Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review- God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace


J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker, and author of Cold-Case Christianity (our review is here).  He's been featured repeatedly on Dateline, Fox News, and Court TV and is a member of a three-generation law enforcement family.  J. Warner and his wife have four children and live in Southern California.


It was with great anticipation that I began reading J. Warner's Wallace's latest offering God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe.  It is my conviction that Wallace is one of the most practical, intelligent and passionate apologists writing today.  His work is easy to grasp, intellectually challenging and spiritually rewarding.  Further, Wallace always makes his points in a way that make them applicable to real-life conversation.  His latest effort is no exception.

As a former atheist and a cold-case homicide detective who became a Christian largely because of the abundance of evidence he encountered, the manner in which the author examines the evidence is utterly unique because he does so through the eyes of a homicide detective.  The same objective, evidence-based approach Wallace uses in his cases, he also employs in examining the case for the existence of God.

Wallace explains his approach:

"This book is my attempt to help you look at the nature of the universe-my effort to share a personal investigation of God's existence.  I hope to pass along a detective's perspective related to evidence evaluation and case construction.  I want to make you a better investigator..." [p. 25]

The book begins with the author explaining how the universe is similar to a death scene investigation. One of the questions detectives ask during an investigation is, "Can I account for all the evidence in the room by staying in the room?"  If the answer is yes, then the result of death is deemed as an accident, some natural cause or suicide; however, if the answer is "no," then a homocide investigation begins.  In like manner, if we think of the universe as a "room," Wallace rightly asked the same question, "Can I account for all the evidence in the room by staying in the room?"  Wallace explains how a death scene investigation and an investigation of the universe are similar:

"...we can examine the evidence inside the natural, physical realm of the universe to determine if there is someone we need to look for outside the natural, physical realm." [Ibid]

The result is a case for the existence of God that is systematic, thorough, and compelling.

M-Main Arguments

One of the objections I hear from fellow followers of Christ regarding Christian Case Making is that it is to hard to understand.  Many don't think of themselves as intellectuals and therefore don't believe they can learn to defend their Christian convictions and sometimes the task can seem daunting. However, those who may have struggled in the past to understand the arguments for the existence of God may find a friend in J. Warner Wallace.  Wallace's use of clear illustrations and diagrams make his case easy to follow and understand.  Further, his use of cases from his past investigations make this work read less like an apologetics book and more like a crime novel.  At the conclusion of one chapter I found myself immediately ready to start the next so that I could learn about another investigation!

Using various types of reasoning and methodology, Wallace investigates evidence from the following areas to adjudicate what the best explanation of the available data is:
  • The Origin of the Universe
  • The Fine-Tuning of the Universe
  • The Origin of Life- DNA and Irreducible
  • Our Experience of Consciousness
  • Free Will
  • Moral Truths
  • Can God and Evil Coexist?
I have two young girls and one thing we enjoy doing is going to Toys 'R' Us.  I have always been a toy enthusiast and I suppose my girls have inherited that from me.  Sometimes we diligently search for a specific toy and when the item is discovered our excitement is evident to each other and, most likely, to those around us. For myself, reading through God's Crime Scene is very similar.  I read with highlighter in hand anticipating those passages that, when found, were reminiscent of discovering a sought after toy!  For example, the author discusses how some scientists, in an effort to avoid the conclusion that the universe came into being from nothing, have attempted to change the definition of the word nothing to actually mean something.  Wallace writes:

"The evidence demonstrates all space, time, and matter began with the origin of the universe.  Whatever preceded the universe cannot, therefore, have been spatial, temporal, or material, at least by the definitions we have been using all along.  Emergent models redefine the meaning of "nothing" to include "something" (the primordial vacuum, virtual particles, and time).  While this solves the problem semantically, it doesn't solve the problem evidentially." [p. 40]

It is passages such as this that make Wallace's work a joy to read through and equip the reader with great responses to common objections.

I also want to note that the author's chapter on consciousness is the best treatment of the subject I have read to date.  

As a teacher, I am continually impressed by Wallace's ability to explain complex concepts in a manner that is easy to grasp.  When you are reading this work one can clearly perceive that the author not only understands the arguments, but has made them his own.  Further, his conclusions are presented honestly and humbly.

While reading this book you are not only learning about the case for a Divine Creator, but how to think through arguments and how to shift through evidence in a logical and fair-minded manner.

B- Bottomline

I am convinced that anyone would benefit from reading this book, regardless of their familiarity with the arguments dealt with therein.

For the believer, Wallace's book is a treasure chest of arguments and illustrations that will not only equip you to share your faith more clearly and effectively, but will also serve to affirm your conviction that God exists.

For the unbeliever, the author challenges you to begin your own investigation regarding the question of God's existence.  He writes:

"If you've just now become interested in the existence of God, I hope this book will begin a passionate, urgent investigation.  I am not an expert witness; I'm only a detective.  So I've listed some of the expert witnesses you might want to consider examining as you continue an investigation of your own...I would encourage you to read the Secondary Investigation and Investigative Notes at the end of the book.  I've done my best to help you take another step in your understanding, and I've cited my research to provide you with a variety of facts and details." [p. 203]

I cannot recommend God's Crime Scene highly enough and it is a most worthy follow-up to Cold-Case Christianity.

Courage and Godspeed,

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