What exactly is the scientific method? This is quite possibly the question you may be pondering over right now as you read the title. In order to answer this question, let us first look at what the word science means. Science comes from the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge. The word science just simply means knowledge.
The modern dictionary definition of the word science you will find today defines science as:
A branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws
This then leads us to the scientific method. The scientific method is essentially what scientists use in order to do science; this method qualifies what is science and what isn’t. The oxford dictionary definition the scientific method as:
A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses
So where did the scientific method come from? To be precise, the definition above does not state that the scientific method came about in the 17th century; it just says that it has characterized natural science since the 17th century. There isn’t a set time where any one man invented the entire method. Over time esteemed names such as Newton, Galileo and Francis Bacon have contributed to what we now hold to be the scientific method.
There isn’t any set time where one man invented the method, however in the Bible, what we surprisingly (or should I say unsurprisingly) see is that the entire scientific method that we recognize and use today is pretty much summed up and displayed in action with God and Satan right at the heart of the experiment in the Book of Job. To add the icing on the cake, the book of Job that we see this take place in, happens to be one of the earliest books in the Bible according to dating (even though it is hard to pinpoint an exact date). Many scholars date the Book of Job to as early as 1700-1900BCE, around the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), in others words roughly 4000 years ago, way before the Roman or Greek Era.
Where do we see the Scientific Method in the Book of Job?
We see this method take place straight away in Job chapter 1 and 2. God lays out the plan in the order of: hypothesis, theory, testing (repeating), and confirmed result.
Hypothesis – Job 1: 6 – 12:
Satan comes into heaven. God starts the conversation by asking Satan what he has been doing. Satan says that he has been all across the earth. God then asks Satan if he has considered the righteous and wealthy man Job (even though he already knows the answer since he knows everything). Satan then responds by saying, he has seen him but that Job only worships God because he has given him riches and wealth, if he were to lose all of his riches, he would curse God and stop loving him. God (knowing Jobs heart and extremely strong faith in him) then says to Satan that he can test out his hypothesis on Job by taking away all his riches and his family, but not to lay a finger on his body. Satan agrees and now his experiment begins.
Theory and repetition of theory – Job 1:13 – 22 till Job 2: 1 – 10 :
Satan Goes down and ruins everything that Job has attained, taking away of all his wealth and fortune firstly, and then soon after, killing all his sons and daughters off. At the end of all this, Job, childless and penniless makes this amazing remark, (Job 1:21) “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job still loves God and doesn’t blame him for anything!
Satan angrily goes back to God and basically asks if he can repeat his experiment but this time by taking it up a notch. Satan now asks if he can harm Job’s actual body, to which God says yes he can harm his body but he cannot kill him. So Satan leaps joyfully back down to earth, and causes all kinds of illnesses within Job’s body, the most notable one being boils and saws all of his body. Satan is convinced that Job will deny God, thus making his hypothesis a good theory and eventually a confirmed result.
Unfortunately for Satan things do not go according to plan. In Job 2:9, Jobs wife comes up to him and tells him to curse God and die because the struggle is and has been too much to bear. Job yet again replies with this astounding message, (Job 2:10) “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Throughout all this, Job stays true and loyal to God, brushing of his wife’s remarks, and utterly destroying Satan’s plans without even knowing it!
We have already seen the results of the original hypothesis, but just to reiterate, in Job 1:21 and Job 2:10 we see that Job acts contrary to what Satan wants and hypotheses. To confirm Job’s responses in chapters 1 and 2, by the end of the entire book, Job still trust’s God, and all that he has lost is returned to him in much larger multitude than he ever had before by God!
In all this we can clearly see the scientific method laid out completely, from Satan’s original hypothesis, to the theory (a hypothesis tested with some solid evidence to back it up), and then the repeated testing in which he and God are able to eventually finalize the results. This is exactly the method that scientist use this very day in order to work and discover truths about the world, and as we have just seen, God himself was using this 4000 years before anyone, basically instructing us on how it should be done.
It’s a shame that in today’s society, the Bible isn’t credited with being the source of the scientific method simply because we are in an era where God and his Word have supposedly been falsified and shown to be untrue. What’s funny however is that the very method people try to use to disprove the Bible is the very method that validates the Bible. We often hear that science disproves the Bible and yet these same scientists use the scientific method practically everyday in their research completely oblivious to the fact that they are essentially stealing from the Bible in order to argue against it. What a strange world we live in, but thank God for the scientific method!
Final Note on Morality and Theology of the Book
In terms of the moral and theological aspect of this book of Job, there are answers to all of the questions posed in this book, however I have not tackled those questions purposely in this article as the main aim here is to display to you the roots of the scientific method only.