- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: B&H Academic (November 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805427430
- ISBN-13: 978-0805427431
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World Hardcover – November 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
A high-profile proponent of intelligent design, Dembski (Darwin's Nemesis), a professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, turns his attention to the classic theological problem of theodicy. He believes that God gave humanity two primary sources of revelation about himself: the world he created and the Scripture he inspired. Dembski develops his thesis to conclude that God created a perfect world until humans sinned. He skillfully traces evil before and after the Garden of Eden to salvation by belief in Christ. He defends his faith not only against atheists (Richard Dawkins in particular), but Jews and other Christians such as C.S. Lewis, John Polkinghorne and Jürgen Moltmann, who don't view the dark side of human nature as he does. Dembski argues that humans possess free will, but only obedience to an all-powerful God can offer true freedom from evil. In a dense work that draws widely from information theory, scripture and poetry, Dembski's belief in God as a Creator-Redeemer who saves humankind from evil after the fall is the very personal message of this book. (Nov. 1)
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About the Author
William A. Dembski is research professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. A mathematician and philosopher, he is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. Dembski has appeared in discussions about intelligent design on the BBC, NPR, PBS, CNN, FOX News, ABC Nightline and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dembski's hypothesis is that viewing natural evil as a consequence of the Fall is entirely compatible with mainstream understandings of cosmic and natural history. At the heart of his view is the idea that the effects of the Fall can be retroactive as well as proactive, much as the saving effects of the Cross stretch not only forward in time but also backward, saving, for instance, the Old Testament saints. He suggests that his view is compatible with young-earth creationism, old earth creationism and theistic evolution (evolutionary creationism). Dembski traces the history of his view back to 1846 (J. Jay Dana) and 1851 (Edward Hitchcock)and suggests that it didn't catch on then because no one developed a coherent theory of how God could act across time.
The heart of Dembski's book is Chapter 20, where he finally gets around to discussing his kairological (time measured by purpose) interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and retroactive natural evil. "A kairological reading of Genesis preserves the young-earth creationist emphasis on tracing all evil in the world to human sin: God creates a perfect world, God places humans in that world, they sin, and the world goes haywire." However, "it must also account for how the world could go haywire before human sin. . . . An infinite God who transcends time can redeem a botched performance by acting across time. In particular, God could make effects of the Fall evident in creation so that these effects, though attributable to the Fall, come temporally prior to it. In other words, the effects of the Fall can be retroactive."
In Dembski's own words: "Genesis 1 describes God's original plan for creation. The Fall and its consequences, in subverting that plan through human rebellion, elicits no radically new creative activity from God. . . . God's immediate response to the Fall is therefore not to create anew but to control damage. The challenge God faces in controlling the damage resulting from this original sin is to make humans realize the full extent of their sin so that, in the fullness of time, we can fully embrace the redemption of Christ." To do this, "God does not merely allow personal evils to run their course subsequent to the fall. In addition, God allows natural evils to run their course prior to the Fall. Thus, God himself wills the disordering of nature, making it defective on purpose . . . to bring humanity to its senses by making us realize the gravity of sin."
" If we accept that God acts to anticipate the Fall, then, in the chronology leading up to the Fall, the world has already experienced the consequences of human sin in the form of natural evil. This seems to raise a difficulty, however, because humans who have yet to sin come into a world where natural evil is already raging. . . . The Garden of Eden, as a segregated area in which the effects of natural evil are not evident provides the way out of this difficulty. . . .The drama of the Fall unfolds in a segregated area. Genesis 2:8 refers to this area as a garden planted by God (i.e., the Garden of Eden). Now, ask yourself why God would need to plant a garden in a perfect world untouched by natural evil. Any why, once humans sin, must they be expelled from this garden and live outside it, where natural evil is present?"
I recommend this book for Christians who are exploring ways to integrate an old earth and/or biological evolution with their Christian faith. Though speculative, this is certainly one possible approach.
William Dembski compares Christianity to present day skeptic doubters of God's presence and hope for God's power and control of their lives masterly deals with the issues associated logistics and philosophies with opposing belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. He deals with the arguments one by one and deals with the reasoning’s counter to the Gospel message.
I have rated it less than 5 stars on two counts. First, the theory needs further development as his "retro-active" view of the existence of pre-fall death and natural evil works to reconcile the accounts, but fails to give a rational for why God would choose to make the natural effects of the fall take place retro-actively. Possibly this can be addressed with further thought. The other issue is that sometimes Dembski rejects other alternatives much too dismissively. But I guess we all have a tendency to do that, I don't see that as fatal to the book.