Monday, May 21, 2007

The Case for a Creator

I just started reading one of the books that was recommended to me by my Young-Earth Creationist friend. The Case for a Creator is actually Lee Strobel's third book in the series however, it was the first one that the library had available.
I've read the first four chapters and so far I haven't seen anything that approaches the goal of the book's subtitle, A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That points Toward God. The books that I've been reading lately are science based books attempting to explain or disprove the concept of religion and reason. These books have been easy to follow because they do their best to stick to logical rules and orders. The very concept of emotional arguments are avoided for the most part. This book is dramatically different in that it is not written by a scientist, it is written by a journalist. Unlike scientists, journalists don't have to make a solid case backed up by evidence. It is enough for them to throw out several inconsistencies in a story, find some high profile "experts"to testify for your side and suddenly you have throw enough doubt on your subject that you have a story that will sell your newspaper. Strobel is using this strategy very well. I don't mean for this to sound like I am dismissing his message just because he's a journalist. That is not the case. I'm simply pointing out the differences in his rhetorical style from that to which I've grown accustomed.
Strobel points to a list of one hundred scientist who have doubts about evolution. On its face this may appear to be a solid case against. They point out some valid gaps in our understanding of the process. The insinuation with this list seems to be that an increasing number of scientists are abandoning Darwin's theories in favor of something else. I would recommend that anyone convinced by this list of 100 scientist also check out this list of scientist who still support Darwin's Theories. The catch with this list is that in order to join it your first name had to be Steve and they still got thousands more than Strobel's list.
List is the second book in a row that I've read that addresses Stephen J. Gould's idea of NOMA, Non-Overlapping MAgisteria. This is the idea that science and religion exist in ven diagrams that look like two non overlapping circles. Some questions are supposed to be answered by reliegion and others by science. As long as you use the right field to answer each question you will not have any paradoxes. The truth is that there is a significant overlap. Dawkins suggests that we chuck religion all together. So far, Strobel seems to be in the opposite corner preaching that we chuck science. Personally I don't think that either answer is the way to go. Rarely in life are things such a perfect dichotomy.
So far Strobel's strategy seems to be to simply appealing to ignorance. He has presented no evidence per se. He just points to gaps in our current understanding and implies that God fills those gaps.
I guess why I'm having trouble with this book so far is that his stated goal in the subtitle is a logical search for scientific evidence and so far I haven't seen any. One hundred scientist who disagree with evolution is not evidence. It's an appeal to popularity. Finding gaps in the current understanding is just an appeal to ignorance. By subtitling his book, A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God, Stobel accepted the rules of science and should stick to them if he wants to be taken seriously. Had his subtitle been something like, A Journalist Details his Faithful Pursuit of God, then I would not hold him to the same scientific standard.
In the spirit of giving him a fair shake I will continue to read this book and give a complete review when I finish.

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