Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: God's Not Dead by Rice Broocks

“There is evidence for an intelligent Creator everywhere you look. To say there is no evidence for this Creator is like saying the thousands of paintings in an art museum couldn’t have been painted because there are no artists visible in the gallery.”

After making this statement in the preface of his book, God's Not Dead, Pastor/Apologist Rice Broocks proceeds to present the evidence in a clear, straightforward, readable fashion. He begins with a look at atheism, remarking on its irrationalism and its failure as a viable worldview. He then moves quickly into the issue of faith, quoting C.S Lewis’ statement that “faith is actually holding on to what your reason has led you to conclude despite your changing moods” (28). He outlines three key ingredients in faith – knowledge, assent and trust. He then explores the function and reliability of science, noting that science and religion are not at odds. The conflict, he says, lies between faith and naturalism.

Broocks then tackles the issue of evil. He discusses the sources of morality, whether humanity is capable of being good apart from the Lord, Kant’s categorical imperative, and Darwinian ethics, concluding with Dostoevsky’s statement that, without God, everything is permissible.

The author then explores the origins of humanity and the universe, starting with the statement that “there was a beginning” (66). He looks at the implications of the big bang and the lengths to which some skeptics have gone to redefine the word ‘nothing’ to make it mean ‘something’, focusing on the statements of atheists Lawrence Krauss, Victor Stenger and Michael Shermer in particular. He also discusses the fine-tuning of the universe and gives his views on the multiverse hypothesis.

In a chapter entitled Life is No Accident, Broocks notes that Darwin, in his Origin of the Species, presented his theory about just that – the origin of different species, not the origin of life itself. Distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution, the author discusses the issues of irreducible complexity, using the examples of bacterial flagellum and the human eye. He then offers his thoughts on the “God of the gaps” and the Cambrian explosion, two common subjects for debate.

Broocks concludes that life has meaning and purpose, noting that humans long for “a solid sense” of both (119). Man is “not just another animal” (124). The author explores what this means, concentrating on issues such as metacognition, aesthetic values, language, creativity, morality and spirituality. Ultimately, he asserts that “a pointless beginning points to a pointless existence” and, without the Creator God, we would not have any ultimate meaning or purpose beyond the self-centred, arbitrary individual goals we set for ourselves.

Broocks then makes a case for the reality of Jesus and his resurrection, assessing the nonbiblical sources that attest to his life. He notes that even critic Bart Ehrman, no fan of Christianity, recognizes that Jesus did walk this earth. He then lists Lee Strobel’s “five Es” – execution, empty tomb, eyewitnesses, early records and emergence of the church – which “represent the events that history points to as factual” (153).

The author also assesses the reliability of Scripture. He discusses the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and notes the historical accuracy of the Bible, commenting on such aspects as its many fulfilled prophecies and the careful transmission of the text. In sitting down with preeminent Textual Critic Scholar Dan Wallace, he says he came away with three distinct principles – that the Bible is true in what it tells, true in what it teaches and true in what it touches – all of which “point definitively to the truth that the Bible is a divinely inspired work that serves as a trustworthy witness to the existence of God” (184).

In a chapter entitled The Grace Effect, Broocks outlines how the grace of God has positively impacted the world, listing examples of how Christians have worked to emphasize the dignity of life, to protect children and elevate the status of women, to promote better education and health-care, and to end slavery as they have attempted to live out the love of God in their lives.

Lastly, the author presents examples of God at work in a variety of places around the world. He includes the stories of several ex-atheists and how they came to the Lord – stories such as that of Ming Wang, one of the world’s foremost laser eye surgeons, Physicist Brian Miller and Professional Illusionist Jim Munroe who says that unbelief is the real illusion in life.

Those who have been studying apologetics in depth for some time will not find anything new in Broocks’ book. Indeed, some may wish that he had spent more time on the individual topics as he just touches the surface of many. However, he makes it clear that he is presenting an overview only. He quotes many scholars including William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Alvin Plantiga, J. P. Moreland, Hugh Ross and others. The reader has only to check out the footnotes to discover material that deals with all the subjects more thoroughly.

Broocks himself notes that he wrote God's Not Dead for three types of people – the seeker who is attempting to believe but faces doubts about whether God is real, the believer who knows God is real subjectively but cannot easily articulate this faith to the unbeliever, and the skeptic with the pre-determined mindset that there is no God.

People just beginning their studies in apologetics will find this book most helpful. Broocks has a way of taking the complex and writing about it simply so that the information is accessible to all. Therefore, it is recommended.

Apologetics 315 Book Reviewer Mary Lou is a Canadian journalist who has just completed her Masters in Theological Studies. She writes fiction, poetry and plays as well as non-fiction.


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