Review of Dan Dewitt’s “Christ or Chaos”

christ or chaosThis would be a good summer read for any high school graduate getting ready to head off to college in the fall or for anyone else who wishes to read a very accessible defense of Christian truth.  It is a good presuppositional approach to apologetics aimed at the level of late-high school/early college-aged folks.  This little book (133 pages) is actually a good antidote to the weakest part of Tim Keller’s “Reason for God” because it gives a serious challenge to Darwinian evolution where Keller simply tries to show how evolution and Christianity aren’t incompatible.  Dewitt’s two main challenges to evolution go something like this:

1- It is posited by secular scientists et al that religion was an evolutionary necessity that helped humanity make sense of the world and therefore more equipped to survive.  However, religion is now like a vestigial organ, no longer of any use to humanity and on its way to elimination from the human scene.  But Dewitt responds by pointing out that, if this is the case, then evolution is the author of practical survival skills but also the author of deceit.  Though our genes drove us to religion and equipped us to survive, they deceived us and failed to lead us to what is true about reality.

2- It is also theorized by evolutionary psychology that we are an unrealistically optimistic species and that we are this way because evolution has hardwired our brains this way.  Dewitt quotes Tali Sharot from her TIME magazine article “The Optimism Bias”, “We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures… But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic.”  In simple terms, hope is irrational.  Again, Dewitt points out that if this is true, namely that evolution is the author of this practical survival mechanism in our brains, then it is also true that evolution has deceived and is deceiving us.

Dewitt rightly points out negatively that if evolution cannot be trusted to point us to an accurate view of reality about religion and even our own thoughts, then why should it be trusted to give us an accurate view in so many other areas?  Or as he puts it, “…how can we break free from the illusion?” (pg. 114)  But Dewitt also uses the data of the human impulse toward both religion and optimism to drive us to ask a positive, observational question: could we be hard-wired with this religious impulse and optimism because we are all yearning to return to Eden?  We have this ache because we know this world is broken, that we are all participants in its brokenness, and that we are incapable of putting the pieces back together by ourselves.  Yet somehow we feel that there is a place where all that is broken will be made whole and all that is sad will become untrue.  And if there is such a place, and if we can’t get there on our own, then maybe there is Someone to do what we can’t, Someone to get us where we can’t go.

Newsweek? I know you di’int!

It really is no surprise.  As a matter of fact, I kind of expect to get the short end of the stick from you.  Your motivation to produce journalistic pieces that attempt to hack away at  the credibility of Christians and Christianity is fairly 2014_12_26_Cover_600 x 800strong.  After all, doing that sells.  But come on, Newsweek!  I expect for you to take a few shots at us, but to do so with such a severe lack of journalistic integrity and without any semblance of academic credibility?  Really?!  You really thought publishing “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” was a good move?  And you can’t blame this on just the article’s author.  Some editorial head ought to roll for not stopping this one.  And did you not catch the almost smacks-you-dead-in-the-face obviousness of the irony of the way its author ended his article?  After spending the whole article throwing literary stones and firing off morally indignant diatribes at evangelicals and Bible-believers, did you really want to end with, “Don’t judge”?!  Wow.  Well, Newsweek, if you are interested in where your author left the rails, you ought to read Dr. Michael Kruger’s “A Christmas Present from the Mainstream Media: Newsweek Takes a Desperate Swipe at the Integrity of the Bible (Part 1)“.  Dr. Kruger has a few academic feathers in his cap to lend him some credibility.  But if your article on the Bible is any indicator of who you are, you are obviously not interested in either… academics or credibility, that is.