God’s Crime Scene
In this book, Cold-Case Detective and former atheist J. Warner Wallace builds a cumulative case for the existence of God from a homicide detective’s perspective. While some of God’s Crime Scene reminded me of William Lane Craig’s On Guard, including the book size, and “look and feel” from the same publisher, I found Jim’s unique angle on classic arguments for the existence for God inviting.
I really like how he uses the analogy of a crime scene to begin asking questions about the where the universe came from. Instead of just saying “The universe is an effect” and asking, “What’s the most probable cause?”, he invites you to check out the evidence inside “the room” (the universe) in order to see if it points to a “suspect” (a Creator) outside the universe.
Along the way, he treats us to many interesting detective stories. I enjoyed Jim’s fresh take on the cosmological, design and moral arguments and I think you will, too.
It’s just approachable enough for Christians who are new to apologetics and fair enough to give to a non-Christian friend who’s willing to look into the evidence for God for themselves.
3 Things I Enjoyed About God’s Crime Scene
Here are just three things I enjoyed about God’s Crime Scene:
Detective stories with an apologetics tie-in
From the very first story about the apparent suicide of a right-handed man who was found dead with a weapon and fatal injury on his left side, I was hooked on God’s Crime Scene. I loved the way Jim links his detective work in the field to a philosophical investigation. For example, he writes:
[S]everal evidences in the the “room” require explanation. Their origin must be identified before we care decide the correct nature of the scene. As a result of this simple investigation, we determined Richard’s death was a homicide. The evidence inside gave us good reason to believe there was someone we needed to look for outside. In a similar way, we can examine the evidence inside the natural. physical realm of the universe to determine if there is someone we need to look for outside the natural, physical realm.
A Fresh Presentation of Cumulative Case Apologetics
Although the information in God’s Crime Scene isn’t new, Jim’s presentation is fresh and inviting for a popular audience. I enjoyed getting a real-life detective’s perspective as he led me through a fresh investigation for the cause of the universe, the origin of consciousness, objective morality, and weighing this evidence with issues like the problem of evil.
For example, he talks about the difference between inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. Facts that point to a suspect’s involvement in an event are inculpatory. Evidence that might clear a suspect from suspicion of involvement is exculpatory. He says we need to weigh these inculpating evidences against the one potentially exculpating piece of evidence: the presence of evil and injustice. If you like a good crime drama, murder mystery dinner, or even a simple game of Clue (which I do), you’ll love the way he leads you thorough this material.
I also enjoyed his use of acronyms to help the reader remember key ideas. For example, in his discussion of Intelligent Design, he lays out 8 characteristics of things that were designed using the acronym DESIGNED:
D ubious probability (given chance)
E choes of familiarity
S ophistication and intricacy
I nformational dependency
G oal direction (and intentionality)
N atural inexplicability (given laws of physics or chemistry)
E fficiency/irreducible complexity
D ecision/choice reflection
Then, he talks about the classic case of the bacterial flagellum to show how these characteristics point to design in living organisms. His point? Even though just one of these things isn’t going to be a slam-dunk guarantee that something was designed, the more these characteristics begin to stack up, the more confidence you can have that you’re looking at signs of intelligence. Nice!
This might not be the most scholarly reason to buy a book, but I love how the drawings in God’s Crime Scene help summarize arguments visually and make abstract ideas more accessible. Personally, I love these drawings because they give me a memorable “cheat sheet” of sorts that I can carry around with me in my head.
For example, here’s a summary of the components of Jim’s discussion of God and the Problem of Evil:
Having said this, one thing students have told me about the drawings in a similar David C. Cook publishing book, On Guard, is that the drawings kind of made the book appear deceptively simple. You could say the same idea applies here. In other words, the drawings could actually make the content look more accessible than it is to some–especially if these ideas are brand new to you.
Read the Book
God’s Crime Scene is the perfect gateway for someone who may be interested in arguments for the existence of God but isn’t quite ready to dive into a more academic treatment. This one book is an excellent summary of a mountain of research!
In the past, Jim’s talked about the importance of “translating” the heady, academic content so people can get it. That’s my passion, too. So I was pretty excited to see him cover apologetics topics, especially scientific stuff, in an engaging way–without skimping on depth.