Monday, May 30, 2011

Dismantling the Big Bang by Alex Williams & Dr. John Hartnett

book cover

Dismantling the Big Bang
by Alex Williams &
Dr. John Hartnett

ISBN-13: 9780890514375
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: 2005, 2006

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover (modified):
The idea that all matter, energy, space, and time once exploded from a point of extreme density has captured the imagination of scientists and laypersons for decades. The big bang has provided a central teaching for the eons of time of "cosmic evolution," undermining the history and cosmology of the Bible.

Yet it is a theory that fails, violating even the physical laws on which it is purportedly based.

In this easy-to-read format, authors Alex Williams and John Hartnett examine this naturalistic explanation for the universe (what it teaches and where it fails) and compare it to the biblical model, which they believe provides a far better explanation of our origins. This fully indexed, illustrated analysis is an invaluable help in understanding and countering the arguments for the big bang theory.

My Review:
Dismantling the Big Bang is an excellent book about the big bang, its problems, and other cosmological origins models (including young-age ones). Of the books I've read on this topic, these authors have done the best job at clearly explaining what can be complicated ideas. The book was very readable (written in a conversational tone) and easy to follow. It included black and white photographs and illustrations. I'd highly recommend it for high school students and adults.

Chapter 1 gave a historical overview of cosmological ideas throughout recorded history. Chapter 2 explained the basic assumptions that everyone has to make in the study of origins. Chapter 3 explained what chance and physics can account for in cosmology. Chapter 4 explained the Big Bang model (including the variations that are commonly held), what it can't and doesn't explain, and other problems. Chapter 5 explained how people try to measure age when they don't actually know the starting date and the assumptions made in these methods. It also covered some of the different young-age creationist origin models for the universe and how they deal with the "distant starlight" problem.

Chapter 6 covered what the Bible says about the origin of and in general about the universe and how that compares to what we obverse in the universe today. It briefly covered the theological and linguistic problems with several of the compromise positions (which say God created, but the universe is billions of years old). Chapter 7 compared the Big Bang model to the biblical model to see which best fit the evidence. There's also a comparison chart in Appendix C. Chapter 8 took a brief look at the current trends in cosmology to see where future study will probably be concentrated.

The appendixes included a brief look at other naturalistic models for the origin of the universe, an explanation of the theological consequences of compromise, a chart comparing the Big Bang model to the biblical explanation for the origin of the universe, and an open letter by (naturalistic) cosmologists stating that the Big Bang model has fatal flaws and that funding and scientific magazine space should also be given to alternative models.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read the table of contents and an excerpt from chapter one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez

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The Story of Christianity:
The Early Church to the Present Day
by Justo L. Gonzalez

ISBN: 1-56563-522-1
Hardback: 880 pages
Publisher: Prince Press
Released: 1999

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Goodreads:
Now available in one affordable hardcover, Gonzalez's 2- volume work continues to set the standard in seminary classrooms worldwide. This highly acclaimed text provides a vivid introduction to Christian history, from the apostolic church to the present day. Gonzalez skillfully weaves in relevant details from the lives of prominent figures, tracing out core theological developments as reflected in the lives of leading thinkers within various church traditions. Especially careful attention is given to Christian expansion into Central and South America during the early modern period.

My Review:
The Story of Christianity covers the history of Christianity from the Apostles to John Wycliffe in Vol. 1 and from the Protestant Reformation to the mid-1900's in Vol. 2 of this two-volumes-in-one book. The author traced the controversies in Christian thought and developments in Christian action in roughly chronological order. (He'd talk about developments in one area or county and then sometimes jump back in time a bit to cover a parallel development in another country.) He explained how the different social, political, and economic forces shaped Christian thought and action. He covered the people who most influenced Christianity though few were studied in-depth. He also filled in political events that connected major points in Christian history.

The book was very readable despite it's huge size. Though the author didn't bash Catholics, he did point out things that Catholics might not like to hear, like just how late certain Catholic doctrines were developed and how not all popes were exactly saintly people. The author also seemed to have a slight bias against any Christian group who held or holds any doctrine too fervently. Also, despite it's size, the book didn't cover any subject as in-depth as some people will like, but it's an excellent overview of the subject.

I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting an easy-to-read overview of the developments in Christian thought and action.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read the Table of Contents and an excerpt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth

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Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth
by Peter Connolly

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Steimatzky
Released: 1988

Source: Inherited from my grandfather's library.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
This book covers the political background from the reign of Herod the Great through the end of the uprising against Rome at Masada. In sidebars, it also covers everyday life, the religion, the geography of Israel, the military, and the buildings.

My Review:
Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth is a Bible background book covering 103 BC to 73 AD. It gave detailed information about the political situation during those years. It also gave very brief overviews of: various political terms; the religious groups (Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees, Essenes, the Sanhedrin, the Messiah); taxes and coinage; trials and punishments; daily living (weaving and spinning; childhood, education, and games; cooking, baking, and food; betrothal, marriage, and divorce; clothing and jewelry; death and burial; craftsmen and agricultural work); and the Roman military, weapons, and siege techniques.

The author used British terms. He seemed skeptical about the historical accuracy of the New Testament and treated Jesus as just one of the Messiahs of the time. (He spent only one page on Jesus of Nazareth.) However, the illustrations and historical background were nicely done.

The photos, illustrations, and maps were full-color. The photos were of the land and ruins of Biblical sites. The illustrations were of daily living tools and activities and artist reconstructions of various buildings that existed at that time (houses; palaces in Masada, Jericho, Jerusalem; baths; synagogues; the Temple; tombs; Herodium; Antonia Fortress; and various buildings at Masada, at Qumran, and at Caesarea).

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Fashioned by Faith

book cover

Fashioned by Faith
by Rachel Carter

ISBN-13: 9781400316922
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: May 3, 2011

Source: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Everyone knows that we live in a “skin-is-in” society, heavily driven by media and immodesty. So how does a young Christian woman reconcile a fashionable wardrobe with maintaining her integrity?

Written by international professional model Rachel Lee Carter, Fashioned by Faith offers a cutting-edge approach to the concept of beauty with a Biblical foundation that will attract moms and daughters alike. Readers will love hearing about Carter’s exciting story as she leads them on an engaging study that touches on a huge felt need for young women: real beauty has nothing to do with looks.

Offering three valuable perspectives—teen boys, a professional model, and God’s Word—Carter explains her standards of modesty in a way that will make readers acquire a specific understanding of the author’s wardrobe choices and the impact those choices can make on others. Readers will also learn to season their self-image with daily quiet time with God. A tour of Scripture will reveal the value of heart issues like modesty and why they’re important to God.

Never compromising her sense of style or her faith, every young lady can discover what it means to be Fashioned by Faith. Moms and girls will love this book!

My Review:
Fashioned by Faith is an excellent Christian living book about modesty and true beauty. At the back of the book, there's also a quick-to-do 45-day Bible study on the same topics.

At the beginning of each chapter, a teen boy gave his perspective on what girls wear (though the boys all said the same sort of things). The author then talked about what modesty is, the heart-issues behind wanting to get attention from boys, some useful guidelines for clothing that will help you not show too much while wearing and moving around in clothing, and a few style tips for using stylish clothing in a modest way. She also quoted Scripture and explained what God has told us about modesty, beauty, and our bodies.

This book was written in an easy-to-understand level for teens, but the author made some great points for adult women as well. I was expecting a little more about how to dress "in fashion," but it was mostly about how to wear "in fashion" clothing in modest ways (layering, etc.). Also, much of the book focused on the motives behind wearing immodest clothing, why Christian women should wear modest clothing out of consideration for others, eating disorders, and trusting God. She described various incidents in her life that illustrated her points. For example, God kept providing her with work even when her agents told her no one would hire her if she refused to model underwear, etc. So you also learn some about the modeling industry.

There were several pictures of the author from various photo shoots and from her "normal life." Personally, I thought some of the clothing she was wearing pushed the edge of modest. Ironically, in the only picture where she looks like she wouldn't blow away if the wind blew too hard, her agent was apparently pressuring her to lose some weight because she was "too heavy." Go figure.

I've read all of this modesty information before, but I think this was one of the better books I've read on the topic. I'd recommend this book to girls and women, especially those struggling with why modesty matters.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
he [Seth, age 20] says...

I grew up with two older sisters. They've taught me a lot about women. One of the things I've learned is there is a quiet and beautiful dignity about a woman who dresses conservatively. Any man would be fortunate to have a wife like my sisters, but what makes them really special is that they have too much self-respect and confidence to wear clothes that reveal too much. I use the word confidence because I feel a girl who's covered in all the right places is a girl who lives with the freedom of not having to rely on attention for her sense for self-worth. A girl with confidence is much more attractive to me than a girl who feels she has to exploit her body to receive attention or, worse, love.

My sisters are not ashamed of their bodies, and they wear the most current and stylish clothes. Yet they understand great men appreciate modesty. It doesn't matter how many girlfriends a man has had in his past, when he decides to settle down, his ideal wife will be one who lives modestly. A man who says he doesn't care about modesty or how his girlfriend dresses is lying.

When I marry, I want to find a woman I alone can fully appreciate. I believe young women should learn to value a sense of mystery. The more a woman destroys the mystery for a man, the more he will only be interested in what's going on from the neck down. All men are guilty of it, including myself, unfortunately. When a girl can barely walk because of her tight-fitting or revealing clothes, a man will either pursue her solely out of lust or automatically dismiss her as someone he doesn't want to be with.

There's a saying that goes, "If you got it, flaunt it." This is a lie. Instead, it should say, "If you've got it, protect it." Great women like my mother and sisters took this idea and lived their lives by it. This is the type of woman I'm interested in getting to know, because modesty and confidence in a woman is a very powerful and attractive woman.

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