Cold Case Christianity For Kids, mother and daughter team review – Chapter Three, part 2

My daughter and I, both atheists, are teaming up to review J. Warner Wallace’s apologetics book ‘Cold Case Christianity For Kids’. All posts in the series are collected here.


Jeffries is about to explain the indirect evidence for the existence of God. Which he illustrates with diagrams. This cues a joke about ‘Better to be an artist than a con artist!’ which Wallace seems to have written so that he can put in one of his little grey inset boxes with the question ‘Some people think the disciples of Jesus were con artists, but is this a reasonable conclusion?’ No, Wallace, I do not think they had any good motivation to try a con that would have put their lives on the line and I do agree they believed what they were saying about the risen Jesus, but that does not mean they were right.

“You know,” Katie said thoughtfully of Jeffries “I think he might be a con artist, because he’s trying to trick them into being Christians.”

I…. couldn’t actually counter that. As previously mentioned, one probably unintentional effect of Wallace’s writing format for this book is that Jeffries is in effect presented as running a fairly blatant Christian evangelising class disguised as a police cadet class. I don’t think Wallace deliberately meant it that way – I think he’d probably be quite shocked if he heard it described that way – but that still is what the description in his book comes down to, and it’s really not OK.

Anyway, Jeffries assures the cadets ‘”This won’t be difficult to sketch out”‘ and proceeds to draw a line of falling dominoes (to indicate First Cause), which sounded quite difficult to sketch out as far as I was concerned. Katie, the family artist, assured me that for someone who was good at art it wouldn’t be that difficult, but pointed out that drawing it on a whiteboard, as Jeffries was, would be pretty difficult; whiteboards are hard to draw on. Jeffries goes on to illustrate his other points with pictures of a designer’s compass, a DNA molecule, a – you have got to be kidding me – a microscope, and two Ten Commandments-style stone tablets, so, excuse me, but I do not really buy this “This won’t be difficult to sketch out” line. #overthinkingit #seriouslysidetracked

Ahem. The indirect evidence? Ah, yes. Back to Jeffries’ speech:

“First, we’re in a universe that began to exist, just like we talked about before. What made it begin?

“A potato,” Katie suggested.

Whatever it is, it would have to be something outside of space, time, and matter. We know that God fits that description.”

“No, no, no, it’s a potato. But it’s a very lonely potato, so it made a whole universe so it can have friends.”

Jeffries draws a set of falling dominoes on the board….


HE IS THE LORD AND SAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


…all of which was actually typed by Katie, who grabbed the computer from me to type about her new religion of potato-worship. I clearly wasn’t going to get much insightful conversation about the book that evening.

Having thus covered nothing whatsoever of use in this post, I shall end it here and move on to – I hope – actually answering some of the points properly in my next post.


  1. Owlmirror says

    a line of falling dominoes (to indicate First Cause)

    Dominoes can be put in a circle to demonstrate a causal loop. Theists might counter that no-one has seen a causal loop, but then, no-one has seen a God (or a Prime Potato), either.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    The FSM has run its course.
    I’m happy to switch to The One True Potato.

  3. Dr Sarah says

    In terms of this analogy, would that mean that time was circular and the end of the universe somehow caused its beginnings? Out of interest, is that an actual theory?

  4. Dr Sarah says

    Why switch? Surely the Great Potato and the FSM can co-exist in joyous carbohydrate-based harmony.

    By the way, Katie went on to develop this into a more detailed religious view that involved parsnips being evil and The Carrot being the messenger of The Potato. She then did a presentation on this for her school class (the topic was meant to be traditions at [Christmas] time; every time I pointed out to her that this was not in fact a tradition but something she’d made up two months earlier, she protested indignantly that I was criticising her religion and must stop speaking out against the Potato). I have no idea what her class made of it.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    In all seriousness, I think your daughter shows a lot of insight into the logical fallacy that is being used here:

    Whatever it is, it would have to be something outside of space, time, and matter. We know that God fits that description.

    A lot of people would miss the trick here, which is to define X so that it fits into a convenient gap, then state that the gap exists, and therefore take that as evidence of X, as in:
    “We all know that unicorns like to live beneath inverted baskets. And look, I happen to have an inverted basket right here. Hence, unicorns are real!”
    Katie is smart enough to realize that definitions are not the same as evidence, and can’t be used to “prove” anything. Because really, if you’re just going to rely on definitions to make your point — why not a potato? Since we’re talking about imaginary entities, we can assign them any qualities we want, so why not potato-ness?

    Very astute, Katie.

  6. Owlmirror says

    I seem to remember reading about a scenario involving child universes, where a parent universe would give rise to a child universe, and the child universe could give rise to another child universe, and that [grand]child universe could give rise to the original [grand]parent universe. But I can’t find the paper again (there’s lots of stuff on child universes out there), and maybe I misunderstood it.

    I do know that cosmologists talk about closed timelike curves (which technically are a form of time-travel) as a logical possibility arising from the current understanding of General Relativity, but I haven’t found anyone suggesting that the whole universe is the result of a closed timelike curve, or (on the other hand) why such a scenario can be ruled out.

  7. Owlmirror says

    This page may have what I was thinking of, and other weird and interesting scenarios besides:

    Descriptions of Scientifically Based Hypothesized Universes

    Continuous loop Self creating universes
    An infinite and continuous loop, and that that loop could serve as the “trunk” of a tree that sprouted, giving rise all universes.
    In 1998, J. Richard Gott and Li Xin Li . Gott and Li showed that it was possible to solve Einstein’s equations of general relativity in such a way that a universe started off going around and around in a continuous loop, and that that loop could serve as the “trunk” of a tree that sprouted, giving rise to our own universe. The way to read this image is that for the most part, time travels from bottom to top, and that everything begins with the little loop at the bottom. That is the origin of the universe. This means that the universe has no beginning, since the loop goes around and around infinitely.

  8. Dr Sarah says

    Strewth. I’m continually amazed that there are people who can actually get their heads around this stuff well enough to construct theories about it. Thanks!

  9. StevoR says

    I know its necromancing the thread (just been going though and reading these literally years later) but can’t resist noting this here where its apt :

    @ 5. Dr Sarah says :

    In terms of this analogy, would that mean that time was circular and the end of the universe somehow caused its beginnings? Out of interest, is that an actual theory?

    Not sure if its an exact match but it sounds a lot like the Oscillating Universe idea which was briefly in vogue and hypothesised that our universe would cease expanding then collapse into a “Big Cruckh” only torebound into a whole new (or the same?) cosmos. There was a beautifully illustrated old popular astronomy book somewhere that I vividly recall reading on this. Or including this anyhow.

  10. StevoR says

    ^ Big Crunch that is. One of three competing “final fates ” once thought possible for the end (?) of our universe :

    1) The eternal expansion leading to the Heat Death of the cosmos where everything kept expanding eternally getting further apart and dimmer all the time until the stars froze, matter maybe even incl the proton decayed and that was basically that. This relied on there being less matter than necessary to overcome to the expansion through gravity and meant our universe was also menat our was saddle shaped if memory serves.

    2) Versus the Big Cruch where there was enough matter that gravity eventually slowed the current expansion of our cosmos to a standstill then slowly dragegd things backwards until everything fell together again heating up and colliding over trillions of years with the potential formation of another universe as it rebounded after reaching initial universe type conditions in the collapse. In this scenario I think our cosmos was spherical (?) but could be mistaken. It was also suggested before the discovery of Dark Energy I think and certainly before we* discovered from white dwarf supernovae that the expansion of our universe is actually accelerating ruling this & the oscillating universe extension of it out.

    See also :

    Or 3 what cosmologists now think most likely (at least from what I gather) which is the “Big Rip” theory that the expansion of universe driven by Dark Energy actually accelerates and eventually moves to smaller scales ripping apart first galaxy clusters, then galaxies then star & planetary sysystems and eventually even atoms and sub-atomic particles.

    Then there are the ideas of multiverses and brane** theory (~ies?) and more but that’s probly going way too overboard & off topic even for me here!

    * Including famously here in Oz science circles Brian Schmidt (sp?) who won a Nobel for it along with others also involved.

    ** Not a typo for once – a.k.a. M-theory if memory serves.

  11. StevoR says

    ^ Fix for clarity : This relied on there being less matter than necessary to overcome to the expansion through gravity and also meant our universe was saddle shaped if memory serves.”

    Found it! 🙂

    That book I mentioned in my first post above is ‘The Universe : A voyage through Space & Time’ by Nigel Henbest. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992.)

    In the Big Crunch, the entire universe collapses to such a small size that it can be held in the palm of the hand. But this fiery concentration of energy cannot be kept within bounds. In an instant it bounces back starting to expand again. It is the seed that can generate another universe; perhaps only one in an infinite number of Big Crunches and Big Bangs. From the Big Crunch that marks the end of our Universe we can look forward to the birth of another Universe in a new Big Bang…”

    – Page 74 & the way that book actually ends.

    Kinda nice idea really, pity its clearly untrue.

    Oh and that Henbest Universe book does have some absolutely splendid spaceart in it too.

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