I’ll start off with this word of warning: I’m not a big fan of “student editions” of books. Typically, I find that a “student edition” cuts out details and background in an effort to hold onto a shortened attention span. This results in a book that falls short in covering the necessary material, but is a bit more fun to read.
And when you are dealing with as important of a matter as the origins debate, there is necessary material. I could make up a statistic to substantiate this, but I’ll go anecdotal: most of the people I know who have a deep-seated objection to religion, especially including people who grew up in churches, place the conflict between a creationist view and a non-creationist view among their top reasons for leaving faith. Of course, it’s typically worded as “mythology vs. science” by those who leave, and “faith vs. humanism” by those who stay. Either way, it’s an important debate.
Given its importance, I see why a student edition of Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator was published. The question before us is whether or not it’s worth bothering with.
First a few of the major objections to Strobel’s work: he’s not objective but pretends to be; he only interacts with people who agree with him; he’s just another Christian nut. The latter is certainly true, one nut to another, if that is your response to people of faith. The other two are part of his writing. He first wrote a book when he was skeptical of Christianity, and did so from his position of being a non-Christian. He interviewed and examined the “other side” and came to faith. I find the attempt to reproduce that concept here a little unnecessary. Strobel could have presented the information a little differently, and it would not have been harmful to the work.
Second, the science questions. The problem is not a science problem, but an assumptions problem. Most of the objections to the science presented by Strobel are from those who assume God as an impossibility. Most of the support for his view come from those who assume God as absolute. Because of these assumptions, the discussions go right past each other. Further, there is a running difficulty with the question of “What is proven in science?” For the average student, that one person with a doctorate asserts a claim is typically enough to count it as proven, but this is not the way science is done. So, there are some problems here. The subject matter makes it difficult.
It is here that the “student edition” treatment harms the work. There are too few details, too little interaction with the ideas. “Student” should not mean “dumbed-down,” but should interact with more sources, provide more direction on where to look for explanations.
I really wanted to like this better, but it’s more of an appetizer than a meal for a book. And when you have hard questions, you need a hearty meal to answer them.
Book received from publisher in exchange for review.