How Should Christians Approach Origins? is the joint effort of John Byl and Tom Goss. Learn more about how these two academics teamed up to create a theological booklet on origins in December’s Author Spotlight.
Tom Goss (Ph.D. in applied statistics, Union College, New York; B.Th. in pastoral theology at Summit Pacific College) is an adjunct professor at Summit Pacific College. He has worked as a senior statistician-methodologist at Statistics Canada, and as a statistical consultant at the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa. He has been very involved in church ministries, and has taught in several overseas Bible colleges and seminaries.
These activities have included being a Bible study leader, board member, Alpha director, missions committee director, teacher, and parachurch director/president of a creation organization based in Ottawa. His passion is serving the Lord diligently in teaching assignments, such as when he led a youth/young adults Sunday series class at his church titled “How to Think Like a Christian.”
Tom has also developed and taught a biblically based apologetic approach to handling the tough questions of faith on creation, evolution, science, and the Bible. From 2008–2010, he served on the PAOC’s General Executive Committee, along with the International Missions Committee, as a lay delegate from the Eastern Ontario District. Tom and his wife Linda, who is also active in their home church, have two adult children, Kristy and David, with one grandson, Gideon David. They live in Orleans, Ontario.
John Byl (Ph.D. in astronomy, University of British Columbia) is professor emeritus at Trinity Western University. He has published numerous articles in scientific, philosophical, and theological journals. He is the author of God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space and the Universe, and The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning.
John currently serves as an elder in the Canadian Reformed Church. In recent years, he has given lectures on science, Christianity, and a biblical worldview in places such as Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil, Ukraine, Albania, and South Africa. John runs a blog (www.bylogos.blogspot.ca) dealing primarily with science/Christianity issues. John and his wife Margaret live in Surrey, British Columbia. They have six adult children and seven grandchildren.
Q: How did you both meet?
Tom: From 2007–2014, John was a guest speaker at my science course sessions at Summit Pacific College, giving well-received lectures on astronomy, the big bang theory, naturalism versus biblical worldviews, and so on.
Q: Where did the idea for this book come from? How did you get started?
Tom: After John’s lecture in early 2014, we talked about the need for a new booklet to counter theistic evolution and other compromised biblical teachings on origins in evangelical churches. We decided to do the booklet as a joint undertaking.
Q: How did you decide who would write which sections of the book?
Tom: I suggested the initial scope of topics to cover, and John wrote the first draft, up to the sections on scientific evidences supporting creation, which I wrote.
Q: Were there any issues with writing this way?
Tom: Two issues surfaced. It took many more months to complete the first full draft than originally anticipated, and the overall length was way beyond our initial goal. After contacting Word Alive Press (who gave us good advice), we decided to drastically reduce the length of the booklet ourselves. John took the lead, while I contributed both editing and feedback from many reviewers of the new draft.
Q: What are your three takeaways from this, your first book endeavour?
Tom: One, it unsurprisingly took much effort. Two, the booklet comes close to my initial dream of producing a resource for my Pentecostal church, filling a huge void in the church literature and demonstrating to Bible College students, pastors, teachers, and church leaders why the traditional position of origins is most faithful, accurate, and honouring to God’s Word in spite of the messaging from mainstream science. Three, the humbling yet exhilarating responses from many reviewers and endorsers of our booklet, especially in the foreword, which was written by my dear friend and colleague Roger Stronstad.
Q: What do you hope the booklet produces?
Tom: As many of our reviewers/endorsers have said, I hope the booklet brings a godly clarity and conviction to those who find the creation-evolution controversy harmful to their faith. I dream that our church will step out in faith and that every pastor and church leader will read our booklet and, with the Lord’s help, decide what stand they must take on God’s Word. We do not expect any financial gain other than to cover basic expenses; we will offer the booklet at discounted pricing to whoever requests this of us.
Q: Where did you first learn how to write at a professional level?
Tom: My first formal writing began during my thesis days, followed by writing formal reports during my career stint at Statistics Canada. My real professional writing took place during my management consulting career (1977–2004), where I wrote hundreds of reports and learned many lessons from much better writers than myself.
John: During my thesis days, followed by writing scientific papers. Shortly afterwards I started writing at a popular level for Christian magazines.
Q: How would you characterize your writing style?
Tom: Very thorough, giving much attention to logic and detail, but overall it is not catchy and often too lengthy, even tedious.
John: I aim to be clear but concise, making every word count.
Q: What advice would you offer new writers?
John: Write on a topic that you know very well, are passionate about, and that you feel other writers have not addressed adequately. Read lots of good literature to develop a feeling for which writing styles are effective.
Q: Will you be participating in any events in the coming year?
Tom: I am working with church leaders across the country to present and disseminate the information in this book—especially to youth pastors, Bible College teachers and students, and church leaders—at upcoming learning seminars, youth pastor events, and conferences. For example, I’m planning on having an exhibit booth at the PAOC General Conference in Montreal, May 2–5, 2016.
John Byl (Ph.D. in astronomy, University of British Columbia) is Professor Emeritus at Trinity Western University. He has published numerous articles in scientific, philosophical, and theological journals.
Tom Goss (Ph.D. in applied statistics, Union College, New York; B.Th. in pastoral theology at Summit Pacific College) is Adjunct Professor at Summit Pacific College