Rebutting The Case for a Creator

In my third anniversary post, I discussed some of the directions I’d like to take Daylight Atheism in during this year. I mentioned that I’ve always admired Fred Clark (a.k.a. Slacktivist) for his methodical, page-by-page deconstruction of the Left Behind series from a progressive Christian viewpoint. It’s a very cool idea, and a successful idea, one that I thought worthy of imitation. I wouldn’t want to go after Left Behind myself, as that ground is already well-trodden. But there are plenty of other books that deserve a similar treatment.

In particular, I want to focus on the works of Lee Strobel, one of the more popular Christian apologists in operation today. Some of Strobel’s other books have already received thorough, book-length responses from atheists – for The Case for Christ, I strongly recommend Earl Doherty’s excellent, comprehensive Challenging the Verdict, while The Case for Faith has numerous chapter-by-chapter responses on the internet, such as Paul Doland’s. But Strobel’s third book, The Case for a Creator, to my knowledge hasn’t received the same degree of attention. With this new series, I intend to change that.

As the title implies, Case for a Creator is a creationist book, arguing that a divine designer is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of life, the universe and everything. As with his other books, Strobel marshals an array of renowned Christian apologists to defend various aspects of this conclusion. And as with his other books, his arguments delve into technical detail that may seem impressive to the uninitiated; but to an observer versed in the subject material, there are gaping omissions and fallacies in his “case”. I’m not a professional scientist (neither, it should be noted, is Strobel; nor are many of his interviewees), but I’ve been debating creationism in an amateur capacity for years, before this site, even before Ebon Musings, and I believe I’m up to the task. As always, I invite readers to compare our respective arguments based on the quality of the evidence that we present.

I’m setting out with the aim of dissecting one chapter of Case per month, in anywhere from two to four posts, depending on how many different points he makes that I want to rebut. Along the way, I’ll survey the creationist movement’s larger strategy and some of the genuine scientific evidence in support of evolution and cosmology. The series will begin tomorrow.

Other posts in this series:

Friday Night Music: First Aid Kit
Why Atheism Is a Force for Good
I Get Religious Mail: If Wishes Were Airplanes
Weekend Coffee: February 22
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Luke

    Great idea! I look forward to it. I’m going to do the same thing with a major apologetical book soon, too.

  • Doug

    This is book that sits on my bookshelf. My (christian) brother gave it to me for christmas a few years ago. I couldn’t actually get all the way through the book, but for whatever reason I’ve not yet gotten rid of it either. Perhaps I’ll read along…


  • Pi Guy

    My mother (born again) has “The Case for Christ” on her book shelf and was surprised to learn that I knew who Strobel was. She protested when I told her that every source that he provides is someone who has a Christian agenda.

    I look forward to your review.

  • Nancy

    I look forward to your posts on this matter. FYI, I read your blog daily and have learned a great deal and I thank you.

  • Alex, FCD

    Fred Clark’s Left Behind dissection, only with evolutionary biology instead of theology?

    Best. Idea. EVAR! I look forward to it immensely.

  • Charles

    I am a Christian, and I look forward to your review and comments on Lee Strobel’s book. Although I don’t agree with all of your statements, I have found your other posts interesting and challenging.

    My vocation does not allow me to access the site as often as I would like, but I will be checking in as often as possible. May your posts, arguments and debates uncover the real truth.

  • SteveC

    Ebon, man, you have far more patience than I do. Don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad that you do.

    BTW, there’s a video of Christopher Hitchens, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, and a couple of other dudes having a “debate.” It’s quite long. Well, have a look for yourselves:

    Strobel immediately trots out “everything which begins to exist has a cause,” argument.


    Looking forward to reading Ebon’s always polite utter smashing of the opposition.

  • Polly

    I’ve read 3 of Strobel’s “Case” books. I think this is a wonderful idea because of the popularity of the arguments even outside of his immediate, but considerable, fanbase.

  • Kourou

    Fantastic! I love reading critiques of apologetics books, and I’m really looking forward to this.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I’ll be looking forward to this. Perhaps you could edit this post, or another, with links to all the posts in the series, as a table of contents.

  • Ergo Ratio

    I always liked how he started out with the Case for Christ, a specific claim, and since then has had to move on into more vague and more easily defensible areas, like faith and a creator. (Non-sequitors to keep them connected to Christianity aside.)

  • Juan Felipe

    That’s great! not only the fact that you are addressing such a popular apologetic book, I also love reading about the evidence for evolution (the scars of evolution is a personal favorite of my translations, for instance) I’m really looking foward to it.

    BTW, I wonder if you are planing to send Ms Strobel a link to your post after you are done.

  • Danny

    Uhm, Paul Doland also has a pretty detailed critique of that book. Sure it’s not comprehensive, because he concentrates on the “meaty” parts.

  • Ebonmuse

    Perhaps you could edit this post, or another, with links to all the posts in the series, as a table of contents.

    Yes, I will. Once we get going, I’ll list the installments on my post series page.

  • CartCollector

    The video version of Case For a Creator has been rebutted on Youtube, if anyone wants to watch it:

    It keeps a running tally of the errors made in the movie, and it comes out to something like 1 error every 10 seconds.

  • Robert

    Hey, does anyone know if the Book “the science of God” by Gerald Schroeder has received a debunking like this? I’ve been reading it it, but finally put it down due to what I felt were such blatant logical inconsistencies and a misportrayal of the theory of evolution( he keeps going on about how god is required because it’s so amazing unlikely that chance could have resulted in the specific combinations of DNA we have now. Well no shit sherlock, it wasn’t chance, evolutionists are the first to recognize that its too unlikely to have occured by chance, thats why you need selection!). Now, I’m pretty much just a layman, and would love to see it get a more thorough debunking, if only to see if my thoughts are justified.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    A story about the decline of religious affiliation in a recent poll

    and at 12 he read Lee Strobel’s book, “The Case for Christ,” which solidified his faith.

    That’s just sad.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    RE Gerald Schroeder: ( he keeps going on about how god is required because it’s so amazing unlikely that chance could have resulted in the specific combinations of DNA we have now.)

    I like the counterarguments about the odds of a 52 card deck being dealt as 4 hands of 13 cards each in any particular order – the odds are impressively high, but then they would be exactly as high for any other particular order.

    Here’s a review of that book:
    Review of The Science of God
    by Graham Oppy

    Argument from Probability
    at SkepticWiki

  • Chuck

    Good luck to you. When I was still a Christian, The Case for the Creator was one of the books I used to try to hold together what little was left of my faith. The question I kept coming back to was Where are all the real scientists?. Why didn’t he get people from Harvard or other places like it. People who were top researchers in their fields. I’m sorry, but when it comes to questions involving the meaning of life, a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean squat.

  • John Nernoff

    Ho hum.

    “I can’t explain how the world got here other than it was ‘created’ like Geppetto created Pinocchio, so it MUST have been a little old man in the sky who did it.”

    That’s about all there is for the “Case for a Creator.”

  • imissbubby

    I’m looking forward to seeing the evidence on:
    1.) Descent with modification.
    2.) Abiogenesis.
    3.) Fossils that have traits that make them look like the descendants of earlier ones.

  • imissbubby

    Dear Chuck,
    Jonathan Wells, who was interviewed in the Case for a Creator, is a PhD in molecular and cell biology from Berkeley.

  • OMGF

    I suggest imissbubby that you pick up a science textbook. I also suggest that you find out some more about Wells, who is on record as denying evolution before his degree and only going to study it so that he can argue against it. Touting his PhD is rather absurd in that regard.

  • Modusoperandi

    OMFG: Do you know what Darwin got his phd in? As far as I know, nothing! He couldn’t even hack it as a doctor! And his beard was as rough and unpleasant as he was! He wasn’t even a scientist! He was a “naturalist”, which I think involves being naked.

    There, Darwinism refuted. Refute my refution, I dare you! Take that, real world! Moo ha-ha!

    Imissbubby, Don’t bother to thank me for slapping down OMFG and his Darwinism. I’m a giver. I’m generous like that. Humble, too.
    Also, what OMFG said. There are plenty of books on such things (start at Relics of Eden, Making of the Fittest and the always popular Your inner fish for evolution, Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin for the big, open question of abiogenesis & Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, and work your way out from there).
    That way, at worst, you’ll at least know what you’re arguing against.

  • imissbubby

    LoL. You’re funny Modusoperandi.

  • imissbubby

    Dear OM:

    Richard Dawkins and his parents were Darwiniacs before he went to college or wrote any of his books.
    Should we burn his stuff? lol

  • imissbubby

    Dear Chuck,
    Stephen Meyer was also in the book.
    He was a geophysist and has a PhD from Cambridge University.
    Are you sure you read the right book?

  • OMGF

    It’s pretty obvious that you don’t know the difference between an empirically held view and a religious one. You can fight against the prevailing empirical reality of the universe, but it’s a fool’s errand. Evolution is backed by mountains of evidence, god OTOH, not so much.

  • Modusoperandi

    imissbubby “LoL. You’re funny Modusoperandi.”
    I am. I am, indeed.

    Reading those books I linked (and the rest from here, if you’ve got the time) will be thanks enough.

  • whatif

    I look forward to reading your post–however may I point out–we ALL start off with and agenda, a bias. We ALL filter the evidence through our worldview and discover we are right!

  • OMGF

    OK, whatif, so what bias or agenda am I (or other atheists) using?

  • DSimon

    I look forward to reading your post–however may I point out–we ALL start off with and agenda, a bias. We ALL filter the evidence through our worldview and discover we are right!

    Which of course is why no one ever changes their mind about anything. :-P