A review of God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. J. Warner Wallace. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2015. 320 pp. $17.99.
Weaving intriguing stories of mysterious crimes together with critical evaluation of various types of evidence, J. Warner Wallace takes his readers on a detective investigation of the big questions regarding the universe’s existence. As “a former atheist and seasoned cold-case detective,” Wallace carefully analyzes the details within the universe in order to construct a cumulative case for a divine creator.
In his “Opening Statement,” Wallace charts the course for the whole book. According to Wallace, eight pieces of evidence exist in the universe and demand investigative attention. The book’s core chapters take a close look at each piece by fairly weighing the options available to the detective while allowing for critical engagement from expert witnesses in the respective field. Wallace begins by considering the cause of the universe. He concludes that it must be “external to the universe, non-spatial, atemporal, and nonmaterial, uncaused, and powerful enough to create everything that we see in the universe” (46). From here, Wallace presents a more detailed account of the cause in an attempt to name a potential “suspect.” In addition to the attributes mentioned above, Wallace states that the “suspect” behind the cause of the universe must be “specifically purposeful enough to produce a universe fine-tuned for life” (67).
Having considered two forms of cosmological evidence, Wallace turns his focus toward the biological evidence in the universe, which essentially consists of the origin of life from non-life and the apparent design of biological organisms. He concludes that such evidence points to a “suspect” that is “intelligent, communicative, creative, and resourceful” (118). Next, Wallace addresses a more difficult to explain but undeniable category of evidence, namely, mental evidence. The mental evidence of consciousness and freedom within the universe, as Wallace understands it, points to a transcendently conscious and free being outside of the universe. Wallace concludes the core of his book by investigating the moral evidence, which naturally flows from his discussion of free will and human responsibility within the universe. Like a skilled prosecutor, Wallace makes his cumulative, closing argument for a divine creator. He calls upon the reader to make an informed decision based on the evidence presented, while humbly admitting that his presentation is most certainly not faultless. Additional “Case Files” are made available for deeper study at the end of the book for the interested reader.
This book possesses many strong points worthy of commendation. First, Wallace is a clear and interesting writer that neither insults nor frustrates the intelligence of his reader. For many people, this book will lead them into new uncharted territory. However, Wallace is faithful to lead his readers slowly, carefully, and methodical. It does not take long to sense a rhythm to the book, which makes the unfamiliar content more manageable for the non-specialist. Yet, there is plenty in the book for the specialist. In fact, pages 205-278 are dedicated to a “deeper (more academic) investigation” of the evidence from the core chapters. Wallace’s book contains both milk and meat for the reader, which is a notable accomplishment for a book of this genre.
In addition to the balanced, well-presented content, Wallace masterfully weaves together several investigative stories from his own detective work into the current search for divine creator of the universe. Coupled with the excellent use of illustrations, Wallace’s detective stories hold the reader’s attention in a unique way. Many apologetic works struggle to remain interesting because of their dense collection of data, but Wallace’s work is different. His analogical presentation of difficult or foreign concepts makes for a riveting reading experience. A helpful example of this can be found in Wallace’s explanation and illustration of irreducible complexity (105-9). Even for those that might disagree with Wallace, his work would still be worth reading simply on account of his clarity.
In God’s Crime Scene, Wallace makes a tremendous contribution to all people who value and appreciate critical, humble, and informed thinking. He models for his reader how to ask questions while genuinely listening and evaluating the various answers. Wallace is not afraid of following the evidence or listening to an opposing idea, which makes his cumulative case for a divinely created universe that much more compelling. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has ever struggled to understand or articulate answers to the big questions of the universe’s existence. Wallace will be a helpful guide for any and all that dares to follow the evidence.
Casey B. Hough
Casey B. Hough is pastor of First Baptist Church of Camden, Arkansas, and a PhD student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.