Friday, December 11, 2009

The End of Christianity by William Dembski

This is a work of theodicy, a branch of philosophical theology that wrestles with the problem of evil. The essential question is, "If there is a good and all-powerful God, why is there evil in the world?"
This is a book for Christians by a Christian. Dembski assumes the Bible is true, that Christ was sinless and undeserving of the Cross and that the Fall was an actual event.
Dembski distinguishes natural evil (disease, hurricanes, famines, etc.) from moral evil (separation from God) and spends time on the origin of each.
Dembski inserts a new twist into the centuries old attempts to answer the problem of evil. In his discussion of old earth verses young earth argument, Dembski supposes retroactive effects of the Fall. He argues that Christians accept the retroactive effects of the Cross (salvation of Old Testament characters) so why not the Fall? The Fall could be responsible for natural evil occurring before the Fall in time (as we know it). "Accordingly, the Fall could take place after the natural evils for which it is responsible." (50) This concept allows the Christian to accept an old earth with animal and plant death in time before the Fall.
Another important point Dembski makes regards the intervention of God in human events. He argues, "...a world open to direct, real-time divine intervention could be empirically indistinguishable from a causally closed world that operates by unbroken natural laws, provided that God, from the start, is able to precisely arrange the unfolding of events." (121)
Dembski argument seems to allow the Christian to have the best of both worlds. He reconciles a traditional understanding of the Fall with a mainstream understanding of geology and cosmology.
I did not understand all of Dembski's rhetoric (I am a scientist, not a philosopher) but I think his work adds a new dimension to the "good God, evil world" question and is worthy of serious consideration.

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