By J. Warner Wallace
Warner Wallace is a recently retired cold-case homicide detective, and author of Cold-Case Christianity. Wallace is a popular speaker and Christian apologist. He is also an adjunct professor of Apologetics at Biola University. Wallace has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Design and Architecture, and an MA in Theological studies. This varied background come together in the writings of both Cold-Case Christianity and now, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe.
Wallace’s approach is to examine the universe in the same way he would examine the scene of a death in order to determine a cause. In the case of a death scene, where a dead body is found in a room, there can be only four possible explanations:
- Natural causes
Wallace points out that if all the evidence related to the death of the person can be explained from within the room, then the death was one of the first three above. However, if he has to leave the room in order to explain any of the evidence, then a homicide had taken place. In other words, someone outside the room is responsible for causing the death.
After explaining his approach, Wallace examines seven features of reality that must be explained either from within the “room” or from outside the room. He also examines one piece that may eliminate his prime “suspect.” In each case, the author gives a vignette of a homicide case he has worked and how details of the case illustrate the argument. In chapter 1, he examines the origin of the universe. Why is there something rather than nothing? Did the world have a beginning? If so, what, or who caused it? Wallace points to philosophical arguments and scientific evidence supporting a beginning, and therefore, a cause to the origin of the universe. Since we are talking about how we even have a “room” in which to investigate, Wallace argues the cause for it’s origin could not come from within the room.
Before addressing specific counter arguments, Wallace explains the difference between an alternative explanation and a reasonable one. He notes that faulty arguments tend to have one or more of the following flaws:
- Lack of evidential support
- Critical aspects of the data are illegitimately redefined
- Contain logical contradictions.
Wallace goes on to show how the most common alternative explanations for the evidence of the origin of the universe (as well as those of each of the other pieces of evidence throughout the book) fail because of one or more of the above.
In chapter 2, Wallace investigates the apparent fine-tuning of the universe for life. In this chapter, he explains how foundational, regional and locational conditions factor into an explanation for the crime scene. In this case, the foundational would be the laws of physics, the regional would be the properties of the solar system and the locational would be those on our planet. Wallace notes that the breadth and scope of these conditions are evidence that someone designed it that way.
In chapter 3, the origin of life is examined, showing how physics and chemistry eliminate causes inside the room, and information found in DNA point to an agent outside the room.
Chapter 4 revisits the question of design by examining features that are common to things that have been designed. Wallace uses the acronym DESIGNED:
Echoes of familiarity
Sophistication and Intricacy
Wallace then shows how this matrix can be applied to examining evidence for design in biological systems. More importantly, he notes that the argument is not for a “god-of-the-gaps.” This is an argument for a designer based on what is known, not what is unknown.
Chapter 5 deals with the problem of consciousness, noting that it is not something that can come from matter, and that it is an undeniable experience. Wallace notes how the law of identity supports the distinction between brain states and mental states. Since the room only provides matter, the origin of consciousness must have come from outside the room.
In chapter 6, Wallace demolishes the idea that free will does not exist; noting that to deny its existence is to affirm it. Moreover, since it is not a material thing, it is one more piece of evidence to be explained by leaving the room.
In chapter 7, Wallace argues for objective morality and notes that its origin cannot come from inside the room.
In chapter 8, Wallace addresses what is commonly thought of as the most powerful counterargument against the existence of God, who so far is our primary “suspect” based on the examined evidence. The Problem of Evil is thought to be exculpatory evidence in this case. However, Wallace points out that even this is evidence for the case for God, rather than against.
Based on each line of evidence, Wallace builds a “suspect profile” that shows the explanation for the cause of the universe to be:
- External to the universe
- Nonspatial, atemporal, and nonmaterial
- Powerful enough to create everything we see in the universe
- Specifically purposeful enough to produce a universe fine-tuned for life
- Intelligent and communicative
- Creative and resourceful
- A conscious mind
- Free to choose and create personally
- The personal source of morality
- The standard of good by which we define evil
Wallace builds a cumulative case for the existence of a being consistent with monotheism. He does not claim to prove the Christian God exists. This case can be used to support the God of Judaism or Islam as well. For more specificity, more sources need to be examined. Wallace does this in Cold-Case Christianity.
Wallace’s approach is novel, creative, and understandable. His use of details of homicide cases as illustrations make his case quite accessible. He also offers “expert testimony” both for and against his case, and provides more information in the back of the book in a section called “The Secondary Investigation” for those who want to go deeper. Wallace’s artistic background is put to good use with his hand-drawn illustrations as well.
Like any work of this kind, those who have no interest in examining their worldview and putting it to the test will find nothing of value here. Those who are honestly seeking answers will find much to think about, and this book will at least, as Greg Koukl puts it, “put a stone in their shoe.” For those of us who already believe, there is evidential support, and a valuable resource for explaining and defending our view.
Wallace’s book is accessible for late middle- to high school students, but rich enough for those with more advanced learning. This book is especially valuable to parents who care about their children’s faith. Whether they ever go off to college at a secular university or not, they will see things on the Internet that will challenge them. This book is a good resource for dealing with these challenges. I highly recommend this book.