The Case for a Creator (Lee Strobel)

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Strobel, Lee.  The Case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

We should not critique Lee Strobel for doing what he set out to do.  Yes, this is a popular account and while it sometimes reads like Evangelical spy-fiction, it does a good job in putting abstract concepts into conversational language.

Some methodological concessions before we begin. If I don’t specifically endorse a position, please don’t think I am endorsing that position.  I endorse Moreland’s arguments full stop, for example.  I probably endorse Stephen Meyer’s.  Further, this review won’t touch on the issue between “Faith and Reason” or “Faith and Science.”  I’m largely uninterested in that discussion.

Finally, any criticisms I make about Darwin have little to do with overt theological presuppositions.  Yes, I have them and they are probably functioning right now.  But that’s not the main reason I raise objections.

Finally”, I am not young-earth, so don’t lob that at me.

“Doubts about Darwinism”

Miller experiment:  Miller claimed that his experiment could produce amino acids, which would be life.  The problem is that the early earth atmosphere is probably different from what he imagined.  “The best hypothesis is that there was very little hydrogen in the atmosphere because it would have escaped into space” (37).

Darwin’s problem:  the fossil record shows spontaneous appearances of life, which is not what Darwin predicted.  

  • Cf Cambrian explosion–major phyla appear suddenly in the fossil record, yet his “tree” products slow modifications (43).

Sins of Haeckel

  • a lot of the woodcuts were faked.  Gould calls it the “academic equivalent of murder” (Gould, “Abscheulich! Atrocious!” Natural History March 2002).

Berra’s blunder:  merely having a succession of similar forms does not provide its own explanation.  

“Where Science Meets Faith”To say that science is the begetter of truth is self-contradictory, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method (73).  

NOMA: Non-overlapping magisteria.  This can’t work because it is always the evolutionists who are the ultimate magisteria.  Further, the Bible makes specific claims about facts and history.  Anyway, the very positing of this claim is something outside the bounds of science.  The claim is not empirically testable.  It is a philosophical claim, or even worse, a theological one.

The Evidence of Cosmology

This is a summary of William Lane Craig’s kalaam argument, which I generally endorse but I’ve dealt with elsewhere.

The Evidence of Physics: The Cosmos on a Razor’s Edge

Good discussions of the anthropic principle, cosmological constant, and the like.  Indirect argument on why aliens probably don’t exist.

The Evidence of Biochemistry

Natural selection struggles to explain the how (194).

Darwin: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not have possibly been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Origin of Species, sixth edition, 154).

Behe: if you remove one of the components of an irreducibly complex system, the system would no longer work (197).  You can’t just have all the parts. You have to have all the parts in the right spatial relationship. Evolution can’t produce this all at once because it’s much too complicated.

The cell isn’t just a highly calibrated machine.  Every part of the cell is controlled by highly calibrated machines (199).

The Evidence of Biological Information

It is the information that makes the molecules into something that actually functions, which suggests the role of an intelligent agent (225).  The reproduction involved in natural selection only explains cell division, which “presupposes the existence of information-rich DNA and proteins.  But that’s the problem–those are the very things they’re trying to explain” (231)!

The rest of the chapter is quite technical yet fascinating.

Conclusion

There is another interview by JP Moreland on the nature of consciousness.  It’s worth your time, as all of Moreland’s stuff is, but I won’t go into it here.   Suffice to say, mind =/= brain and consciousness cannot arise from inert matter.

The book is written with kingdom-power and will make a great asset in small-group studies.

Key take-aways

Irreducibly complex systems: natural selection only preserves things that perform a function.  ICSs only perform a function when all the parts are present and working together in close coordination with one another (79).

Cumulative Case

Possibility #1: The Darwinian Hypothesis

  • Nothing produces everything
  • Non-life produces life
  • Randomness produces fine-tuning
  • Chaos produces information
  • Non-reason produces reason.

Possibility #2: The Design Hypothesis

  • Evidence of cosmology (Craig’s essay)
  • Evidence of physics
  • Evidence of astronomy
  • Evidence of Biochemistry (Behe).
  • Evidence of biological information
  • Evidence of consciousness

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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1 Response to The Case for a Creator (Lee Strobel)

  1. Pingback: Blogging Through Darwin (2) | Blog of the Wars of the Lord

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