By Dolores Smyth, Crosswalk.com
We humans are curious by nature. If you’ve ever seen a baby examine his hand in wonder, or heard a toddler ask “why?” about everything she sees and hears, you’ve realized that we start trying to make sense of the world around us early on.
One way we seek to understand our surroundings is by studying Scripture’s instruction on our world and beyond. Another way is through scientific analysis.
Although some insist that Biblical accounts and scientific findings are incompatible, the truth is that Scripture contains a number of scientific facts that we humans didn’t discover until thousands of years after the Bible was written.
Here are 4 ways that scientific research has proven the Biblical account of a matter to be scientifically reliable:
1. Earth Is Suspended in Space
Biblical teaching on the Earth’s positioning in space:
In the Book of Job, we learn of the Earth’s positioning in space: “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing” (Job 26:7). Scholars believe that the Book of Job was written as early as the 2nd millennium BC or later between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.
Whatever the precise dating, this verse in Job demonstrates that God told us before the time of Christ that our planet is held up in space by no visible means of support.
Scientific acceptance of the Earth’s positioning in space:
Throughout history, humanity has espoused different theories as to the Earth’s placement. In Ancient Greece, Aristotle noted in the 4th century BC that the oldest theory about the Earth’s positioning was that the Earth rested on water.
Other ancient cultural traditions believed that the Earth was held up by a sea turtle. For example, indigenous Native Americans such as the Lenape and Iroquois of North America handed down creation stories in which the Earth was formed on the back of a turtle. In fact, many indigenous tribes in North America still refer to the Earth or to the North American continent itself as Turtle Island. Likewise, according to Hindu mythology, the Earth rests on the backs of four elephants who, in turn, stand on the back of a turtle.
It wasn’t until Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity in 1687 AD that scientists began to understand that the sun’s gravitational pull is what keeps the Earth held in orbit. In other words, the sun’s gravity—which is invisible—keeps the Earth suspended atop nothing in space and orbiting around the sun.
This scientific finding proves the veracity of Scripture’s teaching on the Earth’s suspended position in space.
2. Blood Is the Liquid of Life
Biblical teaching on blood as a source of life:
Scripture reveals the importance of blood in straightforward fashion by declaring that, “the life of a creature is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). The Book of Leviticus is comprised of writings dating as far back as the 15th century BC and was compiled into its final form by the 6th century BC. Thus, Scripture has advised us for millennia of blood’s pivotal role in keeping our bodies healthy.
Scientific acceptance of blood as a source of life:
Ancient medical scholars believed that the body was made up of different liquids, including blood, that had to be balanced for a person to remain healthy. Because there is no natural way to discharge a perceived excess of blood other than through menstruation, the medical practice of bloodletting came into practice.
In bloodletting, doctors use sharpened tools or leeches to drain “excess blood” from a patient in an effort to cure the patient’s illness. Bloodletting was an accepted medical procedure worldwide for 3,000 years until it was discredited as an ineffective medical practice in the late 19th century AD.
One notable person who died after bloodletting was George Washington. Specifically, one cold night in 1799, Washington developed a fever and a swollen sore throat. Within hours of falling ill, doctors had drained Washington of almost half of his blood. Washington died the next day from what doctors have retrospectively diagnosed as a severe throat infection and shock.
Although bloodletting is still used in the present day in very specific medical procedures, bloodletting is generally discredited as an ineffectual treatment for the majority of ailments. Instead, research has found that depleting the body of such vast amounts of blood can trigger a hazardous drop in blood pressure, lead to cardiac arrest, and increase the chances of infection or anemia.
Today, modern medicine agrees with Scripture that blood gives our body life. In fact, studies have discovered that blood is vital in nourishing living tissue by carrying oxygen and nutrients, forming blood clots, transporting antibodies to fight infection, moving waste to the kidneys/liver, and regulating body temperature.
It’s now common medical practice to administer—not deplete—blood to save people’s lives. According to the American Red Cross, 21 million blood components are transfused to patients every year in the United States alone to replace blood loss during major surgery, after serious injuries or accidents, or due to illnesses.
3. Infectious Diseases Require Quarantine
Biblical teaching on the necessity of quarantines:
God warns us of the importance of separating the sick from the healthy. Though in light of today’s modern medical advancements it may seem harsh, Leviticus instructed the Hebrews that those with contagious diseases were to identify themselves through physical appearance and proclaim they were “unclean” while covering their mouths. The contagious were also to “live alone…outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:45-46).
Scientific acceptance of the necessity of quarantines:
The medical practice of quarantining contagious people didn’t begin until the 14th century AD. By that time, the world had suffered devastating health pandemics due to the lack of containment of communicable diseases:
- In the 2nd century AD, an estimated 5 million people died from what is believed to have been smallpox during the Roman Empire’s Antonine Plague. Researchers believe that the disease was spread by soldiers returning home from a siege abroad.
- In the 6th century AD, an estimated 25 million people died in the Eastern Roman Empire from the bubonic plague during the Plague of Justinian. Thousands of people died per day, overwhelming survivors and causing them to leave the corpses stacked in piles inside of buildings or out in the open, which only exacerbated the spread of disease.
- In the mid-14th century AD, the bubonic plague killed between 75 to 200 million people in Europe and Asia during what came to be known as the Black Death. The Black Death’s name derived from the black spots on the skin of sailors who returned from Asia and docked in Sicily.
By the 14th century AD, European officials scrambled to protect coastal cities from potential plague epidemics. Ships arriving in Venice from ports known to be infected were required to anchor at sea for 40 days before landing. This practice became known as a quarantine, from the Italian words quaranta giorni, meaning 40 days.
Centuries later in the United States, local governments made inconsistent attempts to prevent the spread of infectious diseases on arriving vessels. This sporadic regulation of infectious diseases led to outbreaks of yellow fever and cholera. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Congress passed federal quarantine legislation to stem the spread of incoming contagious diseases.
Today, scientific research has found that quarantining people believed to be carrying infectious diseases is a powerfully effective way to contain the spread of those diseases. Even in our everyday lives, parents knowingly or unknowingly follow the Bible’s teaching on infectious diseases by restricting the interaction between sick and well children, and by teaching children to cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of sickness.
4. A Positive Outlook Benefits Physical Health
Biblical teaching on the health benefits of positivity:
God cares about our emotional well-being and teaches us that our psychological well-being is linked to our physical well-being. Written as early as the 8th century BC, the Book of Proverbs advises us that: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22), and that: “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30).
Scientific acceptance of the health benefits of positivity:
Despite Scripture’s teachings on the mind-body connection, scientific research on the healing power of optimism wasn’t embraced by the medical world until the late 20th century. Now, the mind-body link is such a respected tenet of the medical community that world-renowned academic medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins promote positive thinking as a way to maintain physical health.
Both medical research powerhouses encourage us to make positive thinking a priority in our lives by finding the humor in the everyday, counting our blessings by reframing hardships, and surrounding ourselves with positive, supportive people.
In particular, the Mayo Clinic points out that positive thinking may improve cardiovascular health; reduce stress; increase life span; lower rates of depression, boost immunity, and enhance coping ability during times of hardship.
Furthermore, Johns Hopkins has found that people with a family history of cardiovascular disease who also possess a positive outlook are one-third less likely to suffer a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within 5 to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook. This research also highlights the link between positivity and reduced stress, and the link between negativity and a weakened immune response.
As the inspired Word of God, the Bible is a centuries-old roadmap on living well—mind, body, and soul. And if you don’t believe that, then believe the scientific research that backs it up.
Dolores Smyth writes on faith and families. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. You can follow her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.
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