11 October 2010

Book Review: Who Made God by Edgar Andrews

This had been recommended to me a friend and I bought it some time before getting around to reading it. The reason for the delay was the list recommendations on the back of the book. Most notable was the endorsement by John Blanchard, whose own book, Does God Believe in Atheists? left me less than impressed. Thus, I was expecting Who Made God to be more of the same. A couple of other things worried me about the endorsements. There was one by Fay Weldon (who most people have probably heard of) but it was so short that it had the distinct flavour of something curtailed, something that omitted key insights. And the last of the main recommendations came from some random mother and housewife .

I am in danger of judging a book by its cover. However, I am not judging it yet. I am merely noting some warning signs. In terms of the actual cover and print quality, it is very well produced and makes for easy reading.

The approach of the book is to put forward the proposition that God exists and to see what sort of universe that would yield. The author then compares this to the universe we see around us and concludes that the God proposed at the beginning does indeed exist.

Though it is scientifically honest to take approach like this, the author apparently fails to appreciate the notion of Occam's Razor. The trouble is that the conclusions lack exclusivity. In no place can you say “this is due to God uniquely, at the exclusion of all other hypotheses and possibilities.”

The author brushes off some arguments with apparent ease, but which really treat them with a contempt that they do not deserve. For example, at the start of the book, he dismisses the entire field of ontology (several centuries’ worth of philosophical reasoning) in under 3 pages.

Much of the first half of the book is spent taking apart some of the arguments in Victor Stenger's book, God, the failed hypothesis – how science shows that God does not exist. I confess to not having read the book and in order to think well of Victor Stenger, I can only hope that his publisher came up with the title, as it is one that clearly oversteps the marks of any reasonable scientific evidence. One day, I may get around to reading it, but it's not on my rather extensive reading list at the moment.

What does make a refreshing change from some counter-argument books is that the author does put forward his own point firmly, not just limiting himself to pulling the threads on someone else's jumper. But this is where the book ultimately falls down. In making his case, the author isolates himself from just about every school of thought. He makes it clear that he is not a young earth creationist. He also disagrees with the theistic interpretation of evolution, making some rather unjustified cricisms of Francis Collins along the way. The closest school of thought he aligns himself to is intelligent design, though even this is subject to a bit of cold shoulder treatment. Prof Andrews refers to others painting themselves into a corner, though he fails to appreciate that he has done this himself, and now stands in a rather isolated position, having marked his territory with a colour that is quite unlike anything readily identifiable.

The book some have good points, though they are few and far between. I would be highly surprised if any atheists found this at all a convincing treatise for the existence of God and this is by no means in premier league of christian writing. I will not be recommending this one on to anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting development. After I posted this review onto Amazon, I made a discovery. Or rather, the discovery found me. What I hadn't done was check out every other review of the book that had been made. Had I done so, I would have found that the author patrols the website like a hawk, praising all those who give the book positive reviews and putting down those who give it negative reviews. Be warned!

    ReplyDelete