Re: [asa] Review of Beyond the Firmament

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Sat Jan 05 2008 - 06:47:26 EST

MessageWhat does the book say about Jesus the centre of our faith.

We can spend so much time fiddling with details eg dating the flood in 2993BC or %my ago that we forget the message of redemption

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jon Tandy
  Sent: Friday, January 04, 2008 1:16 PM
  Subject: [asa] Review of Beyond the Firmament

  Below is my review on Amazon of Gordon J. Glover's book, Beyond the Firmament ( Thanks David O. for the recommendation. I put it on my Christmas list!

  Jon Tandy

  There are loads of books on all sides of the Bible/science controversy, but I can say without exaggeration that "Beyond the Firmament" ought to be at the top of the required reading list. It is down to earth and easy to grasp, giving a good summary of the scientific evidences for the antiquity of the universe and biological evolution, and why Christians ought to care about these things, while maintaining a faith-affirming interpretation of the Bible. Whether you agree or disagree with the author's approach or with the evidences, there are still critical questions that are often left un-asked, which the author does a good job of conveying to a primarily non-technical audience.

  The book is particularly styled toward conservative Christians, who tend to be the ones demanding scientific precision from ancient Biblical texts. The author, who once held this view, has been where many Christians fear to tread -- honestly investigating the scientific evidence of "the other side." He has returned, bringing an honest and forthright testimony that believers don't have to choose between accepting faith or the scientific evidence of the natural world. He holds that the Bible can be literally true (according to its intended message), while not necessarily being scientifically accurate according to science's limited knowledge in any given generation.

  His main conclusion is that God's purpose in the Bible was to give timeless principles, in particular to the original Hebrew exiles from Egypt. They came out of a polytheistic culture, and needed to have reestablished in their minds the transcendence of a monotheistic Hebrew God. God chose the Ancient Near East (ANE) cosmology as a familiar framework for transforming the polytheistic views of the ANE into the monotheistic religion of the Hebrews, and to answer the questions important to them, such as who is God, and does he have all power over creation? God did not choose a 20th century cosmology as the literary framework for answering modern-day creation science questions, such as how old is the universe, or what physical mechanisms led to the present biological diversity? Requiring scripture to answer these questions is anachronistic, and does injustice to the timeless themes God intended to convey, in favor of timely questions that have only been important to Western scientific culture in the last few hundred years.

  Be sure to see the introductory videos on the author's Web site, These contain the same basic information as the early part of the book, but present it in a succinct and visually appealing manner.

  Just a word about a few of the weaknesses of the book, aside from the occasional glaring typo. Technical readers may complain that the scientific portions gloss over too much of the scientific technicalities, but this is not the goal of the book. In the section on DNA, the emphasis on the staggering numbers of various potential genetic sequences are a bit too technical for the general audience. In the end, the conclusion for why this necessarily looks more like common descent than common design is less than convincing, at least on my first time through. He may be 100% correct, but as a non-specialist in genetic science, the conclusion here seemed to be reaching a bit.

  The book uses primarily cosmological history to address why we shouldn't try to use the Bible as a scientific text, but doesn't really deal with the difficult theological problems of how to handle such questions as death before the fall, Adam and Eve and their descendents, or Noah's flood (although the ANE firmament cosmology should provide the reader a basis for reexamining traditional assumptions about the flood). For these questions, you'll have to look elsewhere.

  Gordon Glover isn't the first to propose a framework interpretation of Genesis 1, but he does so in such a way as to be accessible to the average reader, and maintains a high view of scripture in the process.

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Received on Sat Jan 5 06:52:46 2008

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