A Review of
The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World
William Dembski

June 13, 2015
(and it may get tweaked from time to time)

Copyright 2015 by Donald R. Tveter, don@dontveter.com
This document may be freely distributed provided it is complete and unchanged.

When I was nearly finished with my book, with only the formatting for a kindle to get correct, I was wandering around the web and I found a reference to this book by Dembski. I saw he had an idea that I have in my book so I went over to Amazon to read the reviews. Some of the reviews looked promising as they contained ideas that come up in my book, the key item being the concept of backward causation. So I got the book to see how close his work was to mine.

Normally you would think that a title like The End of Christianity would be a celebratory book about the impending demise of Christianity by an atheist but Dembski has another meaning altogether. Dembski, instead, interprets the phrase to mean: "what our faith must become - in the here and now - to bring about" the ultimate triumph of Christ and Christianity. So interpret it as more like "the goal of Christianity".

The subtitle for the book has to do with "THE PROBLEM OF EVIL". "THE PROBLEM OF EVIL" is a popular argument from atheists that they use to try to argue that there is no God. They ask, "If there is a good God out there why is there so much evil in the world?" There is an easy answer. There is evil in this world because God has a bunch of souls who He knows will take to sin (selfishness) like ducks take to water. He designed this world to give them a chance to sample a world filled with selfish people to see how they like it. People who like selfishness can keep it for all eternity (in Hell) or if they get good and sick of it and want to be changed into new, different, better people, God will fix them up and they'll be able to go on to a perfect world (Heaven). Sometimes the promoters of "THE PROBLEM OF EVIL" will whine that there is altogether too much evil in the world but if God did not show us just how bad people can be we would never know how bad people can be. For instance, we needed Nazi Germany and World War II to see just how bad people can be.

Also with "THE PROBLEM OF EVIL" there is natural evil to be considered. Natural evil consists of all the natural disasters and diseases in the world that cause a lot of pain and suffering. But the problem of natural evil is easily answered too. When people decide to be selfish and ignore what God wants them to do God in effects says, "OK, so you don't want me around, fine, I'll give you a world that APPEARS to work according to some natural laws so as to make it look like I am not around. Oh, you'll get earthquakes, typhoons, diseases and death but they will be your problems now, not mine since you don't want me around". So, this too, helps to impress on people what a world without God is like. It makes some people start wishing for a better world and eventually they find out the solution is for them and everyone else to go along with God's plans instead of doing their own selfish things.

So the classical "PROBLEM OF EVIL" is no problem at all and I am amazed that Christian theologians cannot give this clear and direct explanation of what is going on here on Earth. Oh, they will go and say that the evil comes up because man has free will and has chosen to ignore God but I've never seen one manage to make the whole thing perfectly clear including the natural explanation for natural evil. Really, if there is a problem of evil, it is why absolutely everyone does not want to give up on their selfishness and follow God. Why do they keep on doing evil and in particular why do atheists absolutely, positively not want there to be a God? It's amazing! But God has given us this world in which we can find out that there really are people who want to continue to be selfish no matter what.

Now, with "THE PROBLEM OF EVIL" in mind, Dembski looks at how it affects the interpretation of the Bible especially concerning young Earth creationist ideas. Young Earth creationism insists that the entire world was fairy-tale perfect before The Fall of Man. There was no death among animals, there were no diseases and no natural disasters. Animals should not have been eating each other and there could not have been any evolution going on because with evolution it is the survival of the fittest and the unfit end up dead. When Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit it is then, and only then, and not before, that death among people and animals starts. Yet Dembski points out there is a lot of evidence that an awful lot of animals did die long before Adam and Eve arrive on the scene. And of course there is plenty of evidence for natural evil in the world before Adam and Eve, what with the continents drifting around there have been plenty of earthquakes, there have been meteors and comets hitting the Earth, like the meteor that they say may have killed off the dinosaurs and there have been many other disasters in the past as well.

To solve this problem for young Earth creationists, Dembski proposes in chapter 5 what philosophers and theoretical physicists call "backward causation". In normal causation what happens now can only affect the future, it does not affect the past so The Fall of Adam and Eve then can only affect the future, not the past. With backward causation however, what happens in the future affects now and what happens now affects the past. In effect the past, present and future have all been neatly coordinated by God. There is physics that suggests this is happening but Dembski does not mention it. Explaining this physics and the blockworld concept would really help people take the idea seriously.

So, what Dembski has here, is a very academic presentation of the idea of backward causation to account for death and evil before The Fall. It contains many, many positions on the issue from many, many academics. Oh, and it is NOT going to convince die-hard young Earth creationists to accept death before The Fall and the evidence for a old Earth because with young Earth creationists, logic and evidence do not matter. The die-hard young Earth creationist is into young Earth creationism so they can be proud of believing the Bible rather than those godless heathen scientists.