A review of The Case for a Creator. By Lee Strobel.
Zondervan Publishing, 2004.
Lee Strobel is an investigative journalist and a former atheist. When he started digging into the truth claims of Christianity, he found the evidence compelling, and became a believer. His investigation into the reliability and truthfulness of the Christian faith became the basis of a best-selling volume, The Case for Christ.
Another volume, The Case for Faith, soon followed. Between the two volumes, most of the major areas of biblical faith, and the challenges they face, are addressed. Thus meaty chapters on the possibility of miracles, the problem of evil, the historicity of the resurrection, the reliability of the gospels, the relationship between science and faith, among others, are presented.
In this third volume, another area of potential difficulty is discussed: the whole debate between creation and evolution in particular, and the biblical worldview versus philosophical naturalism in general. As in the previous volumes, Strobel interviews a number of experts and authorities in relevant fields, and asks hard-hitting questions as to whether biblical faith can stand up to the tough issues of the day.
In this volume he explores the findings of modern science, the theories of Darwin and the neo-Darwinists, and the philosophy of science, in an attempt to see if the claims of Scripture can face up to them. A number of objections raised by science or evolution are examined in detail. The evidence, Strobel demonstrates, points us to God, not away. Indeed, taken together, there is a cumulative case for faith in God, as the various sciences are examined in depth.
Consider the evidence of physics. Physicists know that the universe seems to be finely tuned for life to exist. Just the right conditions seem to exist to make life possible and sustainable. There are so many finely tuned conditions in place that chance does not seem capable of providing a satisfactory explanation. Random accidents cannot explain the precisely set dials of the universe.
The evidence from cosmology is also impressive. How could our universe suddenly spring into existence? How is it possible to get something from nothing? For a long time science had assumed an eternal material universe. But by the twentieth century, science came to see that the universe in fact had a beginning. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity did not allow for a static universe, and the rise of the Big Bang model has shown a clear case for a beginning point.
And the Big Bang model shows that our universe depends on highly specialised conditions, that makes it seem designed, not accidental. Again, there seems to be a case of fine tuning going on, something presupposing a fine tuner.
Astronomy also bears witness to a creator. Here again we find an example of fine tuning, with a series of extraordinary “coincidences” that seem to rule out the possibility of accident. The earth seems uniquely suited to support human life, and too many conditions must be met for this to be so, thus making the designer thesis seem quite credible.
A habitable planet is hard to come by. It requires a lot of special preconditions. And astronomers have yet to find another part of the universe that seems to fully display these necessary conditions. The more astronomers learn about the universe, the more unique planet earth becomes. Our sun for example displays unique features all of which make a habitable earth possible. It has just the right composition, orbit, mass, light, distance and location for life on earth to flourish.
Or consider the area of biochemistry. The more we discover in this field, the more we see intelligent design at work. Biochemists like Michael Behe have shown that at the most basic levels of life there is irreducible complexity. That is, a number of different components must be acting in concert to produce a desired effect. One part cannot slowly evolve and join with another. All must be operating simultaneously from the beginning. And life at the most simple levels demonstrates this feature time and again.
Just as in a mousetrap, all the parts must be there and operating together, so in life, we see this amazing complexity of function. Evolution cannot account for how such irreducible complexity could ever have arisen. Life, it turns out, is based on all sorts of complex molecular machines. These machines could never work if parts slowly evolved and were added to the overall mechanism. They must be present from day one to work. So incremental Darwinism just does not explain these things. Naturalism just cannot explain these complex biological systems, but intelligent design seems to.
On and on goes the evidence. I have only given brief overview. The scientists and philosophers and others interviewed here give quite complex and detailed arguments about all these points. The evidence seems to keep weighing up in favor of some kind of intelligent design, and away from a naturalistic, Darwinian explanation.
Taken together, the various strands of information make for a strong cumulative case for a creator. The alternative explanations become more far-fetched as we learn more about the amazing world that we live in. It requires as much faith to believe some of the claims put forward by naturalistic Darwinism than those put forward by the intelligent design movement. Open minds will weigh up the evidence for themselves and see where it takes them. This volume is a good place to begin in that search.
4 Replies to “A review of The Case for a Creator. By Lee Strobel.”
Although I have not read this book, I understand that Strobel is an appoligist for “long ages”. Does this come out in this book? Does he defend people like Hugh Ross and “progressive creation”? If so, it it would appear that he has failed to appreciate the influence philosophical naturalism has had on the present day paradigms of geology and cosmology.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria
Ewan, yes, Strobel is a long-ager. Amazingly, he is blind to the contradictions in that view involving death and suffering, because he gives an apologetic possible only in a young-earth scenario — see http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/2807/#animal_suffering
Also, what happens to big bang apologists like Strobel, Craig and Ross when secularists finally tire of its appeal to fudge factors like dark matter, dark energy and the inflaton field? See Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Oh yeah, the big bang is also fatally undermined because one of its key “predictions”, the cosmic background radiation, fails to cast the right shadows. If the CMB really was a ‘background echo of the big bang’, then today it should be coming from the edges of the universe, so galaxies should cast shadows. But the right shadows are not found, so the CMB is coming from nearer sources, so cannot be from the big bang at all! See The Big Bang fails another test by cosmologist Dr John Hartnett.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
There are, as Sarfati says, problems in the overall apologetic framework as a result of an old earth view, I believe, and I am a young-earther, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still valuable material there. I have the book, I’ve read it, and it’s still useful, though it would take you partway in an overall apologetic case.
Although I differ with many in the ID movement over the age of the earth and other details, I also recognize that what they are doing is opening up the discussion in a secular university setting in a way that still is helpful (if incomplete) because it cracks the door open at a fundamental level of the philosophical questions. From a Biblical perspective, the warnings Sarfati gives are relevant and need to be looked at carefully. But from a broad philosophical perspective, the ID is still useful and should not be entirely thrown out.