Book Review – Christ or Chaos

Christ or Chaos

Fundamentally, all worldviews are based on a set of assumptions. When it comes to atheism and its backbone theory of evolution as compared to Christianity and its backbone of a belief in the truth of Scripture, those aforementioned assumptions are vital in assessing the validity of the claims made by each position. In his book Christ or Chaos, Dan DeWitt presents a conversation taking place between two fictional yet true to life individuals, an individual named Thomas one who affirms a belief in Scripture but is finding his faith challenged by his friend Zach who once affirmed a belief in God but is increasingly moving towards an atheistic worldview. This conversation serves as the springboard by which DeWitt examines which position deals best with the realities of life.

Despite its relatively short nature, this book packs a giant punch in the information department. I have read a number of books, many of great length that address issues such as origins, the problem of evil, and how we address issues of morality. While many of those books were quite scholarly in nature and did an admirable job of dealing with the issues, I found DeWitt’s effort to be just as impactful. He does not spend a lot of time beating around the proverbial bush as he discusses how atheism and Christianity deal with matters of life.

The chapter in particular stood out to me was DeWitt’s discussion of the problem of evil. The problem of evil is an especially thorny topic and DeWitt readily admits he does not have the silver bullet answer to dispel all arguments against the theistic worldview. His focus is simply to note that subsumed within the biblical perspective on evil is the entire construct of how things were in the beginning, what went wrong, and arguably the most important element, the solution to the problem of evil. DeWitt aptly notes that all the naturalistic perspective can provide is that chance is all there is and at some point, death will come and it will all be over. This is not exactly a comforting perspective. He saliently declares “the Christian narrative is big enough to fit in the problem of evil. The atheistic story, guided by chance, will forever be incapable of doing so.”

Furthermore, when it comes to how we approach evil, if chance is all there is to offer as a “solution”, then it is somewhat disingenuous to describe for instance the actions of terrorists as evil. What is evil and how is it defined within the naturalistic construct? The resounding silence to such a question is rather telling. The biblical worldview understands that sin is the cause of evil, specifically man’s penchant to disobey God’s commands to love Him and others which results in man’s inhumanity to man. We understand the reality of suffering, knowing that God has declared there will one day be an end to this madness. This provides hope in the midst of chaos. As DeWitt rightly avers, all naturalism has to offer is chaos with no semblance of hope for its adherents.

Christ or Chaos. It really is a simplistic profundity to suggest there are only two viable options. DeWitt does a marvelous job of laying out the landscape and engaging the relevant questions. If I were Thomas and were able to get my hands on this book, I know I would be very well prepared to discuss with my friend Zach that Christ is the only answer. Thus, I highly recommend this book for all believers as we all have a friend or someone we will run into in life who is like Zach.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Dan DeWitt – Atheism and the Problem of Evil

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What Is Good?

The biblical explanation of the cosmos is a theme emphasized in the opening verses of Genesis, where each day of creation is stamped with the words “it was good.” But can an unguided world governed by mere chance, as the atheistic worldview suggests, provide any sort of objective foundation or absolute definition of “good”?

If the world is a product of chance, is governed by nothing, and is heading nowhere, then how can we point to some overarching value of goodness? As the prominent atheistic ethicist Kai Nielsen once said, “We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view. . . . Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” And if we cannot get to the moral point of view from a purely scientific perspective, then how can an atheist use a moral point of view to reject the existence of God?

5 Minutes of Hell

Many atheists would disagree with Nielsen’s statement. But the real test is whether they can provide an objective foundation for the morality they defend. They may be hanging on—mid air, white-knuckled—to a value system that lacks any sort of real grounding. In this way, their values are entirely wishful thinking. How can there be personal good and evil in an impersonal universe of mere matter and energy? If the universe doesn’t care, then why do you?

Consider two scenes from recent history. In January 2014 a New York based Satanist group submitted a proposal to build a seven-foot statue of Satan at the state capitol of Oklahoma in protest of a monument of the Ten Commandments displayed there. [2] A spokesperson described the statue as a place of serenity and contemplation where children could sit and find inspiration. I doubt I’m the first to regard the mental picture of this scene as over-the-top creepy.

It should be noted, however, that most Satanists, like the group lobbying for the statue, don’t really believe in Satan. Most Satanists are actually atheistic in their outlook, disavowing any spiritual realm. In fact, the group’s spokesperson described Satan as a literary construct and made it clear they don’t believe in some actual embodiment of evil in the world. They are more or less a political group using Satan as an icon to express their desired secularism.

Now, consider another scene that took place a little over a year prior to the proposal for this statue. Only eleven days before Christmas, twenty children lost their lives at gunpoint in a small northeastern town. On the morning of December 14, 2012, at 9:35, a twenty-year-old man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and went on a killing rampage before committing suicide at 9:40 a.m. In the five intervening minutes the horrors of hell were on full display in hallways and classrooms filled with teachers, administrators, and little sons and daughters whose parents would never hold them again, or tuck them in at night, or read them another bedtime story. Before these precious children left for school that morning, they likely had breakfast with their families in homes warmly decorated for the holidays. There were probably stockings hanging from the mantle and Christmas trees where gifts would never be opened. No one would have guessed that this day would end in bloodshed. Except for a young man who was busy finalizing his plans and loading his gun.

We all rightly call the act he committed “evil.” It was categorically evil. Psychobabble doesn’t capture our outrage. And even the most secular among us seem willing to adopt biblical terminology in the face of such an atrocity. Every fiber of our humanity screams “evil,” and for good reason. That’s why worldview discussions are not cute intellectual games. We are not playing around. We’re confronted with a real question, and it’s one every thinking person must consider at some point: What worldview can account for the human desire to classify certain actions as truly evil?

To go back to the capitol scenario, imagine if the group had succeeded in building its statue of Satan as a symbol of secularism next to the monument of the Ten Commandments. Two images, two contrasting worldviews. One monument representing a world free from religious explanations, and the other, a world ordered by a moral source. Which of the two gives the ethical framework needed to evaluate the events at Sandy Hook?

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