Customer Reviews: Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration
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on March 11, 2014
Every person interested in metaphysics, especially philosophy of religion, should read this book. Don’t be turned off by the authors’ classical theism! (And remember that, although many physicists are theists, many other physicists have a personal bias against classical theism.) It’s good to get both perspectives.

I have a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and have published several articles in peer-reviewed philosophy and religion journals. I found Craig and Copan’s Creation Out of Nothing to be a substantial work on many fronts. Although I do not share the authors’ evangelical theology, this book is not a work about personally held beliefs as much as Biblical studies, philosophy and science. They were not dogmatic. I wish they had referenced Robert Neville’s work on creation ex nihilo.

I read this book with the interpretive lens of how theistic thinkers might present the idea of creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) in general and looking at the Big Bang. The authors make a strong case that the Big Bang could be seen as a correlate in physics of the theological idea of creation out of nothing. They tend not to make absolute claims, but talk about plausibility. They make a strong case.

The first section of the book deals with Biblical materials. They admit creation out of nothing, in those words per se, is not prominent in the Biblical text. But they contrast Biblical cosmogony with Babylonian and Platonic views. The Biblical tradition portrays God as creating by word or will and not by pre-existing material. Creation ex nihilo does seem to develop quite naturally from the Biblical perspective.

There is a detailed section on post-Biblical Christian and Jewish writers.

Then follows an interesting section of the nature of “abstract objects.” These are Platonic Ideas, universals and mathematical entities. The authors contrast Platonism with the conceptualism of Augustine. This is a very philosophical section that lay readers may want to read quickly. But I think a theory of God as creator does have to address the existence of mathematicals and ideas.

The section on physics is good, and detailed. In particular, I benefited from the clear discussion of entropy. The authors make a strong and interesting argument that: current scientific cosmology could be seen as fulfilling the demands of creation out of nothing. Both of the authors are philosophers and theists, not physicists. But, in some ways, that makes the discussion better. Their perspective is one that is clear, incisive and well-argued.
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on February 19, 2014
Def will stretch your mind. Copan and Craig are deep thinkers. I would only suggest this for Intermediate-Advanced Apologetic thinkers
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on August 24, 2015
Immediately, the reader will get the impression that this book has been mislabelled. The subtitle is "A biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Exploration" of the theories on the creation out of nothing (creatio ex Nihilo). However, Philosophical and Scientific theories do not enter the discussion until the last three chapters, the last 100 pages of the book. The bulk of the book, five of its eight chapters, 2/3 of its 266 pages -- very much after the fact -- are devoted exclusively to trying to establish a religious argument that justifies and supports a biblical interpretation of the Big Bang Theory.

After reading the book, it would be an understatement to say that the religious energy devoted to this effort has been energy poorly spent, as they all have been maximally confusing and mutually inconsistent -- but curiously always toeing the orthodox religious line.

In fact, after trying vainly to make sense out of all of this religious ambiguity, the reader will surely discover as I did, that there is at least one heavy-hitting high level religious advocate on every side of these discussions, including on the side that warns against trying to coordinate biblical interpretation with scientifically derived facts. Of all the topics that one would think are most critical to religious beliefs -- creation out of nothing -- the reader will also discover that there is no consensus, nor even a minimally consistent biblical view?

In other words, sadly, and after 166 pages, these religious scholars' arguments curiously all remained at right angles to each other? In the end, exactly nothing was resolved!

My own conclusion is that the "religionists way of proof," that is, proof "by the fiat of divine authority," may have inadvertently hoisted them by their own petard, and thus, may have left them hanging in the wind, way out on a slippery slope, one that like one of the roads leading away from Nob Hill in San Francisco, leans steeply and precipitously downwards.

It seems to me that the best of the many religious arguments put forth here, do little more than set up a spurious dichotomy between the cosmological facts of science (i.e., the Big Bang Theory), and the theological affirmation (or is it confirmation?) of it by God through jerry-rigged, and shaky after the fact established scripture-based truths (i.e. by the fiat of divine authority as read in the scripture).

However, having set up this spurious dichotomy, I believe Kwasi Wiredu's and Hans Swartz's warnings about "not too quickly identifying religious interpretations with the temporal scientific beginnings of the universe," is well advised and correlate well with my own views. For doing so, begs the very important question of what happens when the scientific facts and theories change, as invariably they will? Does God's authority then also change? Are scriptual references then to also be updated as was the case with most of this book? If they do, then does this not simply mean that God's authority will always be "playing catch-up" to the latest scientific theories?

Since the idea of scientific proof is just the opposite of religious proof -- that is to say, it does NOT just sit back and defend forever singularly established scientific facts, truths, or theories, but instead, it puts them all through the most rigorous of scientific tests: the test of falsification.

Like religionists, scientists too do start out with but one goal -- but it is the opposite of what religionists start out to do: Scientists try as much as they possibly can, to overthrow and thereby try to falsify their own theories. Only those that survive this most brutal and rigorous process of falsification, will survive as true well-tested theories.

What this means of course is that the Big Bang Theory is itself forever "an open-ended hypothesis" about the nature of creation -- not a once for all times scientific truth. The Big Bang theory therefore must forever be opened to future falsification. So far it survives because it has not yet failed a singular attempt to falsify it. And if in the future it should fail even one attempt at falsification, it will then be declared forever, an invalid theory. And the process simply begins all over again with a new trial hypothesis about the nature of creation.

Therefore, the regionalists must be careful. If they hook their "creationist's wagons" up to the Big Bang Theory, inadvertently they are also hooking it up to the scientific method's mode of falsification. Now, do religionists really want to do that? I don't think so? Three stars
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on December 13, 2014
A very systematic,straightforward approach to the creation of the universe out of nothing. The book at times can be very heady but comprehensible.
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on July 18, 2007
This book is a tour-de-force by Drs. William Lane Craig and Paul Copan. They present very convicing evidence that backs up the Biblical claim that God created the world out of nothing. Any physicist or philosopher wishing to peddle some alternative theory of how the universe came into being must engage this masterpiece first.
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on May 21, 2010
As per usual, Craig does an outstanding job with this topic. He is one of the preeminent scholars in this area of apologetics, and it shows. Highly recommended.
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on November 3, 2005
I read this book last week and found it very edifying. William lane Craig and Paul Copen have done a great job on this issue. Readers must remember that the book goes through the Bibical, philosophical and scientific evidence (which is noted in the title) for Creation out of nothing.

The Author go through first, the biblcial evidence of the Old Testament and then to the New Testament. They also travel the road of extra biblical evidence and then get into the philosophical arguements and they were quite good. I honestly got lost about the abstarct objects.( but this doesn't mean that this wasn't a well written chapter. It just mean I need more understanding in the world of philosophy, which I thought I had enough but I guess I don't) The scienctific was great. this is a great book but be prepared to be mentally engaged.

Good Job
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on July 30, 2012
A scholarly tour-de-force? Hardly! More like a ho-hum apologetic discourse based on cherry-picking biblical verses and reading modern theology back into ancient writers' intentions.

What do they admit? First, that their case for creatio ex nihilo as biblically based rests on cumulative evidence and not one single verse from the Bible compellingly, unarguably supports creatio ex nihilo (p. 26-27). Second, since they quote many notable scholars who disagree with their assessments, we are talking about INTERPRETATION of Bible passages. Third, they admit that they are describing an implicit, inferred, and mind-reading creatio ex nihilo. The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, like the doctrine of Trinity & Incarnation, is NOWHERE EXPLICITLY laid out in the Bible, which they freely admit.

So, in essence, their disagreement with scholars like May is not as dramatic as they seem to claim. Everyone agrees that creatio ex nihilo was not a clearly formulated Christian doctrine until about the 2nd century when Christians were engaged with pagans and gnostics. Everyone agrees the Bible doesn't explicitly define creatio ex nihilo. So where does the difference lie? Many scholars think early Bible writers either were 1) inconsistent in their beliefs, 2) never seriously considered creation questions in much detail, or 3) thought God acted on preexistent materials. C&C assert all the evidence unerringly points to creatio ex nihilo as underlying view of writers & Fathers even if not explicitly stated.

I think it is obvious why creatio ex nihilo almost inevitably became Christian dogma well after Jesus died. It is the only logical position given how Christians have defined God & assigned putative attributes to him. Any other conclusion would be illogical. But was this true of early Hebrew writers and even the earliest Christians? C&C ignore Bible passages that would imply either these early writers didn't seriously contemplate this question or came to varied conclusions. After all, it is verbotten to allow different Bible writers to have conflicting viewpoints!

They quote the silly Jastrow quote about theologians getting it right before scientists. How many options are available for the origin of the universe? It had a beginning. It did not have a beginning. Of course one can nuance these answers with cyclical creation or some other variation, but in essence any religion has a 50% chance of getting it right. Never mind Genesis garbles the rest of the creation account in terms of the big Bang/Inflation.

Further, C&C opt for a two stage process as most likely: God created chaotic matter FIRST at some indeterminate time (Big Bang?) and then later SHAPED the cosmos from this primordial matter. This is a very convenient happenstance, as C&C can claim that writers who talk of God shaping from pre-existent matter really believed (but did not state) that God had earlier created this matter.

The essence of my criticism of this book is that they interpret every Bible passage through the modern eyes of theologians thoroughly indoctrinated in creatio ex nihilo. They seem incapable of recognizing that many early Bible writers either did not consider the creation process in any depth, accepted the views of their day & neighbors or even might not have agreed. They even use poetic passages from Psalms, etc to bolster their interpretation. I think the most they can claim as proved is that creatio ex nihilo is mostly a possible interpretation of key Bible verses e.g. creatio ex nihilo may not be the ONLY way to interpret many Bible passages but they can be viewed as compatible with such a view.

So where is the beef? Everyone agrees creatio ex nihilo is not explicit in the Bible [some don't even see it consistently implicit]. Everyone agrees it was formally formulated in approximately the 2nd century. Then it all becomes interpretation as to what is implied in Bible verses, what one can legitimately infer. And here experts disagree. I don't personally think we can know the intentions of the writers of many Bible passages, but C&C are confident they know the mind of these early Hebrew writers. But of course, like most good evangelicals, they are equally convinced they know the actual mind of God and his intentions & wishes.
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on November 16, 2012
Yes, the universe was created 6000 years ago in 6 literal days as described by the One who was there, Jesus Christ in the first book of the bible. The Big Bang is a fairy tale with zero scientific backing. Also the universe was created from spiritual substance, not nothing. Get the book Refuting Compromise and Dismantling the Big Bang by John Hartnett.
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