In August 2010, Christianity.com posted a two-part article series from professor Edgar H. Andrews' book "Who Made God?"—a sturdy, to-the-point response to today's new atheists. I later caught up with the author by email to learn more about his perspective on the ‘new atheism' and what his book contributes to the ongoing conversation.
Despite his rather intimidating string of degrees (BSc, PhD, DSc, FInstP, FIMMM, CEng, CPhys.), Dr. Andrews is a down-to-earth communicator. He exudes humility not only about his own achievements but also the limits of scientific knowledge. It was refreshing to see an insider speaking with humility and honesty about his beloved field of expertise in an age that tends to deify science.
Far from being a dry volume of esoteric jargon and hard-to-follow proofs, Who Made God? is an engaging, witty and accessible book that ought to connect with readers at all levels, Christian and non.
Thanks for reading,
AC: Why write another book against the new atheism when there are so many already in print? How does Who Made God? differ from the others? EHA: At least two dozen books have been published in response to Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and other recent output from ‘new atheists' like Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. And many of these books-in-reply are excellent. So why did I feel another book was needed? There were two main reasons.
Firstly, few if any of these anti-atheist works have achieved public visibility. Many people think they address an arcane side-debate — of little interest to the average Christian and irrelevant to the general public. By contrast, Dawkins' book has sold two million copies worldwide and can be found in most secular bookshops.
One reason our books make little impact is, I think, that they are not written in a style calculated to engage the attention of the person-in-the-street. I have therefore tried to write a book that employs humour and popular science as vehicles to achieve such an engagement. I wanted non-Christians in particular to enjoy reading about things they might otherwise ignore.
Secondly, almost all the responses to Dawkins and his friends have been negative—attacking atheistic ideas without putting anything positive in their place. I felt this was a mistaken strategy and in Who made God? I have advanced a biblical worldview to trump the nihilistic worldview of atheism. This is why the book has the sub-title; "Searching for a Theory of Everything". That theory, I propose, is the ‘biblical hypothesis of God,' namely, what the Bible teaches concerning ‘life, the universe and everything.'
AC: Why can't we accept evolution and creation? Could God not have used evolution as his method of creating life and humanity?
EHA: Well, of course, many Christians do adopt this ‘theistic evolution' (TE) position but I believe it is mistaken—it is attractive as a get-out but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. That's not a problem for theological liberals, of course, but if you want to retain the Bible as the bedrock of your faith you can't have evolution as the cause of your existence!
Firstly, TE is based on the false philosophical assumption that God can only work through natural process. Its whole purpose is to eliminate all miraculous elements from the work of creation. Yet the Bible makes no sense if we rule out miraculous acts of God such as creation ex nihilo and the resurrection of Christ. If we adopt this position we play into the hands of atheism.
Secondly, if modern man evolved from apes, as evolution (or "common descent") requires, then there were no such people as Adam and Eve—because Homo sapiens would have emerged from an evolving population of its ancestors. I know that TE can argue that God chose a pair of these animal ancestors and simply implanted them with a spiritual nature, thus creating mankind. But I argue in Who made God? that to implant the unique characteristics of human beings (such as a spiritual nature) would have required huge changes in the brains of the chosen couple. This in turn would require a physical miracle as the key step in man's creation—reintroducing the very thing that theistic evolution is designed to avoid.
The historical existence of Adam and Eve lies at the heart of the Bible's doctrine of sin and thus also of salvation (see for example Romans 5:12-21). To jettison the reality of Adam and Eve is to throw away the whole gospel. The full biblical case against theistic evolution is well set out in chapters 3-5 of a recent book from IVP entitled Should Christians Embrace Evolution?
But then again, there are serious scientific reasons for rejecting macro-evolution. (Note that the so-called micro-evolution that produces different varieties within species is no problem; it occurs in artificial breeding programs and is actually taught in the Bible, which tells us that all races of mankind have descended from a single pair). One such reason is the demonstrable inadequacy of macro-evolution's claimed mechanism (random mutations acted upon by natural selection) to account for the inexorable progress of life from simple beginnings to fantastic complexity which evolution proposes and seeks to explain.
An even greater difficulty is how life (characterised by complex information storage and the ingenious genetic code) could have arisen in the first place from chance combinations of chemicals—as required by a purely natural origin-of-life scenario. I go into all the details in the book.
AC: In Who Made God? you talk of conflicting biblical and atheistic worldviews. What exactly do you mean by this?
EHA: I mean that the creation/evolution debate is not ultimately about science or even theology. It is the modern manifestation of an age-old philosophical conflict which pitches biblical theism against atheism. Paul sets it out in Romans 1 where he says that, in turning their backs upon God, mankind "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator," adding that they "did not like to retain God in their knowledge". Because his fallen nature is in rebellion against God, man's natural worldview is basically ‘atheistic' or against God to begin with. This mindset includes not only an outright denial of God's existence but also the worship of false gods.
By contrast, in biblical religion, God's Holy Spirit removes a person's spiritual blindness, shining into their hearts "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). Spiritual sight replaces spiritual darkness and the person begins to see that the Bible is God's revealed wisdom—imparting a new and radical understanding of God, man, life and everything. This biblical worldview must necessarily be in conflict with that of atheism. There is no fence to sit on between the two concepts of reality.
AC: What kind of people should read your book, and why? EHA: It was written firstly for the person-in-the-street who has been exposed to the unremitting atheistic evolutionary propaganda put out by the mass media and even by governmental and educational establishments. Because the biblical worldview has been largely expunged from the media and education in modern Western countries, atheism has become the default worldview of the masses. I wrote my book to engage the attention of such folk and show them that biblical Christianity is in fact a more rational position than atheism.
Secondly, however, I want Christians to read it because it will equip them to resist and fight back against the taunts and arguments of the world. It will help them understand, for example, that science (rightly-so-called) actually supports biblical teaching rather than atheism and will allow them to hold up their heads in a modern educated society.
AC: In your opinion, why has Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion sold two million copies? Can a Christian book ever match this performance? EHA: This brings us back to Romans 1. In ancient times mankind "did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (v.28) and nothing has changed. Paul's chapter makes it clear that man's denial of God is wilful—we do not want to be answerable to God—and the easiest way out is to deny his existence. Potentially, therefore, Dawkins and his fellow atheists have a receptive audience not far short of the world's population!
So, no, I never expect a Christian rebuttal of atheism to have anything like the same appeal to people in general. However, if God is the sovereign ruler of the universe as the Bible teaches, then we can be sure that appropriate Christian testimony will reach the people he intends to graciously save from their rebellion and bring to a knowledge of himself through Jesus Christ.
AC: Many Christians think the creation vs. evolution debate is a sideline for real scientists and a waste of time for the ordinary believer. Shouldn't we just get on with the work of evangelism? Why should people bother to read your book (or others like it)?
EHA: I hope that some of my earlier answers are helpful here. For many unchurched people, evolutionary atheism is a powerful intellectual shield against the gospel and it needs to be undermined if the Christian message is to penetrate their defences!
The apostle Paul says; "the weapons of our warfare and not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). That's a perfect description of what I and others are seeking to do in opposing the arguments and self-exaltation of the prevailing atheistic worldview. Pulling down these intellectual strongholds is an essential element in our proclamation of the gospel among our current generation. We need the church at large and all Christians to recognize the kind of warfare they are engaged in—and to engage themselves in battle against the powers of intellectual and spiritual darkness.
For more information about Dr. Andrews and the book Who Made God? visit his website, www.whomadegod.org.
Edgar H. Andrews (BSc, PhD, DSc, FInstP, FIMMM, CEng, CPhys.) is Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London and an international expert on the science of large molecules (i.e. polymers). In 1967 he set up the Department of Materials at Queen Mary College, University of London, and served both as its Head and later as Dean of Engineering. He has published well over 100 scientific research papers and books, together with two Bible Commentaries and various works on science and religion and on theology. His book From Nothing to Nature has been translated into ten languages.
Edgar Andrews was an international consultant to the Dow Chemical Company (USA) for over thirty years and to the 3M Company (USA) for twenty years. He was a non-executive director of Denbyware PLC throughout the 1970s and for five years a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Neste Oy, the national oil company of Finland. He also acted for many years as an expert scientific witness in a variety of cases in the British High Court and in courts in USA and Canada.
In September 1972 he was one of four specially invited speakers at the dedication symposium of the Michigan Molecular Institute, two of the others being Nobel Laureates Paul Flory and Melvin Calvin.
Who Made God? , written by Professor Edgar H. Andrews, published by EP Books, Darlington, England © 2009.