You often hear believers claim that scientific discoveries are completely compatible with their religion’s scriptures, if not indeed wholly anticipated by them. This is alleged to be proof of these scriptures’ supernatural influence. A few examples:
clarifyingchristianity.com – The Bible is not a science book, yet it is scientifically accurate. We are not aware of any scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible.,,Many [scientific facts] were listed in the Bible hundreds or even thousands of years before being recorded elsewhere.
islam.about.com – In Islam, there is no conflict between faith in God and modern scientific knowledge. Indeed, for many centuries during the Middle Ages, Muslims led the world in scientific inquiry and exploration. The Qur’an itself, revealed 14 centuries ago, is filled with scientific facts and imagery that are supported by modern findings.
the-book-of-mormon.com – The truly amazing thing about most of these refutations to the critics is that the majority of these facts were not known to scientists, much less to Joseph Smith, in 1829 when the Book of Mormon was translated. Thus, many of the criticisms become, in light of recent scientific discoveries, proofs!
Of course, if there is one supreme omniscient being, then all of these claims can’t be true at the same time since the holy books indisputably contradict each other—a plain fact that each religious tradition is well-aware of. Thus, each spends as much time, if not more, debunking the others’ claims as it does defending its own. For instance, some of the best work demonstrating the utter fallibility of the Book of Mormon comes not from skeptical sources but from Christian ones. The one thing every religious tradition has in common, however, is a failure to acknowledge the completely ad hoc nature of its claims. The pattern is as predictable as it is regular. First comes the scientific discovery, followed by obstinate rejection, then grudging acknowledgement, and finally, once the evidence is overwhelming, its reception as affirming what scripture had been saying all along. (Needless to say, some don’t even get beyond the first step).
Naturally, skeptics such as myself say it’s all bunk, and to prove it, I’m going to issue a challenge. Believer, since you say that science merely confirms what your holy book has long already said, the inevitable corollary is that it also contains scientific knowledge which has not yet been discovered. Therefore, believer, your task is easy: rather than claim scientific validation after the fact, tell us something new that science has not yet spoken on, and which can subsequently be validated by science.
This has never happened, and I predict it will never happen, because in reality the believer’s method is to scour scripture for any possible reference to a scientific truth after its established, and then say – Orwell-like – it was foretold by scripture all along, while quietly shuffling disconfirming scriptures or past beliefs under the rug. It’s a foolproof method! For example, if the universe was found to have fixed boundaries rather than continually expanding, Christians, at least, would undoubtedly have pointed to the Bible and said “I told you so!”
Believers, I accept your gratitude in advance for coming up with a way for you to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt the divine origin of your theology not only to fools..er, atheists like myself, but to the misguided believers of every other religion. 🙂