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I am interested to see if there are any reliable references in (peer-reviewed) scientific literature or learned articles which indicate that some expressions in scripture pre-date scientific or technical discovery from any other sources.

There are two examples which spring to mind but they require full validation as I am not seeking opinion-based answers.

Firstly, in Hebrews 11:3, it is stated that 'things which are seen were not made of things which do appear'. This expresses what is now known that, once one goes beyond previous particle theory, it can be demonstrated by the two-slit experiment, by the optical 'quantum entanglement' experiment and by particle accelerator experiments that matter is constructed of 'field energy' and is not made of physical substance.

Secondly, the laver in the wilderness journey was made of brass, taken from 'the looking glasses of the women'. But in the visions of John, by revelation of Jesus Christ, what is represented is a 'sea of glass'. Thus the use of the only reflective surface then known, was used to represent what, later, would better be represented by a fully transparent substance, not then known, or not yet manufactured, on earth.

Can these be fully substantiated and are there any other possible examples of reliable instances of such concepts expressed in scripture which pre-date their later discovery on earth ?

This has a bearing on Christianity in the present, modern world where many Christians feel threatened, or at least disconcerted, by 'science'. If it can be shown, from scripture, that the bible (both OT and NT) contains scientific fact that pre-dated earthly scientific endeavour, then I think that is relevant to Christianity in the present day in which we find ourselves.


In comment, reference is made to a Previous Question which makes seven claims of 'scientific foreknowledge' but does not substantiate or explain any of them in detail, merely giving a biblical reference. However it is a good list of what I am seeking.

Further edit upon comment :

To more fully explain : mirrors used to be made of bronze. (And the KJV calls this 'looking-glasses' - archaically and untechnically). Nowadays they are made of glass. But the concept of the 'sea' (both constructed and envisaged) is of solid, transparent material. Which did not exist, yet, upon earth until men figured out how to make the stuff.

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    Largely the same as this, though asked in a different way christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/79069/…
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 6:41
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    The link to a previous question, provided by curiousdannii, is useful but covers a wide range of events, whereas this question is firmly focused on two specific examples for which the OP requests full validation. Hopefully, someone with scientific knowledge, or who can point to scientific validation, will be able to answer.
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 13:14
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    @curiousdannii Actually that is an excellent list of suggestions but that question only postulated the opinion that they were 'scientific foreknowledge' without providing any substantiation (apart from the biblical reference) that they were genuine cases. I am looking for substantial support. (I have added a link to that question in order to see if anyone can fully explain those seven claims and substantiate them).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 13:39
  • I thought there was a lot of overlap, because lots of people claim to see these pre-discoveries in scripture, but is it just eisegesis? The eisegesis/exegesis question is important. A journal could publish something and it could still be eisegesis.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 14:12
  • @curiousdannii . . . . hence the need for (as I stated) a peer-reviewed journal to obviate any eisegesis. Agreed.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 16:14

4 Answers 4

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Rather than immediately answering the question you're asking, I think it's worthwhile to first directly address what seems to be your underlying concern:

many Christians feel threatened, or at least disconcerted, by 'science'.

Many Christians are, frankly, uninformed, and perhaps deliberately so.

First off, you are right to use "science" in scare quotes. True science is of no threat to Christianity. What is opposed to Christianity is philosophical naturalism, which is often passed off by its proponents as "science", despite that its underlying premise (the a priori rejection of the possibility that God exists) is inherently anti-science. Science is not allowed to choose to reject certain world-views based on dogma rather than evidence.

Naturalists, almost by definition, have a vested interest in discrediting Christianity. As a result, they will go to extreme lengths (including outright fraud) to promote their religion. Part of this well-orchestrated campaign is keeping silent about the myriad problems inherent in their world-view. To name just a few:

  • No viable naturalist hypothesis for abiogenesis has ever been proposed.
  • The uniformity of the CMB is not consistent with the "Big Bang" conjecture.
  • The motion of celestial objects is not consistent with the supposed uniformity of the Universe. "Dark matter" — the existence of which has never been demonstrated satisfactorily — is basically a giant "fudge factor" to force the naturalist cosmology to make sense.
  • Radiometric dating isn't remotely as "certain" as is routinely claimed (particularly in lay communications).
  • There are many, many evidences that uniformitarian time scales are wrong.

The reality is that "the evidence" does not point to uniformitarianism or evolutionism. Rather, for philosophical reasons, it is made to fit such models, because the alternative(s) are anathema. A literal-historic reading of Genesis is at least as consistent, if not superior, to any naturalist models.

To any Christian that "feel[s] threatened, or at least disconcerted, by 'science'", I would say: take heart. The bible teaches clearly that, as Christians, we will often be persecuted by worldly powers. Take heed especially of Romans 1:20 and 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. In recognizing that naturalists do not have Truth on their side, but rather are pursuing a campaign that is opposed to God, and in so doing have been blinded, one is better equipped to put aside doubt.

Study naturalism and its outgrowths of uniformitarianism and evolutionism, but do so critically. Learn to recognize the (anti-Biblical) assumptions that are constantly made, and to identify the gaping holes, rather than merely accepting the false claims that matters are "proven". Study also Christian science (resources such as AIG, CMI and ICR are invaluable). In doing so, you will quickly come to see both that naturalism is far from the unassailable certainty it purports to be, and that real science solidly supports Christianity.

So... what are some things that the Bible told us that are supported by modern science?

  • God created plants and animals "after their kind" (Genesis 1). While we see tremendous variation within created kinds ("natural selection"), we do not see evidence of one kind being able to turn into a totally different kind. We also see tremendous evidence of design in biology.
  • God created humans "in His image". Humans are clearly and incontrovertibly different from all other animals in our ability to study, understand and manipulate the world around us, and in our ability to use abstract language.
  • God "stretched the heavens like a curtain" (Isaiah 40:22, Psalm 104:2). Some of the modern (Creationist) hypotheses about "distant" starlight or potential accelerated radioactive decay around the time of the Flood include a rapid expansion of spacetime.
  • God sent a global Flood to destroy (almost) all life. Such a Flood is an excellent explanation for fossils (and fossil fuels) and modern geology.
  • Significant portions of ceremonial law are in fact just plain "good advice". (Wash your hands. Quarantine sick people. Don't eat contaminated meat. Don't work yourself to exhaustion.) Much of this was not fully understood until the last few centuries.

It's also important to note a corollary of the naturalist stranglehold on "science". You asked specifically for "peer-reviewed scientific literature" (emphasis added). Well... there's plenty, but it shouldn't be surprising that the communities which provide said "peers" are more or less mutually exclusive. As much as naturalists love to assert that there is no peer-reviewed Creationist material, the reality is that such material is almost always rejected on philosophical grounds, with its scientific merits not even entering into consideration. Often, the mere expression of pro-Christian beliefs by a scientist is enough for their work to be disregarded. (At least one case has even gone to court over such discrimination.) Creationist communities, on the other hand, have no lack of publications.

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  • My question was quite factual and I do not see that this answers it, myelf.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 23:02
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    @NigelJ, I didn't say there was anything wrong with your question; I just chose to address a comment you made "in passing" that seemed to be the underlying motive for your question. As to your question literally, I'm not sure you will find much, as the Bible is not a scientific treatise. I did, however, mention some areas in which such material might be found, as well as resources where you might find such publications.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 15:59
  • This was a good ‘side read’, thanks!
    – user56152
    Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 5:03
  • Why is dark matter a fudge factor to force naturalism to make sense? It's literally saying "we don't know" - it's not an explanation for anything. I don't know of any religious explanation for it, either. Could you elaborate? Or are you arguing that our current understanding of gravity is somehow opposed to the teachings in the bible? If so, which teachings?
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 2:07
  • @Rob It's exactly a fudge factor. We have observations. We have mathematical models. They don't match. They are made to match by introducing a bunch of additional matter which we can't observe, because "it must be there". Did you know we've done that before, and turned out to be totally wrong?
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 17:22
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Firstly, in Hebrews 11:3, it is stated that 'things which are seen were not made of things which do appear'. This expresses what is now known that, once one goes beyond previous particle theory, it can be demonstrated by the two-slit experiment, by the optical 'quantum entanglement' experiment and by particle accelerator experiments that matter is constructed of 'field energy' and is not made of physical substance.

Matter is not "constructed" out of "field energy". Matter and energy are interchangeable. They are different forms of the same thing. Under the right conditions, energy can become mass, and vice versa. Also, pure energy is electromagnetic radiation (including visible light). So arguably, visible light could have been interchanged for matter at the Big Bang, which contradicts "things which are seen were not made of things which do appear".

Second, the two-slit experiment confirms the dual matter/wave nature of the universe. So photons oscillating in frequencies visible to the human eye also behave as particles. This is the inverse of "things which are seen were not made of things which do appear": we can see the photons as light, but not the particles.

Secondly, the laver in the wilderness journey was made of brass, taken from 'the looking glasses of the women'. But in the visions of John, by revelation of Jesus Christ, what is represented is a 'sea of glass'. Thus the use of the only reflective surface then known, was used to represent what, later, would better be represented by a fully transparent substance, not then known, or not yet manufactured, on earth.

You're making connections here that I think only exist in translation word choices.The bronze laver, also called the “bronze basin” (NIV) and the “laver of brass” (KJV), was one of the furnishings required by God in the outer courts of the tabernacle and temple. (Exodus 30:18). The bronze laver and its base of bronze were made from the mirrors brought by “the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8). These are not looking glasses, these are flattened reflective bronze used as mirrors - which is hardly surprising since this was written in the bronze age.

Revelation 4:6 says, “Before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.” And Revelation 15:2 says, “I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire.”

In neither verse does John say that he saw a literal sea of glass. And even if he did, a mirror is not glass. It's still a flat reflective layer of metal (usually tin or silver) behind glass. The glass is only there to keep the metal layer in its place, since it's extremely thin.

Can these be fully substantiated and are there any other possible examples of reliable instances of such concepts expressed in scripture which pre-date their later discovery on earth ?

That wouldn't prove anything. If you erased all scientific knowledge today, future scientists will rediscover this knowledge and come tho the exact same conclusions over time. The theory of (relativistic or not) gravity will still hold. Matter and energy will still be interchangeable.

But as a counterpoint, there are many technical and scientific expressions that predate Hebrew scripture, because there are older cultures on this planet. And there are technical and scientific expressions on which scripture is demonstrably wrong.

This has a bearing on Christianity in the present, modern world where many Christians feel threatened, or at least disconcerted, by 'science'.

I wonder why you put "science" in quotes? Science is a process to determine the best possible explanations for reality that are in accord with observed phenomena.

If it can be shown, from scripture, that the bible (both OT and NT) contains scientific fact that pre-dated earthly scientific endeavour, then I think that is relevant to Christianity in the present day in which we find ourselves.

I see some problems in that assertion:

First, if you grant this for Christian scripture then there is no reason not to grant it for other scriptures. The Vedas predate the Hebrew scriptures and also make claims that can be interpreted as "quantum" or "field theory".

Second, what about the incorrect scientific claims of scripture? The firmament is not a solid dome (Genesis 1:6-8) and stars do not fall from it (Mark 13:25).

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    Stars have not yet fallen. When they do, it will be at the end of time and there will be a conflagration (a plasma) which will be a 'lake of fire'. Scripture does not state that the firmament (the expanse) is a 'solid dome'. And 'pure energy' is not electromagnetic. There is a medium in which energy exists, which is a field. That is the source of electromagnetic energy. And 'looking-glasses' is an archaic expression which does not suppose glass to be present. The word means 'a mirror' and it conveys the concept which, later, is more fully represented by (the discovery of) glass.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 16:12
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    To more fully explain : mirrors used to be made of bronze. Now they are made of glass. But the concept of the 'sea' (both constructed and envisaged) is of solid, transparent material. Which did not exist, yet, upon earth until men figured out how to make the stuff.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 16:22
  • At the heath death of the universe there will be no more stars, and certainly no more earth, so no, stars don't fall to earth. Genesis 1:6-8 says that God set his dome, which we call the firmament or sky to separate the waters above from the waters below. Quantum field theory does not state energy "exists in a field". Mirrors are not the glass, they are the reflective metal. A mirror without reflective metal is just a window.
    – Codosaur
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 8:42
  • I really don’t think you’re gonna get far trying to find scientific facts in the Bible.. Certainly not on a surface textual level (a deeper, letter-based analysis, perhaps?).. Why would you want or need to find this connection? Does it change anything if you do, does it provide the proof you have always been looking for, the final piece of the puzzle? Hopefully not.. If your motivation is to convince naturalist sceptics, the Holy Spirit + prayer are better options. If it’s just a fun hobby on the side, I wish you all the best! But it’s a heck of an old book…
    – user56152
    Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 5:21
  • "Books" are a fairly late concept. We may refer to the Ancient Egyptian "Book" of the Dead, but it's actually "scroll of the dead". Ancient cultures most definitely put their knowledge into scrolls.
    – Codosaur
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 12:00
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@Nigel J The answer is yes, to the question as originally formed. My answer only addresses the actual text of the question. It does not address your multi-track mention of points ranging from Tabernacle items, to Quantum Physics or peer review.

The Question: "Are there instances in scripture of technical or scientific expressions pre-dating their discovery by other sources?"

Defraction is a phenomena fundamental to the functioning of our Universe. Defraction is the dividing of light.

Genesis 1:3-5 .."And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."..

To divide, carries the same meaning as the Latin "diffringere," our source of the English defraction."

-Physico-mathesis de lumine, coloribus et iride aliisque adnexis. Grimaldi-1665.

"Night" and "darkness" are two separate words, with two distinct thoughts. The translation of Night comes from "layil" a sense of twisting, revolving or turning back. This verse is not discussing a revolving planet, but revolution of light.

-A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Newton-1704.

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  • The word is 'diffraction' (not 'defraction') and it conveys the spreading of light (after it goes through an aperture, or as it bends arounnd corners. It is nothing to do with 'dividing' light. See Wikipedia - Diffraction. 'Diffringere' is from diffringo meaning 'to shatter' or to 'break in pieces' conveying not the 'dividing of light into light and dark' but the dividing of light into its inherent colours.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 8:59
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The question is difficult to answer as posed. Two separate directions are immediately encountered:

("There are two examples which spring to mind but they require full validation as I am not seeking opinion-based answers.")

One direction leads to a mention of the Bronze Laver. And the second to and assortment of phenomena, both Classical and Quantum. I will randomly choose the Bronze Laver.

The Tabernacle, and the Laver, where constructed from a pattern. The items on Earth , modeled the original things in Heaven. The Laver, and later Bronze Sea, are replicas. Solomon took license with his designs, but the model is easily seen. Especially in the Sea being elevated from four points.

Obviously, the Sea was ornate, but combined form with function. It served one purpose only, and was later destroyed. This is the pattern that was set, and if you turn the final pages of Revelation, the Sea is gone.

The Sea is a part of the Throne complex, as described by John, and the Prophets It is never discribed in detail, but a compilation can be assembled from it's mention between Genesis and Revelation. It is also referred to as a firminent.

Stopping at this point it doesn't feel possible to answer your question. It feels predicated on the idea that knowledge is compartmentalized into various categories. Physics, both Newtonian and Quantum, could be examples. Theological constructs yet another. If this is how you approach the alledged contradictions of Scripture and recent technological advances, it is a flawed pursuit of truth.

Peer review can be found, but not from theological schools of thought, when the workings of our World are considered.. Truth is truth, whether it be found in Scripture or in a research facility. Both claim to be a description of reality. If you assume that neither is lying, then both discribe the workings of a real, not delusional World. Unless God is to be accused if lying, the disconnect between statements in Scripture, and Physics, is bad interpretation of the statements.

I recommend a more specific question on any of the items you mentioned originally.

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  • I do not see this as an answer to the question. If a query is to be made regarding the question it should be made in comment, not addressed as an 'answer'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 23:33

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