In most of our discussions as Christians, we seem to find ourselves citing the bible for wise quotes or inspiring verses that would hopefully change peoples’ lives. In these moments, we ourselves become at peace and confident in what we are talking about, until the hard questions that we never seem to be able to answer are raised—you know, the scientific questions!
Did God really make the world/universe in the way it is described in Genesis?
Did He really make everything in 6 days?
Was there really a historical flood that covered the entire world?
Why is there no mention of the dinosaurs?
Were there real giants?
So on and so on. These questions can affect young Christians a great deal especially in our scientific culture. It could discourage Christians to remain in faith or it could mislead those who are faithful to an ambitious mission to show how the bible is, in fact, very scientific. Both of these are undesirable outcomes.
As Catholics, we are not called to believe in the bible to the letter of each word. In other words, we are not called to believe in the bible as literal as some would take it – it depends on the book in the bible and the context. In my own opinion, I think that taking the bible too literally is unreasonable. It puts too much expectation on the bible that was never intended for it to have. For example, if we are to believe the Book of Genesis so strictly, we are making Genesis to be what it was never intended to be: a scientific textbook of how the universe was created or a history book of chronological timeline of humanity’s early beginnings. This is just not fair!
Let’s imagine for a second, that the first chapter of Genesis was as scientifically true as scientists or critics would like so that they would finally be convinced of the truths that the bible held— the bible would be a very hard book to read. In all likelihood, no one would continue past the first chapter of Genesis if it began with terminology that came out of a physics and calculus textbook explaining how God united all the different types of quarks that make up the protons and neutrons of an atom using the equations that only Einstein and Stephen Hawkings would understand. This would be a terrible way to inspire people to change their lives. The last thing people want is to be reminded of the calculus they failed in grade 12 or first year university!
Continue with me to imagine for another second, that the bible included every paleological era that occurred before humanity. Genesis would be a very long and boring book about dead things and creatures that no one has ever seen alive. This would be a very discouraging book for people 2000 years ago and today regardless of how much interest some of us might have for dinosaurs.
Just because the Book of Genesis is not scientific does not take away from its Truth on what happened. Consider for a moment you have two people looking at the same human face. The first person is a scientist and he would describe the eyes, ears, facial features and what their functions are and tissues they are made of. The other person is the subject’s spouse and what he sees is the soul in her eyes, the beauty of her smile, etc. Both are describing and evaluating the same person but through a different lens which is the same with how the Book of Genesis is written.
So if anyone asks again why the bible is not following the science of today when it describes the creation of the world or if anyone should suggest that the bible is not true because it doesn’t mention the dinosaurs, tell them to thank God that He didn’t inspire the authors of the books of the bible to write scientifically and explain to them that the purpose of the bible is to make disciples of Christ.