Occasionally we are introduced to a new book that we find so particularly compelling that we wish to share it with our readers. One such volume recently has come to our attention.
Edited by John Ashton and Michael Westacott, the book is titled, The Big Argument: Does God Exist? (Master Books, First Printing 2006). Actually the volume is an anthology in which twenty-four scholars, most of whom have earned a doctorate degree in their respective fields of expertise, have combined their talents. The chapter titles are:
Has Science Disproved God?
Fingerprints of the Divine Around Us
Where Did the Universe Come From?
Design by Information
The Human Body: Evidence for Intelligent Design
Design in Nature: Evidence for a Creator
The Scientific Case for Creation
A Question of Biology
The Geological Evidence for Creation
Where Do Thoughts Come From?
The Question of Moral Values
The Problem of Evil
Who Is God? What Is He Like?
Will the Real God Please Stand Up?
Can the Bible Be Relied On?
Historical Evidence for the Biblical Flood
Archaeological Evidence for the Exodus
The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament
Archaeological Evidence for the New Testament
What about the Scientific Reliability of the Bible?
Amazing Biblical Prophecies that Came to Pass
The Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus
The Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection
The Absurdity of Life without God
As with many books, there are flaws in this one. For example in the Introduction, John Ashton tells of a ten-month old baby whose brain grew faster than her skull. The child suffered one medical crisis after another, and the hope for her survival was exceedingly slim. At one point she had a flat line on the EKG monitor for more than twenty minutes. All hope faded on the part of most of the hospital personnel. One surgeon steadfastly prayed for the sweet baby. Finally little Shannon’s body surged with vital signs, but even then it appeared that she would be retarded severely, or be both blind and deaf. Amazingly, however, she eventually recovered fully, and was a healthy child. Regarding this case, the author contended: “These events are a powerful example of God doing today the same sorts of miracles the Bible describes.”
How thankful anyone can be that a lovely child overcame the ravages of a critical illness. None of us can fathom when, how, or if divine providence is at work in a particular instance. One thing is for certain. The circumstance described above was not a “miracle,” as that term is employed in scripture. It does not come close to rivaling the supernatural events recorded in the New Testament. Jesus Christ, with no hospital facilities, no medical machinery, no team of specialists, but with only a touch or a word—whether near or at a distance—could instantly heal the sick. Such signs are not being duplicated today — regardless of the claims of sincere people.
This otherwise valuable book, therefore, will have some inaccuracies here and there, and the careful reader will identify these and pass along to better supported argumentation.
Some areas of the book are slightly more difficult than others. For example, Dr. Werner Gitt, a German physicist, has a brilliant chapter on “Design By Information,” in which he argues that “information” is a non-material entity and cannot be explained, therefore, on the basis of material substances. He illustrates this thesis by showing that a message, written in the sand on a beach, imparts “information,” e.g., “danger sharks!” When the waves wash away the written impressions, the information will remain with any observer who has read the words. The information is independent of the means by which it has been conveyed. Gitt’s argument is far more complicated, but even the novice can profit from this discussion.
Stephen Caesar’s essay, “Can the Bible Be Relied On?” is very easy to understand and is packed with information. I’ve been familiar with his writings for several years, and this Harvard graduate is a skilled apologist for the integrity of the Bible. His discussion regarding the precise preservation of the biblical documents is thrilling and will boost the confidence of any Bible believer.
He sets forth an impressive array of evidence (both the internal and external sort) from both Testaments to demonstrate the accuracy of the biblical text. He also addresses a few of the commonly cited “contradictions” that are charged to the scriptures.
I was particularly intrigued with the chapter by Dr. Paul Ferguson (Ph.D. Chicago Theological Seminary) titled, “The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament” — a very fine piece of work. Professor Ferguson, with considerable scholarship, maintains that whenever the biblical text is checkable in the light of archaeology, “it has been found to be correct and trustworthy.” He cites a number of examples from the Old Testament where the scoffing “laughter” of hostile Bible critics has been turned into “mourning,” as their slanderous charges have crumbled.
On a personal note, Paul Ferguson and I were acquaintances thirty-seven years ago. He taught in the Western Apostolic Bible College here in Stockton, California, and I was a minister for the congregation of the Lord’s body in which I have served for the past forty-five years.
At that time Mr. Ferguson advocated the “oneness Pentecostal” dogma, namely that the Godhead consists of only one Person, merely manifest in three forms — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In April of 1969, he and I engaged in a public debate on this very theme.
I am happy to say that some years later he abandoned that doctrine; he now teaches at a Trinitarian college in the Chicago area. At any rate, his chapter is a scholarly work. His discussion of the political circumstances at ancient Nineveh during the days of Jonah are fascinating for showing the providential conditions that made the Ninevites ripe for repentance when the prophet of God preached his one-sentence sermon on that theme (Jonah 3:4).
We highly recommend this book. It will be a reference tool that ministers and upper level Bible class teachers will consult again and again.
To order this book, call toll free—1-888-818-2463. The price is $14.95. Add $3 for shipping & handling; California residents add 7.75% sales tax. Credit cards are welcome via phone orders. Courier Publications, 7809 N. Pershing Ave., Stockton, CA 95207