The Bible doesn't convey all knowledge; God gave us minds and intelligence for that. So what kind of book is the Bible? It is God's gift to us, revealing great spiritual truths we could never discover on our own.
If the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, what should we expect to find in it? Should it give us all the information we might ever find useful? Should we disregard all other books and consider the Bible the only reliable source of knowledge on every subject?
Some have viewed the Bible in this light, thinking of it as the complete source of all important knowledge, an exhaustive textbook or encyclopedia. The Bible, however, makes no such claim. It is largely silent on thousands of topics. A well-rounded education should include the study of many subjects—health, business, economics, the sciences and history—that are not detailed in the Bible. God's Word does not discuss every aspect of human knowledge. It does, however, excel in the spiritual realm.
Significant human discoveries
Able and talented people through the ages—believers of the Bible as well as skeptics—have gained expertise and understanding in many disciplines. Some have conducted scientific experiments. Others have recorded what man has learned through trial and error. Through simple observation many have discovered, or recognized the existence of, the natural laws that govern the universe. Their research has helped us understand our world.
For example, researchers have discovered the existence of principles of health that govern the functioning of our bodies. They have added enormously to the body of knowledge and to human longevity.
The written works of men are useful, but we need to realize that the Bible fills a void that no other book can fill—it reveals the purpose for which human beings have been created. Although many other books contain kernels of wisdom, this book reveals as no other the wisdom and understanding inspired from the mind of God Himself.
This book contains eternal truths we could not discover on our own. When we understand the Bible's true spiritual significance, all other books pale before it. By reading and applying its revealed knowledge, we can reap immeasurable benefits both now and forever. "Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8).
The Bible is God's gift to mankind, the absolute authority and ultimate judge of human behavior and morality. It reveals the way mankind should walk (Psalm 119:105), as taught by the Being who created man (Genesis 1:26-27).
It discloses the way of life that brings happiness. As King David, the author of many of the Psalms, wrote: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly ... but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night ... Whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3). Here David refers to God's law as revealed in the Bible as the proper way to live.
What kind of book is the Bible?
What kind of instruction from God does humanity need? When God created mankind, He instilled in us a high degree of intelligence, curiosity and capacity for learning. He gave each of us a mind that can gather and store knowledge and pass it on to succeeding generations. Through time human beings have used this intelligence to observe, describe, discover and build. People have used their minds to record vast amounts of knowledge.
God did not need to give us a book that contained information we could learn on our own. Instead, God gave us a mind with which we could acquire and develop an abundance of useful knowledge. What we needed was a book containing information we could never discover alone—knowledge that must be divinely revealed.
That is the information God has provided. That is precisely what the Bible is. It is a book of spiritual truth. But it also contains information about the material world. God's unfolding of spiritual truths to real, physical human beings took place in real, physical settings and among actual, historical events.
The Bible, then, provides us a great deal of physical, as well as spiritual, knowledge. It relates information on material matters such as the ordering of the physical world. It gives us information on the orderly functioning of society. It addresses basic principles of success in occupational and financial matters. It imparts guidelines of nutrition and health.
The Bible describes many types of personal relationships. It addresses principles of psychological and mental health. It provides rudimentary information that touches on the physical sciences. But it does not treat any of these areas exhaustively, because God has given us the ability to search out these matters ourselves.
Harmony of Bible and science
The word science means knowledge, derived from the Latin scientia, which comes from scire, "to know."
Mankind's store of scientific knowledge is impressive, but we should realize the limits to our knowledge. Perhaps the most vivid example of man's ability to increase knowledge is found in what is known as "Moore's Law," named after Intel cofounder Gordon Moore. It's generally understood to mean that, for the same cost, computing power doubles every 18 to 24 months.
Moore's Law demonstrates man's ability to multiply knowledge exponentially. As new information is gathered, recorded, verified, analyzed and compared, prior knowledge must be reevaluated in light of new discoveries. Scientific theories long assumed to be fact routinely crumble in the face of new findings.
Although not a science book, the Bible contains scientific knowledge. The information included in the Bible is true and verifiable, and harmonizes—once all the facts are known—with scientific knowledge. Jesus Christ said in praying to God the Father, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17). The apostle Paul noted that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). If these statements are accurate, we should expect nothing but accuracy from the Holy Scriptures.
As we examine the Bible for accuracy, we will see that when God's Word speaks we should listen. Although some skeptics will never be fully satisfied, we will see that the Bible has proven to be accurate and true to those willing to objectively view all the evidence. The Bible harmonizes with true knowledge. Apparent contradictions in Scripture are just that—only apparent. The whole scientific record has not yet been discovered by man. Much remains to be learned.
In some areas of scientific analysis, the physical evidence simply no longer exists, or major parts of it remain to be found. This is particularly true in archaeology. Many events described in the Bible occurred before humankind had developed reliable and enduring written records, and still other events took place even before people existed. Historical records alone can neither prove nor disprove the veracity of events recorded in Scripture. We will see, however, that evidence unearthed to date does harmonize with and verify portions of the biblical record.
Scientists and laymen alike will continue to examine the evidence in our physical world and in the scientific record. As they do this, the harmony between Scripture and science will grow increasingly apparent.