Monday, 6 January 2014

Review of "Cold-Case Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace

It was raining.  It always rains in England.  I don’t know why I live in the goddam country.  Maybe I’m a sap. Maybe it’s because I’m English.

I wasn’t going out in this weather, though.  I poured myself a slug of whisky (no ice) and browsed for something to read.  And here was this book by some cop.  Homicide.  Hard-nosed  and cynical.  He specialised in “cold cases”.  He cracked the ones no one else was able to.  Then he turned his attention to Christianity.  Hard-nosed atheist cop became hard-nosed Christian cop. 

This was going to be interesting.  I was going to get someone who went through the evidence and sifted what’s reliable from what’s not.  He’d knock down the easy arguments, the curve balls of the usual apologist.  So I bought the book and started to read.  There was some good stuff: interesting anecdotes about past cases here, good principles of detection there.  He’s a bit weak on his understanding of abduction.  But what did I expect? C. S. Peirce with a badge?  

But as I went on I had a creepy feeling.  It all sounded too familiar.   Why is he giving me the spiel about pre-suppositions? Where does the Kalam Cosmological Argument fit into evidence?  Or the Teleological, Axiological, or Ontological arguments?  The TRANSCENDENTAL argument?  Gimme a break.  That’s not evidence. That argument is put forward by people who think giving evidence is sinful!   Then there is Habermas’ (Gary’s, not Jurgen’s) “facts” surrounding the resurrection.  Most scholars, apparently, agree on these facts.  So this hard-nosed detective, supposedly able to really get to grips with evidence, who tests his witnesses, who takes nothing for granted just accepts these “facts” because, hell, “they say”. 

What’s going on?  Maybe I should take a tip from the author: pay as much attention to how it is said as what is said.  How is the guy arguing?  False dichotomies? Check.  Glossing over obvious difficulties? Check.  Conflation of “Christian” with “Fundamentalist Christian”? Check.  Oh and what’s this?  Misrepresentations of others statements.  Bingo!

This is a guy with the same fundie belief as the rest of the fundies.  He’s got the same set of weak arguments as the rest of them.   And he’s come to this book with those beliefs and arguments already in place.  

I don’t believe the subtitle.  I don’t believe this is a homicide detective investigating the claims of the Gospels.  I suspect this is a fundie apologist who thinks he has a gimmick.  “Hey” he thinks, “I’m a homicide cop, why don’t I use that to add some gloss to the usual spiel”.


Anonymous said...

Tony, I just stumbled across your post.

Your defense of your position appears to be:
- Wallace must be a fundamentalist
- He has the same weak arguments as everyone else
- He's not even a homicide detective!

Do you have any facts or evidence to support your claims or are we supposed to accept them just as true because you say they are true?


Tony Lloyd said...

Wallace being a "fundie" (a term of dislike I use for particularly annoying fundamentalists) is not a "defense" of anything. It is a conclusion I reach. The evidence for this is summarised in paragraphs 4 and 5.

The "same week arguments" is part of the evidence. I have listed some of them:
1. Pre-suppositionalism
2. Kalam Cosmological Argument
3. Teleological argument
4. Axiological argument
5. Ontological argument
6. Transcendental argument

I would argue that these are all week. They are all, certainly, common apologetics arguments and, thus, "the the rest of them"

I do not say that he is not a homocide detective.