Copan, Paul and William Lane Craig. Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration. Logos ed. Leicester, England Grand Rapids, MI: Apollos; Baker Academic, 2004.
In this book, Copan and Craig bring to bear the most recent biblical scholarship, philosophy and scientific foundation for understanding what Genesis 1 teaches about creation. This view provides a counterpoint to the tradition of thinkers like Schleiermacher who argued for a detemproalized creation which has no connection to philosophy or science, but is only concerned with religious experience. Specifically, Copan and Craig endeavor to give reason to accept the idea that the God of the Hebrew scripture created the material world from nothing. This book is broken down into eight chapters. Chapters 1 through three provide the biblical and extrabiblical witness to creation ex nihilo, chapters 4 through 6 give a philosophical underpinning for the book’s thesis, and the final chapters 7 and 8 provide the scientific and naturalistic evidence for the thesis.
Chapter 1 makes the case that creation ex nihilo is the best interpretation of the teachings of the Old Testament. The chapter offers three lines of reasoning. First, the cosmology of Genesis is distinct from other Ancient Near Eastern mythology in its assertion of both monotheism and a contingent creation distinct from the creator. Second, the Hebrew word for creation, bārāʾ reinforces the cosmological idea that God created purely from his word and not from any existing material reality. Third, in a two-stage process, the Hebrew God created all matter and then organized it into the universe.
Chapter 2 surveys key passages from John 1:3, Romans 4:17, Hebrews 11:3 and a series of other verse that reinforce the Old Testament concept of creation ex nihilo. These NT verses, according to Copan and Craig, mirror the explicit teaching of the Old Testament of a God who is both distinct from all he created and whose creation remains contingent on his being. One key argument is that “Either creatio ex nihilo is true, or God is not all-powerful. But God is truly all-powerful” therefore, creation ex nihilo is an indirect, yet clear, teaching of the NT.
Chapter 3 provides insight from other non-biblical literature that supports the Hebraic concept of creation ex nihilo. The three main sources for the study are the Apocrypha, later Jewish sources such as Josephus, Philo, Gamaliel II, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Medieval Jewish exegetes and the Church Fathers. These early sources reinforce the Hebrew cosmological worldview that God is the uncreated beginning for all matter. These sources, including the Church Fathers, confirm that the biblical doctrine of ex nihilo makes the most sense of the biblical teachings of God’s sovereignty, freedom, eternality, and necessity.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 provide a deeper philosophic understanding and foundation for creation ex nihilo. The Scripture makes a distinction between the concepts of God as creator and conserver which many scholars and philosophers tend to conflate. God as creator and patient preserver implies an A-theory of time and objective temporal becoming. Competing solutions to the problem of divine aseity are argued among Platonists and anti-Platonists. Copan and Craig concede they do not have an authoritative answer for theists looking to explain abstract objects but posit the most promising solution lies in a nominalist or conceptualist account. Considering there are a variety of plausible solutions, there is a valid reason to accept the concept of ex nihilo. Philosophic support for an uncreated creator and a created universe are supported two basic arguments:
- An actual infinite cannot exist.
- An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
- Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
And the second syllogism is similarly argued:
- The series of events in time is a collection formed by successive addition.
- A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.
- Therefore, the series of events in time cannot be actually infinite.
Both arguments form the logical foundation for belief in the aseity of God and creation ex nihilo.
The final two chapters 7 and 8 provide a scientific foundation for accepting creation ex nihilo. Here the authors argue that standard Big Bang cosmology of an expanding universe and the principles of thermodynamics demonstrates the universe must have a beginning. Therefore, the theistic assertion of creation from nothing by an uncreated creator cannot be contradicted by the best empirical evidence. The authors finally address three arguments against creation ex nihilo; a self-created universe, supernaturalistic and naturalistic alternatives. The authors conclude that these theories are not as straightforward as the ones posited in previous chapters nor are they supported by the best scientific evidence. Therefore, creation ex nihilo is the most plausible biblical, philosophic, and scientific answer to the cosmos.
I give Copan and Craig’s book Creation out of Nothing: book 5 stars for anyone interested in discovering the biblical, scientific and philosophic foundations for creatio ex nihilo.
BUY IT NOW
 Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration, Logos ed. (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Apollos; Baker Academic, 2004), 91.
 Ibid., 200.
 Ibid., 211.
My newest book, Elders Lead a Healthy Family, is now out on Amazon.com and here is the first review:
Dr. J. R. Miller has written a book that directly challenges an average American evangelical status quo: the supposed office of pastor. In Elders Lead a Healthy Family, the popular “CEO” church-leadership model is directly, yet respectfully, critiqued and contrasted with a shared elder-leadership structure more faithful to New Testament ecclesiology. No more “senior pastors,” “associate pastors,” and the like, for church polity—a model that more closely resembles Western corporate business structures than the plurality of elders portrayed in Acts and Paul’s pastoral epistles. Rather, Jesus alone is the “Senior Pastor” (1 Peter 5:4), and all those serving as leaders in the church are His equal under-shepherds. With this in mind, Miller promotes a structure where the local church resembles a family fellowship rather than assuming a leadership model with one man on top followed by lower-tiered clergy (which effectively returns us to the pre-Reformation clergy / laity divide). Far from being a free-flowing, leader-less frenzy, however, the author takes us back to how the NT defines and describes the office of elder, and a plurality of elders–who serve more as “big brothers” than a special class of ordained clergy.
Because Dr. Miller actually practices what he preaches—a shared leadership model with a plurality of elders all bearing the burden (…even the weekly preaching!)—I cannot recommend this book enough. Here is a true practitioner of elder-led churches with a wealth of pastoral and academic experience that only adds undoubted credentials to the book. And, for those interested in the perspective of a real-life working “elder’s wife” (contra. “pastor’s wife”), Dr. Miller’s wife, Suzanne, adds a priceless chapter of her own which is itself worth the price of the book. Rather than merely talking about “shared leadership” or a “plurality of elders,” which are common buzz-words with today’s non-denominational pastoral teams, Dr. Miller’s Elders Lead a Healthy Family actually outline’s what it looks like–and how the church functions better by it to the glory of her Chief Shepherd.
The topic of secret codes hidden in the Bible has been around for centuries, but came to a head in 1998 with the publication of Dan Brown’s book. Now, almost 20 years later folks are still wondering about those secret “bible codes.” Since this topic remains alive, I am reposting this response on a previous blog for everyone to consider.
In terms of Mathematics, I think “bible codes” are a bunch of bunk; theologically, they are silly; biblically, they are condemned as numerology. It’s fair to say that I have developed a fairly strong opinion on them because I have seen them as a source of deception to God’s people.
But honestly it is not even worth my time to do a serious review of this silliness. The best way to illustrate how dumb the “bible codes” are, is to show you how the same methodology of discovering “hidden codes” can be done with the book Moby Dick.
I am quoting below only a small excerpt from one of my favorite sites on this topic. They do a great job of finding the “hidden” codes you never knew were there.
A brief summary of the codes claims is that the Hebrew text of the Bible (especially of the Torah, the first five books) contain intentional coincidences of words or phrases that appear as letters with equal spacing.
The most serious claim of scientific evidence for the Codes was made by three Israelis: Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg (WRR). They claim that biographical information about medieval rabbis is “encoded” in the Hebrew text of Genesis. Specifically, the rabbis’ names and other appellations are claimed to be encoded closer to their dates of birth and death than should be expected by chance. WRR’s “experiment” appeared in the respectable journal Statistical Science in 1994.
We have performed many independent scientific tests of the Bible Codes claims. All of them failed to detect anything not easily explained by random chance. These experiments are not to be confused with the demonstrations of trickery that we have constructed in War and Peace.
All of those experiments, and all the other experiments we have conducted, failed to find any “codes” above chance levels.
The book “The Bible Code” by Michael Drosnin has been the most successful mass-market book about the Torah Codes. Alas, all semblence of scientific method is missing, and all of the important codes proponents have disowned him. By repeated examples, we prove that Drosnin did not find anything that can’t be found in any book, even in English.
The center-piece of the book is a “prediction” of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The following challenge was made by Michael Drosnin:
When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I’ll believe them. (Newsweek, Jun 9, 1997)
Note that English with the vowels included is far less flexible than Hebrew when it comes to making letters into words. Nevertheless, without further ado, we present our answer to Mr Drosnin’s challenge.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
The Reverend Martin Luther King
John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy was shot in the head by an assassin who quietly waited in a concealed place. It was in Texas, November 1963, during a presidential motorcade.
President Abraham Lincoln was shot dead on April 14, 1865.
Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead on November 4, 1995. His assassin was Igal Amir, who fired three shots of which one hit Rabin fatally in the chest. Amir was a student at Bar-Ilan University, and associated with an underground group Eyal which modelled itself on a historical terrorist group called Lehi. Amir was angered by Rabin’s role in the “Peace Process” and especially by the Oslo accords.
Lady Diana, a member of the British royal family, died in a car accident together with her boyfriend Dodi and the driver Henri Paul. As the text says, she was at last mortal in these jaws of death.The site even goes on to compare Moby Dick and the Bible. Which book do you think reveals the hidden hand of God?
Due to the fierce competition between Genesis and Moby Dick for the title of supreme source of codes, we thought we would ask each of these sources about the other.
As we expected, both agree that Moby Dick is the champion.
What Genesis says about Moby Dick
What Moby Dick says about the Bible
The second picture shows a clear admonition from The Great Moby that we should read the actual text of the Bible and not look for codes in it.
The above summary was adapted from several pages on the website for the “Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes” by Brendan McKay and Friends
You really must check out THE REST OF THEIR SITE. The above adaptation is only a very small portion of the real math behind their debunking of the otherwise popular “Bible Code” mythology.
This post is the best summary anyone can give of the books and people who try to manipulate the Bible. Please don’t be fooled any longer!