The Case for a Creator: Spiritual Wisdom

The Case for a Creator, Closing Thoughts

After spending over a year on this project, we’ve come to the end of The Case for a Creator. Before bringing this series to a close, I have some closing thoughts on the overall message and tactics of the book.

First: Although Lee Strobel tries to pass Case off as a dispassionate examination of scientific findings that just happen to support the existence of an intelligent designer, the obvious truth is that it’s a Christian apologetics book dressed in a thin gown of pseudoscience. No better evidence of this could be given than how he treats his interviewees differently based on their religious beliefs. Everyone he interviews in the book, save for one person, is a fundamentalist Christian of some kind, and he gives each of these people ample opportunity to preach and to expound on their religious beliefs without challenge or objection. But when he speaks to his sole non-Christian interview subject, he suddenly changes his tune and declares he’s only interested in hearing about science, not religion. See for yourself:

J.P. Moreland:

“[Scientists] will come to believe in the reality of the soul and the immaterial nature of consciousness. And this could open them up personally [my emphasis] to something even more important – to a much larger Mind and a much bigger Consciousness, who in the beginning was the Logos, and who made us in his image.” [p.271]

Michael Behe:

“Based on the empirical evidence – which is continuing to mount – I’d agree with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger that ‘the great projects of the living creation are not the products of chance and error… [They] point to a creating Reason and show us a creating Intelligence, and they do so more luminously and radiantly than ever before.’” [p.216]

Jay Wesley Richards:

“Christians have always believed that God testifies to his existence through the book of nature and the book of Scripture. In the nineteenth century, science effectively closed the book of nature. But now, new scientific discoveries are reopening it.” [p.189]

Robin Collins:

“Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s eternal power and divine nature can be seen and understood through things that are made, and that this is the reason humanity is without excuse. I see physics as uncovering the evidence of God’s fingerprints at a deeper and more subtle level than the ancients could have dreamed of.” [p.149]

William Lane Craig:

“That afternoon Jan and I prepared a little handwritten version of the Four Spiritual Laws, which spell out how a person can become a follower of Jesus. When we sat down with her at the meal that night, we opened the booklet and read the first sentence… We described how she could pray to ask God to forgive her wrongdoing and to receive Jesus as her forgiver and leader.” [p.122]

Stephen Meyer:

“I see this not only in cosmology and physics and biology, but also in the historical revelation of the Bible, principally in the revelation of Jesus Christ. He is so compelling!… I remember thinking at one point that if the Jesus of the Bible weren’t real, I would need to worship the person who created the character.” [p.90-91]

And the only non-Christian interviewed in the entire book, Jonathan Wells:

I hadn’t come to Seattle, however, to seek spiritual wisdom from Wells. [p.34]

Strobel’s single-minded focus on Christianity is even more apparent in this excerpt from chapter 7:

Astounded by the Earth’s fine-tuned physical, chemical, and biological interrelationships, some writers have gone so far as to liken our biosphere to a “superorganism” that is quite literally alive. In fact, James Lovelock’s pantheistic Gaia Hypothesis even seeks to deify our planet. However, Gonzalez and Richards said it’s unnecessary to go that far.
    “Despite these admittedly incredible interrelationships, there’s nothing that requires anyone to see the Earth itself as being an organism, especially a god or goddess,” Richards said. [p.166]

This is not scientific evidence being examined to reach a conclusion. Rather, this is a conclusion being chosen in advance and scientific arguments being selected based on whether they support it. What test could you possibly run to decide whether the Earth itself is a deity or whether it was the handiwork of an external creator?

This happens yet again later on in the book. As I mentioned in a previous post, J.P. Moreland raises the possibility that, if human minds emerge from matter, a divine, godlike mind could also emerge from matter – only to have Strobel swiftly point out, “That wouldn’t be the God of Christianity” [p.265], which Moreland concedes. Again, this is not just “the case for a creator”, in the sense of a generic argument for the world having been created by some kind of intelligent being. Strobel has a very specific creator in mind, and is only interested in investigating science that he feels supports his belief.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

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

  • Sean Wills

    I’ve really been enjoying these posts over the last year (or however long it’s been – I joined in a bit late). Rarely have I ever seen a work of apologetics as weak yet inexplicably popular as Case For a Creator been taken apart in such detail.

    Any thoughts on starting into another rebuttal? I’m sure there are plenty of apologetic works out there that could do with the treatment!

  • Brock

    I second those sentiments. I have particularly enjoyed your incisive deconstruction of Strobel’s apologetics. Please feel free to take on some other sacred cow.

  • http://www.blind-mind.com Andrew A.

    I’ve read and enjoyed every one of these posts debunking The Case for a Creator. It’s a bit sad to see it end, and I hope you’ll find some other apologetics to rip apart.

  • colluvial

    This is not scientific evidence being examined to reach a conclusion. Rather, this is a conclusion being chosen in advance and scientific arguments being selected based on whether they support it.

    Leaving yourself open to the possibility that new information could change the way you see the universe is incredibly liberating. It makes the apologetic cherry-picking of data in support of superstition seem like an act of infantile cowardice.

  • BJ Marshall

    Well done, Ebonmuse, well done. Thank you very much for your posts on this book. Having received Case as a birthday present from my parents (first birthday since coming out as an atheist), I have found your posts invaluable.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Not to give too much away, but there may be another apologetics book rebuttal starting soon after this one is finished. :)

    By the way, I’m not quite done with Strobel yet – there will be one or two more posts with more closing thoughts on different aspects of the book.

  • http://homoheretic.wordpress.com/ Homo Heretic

    I agree. This whole has been very informative. I shall have to check Strobel’s book out from the library (I’m not inclined to pay $20 for it) and read it and your posts side by side.
    When my parents first found out I was an atheist they gave me Mere Christianity and I tore it apart with the help of your review on Ebon Musings. I’m eager to see what apologist you’ll choose next. :)

  • http://cafeeine.wordpress.com Cafeeine

    I’ve only recently gotten to this site and this analysis seems terribly interesting. I tried to check the book out of my library only to find that it’s extremely lacking in christian apologetics works. I find that both a good and a bad thing.

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s been a whole year already?

    I really enjoyed this series and hope you will do another one! If you don’t have one in mind, might I suggest “The Language of God”? I caught my sister reading it the other day, and wished I had a step-by-step review like you’ve done for The Case for a Creator so that I would have a more informed opinion on it, instead of just “Oh god, not another apologetics book seeking to co-opt popular science.”

    EDIT: And I missed your post that more could be coming by about a minute! Hurray! o/

  • AnonaMiss

    …OK by many hours somehow? Maybe I opened up this window hours ago.

  • Stephen P

    @Homo Heretic: and what did your parents think of the analysis?

  • http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~edmin/Pamphlets Cyberguy

    Thanks for the review of that excuse for a book. I have very much enjoyed the chapter-by-chapter conceptual dismemberment!

  • TEP

    This is not scientific evidence being examined to reach a conclusion. Rather, this is a conclusion being chosen in advance and scientific arguments being selected based on whether they support it.

    It’s strange how none of these apologetic works never discover anything new. You’d think that if they were conducting a genuine ‘investigation’, they’d end up finding out some things about the creator that they didn’t know before. After all, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be correct about absolutely every little detail about something, even if your overall idea is correct. Any real scientific investigation, one which completely vindicates the hypothesis in question, will usually generate some surprises. How come we never see such a thing in apologetics works? You’d think, that if they were truly impartial investigations of the facts, there’d be some instances of “while we initially thought x about the creator, interestingly, an analysis of the evidence suggests that it is much more likely that y is the case. Further investigation of this may generate exciting new insights into the nature of the creator which were previously unknown.”. Instead, there’s not a single surprise; the traits of the creator determined by the ‘investigation’ are exactly the same as the ones one is looking for – not a single new thing is discovered about it. No initial assumptions are shown to be wrong. If things turn out exactly the way you expect them to, without revealing anything even slightly unexpected, it’s a good sign that you’re not really investigating.

  • Juan Felipe

    Its been an excelent review ebon, thanks for sharing it.

  • http://www.homoheretic.wordpress.com Homo Heretic

    @Stephen P: Unfortunately, I haven’t ever showed it to them. I tend not to bring up religion around them, but if they ask what I thought of Mere Christianity, I’ll certainly let them read it. :) I wrote it mainly for my own satisfaction anyway.

    Ebonmuse, if you’re looking for more apologetics, you could try G.K. Chesterton’s book, Orthodoxy. I haven’t read it, but one of my Catholic friends is a big fan of his. It wouldn’t require a year long study like Strobel’s book, but just a quick review would be informative I’m sure. :)

  • Anon Ymous

    Homo Heretic – I’ve tried a cursory search of this site (which I’m not too good at), and couldn’t find a post that seemed to be about a review of mere christianity – would you be able to send me a link, if you still have it bookmarked? (Anyone else who knows which one he was referring to can answer as well, of course :))

    Thanks

    :)

  • Zietlos

    Chirp chirp…

    Yup, I’m just one more songbird joining in the chorus of appreciation. Such a nice review set. I can’t wait for the thrilling conclusion. This had it all: The mad scientist, the crazed religious guy, the double-cross (armchair science), it was great! I like your reviews of these, they are very nicely written.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    My review of Mere Christianity is posted under the apologetics books section of Ebon Musings.

  • Anon Ymous

    Thanks, Ebon – the fact that I was searching the wrong website explains nicely why I was coming up blank :P

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Having read some of Strobel’s stuff, I can only say that this must have been grueling. Aside altogether from the pretzel logic, his writing is atrocious in its banality.

  • Lion IRC

    When will all these apologetics books ever end?
    It seems like for every counter-apologetics book like “The God Delusion” there are ten “Darwins Angel” books which hit the shelves not long after.
    I’m not sure that Wormwood and Screwtape would applaud Mr Dawkins outstanding efforts in getting more of us discussing and thinking about God, morality, mortality, the soul, the universe, the meaning of life, etc.
    Lion (IRC)

  • Penguin_Factory

    It’s a shame to see this series of posts end. I’d love to see you take on another book after this.


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