Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another book review

I have been writing reviews of books that I have about science v. creationism. They are posted at Here is one that apparently was blocked by an staff member.

“Old Testament History” was recommended to me last week, and as it was only $6.99 I ordered it and another title by John H. Sailhamer, “Biblical Archaeology.” These are more pamphlets than books, under 100 pages of large print, and lacking indexes or bibliographies. They are part of a series of Bible study aids published by Zondervan.

I can judge my reaction to a book by how many ‘post it’ notes I use, and for books that I find poor, I soon switch from ‘post its’ to folding page corners and writing in the margins. “Old Testament History” lasted until the 9th page of text before I was dogging corners. The section heading on page 18 is “The “Days” of Creation.” The question was obviously regarding the literalist interpretation of Genesis 1 versus the biblical interpretations which view Genesis 1 metaphorically. This is a topic of serious weight, and is the focus of entire books. Sailhamer gives less than a page response, and even after reading it several times you could not guess the range of current opinion.

The very next page begins about 9 pages of contrasts between scientific and fundamentalist positions. This is where I nearly broke the lead in my red pencil. Toward the end of page 19 Sailhamer makes a strange statement that, “ … many scientists assume that the material world is without beginning or end (materialism). The first error is using “scientist” without any qualification. The study of the origin of the universe is known as cosmology, which is a sub-discipline of astrophysics, which is a sub-discipline of physics. Cosmologists are uniformly in agreement that our universe had a definite beginning, and are converging on understanding the timing and mechanism of its end. This is not “materialism” either. Science is materialistic as the topic of science is the material universe. Plumbing is equally materialistic. The scientific notion that the universe had a beginning and will have an end is a scientific result that is seen even by fundamentalists as consistent with Judeo-Christian belief. Sailhamer edged into the bizarre when he then builds on his false assertions to argue that, “A scientist has every right to make such an assumption and thus contradict Scripture, but it should be acknowledged that it is an assumption.” This is wrong in so many ways.

It only gets worse.

On page 23 he falsely claims that Hubble astronomers determined the age of the universe to be “about eight billion years.” He also imagines that this means the universe is expanding at a much faster rate than expected. The age of the universe has been determined, 13.7 billion years, by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. Let me recommend the NASA website on this;

These errors of fact, and logic continue for page after page. Sailhamer is grossly ignorant of what science is generally, and it is rare that he makes any true statements about the content of any scientific topic. Worse, he applies his useless presentation of science to issues related to biblical knowledge. Sailhamer and any of his followers should take counsel in the words of Thomas Aquinas (c.a. 1225 – 1274) who in Summa Theological (1273), wrote, "In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing."

1 comment:

Gary S. Hurd said...

I resubmitted the review and this time it was accepted. Some of the website monitors are obviously suffering from a religious bias.