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Expanded Comments

these reviews have been done in response to emails asking us about these books

Ultimate Things

Dismantling the Big Bang; God's Universe Rediscovered



Ultimate Things by Dennis E. Engleman, Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, California, 1995 (abbreviated as UT hereafter).

It is true as the title says that it is "An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times." As such, it  becomes clear, as one reads on in the book, that much of the theology that is being discussed originates around the time of Augustine who was consecrated Bishop of Hippo and held that position from 395-430 AD. Some years earlier in 313 AD, Constantine in his Edict of Milan legalized Christianity throughout the Empire. In 325 the first Council of Nicea consolidated Christianity under the orthodoxy imposed by Constantine's Edict. Some dissenters to that orthodoxy were exiled. This should immediately send out warning signals about those that maintained that orthodoxy.

In 380 AD the Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. By the time of his appointment as Bishop of Hippo in 395, Augustine was a key thinker and a Christian leader in the Empire. As a result, his opinions and statements carried unusual weight. These opinions carried through into the subsequent Roman Catholic and other Orthodox Churches. Later, at the time of the Reformation, the emerging protestant church leaders also went back to Augustine for their doctrines rather than the early church Fathers. It is against this background that I make the following comments about some matters addressed in the book you loaned me.

It should be observed that the book refers to the Church Fathers frequently. However, this is done in an Orthodox context where the definition for Fathers includes the time of Augustine and even much later. In this note, I will use the term Church Fathers in a far more restricted and correct sense to specifically mean those who lived in the first and second centuries, some of whom had been instructed by the Apostles themselves. In this way we can be a little more certain that we are closer to the understanding that the Apostles had.  The period of the true Church Fathers does not extent as far as the time of Augustine.

The first thing that immediately becomes apparent is the resulting Orthodox definition of the Millennial reign of Christ, during which the Bible says the Devil is bound in the Bottomless Pit [Revelation 20:1-7]. This was taken by Augustine, and  subsequently by later RC and Orthodox church leaders, to be the Church Age, however long that Age should last. Augustine writes "But while the devil is bound, the saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years. ... The Church even now is the Kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven."  [UT, p.60]. This is at variance with the opinion of the first Church Fathers early in the second century AD, but the reason why the Orthodox variant emerged is interesting. Let me explain it this way.

The Scriptural text used by the Apostles and early Church Fathers was basically the ancient Alexandrian Septuagint Greek (LXX) and the paleo-Hebrew from which it was translated about 285 BC. The genealogical data from these texts indicated that the Creation of the cosmos occurred sometime in the period 5700 to 5500 BC. Josephus places it at 5555 BC according to Playfair [Young's Concordance], and a reading Josephus confirms that this is a valid estimate. It also confirms that the ancient LXX chronology is correct. Examples could be multiplied. By way of illustration, Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch (115-181 AD), calculated that the world was 5698 years old at the time of the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD. Julius Africanus (c.160-240) was sure that 5531 years had expired between the Creation and the Birth of Christ. And so we could go on.

Please bear with me for the story continues. These early Church Fathers, generally believed in a literal Millennium of 1000 years in which Christ will reign over the whole earth. Some called this the Millennial Sabbath. From this Biblical concept there developed the idea of what might be called the "Earth's Great Week." This idea was expressed first by a Jewish Christian, Barnabas, in Alexandria, Egypt, around 117 AD. He believed that man would have 6000 years on earth corresponding to 1000 years for each of the 6 Days of Creation. Then the 7th Day corresponded to the Millennial Sabbath of 1000 years with Christ reigning from David's throne. Following this was to be the New Heaven and New Earth and the New Jerusalem. Even though a literal 1000 years for the Millennium of Revelation 20 is a Biblical entity, it was not a Scriptural idea to allocate 1000 years to each Day of Creation. Nevertheless, this plausible basis for mankind's history was adopted by many of the Church Fathers. As a result, they expected the Lord to Return and inaugurate the Millenium sometime in the vicinity of 300-500 AD. This was done, as we noted above, on the basis of the Scriptural genealogy in the LXX and paleo-Hebrew which placed Creation roughly 5700-5500 BC.

The Church Fathers who expected Christ to Return and inaugurate the Millennium of a literal 1000 years included: Justyn Martyr (100-165 AD), Theophilus of Antioch (115-181 AD), Irenaeus (120-202 AD), Hippolytus (c. 236 AD), Tertullian (150-225 AD), Cyprian (200-258 AD), Commodian (200-275 AD), Lactantius (240-320 AD), Methodius (d. 311 AD). They all affirmed their Millenarian views with comments like those of Victorinus of Petau, who died around 304 AD, and wrote: "The true sabbath will be in the seventh millennium of years, when Christ with His elect shall reign." [Victorinus :"On the Creation of the World"]. Lactantius wrote that God's "religion and truth must labor during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule..." whereupon "all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquility and rest from the labors which the world now has long endured." [Lactantius, "The Divine Institutes" 7.14]. Similar statements were made by other early Church Fathers.

In other words, it was generally agreed that the Millennial reign of Christ was a period of a literal 1000 years. In my study of Scripture, I have found in a number of instances that prophetic scriptures were fulfilled to the very day. This is also the approach that the early Fathers took. The problem that arose was the additional idea from Barnabas which suggested an approximate time when this Return would occur. We know that Christ did not return about 300 to 500 AD. But by 395 to 430 we have the time of Augustine. The Church leaders during this period had noted that Christ had not returned and offered an alternative interpretation of the Millennium as a result. The one important event that had occurred around the expected time was the acceptance of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. As a consequence, the church leaders at the time, like Augustine, concluded that the Millennium was the church age and that the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven was the Church. The Church of Rome later carried this a little further and claimed the kingdom was exclusively the Roman Catholic church on the basis of Augustine's statements.  Thus we have two erroneous doctrines, one from Barnabas, one from Augustine, which have contributed to a mis-understanding of what the Scripture is actually saying.

The related issue is that, if the Millennium is the Church Age as the Orthodox churches often teach, then Satan must be incarcerated in the Bottomless pit at this time. However, we still see him very active during this entire period. Because of this, one orthodox minister of my acquaintance in Australia did not believe in Hell, and certainly did not believe in an actual Bottomless pit. His thinking went this way: if Satan is still active and the Bible describes him as being in the Bottomless Pit at this time, then the Pit and Hell do not exist. Note that this logical step is a further compounding of wrong doctrine which leads to unscriptural conclusions. Since the matter of the Millennium is crucial to any understanding of prophecy, this is the issue that needed clarification first.

In conclusion, it is apparent that the early Church Fathers believed in a literal 1000 year reign for Christ on earth. They got this from the Apostles, particularly John, who got it from Christ Himself. The falling away from that doctrine has come as a result of two men trying to impose their timetable and their thoughts on the Word of God and producing a corrupt Truth which has then been promulgated down the centuries. It is for this reason that I believe that our own reading of the Word of God for ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is to be preferred to any church Tradition, no matter how long that tradition has been held.           

On this matter the book UT has this to say on p. 24 "It is Holy Tradition, transmitted through the Fathers which gives Christians a firm basis for understanding and critiquing the events which surround them." I strongly disagree, and also in passing note that the use of the word "Fathers" there is misleading. Instead of this, I take Jesus own words to us in John 16:13, 14. "When the Spirit of Truth has come [which He did at Pentecost], He will guide you into all Truth; and He will show you things to come." I place my trust in Him and His guidance, which He has promised to give, rather than in a church tradition.

This book is not recommended.


Dismantling the Big Bang; God's Universe Rediscovered

by Alex Williams and John Hartnett, published by Master Books, July 2005, 2nd edition June, 2006

We were given a 2006 copy of the book by Alex Williams and John Hartnett, Dismantling the Big Bang; God’s Universe Rediscovered.  The book fully supports Russ Humphreys’ model of creation, involving a white hole expansion and the earth resting, or being caught in, the event horizon while the rest of the universe speeded outward for several billion years.  Thus the earth’s time is only measured in the thousands of years while the rest of the universe is measured in the billions of years.  Essentially this is another gap model, with the gap, biblically, on day four of creation instead of day one.  The model has no data to back it up and is primarily imagination.

The Setterfield work is dismissed in one paragraph, on page 174.  The paragraph reads as follows:

In 1986, Norman and Setterfield published an analysis of historical measurements of the speed of light, which showed that a very significant decline had occurred (the theory has been called “c-decay” or cdk, where c is the speed of light).  When extrapolated back over the biblical time scale, it produced such an enormous increase in the speed of light that the results appeared to provide an explanation for the appearance of billions of years of time having passed in the cosmos.  A lively debate ensued among creationists, and two major flaws in the theory were revealed.  First, the result was heavily dependent upon the earliest data, whereas the most reliable measurements were the recent ones, which showed no change at all.  And second, a change in the speed of light changes the values of a lot of other physical “constants.”  Recently, a very small change in one of these “constants” was reported, but its magnitude is nowhere near that required by the c-decay theory.  The observational evidence available to us today would appear to now preclude this model.

That’s it.  But it is enough.  The paragraph itself is rife with errors, from the very first sentence.  First of all, the paper was published in 1987.  It was a white paper requested by a senior research physicist from the Stanford Research Institute International.  The paper was not published by Setterfield or Norman either together or separately, but was published by Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. 

The next major error concerns the extrapolation of light speed over time.  This was not done on the simple basis of the measurements in the 1987 paper, but was completed after the measurements by Tifft in the years that followed regarding the red shift measurements, which, being ‘clumped’ or ‘quantized’ as they are, indicate that the universe is not currently expanding but that there is another reason for the increasing redshift we see as we look out farther and farther into space.

Hartnett is evidently not aware that there are a number of series of measurements which show that other constants have been changing.  What is interesting is that they have been changing synchronously with the changes in the speed of light measurements.  Thus, there is no need to make up these changes.  They occurred, are occurring, and have been measured as such.

Although the earliest papers by Barry Setterfield were done with regard to the early measurements of the speed of light, they were not dependant upon them.  As the article on the history of the speed of light experiments shows, the measurements continued to show a decline for several hundred years, as measured by various apparatus, various scientists, in various places.  The history of these experiments and the various analyses of them can be found here. The decline was discussed in peer reviewed literature for years.  The only reason it was stopped was because, in 1941, Raymond Birge, the ‘keeper of the constants’ abruptly declared that belief in any changes in the physical constants was ‘fatal to the spirit of science, as science is now understood.’  An interesting remark to make, but it did not change the measurements, nor the fact that very qualified and eminent physicists had been accepting these changes (as had Birge up until that time) for quite some time.

Hartnett claims there are no changes in the speed of light being measured now.  That is true.  Why should this be so?  Simply because the speed of light is now being measured by other atomic processes which are changing synchronously.  It is sort of like taking two pieces of elastic and marking inch measurements on one.  Then stretch the two pieces together.  While the inch measurements stretch out, the other piece of elastic is showing exactly the same measurements per section so, unless one looks outside of those two pieces of elastic, it does not appear that any changes in the measurements have occurred.  If we want to know what is happening to the speed of light, we must measure it by some method not dependent upon the other atomic processes.

The ‘small change’ Hartnett reported in the last paragraph was the possible change measured in the fine structure constant.  This actually has nothing to do with the speed of light and the change itself may not even be real, as it was so small as to qualify as potential instrumental or observational error. 

The Williams/Hartnett book was first published in July of 2005.  That is eighteen years after the Norman/Setterfield paper was published.  In the meantime, there has been a great deal of research by Setterfield continuing with the data, which have continued to support the “cdk” model.  This material has been available on this website for years.  Williams and Hartnett evidently felt it necessary to ignore the rest of the research Setterfield has reported and concentrate on a very old and very disreputable series of arguments against the 1987 paper, all of which have long since been not only refuted but shown to be entirely false.

This book is not recommended.



William G. Tifft, 2014

The book is in 8 chapters and 4 Appendices. The 8 chapters are 8 basic seminars where Tifft explains his work. These seminars have been presented at various locations and various times, but the material is certainly current and up to date.

He points out that his approach to the redshift problem is different from that of Arp and his colleagues, since they considered quasars to be incipient young galaxies emitted from the cores of relatively nearby galaxies. If this was correct, there would be a no redshift quantization of quasars since their velocities should not change over time in the way they are observed to. Second, as others have pointed out, quasars are not just galaxy cores which later grow to full galaxies as Arp suggested. When an obscuring disk is placed over the brilliant quasar itself, blocking the intense light, the surrounding galaxy emerges. This would not be possible, if they were in the Local Group of galaxies, without the dynamics of our system being affected and measured. So Arp's proposition seems to be incorrect. I know from the discussion of several groups I am listening in to, that this has not made Tifft popular with the folk who wholeheartedly support Arp rather than looking for the truth of the situation. Many hold to Arp as an Icon and this rocks that boat a little.

Second, he points out that many redshift results have been made public quickly. But in doing so, only an approximate value for the redshift has been given rather than something precise. This makes it difficult to tease out small velocity differences from the data sets. This is particularly a problem for much recent work with quasars. As a result, some of the old quasar results are just as good as the newer ones. The available data is laid out for us to see graphically, which emphasizes the quantized nature of the redshift even if on a larger scale.

Third, Tifft considers all redshifts to be some fraction of the current speed of light and the observed quantizations are all the relevant fractions of the speed of light. Tifft considers that this fraction changes over time as the cosmos gets older. The early quantization steps were much larger than those observed in nearby galaxy groups.

Finally, he spends a lot of pages developing the time aspect of the problem and he calls his approach "Quantum Temporal Cosmology" or the QTC theory. As the universe got older, the quantum steps got smaller. However, he does not seem to have this happening smoothly as we come forward in time. Rather he sees sub-sets of the basic quantization and time dependence even in distant systems, so different time quantizations operate within the same extended group of very distant galaxies. Tifft rationalizes that by saying that they were born at different times and so have different intrinsic redshifts. This is something like an echo of Arp, but not quite! He has his own construction.

This book is recommended.