SCIENCE continues to elucidate the mysteries of the universe and of the life that abounds on our planet. Nevertheless, scientists and lay people alike still have big questions. For example: How did the universe come into being? What existed before it? Why does it seem to have been designed specifically to support life? How did life arise here on Earth?
At present, science has not really answered these questions. Some even doubt that it ever will. This is why many have felt compelled to revise their opinions and modulate their beliefs. Let's look at what some scientists say about the existence of a Creator.
Michel-Yves Bolloré and Olivier Bonnassies, assisted by a team of more than 20 researchers and scientists who have been working together for three years, have helped to demonstrate that nihilism and materialism are not the only possible readings of the Universe, of the destiny of mankind, or of the "meaning of history". And therefore, if the Universe had a beginning, how could it have appeared and ordered itself according to laws that man is gradually deciphering?
We must admit that the laws of the cosmos and of life are so precise that a variable of 10-30 (ten power minus thirty) after the decimal point in the composition of matter, atoms and molecules would have rendered the universe sterile, or quite simply would not have allowed it to exist.
Excerpts from the book "God - The Science - The Evidence", "Physicist Paul Davies, a professor at Arizona State University, also confesses his genetics: "I belong to a group of scientists who do not subscribe to a conventional religion but refuse to believe that the universe is a fortuitous accident. The physical universe is so ingeniously arranged that I cannot accept this creation as a brute fact. There must be, in my opinion, a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wants to call it 'God' is a matter of taste and definition." P 177
"All these statements are in line with those of many other researchers and scientists. They are directly dependent on new discoveries and therefore lead to clear and simple conclusions. But we can go one step further, with the American astronomer Robert Wilson, winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize for discovering the first light in the Universe in 1964: "There must have been something that settled it all. In my opinion, if you are religious, according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is no better theory of the origin of the Universe that can match Genesis to that extent." P 201
The fine-tuning of the universe: a coincidence?
One of the main questions is how the cosmos is fine-tuned. Why does the universe have unchanging physical laws and ideally precise natural constants that allow for the existence of a planet like ours and all the life forms on it?What do we mean by fine tuning? Think, for example, about the precision of the four fundamental physical forces: electromagnetism, gravitation, the strong interaction and the weak interaction. These forces influence everything in the universe. They are so precisely regulated and adjusted that even small changes would render the universe sterile.For many rational minds, coincidence cannot explain everything. John Polkinghorne, a physicist who taught at Cambridge University, came to this conclusion: "When you realise that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the visible universe, then the idea arises that this universe did not come into being by accident, but must be the result of a design. "Paul Davies, an Australian physicist, made the same point: "There is no doubt that many scientists ... despise the very idea that there could be a God, or even an impersonal creative principle. "He adds: "Personally, I do not share this contemptuous attitude. [...] I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere whim of fate, ... a chance incident in the great cosmic drama. "In a book, Gerald Schroeder, a former professor of nuclear physics, estimates the probability of the universe and life being the result of chance to be equal to that of winning a national lottery jackpot three times in a row: "Before you can collect your winnings for the third time, you'll be sent to jail for rigging the results. The probability of winning three times in a row, or even three times in a lifetime, is so small as to be negligible. "
What does science say about the complexity of our planet?
The enigma of complexity
One puzzle that baffles scientists today is the extreme complexity of the world around us. Common sense tells us that the more complex an event is, the more unlikely it is. Let's take an example.
For DNA, the fundamental building block of life, to form, myriad chemical reactions must occur in a precise order. Thirty years ago, Professor Frank Salisbury of the University of Utah (USA) calculated the probability of spontaneous formation of a single DNA molecule, which is essential for the appearance of life. The calculations resulted in a probability so small that it is considered mathematically impossible.
Complexity is particularly evident in the case of living organisms, some of whose complex parts would be useless without other complex parts. Let us illustrate this with reproduction.
In many species, the reproductive cells of the parents undergo a remarkable process that results in the reduction of the number of chromosomes in these cells by half. This process, called meiosis, allows the correct number of chromosomes to be passed on. Without it, the number would be abnormally high. Evolutionary theories suggest that at some stage in the complexification of living things, females began to develop reproductive cells that needed to be fertilised by complementary male reproductive cells.
Of course, the same process would have been necessary for other species. How, then, did the "first mother" of each species become able to reproduce with a fully developed "first father"? How could they both suddenly halve the number of chromosomes in their reproductive cells so as to produce healthy offspring with some of the characteristics of both parents? And if these reproductive characteristics developed gradually, how could the male and female of each species have survived while these vital characteristics were still only partially formed?
The probability of this reproductive interdependence occurring by chance is already infinitesimal for a single species. That it should appear in one species after another defies any reasonable explanation. Can evolution, that hypothetical process, explain such complexity? How could systems requiring such intimate correlation be the result of accidental, chance events? The living world is full of features that point to anticipation and planning, and thus to the existence of an intelligent Planner.
Many scientists have come to this conclusion. For example, the mathematician William Dembski wrote that the "intelligent design" evidenced by "the observable features of the natural world ... can only be adequately explained by intelligent causes". Biochemist Michael Behe sums up this idea with these words: "One can be a good Catholic and believe in Darwinism. But with biochemistry, it is increasingly difficult to be a conscientious scientist and believe in Darwinism. "
What the fossils say and what they don't say
A third mystery that baffles scientists relates to the fossil record. If evolution took place over immeasurable periods of time, we should find a multitude of intermediate organisms, or links, between the main types of living things. However, the countless fossils unearthed since Darwin have proved disappointing in this respect. The missing links are aptly named: they are conspicuous by their absence!
More than one scientist has concluded that the available evidence is insufficient and too contradictory to prove that life evolved. Luther Sutherland, an aerospace engineer, wrote in his book Darwin's Conundrum: "The scientific facts show that whenever an entirely new form of life has appeared on the Earth, from single-celled protozoa to man, it has been complete and its organs and structures fully functional. From this reality, one deduction is obvious: before life appeared on Earth, there was some form of initial intelligence. "
On the other hand, the fossil record confirms the general order of appearance of life forms that the Bible cites in the book of Genesis. A close examination of the fossil record leads to the conclusion that animals reproduced according to their species as Genesis says," says Donald Chittick, a University of Oregon graduate student in chemistry. They did not evolve from one species to another. The facts we have today, like those of Darwin's time, are consistent with the Genesis account of a direct creation. Animals and plants continue to reproduce according to their species. In fact, such is the discord between paleontology (the study of fossils) and Darwinism that some scientists are beginning to believe that the intermediate forms will never be found. "
Let's face it
The points we have just considered are only the tip of the iceberg; there are a multitude of other puzzles that confuse those who deny the evidence for a Creator. Scientists are now realising that the rejection of God is not based on solid evidence or rigorous logic, but on overly optimistic assumptions and conjectures.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, suffering and injustice have been present everywhere since the beginning of humanity. If God did create humans, it is logical to ask WHY does He allow this to affect innocent people like children or animals? Even if you are rather exempt from problems, your sense of justice will revolt.
Many people think that God is too important to worry about our problems. The Bible makes it clear that God cares about us, saying for example:
"while you cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5: 7).
Is God sensitive to our suffering?
Just as a loving father suffers when he sees his children suffer, sometimes because of his own mistakes, so God is deeply saddened to see us in affliction: "Throughout their affliction he also was afflicted. And his personal messenger saved them. Out of love and compassion he redeemed them; And he lifted them up and carried them all the days of the past." (Isaiah 63:9).
However, if God created the vast universe so admirably organised, he must have a valid reason for letting men sink into such confusion.
Many think that it is God. But if that were so, would there be so much suffering on earth? This is what has made sensible people wonder: what forces drive men to act in such disgusting ways or lead them into situations where they feel compelled to commit atrocities? Have you ever wondered if some unseen evil power is driving people to be so violent? According to the Bible, the world is dominated by an evil being. It says, "The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19)
In a world where scepticism is often seen as a necessary protection against deception, it is easy to get used to doubting everything and everyone. Negative doubt leads nowhere. On the other hand, sincere questioning and constructive inquiry can be valuable tools for the individual in search of the truth.
Without doubting the existence of God, one may have justified doubts about some of the doctrines taught by the churches that call themselves Christian. Sincere searching can then lead to the rejection of religious error and the discovery of the truth. But on what basis is this research to be carried out?
It is by using reason and seeing the facts for oneself that one can acquire firm convictions that will in turn build up one's faith. To use the definition given in the Bible, "faith is the firm expectation of things hoped for, the clear demonstration of things not seen". (Heb. 11:1.)
Although the Bible is not a science book, it is accurate when it comes to scientific matters. Here are some examples of how science and the Bible do not contradict each other.
The universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1).
Many ancient myths do not say that the universe was created, but that it organised itself out of a pre-existing chaos. The Babylonians believed that the gods who brought the universe into existence came from two oceans. Other legends report that the universe was born from a giant egg.
The earth is suspended in the void (Job 26:7).
For many ancient peoples, the world was a disc resting on a giant or an animal, such as a buffalo or a turtle. 3,500 years ago, the Bible said that the earth is suspended "over nothingness." (Job 26:7.) In the eighth century B.C., Isaiah spoke of the "circle [or: sphere] of the earth." (Isaiah 40:22) A spherical earth that lies in space without visible or physical support: is not this a surprisingly modern description?
Rivers and springs are fed by water that evaporates from the oceans and then falls to earth as rain, snow or hail (Job 36:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 1:7; Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:6).
The ancient Greeks believed that river water came from an underground ocean; this idea persisted until the 18th century.
Mountains rise and fall; the mountains of today were once under the oceans (Psalm 104:6, 8).
According to various myths, mountains were created as they are by the gods.
The age of the Earth and the universe
Scientists estimate that the Earth is 4 billion years old and that the universe began 13-14 billion years ago. The Bible does not say when the universe was created. And nowhere does it say that the earth is only a few thousand years old. The first verse of the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). This general statement leaves it open to scientists to determine the age of the physical world on the basis of well-established scientific principles.
The process of the earth's development to accommodate human beings
The first chapter of Genesis uses the term "day" to describe each stage of this preparation for life in all its varied forms. The simple description in this chapter ends with the arrival of human beings. The Bible does not specify how long the six "days" of creation lasted. Scientists are therefore free to study them and correctly assess their duration. We do know that these 'days' lasted much longer than 24 hours.
Prevention of disease and hygiene issues
The book of Leviticus contains instructions aimed at the Israelites on how to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. One of the aspects it talks about is quarantine. On the issue of hygiene, the law recorded in Deuteronomy 23:12, 13 commanded the Israelites to make their excreta in a secluded place outside the camp and bury it. It was only 200 years ago that scientists and doctors felt the need to establish such sanitary standards.
The above biblical information was written many centuries ago. How could the writers of the Bible have had accurate information when the scientists of their time did not? Their Author's answer: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).
The discovery of the laws of the universe has confirmed on many occasions that the Scriptures are accurate and that the psalmist was right when he said of God, "The substance of thy word is truth." (Ps. 119:160). So let us now examine whether Astronomy, Medicine, Botany, Anatomy and Physiology confirm the accuracy of the Bible.
FOR Bible students, archaeology is useful, since its findings often supplement their knowledge of life, conditions, customs, and languages in Bible times. Archaeology also provides helpful information on the fulfillment of Bible prophecies, such as those predicting the demise of ancient Babylon, Nineveh, and Tyre. (Jeremiah 51:37; Ezekiel 26:4, 12; Zephaniah 2:13-15) The science has its limits, however. Artifacts must be interpreted, and interpretations are subject to human error and modification.
Christian faith depends, not on broken vases, moldering bricks, or crumbling walls, but on the entire, harmonious body of spiritual truth found in the Bible. (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1) To be sure, the Bible’s internal harmony, candor, fulfilled prophecies, and many other features provide convincing evidence that “all Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) That said, consider a number of interesting archaeological discoveries that corroborate Biblical accounts.
A team of archaeologists digging in Jerusalem in 1970 came upon a charred ruin. “The picture was clear to any trained eye,” wrote Nahman Avigad, the team leader. “The building had been destroyed by fire, and the walls and ceiling had collapsed.” In one room were the bones  of an arm, its fingers spread, grasping at a step.
Strewn on the floor were coins , the latest of which dated to the fourth year of the Jewish revolt against Rome—69 C.E. Objects had been scattered before the building collapsed. “Seeing this,” said Avigad, “we recalled Josephus’s description of the Roman soldiers looting the houses after the city had been conquered.” Historians date the Roman sack of Jerusalem to 70 C.E.
Analysis determined that the bones belonged to a woman in her 20’s. “Caught in the fire when the Romans attacked,” says Biblical Archaeology Review, “a young woman who was in the kitchen of the Burnt House sank to the floor and was reaching for a step near the doorway when she died. The fire had spread so fast . . . that she could not escape and was buried by falling debris.”
This scene reminds us of Jesus’ prophecy concerning Jerusalem, uttered nearly 40 years earlier: “Your enemies . . . will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you.”—Luke 19:43, 44.
Archaeological finds corroborating Biblical statements also include the names of individuals mentioned in the Scriptures. Some of these finds quashed earlier claims by critics that the Bible writers fabricated certain characters or exaggerated their fame.
Inscriptions of Biblical Names
At one time, prominent scholars held that Assyrian King Sargon II, whose name appears in the Bible at Isaiah 20:1, never existed. In 1843, however, near present-day Khorsabad, Iraq, on a tributary of the Tigris River, Sargon’s palace  was discovered. It covers some 25 acres [10 ha]. Raised from secular obscurity, Sargon II is now one of the best-known kings of Assyria. In one of his annals , he claims to have captured the Israelite city of Samaria. According to Biblical reckoning, Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E. Sargon also records the capture of Ashdod, further corroborating Isaiah 20:1.
While excavating the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon, in present-day Iraq, archaeologists uncovered some 300 cuneiform tablets near the Ishtar Gate. Relating to the period of the reign of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, the inscriptions include a list of names, among which is “Yaukin, king of the land of Yahud.” This refers to King Jehoiachin of the land of Judah, who was taken captive to Babylon at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s first conquest of Jerusalem, in 617 B.C.E. (2 Kings 24:11-15) Five of Jehoiachin’s sons are also mentioned on the tablets.—1 Chronicles 3:17, 18.
In the year 2005, while digging at a site where they hoped to find the palace of King David, archaeologists came upon an extensive stone structure that they believe was destroyed when the Babylonians razed Jerusalem just over 2,600 years ago, during the time of God’s prophet Jeremiah. Whether the structure is the remains of David’s palace is uncertain. However, archaeologist Eilat Mazar did identify one particularly interesting object—a 0.4-inch-wide [1 cm] clay seal impression  that reads: “Belonging to Yehuchal son of Shelemiyahu son of Shovi.” This impression was evidently made with the seal of Yehuchal (also Jehucal or Jucal), a Jewish official mentioned in the Bible as having opposed Jeremiah.—Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1-6.
Jehucal, says Mazar, is only the “second royal minister,” after Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, whose name appears on a seal impression found in the City of David. The Bible identifies Jehucal, the son of Shelemiah (Shelemiyahu), as a prince of Judah. Prior to the discovery of the seal, he was unknown outside the Scriptures.
Could They Read and Write?
The Bible indicates that the ancient Israelites were a literate people. (Numbers 5:23; Joshua 24:26; Isaiah 10:19) But critics disagreed, arguing that Bible history was largely transmitted by unreliable oral tradition. In 2005 this theory suffered a blow when archaeologists working at Tel Zayit, midway between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean, found an archaic alphabet, perhaps the oldest Hebrew alphabet  ever discovered, incised on a piece of limestone.
Dated to the tenth century B.C.E., the find, say some scholars, suggests “formal scribal training,” a “sophisticated level of culture,” and “a rapidly developing Israelite bureaucracy in Jerusalem.” So, contrary to the critics’ claims, it appears that at least as early as the tenth century B.C.E., the Israelites were literate and would have been able to record their history.
Assyrian Records Lend Further Support
Once a mighty empire, Assyria often appears in the Bible record, and many archaeological finds there attest to the accuracy of the Scriptures. For instance, an excavation at the site of ancient Nineveh, Assyria’s capital, revealed a sculptured slab  in the palace of King Sennacherib, which depicts Assyrian soldiers leading Jewish captives into exile after the fall of Lachish in 732 B.C.E. You can read the Bible’s account at 2 Kings 18:13-15.
The annals of Sennacherib , found at Nineveh, describe his military campaign during the reign of Judean King Hezekiah, whom the annals mention by name. Cuneiform records of various other rulers refer to Judean Kings Ahaz and Manasseh, as well as Israelite Kings Omri, Jehu, Jehoash, Menahem, and Hoshea.
In his accounts Sennacherib boasts of his military successes but, significantly, omits any mention of taking Jerusalem. This striking omission adds credence to the Biblical record, which states that the king never laid siege to Jerusalem but suffered defeat at God’s hands. Thereafter, a humiliated Sennacherib returned to Nineveh, where, the Bible says, he was assassinated by his sons. (Isaiah 37:33-38) Interestingly, two Assyrian inscriptions attest to the assassination.
Because of the wickedness of the people of Nineveh, Jehovah’s prophets Nahum and Zephaniah foretold the city’s complete destruction. (Nahum 1:1; 2:8–3:19; Zephaniah 2:13-15) Their prophecies were fulfilled when the combined forces of Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon, and of Cyaxares the Mede besieged and captured Nineveh in the year 632 B.C.E. The discovery and excavation of its ruins once again corroborated Bible accounts.
Nuzi, an ancient city to the east of the Tigris River and southeast of Nineveh, excavated between 1925 and 1931, yielded many artifacts, including some 20,000 clay tablets. Written in the Babylonian language, they contain a wealth of detail involving legal customs similar to those of the patriarchal era described in Genesis. Texts show, for example, that family gods, often small clay figurines, were a form of title deed, giving their owner a claim to the inheritance. This custom may explain why the patriarch Jacob’s wife Rachel took the family gods, or “teraphim,” belonging to her father, Laban, when Jacob’s family moved away. Understandably, Laban tried to recover the teraphim.—Genesis 31:14-16, 19, 25-35.
Isaiah’s Prophecy and the Cyrus Cylinder
The cuneiform inscription on the ancient clay cylinder illustrated here corroborates another Bible account. Known as the Cyrus Cylinder , this document was recovered at the site of ancient Sippar on the Euphrates, about 20 miles [32 km] from Baghdad. It speaks of the conquest of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. Amazingly, some 200 years earlier, Jehovah, by means of his prophet Isaiah, said of a Medo-Persian ruler who would be named Cyrus: “‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt.’”—Isaiah 13:1, 17-19; 44:26–45:3.
Significantly, the cylinder mentions Cyrus’ policy—in sharp contrast with that of other ancient conquerors—of returning to their homeland captives held by the previous power. Biblical and secular history testify that Cyrus did release the Jews, who then rebuilt Jerusalem.—2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:1-4.
A relatively new science, Biblical archaeology has become a major field of study that has yielded some valuable information. And as we have seen, many finds attest to the Bible’s authenticity and accuracy, sometimes down to the smallest detail.
Astronomy, medicine, botany, anatomy and physiology ?
It is a well-known fact that the opening chapters of Genesis have been the object of mockery and of particularly scathing attacks. In flat contradiction of the assertions made by many of Christendom’s clergymen to the effect that Genesis is merely a collection of poetry and legends, in the fifth century Catholic “church father” and scholar Augustine stated that the Genesis “account is not the kind of literary style where things are stated figuratively, . . . but from beginning to end it relates facts that have really happened, as in the book of Kings and other historical books.” (De Genesi ad litteram, VIII, 1, 2) An examination of the first chapter of Genesis will reveal that the Bible was far ahead of contemporary conceptions.
Long before Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), who believed that the stars were driven into the sky like nails, Genesis (1:6-8) described the heavenly vault as an “expanse” (New World Translation), or “firmament” (Douay Version). The word “firmament” comes from the Latin firmare, which means to give consistency, to make firm, or solid. Jerome used this expression in the Latin Vulgate in translating the Hebrew word raqia that, to the contrary, means “extended surface,” “expanse.” According to T. Moreux, former head of Bourges Observatory, France, “this expanse, which to us constitutes heaven, is designated in the Hebrew text by a word which the [Greek] Septuagint, influenced by the cosmological ideas prevailing at the time, translated by stereoma, firmament, solid canopy. Moses transmits no such thought. The Hebrew word raqia only conveys the idea of extent or, better still, expanse.” The Bible has therefore described, most accurately, the expanse or atmosphere above us.
Genesis speaks of luminaries that shine upon the earth “to make a division between the light and the darkness.” (Gen. 1:14-18) Now, those words were written by Moses in the 16th century before our Common Era. Note just one of the fanciful conceptions then existing on this subject. Paul Couderc, astronomer at the Paris Observatory, writes: “Up until the fifth century before our common era, men were mistaken as regards the fundamental question concerning day and night. For them, light was a bright vapor, while darkness was a black vapor which, in the evening, ascended from the ground.” What a contrast with the succinct but scientifically accurate statement made in the Bible concerning the cause of day and night on our planet!
Those who lived at the time the Bible was being written entertained strange ideas concerning the shape and the foundation of the earth. According to ancient Egyptian cosmology, “the universe is a rectangular box, placed in a north-south position, like Egypt. The earth is located on the bottom, as a slightly concave plain with Egypt in the center. . . . At the four cardinal points very high peaks hold up the sky. The sky is a metallic cover, flat or curving outward, pierced with holes. From it hang stars, like lamps hanging on cables.”
Had such childish theories been abandoned centuries later? Far from it. Greek astronomer and philosopher Anaximander (sixth century B.C.E.) held: “The Earth is cylindrical, three times as wide as it is deep, and only the upper part is inhabited. But this Earth is isolated in space, and the sky is a complete sphere in the center of which is located, unsupported, our cylinder, the Earth, situated at an equal distance from all the points of the sky.” A century later, Anaxagoras believed both the earth and the moon to be flat.
The Bible was far ahead of the scientific conceptions taught at that time. In the 15th century before the Common Era, it described the Creator as “hanging the earth upon nothing,” and in the eighth century B.C.E., it spoke of “the circle of the earth.” (Job 26:7; Isa. 40:22) Is that not exactly how the earth appeared to you on your television screen when the astronauts photographed it from the moon?
MEDICINE AND BOTANY
The Bible refers to plants and trees that grew in various lands. For example, it accurately refers to the curative powers of balsam, obtained from several evergreen trees. Writing in the French Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, C. E. Martin explains: “Small quantities of mastic [resin] drip naturally from the tree, but in order to obtain more, longitudinal incisions are cut in the trunk, allowing the resin to flow freely. . . . It had the reputation of calming pain and healing wounds; balm of Gilead, renowned for wounds, is mentioned in a figurative sense by Jeremiah (8:22; 46:11; 51:8); it is also mentioned proverbially in modern-day language.” Many Roman and Greek historians, such as Pliny and Diodorus of Sicily, made mention of this balsam.
According to the Bible record, in the ninth century B.C.E. the Hebrew prophet Jonah journeyed to Nineveh, ancient capital of Assyria. As a result of his missionary activity, “the men of Nineveh began to put faith in God.” (Jonah 3:5) Later on, he camped east of the city and was provided relief from the sun under a bottle-gourd plant, which came up overnight, in order to become a shade over Jonah’s head. (Jonah 4:6, 10, 11) Is it true that the bottle-gourd plant (Cucurbita lagenaria) develops so rapidly? The French Bible Dictionary, published under the direction of F. Vigouroux, states the following: “It is known that the gourd plant grows very rapidly in hot countries and that it is used for covering with verdure the walls of houses and shelters where it clings, like the Virginia creeper, providing a protection against the heat by means of its large leaves. . . . In the symbolic paintings found in the catacombs based on the story of Jonah, it is always this plant that is portrayed.” So it was nicely consistent with the fact that a normally rapidly growing gourd plant should be miraculously caused to grow up in one night by Jehovah’s power in order to shield Jonah from the hot rays of the sun.
Describing the fate of national groups that are opposed to God’s sovereignty, the Bible states that they will be “like a thistle [Hebrew, galgal] whirl before a stormwind.” (Isa. 17:13) The Encyclopædia Judaica says: “The biblical galgal has a unique way of scattering its seed. At the end of the summer it detaches from the ground, and its prickly leaves, resembling sails, fly in the wind and scatter the seeds.” Nogah Hareuveni, author of the booklet entitled “Ecologie dans la Bible” (Ecology in the Bible), refers to the galgal thistle, writing: “The plant that bears this name starts its rapid growth in March. . . . In a few weeks this apparently innocent galgal becomes a prickly monster, its leaves and flowers being covered with sharp thorns. In summer, the plant begins to dry up, but it appears so firmly rooted and so threatening that it seems impossible to get rid of it. When the galgal is fully developed, something strange takes place underground between the stalk and the roots: a cellular separation occurs between the stalk and the roots, and it requires only the least breath of summer wind to sweep away the whole plant.” And so, just like this thistle, which seems fearsome but which the wind can so easily sweep away, those who oppose divine sovereignty will be swept away. The Biblical comparison “like a thistle” is accurate.
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY
If the Bible originates with the Creator of man, we should be able to find in its pages convincing proof that it is not the product of human wisdom. As we have already seen, people of ancient times had some very fanciful ideas about man’s origin. Similarly, medical texts from ancient Egypt reveal great ignorance in the field of medicine. Although Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” he wrote that man was formed, not out of Ra’s tears but “out of dust from the ground.” (Gen. 2:7; Acts 7:22) Has modern medical science confirmed the fact that man was formed from mineral elements from the earth’s soil?
In their joint work Les oligoéléments (Trace Elements), Andrée Goudot and Didier Bertrand, member of the French Agricultural Academy, inform us: “In all the living organisms studied, in addition to carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, chlorine, magnesium, potassium and sodium, the presence of the following elements can be considered to be a proved fact: six nonmetallic elements: fluorine, bromine, iodine, boron, arsenic and silicon; a transition element: vanadium; and thirteen metals: iron, zinc, manganese, copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rubidium, cesium, aluminium, titanium, chromium, molybdenum and also probably tin, lead, silver, gallium, strontium and barium.” All these substances are to be found in the earth’s crust, proving that man is truly formed from the ground, as the Bible states.
For many centuries, the Bible has stated that the blood of a creature represents its life, or soul. “The soul of every sort of flesh is its blood.” (Lev. 17:14) Is this position medically sound? It is a scientific fact that blood is intimately involved in the life processes. Furthermore, science has discovered quite recently that each person’s blood is specific and unique. Léone Bourdel, professor at the French Higher School of Anthropobiology, writes as follows: “The genetical combinations in procreation are such that our blood is unique, never identical to that of either of our parents, nor to that of our children. And we make this same blood all our life. In fact, no matter how many transfusions we may receive, we will never adopt the blood that the donor has given us; it is always our own blood that prevails and that is renewed perpetually and identically.”
REASONS FOR BELIEVING THE BIBLE
To paraphrase Aldous Huxley, quoted earlier, ‘finding good reasons for what one believes for other good reasons’ has been the purpose of this discussion of the question “Should You Believe the Bible?”
First, we have seen that the Bible itself does not ask us to have blind faith. It invites us to use our “power of reason” and to “make sure of all things.” (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Thess. 5:21) We have seen that archaeology backs up the historical accuracy of the Bible. Moreover, it has been shown, by means of a few examples, that even in its minutest details, the Scriptural record is scientifically sound.
These are “good reasons” for believing the Bible. But there are “other good reasons”—in fact, even better reasons, for it is quite clear that faith in God and reliance on his Word cannot depend merely on archaeological discoveries and scientific investigations. In addition to its intrinsic value as a moral guide, the Bible is the only book that provides us with the revelation of God’s will and purpose for mankind. Yes, this divinely inspired Book of Books gives us real hope for the future of our earth and mankind upon it, as the concluding article of this series will show.
Does the Bible come from God or does it contain purely human thoughts?
The Bible presents itself as being inspired by God, it says "All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for instructing in right conduct". How, then, can it be “inspired of God”?
Simply put, the phrase “inspired of God” means that God is the Source of the information it contains. As the Bible says, “Men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, God used his invisible agent, holy spirit, to convey his message to the writers of the books of the Bible. It's like a businessman dictating a letter to his secretary. The author of the letter is not the one who writes it, but the one who dictates it.
Some Bible writers literally heard a message from God delivered by an angel. Others received visions from God. In other cases, God communicated his message in the form of dreams. He sometimes allowed editors to report his message on their own terms; but at other times he told them word for word what to write. In any case, the Bible writers expressed God's thoughts, not theirs.
How can we be sure that the Bible writers were inspired by God?
GOD created Adam and Eve to live happily on the earth and take care of their beautiful home (Genesis 2:15). He gave them the ability to manifest his qualities to some extent. Adam and Eve could explore the planet and enjoy everything on it. Their descendants were to be born in perfect conditions.
What opportunity did God give the first human couple? God offered our first parents the opportunity to live forever in a paradise-like land, and to learn more and more about him and his works (Psalm 115:16; Ecclesiastes 3:10, 11). They could also pass this opportunity on to their children.
What direction did God give to Adam and Eve? Adam and Eve could enjoy life freely as God's children as long as they followed the standards of right and wrong set by their Creator. God explained to them how best to use their freedom and warned them of the consequences of disobedience. If they followed his instructions, they would live eternally in perfection; if they chose to do as they pleased, they would suffer and lose their lives. When you have freedom of choice, you bear responsibility for your decisions and actions (Genesis 2:16, 17).
Why did things go wrong? First, Satan rebelled against God. Then Adam and Eve decided to rebel. As a result, they sinned against God. They then lost perfection and were now condemned to die (Genesis 5:5).
How does Adam and Eve's decision affect us? After their sin, Adam and Eve could no longer pass on perfection and the prospect of eternal life to their descendants. They thus brought sin and death into the world. Contrary to God's original plan, we all die because of sin.
"There is no righteous man on earth who always does good and does not sin" says the Bible (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Are sins limited to serious offences?
Every bad action, thought or feeling is a sin: exploding in anger, insulting one's spouse, harbouring an unseemly desire, giving in to a selfish urge, etc. Is it possible to never sin?
Is it possible to never sin?
For example, who can say that he or she has never violated the tenth commandment: "You shall not desire ... that which belongs to your fellow man"? (Exodus 20:17). Let us be realistic: "There is no man who does not sin" (1 Kings 8:46). To commit no sin, even for one day, is simply impossible.
How does sin affect us?
Our inability not to sin shows that sin is a much deeper problem than just doing the wrong thing. We all have inherited sin. We get sick, grow old and die, not because we choose to do wrong, but primarily because we are born imperfect, fault-prone. We do not have the means to rid ourselves of this inclination. For "who can bring forth the pure from the unclean? No one" (Job 14:4).
Adam and Eve were created perfect; they were not prone to sin. But by choosing to sin, they became like a deformed cake pan that could only yield deformed cakes. So we have no choice. We all carry within us the deformity of our parents: defects and evil inclinations, in short, the sin we inherited from Adam and Eve. But does it really matter?
What effect does sin have on our relationship with God?
"You are not a God who delights in wickedness; an evil man cannot dwell with you for a while" (Psalm 5:4 [5:5, ZK]).
By sinning, Adam and Eve severed their ties with God. Likewise, sin cuts us off from God. "Your iniquities have become the things that separate you from your God, and your sins have caused him to hide his face from you, that you should not hear" (Isaiah 59:2).
Did God abandon his original plan because of Adam and Eve's rebellion?
God has never abandoned his plan. He still wants the earth to be a paradise filled with happy people. Nothing can stop the Almighty from achieving his goal. "God is not a man to lie, nor is he a son of man to feel regret. Has he said this and will he not do it? Has he spoken and will he not do it?" (Numbers 23:19).
Before creating the earth and man, God created angels (Job 38:4, 7). One of these angels tried to seize power over humans. He thus became 'Satan', which means 'Opponent'. He did not question God's power, but his right to rule.
What is Satan's goal?
He wants to bring all humans under his rule. He accused God of lying and told Eve that she and her husband would be happier if they decided for themselves what was right and wrong (Genesis 3:4, 5).
What results did Satan achieve?
By listening to Satan, Adam and Eve put themselves under his control and broke their relationship with God. Were they happier in the end? Have humans benefited from living independently of God? Do we have a perfect life in Paradise, as God originally intended?
Why is this situation like a trial?
Imagine that a family member who has no children is seeking custody of yours. He or she sues you, accusing you of neglecting your children and raising them badly. To answer this accusation and clear your name, you will have to present evidence. Your children will also have to testify. Similarly, Satan accuses God of lying and claims that humans serve him out of self-interest (Genesis 3:4, 5; Job 1:9-11; 2:4, 5).
Why does the trial take so long?
When a case is important, it takes time to resolve. On the other hand, the final verdict that God will pronounce will set a universal and definitive precedent. This verdict will sanctify God's name (clear him of all charges) and establish that his way of ruling is the best. Then God will repair all the damage caused by Satan, as he did in the case of Job (Job 42:10).
Because this name, Jehovah (יהוה), represents God himself. Indeed, God said, "This is my name for ever and this is my memorial from generation to generation" (Exodus 3:15). The meaning of the divine name, "He causes to become", ensures that God can become whatever the realisation of His plans requires Him to be. He exercised this ability, for example, when He delivered Israel from slavery to Egypt, the most powerful nation of the day (Exodus 9:16).
How should we view the name of God?
The third commandment states: 'You must not take the name of Jehovah your God in an unworthy manner' (Exodus 20:7). No one should use this name lightly or disrespectfully. All representatives of God are obliged to glorify Him by their conduct. They must never dishonour His holy name.
Is it permissible to pronounce the name of God?
The Book says that those who fear God must use His name, but never in an improper manner. "Give thanks to Jehovah, call upon his name" (Psalm 105:1). Past worshippers, like Boaz, used God's name in a reverent way in their worship and in their daily lives (Ruth 2:4).
Is it really important to know and use God's name?
Think about it: God's name appears far more often than any other name mentioned in the Bible. This name, made up of four Hebrew consonants called the Tetragrammaton, appears nearly 7,000 times in the original Hebrew text of the Bible. Is this not proof that Jehovah wants us to know and use his name?
Jehovah wants those who love him to show that his name is precious to them and to make it known (Psalm 69:30, 31; 96:2, 8). Remember that Jesus taught his disciples to pray like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. We can contribute to the sanctification of God's name by making it known. This will bring us closer to him (Matthew 6:9).
The Bible shows that God pays special attention to the person who "thinks about his name", who values it (Malachi 3:16). To such a man Jehovah promises: "I will protect him because he has come to know my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble" (Psalm 91:14, 15). Clearly, if one wants to develop a close relationship with Jehovah, it is important to know and use his name.
Our planet has all the conditions to support life. It has plenty of water, which is essential for life. Its tilt, rotation and orbit are ideal so that the oceans do not freeze or evaporate. Its atmosphere and magnetic field protect it from deadly radiation. The interdependence of the animal and plant worlds is amazing. This is why many people are convinced that our planet was designed for a purpose.
Promise written in Isaiah 45:18
For this is what Jehovah, the Creator of heaven,a the true God, who formed the earth, who made it and established it firmly, who did not create it for nothing, but formed it to be inhabited, says: "I am Jehovah, and there is no other.
The earth was designed so that people who respect each other and love their Creator could live happily on it. Human life was thus created for a higher purpose than animal or plant life. We can know our Creator. We can admire and imitate His love and justice
Our Creator can do whatever he plans to do. So let us be sure that he will eliminate suffering and injustice, and make our planet a paradise for humans!
An earth free from disease and death
How great would be our relief if the earth were to be delivered from disease and death! The tears of sorrow and despair would be dried up! Gone would be the physical sufferings and the awful infirmities! Gone would be the ravages of old age! There would be no more weak and helpless old people, who are often destitute and hopeless. Everywhere would be seen the spectacle of a rejoicing humanity, brimming with vitality. No cry of pain would be heard anywhere!
This is Jehovah's purpose. God has decided to give man much more than a few years of a life full of worry and suffering. The Bible promises: "Then I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See! God's tent is with the people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death; there will be no more mourning or crying or pain. The old things have passed away. (Revelation 21:3, 4).
Imagine what it will be like to live in such conditions with your resurrected loved ones! But what guarantee do we have that the resurrection will take place?
THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
Jesus thus foretold the future time when, under the rule of his Kingdom, the Grave would be emptied. “I was astounded the first time I read John 5:28, 29,” recalls Fernando, mentioned in the preceding article. “It gave me real hope, and I started thinking about the future with optimism.”
In ancient times, the faithful man Job expected that after his death God would eventually restore him to life. Job asked: “If a man dies, can he live again?” Then he confidently answered: “I will wait all the days of my compulsory service [time in the Grave] until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer you.”—Job 14:14, 15.
The resurrection was not a new thought to Lazarus’ sister Martha. After Lazarus died, Jesus said to her: “Your brother will rise.” Martha responded: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus then said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life.” (John 11:23-25) Then Jesus promptly raised Lazarus back to life! That thrilling account gives us a preview of grander events in the future. Imagine such resurrections taking place on a global scale!
Will some be raised to heaven?
THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: God’s Word shows that Jesus’ resurrection differed from the other eight in the Bible record. Those eight people returned to life here on earth. But of Jesus’ resurrection, we read: “Jesus Christ . . . is at God’s right hand, for he went to heaven.” (1 Peter 3:21, 22) Would Jesus remain the only one to be resurrected to heaven? Jesus had earlier told his apostles: “If I go my way and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you home to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”—John 14:3.
Christ went to heaven and prepared for the arrival of some of his disciples. Those resurrected to heaven will eventually number 144,000. (Revelation 14:1, 3) But what will those close followers of Jesus do there?
They will be very busy! The Scriptures tell us: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.” (Revelation 20:6) Those resurrected to heaven will rule as king-priests with Christ over the earth.
Who will be resurrected later?
THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: The inspired Scriptures record this speech given by the apostle Paul: “I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15.
Who will be included in the group that Paul referred to as “the righteous”? Consider an example. The faithful man Daniel was told toward the end of his life: “You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13) Where will Daniel awake from the sleep of death? “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it.” (Psalm 37:29) And Jesus foretold: “Happy are the mild-tempered, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Daniel and other faithful men and women will be raised to live on the earth once again, even eternally.
Who will be included in the group that Paul called “the unrighteous”? They are the billions of humans who have lived and died, many without ever having an opportunity to understand and apply Bible truth. After their resurrection, they will be able to come to know and appreciate Jehovaha and Jesus. (John 17:3) All those who choose to serve God will have the prospect of living as long as Jehovah himself lives—forever.
There is hope for the dead: how can we be sure?
How naive do you have to be to believe that the dead will live again? The apostle Paul did not think so. He wrote under divine inspiration: "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most to be pitied of all men. Yet now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death" (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20). For Paul, the resurrection was a certainty. In fact, it was guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus himself (Acts 17:31). This is why Paul called Jesus 'the firstfruits': he was the first to be raised to eternal life. And if he was the first, logically others would be resurrected.
What caused Jehovah to plan the resurrection?
His love. "If a strong man dies, can he live again? You shall call, and I will answer you. You shall languish after the work of your hands" (Job 14:14, 15). Job was convinced that his loving heavenly Father would have a strong desire to resurrect him. Has God changed? "I am Jehovah; I have not changed," says Malachi 3:6. God is as eager as ever to see the dead alive again, happy and healthy. And that is the wish of every parent who has lost a child. But the difference is that God is able to achieve what he wants (Psalm 135:6).
Jehovah will give his Son the ability to bring boundless joy to those who mourn a loved one. What feelings does the resurrection inspire in Jesus? Jesus saw the distress of Lazarus' sisters and friends before he brought him back to life, and he 'wept' (John 11:35). On another occasion, near Nain, he met a widow who had just lost her only son. Jesus 'felt sorry for her, and said to her, "Stop weeping"'. He immediately raised her son from the dead (Luke 7:13). So Jesus is deeply sensitive to grief and mourning. What a joy it will be for him to turn sorrow into joy in all the world!
Are you affected by grief? Perhaps you think that death is a problem without a solution. But there is a solution: God, through his Son, will raise the dead. Never forget that he wants you to witness this. He wants you to hold your loved ones again. Think of the plans you will make together with an eternal future ahead of you, never separated by death!
I would be happy to show you in your own Bible what convinces me that the resurrection will happen.