Can Bible-Based Predictions Lead to Scientific Discoveries?

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on March 14, 2014

Several scientists share their favorite examples of Bible-based predictions that led to demonstrably true scientific discoveries.

When interviewed about Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, which we reviewed earlier this week, the host of the new miniseries, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, said this:

If you start using your scripture, your religious text as a source of your science, that’s where you run into problems, and there is no example of someone reading their scripture and saying “I have a prediction about the world that no one knows yet because this gave me insight let’s go test this prediction and have that theory turn out to be correct.”1

During the recent Nye-Ham Debate Ken Ham addressed this issue and gave several examples of scientifically confirmed predictions based on the Bible. One of these is the fact that animals only vary and reproduce within their created kinds. Ken cited a January 2014 study “supporting a single origin for dogs,”2 which is exactly what creation scientists have long said was true. The many species of dogs we see today developed from the pair of dogs Noah took aboard the Ark.

These examples of Bible-based predictions that led to demonstrably true scientific discoveries should readily disabuse any interested reader of such a false position.
To show our readers how misinformed Tyson is about this issue, I decided to ask creation scientists from several disciplines, all with doctoral degrees and experience in their professions, to share their favorite examples of Bible-based predictions that led to demonstrably true scientific discoveries. Space does not permit including all their answers here, but those I include should readily disabuse any interested reader of such a false position.

Kinds and Species and Lack of Transitional Forms

The more we learn about speciation, the more we see that animals reproduce and vary only within their created kinds and do not evolve into new kinds. Liberty University microbiologist Dr. Andrew Fabich pointed out the newest discovery about finches, just published in Nature (“Evolutionary biology: Speciation undone,” which we will discuss in next week’s News to Know), demonstrates this principle. He says, “Darwin’s finches are widely accepted as being within the same kind. Their variation within a kind is based on the fact that there were droughts and rainy seasons. It is no surprise to creationists that the finches can still interbreed.”3

And while animals vary within their created kinds, the fossil record has failed to produce the transitional forms Darwin predicted would be found. Dr. Terry Mortenson, a historian of geology, points out that early nineteenth century “scriptural geologists” correctly argued that “the original created ‘kinds’ of Genesis 1 were not the same as what modern scientists classify as species or genus, but were bigger biological categories and that while variation is produced within each kind, the kinds stay distinct. Writing before Darwin published his theory in 1859, they rejected as unscientific the idea of biological microbe-to-man evolution being proposed by Jean Lamarck and others. Darwin admitted in The Origin of Species that the fossil record did not provide any evidence to confirm his theory and he had no supporting evidence from the study of living creatures. He predicted however that the fossils in confirmation of his theory would be found. History shows that Darwin was wrong.”4

Predictions Concerning Genetics and Anthropology

Dr. David DeWitt, chairman of the Department of Biology and Chemistry and director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, has personally done research based on his own Bible-based hypothesis; his findings have since been replicated and confirmed by secular scientists.

Dr. DeWitt explains, “Individuals like Neil deGrasse Tyson make claims like this because they don’t understand how someone could make a scientific prediction based on the Bible. It is true that the Bible doesn’t have any details about DNA, or cells and experiments. Since we are talking about a historical question, we need a framework from which to make predictions about what to find.”

Because the Bible indicates all humans descended from Adam and Eve, Dr. DeWitt—long before the Neanderthal genome had been sequenced—hypothesized that Neanderthals were fully human, as genomic evidence now makes clear. Dr. DeWitt describes how to make a prediction within the creation model in “Does the Creation Model Make Predictions? Absolutely!.” He says, “The Neanderthal is the best example I have of a Bible-inspired prediction because it is very specific, it was my hypothesis, it is documented, and at the time I made it, it was based 100% on biblical creation and was diametrically opposed to the current scientific thinking.”

Answers in Genesis molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom’s favorite example of a Bible-based prediction now proven true involves “junk” DNA. Evolutionary presuppositions have hindered progress in this area because “junk” DNA has been thought of as an evolutionary leftover. “Creation scientists for many years have argued that junk DNA is not junk because of their starting point that God intelligently designed DNA and it does have a function (granting that DNA has been negatively affected by the curse and therefore some of its original functions may have been lost),” she explains. “Scientists have now discovered that ‘junk’ DNA has function. Experimental, observational science is consistent with historical science based on God’s Word, where we learn that God designed and created all living things, including their DNA, approximately 6000 years ago. Functional ‘junk’ DNA is contrary to evolutionary historical science, which is based on the belief that DNA in living things is the result of random processes over eons of time and junk DNA is nothing more than leftovers from our evolutionary heritage.”

Dr. Jean Lightner, a doctor of veterinary medicine who also teaches at Liberty University and is actively involved in research, reports

I have found the Bible provides an incredibly valuable history which is helpful for understanding biology in our world today. The evolutionary model assumes common ancestry of all living things by naturalistic processes (i.e., random mutation and natural selection), but the evolutionary story presents insurmountable problems. God does not tell us how much variety he put into his creatures at creation, but he does tell us he intended for them to reproduce and fill the earth—suggesting they are designed to adapt to many different environments. We are also told of a severe decrease in population size for creatures at the Flood, which gives us an idea of the maximum variability that could have been present then for the kinds on the Ark. From this information, we can get an idea how much variability has arisen within kinds since that time. When I looked at this in several mammal kinds, I quickly realized that naturalistic processes could not account for this. There had to be designed mechanisms by which the genome can change—what incredible programming this implied!5

Dr. Lightner used this historical background information from the Bible to predict “that a mechanism exists for germ-line mutations (i.e. changes in the DNA sequence which are heritable) in response to environmental signals.” 6 Since that time, she says, “Some of the mechanisms for this have begun coming to light in the scientific literature.”

Predictions About Magnetic Fields, Radiocarbon, and Archaeology

Even in Tyson’s own field of astronomy, a model based on the Bible has been used to make predictions later proven true. Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner, who recently pointed out the metaphysical nature of Carl Sagan’s famous claim that the cosmos is all that has ever existed or ever will ever exist,7 says, “In 1984, Russ Humphreys developed a creation-based theory of planetary magnetic fields that did a good job of explaining the planetary magnetic fields that had been measured to that time. He then used his theory to predict the strengths of the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune, two planets for which we did not yet have measurements. Measurements of those fields came with the Voyager fly-by of Uranus in 1986, followed by the fly-by of Neptune in 1989. Humphreys’ predictions agreed well with the measurements.”8

Answers in Genesis geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling points to the persistence of radiocarbon in many materials conventionally claimed to be too old to contain any residual amount of the isotope. He says, “The rate of radiocarbon (C-14) decay is so rapid that any fossils older than 1 million years should have no radiocarbon left in them. So based on the biblical timeline of earth history, with the Flood about 4500 years ago burying and fossilizing animals and plants, it was predicted that fossils should still contain significant amounts of radiocarbon and thus be radiocarbon dated at only thousands of years old. The best instruments can only detect C-14 atoms equivalent to an age or 80,000 years or less but have still found an abundant presence of radiocarbon in every fossil (samples of oil, natural gas, and even limestones) so far tested, which has been reported in the secular literature, such as the journal Radiocarbon. This was confirmed by further studies of fossilized shells and dinosaur bones, petrified wood, coal and even diamonds, which all contained measurable radiocarbon equivalent to ages of only thousands of years.”

Even archaeology has benefitted from Bible-based predictions. The Old Testament refers to the Hittites. According to 2 Kings 7:6, during Elisha’s lifetime the Hittites were as formidable as Egypt. There was a time when skeptical scholars claimed the Hittites were mythical creations of those who penned the Old Testament. Then Irish missionary William Wright decided to take God at His Word and search them out. Wright believed that the inscriptions he found “would show that a great people, called the Hittites in the Bible, but never referred to in classic history, had once formed a mighty empire in that region.”9 Eventually discrepancies that surfaced through comparison of the dates assigned to Assyrian and Egyptian historical records concerning the Hittites led even secular Egyptologists to conclude the traditional timeline assigned to Egyptian history was wrong.

Biblical Reliability from Medicine to Engineering

Biological discoveries based on biblical principles hit close to home when they involve dangerous diseases. Liberty University microbiologist Dr. Alan Gillen reports that creationist microbiologist Dr. Carl Fliersman discovered the cause of Legionnaire’s disease after he altered his approach to searching for its source on the basis of his biblical understanding. Dr. Gillen notes, “Many hypothesized that Legionella may have been genetically engineered as an ‘Andromeda strain’ by the Soviets. .  .  . Reading his Bible one day, Dr. Fliermans observed Ecclesiastes 1:9: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’ Dr. Fliermans believed this was true, altering the way his laboratory looked for the organism, since the bacterium was probably not new under the sun.” Eventually, Dr. Fliermans “found the bacterium in thermal waters .  .  . discharged from a nuclear reactor and subsequently from natural hot springs.”10

Liberty University microbiologist Dr. Andrew Fabich reminds us that whether we are speaking of Koch’s postulates that govern the identification of infectious diseases or the consistency of physical laws that govern the magnetic fields of planets, nothing in science would be predictable or reproducible were it not for the laws of nature established by God. He says, “The evolutionary worldview has no philosophical basis for why science works because they don’t start with biblical presuppositions. The scientific method works because an orderly, lawful, unchanging God created an orderly, predictable, and repeatable cosmos (Genesis 1–2) governed by the laws of nature. Without these features, we cannot know anything about nature—ergo, evolutionists have random, chaotic, unverifiable events that don’t follow any patterns.”11

Because the physical laws of nature are consistent and reproducible, they can be trusted to produce consistent results when applied to engineering problems. Thus, the biblical principles seen in God’s instructions for building the Ark have passed stringent scrutiny for shipbuilding in terms of both structurally safe hull design and overturning stability.

They Should Have Known Better

Dr. Tommy Mitchell, who practiced internal medicine for two decades prior to becoming a full-time speaker at Answers in Genesis, finds his favorite example of scientifically sound biblical principles among those that he wishes physicians hadn’t ignored. He says, “I have been amazed over the years to see how practices springing from evolutionary beliefs have led to poor medical practices that could have been avoided if biblical principles had instead been followed. For instance, the widespread belief that humans retain useless vestigial organs from our evolutionary history led to the rampant removal of healthy appendixes and the irradiation of thymus glands in normal children (see Evolution and Medicine). An evolutionary mindset hindered the advancement of medicine, as many who accepted the concept of vestigial organs made no effort to discover their functions.”

Louis Pasteur made his discoveries demonstrating the Law of Biogenesis on the strength of his biblical understanding that God created life and that living things only come from other living things. Remarkably, Pasteur made these discoveries at a time when evolutionary claims about life-from-lifelessness and millions-of-years required for evolution were becoming widely accepted. Pasteur’s Bible-based prediction nevertheless led him to the truth, laying the foundations for microbiology and the study of infectious disease. British physician Joseph Lister, who did additional work in this area and maintained his anti-Darwinian biblical principles, ultimately revolutionized surgical practice by introducing aseptic techniques (see “Creation and the Germ Theory”).

As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I have always been struck by the tragic loss of life among women who delivered their children in hospitals where doctors stubbornly refused to wash their hands after handling dead bodies. Even before Pasteur and Koch confirmed the biblical principle that living “germs” only come from living “germs” and some microbes cause disease, insightfully modern principles of sanitation, hand-washing, and the handling of the dead were embodied in Old Testament Levitical guidelines. If physicians had seen the wisdom of these principles, they would have saved many new mothers from suffering and death due to infections caused by their own unhygienic practices.

Paths of the Sea (Psalm 8:8) and the Way to Life (John 14:6)

In addition to examples from their own fields, most of the creation scientists quoted above mentioned Matthew Maury’s systematic search to discover and map the “paths of the sea” after reading about them in Psalm 8:8. Maury’s comments, delivered in a speech less than a year after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, is a fitting way to close this brief effort to show our uninformed critics that although the Word of God is not a modern science textbook, whenever it addresses a scientific point, it is a completely reliable yardstick to guide our discoveries and interpretations of scientific questions. Maury said the following:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. What would you think of the historian who should refuse to consult the historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history?

The Bible is true and science is true, and therefore each, if truly read, but proves the truth of the other. The agents in the physical economy of our planet are ministers of Him who made both it and the Bible. The records which He has chosen to make through the agency of these ministers of His upon the crust of the earth are as true as the records which by the hands of His prophets and servants, He has been pleased to make in the Book of Life.

They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it, the fault is not with the witness of His records, but with the worm who essays to interpret evidence which he does not understand.12

For More Information:

Astronomy

Geology and Archaeology

Medicine

Genetics

Created Kinds and the Lack of Transitional Forms

Footnotes

  1. Billy Hallowell, “‘Cosmos’ TV Host Says Scripture Isn’t a Scientific Source: ‘Enlightened Religious People…Don’t Try to Use the Bible as a Textbook’”, The Blaze, March 11, 2014, http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/11/cosmos-host-says-scripture-isnt-a-scientific-source-enlightened-religious-people-dont-try-to-use-the-bible-as-a-textbook/.
  2. You may view this portion of the debate, concerning predictions, at debatelive.org by clicking “Jump to…Predictions.”
  3. Quote from personal communication with Dr. Fabich.
  4. Dr. Terry Mortenson’s book The Great Turning Point based on his PhD research discusses this on pages 88, 92–93,188, and 196.
  5. Personal email communication with Dr. Lightner.
  6. From Jean K. Lightner, “Making Predictions in Biology Using the YEC Model,” Creation Matters 19, no. 1 (Jan–Feb 2014). Dr. Lightner’s work was published in Jean K. Lightner, “Identification of species within the sheep-goat kind (Tsoan monobarmin),” Journal of Creation 20, no. 3: 61–65. The recent article in Creation Matters details much of the current literature which has shown her Bible-base prediction to be correct. Dr. Lightner is a board member of the Creation Research Society, which has over 650 members who are scientists with advanced degrees in their field. This issue of Creation Matters may be accessed online by members of the Creation Research Society. Many of her other publications are available on this website and in Answers Research Journal.
  7. Regarding Sagan’s claim—“The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be”—which is the theme of the new Cosmos miniseries, Dr. Faulkner said the following: “There is not a bit of science in that statement. When Sagan said it 34 years ago and then wrote it in his book, a lot of people were saying, ‘Wow! What a profound scientific statement,’ but it’s actually a philosophical statement. It is denial of the supernatural, saying the only thing that exists is the physical world, the natural world. But to say that with any certainty Sagan had to get outside the physical universe and see that the physical universe is all that there is. And he would have had to do that in eternity past and in eternity future in order to say that. If he could really see that, then he would be god. It’s a very bold, metaphysical statement. It’s an assertion. But it’s not science. It’s not a scientific statement.” Quoted in “Cosmos Review: “Standing Up in the Milky Way”.”
  8. D. Russell Humphreys, “The creation of planetary magnetic fields,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 21, no. 3: 140–149; D. Russell Humphreys, “The magnetic field of Uranus,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 23, no. 3: 115; D. Russell Humphreys, “Beyond Neptune: Voyager II supports creation,” Impact #203; D. Russell Humphreys, “Good news from Neptune: the Voyager 2 magnetic measurements,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 27, no. 1: 15–17.
  9. Anatolia: Cauldron of Cultures (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1995), 41.
  10. Quote from personal communication with Dr. Fliermans.
  11. Quote from personal communication with Dr. Fabich.
  12. Matthew Fontaine Maury address at the laying of the cornerstone of the University of the South, on Sewanee Mountain in East Tennessee. Cited in Corbin, Diane Fontaine Maury, 1888, A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, USN & CSN, compiled by his daughter. Sampson & Low & Co. Quoted in the article “Matthew Fontaine Maury.”

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