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William Dembski’s Interview on New Book “The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World”

William Dembski was interviewed recently by the Evangelical Philosophical Society, which can be read at their blog, about his new book The End of Christianity, Finding a Good God in an Evil World. This book is the long anticipated refutation of the “new atheists” position, such as that of the Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens vein. But it is also a theodicy worthy of reading in its own right, regardless of the prominence of new or old atheists. Here’s an excerpt of the interview:

What’s the main point that you are trying to communicate in this book? What is the “end of Christianity” that you speak of in your title?

My book attempts to resolve how the Fall of Adam could be responsible for all evil in the world, both moral and natural IF the earth is old and thus IF a fossil record that bespeaks violence among organisms predates the temporal occurrence of the Fall. My resolution is to argue that just as the salvation of Christ purchased at the Cross acts forward as well as backward in time (the Old Testament saints were saved in virtue of the Cross), so too the effects of the Fall can go backward in time. Showing how this could happen requires extensive argument and is the main subject of the book. As for my title, “End of Christianity” involves a play on words – “end” can refer to cessation or demise; but it can also refer to goal or purpose. I mean the latter, as the subtitle makes clear: Finding a Good God in an Evil World.

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16 Responses to William Dembski’s Interview on New Book “The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World”

  1. The interview is very interesting, even though I am not sure if I agree with Dembski’s solution to the problem of evil. To me, the most interesting part of the interview was this response from Dembski

    ““Being as Communion” attempts to provide a metaphysics of information that is conducive to Christian theism…….There are still a few more mathematical results I need to publish before I’m ready finally to write a full-length treatment of the metaphysics of information.”

    Well, all the best Dembski, though I may not agree everything you say, I am an ardent fan of yours. Excitingly waiting for your “metaphysics of information.”

  2. Clive:

    Quoting Dr. Dembski in the blog interview:

    My main work has been in the field of intelligent design. The problem of evil looms large there because if the world and life are designed, the question arises what sort of designer would allow all the malevolent designs that we find in nature. In referring such evil designs to the Fall…

    He is quite correct, IMO, that this is a serious moral issue for ID. What if the designer is not God? The twists and turns of theodicy assume a benevolent creator with powers that only God can claim. What if the designer is some other entity – no Fall is mandated in that case. If we look strictly at the biological evidence, we would be hard pressed to call the designer benevolent unless we had already determined that from another source (like the Bible). Even if this designer had some similar motives (e.g. using evil to guide or instruct), what we might accept from God may be far less acceptable if the entity was an advanced alien civilization or any other lesser being.

  3. Hi! Did any body came across this page from BioLogos?

    http://biologos.org/resources/leading-figures

    The arrangement of sequence is indeed an “intelligent design” to show how balance they are. Was amused to see ID labeled as “Science Critics”.

  4. Finding a Good God in an Evil World.

    Since I believe God is not of this world, I am afraid Dembski won’t find me at home, nor God in the world (evil and created bu God?) Corection: He’s looking for a Good God. If I am to believe the OT, there is not much good abut the god we find there…

  5. I think a lot of the “evil world” claim is based on the mistake of equating suffering with evil.

    If God didn’t exist there would be no evil because God is the one who defines evil.

    Suffering, of course, would still exist.

    Secondly, the vast majority of human suffering is caused by individuals following actions of their choosing whether it be in a family, workplace or community at large.

    Thirdly, without the threat of natural suffering the amount of man-made suffering would be exponentially greater.

    What is worse — existing without pain or existing without faith, hope and love?

  6. I think that evil requires free will. Therefore there is no such thing as “natural evil”. Suffering is rightly viewed as ultimately a punishment for evil, though it is not a specific punishment for a specific evil. It is a general punishment for a general evil.

    Jesus says that the people who were killed at Siloam were no worse sinners than anyone else. This is not to say that they weren’t sinners or that death is not the fair punishment for their sin. Primarily he was saying to everyone else that they have no right to judge, because they too have sinned and they too will die for it.

  7. I agree that the notion of “natural evil” is problematic. I haven’t read his book yet, but it seems that Dembski may be attempting to get God off the hook because animals eat each other. If so, he is no different than Darwin, et al, who wanted to distance God from nature because what they found didn’t agree with the god of their imagination. Cornelius Hunter’s _Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil_ explains well this misguided attitude.

  8. tribune7 (5):

    “I think a lot of the “evil world” claim is based on the mistake of equating suffering with evil.”

    How about correcting to “innocent suffering”. Suffering caused by human choice is perhaps a higher order of badness, but it is built into humans neurologically to equate suffering of all kinds with badness.

    In practice, naive idealism is held in inverse proportion to the proximity to the actual situation. What about the millions in Africa who happen to have the misfortune to be born where tropical disease is endemic. Or the victims of cancer, birth defects, earthquakes, tornados, the list is endless.

    “What is worse — existing without pain or existing without faith, hope and love?”

    A false dichotomy. Vast amounts of truly innocent suffering exist as far as the life history of the humans involved is concerned, and is hardly mutually exclusive with at least some goodness also existing in their lives. It is a value judgement only the victim can legitimately make whether this is worth the suffering of their existence.

    All of this still ignores the obvious existence of huge amounts of innocent animal suffering (the only kind in this case). In my opinion none of the theodicity arguments hold much water.

  9. “All of this still ignores the obvious existence of huge amounts of innocent animal suffering…”

    Innocence implies moral responsibility. It’s misguided to think that animals are guilty or innocent. How would you decide what animal behavior is wrong (or right, for that matter)?

  10. magnan, what I am saying is that without natural suffering — innocent, animal or otherwise — evil increase exponentially.

    Cancer is not evil. What is evil is not having compassion for or being able to empathize with someone who has cancer.

  11. T.lise # 3 – On that very page this endorsement:

    “A wise, constructive rapprochement between faith and science is one of the world’s urgent needs, and this need will only intensify as the global era raises a host of new ethical issues. Few people have the expertise, wisdom, and prestige to make such a contribution. I welcome The BioLogos Foundation warmly.”

    – Dr. Os Guinness,
    EastWest Institute

  12. Clive:

    I’ve been reading Dr. Dembski’s book, and I have to say that regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with it, it’s certainly the boldest and most original theodicy since that of Leibniz.

    I have one question though, relating to animal suffering, which the book does not appear to address: has Dr. Dembski ever expressed an opinion regarding the possibility of some sort of afterlife for animals? The reason why I ask this if there is no afterlife for them, then we have a wrong (the suffering of innocent animals) that is never righted in the scheme of things.

  13. Sorry. The last sentence should read:

    The reason why I ask is that if there is no afterlife for them, then we have a wrong (the suffering of innocent animals) that is never righted in the grand scheme of things.

  14. Helo Enezio #11,

    I admire Os in many many ways, but when in comes to debate on the issue of Darwinism, I think he is making a serious mistake by taking the side of Theistic Evolution.

    I suppose his mentor Francis Schaeffer will be disappointed if he happen to be alive.

  15. I read (and luckily saved a copy :) ) of “Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science” back when it first appeared over at Design Inference. As challenging as that paper was to someone with my theological commitments, it deals head-on with the core issues that Biblical Christianity faces in light of the inferences of science and natural history. I’m looking forward to seeing Dr. Dembski’s expanded take in the book.

  16. 16

    “The reason why I ask this (is)if there is no afterlife for them, then we have a wrong (the suffering of innocent animals) that is never righted in the (grand) scheme of things.”

    “The lion will lay down with the lamb.”

    I don’t believe there was a fall that was predicated upon animal behavior. Therefore, I fully expect to see Wiskers in Heaven. :)

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