William Dembski, The End of Christianity (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2009). Hardcover $16.38, Kindle $6.09 on Amazon 18/12/15.
This will be a quickie – supposed to be packing for summer holidays! A few comments on this book from perhaps the most recognized name in the Intelligent Design movement, Bill Dembski.
This is an ambitious book, trying to address two philosophical problems for Christianity simultaneously. The problems are:
- The problem of evil and pain, a perennial chestnut, and
- The clash between an apparently old earth and a biblical soteriology (teaching about salvation) that, notably in Romans 5, apparently attributes death in the world to the sin of Adam, and the re-entry of life likewise to the saving work of Christ.
I’m resisting the temptation here to exegete Romans 5. That would ruin our holiday plans. But here in nuce is Dembski’s solution: the destructive effects of the first sin of the first couple, yes, the true blue Adam and Eve, can apply retrospectively in time and be the cause of all pain, decay and death in the world from the very dawn of time. This allows Dembski to retain:
- An old earth in co-operation with mainstream scientific consensus, and,
- A full-blown, classic Christian doctrine of the Fall in its undiminished traditional form.
My final assessment: this is, despite appearing in a moderately-sized book, a grand intellectual venture, a tour de force if you like.
Ultimately, it never quite persuaded me. It would solve some philosophical problems if it did, and I could appreciate the ambition it represented. I like the Augustinian perspective of God being outside of time and able to operate independent of the flow of history. But every hint of corruption and decay, every hint of mortality in any creature, every star destined to burn out…all due to the transgression of a couple short of duds in Mesopotamian garden? I think there’s a problem of proportionality here that means it doesn’t win me over.
Happy to hear what you thought of it.