The Case for a Creator: Intellectual Incuriosity

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 5

Chapter 5 is about the Big Bang and the cosmological argument, and we’ll get to those. But I wanted to begin by highlighting an incredible, and telling, statement by Strobel in the opening paragraphs of the chapter.

It seemed to me that the beginning of everything was a good place to start my investigation into whether the affirmative evidence of science points toward or away from a Creator. At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in internal Christian debates over whether the world is young or old. The “when” wasn’t as important to me as the “how”… [p.94]

The first bizarreness is that Strobel calls this an “internal Christian debate”, as though only Christians were interested in how old the universe is, or as though only Christianity had the right to weigh in on that question.

But more importantly: Why on earth is Lee Strobel not interested in how old the world is? I thought this book was about science. And to quote Strobel himself from chapter 1:

“Science,” said two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, “is the search for the truth.” [p.28]

Clearly, Strobel is not interested in “the search for the truth” – since he proclaims himself to be uninterested in one of the most important questions in cosmology – which means, by his own definition, that he’s not really interested in doing science.

How can this intellectual incuriosity be reconciled with this book’s stated purpose? Where is the bold, fearless exploration of cutting-edge scientific discoveries? Where are the interviews with the experts so they can give scintillating descriptions of the amazing truths that their research has uncovered? Why does Strobel suddenly decide he doesn’t care what science has to say on just this one point?

If you’re tuned in the politics of the ID movement, you already know why this is. It’s part of the strategy concocted by ID’s godfather, Philip Johnson, who wants to build a creationist “big tent” that includes both hardcore young-earth creationists and more moderate old-earth varieties. To this end, Johnson has consistently refused to take any stand on the age of the earth, so as to alienate none of his potential allies.

That’s clearly the strategy Strobel is following here as well, which is why he treats this as a minor, irrelevant side issue, rather than one of the major and most significant discoveries in the entire field of cosmology, which it is. For the record: The universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old, as determined to high precision by probes like NASA’s WMAP. This is not a triviality, but a momentous scientific discovery, and it’s shameful how Strobel tries to dance around it.

But this episode shows something else important. For all that Strobel claims to be in favor of science, the truth is that he’s only interested in science that supports what he believes. If science comes to conclusions that are politically inconvenient, he’ll sweep them aside without a second thought. This is a lesson worth keeping in mind in later chapters.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

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