Saturday, December 6, 2008

Book Review: Case for a Creator

I have just finished reading Lee Strobel's book Case for a Creator. I don't know if this post actually belongs among the science related material among this site, but it ism in fact, MY site so what the heck. And so far as I can tell, no one has visited or read any of the material anyway. It is a place for me to explore, write, and document things I find interesting. I guess I don't mind saying that I've always thought the idea of a God was interesting although much of the religious propaganda today is just that: propaganda. Junk to control you and tell you what to believe. Anyway, moving on to the review.

This book will certainly appeal to the religious, particularly Christians. It attempts to explore scientific evidence in relation to the existence of a Creator. But it falls short on several levels. It would seem that the story would give an impartial view of the evidence for creation, but it does not. It is obviously biased and doesn't give equal opportunity to the opposing viewpoints and opposing scientific evidence. I do find some of the book quite interesting, particularly the astronomical views. This is a good area of the book for retrospection of what it may mean that we, as humans, are actually here, living among the cosmos with all of the odds seemingly against us and life altogether throughout the vastness of the universe.

But allow me to note some of the problems I noticed in the book.

1. Nearly everyone interviewed in the book was from the noted Discovery Institute. This is creationist group that is somewhat disguised as a scientific group. While maintaining scientists among their group, their vision and allegience is towards an adamant view that a creator exists. And further more that creator is the god of the Christian faith. Don't get me wrong, there are many intelligent people among this group, but it is never noted by Strobel that the deal behind these interviews is that they are all creationists. The Discovery Institute is never explained by Strobel, only mentioned as a hopeful strengthening rung to the ladder of his "case".

2. Strobel seems to want to use science as the tool for convincing the reader that a creator exists. But several of the interviews resulted in a proclamation that science must be changed to include apparently things like philosophy. The insistence on bringing non-science to science makes me wonder if these people know anything about what science is set up to do in the first place : empirically explore the natural world. Science doesn't make any assumptions about what is outside of the natural world if anything. It is designed to study how nature works, ie naturalism. Certainly items outside of nature may exist, but they cannot be reasonably explored unless they enter the realm of nature. So while Strobel tries to appeal to the scientifically interestd parties, it falls flat when a call for science to change is made.

3. Unbalanced. While noted evolutionary biologist AND fellow creationist believer Ken Miller is quoted throughout the book as an ardent Darwinist, it is never revealed that he is also a Christian. His religiosity is excluded and is downplayed as a Darwinist dreamer. I think that perhaps the fact that he is a Christian would undermine the polarized view that if one is a Darwinist that one cannot believe in God. This is typical among creationist propaganda citing that evolution and creationism cannot be held togther with any rational harmony. But this is not the case. In addition to Miller there are many theists that wholeheartedly accept evolution and creationism hand in hand. Try Francis Collins for example, the leader of the Human Genome Project and a devout Christian. Or many of the hundreds of millions of Catholics. Strobel tries to wedge evolution and creationism saying he is not willing to gamble that such a wishful theory (evolution) is true. On the other hand he does seemingly blindly jump on the creationist bandwagon, which is equally or even more troubling and illogical. I suppose somehow the belief in God is not such a gamble for whatever reason.

4. God of the gaps arguments throughout. While I will agree that the overwhelming complexity of the universe, the planet, life, etc is exceedingly mindboggling, it doesn't suffice to say that this is due to a creator. Perhaps it is. Ancient humans often, if not always, attrbuted mysteries to gods. If we could not find a viable natural reason for something then it must be due to mystical or magical forces. This is a historical fact crossing numerous cultural boundaries. It is still present among us now. I can't say for certain that we are NOT created, and in fact I do believe in something beyond ourselves, but I also cannot honestly say that this rise of complexity is neccessarily due to god. Strobel does and so does the many creationists interviewed.

I would have loved to see more equality presented among the interviews. How about some retort to Behe's arguments?? How about some non-creationist interviews?? How about one?? The reason being is that it would not uphold Strobels "impartial" view. I seriously question how ardent of an atheist he was. Why is it that evolution should undermine spirituality and the potentiality of a creator. In the first chapters of the book he talks about his atheism. Then he visits one Discovery Institute and is miraculously converted to a believer?? There is some disconnect for me here into what he may have been thinking or that he was not being entirely honest about his adamant atheistic views.

As the book winds down we find more and more references to the Bible and Christianity. And as the book winds down I see more plainly that this book is an unbalanced written summary of Lee Strobels belief system and how he got there. It is not really any kind of "case" for a creator. If that were the fact we would see more interviews with more science on why there is not a creator. We would see a more impartial and complete view of the actual case. I did, for the most part enjoy the book, but was screaming out loud (in my head) at points along the way. Certainly it is up to the individual to decide whther to jump into a faith based scenario. And it is more appealing to believe that we will continue on somehow in another realm. It's hard for people to read the stuff that says, well, ... no there is no creator, sorry. But if we don't keep that in consideration then we are not thinking wholly realistically. While I do maintain a belief (based on the unknown) that the universes glory and mystery may be indicative and earmarked by intelligence, I can't reject material that says otherwise. This book doesn't present adequate opposition to the warm and cozy creation views.

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