Furthermore, from about the year 1500 BC, it says in Job 26:10, "He marks out a circle (or roundness) on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness." Indeed, a circle would be the correct shape which describes any line between darkness and day-light along the surface of the oceans.
The Earth is Suspended in Space
For centuries various cultures around the world speculated what holds up or supports the earth among the stars and sun and moon. The ancient Greeks believed that a giant being, Atlas, stood with the earth on his huge arms and shoulders, while the Hindus believed that the earth was supported on the backs of immense elephants, which stood on the shell of a great cosmic turtle which then swam around in the "cosmic sea."
But the Bible, on the other hand, gives an amazingly accurate picture of what we have confirmed to be scientific reality today, as seen from space. The Bible says (concerning God): "He suspends the earth over nothing" (Job 26:7). This is an accurate description of what it is like to view the earth from outer space, from any direction. It also does not run counter to the gravitational (and momentum) force which "suspends" the earth in space "over nothing." ---Amazingly, these are words written in about 1500 BC!
Orderly Astronomical Movements in Space
In about the year 600 BC, God declares through the prophet Jeremiah: "Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night ...if this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever" (Jer. 31:35,36). So, there is an orderly relationship in the positioning of the sun, moon, stars and earth, which is established in relation to each other. However, this is not a static or motionless relationship, because God created the sun, moon and stars to move in a regular fashion for the measuring of time, as God said (as written in 1500 BC), "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years" (Gen. 1:14). So, the orderly relationship and motions of the bodies in space has been established by the God of the Bible, and their regular and orderly motion has a time-measuring function. Such order arises from the laws of physics which are part of what God created in matter.
Genetically Inherited Characteristics
In the early 1800s, the French naturalist Jean Baptiste de Lamarck proposed the hypothesis of the "inheritance of acquired characteristics," in which it was suggested that animals could (by exercise, diet, grooming, etc.) develop certain traits in their bodily structures, which as a result would then be passed on to their offspring. Lamarck gave as an example, the giraffe, which supposedly stretched its neck upward to get food, and after many generations of stretching this resulted in offspring which were born with longer necks.
This hypothesis has since been proven wrong, because the body cells (somatic cells) in an animal do not pass on any such developmental changes to the sexual reproductive cells (germ cells; sperm and eggs). We now know that it is the germ cells which pass on the inherited characteristics to the offspring, including any potential to develop under various conditions.
It is thus quite fascinating, that in the 30th chapter of the book of Genesis (v.37-42) we find that Jacob held a wrong view which was similar to that of Lamarck, that is: Jacob was trying to produce striped and spotted goats by putting a pattern of white and dark streaked branches in front of the eyes of the animals while they were breeding, because Jacob thought that the striped and spotted pattern being viewed by the animals during breeding would result in offspring with that spotted pattern in their coats.
However, in contrast to Jacob's false (Lamarck-type) notion of "acquired characteristics," God revealed to Jacob in a dream the actual (and genetically accurate) reason that the baby goats were being born with striped and spotted coats... as in Genesis 31:10-12 Jacob said:
"In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the male goats that were mating with the flock were striped, spotted and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob,' and I said, 'here I am!' And he said, 'Lift up your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating with the flock are striped, spotted and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you."
---With this statement, God makes it clear in Genesis that it is not what the parent might see while mating, but it is the genetically-produced appearance of the coat of the parent which affects the appearance of the coats of the offspring... even though spotted goats were previously removed (which Laban did in order to "double-cross" Jacob), the genetics of the spotted males (who actually did the mating) is passed on to the young.
Although this accurate assessment of the situation was revealed to Jacob in about 1500 BC, these genetic laws were not understood by scientists until thousands of years later.
Vision of Birds of Prey
It had long been thought by generations of scientists that birds of prey (such as eagles and falcons) located their prey by means of an acute sense of smell, however it has since then been discovered that such birds actually have a very poor sense of smell.
Instead, ornithologists have determined that such birds have remarkable vision capabilities. In fact, it has been discovered that while some such birds are diving to catch their prey, the shape of the cornea varies during the descent, enabling it to maintain a perfect focus.
In about 1500 BC, Job 28:7 makes note of the falcon's excellent vision, and in Job 39:27-29 it states that the eagle looks down from an inaccessible cliff, and spies out its prey "from afar."
The Hydrologic Cycle
In a good brief description of world-wide air movements and the hydrologic water cycles of the weather, we read, "The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again" (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7). In similar manner, Job 36:27-28 says, "He (God) draws up the drops of water, which distill into rain from the vapor; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind," which is a statement from 1500 B.C. ---It wasn't until data and measurements were taken all over entire hemispheres of the globe in our modern era that such an understanding of the hydrologic cycle and world air-currents was achieved, and then once again, the Bible is confirmed as correct.
Such examples (and there are more) are evidence of divine inspiration, as they demonstrate that there are many principles of modern science which the Bible states as facts of nature thousands of years before scientists confirmed them by observation and experimentation. --Although there are various statements in the Bible which describe some things in a "phenomenological" way (such as saying the sun "rises" and moves "across" the sky), we make the exact same statements today despite being fully aware of modern scientific facts, and so the Bible should not be unfairly faulted as making a "false" statement of science when it is not actually asserting a teaching on scientific fact, but is using every-day expressions.
But the descriptions of scientific truths which the Bible does make (such as listed above), are further evidence that the Bible is authored by the true and living God who created the universe and all of nature, and those who read the Bible can therefore have solid confidence that its words are true and reliable. In fact, no statement of what the Bible teaches or asserts has ever been proven to be false or in error by any real facts of science or history.
The MOST important "Proof"
Though a piece of descriptive writing from God could not contradict actual facts of science, such facts are not among the most important things which demonstrate that a piece of literature is from God ---an encyclopedia gives many more science facts than any piece of religious writing.
--Rather, the most important "proof" is the fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Any facts of science are insignificant compared to this. Since Christ has risen from the dead, this gives us proof that his words are truth. This gives us proof that Christ is deity (God) in a human body, and that he is worthy of all praise and ultimate worship... and remember that Christ accepted such worship. The risen Christ himself --and his sinless life-- is the greatest fact of history... and it is the resurrected Christ who quoted most of the prophets of the Bible as authoritative, which gives God's mighty endorsement to the words of the Bible.
God also demands "proof" from so-called "prophets" (and writings) which pretend to be from God, in which God challenges them to accurately predict events of human history. God provides such proof for the Bible, and such accurate prediction is what God reveals in the Bible many times over, demonstrating his power, and validating true prophets who give actual words from God, which thus bear his "fingerprints."
---Please read: Prophetic Predictions Prove the Bible's Authority
Compared to such sort of proof, science facts fall into insignificance, though the Bible does supply amazing science facts as well.