Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Clarendon Paperbacks) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0198263838
ISBN-10: 019826383X
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Editorial Reviews

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"Recommended for all college libraries."--Choice


About the Author

William Lane Craig is at Catholic University of Louvain. Quentin Smith is at Western Michigan University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; 1st edition (September 28, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019826383X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198263838
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am the Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. With my wife Jan, we have two grown children.

At the age of sixteen as a junior in high school, I first heard the message of the Christian gospel and yielded my life to Christ. I pursued undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 I taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity, during which time we started our family. In 1987 we moved to Brussels, Belgium, where I pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming my position at Talbot in 1994.

I have authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including Philosophia Christi, The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

My CV can be read here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=curriculum_vitae

Publication list: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=publications_main

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not the easiest book in the world to read. Then again, its subject matter is recondite enough to warrant its difficult essays. It is recommended that anyone who wishes to take on this monster first be acquainted with philosophy as well as contemporary 20th century cosmology. Stephen Weinberg's "The First Three Minutes" and Timothy Ferris' "The Whole Shebang" would be good places to start before attempting to read this book. It would also be helpful for one to have read at least one book on quantum mechanics ("Taking The Quantum Leap" by Fred Alan Wolf would be a wise choice) as a pre-requisite. Even having read these books beforehand, this is STILL not an easy book.
What this book deals with is the First Cause argument which St. Thomas Aquanis borrowed from Aristotle & then modified for Christianity. The question it confronts is "Why is there something rather than nothing?" The Creationist's answer is that the answer lies with God, the cause of all things. The atheists counter that this does nothing but push the question back, as then one must ask "where did God come from?" (if, indeed, the universe "came" from anywhere at all). If one cannot answer this, then why not just skip a step and say that nobody knows where the universe came from? (as opposed of taking the seemingly superfluous step of inferring a God or gods). William Craig Lane defends the theistic side of the argument while Quentin Smith takes the helm for the atheists. Both are quite erudite & it makes for a very good match.
In the 20th century, scientists used to adore the "steady state" theory, which was invented by Sir Fred Hoyle, the famous Cambridge astronomer. Why? you ask.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By berean7@aol.com on September 1, 1997
Format: Hardcover
There are no easy answers to questions about the existence of God, especially when such questions are framed around the very unobserved origin of our universe. Drs. Craig and Smith provide helpful insight into the theistic and atheistic viewpoints on matters pertaining to the much-neglected "kalam cosmological argument." This work is a valuable resource for those seriously interested in a scientific and philosophical analysis of one of the greatest questions of all time: Does God exist? The book's point-by-point debate format gives the reader anticipated answers filled with rich information no one can do without
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jlowder@infidels.org on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
According to Big Bang cosmology, the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with an explosion called `the Big Bang'. But was this explosion created by God, or did it occur without cause? In Part I, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig defends the theistic interpretation of Big Bang cosmology. In Part II, atheist philosopher Quentin Smith defends the atheistic interpretation. Part III contains Craig's and Smith's interpretations of Stephen Hawking's cosmology, and its implications for the existence of God.
An excellent scholarly resource for anyone interested in the debate over Big Bang cosmology. Readers unfamiliar with Big Bang Theory may wish to consult other works before reading this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reader From Aurora on September 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Recent developments in the field of cosmology have caused it to become increasingly topical in the theism - atheism debate. Theoretical and empirical work during the last century has shattered the common modern belief that the universe was temporally infinite. Indeed, these developments have made a compelling argument for the universe having an actual being. Obviously, if one accepts the finitude of the past this view has profound philosophical and theological implications. Why is there a universe? Is God the only viable hypothesis? In Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology, philosophers Quentin Smith and William Craig discuss these and other fascinating questions.

The book has three parts. It is laid out in a debate style format wherein one author puts forth their case that is subsequently followed by a series of rebuttals and responses. In Part 1 Craig makes the theistic case. In Part 2 Smith makes the atheist case. In Part 3 the authors discuss some of the cosmological musings made by Stephen Hawking in his popular works such as A Brief History of Time.

The first two parts of the book provide a comprehensive analysis of the implications of modern cosmology. Though well done, this discussion may be best suited for readers who possess some familiarity with modern physics and philosophical thought. An abbreviated and simplified overview of this topic can be found on Craig's website as part of a public debate between himself and Smith. For readers who have been exposed to Hawking's philosophical musings Part 3 should also be enjoyable. Smith in particular is helpful in reformulating and correcting some of Hawking's often muddled thoughts in this area.

Although some of the argumentation can seem rather esoteric the book is worthwhile for anyone seeking a better understanding of modern cosmology
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Deming on October 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this advanced work, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig debates atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith in a series of technical essays. The book is separated into three main sections.

In the first section, Craig and Smith debate the possible existence of the actual infinite in the real world. Craig contends that the infinite is applicable only, if at all, in the realm of the mathematical. While admitting the applicability of Cantor's set theory, he tries to show that an actual infinite instantiated in the real world would lead to contradictions. He also argues that it is impossible to create an infinite by successive addition. He therefore concludes that the universe had a beginning. Smith counters Craig by attempting to resolve the supposed paradoxes, and establishing the reasonability of an actual infinite.

In this section Craig also attempts to argue from the beginning of the universe to the necessity of a personal cause. Smith contends that, although the universe did begin to exist in the Big Bang, it is impossible to prove that it requires a cause and is therefore reasonable to assume that the universe began to exist without a cause.

In the second section, Smith attempts to construct an atheistic cosmological argument. He claims that the Big Bang singularity will emit all configurations with equal probability, and, therefore cannot be guaranteed to result in a life-permitting universe. He concludes that the unpredictability of the first states of the universe is incompatible with divine creation, since God would want to ensure a life-permitting universe. Craig addresses this by denying the actual existence of the singularity and by countering that God's interaction in the world to ensure a life-permitting universe is compatible with His attributes.
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Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Clarendon Paperbacks)
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