apologetics, Book Reviews, Christianity and Science, Creationism, Intelligent Design, Theistic Evolutionism

Book Review: “Who Made God?” by Edgar Andrews

Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews offers a witty, heady read for Christians looking to interact with some of the most recent scientific theories. Targeted at Christians who have been befuddled by the latest scientific theories, interested skeptics who want to see if Christianity has anything to say about science, or Christian apologists looking to bolster their scientific knowledge, the book is a resounding success.

Interestingly, Andrews gets the title of the book out of the way quickly. Andrews argues against the common atheistic retort, “Well if God made everything, who made God?” He writes, “Because cause and effect is only proven for the physical world, we can no longer insist that cause and effect are relevant when it comes to the origin of a spiritual entity like God.” I am not sure about the strength of this response. It seems to potentially put God outside the rules of logic, something of which most theists are very wary. A more convincing response, in my opinion, is to simply point out that the concept of God includes necessity. Theistic arguments are designed to show just this–that God is the uncaused ground of being.

Who Made God, however, quickly jumps into stride and doesn’t look back. Andrews lucidly argues that while science can describe events and put them to the test, it cannot explain things in the sense of a comprehensive explanation. Science, for example, “doesn’t tell us why there is [a force of gravity]” (30).

Without slowing down Andrews jumps into a clear explanation of String Theory and its attempts to be a “theory of everything.” Even were science to unify into a theory of everything, however, Andrews point would still stand. The theory would offer descriptions of how things happen, but it wouldn’t explain why the theory itself worked. He also offers a few critiques of string theory, such as the counter-intuitive nature of the theory (48).

Andrews continues on, offering God as a “hypothesis.” He argues that “the methodology of science” can be applied to God (58-59). He argues that Victor Stenger’s God: the failed hypothesis fails on a number of levels. Stenger claims that God “should be detectable: (1) by scientific ‘models’; (2) by scientific measurements… (3) by scientific ‘methods'” (67). Against this, Andrews points out that Stenger is trying to exclude God from existence by “having it both ways.” Stenger argues that God should be detectable, but cannot be because the measurements of science are restricted to the physical. Obviously, this begs the question against theism.

Andrews also addresses nothing, by which I mean the redefinition of “nothing” into “something” often done by atheists (see the debate between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig). He points out that they often use “nothing” to reference vacuum and/or empty space or dark matter. But this is either deliberately misleading or just incomprehensible (97ff). As the atheists who say this often admit themselves, this “empty” space is hardly “nothing.” It is full of energy. But beyond space, beyond the existence of our universe, outside of space and time–that is what is meant by “nothing” (105).

The God hypothesis is vindicated when it comes to the evidence from astronomy and physics. The low entropy state of our universe (117-118), along with its origin (98ff) both point to a creator. Andrews moves on to argue that the origin of the laws of nature must also point to the God hypothesis (138-153). He then goes on to argue that our biological origins, the information found in cells, and the diversity of life have their best explanation with God. To cover these arguments fully would double the size of this review, but I found these arguments just as exciting as the rest of Who Made God. A sampling: proteins and DNA must have information in order to function correctly (181ff); origin of life theories can only be explained with the God hypothesis (196ff);  evolution is nonfalsifiable (214-216); natural selection is a tautology (219-220); junk DNA isn’t junk (234ff); mutations really only help within dynamic populations and cannot lead to new species (230ff [through 240]). Andrews isn’t finished there, however, he tackles arguments for and against mind/body dualism (250ff).

Another strength of Who Made God is the format. There is a summary of each chapter prior to its contents, along with definitions of important terms. Humor is found throughout the work as the author tells funny stories or makes witty comments about the arguments. These aspects increase the readability of the book to a great degree.

This is not to say the book is without faults. Andrews’ treatment of the Ontological Argument was a bit abrupt. I’ve written on the argument before (see my posts here and here). Andrews’ critiques don’t apply to the most current versions of the argument. The most commonly used ontological argument is the modal version developed by Alvin Plantinga and others. This version of the argument doesn’t appeal to human ideas, but to modal necessity and possibility. To his credit, Andrews does point out that some philosophers find the argument compelling.

Another issue with Who Made God is the sometimes unconventional use of philosophical terms. For example, Andrews defines “phenomenology” as “The way phenomena… manifest themselves” (27). Phenomenology, however, is most commonly used (in philosophy) as the study of consciousness. Outside of philosophy, it generally refers to conscious experience or sense experience, not so much about the phenomena themselves. While the definition is not wrong, it caused some confuse, and may confuse other readers familiar with the other, more conventional uses. Another uncommon definition was given for “Monism.” Most often, the term refers to the idea that all of reality is one [i.e. it is all material, or all immaterial]. Andrews definition makes sense in context (he defines it as “The idea that mind is nothing more than the brain at work” [257] but that definition in philosophy of mind is more often used for “reductionism” which Andrews defines differently as well).

However, neither of these negatives outweigh the significant positives found throughout Who Made God. You know that I’m nitpicking when my main critique focuses on a couple unconventional definitions, particularly when Andrews uses valid definitions that simplify the terminology for the reader.

Edgar Andrews’ Who Made God is unique among the slew of apologetics books written at a popular level in that it offers a nearly comprehensive argument for Christianity based upon various scientific theories. Despite a few small flaws, I unreservedly recommend this book to all Christians looking to increase their knowledge of biology, physics, and astronomy. Andrews clearly and succinctly explains several scientific theories in terms which are easy to understand, while also showing the relevance for the “God hypothesis.” Readers will come away convinced that when it comes to science, their faith stands on firm ground. Books with scopes this broad most often shine their lights upon lots of topics and illumine none. Readers will find that Who Made God illumines nearly every topic it touches, bringing new insight and clarity into often confusing issues.

Source: Edgar Andrews, Who Made God? (Darlington, England: EP books, 2009).

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy free of charge by EP books. My thanks to both Edgar Andrews and EP books.

SDG.

——

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “Book Review: “Who Made God?” by Edgar Andrews

  1. Sounds like an interesting read. Just a quick point about your second paragraph: I agree that his response is fairly weak, but I’m not sure yours fairs much better. You’re simply denying the antecedent (i.e. B -> C; ~B; ∴ ~C), which is of course invalid. There is no prima facie reason to assume that things that don’t begin to exist cannot also have causes. Aristotle admitted this and so, consequently, did Aquinas, and he was able to consistently construct a cosmological argument anyway (regardless of its success). The simplest answer to the who-made-god objection, in my opinion, lies in His necessity. I posted on it here some time ago: http://robertwhitaker.blogspot.com/2010/05/silly-things-to-saywho-made-god.html

    Posted by Robert Whitaker | September 12, 2011, 10:34 AM
  2. Excellent review. I have the book and agree.

    Posted by Fred Woodbridge (@fwoodbridge) | September 12, 2011, 3:36 PM
  3. Sigh, people are stuck up on this stuff. First, we can always ask “Who, or what, created God” or “who, or what, created the universe.” We could go either way with both of these things. This just points out the infinite regress problem. Second, we can always say “God wasn’t created by anything else” or “The Universe wasn’t created by anything else”. This just means we take it for granted without argument. Third, we could always argue in a circle. This is known as the Agrippa Trilemma.

    And this idea about science, which Victor Steinger might bring up, is just sad. Every theory in science relies on something that isn’t testable itself. It is only when you add on other theories in conjunction with the theory that you propose that you can test a theory. Pierre Duhem pointed this out. So Steinger’s arguments are very weak in themselves and he doesn’t clean his own house while he complains about other’s house.

    And this stuff about causality is just as weak. Hume pointed out that we don’t have much to bring up with causality to support what we want. And physicists Mendal Sachs even pointed out that science tries to use this idea of Causation, which he stated was based on “religious faith”, because it’s not a necessary truth and it’s not a contingent truth that we can test for. “A third type of truth is a religious truth. It is a truth that is based on faith. This truth is irrefutable as is an analytic truth, but it is not subject to the rules of an invented logical system, as is mathematics…Another example is the scientists belief that for every effect in the world, there is an underlying cause. (This is a law of total causation.) Indeed, it is the raison d’etre of the scientist to pursue the cause-effect relation is a law of nature. The pursuit is based on his or her faith in this law of total causation.”

    And only people who hold to the stance of realism in philosophy of science care about these arguments between atheists and theists with scientific theories and data. An anti-realist finds none of these arguments convincing or of much weight to support either position. And science describes how the world *could* be, not how the world actually is, unless you talk about the actual observations by the experimentalist. That’s the reality, and the theories you apply to experiments can all be accounted with an infinity of different theories.

    Posted by allzermalmer | February 12, 2012, 11:37 PM
    • Regarding your first point, you make an equivocation many people do: namely, assume that the cases of the universe and God are analogous. But why think the universe has any reason of itself, for being uncreated? I merely ask for evidence for that claim.

      Regarding causation: I have made it a policy to largely ignore arguments against causation. Why? Because anyone who makes such arguments does believe in causation.

      Anti-realism is itself a position which needs to be justified. Just throwing it out there as a possibility doesn’t really do much philosophical work.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 13, 2012, 1:23 PM
      • My first point made no equivocation, except doing what most people take as a starting point. God is a thing and the universe is a thing. If one doesn’t hold to the universe being a thing, then the Universe was never created. In fact, Bertrand Russell brought up that he doesn’t think the universe is a thing, so the universe doesn’t need any explanation for being created or coming into existence. That is because the universe isn’t a thing where that question even makes senses. The Universe, under what he stated, which was actually part of a BBC debate he had with a theologian, was that the universe is what we call a collection of all the particulars. In other words, only particulars exist and the term “The Universe” is what we call the collection of all particulars. This just raises the question of what created the particulars (Descartes, Malenbranch, Berkeley, and Al-Gazali are all consistent with this view, or what created the particulars). And this reason of itself relies on some antiquated idea that the universe has to be governed by some reason. Talk about lack of evidence, my goodness there seems to be no reason for things in the world.

        That point makes absolutely no sense, i.e. anyone who makes such an argument against causation does believe in causation. That’s like saying, anyone who argues against X believes in X. Do you believe in Zeus because you make arguments against Zeus? I don’t think so. And you’ve made the mistake of taking a psychological belief on the same par as an epistemological belief/knowledge or logical. People can have psychological beliefs in all sort of things that doesn’t mean it exists just because they believe in it.

        Oh, and anti-realism doesn’t need too much justification, because I can throw much doubt on justification itself. Ever hear of the Five Modes? That throws serious questions upon justification itself. Sextus Empiricus, “Outlines of Pyrrhonism”. And hey, if you want to be a scientific realist, then you have to hold that causality doesn’t exist, if you believe the theory that is the best tested theory in scientific history (i.e. Quantum Mechanics), and it being the “ground of reality” in the scientific world view, or the realist world view.

        Posted by allzermalmer | February 15, 2012, 11:05 PM
  4. This isn’t complicated…I figured this out when I was 10. If “time” is a created thing (or, something that “begins”) then, those outside of time are not subject to it. No time, no beginning, no middle, no end. Makes for lousy novel writing…but great for creating universes.

    Posted by Joell Haugan (@jhaugan) | March 26, 2013, 2:01 PM

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