Christ or Chaos (Crossway 2016, $10.99) Dan DeWitt
More than half of those raised in Southern Baptist churches leave the faith within two years of high school graduation, according to recent surveys. But precious few resources help young adults navigate the perilous intellectual and spiritual landscape of higher education. In his new book Christ or Chaos, Boyce College Dean Dan DeWitt demonstrates the stakes of the Christian worldview and outlines a coherent defense against atheism.
“The cosmos is telling an ancient story, a primal creed,” DeWitt writes. “That’s part of what distinguishes cosmos from chaos in the Christian framework. The ebb and flow of human history seems to be governed by a moral compass, just as the gravitational pull of the sun and moon controls the tide. And this splendor and goodness in the world appears to defy scientific explanation.”
Much like his 2014 book Jesus or Nothing, DeWitt presents his apologetic through a narrative framework. In Christ or Chaos, DeWitt introduces the reader to a college student named Thomas, whose childhood friend and now roommate Zach tries to convince him that Christianity is “irrational and detached from reality.”
Each of the book’s seven chapters considers a worldview theme, like the origin of the universe, evidence of God in creation, the problem of evil, and intrinsic knowledge of the divine. Hearkening back to Dorothy Sayers’ speech “Creed or Chaos,” DeWitt argues Christianity provides the only rationally satisfying explanation for the cosmos, and that embracing atheism rejects purpose and meaning in life.
“One story begins in chance and ends in chaos. Another begins with the Word and ends in life. Choose your story wisely,” DeWitt writes, referencing the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.
Contrary to his friend’s claims, the main character Zach discovers the Bible is “big enough to fit in both science and humanity” and “makes sense out of mankind’s longing for purpose and meaning.”
“Science tells us much,” DeWitt writes. “Scripture tells us more. It speaks where science is silent. It can account for the world, and it is big enough still to account for us with all of our wonder and longing and artistic expressions.”
DeWitt’s penchant for storytelling — he is self-publishing a children’s novella series The Owlings — shines through his examination of philosophical themes. In addition to the book’s narrative framework, DeWitt also cites frequently C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, showing how their apologetics works and novels spoke to specific cultural crises and influenced other thinkers.
In the most interesting of these anecdotes, DeWitt illustrates how Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man, which was a response to H.G. Wells’ evolutionary retelling of human history, led to the conversion of Lewis, whose works then awakened his later-to-be wife from the atheism she inherited from Wells. For DeWitt, all this demonstrates our lives do not begin with “impersonal causes and fortuitous effects” but a Creator God who has woven our stories into the fabric of the universe.
At 144 pages, Christ or Chaos is easy to digest and provides an exceptional tool for preparing young adults to think through philosophical challenges to the Christian faith. Along with The Owlings and Jesus or Nothing, DeWitt is steadily building a library of simple and accessible resources to safeguard future generations of young believers. This book is a wise investment for pastors to use in discipling families and youth alike.