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Beyond the Firmament: Understanding Science and the Theology of Creation Perfect Paperback – August 30, 2007
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Gordon J. Glover's new book will be important for several groups of people: thoughtful Christians troubled by culture wars and seeking a way beyond them, people engaged in the science-religion debate that seems to have heated up (on both sides) in recent years, and those interested in how world-views (ancient, medieval, modern, or whatever) resource and limit the ways we read sacred texts and apply them today. I found it energetic, well-researched, and constructive. --Brian McLaren, author/activist (brianmclaren.net)
Gordon J. Glover takes seriously the claims not only of Biblical revelation but also of natural revelation (creation), and he deftly navigates the frontier between the scientific investigation of the universe's origins and the theological investigation of Holy Scripture. As an advocate of Biblical infallibility, he asks us to stay tune to ancient Near Eastern world-views and to exercise hermeneutical sensitivity in inquiring what the book of Genesis is actually attempting to say. While not endorsing all of Glover s conclusions, I commend this work as a thoughtful treatment of the issues surrounding origins as seen from an intentionally and distinctly Christian perspective. --P. Andrew Sandlin, President, Center for Cultural Leadership (christianculture.com)
Many times I have heard conservative Christians complain that the Big Bang removes God from the picture, so it must be an atheistic theory… But science can only examine the physical universe in terms of material cause and effect, and is not equipped to address transcendent meaning or purpose, and as described in this book, the interpretation of the physical aspects of nature cannot be held hostage to particular philosophies of either Christians or atheists. I would strongly recommend this book as a valuable addition to a church library and bookstore, and it should pique some Christians, agnostics, and atheists into thinking about what they believe, or what they do not believe. --Dr. Christopher M. Sharp, Research astrophysicist and educator (csharp.com/creationism.html)
About the Author
A native of Texas, Gordon J. Glover currently lives and works in the Baltimore-Washington area with his wife Kathryn, and their three children: Dabney, Truitt and Bryn. Gordon has always had an insatiable interest in the natural sciences; specifically how they relate to Christian theology and the Bible. Sacrificing the romantic idea of a scientific career on the alters of pragmatism, he studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas and Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University. He then served 10 years in the U.S. Navy as a Deep Sea Diver and Ocean Engineer before settling down in the suburbs of southern Maryland. In his ongoing quest to integrate science with Christian orthodoxy, Gordon has probably held just about every conceivable position on Creation. He now spends most of his free time studying, discussing, speaking and writing about the challenging philosophical issues that arise from the scientific investigation of natural history - and doing backyard astronomy with his kids.
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Gordon J. Glover maintains that YECs and OECs are equally wrong in their approach to interpreting Genesis 1 & 2 (and other references to creation in the Bible). His main theme is that Genesis 1 & 2 are not scientific accounts of the origin of the universe and that both YECs and OECs err in trying to interpret it that way. He makes a very good case from the Bible itself that God accommodated his message to what the Israelites of that time could understand, and that God's message was theological, not scientific.
This approach is not new. It has been well developed in a number of commentaries on Genesis, including but not limited to John H. Walton's "The NIV Application Commentary-Genesis," C. John Collins' "Genesis 1-4," and Henri Blocher's "In the Beginning." What is new here is a discussion of the issues in a form much more accessable to Christian laymen. The author is neither a scientist nor a theologian, and, while his writing style is a bit flippant at times, he makes his points well, forcefully and understandably. He also acknowledges that it is going to take a lot of time for YECs to make the transition to a different way of understanding God's message in Genesis.
The author describes his reluctant acceptance of evolution as just another natural process through which God has been operating in his providental governance of the universe. In that vein, he expresses his dislike of the term "theistic evolution" as not making any more sense than "theistic meteorology." He cites a number of clearly stated, understandable reasons why biological evolution is currently the most reasonable explanation of the facts that scientists are observing in nature.
The author goes on to very clearly demonstrate that "creation science" is not science, that science is not the enemy of Christianity, and that science does not lie. He summarizes his position on "creation science" in four bullet points on page 105 as follows:
(1) Creaton science removes the Bible out from under the protection of the ancient Near-Eastern worldview - where truth did not always have to be expressed in scientific terms, and subjects it to the rigors of the modern materialists' worldview - which requires truth to always be precisely communicated in scientific terms.
(2) Creation science marginalizes the timeless theological realities of the creation story by exposing the timely physical details to scientific ridicule.
(3) Creation science hands the secular world a Biblical straw-man that can be easily torn down, along with the entire Christian faith.
(4) Since all scientific propositions are subject to falsification, creation science puts the Lord our God to the test!
I only wish that there were some way that Young Earth Creationists (and a few Old Earth Creationists) could be exposed to this book. I highly recommend it.
Best parts of the book: Insight into the common themes among near east "creation stories" that the original readers of Genesis would have been familiar with. Also, the author does one of the better jobs of suggesting a means of how to approach Genesis in a way that lets the Book speak for itself without us instantly slathering it in a 20th century mindset.
Also, the examples from history are very powerful. I was familiar with the heliocentric controversy but had not been entirely clear on the controversy over the spherical earth. If nothing else, those two embarrassing chapters in Christian history should give any Young Earth Creationist pause, lest they continue to part of yet another sad chapter today.
Weaker parts: Towards the later chapters, it feels a bit repetitive in parts. Also, he would do well to provide folks with some more guidance on what else to read to better understand the science he is summarizing. It is in the footnotes, but a reading guide at the end would be good.
Sadly, I think the audience most in need of reading this will toss it aside, hissing "heresy" rather than even consider the points the author makes.
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This book is divided up into four sections.Read more