The Divine Challenge

On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning

Look Inside Price £8.75
Weight 0.42 kg
Dimensions 21.5 x 13.6 x 2.5 cm
isbn

9780851518879

binding

Paperback

format

Book

Original Pub Date

2004

Banner Pub Date

Nov 30, 2004

topic

Worldview, Apologetics

page-count

336

Book Description

Since the Beginning of time man has challenged God’s supremacy, striving to dethrone God and reinterpret the universe according to his own standards and purposes. In response God, who is determined to destroy the wisdom of the wordly wise and to unmask it for the foolishness that it really is, issues his own challenge to sinful man. Arrogantly, modern scientific man takes up that divine challenge, arming himself with scientific knowledge and technological power. Indeed, man has convinced himself that this rational wisdom has made foolish the wisdom of Scripture, with its tall tales of a personal God, of life after death, and of heaven and hell. ‘Such notions’, Einstein declared, ‘are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls.’

John byl argues that the Christian worldview provides the only foundation for logic, mathematics, science and morality. The Divine Challenge aims to substantiate this bold claim. Byl shows the failure of today’s predominant philosophies to provide a coherent worldview that can yield a plausible account of the various aspects of life as we experience it. Only a Christian worldview, squarely based on the truth of the Bible and the comprehensive sovereignty of God, can give our lives coherence, meaning, purpose and hope.

Table of Contents Expand ↓

Preface xiii
List of Diagrams xii
1. THE CHALLENGE FRAMED 1
Is God Dead? 4
The Mysterious Trio – Matter, Mind and Math 7
2. WORLD VIEW WARS 12
World view Questions 13
We Need Assumptions 15
World views in Conflict:
Theism, Naturalism, Relativism 17
Judging Worldviews 19
Science and Common Sense 21
Basics of Common Sense 22
Basics of Science 23
Logic and Truth
Contradictions of Absurdity 24
Refuting Oneself 25
What Is Truth? 26
Everything Has a Reason 27
Conclusions 28
Appendix: A Brief Primer on Logic 28
3. NATURALISM 32
The Days of Myth and Magic 33
The Impact of Christianity 35
The Scientific Revolution 36
Basics of Naturalism
Nature Is the Ultimate Reality 40
Nature Is a Closed System 41
Man Is a Mere Machine 41
Only Sense Knowledge Counts 42
Man Sets the Standards 42
History Has No Purpose 42
Conclusions 42
4. MYSTERIES OF MATTER 44
Why Does the World Exist 45
Why Is the World Orderly? 48
Why Is the World Uniform? 51
Why Can We Understand the World? 53
How Can Math Make Matter? 57
How Does the One Relate to the Many? 59
Conclusions 61
5. CHANCE, CAUSE AND CHAOS 63
The Puzzle of Gravity 64
Causes of Chaos 66
The Strange World of Atoms 68
Predicting Uncertainty 71
Is Chance a Cause? 72
Does Everything Have a Cause? 73
Making Sense of the Atomic World
An Unknowable World 74
A Determined World 75
Mind Makes Reality 77
Many Worlds 78
Taking Your Pick 78
Mind over Matter? 80
Conclusions 81
6. FROM MATTER TO MIND 82
Making Matter Come Alive 84
The Complexity of Life 84
The Tale of the Selfish Genes 87
Implications of Information 90
Detecting Design 91
Does Life Have a Purpose? 93
Turning Matter into Mind 95
Mysteries of Mind 96
What Are Thoughts about? 97
Is Mind More than Brain? 98
Emerging Mind 98
Dismissing the Mind 100
Are You for Real? 101
Meme Machine Minds 103
Can You Believe Your Beliefs? 106
Thoughts about Thoughts 108
Turning Thought into Action 109
Conclusions
7. FROM MIND TO MATH 111
Let’s Be Reasonable 112
Who Knows? 112
Can You Trust Your Mind?
Survival or Truth? 113
Physics or Purpose? 115
Justifying Truth
Where in the World is Truth? 116
A Question of Logic 117
Math Is Ideal 118
Are There Absolutes? 118
Where Are the Standards? 121
How Do You Know? 122
Is Non-Science Nonsense? 123
Making Sense of Sense 124
The Ideal Connection 125
The Gift of the Gab 126
Beauty and the Naturalist Beast 129
Conclusions 131
8. MYSTERIES OF MATHEMATICS 133
The Classical View on Math 134
Math is an Ideal World 135
Math in the Mind of God 136
Removing God from Math 137
Putting Math on Its Feet 138
Math in Crisis 140
Man-made Math 144
Evolution-made Math 147
Are Numbers Real? 149
Conclusions 153
9. BEYOND NATURALISM 155
Naturalism’s Failures 156
The Magic of Emergence 157
The Dangers of Self-Refutation 159
The Post-Modern Backlash 160
The Loss of Truth 160
Playing with Words 160
Power Makes Truth 162
Post-Modern Post-Mortem 163
The Ghost of Naturalism 166
What Does a Worldview Need? 167
Creating a Natural God 168
Do Atoms Have Feelings? 170
Finding Firm Ground 171
Appendix: How to Refute Scepticism 173
Testing Assumptions 173
Trying out the System 174
An Impossible Life 175
10. THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW 178
Basics of the Christian Worldview
God Is the Ultimate Reality 179
The Universe Totally Depends on God 183
Man Was Created to Be God’s Steward 185
God Created Man to Know 187
God Sets the Standards 189
History Unfolds God’s Plan 190
Examining the Christian Worldview 190
A Total Worldview 190
Justifying Worldview Tests 191
The Test of Experience 191
The Test of Scripture 192
The Test of Consistency 193
The Test of Livability 193
The Danger of Compromise 194
Conclusions 195
11. GOD AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD 196
God’s Creation 197
Why We Can Understand the Universe 197
God’s Providence 198
God Uses Secondary Causes 199
Miracles Happen 199
Does God Play with Dice? 201
Providence and Chance 202
Does God Limit Himself? 204
Knowing an Uncertain Future 206
Butterflies and Storms 208
Conclusions 208
12. FREE WILL AND RESPONSIBILITY 210
What Is Human Free Will? 212
Two Views on Free Will 213
Freedom within Uncertainty 214
The Need for Chance 214
A Missing Proof 215
Freedom Shackled 216
Limiting God 216
God’s Knowledge of Our Choices 218
Where Does It Lead? 220
Freedom within Reason 221
More than Physics 222
Forming Your Fate 223
Do You Really Have a Choice? 224
Who Is Responsible? 226
The Bible and Responsibility 227
The Problem of Evil 231
Conclusions 235
13. BODY AND SOUL 237
What Is the Soul? 239
Body and Soul in the Bible 240
Human Souls Survive Death 241
Body, Mind and Common Sense 243
Do You Need a Soul? 244
Probing an Immaterial Mind 245
How Do Minds Operate? 246
Minding Energy 248
Where Is Your Mind? 250
Who Made Your Soul? 251
Conclusions 253
14. A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF MATHEMATICS 254
God and Math 256
God and Logic 257
God and Number
Infinity 258
The Trinity 259
Connecting the One to the Many 261
God and Necessary Truths 262
How Do We Learn Math? 265
Our Inborn Abilities 265
The Rule of Logic 267
The Leaps of Intuition 267
How Can We Justify Math? 269
A Bible-based Math? 269
Classical Math and God 270
Some Simple Set Theory 271
Counting beyond Infinity 273
The Axiom of Choice 274
Justifying Math as a Whole 276
Conclusions 277
15. THE CHALLENGE SETTLED 279
Brief Summary
The Nature of Worldviews 280
Naturalism and Relativism 281
The Christian Worldview 282
Assessing Christianity 283
Defending the Faith 284
Why (Post-) Modernists Reject Christianity 286
World Stories: Human and Divine 289
The Return of the Pagans 291
Finale 293
Bibliography 299
Index 311
DIAGRAMS
Figure 1.1: Three Worlds and Three Mysteries 9
Figure 4.1: Some Simple Mathematical Shapes in Nature 50
Figure 5.1: The Double Slit Experiment 69
Figure 6.1: The Simple Cell 86
Figure 6.2: The DNA Molecule 88
Figure 8.1: The Mandelbrot Set 150

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