If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen me repeatedly recommend the book Cold-Case Christianity by detective J. Warner Wallace. It’s my go-to book to help people start learning the case for Christianity. I love how he uniquely and compellingly uses a detective’s skill set to investigate the claims of the Gospels.
Today I’m excited to tell you that Det. Wallace has a new book coming out August 1st that will now powerfully help readers learn the case for God.
Det. Wallace’s new book is called God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe, and I had the opportunity to read a pre-release copy.
Christian parents, you need this book.
God’s Crime Scene brilliantly lays out the case for God’s existence based on cumulative evidence from the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, the origin of life, the design of life, our experience of consciousness, free will, and morality. In each chapter, Det. Wallace evaluates possible explanations for these pieces of evidence, just as a detective would evaluate possible explanations for evidence found at a crime scene. In the process, he points readers to “expert witnesses” who vary in their conclusions about the evidence and then provides an excellent reading list at the end of the book so the reader can continue to study both sides of the issue. One of the things I loved most about the book is that each chapter adds to an emerging “suspect” profile that characterizes the nature of who or what must be responsible for the evidence presented. Det. Wallace also includes 70-plus pages of a more in-depth “secondary investigation” at the end with a chapter-by-chapter dive into greater detail for those wanting to know more.
If you want to learn the evidence for God’s existence (which every parent should), I can’t think of a better place to start. And here’s an exciting opportunity: Starting August 17, I’ll be leading a read-along in the Facebook group “Apologetics for Parents.” We’re simply reading a chapter per week together and discussing the material. So grab your copy of the book, request to join the Facebook group, and read chapter 1 by August 17.
I had the honor of interviewing Det. Wallace about God’s Crime Scene this week and I’m thrilled to share what he had to say.
I love God’s Crime Scene because it’s engaging, it’s appropriate for “beginners” while digging much deeper than most entry-level books on the same subject, it’s highly memorable given your unique detective’s approach and illustrations, and it points readers to the resources they need next. Because of those characteristics, it’s not only a great book for parents, it’s also a great book for parents to read with their (older) kids—no experience necessary! What tips do you have for a parent who might want to study God’s Crime Scene with their teens?
I became a Christian while in the middle of a career as a homicide detective, and I soon realized my professional experience provided me with a unique opportunity to help people examine the evidence for Christianity and theism (the belief in God). Let’s face it, everyone watches detective shows. If I told you we could look at the evidence for God and Jesus while simultaneously mastering some of the tools detectives use to investigate murders, do you think you (or your kids) might be interested? That’s the goal of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. Let me explain the approach in the latest book.
Not every death scene is a murder scene. There are four ways to die and only one is criminal. People die from natural causes, accidents or by committing suicide. Some are murdered. How do detectives determine which kind of death they have? One approach is a “game” I call, “inside or outside the room”. Here’s how it works. I look at all the evidence in the room and ask a simple question: Can I explain all the evidence in the room by staying in the room? If I can, it’s probably a natural death, an accident or a suicide. If, for example, the victim has suffered a gunshot wound and there’s a pistol in the room, but the gun is registered to the victim, all the DNA and fingerprints in the room belong to him, and the doors are locked from the inside with no signs of an intruder, this is probably an accidental death or a suicide. If, on the other hand, the gun does not belong to the victim, there is foreign DNA and foreign fingerprints in the space, and there are bloody footprints leading out of the room, I’ve got a problem. Now the evidence in the room can’t be explained by staying in the room. The best explanation for this evidence lies outside the room. As a result, I have to consider the very real possibility of a murder.
In God’s Crime Scene, I take the same approach with the “room” of the universe. I examine eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the universe and ask the simple question: “Can we explain these eight pieces of evidence by staying ‘inside the room’?” If you (and your kids) are interested in murder investigations, I bet you’ll learn something as you engage the most important case you could ever study as a family.
As the influence of atheists in America continues to grow, kids of all ages will increasingly be challenged in their faith. That means it’s vital for Christian parents to (1) know there is evidence for God (outside the Bible) that exists, (2) understand that evidence, and (3) articulate that evidence to their kids. For those parents who haven’t yet embraced that role, can you further explain why this extra-biblical evidence—which you detail in God’s Crime Scene—is so important today?
When I ask Christians around the country why they are believers (as I speak in churches, seminars, conferences, schools and universities), I typically get one of three answers: 1) I was raised in the church, 2) I’ve had an experience that was compelling for me or 3) My involvement in Christianity changed my life. Now think about that for a minute. Those are the same three answers nearly every believer, in nearly every worldview, offers for why they think their view is true. Everyone can point to their religious documents, their family history or their personal experiences. I have six brothers and sisters who were raised as Mormons, and they could also offer the same three answers.
Unlike the vast majority of religious worldviews, however, Christianity makes a claim about an event in history (the resurrection of Jesus) that can actually withstand historical and evidential scrutiny. As Christians, we can make a case for the resurrection and the supernatural intervention of God if we simply choose to. Now is the time to make that choice.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, young American believers are at a critical crossroad. Every study reveals the same disturbing attrition rate, and when questioned, young ex-Christians (and ex-theists) typically point to intellectual skepticism as a key contributor. If you’re a Christian parent, ask yourself a question: If your child came to you with serious scientific or philosophical doubts related to theism or Christianity, would you be ready (and able) to answer their objections or address their concerns? It’s time to get in the game and accept our parental responsibility in this important area.
God’s Crime Scene is primarily a scientific and philosophical investigation. Even though you’ve made it extremely accessible for people of any background, some parents reading this interview might be intimidated by those subjects. What encouragement would you offer them to dive in regardless of their perceived abilities in these areas?
All of us are willing to raise the bar for some aspect of our lives once we’re convinced there’s a need. If you’ve had a heart attack, I bet you’re now willing to exercise and watch your diet like never before. If your kids are gifted in some sport, I bet you’re willing to travel or spend more than ever before so they can be part of a club team that will expose them to college scouts. If you’ve got the chance to be promoted at work, I bet you’re willing to go the extra mile to prepare yourself for the challenge. Once we’re convinced there’s a need, most of us are willing to do whatever it takes.
Well, what if I told you that your ability to make a case for what you believe as a Christian might be the one essential skill set required to help your child develop a reasonable, passionate and engaged relationship with the God of the universe? Think you might be willing spend a few less hours watching Family Feud or posting kitten pictures on Facebook? Once we understand what’s at stake, I think the challenge becomes more reasonable and achievable. When our kids come to us with a doubt or concern, they don’t want us to usher them toward some apologetics book. They want us to give them the answer. They want to see a reasonable faith modeled in our lives. The most important “apologists” our kids will ever engage is us. That’s why we need to read, study and prepare ourselves to answer our kids’ questions. It’s not really a matter of whether we are smart enough to answer the test, it’s more a matter of whether we are motivated enough to meet the challenge.
One of my favorite things about God’s Crime Scene is how you systematically build a “suspect profile” of who or what is “intruding” in our universe from the evidence presented. It really powerfully shows how individual pieces of evidence can be important and compelling, but as a detective you have to put it all together before you can see the big picture. Can you describe the profile you build in the book and help readers understand how those combined characteristics of the “divine intruder” are consistent with the God of the Bible (even though your investigation is not based on the Bible at all)?
I’ve been working criminal cases for over 25 years (my area of specialization has been cold-case murders). I’ve learned two important truths about evidential cases. First, the most compelling cases are those built cumulatively with a number of diverse forms of evidence. Second, every piece of evidence in a case tells you something important about the nature and character of the suspect. As it turns out, the evidence in the universe points cumulatively to a “Divine Intruder” of a very particular kind.
I believe a strong case can be made for the God of the Bible (describing His nature and character) without ever having to rely on the specific teaching of the Christian Scriptures. When young people realize this, and come to appreciate how the evidence in the universe confirms the Biblical description of God, their confidence in Scripture soars. My hope is that God’s Crime Scene not only makes a compelling case for non-believers, but encourages and equips believers (young and old alike) to have confidence in their Christian worldview.
You speak to youth all over the country and have a great pulse on the specific faith challenges they are facing. Of all the arguments against God’s existence that you talk about in God’s Crime Scene, which one would you say kids are most likely to encounter and be challenged by?
Not much has really changed in all the years people have been making the case for God’s existence and the truth of the Christian worldview. The problem of evil continues to provide fuel for those who are truly struggling and for those who are simply looking for an excuse to reject God. If there is an all-powerful, all-loving God, why does he allow all the junk our young people see in the world around them? Is God unable to stop all this nonsense? If so, He’s not all-powerful. Is He simply unwilling to intervene? If so, He’s not all loving. In either case, many young people still have difficulty reconciling the existence and nature of God with the existence and nature of the atrocities they’ve studied in history or observed in the media.
In God’s Crime Scene, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to this issue and used it as an opportunity to teach readers about the important distinction between inculpating and exculpating evidence. I’ve done my best (as someone who has probably seen more evil firsthand than most of the Christian case makers writing about this topic) to provide a robust, interconnected and thorough response. It’s definitely not an easy issue to address in a single chapter, but I hope to give young people a lens through which they can evaluate and respond to the objection.
Can you tell us what your next book project will be?
From the beginning, it was my hope to write a trilogy of books and my publisher, David C. Cook, has been kind enough to partner with me in this mission. I’ll start writing again in about a month. The first book (Cold-Case Christianity) made the case for Christianity. The second book (God’s Crime Scene) makes the case for God’s existence. My third book will simply make the case for making the case!
Sadly, only about 5-10% of the Church cares at all about the evidence supporting their Christian worldview, and very few believers appreciate the need for a more evidential faith. Sometimes when I speak to church groups, I’ve got to make a case for case-making before I can begin to make the case for the Resurrection, the reliability of the Bible or the truth of God’s existence. My third book will present the case for a more evidential approach to the Christian life as it provides readers with the disciplines used by detectives to investigate cases, the disciplines employed by prosecutors to articulate cases, and the disciplines practiced by police officers to train and “stay in shape.” Once this third book is completed, we’ll be creating curriculum for the trilogy. In the meantime, you can track our progress at www.ColdCaseChristianity.com.
Many thanks to Det. Wallace for his time in answering these questions! He blogs every day at coldcasechristianity.com and I can tell you it’s the ONLY blog I’m willing to get a post from in my email on a daily basis. If you don’t already subscribe to it, you need to.