Jul 20

The End of Christianity, by Willian Dembski ???

The main title of this book is a bit deceptive, in that it fails to describe the nature of what the book is about. Indeed, the subtitle is a better explanation, in that it is Dembski’s attempt at a theodicy, that is, an explanation as to why there is evil in the world. Dembski is best known for his work in intelligent design, and has proven himself quite capable as a thinker in that regard. Regarding his theological ventures, he proves less adept. Dembski develops a rather rigid form of old-earth creationism in order to develop his theodicy thesis, though he admits that his theodicy would work regardless of whether one was old-earth or young-earth. Thus, it is strange that Dembski spends so much time arguing for an entirely evolutionary scheme to the “creation” of man, the final transformation of man from animal to human happening by God creating a garden in which two hominids (Adam and Eve)  enter and thus become human, after which they promptly sin. To explain death and evil before the garden of Eden and the fall, Dembski evokes the possibility of retroactive effects of the fall, acting on the created world long before the fall had ever taken place. To defend his position, Dembski develops at length the comparison of chronological and kairological time, chronological time being literal time as one would observe on a clock, and kairological time being logical time, time that occurs in the thought process that exists outside of clock-time.  This explains the whole of Genesis 1-11, in that no attempt is being made to demonstrate a scientific view of how the world and first civilizations were brought about. Unfortunately, Dembski’s approach is easily generalized to suggest a logical fuzziness to any of the factual statements of Scripture. I tend towards old-earth creationism, but shudder when I see what Dembski wishes to do with old-earthism to accommodate science. Eventually, God must stick his finger into the world somewhere, whether it be the garden of Eden, or in simply making a man along the models of prior biological entities that he has previously created. Worst, Dembski never really accomplishes an effective theodicy of explaining why God would allow evil, save for answers already given by theologians, that is, that in some way, a greater good would be seen coming out of the evil that exists. Better theodicy works exist. I reviewed one recently (Paul Helm, The Providence of God) that was superlative save for the difficulty in following the ramifications of Helm’s thinking. The End of Christianity ultimately does nothing but contribute to the confusion of our existence. It is an easy read, and thoughtful read, though not a terribly exciting or informative read.

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One Response to “The End of Christianity”

  1. Uncle Dennis says:

    “Eventually, God must stick his finger into the world somewhere, whether it be the garden of Eden, or in simply making a man along the models of prior biological entities that he has previously created.”

    This is a key issue between intelligent-design theorists and evolutionary creationists. Why God should have to tinker with the creation after he establishes the laws of the universe along with initial conditions is unclear. Has he not gotten it right from the start?

    The origin of man issue might best address exactly what is meant by “man”. Adam was the first “man” in that he was the first homo sapiens to be able to relate to God. But was he the first homo sapiens? Was Cain’s wife one of the others, a homo sapiens but not an Adamite?

    This approach both explains the long development of life leading to Adam and it also allows that what happened to Adam in the Garden then spread to all homo sapiens from the Adamites. Now all h.s.s can relate to God – or almost all. This also helps to explain why God considered some groups of homo sapiens unredeemable, such as the Canaanites whom Israel was supposed to eliminate (but did not entirely). It is divine eugenics.

    I know Dembski and spent late nights talking with him at ASA meetings long ago. I am a bit surprised that he is branching out to theology (theodicy) but am not too surprised that he tends to argue in a rationalist vein.

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