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by John Byl
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  • Author:
    John Byl
  • ISBN:
    0851518001
  • ISBN13:
    978-0851518008
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Banner of Truth (April 20, 2001)
  • Pages:
    243 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Encyclopedias & Subject Guides
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Now, old-earthers have been accused of making assumptions, and the extent to which those assumptions are justified is a subject for another time.

Now, old-earthers have been accused of making assumptions, and the extent to which those assumptions are justified is a subject for another time. But, as I argue below, ours pale in comparison to the way in which Dr. Byl’s assumptions function as an absolute presupposition in both making his interpretation of Genesis square with the natural world, and in shutting down alternative viewpoints.

In "God and Cosmos", John Byl aims to set forth a Christian view of contemporary cosmology- a consistently Christian view. There is nothing in the Big Bang itself which demands an absolute beginning for the universe. Byl is a Reformed Christian with a presuppositional epistemology. Consequently, he holds the Bible as the bedrock and foundation of all human thought and reasoning.

A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe. John Byl. Category Evangelistic Resources, Theology. Look Inside Price £. 5. In his book A Brief History of Time, the famous Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking held out the prospect of a complete theory of the universe by means of which we would know ‘why it is that we and the universe exis. hen we would know the mind of Go. Christian mathematician John Byl disagrees: ‘Hawking overestimates the value of a, while underestimating the content of God’s mind.

Oops-it’s past time for NextDay delivery by tomorrow. ENG. Number of Pages.

God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe is a Christian view of time, space and the universe, emphasizing the superiority of Scripture to all other sources of knowledge and dealing helpfully with the Big Bang theory of origin.

Purchase God and Cosmos.

Professor of Mathematics and Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Author, Books include: God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2001). The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth-www.

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John Byl. Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust. Publication Date: 2001. Number of Pages: 243. Format: Paperback. Tags: Philosophy of Mathematics. Mathematics and Religion. Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED.

In his book A Brief History of Time, the famous Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking held out the prospect of a complete theory of the universe by means of which we would know'why it is that we and the universe exist...then we would know the mind of God.' Christian mathematicican John Byl disagrees: 'Hawking overestimates the value of a Theory-of-Everything, while underestimating the content of God's mind.' We already have in Scripture a source of knowledge superior to all other sources and already know 'the mind of God'. so far as He has been pleased to reveal it to us. On this basis, Byl questions much of modern cosmology, including the Big-Bang theory of origins. He deals with the limitations of human knowledge, biblical teaching relevant to cosmology, the quest for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the existence of the spiritual realm, heaven, angels, life after death, and much else. Byl's approach is a refreshing counter to the dreary and ultimately meaningless outlook of modern cosmology.

Tejora
It seems that everyone with a primary education has a cosmological "position" to defend, but many who do so are not really able to properly defend it. Byl addresses that by presenting a framework for how we know anything, and challenging concepts that have been taken in common culture as "scientific truth". This includes two main areas:
(a) beliefs that were once "the established truth" of the scientific world, and which remain accepted as such in the popular world even though they have subsequently been shown irrelevant by science, e.g. the debate over the heliocentric vs. earth-centric universes (where in fact, it is scientifically irrelevant to consider the anything "centric" in a real way).
(b) beliefs that are based on assumptions that by their very nature can never be scientifically tested, but that are commonly accepted as fact anyway.
This book is written in accessible English, but deals with concepts in a way that assumes some knowledge in the philosophy of science. Byl surveys cosmology that in a way that presents concepts in an English paragraph that take hundreds of pages of maths to explain exhaustively; this is great for the arm-chair philosopher, but carries the risk that the survey may seem too simple and therefore less credible to the less educated. The book is written clearly for people reasonably up-to-date with scientific thought, but true-believers in Newtonian mechanics (as is still taught in primary school!) may think he's off the wall.
I include this book on my small "must-read" list for Christians, "Essentials for a balanced Christian faith & world view" for two reasons:
(a) Dr. Byl presents a valid framework for how we know what we know -- a framework that has unfortunately fallen from common use during the last century. He addresses our unquestioned use of assumptions about the "real truth" of theories extrapolated by science, and our tendency to arbitrarily pick and choose criteria for what parts of scripture we will accept as valid. This framework is sorely missing; too often professing Christians base their thought on explicitly non-Christian assumptions.
(b) Cosmology has taken a place of exaggerated importance in "pop science". Because of that, rather than to further exaggerate its importance, this book is very useful to help build a framework to assess the "scientific" beliefs preached by their proponents. In the countless variations on the common English-language debate over origins, Christians and non-Christians alike build their arguments on a non-Christian epistemology; anyone who understands this work by Byl should be free from this.
This was obviously written from a Christian perspective; but apart from simplifications that this introduces (Byl can say "Adam would have known such and such"), the book's reasoning is completely valid for a non-Christian as well.
I hesitated to include this on a must-read list because
(a) Cosmology really should be a concern of the specialist rather than something that everyone considers him- or herself an expert in.
(b) This is written at a level that will not be immediately accessible to people without some background in the philosophy of science.
If you find the epistemological concepts too briefly presented in Byl's book, let me recommend to you "The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory" by Pierre Duhem (malheureusement j'ai été incapable de trouver l'original, "La Théorie Physique: Son Object, Sa Structure", mais la traduction anglaise est disponible chez Amazon) This expounds at greater length on an instrumentalist philosophy of science. ...
Tisicai
In "God and Cosmos", John Byl aims to set forth a Christian view of contemporary cosmology- a consistently Christian view. Byl is a Reformed Christian with a presuppositional epistemology. Consequently, he holds the Bible as the bedrock and foundation of all human thought and reasoning. It follows from this that the conventional, naturalistic foundation of contemporary cosmology is severely flawed, and that new models must be sought out which are in deeper concord with Scripture. With this end in mind, Byl surveys the history of cosmological theorizing. The Latin Scholastics of the medieval era developed a synthesis of Arisotelian philosophy with Christianity that nearly elevated the Ptolemaic geocentric model to dogmatic status. Aristotle's cosmology also said that heavenly matter was changeless, perfect, and incorruptible, in contrast to terrestrial matter which decayed and developed over time. Hence, all terrestrial matter tends towards the center of the cosmos. This view was refuted with the discovery of craters on the moons and changes in the starry skies. Copernicus, Galileo argued for a heliocentric model, though their evidence was largely circumstantial. Newton, however, demonstrated that a heliocentric model was simpler and mathematically more elegant than the traditional Ptolemaic model.

It was Galileo's false assertion, however, that Scripture did not speak to matters studied by science which set contemporary science on its foundations. This allowed for the development of a host of naturalistic theories which assumed implicitly or explicitly that miracles did not occur and that all matter behaved (everywhere and always) in accordance with physical regularities (called laws) conjectured to be unbreakable. From here, Byl looks at Big Bang cosmology. It has some evidence going for it: redshifted galaxies appear to indicate spatial expansion (as the wavelength of light is stretched by movement), and the Big Bang theory did predict the cosmic microwave background radiation. At the same time, Byl notes, there are other theories which can account for this data as well. Some have proposed that photons lose energy as they traverse long distances: this would produce identical redshift. The lost energy radiates into space, thereby creating the cosmic microwave background radiation. Indeed, there are a great number of different models which can account for the cosmological data we see- and some other models had predicted, like the Big Bang, the background radiation.

Importantly, the conventional cosmology is not predictive in the quantitative sense. While it predicted the existence of the CMBR, it utterly failed to predict its distribution. Hubble's law (that the degree of redshift is proportional to distance from Earth) was taken to be evidence for cosmic expansion, until it was realized that Hubble's law did not hold at certain distances. The relative proportions of the chemical elements in the universe was not predicted by Big Bang cosmology. And the Big Bang model suffers from the same starlight problem that creationist cosmologies suffer from: even 13.7 billion years is not enough time for all of the visible light that we see. This is known as the Horizon problem. In response, cosmologists have crafted a number of ad hoc modifications to bring the model into congruence with the data: inflationary cosmology and dark matter being chief among them. Even Einstein's infamous cosmological constant has been reintroduced in order to account for the apparently accelerating expansion of the universe. In fact, there are so many freely adjustable parameters in the conventional model that it can be made to account for virtually any anomalous data.

This is the fundamental problem, then, with using the Big Bang as a tool of Christian apologetics. While it might be the most popular model today, evaluated by its predictive success, it just is not that great. Another problem Byl notes for using it as an apologetic tool is that one is easily able to construct a model of the Big Bang which is self-contained, where the universe arises as one of many quantum fluctuations out of an eternally bubbling vacuum. There is nothing in the Big Bang itself which demands an absolute beginning for the universe. Turning away from the Kalam, Byl looks at the fine-tuning of the physical constants. Here, his evaluation is somewhat more positive. It does not look as if the values of the physical constants are mathematically necessary, nor is random chance probable. Hence, design does seem to be a good explanation. Still, theoretical physics has much progress left to make, and this argument does not bring a person anywhere near to the personal God revealed in Scripture. To demonstrate this, Byl looks at the "strange gods" of modern cosmology, pointing to a variety of bizarre ideas from cosmologists such as Frank Tipler, who posits a "God" who evolves from technology to engulf the entire physical cosmos, thus generating an eternity of subjective experience and influencing the past from the future. The things man does to suppress the reality of the true God!

What of creationist cosmologies? While these have the advantage of being consistent with divine revelation, they have their own physical problems. Humphreys' white-hole cosmology does not produce enough time dilation to escape the need for mature creation, and evidence for a changing speed of light is lacking. While various geocentric cosmologies have been proposed, each of these have a great number of freely adjustable parameters, just as does the conventional Big Bang model. Ultimately, Byl comes to the conclusion that origins science doesn't matter very much. One can construct an infinite number of contradictory cosmologies, each of which seems to fit the data. Byl suggests that the dominion mandate of Genesis 1 places much more weight on "operations-science" with practical applications than it does on historical science.

It is here that I find the most problems. Byl holds an instrumentalist philosophy of science. Models are successful insofar as they are useful, and their sole purpose is to produce practical applications. But from a biblical perspective, this is too limited. Proverbs 25:2 tells us that it is the "glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings to search them out." God has concealed in the creation all sorts of fascinating and beautiful information. Practical applications are very important- but God also delights in our discovering His wonder for its own sake. To be sure, models must conform to what Scripture teaches. I am as theologically conservative as John Byl. But it seems to me that a realist philosophy of science fits better with Christian metaphysics and the Christian understanding of God. This is not to imply that any of the current creationist models is necessarily correct- I think we are centuries or millennia away from the correct model. But it is to say that I place more value on such theorizing than Byl does.

Nevertheless, the value of Byl's book is that he pulls back the curtain to reveal how shaky contemporary scientific models are. Christians should think very carefully about the theological costs involved before abandoning the traditional understanding of creation in order to fit whatever naturalistic science in the twenty-first century has to say.
ℓo√ﻉ
This is an excellent survey of cosmology from a man who holds firmly to the full inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. Incisive analysis of other positions with some excellent new insights.