How big is the Bible part 4

Bible verse used in podcast:

  • Matthew 28:18-20
  • Psalms 19:1-3
  • Romans 1:20-21
  • Acts 17:22-25

Interesting resources

Trinity

Cool quotes about God and science

Are there things in the Bible we can’t prove?

Before I talked about Godel’s incompleteness theorems and the question now comes, could it apply to the Bible? One question, in particular, will be in focus, are there things in the Bible that are true that we can not prove?

Of course to make sure we understand where we are going about this; Godel’s theorems talk about formal finite systems of axioms. One revelation out of this being, that if you have such a system, there will always be something about the system that is true, that you can not prove. This doesn’t mean that if a system is missing something it is false. It simply points to the idea that the reality of what you are trying to explain is larger than what you currently understand. With Godel’s theorem, if you can use the axioms of this system to prove things within the system, you get these strange results. Before on my podcast, I talked about using the Bible to cross-reference things to check if something is true. The Bible presents “axioms” or rules, laws however you want to label them, about God, morality, prophecy, and fate of mankind. Does Godel’s theorem apply to the Bible? Can you find similar situations?

On a surface level you can argue yes simply. In a strange way, the Bible has a bit of a strange assumption about its reader that we tend to overlook. The writers tend to write their books for people who lived during the time and witness the events being presented. Often we have trouble because we don’t know the historical or cultural context of what the writers are referring to. For instance, what were the beliefs of the Pharisees and Sadducees who confronted Jesus? When they are confronting Jesus they have a specific view that they believed shaped the questions they presented. You might be able to piece some of their thinking from looking at their questions and how they relate to the Bible, but there isn’t a Bible verse that explicitly explains what they believe. 

The trinity on one page?

On the other hand, you can say Godel’s theorem applies because we don’t have all of the Bible understood at once. We need to constantly learn more about the Bible to understand it. It is like the system of knowledge we have on the Bible is a smaller subset of the rest of the Bible. For instance the idea of the Trinity. As it is true there is no word that directly translates in English as translators used in the Bible. But the concept is still very much present. 

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

At least in this verse alone, you can see that Jesus explicitly references all parts of the trinity. But what if you start asking questions. How does it work? What is each of their roles? Which one created everything? Why have three? This is a topic for another time.

Just having the topic of the trinity is not enough to fully capture what it is within that one verse. To better understand it you need to find more Bible verses and expand what we know about it. If we only had Matthew 28 for the trinity we would not have a lot to work with. 

Does creation prove God?

This last is more important. This deals with something more profound. Does creation prove the existence of God? This is often misunderstood for many because how to present this is often hard or lacking. 

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Psalm 19:1-3 ESV

It isn’t that hard to read the Bible and discover the idea that God created the universe. Of course, from there you might ask how does it work? And then you go on a full discovery to learn the deep mysteries of how God created everything. But that assumption is built-in, that God created everything. A difference now needs to be made when asking this question.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Romans 1:20-21 ESV

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Acts 17:22-25 ESV

When Paul was in Athens, it was clear to the people of this pagan culture that there was a God (or many). But they did not know the God of the Bible. Even further than the Greeks, people have been trying to understand how the world works and give an explanation for everything. But there is a disconnect. When you study the creation, that does not prove that God created it. Instead, it helps us point to a logical conclusion that God created it. If we never had the Bible or any direct way of knowing about God, just studying creations should point to a missing hole. How did this universe come into existence? Of course, this debate can rage on for a bit. But for this discussion, it is clear that God had to be involved and one can argue through science a person can get to the conclusion that God had to make this.

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being… This Being governs all things…:”

Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

Studying creation won’t prove God exists, but it will point to the need of the creator. But there is something else out of that. Creation can’t show you who God is. Just like in Athens, they had a conception of what they thought God was like (or their many ideas), but they did not know who he was. Unless God Directly shows himself, how can you know who he is? Of course, this is an important need for the Bible and why Jesus had to be born in the flesh. 

One example I was for this is that of a pen. You can study a pen all you want but you will not know who created it (outside of trademarks and obvious branding). You can compare multiple pens to try and get a good understanding of why it is the way it is, but that doesn’t tell “why it was made”, only the “how it was made.” you can even have multiple pens to compare but that won’t tell you the full reason as to why it was even made this way in the first place. Some metals might be used because it was cheaper to produce that way. Maybe the machines used to produce it could perform better with these metals. Maybe the plastic used helps bring out the color better. You could study this and maybe figure out these things. But why use this over that? You can’t answer this definitively. Maybe the pen maker was trying to be cheap and cut corners. Maybe they knew about other options but purposely chose this material for personal reasons even if there are better ways to do it.

In many ways, God is the same. Unless God reveals himself, you can not know the why of the universe. You can only get hits at the how. 

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