Book review: The End of Christianity

by William A. Dembski


It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. Dembski is a proponent of Intelligent Design, and has written before on that topic. His conundrum is that he also is a believer in the biblical story of Genesis—the story of the Fall is particularly troublesome—and wishes to accommodate scripture into an old earth theology. But unless one refuses to recognize the evil in nature itself, evil came before the Fall, right? Evil (defined primarily as the cause of suffering) seems designed into the world. What do we make of human suffering, and how did evil enter the world? How are we to interpret the Original Sin?

In the book, Dembski methodically debunks one young-age creationism theory after another, and he’s right: It’s time that evolution be accepted as a given. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne defines biological evolution as follows:

There is only one going theory of evolution, and it is this: organisms evolved gradually over time and split into different species, and the main engine of evolutionary change was natural selection. Sure, some details of these processes are unsettled, but there is no argument among biologists about the main claims.

Dembski reasons that anyone without a stake in the age of the earth is unlikely to find young earth arguments persuasive. But at the same time, he holds fast to scriptural stories in Genesis, seemingly prepared to jump through hoops to preserve his belief, and that contradiction left my head spinning. I hardly find the Genesis creation stories plausible unless—as Dembski puts it—I “have a stake” in the Bible’s historicity.

So how does Dembski make sense of the creation? We have in our Bibles two distinct creation stories; Genesis 1:1-2:3 forms one, and Genesis 2:4-3:24 forms the other. Proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis (see my book review at The Bible With Sources Revealed) explain that the two myths were written by two different authors, and collected side by side in the Bible. Dembski proposes a different solution, suggesting that the second story can be seen as a sort of second creation; the planting of a Garden of Eden billions of years after the first creation was begun. The formation of humans occurred within that Garden, by imparting a soul; the breath of life. Whatever makes humans distinctly human (thereby separating them from the rest of the animals and infilling them with God’s image) happened at the precise moment when they enter the Garden. There, in a segregated tropical paradise, where natural evil is not evident, mankind’s love for God could be fairly tested. And mankind still fell, as God anticipated.

If we accept that God was able to anticipate the Fall, we can accept that God built a world to accommodate that Fall. Even though the first humans dwelt in perfect, evil-less surroundings, they still sinned, and were banished to the world prepared for them over billions of years. Thus Dembski preserves the traditional view that natural evil is a consequence of the Fall, even though God—who creates outside the boundaries of time—prepared retroactively for mankind’s sin.


  1. Sounds a fascinating argument. I like to think the two stories tell the same thing from different points of view. Humanity as the last step of creation, and humanity as the first purpose. Not sure what hoops that means I’m jumping through.

  2. :) I don’t see any hoop-jumping in an allegorical interpretation. It might give us humans a big head, though.

  3. Another commenter on the blog, yes.

    It is a facinating argument. For me my line of thoughts are similar. I have faith in what was written and therefore see creation in that light. Because of faith how the timelines work is not so important.

    Because I enjoy science and history, I also enjoy the thought puzzle of: Seeing how what we think we know(or man’s faith in the knowledge of man.) fits my faith of God’s Word. For some the process of fitting what is known by mankind with what is believed, looks like jumping through hoops.

    I can see how it would appear that way. Without faith it is complex and puzzling. With faith it is more complex and less puzzling.

  4. Evolution: “Sure, some details of these processes are unsettled, but there is no argument among biologists about the main claims”…. well actually there are a number of biologists and other scientists who beg to differ….”organisms evolved gradually over time and split into different species”. Well if thats true, where are all the fossils that show it? There should be thousands if not millions of “morphing” species in the fossil record and there is nothing like that. Now this certainly does not preclude an “old earth” beginning though.

  5. Here is a wiki page that might be helpful to you, Richard:

    Also, if you are not in an area where you can visit a natural history museum, you could check out this virtual museum:

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