The Bible and #Science

My own opinion about the relationship between the Bible and science is complicated. It is, by genre, nothing like a scientific treatise and several of the core truth claims made in Scripture are not testable in a strictly experimental sense (though they are in some sense falsifiable). I generally think it is a bad idea to wed Christian truth claims to this or that scientific paradigm or major theorem. But, on the other hand, it is fun to see how scientific claims can seem to provide evidence that certain observations of Biblical authors are, in fact, true or reasonable. In other words, I look for consilience. Now, I don’t think that this is a good way to interpret the Bible and I don’t even think that some of the connections I’m about to make below are based entirely on fair assessments of the science nor careful readings of the Biblical passages. But, since many love science and many dorky atheists tend to be science fetishists, it is my pleasure to present this list of ever-growing connections between the Bible and science.

General Connections Between the Bible and the Nature of Things

  1. Sarah Salviander observes 26 testable scientific claims in Genesis. While this does not reflect my own understanding of Genesis, it is certainly an interesting perspective. I recommend looking through it. She is highly influenced by Gerald Schroder who made this video.
  2. The universe may be made of information. While disputable, this claim is coherent with the Bible’s vision of a universe spoken into being by God.
  3. We probably live in a simulation. A few things: this is not exactly a scientific argument, but technogeeks like Elon Musk treat it as one. I don’t find it persuasive, but a lot of people who think that the intelligent design argument is stupid, also buy into the simulation hypothesis. On the other hand, a simulation with a time-bound creator is not a reality that aligns with a classical-theistic vision of the world. But…a world made of ideas in the mind of God does: see Berkley.
  4. The Bible tells us that there is a supreme being. So does the ontological argument, which is computationally shown to be valid. Now, there are theists who don’t accept the ontological argument for a variety of reasons. And it’s not that a computer proved that God exists. It is just that a computer helped show the validity of Godel’s version of one argument for God’s existence that may or may not have true premises and be sound.
  5. In Genesis 1, we see that to be made in God’s image is to sort out between the chaos and order of the world. At least one psychologist finds the battle between chaos and order to be central to man’s quest for meaning. He even finds a empirical evidence for the distinction between the brain’s operations when the individual is experiencing order or chaos.

Psychological/Biological Claims Made by the Bible

  1. The Bible paradoxically claims that studying the Scriptures will improve your wisdom/intelligence (Psalm 119:99) and that fools deny the existence of God (Psalm 14:1) and oppositely, that Christianity is for the humble-minded (Matthew 11:26-30) and that the intelligent “debaters” reject the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). And #science shows that autism and IQ points correlate with atheism. But some of the highest IQ human beings are theists.
  2. Paul says not to let the sun go down on your anger. In other words, don’t act out your anger in a day-long venting session. Roy Baumeister has effectively proven that venting is a sub-optimal and even harmful method of coping with anger.
  3. The Bible says that God blesses the act of being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:26-31). The god of biomechanics agrees, as women who have children generally suffer less cognitive decline. Pregnancy is also an aid to athletic performance. Here’s a blog post that compiles seven other documented benefits of pregnancy. But the Bible also says that the trauma and difficulty associated with childbirth has increased. And the science shows that there can be increased depression for mothers, as primate brains increased in size, birth became more difficult and deadly, and parents are often more depressed than non-parents (this is mediated by parenting style).
  4. In Genesis 2:21-24, Eve is made from one of Adam’s bones. Looking closely at the Hebrew shows that the bone utilized does not have to be a literal rib. Strangely, one bone that is absent from human males, but present in other mammals is the baculum (penis bone). This brief essay by a medical doctor and a Hebrew scholar makes this link, “Needless to say, the penis has always been associated with generation, in practice, in mythology, and in the popular imagination. Therefore, the literal, metaphorical, and euphemistic use of the word tzela make the baculum a good candidate for the singular bone taken from adam to generate Eve.”
  5. Genesis tells us that a snake had something to do with human beings attaining to sight/understanding (Genesis 3:1-6). And it appears that humans can see so well because of selective pressure of a snake-rich environment.
  6. Genesis 1-4 observes that the ancestors of modern man ate vegetation but that they eventually started eating meat (Abel’s sacrifice implies meat-eating). The expensive tissue hypothesis predicts that as our hominid predecessors began to eat more meat their brains grew and their guts shrank.
  7. In Genesis 6, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, there is mention made of human competition with a larger stronger race of humans. And it appears than homo sapiens co-existed with Neanderthal man and eventually interbred with him and replaced them.  
  8. In the Bible, individuals are often judged by their families and place of origin. This feels remarkably unfair to us. But our DNA largely determines who we are. Also, Lee Jussim’s research on stereotype-accuracy shows that the Biblical characters’ behavior in this respect was, while unpleasant, roughly accurate.
  9. The Bible says that the glory of a young man is his strength (Proverbs 20:29). All the relevant literature indicates that strength is, in fact, a defining aspect of masculinity.
  10. Moses, Abraham, and Caleb (among others) are supposed to have lived supernaturally long lives. But perhaps the difficulty of their lives preserved their strength, minds, and health. For instance, in this study, folks living a temporary nomadic and challenging lifestyle had significant health improvements in just four days! Also, meat staves off aging (here too) and the Israelites in the desert are alleged to have eaten a large amount of quail.
  11. Atheists tend to make a point of making fun of Biblical characters who hear voices or see visions. But psychological research shows that hallucinatory experiences can be meaningful and helpful in certain contexts. I don’t mean to suggest that the Bible endorses hallucinogenic drugs, but only that the Bible makes a claim (that visionary experiences help people) that has been made in the scientific literature as well.
  12. In Judges 3:18-26, Ehud assassinates an obese king named Eglon. In the tale, it is implied that his subjects were used to him taking a long time in the bathroom, but they are concerned over just how long he’s relieving himself. Recent evidence shows (due to a growing…heh…obese population) a correlation between obesity and irritable bowel syndrome, which could explain Eglon’s extended sitting times.

Darker Truths of Human Nature

  1. In Genesis 3:16, the Lord says that man and woman will experience sociosexual dysfunction centered around dominance and desire for dominance (whether that means sexual desire for dominant men or desire to supplant dominance is hard to discern). But #science has shown as that men with the dark triad traits are more sexually successful in the short term. In other words, some women are attracted to manipulative men, as the Genesis story predicts.
  2. Keeping point one in mind, the marriage covenant is proposed in Genesis 2:24 as an ideal, but it also functions through the Bible as a mitigating factor in humanity’s sexually problematic state. And what might this predict? Perhaps that women who serially date might be more likely to fall prey to sexual violence than married women. Is this true? Yes. Incidentally, abuse rates in non-heterosexual relationships are higher for children and partners.
  3. In 2 Samuel 13, Amnon rapes Tamar after obsessing over her, refusing to speak to her, while the rape-culture myth is essentially bogus, it is true that men with low mate value have used rape (as domineering a method imaginable) as a reproductive strategy. The act is perceived as so barbaric by one of Amnon’s brothers that he kills him despite the obvious risks to himself and the nation. Why? Tamar says it herself, “such a thing is not done in Israel.” The gender-studies claim is that rape was so ubiquitous in history, as to be indistinguishable from sex itself (think Andrea Dworkin). But in actuality, predatory men target drunk women, but most men do not attempt to be sexually aggressive, not even as they get more drunk (which disinhibits baser desires). Here’s a good summary of the study here. It’s not that all men rape, it’s that certain low-value men use rape as a reproductive strategy.
  4. Not only do some men use rape to achieve sex at the cost of terrorizing women, but false rape allegations are made. The Bible acknowledges this legal reality (Deuteronomy 22:23-29). The data shows that false rape claims do occur more frequently than people wish to acknowledge for a variety of motives.
  5. In Ezekiel 23, a simile is made between two idolatrous nations and two women of sexual indiscretion. In Ezekiel 23:20, the argument comes to a head when the Lord says that their preference for multiple sexual partners has led them to desire sex with men of abnormally large penises. In a study on women’s penis size preferences, Geoffrey Miller and others found that women prefer men with larger penises if they intend to engage in a one night stand, “Novelty itself contributes to pleasure, so seeking a more novel-sized penis may be consistent with a goal to pursue pleasure primarily in one-time partners.” The observation made in Ezekiel fits with the partner choice rationale. The idolatrous nations want more and more novel worship experiences, just as the women (in the simile) want novel sexual experiences, just as some women in the study cited.
  6. Psalm 14 controversially suggests that atheists are liars. And it does appear that people distrust atheists more than theists. People associate immorality with atheism (see Romans 1:18-32). But there is some evidence that this claim is true. Even atheists intuitively distrust other atheists, which may be a projection of their own sense of ethics.
  7. The author of Ecclesiastes claims that righteous men are rare and honest women non-existent. It is likely incorrect to take these as literal statements. It’s better, it seems, to take them as statements from the point of view of a man who sees women as sex-objects and men as business partners (as the author portrays himself as such a user of persons in places). He’ll occasionally find a man who is roughly honest, but never a woman. Is there any justification for this cynical point of view? Well, there is some survey evidence that women lie more than men and there is also evidence that women prefer working with women to men. Why?
  8. In the Song of Solomon, the woman loves the man because of his social status, flirtatious capabilities, and for the fact that the other young women are attracted to him (Song of Solomon 1:1-3). In a study on social information effects on attractiveness ratings, women found men attractive when other women were known to like them.
  9. In Song of Solomon 1:3-8, the young woman asks the man where they can have a private meeting without having to seek him among the shepherds. The man responds by telling her to seek him among the shepherds. This subtle teasing apparently works to obtain a greater affiliative bond with the woman. To no surprise, playing teasing has been found to increase such bonds in a flirtatious context, this is especially true among the young.