It’s difficult to think of any piece of literature more supportive of the modern scientific enterprise than Genesis 1.
It provides all the necessary foundations for science, including three prerequisites.
1. Laws Up Above
The ancient Chinese had incredible technology, but not science as we know it. Why? Because while they were intelligent, they did not believe in a Higher Intelligence—not in the Bible's sense. They didn’t think there were ever-present, always-applicable laws of nature that governed the universe. They went out into the world and tamed it through technology, but they didn’t seek to press into the deeper laws of the universe.
That’s because they didn’t have Genesis 1. They didn’t believe that “In the beginning, God.” They didn’t believe that through his Word an ordered cosmos was created that shows all the hallmarks of dependable regularities—seasons and spheres with boundaries and signs in the sky, all going round and round, evening and morning, evening and morning. The God of Genesis 1 is a God both prior to nature and beyond nature; therefore, he gives us every reason to expect laws of nature. This understanding is absolutely vital if you want to do science.
It’s not uncommon today to hear scientists doubt that a “grand unified theory of everything” may be found. After all, to believe in a grand unified theory sounds remarkably like Genesis 1, and who believes that anymore?
Logically, though, belief in the God of Genesis 1 will engage you further with the scientific enterprise. Disbelief will make you give up the investigation prematurely.
2. World Out There
The ancient Greeks were smart cookies. All philosophy is a footnote to Plato, as they say. Philosophy, mathematics, art, and literature were all spheres of excellence for the Greeks. Science? Not so much, because science requires you to believe in a stable and predictable world out there that’s open to investigation. Science occurs when you make repeatable observations and check your theories against the cold, hard facts. But Greeks didn’t believe in cold, hard facts. They believed in minds and reason and laws but not in empirical investigation. For them, study entailed a journey within the mind, not a venture out into the field. So, no science.
But in Genesis 1 you have a genuinely concrete, real world. It’s not a second-class excretion from the gods; it’s positively willed by God—different from him (contingent, not necessary) yet at the same time declared very good. It’s the kind of place you can move out into and have dominion over. It’s open to us. In fact, we’re told to fill it, order it, develop it.
Science isn’t just enabled by Genesis 1; it’s virtually commanded.
3. Minds In Here
If human minds are the product of mindless operations that only honored survival, not intelligence (the two aren’t at all synonymous), then why should we trust our minds to understand the laws up above and the world out there? If we’re the product of the cosmos and part of the cosmos with no higher calling than to pass on our genes, why trust a brain that whirs away according to its own survival imperative?
If you really want confidence in the scientific endeavor, turn to Genesis 1, where humanity is specially created in relationship with the Orderer above and the world out there. We’re made in the divine image, and the divine command is to rule and fill the world. More than this, if humanity is created in God’s image, it’s because we’re destined in Christ (the Image) for face-to-face fellowship with God. And if that’s so, then we can have confidence the human mind is indeed capable of grasping those things above, even as we’re sent into the world out there.
Genesis 1 is far from being anti-science. It gives us these three building blocks and every reason to believe that they’ll triangulate to yield fresh insights. But if we turn from the Bible, what right do we have to expect rational order in the cosmos? What right do we have to expect a comprehensible universe? What right do we have to privilege the processes of these three-pound blobs of grey matter between our ears?
To turn from the Scriptures is to weaken science, not strengthen it. The realities of Genesis 1 provide the scientific enterprise with its firmest possible foundation.
Editors’ note: A previous version of this article appeared at Christ the Truth.