Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible?

on July 4, 2008; last featured April 4, 2016

Here’s an experiment you can do anywhere. Imagine that you are standing in an open field. In this field you find the remains of a house that stood long ago. Your job is to come up with the reason that this house was there, describe who lived there, and explain why they left.

After making your best guess, what if you then found eyewitness accounts from those who lived there—accounts that showed your guess to be wildly inaccurate? Would you then reject those accounts in favor of your guess? Although this thought experiment might seem frivolous, the point is important. When looking for the truth about the unrepeatable past, the best approach is to first seek out eyewitness accounts of those who actually experienced the history.

Nature as a Dual Revelation?

When people look to nature to reveal truth, they are falling into the same speculation trap as in describing the house in the field. No matter how imaginative or intelligent they are, they can never know exactly what happened in history without trustworthy eyewitness accounts.

Those who promote nature as a missing aspect of God’s revelation (the so-called “67th book of the Bible”) need to understand two crucial fallacies with this idea: first, nature is cursed; second, our observations of nature are not independent from our presuppositions. When we examine these problems, we see that nature should never be put on the same level as the Bible.

The Curse

Many who trust in humans as the highest authority reject the Curse as true history and thus deny its effect on our observations. Some point to the effects of the Curse as proof of “bad design.” For Christians, however, it is foolish to ignore the Curse when considering what nature can “reveal” to us. After all, this would be like someone trusting a funhouse mirror to show them how they really looked. They look into the mirror and see a distorted view but assume that this mirror must be “right.”

Likewise, while nature does reflect some of God’s qualities (Romans 1:20), if we trusted the nature we see now to show who God is, we would see the death, violence, and plant and animal defense and predatory structures and imagine God as reveling in death and destruction.

Natural Conclusions?

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t study nature. After all, “nature” is everything around us, and God gave it to humanity so that we could look into the universe around us and see His glory. However, nature is only as impartial as the viewer. Although nature itself does not lead to false conclusions about the past, people who look at nature can be misled by their own mistaken presuppositions. Those who look to nature as an objective source of God’s revelation (or an objective source of scientific truth) are ultimately looking, instead, at their own preconceptions—even if they don’t realize they have them.

Why do some elevate nature to the same level as God’s Word? Is it because of evidence . . . or is it because of compromise with the world? Watch The Great Debate and decide for yourself.

God’s Take on Nature

Ultimately, God’s Word reveals the reason that we should never consider nature as our sole source of knowledge or as an extra book of the Bible:

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8; cf. 1 Peter 1:24–25)

When the Bible mentions nature and the Word together, we find that only one of them is permanent and foundational for knowing and fulfilling His will. Nature—this universe—will pass away and be rolled up like a scroll (Isaiah 34:4), but God’s Word will endure.

If we depend on nature to reveal the truth, and especially if we reinterpret God’s Words based on our stories and interpretations of nature, we will be building our house on a foundation of sand. By contrasting the transience of nature with the constancy of His Word, God shows us that His Word alone is sufficient revelation—and in fact, the only logical framework—from which we can understand and appreciate the universe around us.

Don’t Just Wonder. Get Answers.

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