The Creator Revealed
Michael G. Strauss
Preface: Science and Faith
p ix He saw astronauts walk on the moon at 10 years old. I saw it on my 30th birthday. He is the son and grandson of pastors.
p x Talks of tension between many Christians and science, particularly about the age of the Earth. Cites Romans 1:20 about looking at what God has revealed in nature.
p xi Earned PhD in particle physics. Two of his brothers missionaries, one of them ThD and taught in seminary. Writing this book after 30 years of studying the subject.
p xi Invokes Mark 12:30 to make the point that mind is to be fully engaged in our faith.
Ch 1: An Important Question
p 1 Actually challenged his teen-age, church-going babysitters with question "Do you think the big bang is a theistic theory or an atheistic theory?" They uniformly assumed "atheistic".
p 2 "..big bang is one of the most powerful and convincing evidences for God's existence. In fact, I believe that the big bang is the best evidence for the existence and character of God, except perhaps for the resurrection of Jesus."
p 3 "If the big bang is, indeed, the method God used to create the universe, and if the big bang agrees with the biblical account of creation, then there are exciting consequences that accompany this reconciliation between science and scripture."
His general approach is to welcome the big bang as congruent with the Bible and as a powerful tool with which to point to the God of the Bible.
p 3 Discusses the conflicts that young people have with reconciling science and faith.
p 4 Cites Psalm 19:1
Ch 2: The Big Bang
p 9 What the big bang is not. Then discusses it as the beginning of space and time. Starts building the picture of the standard model from the big bang.
p 12 From quarks, leptons and energy onward, we have a handle on the principles that control the universe.
p 12 Neutrons and protons at 10-6 seconds, atoms at 380,000 years (transparency point), 0.5 Gyr beginning of stars and galaxies, 14 Gyr to us. At this point he does not detail that most of the matter was in the form of hydrogen and helium at the end of the first three minutes.
p 13 The major features of the universe like stars, planets and galaxies could be predicted. But it does not predict a planet like ours or the arising of life like ours. "Biological systems are far too complex to be part of these computer models that describe the general development of the universe, so biological evolution is certainly not a necessary feature of the big bang model of the universe."
Ch 3: How Do You Know?
p15 "Another question that I often hear is, 'How do you know the big bang actually occurred?' Sometimes this is followed by the question, 'After all, there was no one there to observe it, so how can you know that it happened?'" He follows with evidences for things in the past.
p15 "When it comes to astronomy - observing planets, stars and galaxies - the evidencee from the past is even more obvious." He proceeds with discussion and examples of the fact that all astronomical observations are observations of the past.
p 16 In the early 20th century, most scientists believed in an infinite past and the steady-state theory of the universe.
p 17 Sir Arthur Eddington: "Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of Nature is repugnant ... I should like to find a genuine loophole." "Arthur Eddington used the word repugnant to refer to the beginning of the universe because if the universe had a beginning, then it may have had someone who began it, and it is the idea of a creator that is repugnant to some scientists. It doesn't matter when the universe was created, whether it was six thousand years ago or fourteen billion years ago; to the naturalist who doesn't believe in God, both ideas are equally repugnant."
p 17 Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe.
p 18 Balloon model of expanding universe. Comments on Hoyle as originator of the phrase "Big Bang".
p 19 Tracing the expansion backward gives about 14 billion years.
p 19 Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation introduction. Has a good conceptual example - if you were able to measure the thermal radiation in your kitchen before and after opening the door of a hot oven, you would expect to measure some extra radiation after the door is opened.
p 20 Alpher and Herman predicted the radiation field filling the universe in 1948. Then story of Penzias and Wilson and the discovery.
p 21 The abundance of the light elements, hydrogen and helium, as a strong confirmation of the big bang.
p 22 Einstein and his cosmological constant
p 23 Bord, Guth and Vilenkin Vilenkin's quote: "With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning." "Many Worlds in One" (NY: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176.
p 23 "But the scientists changed their minds because the evidence for the big bang was then, as it remains today, overwhelming, powerful and conclusive."
Ch 4: The Transcendent Creator
p25 Comparing the contemplation of the universe's creation to a detective story, he poses the questions: "What caused the universe to begin? Who or what initiated the big bang and brought this universe into existence?"
p26 Invokes Romans 1:20 and comments about the evidence for the big bang: "The evidence is remarkably clear. It is so clear that the scientific community has overwhelmingly accepted the creation event, the big bang, in spite of the philosophical problems it causes for those who would prefer not to think about the possibility of a creator. Those without excuse have seen the tremendous evidence that the universe had its origin in the big bang. It is not the creation event that has been rejected but the creator himself."
p27 It should not surprise you that the big bang reveals characteristics of the creator that
p 27 big bang "It was the origin of our space and time. It was the origin of matter and energy."
p 27 "If the big bang was the origin of our space and time, then the creator of the universe must not be confined to exist in these dimensions of space and time. The creator of the universe must transcend the boundaries of this universe - that is, be outside our space and time. The Bible declares that God is transcendent, that he does not exist in space and time as we do. So, the first attribute of God that is clearly evident from the big bang is his transcendence. Only a being who is not dependent on space and time for his existence could bring space and time into existence. The Bible is the only holy book among those of all the world's religions that explicitly describes God as taking action before time even began. "
2 Timothy 1:9 "..This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
Titus 1:2 "In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time."
p28 Paul Davies: "It is hard to resist the impression of something - some influence capable of transcending spacetime and the confinements of relativistic causality - possessing an overview of the entire cosmos at the instant of its creation, and manipulating all the causally disconnected parts to go bang with almost exactly the same vigour at the same time, and yet not so exactly coordinated as to preclude the small scale, slight irregularities that eventually formed the galaxies, and us."
p28 John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
p29 "The creation of the universe at the big bang - including the origin of space, time, matter, and energy - clearly reveals that the creator is both spirit and transcendent, not dependent on our space and time for existence."
p29 John Gribbin "The biggest problem with the big bang theory of the origin of the Universe is philosophical - perhaps even theological - what was there before the bang?"
p29 Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Ch 5: Design in the Universe
p31 "In the past few decades , a tremendous number of discoveries have been made showing that the universe has an amazing design and a precise composition making the existence of life possible. For instance, if many of the physical constants that describe the universe were to be changed just slightly, then the universe would be unsuitable for life of any kind."
p31 Cites John Barrow and Frank Tipler and "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle". Barrow and Tipler "document over one hundred examples of physical constants and laws that have been finely tuned to allow life to exist in the universe."
p32 Uses universal law of gravitation as example.
p33 Quotes 1 in 1060 as precision of tuning of amount of mass in universe, or gravitational constant,
p33-34 "To summarize, if the amount of matter had differed by even a tiny amount, the universe would have been destined for either quick destruction or lifeless void. There would not have been a universe with different laws of nature and different types of beings. There would have been no universe capable of supporting life at all."
p34 Cites Gribben and Rees, "Cosmic Coincidences" about the precise tuning of the amount of matter: "If this were a coincidence, then it would be a fluke so extraordinary as to make all other cosmic coincidences pale into insignificance."
p34 Cosmic inflation in the time range 10-35 seconds expanded so fast that some theories posit that the inflation drove the matter density to be what it needed to be to produce our universe. But the fact that it was driven to precisely the right value itself suggest design.
p35 Strong nuclear force. "Within a second after the creation of the universe at the big bang, the primordial quarks came together to form neutrons and protons. The neutrons and protons were attracted to each other and formed atomic nuclei, so that within about three minutes after the big bang, the nuclei of the lightest elements of the periodic table - hydrogen, helium, and some lithium - were abundant."
p35 Strong nuclear force. "If the strong nuclear force were five percent weaker, then only hydrogen would exist for any appreciable length of time." "If the strong nuclear force were only two percent stronger, then protons and neutrons would bind together more readily to create very massive nuclei."
p36 The formation of carbon. Early universe light elements, but "Yet, in order for life to exist, we must have the other elements of the periodic table, particularly carbon, the building block of all life in the universe. Most scientists would agree that carbon is probably the only element on which life could be based because it is the only element that can form the very long molecules required to encode the information necessary for life."
p36-38 Discusses death of stars to distribute the heavy elements, and then leads up to the "coincidences" that conspire to create a carbon atom. Describes briefly the existence of three nuclear resonance states that lead to what is often referred to as the "Hoyle resonance", without which we wouldn't have carbon or us.
p37 Cites Astronomer Owen Gingerich "Had the resonance level in the carbon been four percent higher, there would be essentially no carbon. Had that level in oxygen been only half a percent higher, virtually all the carbon would have been converted to oxygen. Without that carbon abundance, neither you nor I would be here tonight."
p38 Cites Physicist Dean Lee "We find that more than a 2 or 3 percent change in the light quark mass would lead to problems with the abundance of either carbon or oxygen in the universe." Quoted in Tracey Peake, "Foundations of Carbon-Based Life Leave Little Room for Error", NC State News, March 13, 2013.
p39 Cites Hoyle from The Intelligent Universe: "Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a happy thread of coincidences. But there are so many odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them. "
p39 Cites Gribben and Rees, "Cosmic Coincidences": "If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life as we know it. When we adjust a second constant in an attempt to fix the problem(s), the result, generally, is to create three new problems for every one we 'solve'. The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps for any form or organic complexity."
p39 Cites Allan Sandage "I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing."
Ch 6: A Plan for Humans
p40 "Of course, not everyone who observes the remarkable design in the universe acknowledges that there is a transcendent creator. However, one thing is certain: those who have thoughtfully considered the design in the universe have often come to the same conclusion, that the universe is too precisely designed to be an accident."
p40 Describes Barrow and Tipler's approach. Concluding that the universe was definitely made by an intelligent designer, that it was definitely made for humans, yet not believing in God, they speculate that humankind will evolve to a point where they reach back in time and create the universe for themselves. After some funny observations about that, Strauss comes down to saying: "The design of the universe screams for an intelligent creator, and with Barrow and Tipler being unwilling to accept God as that creator, the only alternative they have is humankind."
p41 Cites Hoyle's famous "superintellect has monkeyed with physics.." quote. Responds with "Even for an agnostic, it is common sense that there is a superintellect responsible for what is seen in nature."
p42 "..the implications of modern science agree with the statements made in the Bible about the character of God." cites
p42 Surveys the Copernican view, which minimizes the importance of Earth and human life.
p43 Cites Davies from "Superforce": "If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly that the purpose includes us."
p43 "Of course, long before science recognized it, millennia ago the Bible declared that human beings do have a special place and purpose in the universe. Hoyle's "superintellect" and Davies' 'purpose [that] includes us' perfectly describe the God of the Bible."
p42-44 Excellent general discussion of the fact that many scientists see purpose, but pop science writers drift toward Copernican view. Yet nature reveals the same attributes of God as the Bible. p43 particularly eloquent.
Psalm 8 "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?"
Zephaniah 3:17 "[God] will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy."
p44 "The remarkable design in the universe, and the obvious care for humanity that it implies, has led scientists to an unexpected understanding of God.Scientific observations now fully agree with these words of the Bible:
Ch 7: The Garden of Eden
p45-46 Comments on "Earthlike" planets to correct common mischaracterizations.
p46 Cites Ward & Brownlee's "Rare Earth" and their attempt to catalog the criteria that are important for supporting life-forms.
p47 Our galaxy. Nature of galaxy and heavy element production, position of Sun in galaxy, galactic habitable zone.
p48-50 Earth and solar system characteristics to make life possible
p51 Our planet: again cite Ward & Brownlee, examine tectonics
p52 Cites Ward & Brownlee: "It may be that plate tectonics is the central requirement for life on a planet and that it is necessary for keeping a world supplied with water." Rare Earth p220.
p52 Role of Moon. Why Moon is crucial to life.
p52 Probability of a planet like Earth.
p52 Cites Hugh Ross as listing 322 parameters in article on Reasons.org That link didn't work, so need to check at the RTB site.
Ch 8: Characteristics of the Creator
p55 He likes these verses, cited them again:
p55 "God has promised that his very character should be clearly seen in creation, so that men and women are without excuse. The character of God, as described in the Bible, is revealed in the big bang and the design of the universe, so that even nonreligious scientists must use phrases like "influence capable of transcending spacetime", "superintellect", or "purpose that includes us" do describe the cause of the big bang. The details of the big bang point so strongly to God that those who study the event most closely have no excuse for not accepting the creator, as well as the facts of creation."
p55 "Although some Christians have been reluctant to accept the big bang as God's method of creating the universe because they think it is intrinsically and atheistic theory, scientists have understood the ramifications of the big bang since it was first proposed. As the evidence for the big bang became compelling in the mid-1970s ..:" astrophysicist Robert Jastrow's quote.
p57 Quotes Arno Penzias, one of the codiscoverers of the cosmic microwave background radiation "Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe that was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say 'supernatural') plan."
p57 An excellent paragraph about Rom 1:20 and the big bang.
Part 2: Ch 9: Mistakes of the Past
p62 Brief commentary on the mistakes about Galileo.
p62 Comments on the Genesis perspective being from the surface of the Earth, and a reflection on holding controversial passages loosely.
p64 About avoiding the mistakes of the past, he comments: "Instead, we need to first remember that the story of creation is told from a certain perspective. We shall see that perspective described in the Bible itself. Second, we need to recognize that for millenia, good Christian and Jewish scholars have proposed several possible interpretations of the account of creation that take seriously the inspiration and authority of scripture as God's Word. We need to understand why good scholars have never come to complete agreement on this issue, and how to interpret Genesis as God intended it to be understood."
Ch 10: The Rules of the Game
p65 "Do you believe in a six-day creation?", responds with two questions:
p66 He asks the question "What did the writer of Genesis mean when he described the creation as occurring over six 'days'?" Part of his reply is "There has never been a time in the last two millennia when learned scholars held a single consensus on this important question."
p67 Affirms belief in the Bible as God's Word
p68 Determine author's intended meaning
p69 1. Literary context
p70 2. Figurative language?
p71 3. Consider historical culture and context
p72 Case study: covering head
Ch 11: The Days of Genesis
p83 Gleason Archer and his Biblical argument against 24-hr days by internal evidence.
Ch 12: As God Sees It
p85 "However, my claim in The Creator Revealed - that the big bang is a biblical idea - isn't based on what the Bible doesn't tell us. It is based on what the Bible does tell us. The Bible tells us the story of the creation in a way that demonstrates the inspiration and truthfulness of the Bible."
p86 "hovering over the waters" discussion to establish that the perspective is that of the surface of the Earth.
p87 "Bara" creation consistent with the big bang
p88 "Verse 2 ...tells us the conditions that existed on the Earth, not those that existed throughout the entire universe. It says the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters - that is, on the surface of the earth."
p88 Having established that context, he proceeds to describe briefly the six days of creation.
p89 The sun, moon and stars are part of Genesis 1:1-2
Ch 13: The Order of Creation
p91 DAY ONE: It does not use "bara", implying that nothing brand new was created but that already created light reached the surface.
p92 DAY TWO: General description. Refers to Sailhamer: "It would be unlikely that the narrative would have in view here a 'solid partition or vault that separates the earth from the waters above' (Waterman, p116). It appears more likely that the narrative has in view something within the everyday experience of the natural world, in a general way, that place where the birds fly and where God has placed the lights of the sky (cf.v.14). In English the word 'sky' appears to cover this sense well. The 'waters above' the sky is likely a reference to the clouds." (The Expositors Bible Commentary, Genesis-Leviticus, Grand Rapids, MI:Zondervan, 2008, p59).
p93 DAY THREE: The transformation of the earth and dry land. Refers to Ward & Brownlee's Rare Earth for graphic of development of the dry land (p94).
p94 DAY FOUR: Discussion of the lights - the Sun and Moon.
p96 Again cites Sailhamer: "In v14 God does not say, 'Let there be lights..to separate,' as if there were no lights before this command and afterward the lights were created. Rather the Hebrew text reads, 'And God said, 'Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate.' In other words, unlike the syntax of v6, in v14 God's command assumes that the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to his command they were given a purpose, 'to separate the day from the night' and 'to mark seasons and days and years,' ... It suggests that the author did not understand his account of the fourth day as an account of the creation of the lights; but, on the contrary, the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights have been created already 'in the beginning'." p64
p97 DAY FIVE:
p98 The word "bara" appears only the second time, and in reference to the nephesh.
p98 DAY SIX:
p99 List of order of creation.
p100 Reflection on the order of creation: "The fact that the order of creation in the Bible written more than three thousand years ago agrees with the order observed in nature today is quite remarkable. The hand of God is evident in the record of scripture and the record of nature. Both present the same story of a universe created by God, with humans as the final creation.. The account in Genesis agrees with the current scientific record. The context of Genesis, as well as the text of Psalm 90, which was written by Moses, shows that the days of Genesis can be long periods of time."
Ch 14: Sin, Death, and the Future
p101-103 Reflection on "good, not perfect" and death before the fall.
p104 Death of Adam after the fall was a spiritual death.
Ch 15: The Truth Shall Set You Free
p111 Scriptures related to truth.
p111-114 Discussion of truth and truth claims.
p114 "Today we are in a situation very similar to the one of the seventeenth-century church when it rejected Galileo's findings. The record of nature is absolutely unambiguous about the age of the universe and its creation by the big bang. God's truth revealed in nature is clear to anyone who is willing to look at the evidence that he has left for us to observe. This record of nature agrees with and supports the truth of scripture. We, as followers of the God of truth, need to recognize God's truth and embrace the strong evidence that clearly reveals God's character. Today, in the twenty-first century, God has revealed facts about nature to the scientists who study it most closely, as clearly as he did in the seventeenth century."
p115 "Indeed, one of the greatest things about the facts discovered by scientists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is that these facts strongly support the truth that God has revealed in his Word. We don't need to repeat false ideas to defend what we believe. The fact of the big bang, as discovered by scientists and supported by abundant evidence, is a revelation from nature that does a fantastic job of supporting what we believe."
p115-116 Story of Greg, a Christian and an astronomer who lived with some tensions between faith and science, but upon sudied the record of creation came to a greater peace.
Ch 16: With All Your Mind
p117-119 Story of Rob and his faith crisis at the university.
p121 "Recall that because the big bang is so clearly a theistic theory, most scientists did not want to accept it as true. But the observations from nature were so compelling that the big bang was eventually accepted as true even though it contradicted almost all scientists' philosophical presupposition that the universe did not have a beginning or a creator. If the evidence was so compelling that scientists accepted the big bang even though it challenged their presuppositions and implied that there was a creator, you can imagine that the same conclusion is nearly incontrovertible for any thinking person, Christian or not, who has carefully examined the evidence. For a Christian who believes that God speaks through nature and knows the observations that support the big bang origin of the universe, the most straightforward conclusion is an understanding that the truth revealed so clearly in science perfectly agrees with the truth revealed in scripture. This is apparent to those who study nature. Over ninety-nine percent of Christians who are scientists studying the age of the universe, such as geologists and astronomers, acknowledge the big bang as God's method of creation. This realization frees us up to truly love Bod with all our heart, soul, mind and strength."
p121-122 Continuing Rob's story as he read about the ideas embodied in the previous quote.
Ch 17: No God or Know God
p123-124 Story of Jason
p126 Ends with a praise about Jason's faith.
Addendum A: Atheism of the Gaps
p128 Origin of the universe
p129 Again mentions Bord,Guth,Vilenkin
p129 Discusses entropy problem
p130 The design of the universe, the popularity of the multiverse idea
p132 Victor Stenger denies design and denies fine tuning as an illusion
p132 Astrophysicists Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes in "A Fortunate Universe:Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos": "This reaction [against fine-tuning] might stem from the belief that fine-tuning is the invention of a bunch of religious believers who hijacked physics to their own ends. This is not the case: the field began in physics journals and remains with physicists." (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016,
p 133 Multiverse as an example of "atheism of the gaps:
Addendum B: The "E" Word
p134-135 Beginning of a general discussion of evolution and four viewpoints: 1. Young earth creation, 2. Progressive creation, 3. Theistic evolution or evolutionary creation, 4. Naturalistic evolution.
p135-136 A gentle discussion of his differences with young earth creation
p136-137 Progressive creation discussion
p137-138 Theistic evolution discussion
p139 Naturalistic evolution
p140 Testimony about a television series "Evolution" which revealed some powerful evidences for the work of the Creator in forming life.