Book review entries
November 03, 2004
As it’s that time of the year, when finalist scrabble around, trying to work out what to do next year. As a (possible) help during this time, I’d though that I’d post a review of this book, which I had found particularly helpful.
Are You a Christian? What do you understand God’s will to be? I’d be willing to bet that at least some of you think that God has a perfect will for your life that you are supposed to find out. A plan for you, which described all the major decisions of your life, your job, spouse and many other details. If this is so, you may be surprised to find that I (and this book) don’t agree with you on this.
The book starts by describing this view (termed the “traditional view”) that God has a plan for our lives and that we receive guidance through methods such as “open and closed doors”, “feeling led” and “the still, small, voice”. Once the view has been well explained, through the foil of a fictional seminar, the book continues to critique this view, explaining how it is based on a poor use and understanding of scriptures, and how some of the reasons given in support of the view do not apply. The author then presents an alternative to the “traditional method” called the “wisdom method”.
The “wisdom method” holds that God does not have an “individual will” for our lives, but rather that all of God’s will can be summed up within two categories, God’s sovereign will and God’s moral will. Basically God’s sovereign will is all the things that god decrees will happen. It is hidden (mostly) from us, and does not play an active part in our decision, although some of it is revealed in the bible. God’s moral will is the part that we must concern ourselves with in making decisions. It is fully revealed in the bible and our decisions must be made within it. We may use wisdom in applying god’s moral will to our lives, or we may be in an area not covered by god’s moral will. We must finally submit in advance to God’s sovereign will, being prepared for him to sovereignty intervene and redirect us through whatever means he wills (see James).
The book also examines the application of this viewpoint to many areas of life such as the decision about going into ministry or getting married. For this reason the sections of the book that actually apply to all people are considerably shorter than the whole book, so do not be out off by the large size. The book is also big because of the careful exegesis given to each of the relevant passages rather than a cursory evaluation.
Overall, this book is very useful, if you are seeking to understand how to follow God’s will for the rest of your life. If you read it you may just be surprised at the freedom we have in Christ to do what we desire.
P.S. if you want to borrow the book, or a set of CDs containing teaching based on the book, please ask me, I’d be happy to lend them out.
October 16, 2004
I have just finished reading this book for the second time, so I though I would give my thoughts on this book as a biochemistry student.
I will assume that readers of this review are familiar with the concept of evolution.
In the book Michael Behe argues based on analogies with some mechanical systems (the mousetrap) that there are “Irreducibly complex” systems within organisms that demand an intelegent designer.
The “irreducible complexity” argument relies on there being biological systems that completely fail when one component is removed. A mechanical example of this given by Behe is a mouse trap (p42 fig 2–2) which will not function at all if one component is removed. Behe then describes various biochemical systems and pathways such as the vision event in rods in the eye, blood clotting, the cilia, the bacterial flagellum and intracellular transport (ask me if you need these explaining to you). He shows that each of these systems is nonfunctional if components are removed and in some cases are actually detrimental and dangerous to the organism in question when incomplete (e.g. unregulated blood clotting). The “irreducible complexity” of these systems argues for an “intelligent designer” that can place these systems in place complete. Behe also defends the “intelegent designer” concept from the argument that states that some organisms appear to have features that (according to those suggesting this) are not perfectly designed so (supposedly) refuting intelligent design.
The book is friendly and accessible to both laymen and scientists, each deriving his own from the book. The layman will become more educated about biochemical systems, and the scientist will find extensions of the argument into his own area of interest.
In conclusion: this book should be read, and read carefully. It will do you no good to casually read this and/or to vent your spleen on it because it challenges evolution. Read it carefully, analyzing the points made and you will find a well reasoned argument. It may or may not convince you, but no doubt you will better off for reading this book carefully, since carefully study of issues always improves your mind.
I suggest that you treat reading this book like you would a science textbook or paper, read it carefully, going back over sections and making notes. This is no light book so the more effort spent on reading and understanding it the more usefulness you will derive from it.