Tauranga Event: 26 May – Dr Jeff Tallon: Astronomy and the Bible

Last night at Thinking Matters Tauranga we had Dr Jeff Tallon present on Astronomy and the Bible.  This was the last event in our “Faith & Science” series and we had 111 people turn up – a very good turn out.

The feedback after this event (and his presentation from 8 weeks ago) has been very positive, so I hope to get Dr Tallon back next year to present again.  It sounds like Thinking Matters Auckland may also ask him to speak up there.

So what did you think of his presentation?

Please place your comments and feedback below and I’ll ask Jeff to respond to any questions – although naturally he is busy, so he may not be able to  to respond right away.

7 replies
  1. Victor Relf
    Victor Relf says:

    I was expecting something on the wonders of the heavens and although the menu was not quite as expected it is great to be so reminded that our Bible is an intelligent record that is confirmed by related events and heavenly phenomena.

    On the question of Creation, I would like to explore the PJ Wiseman theory which, when the question is asked, (as I did) it always seems to get dismissed or burried in a lot of technical objection, yet it offers a unifying framework tieing together in a logical order and format all that is reported in Genesis and seems consistent with related science. I’ve offered my thoughts on it at http://victor.2truth.com and would be interested to hear constructive comment.

  2. Victor Relf
    Victor Relf says:

    Dear Dajo,

    I followed your advice and clicked the link. It’s no doubt great stuff but I couldn’t avoid being reminded of an elocution exercise I learned over 60 years ago. You’ll know, I’m sure “The House that Jack Built”, goes like this – you work up starting from (1) and add a line each time as you repeat all that has gone before.

    THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

    (9) This is the farmer that sowed the corn
    (8) That fed the cock that crowed in the morn
    (7) That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
    (6) That married the man all tattered and torn
    (5) That kissed the maiden all forlorn
    (4) That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
    (3) That tossed the dog that worried the cat
    (2) That killed the rat that ate the malt
    (1) That lay in the house that Jack built.

    However, “THE CAPABILITIES OF CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY” called to mind a version that goes like this (I remembered it from over 60 years ago). Do you get my point?

    THE DOMICILARY EDIFICE ERECTED BY JOHN

    (9) This is the professional agriculturalist who cultivated the germ of cereal crop that sustained

    (8) The superior being of the cock-a-doodle-do tribe, that with shrill vociferation

    (7) Awakened from his matutinal slumbers the ecclesiastical gentleman whose pericranium was deprived of hirsute appendages

    (6) Who united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony the humble individual of scanty and unseemly attire, who sought honey from the lips of the young damsel solitary and secluded

    (5) Who extracted a nutritious beverage denominated lacteal fluid from the graminivorous and lactiferous female of the bovine race

    (4) That with curvilinear and corrugated protuberances considerably elevated the sagacious scion of the canine species of brutality

    (3) That disturbed the equanimity of the domesticated creature of the feline family

    (2) That annihilated the obnoxious vermin that masticated the fermented grain

    (1) Deposited in the domicillary edifice erected by John.

    All those big words about Chaos and Complexity are a kind of linguistic snobbery and keep us ordinary folk ignorant.

  3. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    Dajo,

    My apologies for deleting your comment post. Anything that starts with “This may be off topic, but check out this link” with little other details sounds pretty spam-like to me – so I deleted it. Looks like Keith took a look and found something worth commenting on – so my apologies for such a hasty reaction.

    Were you able to re-post on the relevant post? This post is for those who want to comment about a specific event.

    Rodney.

  4. Robin Boom
    Robin Boom says:

    I really enjoyed Jeff’s first talk, and was looking forward to another enlightening talk from this distinguished scientist, but it had that lame kind of Answers in Genesis ‘trying to prove the Bible right’ ring to it. The last 15 minutes of question time when he elaborated on real science and the universe was excellent, but I felt too much time had been devoted to trying to show a couple of solar eclipses occurred to explain a couple of insignificant stories in the Old Testament and for me it was uninspiring.

  5. Darjo
    Darjo says:

    Rodney,

    No need to apologise.
    Sorry, but I can’t put the link at the right place “The creative power of nothingness!!”, since it seems to be not enabled for comments, for me at least.

    Dear Victor Relf,

    “The House that Jack Built” is not familiar to me, since i’m a foreign (from Brazil). Nevertheless, I think I got your point, since “linguistic snobbery” really seems to have universal use by those people who want to “keep us ordinary folk ignorant”. Certainly, I could find an example in my own language. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Jeff Tallon
    Jeff Tallon says:

    P.J. Wiseman’s proposition that the 6 days of Genesis 1 are days of successive revelation to the writer of Genesis (Moses?) is certainly an interesting approach to understanding this foundational chapter of the Bible. But my view would be that that is probably all it is – interesting. There is no textual clue explicit or otherwise to support this and it is a proposition that cannot be tested. This was my off-the-cuff response to the question on the night, and probably remains so.

    The explanation of the stages of creation put forward in Victor Relf’s web page (http://victor.2truth.com/) are largely independent of the Wiseman hypothesis and should probably be discussed separately. I remain open to this kind of interpretation in general terms but there are details that I wouldn’t agree with. Henry Morris developed the idea that antediluvian Earth possessed a stable canopy of water vapour in the upper atmosphere that was precipitated in the flood and only then was the rainbow seen, so I don’t agree that these details have been overlooked. I do agree that the idea of overlapping epochs seems to be unavoidable.

    My own view, as I mentioned on the night, is that Genesis 1 is highly structured in the form of a poem or hymn. As a hymn it affirms many things, principally that God created everything, it was all good, it was for a purpose and he is sovereign over all things. But it is (probably) not to be read as a scientific statement. I think it will always stand the test of time the way it is written. If it were written in scientific/historical terms it would be far less rich. One can read endlessly into the text the way it is and it remains a profound source of insights. A key poetic element is the idea of division or separation. Waters separated from waters, light and darkness separated, land and water separated, separation of evening and morning, separation of days or epochs, separation of species, and finally (though differently) separation of man from God. This thematic development is brilliant but typical of a poetic form. It is rich in the sense that separation lies at the heart of creative ordering. Chaos (without form and void) is unstructured. Order is structured and ordering involves a separating out of like from unlike to create structure. In physics we understand that at the early stages of the big bang a single theory applied to the primitive hot universe. A series of processes called symmetry breaking (“separation”) then progressively distinguishes the strong nuclear force from the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism and gravity. The appearance of elementary particles is a symmetry breaking process. And the notion of symmetry breaking extends across the entire development of the universe: inflation, the formation of galaxies, stages in the life-cycle of stars, formation of minerals etc. The writer of Genesis understood that creating order out of chaos involves separation. But because it is a poem we need to be very cautious about reading anything scientific into it. Genesis 1 is at core a poetic theological statement – as St Augustine deduced.

  7. Victor Relf
    Victor Relf says:

    It was good and instructive to get Jeff Tallon’s response, however, as is often the case, new questions arise. Jeff raises the thought that Genesis 1 is a poem with which idea I have no problem unless, as some seem to, use the “poem” explanation to fudge the simple message and allow all manner of “interpretation”. I write poetry (at least I thought it did) and have always enjoyed reading poetry which has always seemed to me a pleasant literary device for telling a story. I see no need to suggest the truth explained is any less accurate being in poetic form.

    On the scientific side, there is an excellent small “extra” on a DVD named “Dual Revelation”, produced by “Reasons to Believe” of PO Box 5978, Pasadena, CA 91117, U.S.A. and narrated by Hugh Ross, Ph.D; David Rogstad, Ph.D; Jeff Zweerink, Ph.D; Erica Carlson, Ph.D and Fazale Rana, Ph.D. This DVD is a graphic, scientific portrayal of Creation events up to Day Four and closely aligns to the sequences described in what Jeff rightly points out was Henry Morris’s theory.

    There are 5 main features of, what I’ve called the “Unified Theory of Creation” that my framework, described at http://victor.2truth.com in which the Creation Events immediately below are logically expressed.

    1. It explains logically how six actual 24 hour days are involved.
    2. It shows where the ancient fossils may come from and the sudden disapearance and arrival of some species.
    3. It explains the scientific reason how there was light, night and day, before the sun was “created”.
    4. It proposes a sound reason for the appearance of the Rainbow after Noah’s flood..
    5. It suggests why human life-span dramatically shortened after the flood of Noah.

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