Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Part 3. Can we still believe the Bible? A scientific perspective

In this essay I consider the question: Can we still believe the Bible? from a scientific angle. This follows the previous essays in this series where I did the same from a hermeneutical (interpretive) and an archaeological perspective respectively. I engage with the problem of scientific evidence for the existence of God as well as many other related issues.

The Bible is an ancient book. It originated millennia ago within a prescientific age. As such, the Biblical perspective obviously reflects that ancient way of thinking about the world which is very different from the scientific one which goes back a mere 300 years. Does that mean that the Bible cannot say anything to us today? Does its ancient character disqualify the Bible from being taken seriously within our scientific age? These questions introduce an even more fundamental one: How does the prescientific nature of the Bible impacts on its truth? The Bible is, after all, a book that is concerned with "truth".

There are many scholars (from the Biblical Criticism tradition) who think that the prescientific character seriously undermines the validity of the Biblical narrative. They believe that its prescientific origins automatically means that the views presented are "primitive" and not compatible with our scientific understanding of the world. Some of them try to "rescue" some aspects such as the Jesus story (clinging to the truth about the resurrection) but others reject it as an ancient book that is not relevant to our present-day concerns. As such, they see an unbridgeable gap between the Biblical perspective and the scientific one.

Many conservative Christians also think in terms of such a gap but in their case, they reject the scientific perspective as being the untrustworthy one. Their thinking is moulded by the prescientific Biblical perspective which they read in scientific terms (in accordance with their contemporary education) as giving an "objective" perspective - without any concerns for the very different world from which the Biblical text originated. Obviously, the prescientific nature of the book has to be taken into account in our understanding and interpreting it. This, however, does not have to mean (as taken by Biblical Criticism scholars) that the Biblical truth is compromised. In fact, its ancient character may even strengthen the Biblical claim to the truth when it is understood on its own terms - for example, as a book written with integrity but from an observational (instead of scientific) perspective.

One of the significant problems in this discussion is the popular understandings of science which are often not at all scientific but rather belong to a scientism view of the world. When science is taken as the "measure of all things" (to quote the American philosopher Wilfred Sellars (1912-1989)) then obviously the Bible cannot perform that function. When all things are measured in empirical terms, then obviously there cannot be any place for a world beyond our empirical reach. Many people - including scientists - adhere to such a perspective without even knowing that this is a metaphysical standpoint, not a scientific one!

This deeply engrained scientism is reflected in the main reason given by atheists for not believing in God, namely that there is no direct empirical proof of His existence. Although this is (obviously) true, this perspective reflects a very basic misunderstanding about the nature of science. Once one understands the scope and limits of science (especially insofar as its empirical reach is concerned - which has been dramatically exposed within the context of quantum physics) then one knows that science is not in competition with faith.

In this essay, I consider the question whether the prescientific nature of the Bible disqualifies this ancient book as a trustworthy source of information about the ancient world and discredits its message and claim to truth? I consider the role of observation in both the Biblical and scientific perspectives. In what sense is the Biblical perspective different from the scientific one? And what about the ancient worldview in which the Biblical authors were embedded? How does that relate to the scientific view of the world? I take a closer look at the scope and limits of science to determine whether good science is in conflict with the Biblical perspective and even whether science may, in fact, support the Biblical claim to the truth!

Science and the prescientific nature of the Bible

When we consider the Bible from a purely secular angle, it seems to be an ancient book like all such books which would never have been relevant to current debate if it was not a religious book (which takes centre stage in Judaeo-Christian religion with the Jews obviously only accepting the Tanakh which the Christians call Old Testament). This, however, reflects a preconceived dogmatic position, namely that the Biblical claim to be divinely inspired cannot in principle be true. As such, it goes against an honest and open search for the truth. The alternative is to at least consider the Biblical claim that it contains God's message to humankind.

This Biblical claim is grounded on the testimonies of people (prophets and other authors) whom believers regard as true and trustworthy. These people testified about their experience of God who revealed himself in various ways to them: through an angel, vivid dreams, his Spirit and through Jesus Christ, the son of God. Their testimony concerns a very long tradition of oracles going back to those given to Abraham, the most important forefather of Israel, as well as Moses, their most important law-giver, and many other such prophets as well as the events associated with those oracles. As such, the message of God is presented as belonging to a certain historical context which includes even miraculous events such as those preceding the exodus and many others [1]. The main claim is that all the testimonies included in the Bible are true because they were given with integrity (and are sanctioned by God who inspired the authors through his Spirit).

We read, for example, that St. Paul writes: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). Regarding the prophets, we read in 2 Peter 1:19-21: "no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but holy men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit". The important point is that these were "holy men" of God whose testimony is trustworthy because they would not lie (especially within the context of a holy God who abhors all lying and misleading testimony (see Rev. 21:8)).

Now, even in our day and age witness testimony forms an integral part of our justice system. When enquiring about the true nature of events the court values the "true and trustworthy" testimony of eyewitnesses very high - exactly the kind of testimony that the Bible claims to present! I discuss this aspect (i.e. using the justice system as the point of departure in evaluating Biblical truth) when I considered the Bible from an archaeological angle [2]. In any good justice system, the truth is determined by both witness testimony as well as scientific data. When the testimonies are true, they would not be in conflict with scientific data even though both need interpretation (which may lead to perceived inconsistencies which are purely due to the manner of interpretation).

All witness testimony happens within a certain context which does not belong to a pure scientific setting. The same is true for the Biblical testimony. Although the context of the Biblical authors was very different from our own and they regarded the world in very different terms than us, it is difficult to see how that undermines the truth of their testimony when we take that context into consideration when interpreting the Biblical text. All eyewitnesses have some kind of belief system which may differ radically from each other (and which may to some extent influence their thinking) but that does not in itself disqualify their testimony as long it is truthfully given. This means that we cannot discard the Biblical testimony purely because it originated within the ancient prescientific age.

Even though the Biblical testimonies include pronunciations and mention events which go beyond what natural science allows (i.e. in the case of prophecy and miracles) one cannot merely reject them out of hand as untrue - if the God whom they served really exists then He could obviously have done such things. One may, however, think that those witnesses may have been mistaken because they took purely natural things in a supernatural way. And we do, in fact, find that God is sometimes said to have used natural means to accomplish supernatural things (for example, the wind is said to have opened the path before the Israelites when they crossed the sea during the exodus). But that does not necessarily negate the miraculous aspect thereof as witnessed by the people of that time. We would, however, have to take a closer look at the way in which they engaged with the world through observation to determine if their experience has validity even today.

Science and observation

The most important insight which led to our scientific age concerns the role of the observer. Things are not always as they seem to be. Copernicus discovered that our observation of the sun going around the earth each day is in fact wrong - it is merely an illusion based on the rotation of the earth in its elliptical path around the sun. This is usually understood to mean that the geocentric view is wrong and the heliocentric one correct. Now, although this may be true on the larger scale of things, there is nothing wrong in taking both perspectives as valid as long as the context of observation is taken into consideration.

During the early part of the modern period (from the time of René Descartes (1596-1650) until the first half of the twentieth century), many scientists (and ordinary people following their lead) took the heliocentric perspective in absolute terms (i.e. thinking that the sun is the centre of the universe). This coincides with the modern view that we can achieve absolute objective positions which is immune to different perspectives. Even though it was eventually recognized that the sun is merely the center of our solar system but not of the universe, this absolutist "modernist" philosophical thinking gave birth in the early twentieth century to the neo-Kantian and Logical Empiricist (Logical Positivist) schools of philosophical thought (which subsequently became discredited especially due to the findings of quantum physics - for a detailed discussion, see [3])). The validity of various perspectives was reinforced by Einstein's theory of relativity, according to which we can always define some other valid framework relative to the one we are using. In the end, everything is relative to each other and we can never proceed beyond some kind of observational perspective. This does not undermine the accuracy of the scientific endeavour.

The problem of observation is at the same time one of knowledge. How do we know that what we observe is indeed true knowledge? This is the problem tackled by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in his famous Critique of Pure Reason (also called the first Critique; 1781, 1787). Kant followed Copernicus's lead and acknowledged that all human knowledge is always obtained from the standpoint of the observer. As such, two things are necessary for obtaining "objective" knowledge: concepts (universals) as well as empirical data (particulars) given in our senses. Furthermore, all knowledge involves a determinate judgement that the empirical data (the things that we observe) is consistent with the concepts (theoretical models) that we use. As long as we can obtain such judgments, we can assert that we have obtained "objective" knowledge. 

Of particular importance to our present discussion, is the fact that this approach was developed within the parameters of normal human experience. As such, it is generally valid - but finds its systematic application in science. In this way, Kant laid the theoretical groundwork for all mathematical science.

Although we can obtain "objective" knowledge, this knowledge is not singularly determined. One may have data within certain contexts agreeing with simple models and data in other more complex situations agreeing with more sophisticated models (Kant nowhere says anything contrasting this). In this way, we may think of Newton’s theory as describing objective reality in classical contexts and Einstein’s theories as describing objective reality in relativistic contexts (at least insofar as the measurements are concerned). This reinforces the Kantian view that all knowledge is always defined in terms of the observer and always reflects a human perspective of the world. We can never obtain a "God's eye view" on things. 

This means that the perspective of the Biblical authors cannot be discounted merely because they belong to the prescientific age. All humans share the same kind of experience - and this includes humans of all ages. Their experience involves knowledge claims exactly on par with ours - even though they did not know about science and its aim to obtain such knowledge under controlled conditions. We can therefore not discount their experience only because it dates from the prescientific age! We have to say exactly why we reject the validity of their experience - and that cannot be due to a lack of integrity (see the previous section) or observational skills.

There is, however, more to the Kantian position in the Critique of Pure Reason. This work does not only present the conditions for obtaining objective knowledge - it also shows the limits within which such knowledge can be obtained. We may be able to develop theoretical models which go far beyond experience and experiment (we use the causal connection between our senses and instruments to extend our empirical access to the world) but our empirical access is severely restricted by our human condition. All our empirically-acquired data belongs to those aspects of our world that can be so accessed - that is, those aspects of our world that are measurable by our material instruments. Those things which happen(ed) or exist beyond our temporal and spatial reach can never be so accessed. This includes things which are too complex (for example, an infinity of causally related connections) or which are by their very nature forever outside empirical reach (supersensible - such as the Big Bang or quantum states which are mathematically described in terms of a singularity or imaginary numbers (with no real component)).

One of the interesting features of Kant's philosophy is that he allowed for the possibility of the existence of a supersensible realm within our world which is beyond the empirical reach of our experience and experiments. At that time, many philosophers and scientists thought that Kant merely did this to accommodate faith. In recent years, it had been shown that the conditions for the supersensible realm are satisfied in the quantum realm! [4] Quantum objects are "supersensible" (unmeasurable) and not presentable in proper space-time while being in their pre-measurement phase. As such, they are different from those that we encounter in our experiments - quantum objects adhere to superpositions of states which "collapse" to certain reduced modes that are observable in experiment.

The only reason why scientists argue that quantum objects exist even though we cannot empirically access them is that they cause certain outcomes in our world. If they did not do this (and some don't), we would not even have known about their existence! So, the question is: how extensive is the quantum realm? How many kinds of objects are there that belong to that realm? What kind of existence is that which we do not have empirical access to?

Without trying to answer these questions, we can say the following: we as humans are severely constrained in our understanding of the world! We have no hope that we will ever gain access to this other mode of existence because of the restricted nature of our human kind of sensibility. Although we can think beyond that, and formulate various mathematical conceptions that apply to that kind of existence to the extent that we may encounter outcomes produced by such objects, we would never be able to empirically access them and understand them. We can say: A part of our world is beyond empirical reach. This is also the part where "dark" matter and "dark" energy resides.

The fact that science is so severely restricted in its empirical reach leaves no doubt that it cannot be the measure of all things! There are some scientists who believe that one-day science will be the measure of all things but this is merely a belief which is doomed to fail given the restricted nature of our empirical reach! The important point is that science can only measure those things which are given as matter in space-time. Although we can manipulate quantum objects which are not in proper space-time but which can be realized in space-time, we have absolutely no idea what lies beyond our empirical reach! So, although science can provide a good description of the measurable world it cannot confirm or deny the existence of things that exist beyond that. It has no possible way, for example, to explore the existence of God empirically.

One may argue that the scientific view of the world is still much, much better than the prescientific worldview. In fact, one may argue that the Biblical authors believed in things that are unscientific like angels, spirits, souls and so forth and that that had a major influence on their interpretation of the world. But Christians (and many others) believe in these same things today - and that does not disqualify them from giving trustworthy testimonies which accurately reflect their observation of events!

When considering the validity of the Biblical perspective, one, however, has to confront the issue regarding the existence of angels, spirits and souls. Although it is true that these things do presently lie beyond the reach of science (and their existence cannot be confirmed) that obviously does not necessarily mean that they do not exist! The scientific view of the world does not exclude the possibility of their existence - it is the scientism view which takes current (!) science as the measure of all things which does that. This means that our scientific view of the world might be more in agreement with the ancient worldview that one might suspect. Although many scholars have asserted that the ancient worldview is "primitive" and in direct conflict with the scientific one, this judgment does, in fact, says more about their dogmatic position than reality.

Science and the ancient worldview

At this point, we may take a closer look at the ancient (Biblical) worldview to see how it relates to the scientific view of the world. One of the main features of that view is the distinction between the material world of observation and the invisible world which exists beyond that. We find this distinction all over the ancient world and even in Greek philosophy where Plato (and other ancient philosophers) made that distinction.

Insofar as the invisible world is concerned, the ancients found a way to make that "visible" within their world. They took the starry heavens of the night sky as reflecting the reality associated with the invisible world. In this regard, they observed that the rotation of the starry heaven around the earth (due to the earth's rotation; in the same way that the sun goes around the earth) creates the image of a large rotating cosmic egg on which all the stars are located. The top and bottom of this "egg" are located at the northern and southern "poles" of heaven respectively, in accordance with the projection of the earth's rotational axis to those points. This is where the idea of a cosmic egg found in many ancient cultures originated.

Now, this egg had been divided into three cosmic realms since ancient times (already in ancient Sumer). The middle region, which was identified with the "earth", was associated with the region of the sky between the solstice points (on the horizon). The four "corners" (or "pillars") of the "earth" were defined by the solstice and equinox points. To the north - that is "above" the "earth" - is the region which was identified with "heaven" and to the south - that is "underneath" the "earth" - is the underworld (Hell). Both these regions belong to the otherworld. These regions are brought together by the cosmic tree (the cosmic axis) which stretches through them all. The stars were identified with the gods associated with those regions (for a detailed discussion, see [5]). As such, we often find in the Biblical tradition that the angels (which replaced the "gods" of ancient times) were identified with stars or planets (Judg. 5:20; Job 38:7; Rev. 1:20 etc.).

Some scholars have interpreted this three-tiered picture of the world as a very "primitive" one. Now, it may not be part of our modern scientific view of the world but is nonetheless a very sophisticated worldview in which the movements of the starry heavens are reflected. It is only when one takes this worldview as a true representation of the world as it really is (in scientific terms) that it would be wrong (just like the geocentric view). The ancients, however, did not take it as such but as a reflection of the invisible world which they regarded as the truly real world which lies beyond this material world. In fact, many Christians who accept the scientific worldview see no contradiction in also believing in heaven and Hell which belong to the invisible world.

Of particular interest is the fact that these cosmic regions - which are beyond sensible reach - were within the reach of the shamans and mystics. They journeyed to these regions in inner experience. They were able to do this through some kind of coincidence of their own psychology with the mentioned cosmic regions - they experienced in their inner sense that they travelled through those regions [6]. One can say that the visible representation of the invisible world in the starry heavens served as the basis for their own interaction with that world in inner experience. They believed that in the same way that humans bodily interact with the material world through their physical senses, they can interact with the invisible world with their soul through some kind of inner sense. This is the "truly real" invisible world of which the material world is merely a shadow as we find in Plato's beautiful story of the cave in his Republic.

We can now bring this ancient worldview within the framework of science. Whereas the physical world studied by science provides our scientific picture of the world, the invisible world in which the ancients believed was visualized by them as a three-tiered picture of the world. Since the three-tiered picture was never intended to be taken as an image of our material world and it merely served as an imagery device in which the otherworld was brought into focus, we need not see it in any way as being in conflict with the scientific view of the world. The primary question before us is whether such a world really exists?

Those who believe in the spirit world (as the invisible world is also called) think that humans do, in fact, have access to such a realm on a spiritual level. Those who do not believe therein, think that such kind of experiences goes no deeper than our human psychology. As such, all "near-death" and mystical experiences are explained as manifestations of our human psychology. The primary question, which science has not been able to answer, is: Is that world only in the mind or is it rather that we access that world only through the mind?

The problem is again the one of empirical access. There is no possible way that we can empirically determine whether such experiences are merely psychological or whether they involve real entities within a spirit world. Some cases have been reported in this regard where the brain's metabolism had been brought down so that it didn't require oxygen or glucose after which the patient told how she observed the operation from a disembodied position in the room and even described the particular saw used to open her skull. Those who think that this merely reflects psychological states think that the patient's visual imagery came from familiar memory and that she must have been able to see the saw when she was wheeled into the operation room (for a more detailed discussion, see [7]).

Those who believe that this kind of experience is real and that the patient observed the operation through the eyes of the soul (to use Plato's expression) cannot prove it because the soul (if it exists) is beyond empirical reach (it is non-material). Those who believe that this experience is merely psychological can also not prove that this is the case. They merely state that those things which are beyond empirical reach do not exist which is obviously not necessarily the case. Although traditional science focused primarily on the study of material things, the advent of quantum physics has shown that non-material entities outside space-time exist which suggest the possibility of other things existing beyond experimental reach (think, for example, of dark matter and dark energy). This means that we cannot in principle exclude the possible existence of the soul (and the spirit realm) from scientific discussion.

Theoretical physicists who study dark matter, have proposed that humans may have a quantum body made from this stuff [8]. Although they are fast to say that this has nothing to do with the soul, this obviously shows a remarkable correspondence with our understanding of the soul. How something like this could be brought within indirect empirical reach in an experiment has yet to be seen.

There is, however, a way to bring the scientific and ancient worldviews together in one coherent perspective. In this regard, we may remember that Plato's invisible realm had its origin with the mystics as he mentions in the Phaedo. In this, he clearly states that the soul exists in this invisible realm (which belong to the inner experience of the mystics) whereas the body belongs to the visible realm. Now, Kant's idea of the supersensible realm originated from Plato's invisible realm and he also locates the soul in that realm (within the context of his regulative metaphysics).

In Kant's regulative metaphysics - especially in his Critique of the Power of Judgment (also called the third Critique; 1790) where he presents the supersensible realm within the context of his philosophy of science - this realm is clearly delineated as being the substratum of both the material world (more correctly, systemic or mechanistic "nature") as well as our human nature (5:196, 409, 429). Kant proposed (as a regulative idea) that the supersensible realm, which is "outside" (albeit not in any physical sense) proper space/time as well as mechanistic nature, incorporates non-extended "wholes-and-parts" (outside proper space/time) which have a certain potentiality to produce material parts and aggregated wholes in nature. In his view, we need such a conception to explain the biological products of nature [4]. 

The interesting thing is - as mentioned above - that all the conditions of Kant's supersensible realm are satisfied within the quantum realm! [4] This is extremely interesting since this implies that the quantum realm may be our first point of entry to explore the invisible world of the ancients! In the same way that the invisible realm is beyond our sensible reach (and only accessible through spiritual means) the quantum realm is beyond direct empirical reach. This may mean that the invisible world of Platonic and Biblical tradition translates into the quantum world in the framework of contemporary science. Also, the idea of that a part of our human existence may consist of dark matter (and belong to the quantum realm) would be consistent with the ancient idea of the soul belonging to the invisible realm! 

At this point, we enter the realm of metaphysics. Within the modernist tradition of those who take science as the measure of all things, all metaphysics were (and are) viewed with extreme scepticism since they believed that it represents all those unscientific (and therefore, primitive) aspects of society's thinking. In their view, everything that goes beyond science should be discarded as mere metaphysics. The problem, however, is that science has since been confronted with exactly this problem: in quantum physics we have encountered a world which is beyond empirical reach and of which we can only formulate metaphysical views which are represented in the various interpretations thereof (Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation, Von Neumann's observer interpretation, Bohn's view, the many-worlds interpretation etc.). Today, philosophers of science openly speak of the metaphysics of science! We have all sorts of ideas about what that world really is like but we have no way to establish the truth thereof!

Obviously, science has reached a certain limit where it has no choice but to include metaphysics in the discussion. Although the metaphysics of science is clearly delineated, the same can be said about Kant's metaphysics - which may, in fact, be presented as a hypothesis for scientific research! Now, since the Kantian metaphysics may be taken as a rational version of the ancient metaphysical worldview, this implies that we are in effect now able to scientifically test some aspects of that ancient worldview within the parameters of Kantian metaphysics! 

Those who hold a scientism view - and take contemporary science as the measure of all things - now have the problem that science can no longer be strictly kept apart from metaphysics. They do not know whether aspects of the ancient worldview (such as the soul) may eventually be confirmed (through indirect empirical means) in the progress of science. They can try to reinforce the old view that only that which is empirically accessible is real - but no scientist worth that name would seriously consider that. 

Principles for scientific judgment

So, where do we go from here? What is to be allowed and what is to be excluded from serious scientific discussion? Again, Kant has provided us with tools in this regard. We can distinguish three areas of scientific endeavour which correspond with three kinds of scientific judgment. These vary from doing science in classical contexts to immature science (where things at the edge of science such as dark matter and dark energy are studied and theorized about). In the progress of science, things which now lie outside the possibility of experimental access may eventually come within the range of indirect empirical reach (which may eventually require considerable arguments in justifying its truth). As such, things which we may now consider as belonging merely to metaphysics may eventually enter the domain of serious science.

1. Determinate Judgment. When objects (and events) are within sensible reach, we use the classic Kantian judgment discussed above, called determinate judgment. This refers not only to classical objects but also to microscopic particles that become manifest by impacts, bubble chamber tracks and clicks on counters and which "appear" in space-time (see the work of Pringe (2007) in this regard [9]). As such, we can obtain knowledge in the classical (Kantian) sense of all objects which manifest itself as matter in space-time.

2. Regulative Judgment [10]. This kind of judgment is named after the Kantian concept of regulative ideas, which goes beyond the concepts of the understanding which apply to objects given in experience and experiment (in space/time). Regulative ideas of reason apply to objects (and events) which are beyond direct empirical confirmation but which may guide scientific research in the form of hypotheses (when they are so confirmed, we may consider them as valid theoretical models). In current science, Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the Big Bang theory as well as quantum mechanics, are such theories. The true nature of the things described by these theories are unknowable (since they are beyond the reach of determinate judgment) and as such, they are the focus of scientific metaphysics.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity concerns the totally of mechanistic relations (which goes beyond the limits of empirical reach in degree) and the Big Bang theory concerns something that is forever outside empirical reach (and can only be confirmed very indirectly, for example, through the observation of the redshift of light (which supports the idea of an expanding universe) and the absorption line features in the background radiation which agrees with star formation). Quantum physics is concerned with entities beyond direct empirical reach (which goes beyond the limits of empirical reach in being of a different kind of existence - otherwise they would be so accessible!) [4]. In this case, we may think in terms of the necessary conditions for something to be such or such - for example, the necessary conditions for quantum entities or quantum spontaneity (to use Bohr's expression) to exist. When these conditions are satisfied (through arguments involving mathematical and experimental aspects) we may say that we have good reason to think that these things are true. 

Image result for einstein
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
3. Reflective Judgment. When we are not able to bring things (even indirectly) within empirical reach but think that the world may be such, then we use this kind of Kantian judgment. This judgment is merely an estimate that things are such or such and may be regarded as a hypothesis. Often mathematical theories in physics or biology serve as such hypotheses. One may think of Strings Theory, the theory that the universe includes higher dimensions and the hypotheses of dark matter and dark energy in this regard. These things are within the realm of immature science and the possibility of their existence belongs to the realm of scientific metaphysics. They belong to the larger metaphysical picture of the world. In the progress of science, things which were at one stage regarded as falling under this kind of judgment may eventually be found to become accessible in regulative judgment.

Re-considering the Bible

We can now consider the ancient (Biblical) worldview within this context. Insofar as this worldview is part of the Judaeo-Christian belief system we may regard it as belonging to religious metaphysics which is outside scientific concern. In this case, one may think that there is no necessary conflict with science (as discussed above) and decide to believe the testimony of the Biblical witnesses as a trustworthy account of historical events (or not). As discussed above, there are no good reasons why their prescientific context should disqualify their testimony - in spite of many pronunciations of certain scholars to the contrary (for a detailed discussion of the hermeneutical and archaeological views of such scholars, see [2, 11]).

As mentioned above, we are in the lucky position that Kantian metaphysics may be taken as a rational version of the Biblical worldview. As such, we may regard it as a theoretical model on par with any other similar mathematical model which presents a metaphysical picture of our world. The reason why this is of particular importance to our present discussion is that scientific progress has resulted in many aspects of the Kantian metaphysics - which originally belonged to the third kind of judgment (reflective judgment) - coming within the range of the second kind of judgment (regulative judgment). Using the scientific method of testing hypotheses, we may now evaluate the correctness of Kant's metaphysics on various fronts.

Kant's metaphysics includes the following: 1) God created the world (see the fourth antinomy, i.e. conflict of laws), 2) the material world had a beginning (see the first antinomy), 3) the material world has a supersensible (or: noumenal) substrate which is also the substrate of human nature (see the third Critique), 4) the noumenal self of humans is the soul, 5) The supersensible realm is ruled by absolute spontaneity (see the third antinomy). This is necessary for free will which is the ability to live in accordance with the moral law. In the context of biology this may be conceptualized as a potentiality that non-extended "wholes-and-parts" have to produce material parts and aggregated wholes in nature (see the third Critique) [4], 6) an unfolding process of evolution in accordance with God's design through which the potentially of non-extended "wholes-and-parts" to produce material expressions leads to adaptations which result in ever more complex organisms and life forms.

One may take points 2) - 6) as indirect evidence for the existence of the Judaeo-Christian God. These things are consistent with the view that God created all things in the beginning and that his requirement that humans keep the moral law is in line with their human abilities. Kant also presented the opposing view held by contemporary atheists within the context of his first, third, fourth and seventh antinomies which deny these things.

During the period after Kant presented his view, there developed a general consensus (in scientific and philosophical circles) that Kant was wrong and that 1) the world had no beginning, 2) the material world has no supersensible substratum, 3) spontaneity does not exist (only deterministic causes exist), 4) humans do not have a soul, 5) all evolution takes place through mechanistic means as described by Darwinistic theory.

Now, after the advent of Einstein's theories, the Big Bang theory, quantum mechanics and quantum biology, the scientific community now accepts 1) the world had a beginning, 2) the quantum realm exists (which satisfies the conditions of Kant's supersensible realm), 3) quantum indeterminism (which satisfies the Kantian conditions for spontaneity) is proven in the context of the collapse of superpositions of states to reduced states (corresponding with the Kantian regulative concept of non-extended "wholes-and parts" being realized as material parts and wholes). We also find that alternative theories of evolution have been proposed in biology which is consistent with the Kantian model (for a detailed discussion, see [12]). Now, the randomness inherent in neo-Darwinian evolution is replaced by the (quantum) laws of nature in accordance with design in the cosmos [13]. 

These are, in fact, the only things within the reach of science which may serve as indirect evidence for the existence of the Biblical God in contradistinction with other possible gods. The only other evidence is the testimonies found in Scripture. Although the existence of the soul is also important within the Judaeo-Christian worldview, it obviously does not belong exclusively to that view. It may, however, serve as supplementary evidence when taken together with the other evidence.

The remarkable thing is that Kant's metaphysics had (in spite of it originally being generally rejected!) been shown to be correct insofar as we had been able to test that in the progress of science - which serves as confirmation of the Biblical worldview! Usually, when a theoretical model is confirmed in such a spectacular way, scientists accept that it is valid. But somehow, the idea of God's existence is not allowed within the secular approach of scientism (it is banned in principle). What is also remarkable, is that those who take science as the measure of all things have been shown to be wrong in every possible way (on all the mentioned points)! Nonetheless, the general secular opinion is still that they are right!! This is truly mind-blowing.

If we take the Kantian model in its totality, then only the existence of God and the soul is still outside current scientific debate. Now, although God is forever beyond empirical reach, the soul may eventually come within reach as discussed above. One may argue that the confirmation of things predicted by Kant's metaphysical model (consistent with the scientific method!) serve as substantial evidence for the existence of God in the very same way that the confirmation of things predicted by the Big Bang Theory serves to confirm that event which is also absolutely outside experimental reach (in the same way as God; for a detailed discussion, see [14])). Why would one accept the one but not the other if not through a massive bias against the Biblical position?

The only outstanding aspect of Kant's model which may eventually come within scientific reach is the human soul. Above, we saw that it may actually already be within the parameters of scientific mathematical theorizing albeit not under that name (within the context of theoretical models of dark matter). It is easy to show that both the soul as well as noumenal intuition (which Christians take as deep impressions of God's voice) are consistent with the scientific worldview (see [15]). I predict that the existence of the soul will also eventually be confirmed (albeit very indirectly).


When we consider the trustworthiness of the Bible from a scientific standpoint, we find that the idea that it cannot be trusted because it comes from a prescientific age is very wrong. This is just not the case. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot trust the witness testimonies of the Bible even though large parts of society have been conditioned not to believe it. I think the evidence speaks for itself - but for those from the modernist (atheistic) circle, nothing would serve as sufficient evidence. They would always lift the bar - demanding the kind of evidence which is forever outside our human reach, not because God does not exist but because of the limitations of our human condition.

It is exactly because of this radically restricted human condition that one can understand why the Bible asserts that it is through God's revelation in Scripture that he had chosen to communicate with humankind. In the end, we as humans can never proceed beyond "knowing in part". Our hope does not lie in the full understanding of all things that science aspires to (which can never happen) but in faith built upon the integrity and trustworthy witness of those people who wrote the Bible. The Biblical perspective is not in conflict with science. Rather, it goes far beyond the reach of science. As such, science can never be the measure of all things. Biblical truth can, however, be that measure.

[1] Biblical Criticism scholars believe that the Biblical testimony dates long after the events and can as such not be trusted. But that merely reflect their own ideological perspective. The Bible mentions in various places that the authors were indeed eyewitness, for example, the prophets who wrote the monarchical histories of Israel or St. Luke's (Luk. 1:2,3) mentioning his using such eyewitnesses. Various court prophets are mentioned in Hebrew tradition as the ones who wrote down the oracles as well as the story which tells the context in which that happened. Among these were Samuel (I Sam. 10:25), Nathan (1 Chr. 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29); Gad (1 Chr. 29:29; 2 Chr. 29:25), Ahijah (2 Chr. 9:29), Shemaiah (2 Chr. 12:15), Iddo (2 Chr. 12:15; 13:22), Elijah (2 Chr. 21:12), Isaiah (2 Chr. 32:32) and others. The author of the Chronicles of the Hebrew kings mentions the histories written by Samuel (from the time of King Saul), Nathan and Gad (from the time of King David), Ahijah (from the time of King Solomon), Shemaiah and Iddo (from the time of King Rehoboam), Elijah (from the time of King Ahab) and Isaiah (from the time of King Hezekiah). Regarding the older stories, I discuss that elsewhere [16].
[2] Can we still believe the Bible? An archaeological perspective
The Biblical authors can obviously not be called for cross-examination as we find in our justice system but that does not mean that we cannot use the justice system as the model for evaluating the Biblical story. We can use a process similar to the justice system to make judgments about historical narratives such as those found in the Bible. 
[3] Science and Atheism
[4] Willem Mcloud. Kant, Noumena and Quantum Physics (Introduction)
Published in Contemporary Studies in Kantian Philosophy 3 (2018) (94 pages)
click on: https://www.cckp.space/single-post/2018/06/15/CSKP3-2018-Kant-Noumena-and-Quantum-Physics
[5] The origins of Satan: the ancient worldview
[6] Wilhelm, Richard.  1962.  The Secret of the Golden Flower. A Chinese Book of Life.  (Translated and explained by Richard Wilhelm with a foreword and commentary by C. G. Jung.)  London: Routledge.
[7] The God Impulse
[8] See, for example, http://www.space.com/21508-dark-matter-atoms-disks.html
[9] Pringe, H. 2007. Critique of the Quantum Power of Judgment. A Transcendental Foundation of Quantum Objectivity (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter).
[10] Kant did not conceptualize this kind of judgment but it is in line with his thinking and becomes necessary within the context of indirect empirical data (the idea of which was unknown to Kant).
[11] Can we still believe the Bible? A hermeneutical perspective
[12] The Christian and Evolution
[13] The question is: Where did the lawfulness of nature originate? Science cannot answer this but presupposes this lawfulness in all its endeavour. It needs the lawfulness of nature to explain the evolution of the cosmos and all in it. Science has no choice but to operate as if nature is designed! 
[14] Science and Metaphysics: in search of Russell's teapot.
[15] Science and spiritual intuition
[16] Abraham holds the key

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref. wmcloud.blogspot.com)

The author is a scientist and philosopher (PhD in Physics, MA in Philosophy). He writes on issues of religion, philosophy and science.

Part 1. Can we still believe the Bible? A hermeneutical perspective
Part 2. Can we still believe the Bible? An archaeological perspective
Part 4. Can we still believe the Bible? A prophetic perspective

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