Archive for March 19, 2010

Review – The End of Christianity; William A. Dembski

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Dr William Dembski, described as a gifted Christian thinker, is a mathematician and philosopher and a well known champion of Intelligent Design (ID).  He’s author of a dozen plus books and has been cited in both Time magazine and the New York Times.

This book is an intellectual tour-de-force of Christian apologetics. It attempts to counter the recent rash of neo-atheism books, headlined by the likes of Richard Dawkins. Dembski is ‘pleased that Christianity is once again a live issue’ and the cover blurb describes the book as ‘provocative’.  For me, in places, it was simply impenetrable!

It tackles the age-old question – termed theodicy (the problem of a perfect God in an imperfect world) – with which all of us struggle; ‘how can a good God and an evil world co-exist’?

The book attempts to deal with the ever-perplexing problem of the existence of evil and to offer new insights into God’s purposes in allowing evil.

Dembski tries to reach an understanding of what the ‘end (result) of Christianity’ really means, hence the title. He tries to change our thinking so that we see God’s goodness in creation despite the distortion of sin and evil.

Augustine had said, ‘God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist’. The book argues that ‘God would be unjust if he didn’t subject the world to natural evil so that it reflects the evil in human hearts resulting from the fall’. It is therefore ‘painful to accept that God bears at least some responsibility for natural evil and that he brings it about in response to human sin’.

Here are the big questions; is human sin responsible for natural evil? Is the fall responsible for famine, floods and earthquakes? Does creation predate the fall and by how long? If so, how old is the earth and how do we understand and interpret the early chapters of Genesis? Does science now trump the traditional young-earth, creationist view of Genesis?

Dembski resolutely defends the claim that all evil is ultimately traceable to human sin at the fall.  It is this that is the cause of all evil, not God; ‘The essence of evil is the rebellion of the creature’, an action of created free will.

Along with other Christian thinkers, Dembski asserts that the main reason why people reject God is that they cannot believe that He is good.  He states that the key mark of faith is an ability to discern God’s goodness in the face of extreme evil.

Phew – I struggled big-time with this book. I found it difficult, fascinating, challenging and stretching. I’m far from qualified to comment on the arguments and around chapter 13, I just got hopelessly lost!

Why does God allow evil? I’m afraid I still don’t know. To me it remains a troubling and disturbing mystery.

The End of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World

William A. Dembski

2009     238pp

Paternoster / Authentic Media

ISBN 978-0-8054-2743-1

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

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