The Case for a Creator
All of the people Strobel interviews for this book are connected with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (CSC): William Lane Craig is a fellow at the CSC; Jonathan Wells, Guillermo Gonzales, Jay Richards, and Michael Behe are senior fellows; Stephen Meyer is program director for the CSC; Robin Collins has received support for his work from the CSC.
In addition, Phillip Johnson, whose work is often cited for support, holds the title of program advisor for the CSC.
Nonetheless, although both the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture are mentioned several times, neither one appears in the index. Other people and concepts (such as Strobel's wife) do, despite being mentioned only once.
Chapter 1: White-Coated Scientists Versus Black-Robed Preachers
The first chapter begins with Strobel going through his early career as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune in the 1970's. At that time, he was not religious, but after covering a story in West Virginia about religion and schools, Stobel was reeled into religion. Stroble says he was a skeptic of Christianity and religion, but he does not give any evidence to support his story - so this may be just a ploy.
During his investigation, he learned that there were shootings and bombings at schools "all because some hillbillies are mad about the textbooks being used in the schools." Later, Strobel writes that when he attended an anti-evolution rally in rural Campbell's Creek and was recognized as a reporter, the crowd turned ugly and he was in real fear of physical harm (so much that Strobels knees were shaking) possibly because they thought the reporter would not portray them in a sympathetic light. An intense, dark-haired wife of a Baptist minister insisted,
"The books bought for our school children would teach them to lose their love of God, to honor draft dodgers and revolutionaries, and to lose their respect for their parents."
a local business man said,
"Let me put it this way," he said. "If Darwin's right, we're just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no God. And without God, there's no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that's why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket. Is Darwin responsible? I'll say this: people have to choose between science and faith, between evolution and the Bible, between the Ten Commandments and make-'em-up-as-you-go ethics. We've made our choice - and we're not budging."
Chapter 2: The Images of Evolution
The chapter begins with a quote by Richard Lewontin and Phillip Johnson. Johnson, the father of the modern intelligent design movement, makes the claim that science is identical to materialism and naturalism that purposely excludes god.
Strobel begins by sharing his experience as an atheist going through a biology class and how his curiosity for truth drove him into liking science. He retells how he grew up in a post-Sputnik era when education and science was held in a high degree. He mentions that in the 1960's relativism and situational ethics caused the nation to turn upside down.
He quotes Richard Dawkins, who said Darwin make it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
The Images of Evolution
Strobel recalls the images he frequently saw in a biology class.
- Image 1: Tubes, Flasks, and Electrodes of the Stanley Miller Experiment. - This excluded God from having a role in creating life.
- Image 2: Darwin's "tree of Life" -After reading the Origin of Species Strobel says this explained the diversity of life.
- Image 3: Ernst Haeckel's Drawings of Embryos - Strobel says these drawings could be found in virtually every evolution book he studied.
- Image 4: The Missing Link - Strobel mentions and sticks to using Archeopteryx as an example.
Strobels says he met many spiritual skeptics who started doubting in high school or college. Strobel mentions in 2002, a Boy Scout was not granted the Eagle Scout award because he refused to pledge reverence to God. This started when he had "been an atheist since studying evolution in the ninth grade."(Dean E. Murphy of the New York Times, "Eagle Scout Faces Ultimatum over Atheism," Orange County Register (November 3, 2002))
Darwin Versus God
Here Strobel lists many scientists and theologians who find no conflict in accepting evolution and hold a belief in God. Where was Strobel when several Popes openly stated the evolutionary theory does not contradict or refute God? This did not make sense to Strobel because he was taught evolution is undirected. Strobel brings up Phillip Johnson's book, Darwin on Trial, that explains evolution's whole point is to exclude God. (Read this article to see everything wrong in Johnson's book) Strobel says Ernst Meyer agrees with Johnson (quoting phrase word for word on page 23),
"the real core of Darwinism" is natural selection, which "permits the explanation of adaption...by natural means, instead of by divine intervention."
Strobel takes the above quote from Stephen J. Gould, "Abscheulich! Atrocious! Natural History (March 2002). Strobel also mentions Fransisco Ayala, a Dominican priest for to his science career, claiming there was no need for a creator or external agent for the mechanisms of evolution. (Ayala refused to be interviewed for this book). Strobel goes on to quote several other sources, including Pulitzer Prize winners and Time magazine.
Darwin's Universal Acid
Here Strobel goes back to finding sources to support his "atheistic" youth, and summarizes this section with a phrase by Daniel Dennett that evolution is a universal acid that slowly eats through every traditional concept.
Strobel goes on that since God was excluded from his worldview, he would go on forth towards his ambitions and pleasures (even the ones that "God" supposedly does not favor). Strobel blames this behavior on religious authorities were unwilling or unable to help him get the answers to questions he had about God. He ends this section retelling his view of such people as "slaves to their wishful thinking."
The Investigation Begins
A friend of Strobel announced that she was becoming a follower of Jesus, which made Strobel go about asking deeper questions about faith and God. The big three questions were the following,
- Are science and faith doomed to always be at war?
- Does the latest scientific evidence point toward or away from the existence of God?
- Are the images of evolution (which spurred him to atheism) still valid?
Strobel then goes of on his quest, saying that he would go were the answers took him. As a journalist, he is supposed to ask questions. He is also a lawyer, meaning he is skilled to make cases. The difference between those two and science is that scientists test and repeat their data, whereas lawyers make a case for a proposition whether it is true or not.
Chapter 3: Doubts About Darwinism
Strobel begins this chapter with a paper from the Discovery Institute called "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism." He goes into detail which universities they are from and the several fields they expertise in. In the end, he concludes the "emperor of evolution has no clothes." He provides links to articles from the Discovery Institute criticizing PBS series presenting the evidence for evolution.
An interview with Jonathan Wells
Jonathan Wells is a senior member of the Discovery Institute, who stated his only goal in science is to "destroy Darwinism." Strobel begins to interview him and his book "Icons of Evolution." The "Icons" used by Wells denotes a religious reverence for a symbol.
- Image 1: The Miller Experiment
Wells says the consensus is unclear what the atmosphere was like at the time, but it is generally agreed it is not like the one used in the Miller experiment. The experiment included methane, ammonia, and water vapor, but there is no evidence for methane-ammonia in the atmosphere and hydrogen was too light that the earth's gravity could not hold it.
Wells mentions that some textbooks mention organic material has formed, but says this organic material is Formaldehyde and Cyanide, and declares that these are toxic and life could not possible form from such substances.
Next, Wells develops a straw man: put a cell in a test tube, poke a hole in it, and all its contents will leak out.
- Image 2: Darwin's Tree of Life
Here Wells argues that fossil evidence has not proven Darwin's theory and the Cambrian explosion refutes Darwin's tree of life, which states that populations will diverse over time whereas the Cambrian shows a sudden appearance of life.
- Image 3: Heackel's Embryos
Ernst Haeckel was a nineteenth-century biologist who lived around the same time as Charles Darwin. Haeckel is best remembered for his dictum "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", meaning that a developing embryo retraces the evolutionary history of its ancestors. Haeckel is also infamous for defending this claim by using his own drawings of developing embryos, which turned out to be faked to exaggerate the stages he claimed were there. Wells claims that these known fallacious drawing are still being taught in school text books today, even Strobel recalls seeing these pictures in his biology class.
- Image 4: The Missing Link
In this section, both Strobel and Wells repeat the old creationist lie that there are no such things as transitional fossils. Strobel quotes Michael Denton,
[T]he universal experience of paleontology... [is that] while the rocks have continually yielded new and exciting and even bizarre forms of life... what they have never yielded is any of Darwin's myriads of transitional forms... The intermediates have remained as elusive as ever and their absence remains, a century later, one of the most striking characteristics of the fossil record.
Wells points out "Besides, we see strange animals around today, like the duck-billed platypus, which nobody considers transitional but which has characteristics of different classes."
Wells calls Archeopteryx a bird with modern feathers.
Chapter 4: Where Science Meets Faith
An interview with Stephen C. Meyer, a philosopher and one of the co-founders of the Discovery Institute. Strobel sets the theme of this chapter to argue how science and religion relate to each other. Strobel begins this chapter with a story of Allan Sandage, a respected cosmologist raised as a nonreligious Jew who shocked his colleagues by announcing his conversion to Christianity at the age of fifty.
Meyer claims that scientists adopt naturalism is the basis of science.
Chapter 5: The Evidence of Cosmology: Beginning with a Bang
An interview with William Lane Craig
Chapter 6: The Evidence of Physics: The Cosmos on a Razor's Edge
An interview with Robin Collins
Chapter 7: The Evidence of Astronomy: The Privileged Planet
An interview with Guillermo Gonzales and Jay Wesley Richards
Chapter 8: The Evidence of Biochemistry: The Complexity of Molecular Machines
An interview with Michael Behe
Chapter 9: The Evidence of Biological Information: The Challenge of DNA and the Origin of Life
An interview with Stephen C. Meyer
Chapter 10: The Evidence of Consciousness: The Enigma of the Mind
An interview with J.P. Moreland