Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer

Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

In a semi-technical yet readable volume, Meyer expands on his case for Darwins-Doubtintelligent design which he began in an earlier volume—Signature in the Cell. Whereas his focus there was on DNA, here he turns his attention to the so-called “Cambrian Explosion”, the sudden appearance of many complex animals as testified to in various fossil finds. Throughout the book Meyer takes on the various attempts to explain (or explain away) the apparent sudden appearance of these animals that are on offer in the scientific community. In short, he makes it pretty clear that the standard Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian accounts of animal development from a single ancestor through natural selection acting on random mutations are completely inadequate to explain the vast injection of new biological information necessary to generate these animals. The discussion must address technical issues but Meyer does so clearly and makes use of images and illustrations to engage the reader. In the later part of the book Meyer makes his case for the reasonableness of the inference of intelligent design in the development of these animals. He defends intelligent design with reference to the Cambrian Explosion in particular but also more generally as a legitimate scientific option. This book could be an excellent resource for science teachers in both Christian and public schools. The range of literature that Meyer references secures his work against accusations of scholarly cherry-picking. In particular the first and last parts of the book could be useful as they detail the growing dissatisfaction in the evolutionary community with the standard Darwinian model as well as the legitimacy of intelligent design as a scientific position.

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The “Inconvenience of contrition”

I love/hate it when someone puts something bluntly and directly. In reading A History of Sin by John Portmann I came across the quote below. It concerns the discomfort of confession and contrition. I don’t know if the author intended it to be cutting, but it was.

Worshipping God takes time, just as repenting for sin does. Time gets increasingly scarce in the modern world, and atonement fatigue creeps into the picture. Traditional Jews read aloud from the Torah at least three times a week, and good Muslims face Mecca five times a day to pray. What do ordinary beleivers have to show for themeslves, other than some bumper stickers and lip service to “family values”? Part of the Western sin fatigue stems from the inconvenience of contrition. Saying we’re sorry for somethign we really wanted to do gets in the way of our enjoying life. Further, one of the difficult questions sin poses is why people regret it so deeply – is it to show love for God or to protect ourselves from a more severe punishment? (p. xxi)

Living Where Your Soul Is

Fasting is a biblical idea that doesn’t get talked about very much, perhaps because the biblical witness to it is not very extensive. Our perception is that fasting is used when Christians are serious about some prayer concern, as though fasting puts extra pressure on God to come through.

In Luke 5:33-35 Jesus speaks about the discipline of fasting. Jesus associates fasting with the presence or absence of the Bridegroom. It is obvious that the Bridegroom is Jesus himself and that since he is with the disciples in the present, there is no need for them to fast. Implied is the idea that when he is absent they will or even should fast. What does the presence or absence of Jesus have to do with fasting?

Betrothal and marriage were times of great celebration, and still are. Jesus appears to be speaking of his time with the disciples as the period of betrothal. There was joy and celebration with him there. He then reveals that there would be a period of separation between the betrothal (his first coming) and the wedding (his second). Between the two (the period we are now living in!) would be the time for fasting.

The way the New Testament talks about the believer there is a sense in which we experience both of these realities at once: the presence and absence of Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 speaks of how our life is already hidden with Christ in God. Elsewhere Paul writes of how our souls have been resurrected to newness of life while we await the same for our bodies (the absence of Christ part).

In fasting, we choose to focus upon the life of the soul at the expense of the life of the body. We are effectively saying that while we know we can live for a period of time without physical sustenance, we dare not go without spiritual nourishment. One could even say that if we replace the meal with time of prayer, study or worship, we have chosen to live in the future, a future where our souls already exist and our bodies long to.

From another angle, in fasting we are looking forward to the great celebration of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19). By choosing not to eat a meal we remind ourselves that no meal or even feast here can compare with the truest feast of all, that feast when we are united soul and body with Christ perfectly and eternally.