Book Review: 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists by Ken Boa & Rob Bowman
20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists: Discover Why Believing in God Makes So Much Sense by Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr. is a concise yet powerful case for Christianity presented in twenty very readable chapters. The style is engaging, the authors know their subject, and the book is surprisingly substantial for its modest 200 pages. Boa and Bowman’s goal is to present a compelling case for Christianity.
As the title suggests, 20 Compelling Evidences offers just that: cumulative evidence for the God of Christianity. However, the reader should be aware of what this book is not. This isn’t a book of “twenty undeniable proofs” for the existence of God; the authors do not present formal or tedious arguments in each chapter for the existence of God. Instead, the chapters build upon one another in order to provide an overall case for the rationality and truth of Christianity. Although the title claims that the evidences are compelling, the authors quickly acknowledge: “if someone doesn’t want to believe in God, no amount of evidence can force such a person to accept God’s existence as fact.”1
Boa and Bowman begin the book by exploring the concepts of truth and knowledge. What is truth? Can we know truth? How can we know? Chapter three brings the reader to the question of why anything exists at all. With these sorts of epistemological and metaphysical questions, the authors offer good answers without the jargon and build their foundation for the rest of the book. By chapter four they are discussing the beginning of the universe.
Chapters four through seven deal with the universe: its beginning, its fitness for life, and the origin and design of life. Boa and Bowman write these chapters brilliantly, presenting complex data in an extremely readable and interesting manner. There are dozens of quotes by scientists and experts in each area covered. By the end of chapter seven the reader has read a compelling case for theism. For those unfamiliar with the modern presentations of the cosmological and teleological arguments for God’s existence, this is a good first exposure.
Chapter eight shifts from scientific evidences to the nature of man and his condition. This builds a foundation for the second half of the book, which deals with specific evidences for the truth of Christianity in particular. Now the authors approach the evidence for the Bible’s reliability, accuracy, fulfilled prophecy, and profound wisdom. These chapters delve into history, archeology, and textual criticism to present compelling data that the Bible is no ordinary book.
Chapters thirteen through twenty focus on the person of Jesus Christ. Appropriately enough, the authors first make a case for his existence in history, offering ten indisputable historical facts about Jesus. Next, the claims of Christ are examined. Here the reader will find a fresh presentation of C.S. Lewis’s traditional “trilemma” argument: Either Jesus was a lunatic, a liar, or he was Lord. However, the authors add two more L’s to the trilemma: Legend and Lama. That is to say, if Jesus were not a real historical figure, he would be only a legend. If Jesus were only a mystic, then he would be just the local “lama.” The authors present a flowchart of options that illustrate these five options clearly, and the argument gains strength with their subtle augmentation.
Chapters fifteen and sixteen explore evidences for Jesus’ death and his empty tomb. Again the various possibilities concerning the facts and events are presented, leaving the reader to choose the best explanation for the data. Next comes the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection appearances (chapter seventeen). Various historical arguments lend credibility to the accounts, such as Jesus’ appearance to his women followers, the independent Gospel records, and the Apostle Paul’s citation of early creeds, among others. Again the authors present the various alternatives that are open to historians and encourage the reader to consider the best explanation for the data.
Chapters eighteen and nineteen present the evidences of those who lived and died for Christ. The argument here is one from the changed lives of Christ’s followers. Although not conclusive, these evidences do point to the fact that, for those who have given their lives in service to Christ – even to the point of martyrdom – it is undeniable that something profound has taken place. The final chapter of the book explores the uniqueness of Christ and compares the claims of other religious founders to those of Jesus Christ. The authors show that there really is no comparison; Christ is unique and stands apart from all others.
In conclusion, 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists is a very approachable book that is both useful as an introductory apologetics text and suitable as a book for the open agnostic. In addition to containing numerous interesting quotations throughout, each chapter ends with recommendations for further reading. Boa and Bowman even provide a reader’s guide for personal or group study. While their goal is not to present undeniable proofs, the authors do succeed in making a thorough cumulative case for God’s existence, the reliability of the Bible, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
1 Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr., 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2005), p. 8.