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Big Bang, Big God

Big Bang, Big God [Kindle Edition]

Rodney Holder
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"If you wish to rationally consider the possible relation of cosmology to philosophical and theological issues, Holder's very careful analysis will provide a sound and historically well informed basis for that discussion." -- George F. R. Ellis FRS, Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town "At last a highly accessible book for the general reader on origins." -- Dr Denis Alexander, Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund's College, Cambridge "With lucid rationality, this fine book guides the reader deftly through some of the most profound questions in contemporary science." -- Roger Trigg, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Warwick University "Rodney Holder combines expertise in both science and theology to explore the exciting question of the origin of the universe; and he does so in a way that reflects the importance, complexity, and fun of these big questions." -- Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Principal, St John's College, Durham University "A fascinating blend of modern cosmology and serious theology, well rooted in the historical observations and theoriesthat led to the concept of the expanding universe" -- Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science, Harvard University, and Senior Astronomer Emeritus, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory "A fascinating journey through modern cosmology, showing how our beautifully 'fine-tuned' universe is wholly compatible with Christian ideas of creation and theism. It is a masterly, lucid, and very readable survey covering all the 'big issues' in the field, and placing them in historical context, by an author who is both a trained academic cosmologist and an Anglican priest." -- Dr Allan Chapman, Faculty of Modern History, University of Oxford "An engaging introductory account of the history of Big Bang Cosmology, including a detailed discussion of the underlying physics and a Christian perspective on its theological and philosophical implications. I warmly commend this carefully argued monograph." -- John Pilbrow, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Monash University, and former President of ISCAST (Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology) A combination of deep theoretical understanding and exquisitely precise astronomical observations. Rodney Holder tells a remarkable scientific story, which is of the highest interest in its own right, but its character is such that it almost inevitably raises metascientific questions of whether there is also meaning and purpose to be discerned in this subtle and fertile process. -- Sir John Polkinghorne

Product Description

How did the universe begin and how has it evolved? Does a scientific explanation mean that we can do without God? Why are the laws of nature so special ('fine-tuned') as to produce a universe with intelligent creatures like us in it in the first place? Can the existence of a multiverse, a vast or infinite collection of universes, explain the specialness of this universe? This book argues that only God provides an explanation for the universe to exist at all, and that design by God provides the best and most rational explanation to adopt for the fine-tuning.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1101 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0745956262
  • Publisher: Lion Books (18 Oct 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,287 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The first part of the book deals with the origin of our universe from scientific and Christian standpoints.

The second part talks about how incredibly special our universe is to allow us to be here at all observing it. Everyone is agreed on this point. However atheists say that our universe is part of a multiverse and the fact that we are where we are is explained by an anthropic principle. This book argues, with sophistication and humour, that our universe is much more likely to have been created by God.

This is a long way from proving Christian claims to be true. But it does present compelling arguments for the existence of a creator God.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christmas present 18 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Arrived on time and within agreed timescales and as far as I can see it is ok. It is a Christmas present.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Resource for the 'Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing Debate' 22 Dec 2013
By Keith H. Bray - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was first introduced to the ordained minister and Cambridge physicist, Dr. Rodney Holder, when watching to Bill Craig's presentation `The Origin of the Universe: Has Hawking Eliminated God,' a critique of Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design ("TGD") [Bill Craig's book review `Much Ado About Nothing' in Philosphia Chiristi is the best critique available]. The topic was `Has contemporary Physics Eliminated God as a Cause of the Universe,' and Holder shared the stage in critiquing TGD. Holder's book, Big Bang Big God ("BBBG") is an abbreviated version of his essay, `Quantum Theory and Theology," in the Blackwell Companion to Science and Religion released in 2012. For those readers lucky enough to have purchased the above-referenced book, there is no need to purchase the BBBG. Dr. Holder's BBBG is fairly small and the topics are written with a rich brevity that will not disappoint those curious about the intersection of cosmology, natural theology and meta-scientific issues--especially the present state of cosmology.

BBBG is meant for all interested readers on issues ranging from fine-tuning, level I to IV multiverse views, the nature and definition of science and the intersection between science and Christianity. The contents of BBBG presuppose that the reader has some familiarity with the topics Holder writes about, but this does not undermine Dr. Holder's target audience or his main argument. This is actually one of the accomplishments of BBBG as the summaries and definitions of the topics presented include rigorous simplifications of the ideas of other scientists and philosophers of science that make BBBG an unintentional primer on whether the fine-tuning of our universe containing embodied conscious agents (a term borrowed from Robin Collins) signifies that there is a Creator behind our universe; or, does it signify that our universe is simply a chance byproduct of a vast (or infinite) array of universes, also known as level II to IV multiverse models, taken from Max Tegmark, also discussed in BBBG. Holder states "For convenience, we restrict ourselves to two explanatory options: (1) God creates a single universe fine-tuned for us to be in it; and (2) there is no God but there is an uncaused multiverse" (pg. 166). Holder's argument is that the multiverse option fails for scientific and philosophic reasons and Holder does a good job in leaving no stone unturned. BBBG ends by presenting a Bayesian form of his argument, which is then presented more formally in the appendix.

In order to arrive at this bifurcation, Holder jumps right into modern Big Bang cosmology and does an excellent job of getting to the point without needless exposition. The reader is exposed to the views of practically every relevant scientist or philosopher of science that contribute to the two explanatory options above. Dr. Holder is more than descriptive and offers numerous critiques of models and scenarios such as "closed causal time loops," a view of John Wheeler and Paul Davies that states we are caused by past events, and we are even the ones responsible for causing ourselves, which is an alternative to invoking God as Creator (chapter 10 of Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?). Holder finds such ad hoc views as paradoxical and painfully question-begging when asserting both that non-conscious matter pre-exists and causes my conscious existence and that I cause its existence. Holder states ". . . even if we do ascribe creation of reality to the human observer (Copenhagen view of quantum theory), this is far from `creation out of nothing' since the superposition of states must have pre-existed the observation. The reason for the existence of the self-excited circuit in not explained--and requires explanation for the same reason that the existence of anything at all requires explanation . . ." (pgs. 77-78). Holder backs up his critiques with endnotes for the reader to explore the arguments themselves.

There are so many views and critiques I fear I will lose the reader. One more example should prove interesting for the reader to consider purchasing BBBG. Dr. Holder presents the multiverse view of Paul Davies and Nick Bostrom. Whether the reader ends up scratching their heads because of Davies/Bostom's views or because they may not believe what they are reading is a wholly different issue, but this does encapsulate the present state of affairs in modern cosmology.

Under the heading "The Prevalence of Fake Universes," and following a discussion of Tegmark's level I through IV multiverse viewpoints, Holder arrives at the issue of the likelihood that we reside in a "fake universe." Holder presents Paul Davies' view that as soon as we entertain the possibility of a multiverse, there is no good reason to rule out universes that contain "computer simulations" of other universes. What Davies means is that "in a multiverse [level II through IV] technological civilizations like ours will emerge in some subset of universes, and civilizations more technologically advanced than ours will attain the capacity to simulate consciousness" (emphasis added). Davies continues that it is only a small leap to simulations of conscious beings to simulate an entire virtual world for them to inhabit (pg. 152, quoting pg. 496 of Paul Davies article `Universes Galore: Where Will it all End' from Universe or Multiverse? ed. by Bernard Carr).

Philosopher and self-proclaimed 'transhumanist' Nick Bostrom's justifiably takes Davies' view a step further ending in the conclusion that "we"--yes, you the reader--are very likely computer simulations (Bostrom's `simulation argument') and we could be the simulations of the human ancestors of post-humans, rather than real humans. Using an argument from probability Bostrom concludes that simulations are likely to be overwhelmingly dominant and that we should conclude that our universe is more likely to be a simulation than a real universe; and, "we are therefore not real biological persons but simulated ones" (pg. 153). These are live options in present cosmology. As Hilary Putnam would state, we are essentially a "Brain in a Vat." I will skip the critique and bring this review to a close.

For those readers whose theological leanings are closer to William Lane Craig a caveat would be in order. Holder embraces theistic evolution (implicitly presupposed in the book, but I am unsure if his views are monistic or dualistic). Also, one finds Dr. Holder making unnecessary, almost caustic, assertions against Intelligent Design such as ID ". . . seeks precisely to locate God in Gaps is the scientific story of biological evolution" (page 76). This is a common distortion of ID theory and it is an assertion made by one unfamiliar with the arguments and counter-arguments. Whether one agrees or disagrees that the above are caveats is besides the point of this review as there are too many good arguments in BBBG to pass up. I recommend purchasing Dr. Holder's book and look forward to reading other reviews that will undoubtedly bring other issues I have intentionally left out.
4.0 out of 5 stars very good book 26 July 2014
By Joseph M. Thomas - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
very good book. Excellent overview of the history of the Big Bang theory, reasons for believing that the universe clearly has a beginning, and an overview of many of the most popular multiverse theories. I would highly recommend this book. He quotes the top experts in the field, both theists and atheists, abundantly, and footnotes well. It is not always an easy read for the non-scientist, but it was not over my head either.

I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 for a couple of reasons.

1. the conclusion chapter was his version of why God is a simpler explanation than the multiverse, an appeal to Ockam's razor. I thought that the book made a much better case than his odd appeal to the idea that God is simple. if all I read was his conclusion I would have learned little.

2. Not a fan of Baye's theorem as evidence for (or against) a creator. I felt the chapter and appendix on that were not so helpful.

overall and excellent book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Very readable and substantive 27 Jun 2014
By TY - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent read.
Very readable and substantive.The argument for a Creator of the Universe is logically laid out without resorting to "God of the Gaps". The book is certainly not anti-science.
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