David C. Cook, 2015.
Enemies of Christianity are forever crying, “Give me some evidence.” Atheist Bertrand Russell once was asked what he would say if he found himself standing before God. He replied, “Not enough evidence, God!” Well, contrary to the claims of many, the case for Christianity is solidly supported by the evidence.
J. Warner Wallace has been dealing with evidence for quite some time now. A former atheist, he is a cold-case homicide detective, so this is his bread and butter. And his previous volume, Cold-Case Christianity, offered us heaps of evidence concerning the reliability of the four biblical gospels.
In his newest volume he looks at the issue of the existence of God in general and creation of the universe in particular, insisting that we have plenty of evidence for a divine creator. He appeals to evidence from insiders such as Augustine of Hippo, C. S. Lewis, William Lane Craig, Bill Demski and Richard Swinburne, as well as from outsiders such as Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking, Sam Harris, Thomas Nagel, Paul Churchland and others.
He looks at a broad range of evidence: philosophical, cosmological, biological, scientific and moral. The cumulative case from the various strand of evidence points strongly to a firm conclusion that a creator God indeed exists, and the theist has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to the cold-case for theism and divine creation.
Utilising much of the important work of the Intelligent Design movement, Wallace looks at a number of key issues, including the remarkable fine-tuning found in the cosmos, the irreducible complexity of biological systems, and the amazing world of DNA and genetic information.
Consider the issue of mind and consciousness. Naturalists of course cannot accept the existence of nonmaterial realities, so have to seek to explain away such clearly immaterial features. But self-awareness, ideas, conceptualisation and so on obviously exist, and cannot be reduced to mere matter.
As Wallace reminds us, while our brains and central nervous system are the stuff of empirical measurement and observation, our emotions, sensations, thoughts and desires are not. He looks at the various attempts to provide merely materialistic accounts of these, and finds them falling down in terms of the evidence.
Like naturalistic explanations for fine-tuning, morality, and the origin of life, there are major problems found here. He discusses abductive reasoning, or “inferring to the most reasonable explanation”. When we compare the explanatory strengths and weaknesses of naturalism and theism regarding things like consciousness, it is the nonmaterial view of human nature that best accounts for the evidence examined.
Naturalistic philosophers like Nagel come to the same place: “So long as the mental is irreducible to the physical, the appearance of conscious physical organisms is left unexplained by a naturalistic account of the familiar type. On a purely materialist understanding of biology, consciousness would have to be regarded as a tremendous and inexplicable extra brute fact about the world.” Or as philosopher John Searle put it,
“Earlier materialists argued that there aren’t any such things as separate mental phenomena, because mental phenomena are identical with brain states. More recent materialists argue that there aren’t any such things as separate mental phenomena because they are not identical with brain states. I find the pattern very revealing, and what it reveals is an urge to get rid of mental phenomena at any cost.”
As Wallace summarises, “The case for the mind is strong; it is the most reasonable explanation for the phenomena we commonly experience as conscious creatures. But the mind cannot be explained from ‘inside the room.’ It forces us to look for a nonphysical nonmaterial explanation ‘outside the room,’ beyond the material limits of the physical universe.”
In addition to the various arguments which strongly infer an intelligent, personal creator, Wallace examines some key secondary issues, the stuff of perennial criticism from atheists. For example, the so-called problem of evil is in fact another bit of evidence for a creator argues Wallace. If we connect the explanatory dots we find that real evil requires a transcendent source of goodness. As such, the “very existence of evil is evidence for God”.
Indeed, the atheist has a difficult time explaining both evil and goodness, while the theist can readily give a convincing explanation for both. The one-time atheist C. S. Lewis also came to this conclusion when reflecting on the cruelty and injustice of the universe.
To even discuss such moral categories presupposes some transcendent and objective moral reality, something beyond mere feelings: “Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense.”
In the investigation of a crime, evidence is examined, weighed up, tested and sifted. Good explanations based on the evidence are proposed while poor explanations are abandoned. Wallace knows all about this. Like Socrates of old, he believes that we must follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
This is not only important in a crime scene but when dealing with the most important questions of life. Here, more than ever, the unexamined life is not worth living. Wallace did indeed carefully examine the evidence about God, and this led him out of atheism and into theism, specifically Christianity.
He was honest enough to examine the evidence for God’s existence some years ago. This book provides plenty of it for those who may be in a similar place. I recommend it highly not only for the serious seeker, but also for the believer who wishes to further strengthen his faith – a faith based solidly on the evidence.