Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: The New Answers Book 3

book cover

The New Answers Book 3
General editor: Ken Ham

Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
The world around us provides irrefutable evidence of our Creator, but when challenged, can you defend your faith? Do you have answers to your own questions or those of your family about faith, evolution, creation, and a biblical worldview?

Get the important information you need in this compelling third book from the popular Answers series, and learn more about:

» Global warming
» Cloning and stem cells
» The existence of God
» Bacteria and viruses
» Questions for evolutionists
» Issues of eugenics and abortion
» Human and chimp DNA
» The universe – young or old?
» “Kinds” in Genesis
» What Noah’s Ark looked like
» ...and much more.

Learn how to be more effective in defense of scriptural authority and the truth of Genesis as literal history. Join Ken Ham and leading creation scientists like Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. David Menton, Dr. Terry Mortenson, Dr. John Morris, Dr. Steve Austin, Dr. David DeWitt, Dr. Danny Faulkner, Dr. Joe Francis, and others as they provide simple and empowering answers to these and other popular questions of faith in our culture today.

The New Answers Book 3 is a collection of 38 articles written by 24 people on topics related to the Bible, mostly covering questions that critics of the Bible and of biblical accuracy would ask. This book teaches Christians how to more effectively argue for the accuracy of the Bible.

Each chapter was an article that covered a different topic. Some of these topics overlapped a bit, so some foundational information was briefly repeated by several authors in their different articles. However, it was information worth repeating. Most of the articles--even the slightly more technical articles--were written at a level that a teenager could easily understand. However, a few of the articles assumed the reader knew some basic, technical terms and used them without defining them. I had no trouble following those articles, but I took a lot of science classes in college. There were black and white illustrations for each article.

I found the book interesting and, overall, the arguments were easy to follow. The majority of the articles had strong arguments and were well-supported. A few of them could have been stronger, in my opinion, but part of the problem was the limited space. The answers couldn't be comprehensive, so they gave as much information as most Christians would probably care to know.

I'd recommend this book to Christians who want to be able to better answer critical questions about the Bible and to those who genuinely want to learn the answers to any of the questions covered.

The articles:
1. Where was the Garden of Eden located?
2. What did Noah's Ark look like?
3. Should Christians be pushing to have creation taught in government schools?
4. What are "kinds" in Genesis?
5. How could Noah fit the animals on the ark?
6. Was the Flood of Noah global or local in extent?
7. Is man the cause of global warming?
8. Did Bible authors believe in a literal genesis?
9. Do fossils show signs of rapid burial?
10. What about the similarity between human and chimp DNA?
11. Was there death before Adam sinned?
12. Abortion: Is it really a matter of life and death?
13. Is the Christian Worldview logical?
14. What about cloning and stem cells?
15. How old does the earth look?
16. Does Evolution have a...chance? (i.e. the probability of it)
17. What about Eugenics and Planned Parenthood?
18. When and how did the Grand Canyon form?
19. Does astronomy confirm a young universe?
20. How could fish survive the Genesis Flood?
21. What about cosmology?
22. Did life come from outer space?
23. Did the continents split apart in the days of Peleg?
24. Vestigial organs--evidence for Evolution?
25. Is Tiktaalik Evolution's greatest Missing Link?
26. Why is Mount St. Helens important to the origins controversy?
27. What is the best argument for the existence of God?
28. Do Evolutionists believe Darwin's ideas about Evolution?
29. What are some of the best Flood evidences?
30. What are some good questions to ask an Evolutionist?
31. What about bacteria?
32. Unicorns in the Bible?
33. Doesn't the Bible support slavery?
34. Why did God make viruses?
35. Wasn't the Bible written by mere men?
36. Isn't the God of the Old Testament harsh, brutal, and downright evil?
37. Who sinned first--Adam or Satan?
38. How can someone start a new life in Christ?

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.

Chapter One
Where was the Garden of Eden located?

Most Bible commentaries state that the site of the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, situated somewhere near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today. This is based on the description given in Genesis 2:8-14:

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden....Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon....The name of the second river is Gihon....The name of the third river is Hiddekel [Tigris]....The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Even the great theologian John Calvin struggled over the exact location of the Garden of Eden. In his commentary on Genesis he states:

Moses says that one river flowed to water the garden, which afterwards would divide itself into four heads. It is sufficiently agreed among all, that two of these heads are the Euphrates and the Tigris; for no one disputes that...(Hiddekel) is the Tigris. But there is a great controversy respecting the other two. Many think, that Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; the error, however, of these men is abundantly refuted by the distance of the positions of these rivers. Persons are not wanting who fly across even to the Danube; as if indeed the habitation of one man stretched itself from the most remote part of Asia to the extremity of Europe. But since many other celebrated rivers flow by the region of which we are speaking, there is greater probability in the opinion of those who believe that two of these rivers are pointed out, although their names are now obsolete. Be this as it may, the difficulty is not yet solved. For Moses divides the one river which flowed by the garden into four heads. Yet it appears, that the fountains of the Euphrates and the Tigris were far distant from each other. [John Calvin, Commentary of Genesis, Volume 1]

Calvin recognized that the description given in Genesis 2 concerning the location of the Garden of Eden does not fit with what is observed regarding the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. God's Word makes it clear that the Garden of Eden was located where there were four rivers coming from one head. No matter how one tries to fit this location in the Middle East today, it just can't be done.

Interestingly, Calvin goes on to say:

From this difficulty, some would free themselves by saying that the surface of the globe may have been changed by the deluge....

This is a major consideration that needs to be taken into account. The worldwide, catastrophic Flood of Noah's day would have destroyed the surface of the earth. If most of the sedimentary strata over the earth's surface (many thousands of feet thick in places) is the result of this global catastrophe as creationists believe, then we would have no idea where the Garden of Eden was originally located--the earth's surface totally changed as a result of the Flood.

Not only this, but underneath the region where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are located there exists hundreds of feet of sedimentary strata--a significant amount of which is fossiliferous. Such fossil-bearing strata had to be laid down at the time of the Flood.

Therefore, no one can logically suggest that the area where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today is the location of the Garden of Eden, for this area is sitting on Flood strata containing billions of dead things (fossils). The perfect Garden of Eden can't be sitting on billions of dead things before sin entered the world!

This being the case, the question then is why are there rivers named Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East today?

In my native country of Australia, one will recognize many names that are also used in England (e.g. Newcastle). The reason is that when the settlers came out from England to Australia, they used names they were familiar with in England to name new places/towns in Australia.

Another example is the names given to many rivers in the United States. There is the Thames River in Connecticut, the Severn River in Maryland, and the Trent River in North Carolina--all named for prominent rivers in the UK.

In a similar way, when Noah and his family came out of the ark after it landed in the area we today call the Middle East (the region of the Mountains of Ararat), it would not have been surprising for them to use names they were familiar with from the pre-Flood world (e.g. Tigris and Euphrates), to name places and rivers, etc., in the world after the Flood.

Ultimately, we don't know where the Garden of Eden was located. To insist that the Garden was located in the area around the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is to deny the catastrophic effects of the global Flood of Noah's day, and to allow for death before sin.


Anonymous said...

The only real issue I have with any of the Answers Books is that they all assume science includes God. AiG is bold about this and I do agree with it. The problem is that to use these arguments on an evolutionist or even an old-earther, we have to assume that science is not limited to naturalism. When I discuss these issues with evolutionists, that is where the discussion always ends up. They even disagree with the dictionary, when I point out how similar the definitions of science and religion are.

AiG does have good information on this topic, it just isn't in the Answers Books that I've seen.

Debbie of ChristFocus Book Club said...

The New Answers Book 3 did assume that the audience reading the book already agreed with some foundational position points. And I agree that none of the questions/articles in this book directly addressed how to argue this point. Perhaps that's an article that will be in the next Answers book since, as you pointed out, it's something they address on the AiG website and in many of their other printed materials.

Perhaps you would find it helpful to re-read the pointers they give on AiG about arguing this point since it appears that's a trouble spot in your attempts to discuss the creationist position with evolutionists.

Genre Reviewer said...

Anonymous, I should have said this sooner, but The Ultimate Proof of Creation
by Dr. Jason Lisle
covers how to discuss origins with people who hold such believes. I highly recommend this book.