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God And Cosmos [Paperback]

By Byl John (Author)
Our Price $ 11.05  
Retail Value $ 13.00  
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Item Number 132129  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 5.48" Height: 0.81"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2001
Publisher   Banner of Truth
ISBN  0851518001  
EAN  9780851518008  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
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 origins, extraterrestrial intelligence, the spiritual realm, and much else.

Buy God And Cosmos by Byl John from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780851518008 & 0851518001

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More About Byl John

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Byl is Professor of Mathematics and Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He gained his PhD in Astronomy at the University of British Columbia.

John Byl currently resides in British Columbia.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Astronomy > Cosmology   [647  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General   [0  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy   [1924  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Science > Astronomy > Cosmology   [708  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Science > Physics > Cosmology   [563  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
On what basis do we believe any scientific theory?  Jan 3, 2004
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 this site) This expounds at greater length on an instrumentalist philosophy of science. ...

Useful Introduction, questionable conclusion  Apr 15, 2002
John Byl has written an interesting book on cosmology here. This is a book that I would consider to be introductory in nature, and I would recommend it for readers who are interested in cosmology but have not been extensively exposed to the topic. Cosmology is an area of thought ripe with complex theories, abstractions, concepts, and assorted disciplines. This is a book that does a good job of getting a person's feet wet in this area without being overwhelming.

As best I can tell, Byl is basically trying to arrive at two conclusions. First, that scientific theorizing about the existence of the universe is not the same as scientific fact. He attempts to argue that much of cosmology is based on unverifiable speculations that are based more on the philosophical and/or religious presuppositions of the cosmologist than on verifiable scientific fact. Secondly, that much of both medieval and present age cosmology is problematic in terms of adequately explaining the origins of the universe or what the future of the universe may look like. In many ways, I found this book to be an anti-cosmology book, which makes it unique relative to other works on the subject.

But when I say that the book struck me as being anti-cosmology, that doesn't mean that the book is anti-intellectual. Byl spends a large amount of time in this book critiquing big bang cosmology and in the process, takes on the views of a number of heavy hitters both in theistic and non-theistic thought. I thought he did a pretty good job of pointing out a number of problems in big bang cosmology which at the very least, cast doubt on the ability of current big bang cosmology to accurately and COMPLETELY explain the creation of the universe. This is clearly a counter-cultural position to take in current cosmological circles, with prominent thinkers in both the theistic and non-theistic camps assuming the veracity of big bang cosmology in drawing wider conclusions. In the process, Byl also critiques a number of cosmologies alternative to big bang cosmology, and then attempts to argue from a theistic perspective that the cosmological argument is problematic to conclusively prove the existence of God, much less the existence of the Christian God. Lastly, he attempts to formulate what he believes is a Biblically supported cosmology that assumes the inerrancy of the Bible as the starting point for his cosmology, and further assuming that where the Bible and current scientific thought conflict, that the scientific thought rather than the Bible is in error.

Relative to big bang cosmology, Byl draws the rather radical conclusion that current big bang cosmology is incompatible with Scripture, and thus, theistic thinkers who adopt big bang cosmology as part of arguing in favor of the existence of God are making a very big mistake.

It is here that I question Byl's conclusion. First, I don't agree with Byl that the cosmological argument is not a good proof for the existence of God. The universe exists as opposed to not existing. As a result, it deserves to be explained. Further, since the God of the Bible is clearly portrayed as a God who created all there is, it is both logical and reasonable to attempt to erect a sound cosmology that demonstrates the truth of the Bible by showing that the universe could only have been created by an omnipotent God like the One described in Scripture. Unfortunately, when I read Byl's book, the conclusion I got was that all cosmologies that have been attempted to date are not only flawed, but equivalently flawed, and I think this does a disservice to some of the more sound cosmologies. I think that some cosmological structures are more sound than others and hold promise of leading us to even better cosmological structures. Secondly, Byl is clearly a young earth creationist, and while this is certainly okay, as even he says in the book, a person who does not believe in Biblical errancy will not subscribe to a young universe cosmology, presumably because of the alleged conflicts between science and Scripture. Byl did nothing to attempt to reconcile these supposed conflicts, other than to dismiss such conflicts as cases of presuppositionally based scientific thought that leaves the realm of fact and enters the realm of theory and ideology. While there is certainly truth to this claim, I don't think this claim in and of itself is a sufficient and compelling criticism.

So, the book is a good introduction that makes a number of very good points and conducts good critiques. I consider it to be a solid introduction into the world of cosmology and would recommend it on that basis. But I thought that Byl's conclusions were too pessimistic on the role of cosmology in theology and also did not properly distinguish between plausible cosmologies that are incomplete, versus other cosmologies that are based more on fantasy than plausibility.

The best young-Earth creationist book on astronomy to date  Apr 1, 2002
John Byl has written a fine work on the subject of Christianity and astronomy. At the time of its writing, it was almost certainly the finest work on astronomy and Christianity from a young Earth perspective. (I cannot comment on all more recent works.) Anyone interested in science and religion from an orthodox Christian or Jewish perspective should read the book. Even deciding on the criteria to measure success in this subject is no small task, but Byl is theologically and philosophically astute enough to do a credible job.

Unlike so many writers on science and religion, Byl doesn't try to jam either science or theology into an ill-fitting pre-fabricated box. He knows astronomy well enough to understand that any empirically adequate story will involve much more than some millennia of physical processes, real or apparent. Thus he not only avoids positing overly simple science-Scripture reconciliation schemes that fail to achieve their stated goals or radically disagree with experiment, but also usefully critiques a number of such efforts. His rejection of the knee-jerk scientific realism that one finds in some Christians is crucial in letting him take both Scriptural and empirical information at full strength. His presuppositional rather than evidentialist tendency in apologetics frees him of the need to make triumphal claims that the scientific data confirm his theology. Byl's Reformed flavor of Christianity plays a role here. While an element of scientific anti-realism does useful work for him in reconciling science and Scripture, his instrumentalism is more anti-realistic than he really needs.

That Byl does not jam theology into an ill-fitting prefabricated box is perhaps less obvious, given the limited attention that he pays to exegesis and the pace at which he latches onto the young-Earth view. The fact that the relevant Biblical texts just don't seem very difficult and just do seem to teach a young-Earth position to those who don't introduce an agenda of concord with modern science implies that the burden of proof for Byl's exegetical position is not very high. Moreover, the young-Earth view has been defended exegetically quite well on many occasions by other authors, so it would be foolish to ignore Byl's important and relatively novel or scarce insights because he doesn't reinvent the wheel exegetically. Perhaps good use of others' exegesis would be helpful. At least Byl doesn't feign expertise in an area without having it. In a deeply interdisciplinary field such as science & religion, knowing one's limitations is important but hardly universally practiced.

In short, Byl's book addresses the issues that really need addressing in a work on his subject and addresses them well. There are few books of which that claim can be truly made. Thus the work ought to keep being read for decades to come.

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