Friday, October 21, 2016

Katie Luther: the Graphic Novel

Mother of the Reformation
by Susan K. Leigh
illustrated by Dave Hill
95 pages / 2016

My daughter recently asked, "Why aren't there more girl heroes? Why are the heroes always boys?"

I explained that some of the heroes we read about are soldiers - generals and others – and that these are all boys because boys are bigger and stronger, so they make better soldiers.

But that conversation also set me off in search of good examples of heroic women. And one very good example is Katharina Luther.

An "ordinary" hero?

This graphic novel biography is a sequel of sorts. In 2011 comic the same author and illustrator came out with Luther: Echoes of the Hammer. This sequel is slightly smaller, but every bit as good.

Of course, not everyone will be impressed. I showed it to a friend and flipped through the page to share highlights from Katie Luther's life and he suggested that running a household was just something that women back then did. So, hardly amazing or exceptional.

There's something to that.

On the one hand Katharina was extraordinary: as a nun she read Martin Luther's writings, even though that would have been a risky thing to do. Then, at the risk of grave punishment, she planned an escape from her convent. The first attempt was found out, and she was punished. But she tried again, and got out under cover of night, hidden away with 11 other nuns in empty barrels – she had conviction and courage!

As the comic makes clear, she was also a remarkably capable woman – Luther's household was often very large, with 30 or more students, and as many as 11 children under their care (some of whom were nieces and nephews), plus many others, eating at the table. It was quite a feat to run this all, which was more restaurant and hotel than house.

On the other hand, in many ways what Katharina did is what women have done through the ages: she was an able helpmeet, supporting her husband in his role, even as she took care of the children and managed the house. This supportive role is ordinary in the sense that many wives do this every day, but that hardly makes it unimportant. Supportive roles don't get the same recognition that leadership positions do, but they are every bit as vital.

So this is a book I'm going to share with my daughter in the hopes that Katie Luther will inspire and encourage her in whatever role - whether ordinary or extraordinary - God sets before her.


At 95 pages, this is a comic that takes some time to get through, so it is not a casual, quick read. The artwork is just as the cover depicts - solid, colorful, and full of detail. There's also a lot of information packed in here, so anyone, whether teen or older, who wants to learn about Katharina Luther will enjoy it. That's why this would also be a good resource for schools.

However, this is not a comic most students will pick up on their own. But if it were given as an assigned reading, the graphic novel format does make this pain-free reading for almost any student. It's a far easier read than any book, and more educational than many.

Related reviews

Friday, October 14, 2016

Skeptics Answered

A better book for Christians than for Skeptics?
by D. James Kennedy
203 pages / 1997

D. James Kennedy's Skeptics Answered is a really good way to answer some of the questions that skeptics raise for Christians, but it may not equip Christians so well to answer the skeptics themselves. Why the difference? The reason has to do with Kennedy's stress on evidence and optimism about the possibility of "honest" skepticism.

The book begins with Kennedy's insistence that "Skeptics Are Welcome" (the title of Chapter 1). Kennedy does clarify that it is God who makes a skeptic honest, by quoting 2 Timothy 2:24-26, in which Paul reassured Timothy about his opponents, "that God may perhaps grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth." However, Kennedy often quotes people who claim to have done impartial and unbiased investigation of the truth about Christianity.

A good beginning

Kennedy begins his investigation well by starting with the Bible, stressing the reliability of the word against skeptics' attacks. God Himself tells Israel that fulfilled prophecy is a crucial way to know if a prophet is speaking in the the name of the LORD (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Bible includes hundreds of prophecies fulfilled both by world events and, especially, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first part of the book concludes with a look at the use (and misuse) of logic in spiritual matters.

The effective middle part of the book deals with the existence of God and of Jesus Christ in history, the divine identity of Jesus, and (in perhaps the most intriguing chapter) the testimony of even unbelievers to the greatness of Christ. The first chapter of the last part of the book gives a positive answer to the question "Is Jesus the Only Way?" by showing the many ways in which Christianity is unique.

Evidential rather than Presuppositional Apologetics

Less effective, both Biblically speaking and in the opinion of some of the skeptical reviewers on, is Kennedy's discussion of the problem of how a good God can allow evil and pain to exist. The problem is that on this issue - God's character rather than some abstract issue of a hypothetical God's existence - skeptics are decidedly not honest, impartial, or unbiased. Nor should we expect them to be. Without the work of the Spirit, "no one seeks for God.... There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:9-18).

This is where Kennedy's evidential apologetics wears thin. Evidential apologetics seeks to prove the truth of the Bible by bringing up supporting facts for "honest" skeptics. It can be useful to clear away stumbling blocks for spiritually weak Christians or non-Christians in whom the Spirit is already working.

For your average argumentative skeptic, presuppositional apologetics is more appropriate - exposing the assumptions that even atheists share with Christians. All people implicitly know that God exists and that His law applies to all of us, as Paul reminds us in Romans 1 and 2 - even if, by nature, we also all reject or deny His existence or rule. It is entirely fair, then, to ask critics of God's existence or goodness how they know what existence and goodness are.

The final chapter of the last part also shows the weakness of evidential apologetics - "Is There Life after Death?" Kennedy's marshaling of near-death experiences from history is undermined by the (correct) warning that such experiences must be judged by Scriptural criteria. This, of course, makes no sense if the purpose of such testimonies is to reinforce the Scriptures. The Bible does not need such reinforcement, nor will it be effective. As Christ warned in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, "'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead'" (Luke 16:31).

One final note from the skeptics on Some felt that Kennedy's tone was condescending toward non-Christians, and his presentation may indeed be lacking at times in "gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:14-16), which may diminish its usefulness as a tool for witnessing to unbelievers.

Encouragement for Christians

In spite of the weaknesses described above, the "back of the book" ends strongly with a presentation of the "Good News" in the Epilogue, as well as a Study Guide for each chapter. Kennedy's book may or may not help you answer skeptics, but it still provides answers (for yourself or other believers) for some of the most common questions that skeptics raise in Christians' minds, and you can get Skeptics Answered here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

by Jennifer Trafton
340 pages / 2011

Mount Majestic is a fun romp, with all sorts of inventive ingredients:
  • A girl who wants to be a hero but is saddled with the last name "Smudge" 
  • Piles of poison-tongued jumping turtles 
  • A castle built on top of a mountain that rises and falls once each day. 
  • trees that not only walk, but sometimes run
  • A tyrant twelve-year-old pepper-hording king  
  • A terrible, life-changing, island-threatening 1,000 year old secret
Books with good girl heroes are hard to find. When the hero is a girl, most often she is decidedly boyish (or at the very least tomboyish): armor-wearing, sword-swinging, that sort of thing. But Persimmony Smudge is a different sort. She dreams of battles, yes, but when it comes down to it, it’s her brain and her bravery, and not her battle skills, that save the day.

I suspect the author is Christian, simply because I know that many of her author friends are Christian. There is, however, no mention made of God, with the only “supernatural” elements being a Lyre-That-Never-Lies, which sings out a prophetic poem now and then, and clay pots that give the recipient whatever it is they need (and not merely what they might want).  When the topic comes up about who it is that puts the gifts in the pots, and puts “words of truth into the strings of a Lyre” the only answer we get is, “I have no idea.” So Mount Majestic is simply a fun read, one without any spiritual depth – that dimension is left entirely unexplored.

I’ve heard that some girls as young as Grade 2 have enjoyed this, but at 300+ pages, I would think this either a book for mom and dad to read to the kids (maybe then as early as Grade 1) or maybe something better suited to Grade 3 and up.

Boys should like it too, though I do know, as a boy, I had a bias against “girl books” (I never read a Nancy Drew, but devoured everything in the Hardy Boys’ series).

You can order it at by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

War in the Wasteland

by Douglas Bond
273 pages / 2016

"Second Lieutenant C.S. Lewis in the trenches of WWI" – if that doesn't grab you, I don't know what will. War in the Wasteland is a novel about teenage Lewis's time on the front lines of the First World War. At this point in his life, at just 19, Lewis is an atheist, and his hellish surroundings seem to confirm for him that there is no God.

But Lewis isn't the book's main character, and for that I can't help but admire author Douglas Bond's patience. Lewis is most certainly the "star" of the story, but Private Nigel Hopkins serves the role of narrator, and for the first 50 pages of the book we learn about him, his dog Chips, and what his family thought of the war. It's only when Hopkins arrives at the front that he (and we) now get to meet Lewis in his role as one of the company's junior officers.

I'm not going to give too much else away, other than to say that when men are hunkered down in their trenches waiting through another enemy artillery barrage, there is good reason, and plenty of time, to talk about life's most important matters. Bond gives Lewis a fellow junior officer – Second Lieutenant Johnson – who won't let Lewis's atheistic thinking go unchallenged. Their dialogue is imagined - this is a fictionalized account – but Bond pulls the points and counterpoints of their back and forth argument straight out of the books Lewis wrote after he turned from atheism and became one of the best known Christian apologists on the planet.

I enjoyed this book so much that after finishing it, I found it hard to pick up another – I just knew that the next book wasn't going to be nearly as good.

I'll also add that War in the Wasteland comes to a solid and satisfying conclusion, which is a neat trick, consider that Lewis's story of conversion is, at this point, very much incomplete. But Bond ties it all together wonderfully.

I'd recommend this for older teens and adults who have an interest in history, World War I, apologetics, or C.S. Lewis. Bond has crafted something remarkable here.

You can buy War in the Wasteland at Amazon.con  by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

3 free and challenging pro-life books

There are a lot of pro-life pamphlets available for free online, so I could have filled this page with all sorts of suggested resources. I've limited myself to just these three because my point here isn't to clog up your Kindle, but instead to share with you the very best resources. What follows are three books that could have an immediate impact on you or someone you know.

by Michael Spielman
166 pages / 2013

I've read quite a few pro-life books, and there are a lot of good ones to equip you to speak up for the unborn but I don't know if I've read anything that was more of a challenge and encouragement to just get at it. This is by the founder of the brilliant pro-life website

Americans can get it for Kindle for free here, whereas Canadians will have to pony up 99 cents, and can find it here.

Pro-life apologists deconstruct "immediatist" ideology as presented in the Cunningham 
by various
86 pages / 2015

Among pro-lifers there has been an ongoing debate about how we should be fighting for the unborn legislatively. Can we approach this in a step-wise fashion, or should we be pushing for protection for all children from conception onward?

The step-wise approach involves pursuing legislation that has some chance of passing at this present time. So, for example, whereas in today's political climate there is no way we could get the unborn protected from conception, there is a chance we could get a ban passed on all partial birth abortions. But if we push for such a ban are we abandoning all the unborn children who are left unprotected? If we push for this limit on partial birth abortions aren't we saying it is fine to kill children at earlier stages and by other methods? Aren't we endorsing this evil then?

That's what some people believe, and that's why they oppose an "incremental" (or step-wise) approach to fighting abortion. These abolitionists, or "immediatists" argue that the only moral way to fight this legislatively is to seek legal protection for all the unborn – we need to push for a ban on abortion starting at conception.

I advocate for an incremental position. I believe that if it is possible that some can be saved now through legislative means, we need to save those that we can. We need to protect these some, even as we continue advocating for all unborn children. I would support a ban on partial birth abortion, but would at the same time loudly and publicly explain that my support for this limited ban isn't because I think it is alright to kill children who are younger. I would explain my support is only because this is the best that can be done now – that saving some is better than saving none. I would support a limited ban while at the same time speaking out for the humanity of the unborn from conception onward – I would ensure there was no confusion on that point.

To put it another way, I can push for a step-wise approach - an incremental approach - even as I advocate for protection of the unborn from conception onward. It isn't an either/or dilemma - I can do both.

That's the basic position of the various (and notable) incrementalists who have joined together to write Abolition of Reason. This is a one-sided perspective – everyone here is an incrementalist – and they don't pull any punches as they seek to highlight the problems with the abolitionist position. They are addressing specifically the Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) group, and its clear that some of the exchanges between AHA and them have been nasty. Some of that frustration spills over in this book too, which is why, while there is light to be found here, there is also some heat. Still, the authors are trying not to caricature their pro-life opponents – they are trying to be fair – so while this is certain to raise the blood pressure of anyone holding to an abolitionist position, I do still think it would be a helpful read. It would be a helpful read for all pro-lifers.

To download a pdf click here.

Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?
by Randy Alcorn
211 pages / 2011

The title asks an important question, and at 211 pages it offers a careful and comprehensive answer. This is a must read for any Christian couples considering the use of chemical contraceptives. Randy Alcorn is careful not to be more certain than the facts warrant, but he lays out a strong case that there is reason to believe that in some cases it might.

To download a pdf click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God and Government - Biblical Principles for Today: An Introduction and Resource

by Cornelis Van Dam
330 pages / 2014

Like perhaps some of our readers, I am already involved in politics, and I know other Christians who are far more involved than I am. However, any Christian who wants to be involved in politics, or any politician who wants to understand Christians involved in politics, needs to read this book. Cornelis Van Dam makes clear the two great foundations for politics (particularly in Canada) - Christianity and humanism - and the nature of the conflict between them. Then he makes clear how Christian principles can function in a world dominated by humanistic ideals.

Christians and humanists have very different views of the origin and task of government, the relationship of church and state, and the concepts of human rights and toleration - but, as Van Dam shows from both Biblical and historical evidence, the Christian understandings of these concepts leads to both greater stability and freedom for society.

That same general form of looking at the fruit of the two worldviews leads to enlightening discussions of the differences an approach guided by the Bible could make in areas like the abortion and euthanasia debates, the issue of capital punishment, the need for traditional marriage, the balance of productive work and necessary weekly rest, the stewardship of creation, and immigration policy. By this point in my reading, my renewed commitment to see Biblical values reaffirmed in our politics had me primed for the last section - "Working for Change," which first describes the Biblical reasons for getting involved in the government of the country, and ends with a look at the many excellent organizations that are doing just that.

The study questions and bibliography at the end make this an excellent resource for starting some political activism of your own, with both insightful Biblical application and plenty of  written and online works, as well as the groups mentioned above, to help you (and me) and like-minded Christians to get going (or to keep going, only with a little better grounding in basic principles).

The only regret I have in reviewing this excellent overview of the rationale and strategies for Christian involvement in (especially Canadian) politics is that I waited too long to read it. The edition I read is from 2011, but there is now, esteemed review reader, a slightly longer updated 2014 edition available for Kindle. You can find both versions at this link here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Made in Heaven

Man's Indiscriminate Stealing of God's Amazing Design
by Ray Comfort
78 pages / 2012

This picture book isn’t a children’s book – we gave it to my mother-in-law for her birthday – but it is certainly a book children will love. Here we find 32 instances of where mankind has built better machines and structure by trying to imitate (as best as we can) the wondrous design we find in God’s creation.

We learn about how the front ends of trains have been shaped like Kingfisher beaks to reduce shock waves, how intermittent window wipers were inspired by blinking eyes, and how Velcro came about when an engineer noticed just how many burrs were sticking to him and his dog.

The author wants us to consider just how amazingly intricate creation really is. If the world’s smartest engineers and scientists are looking to nature to figure out how to build better machines, then isn’t that good evidence that the world around us didn’t come about by fortunate happenstance? Just consider the ant…
"Each of the 20,000 different types of ants have a nervous system that contains its multifaceted, tiny, but brilliant brain. Each one has a heart that is a long tube that pumps a special type of blood through its body, as well as an intricate muscle system that works the claws and legs.... The tiny ant screamed of the genius of Almighty God."
Comfort makes his point with fun writing and pages and pages of absolutely gorgeous pictures. He concludes with a 3-page gospel presentation, encouraging readers to ask God for forgiveness and to read the Bible regularly. We might wish that he also encouraged readers to attend a good church, but if we’re giving this to anyone (and it could be used as an amazing evangelistic “tract” of sorts) then we can always do the inviting, telling them about our church.

In addition to its potential as an outreach tool, this would make a wonderful gift for anyone – man, woman, or child – interested in the marvelous way God has designed creatures, both big and small.

You can pick up a copy a by clicking here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Grace Effect

by Larry Alex Taunton
254 pages / 2011

This is the story of an adoption, and also the answer to a question. As the author details, in a late-night conversation with the late Christopher Hitchens the atheist asked, in effect, "What has Christianity done for the world lately?"

He had, earlier in the evening, conceded that it was Christian thought that had led to many of the advances that set the West apart and above the rest of the world – science, human rights, humanitarian efforts, etc., all spurred by a Christian understanding of the world. But Hitchens also thought that Ancient Greeks had given us a lot...and now we had left them behind. So why shouldn't we do the same with Christianity? It is one thing to say Christianity did something for us in the past, but is that any reason to keep it now? Hitchens wanted to know how Christianity benefits the world today.

The answer Larry Alex Taunton gave him was an 11-year-old HIV-positive Ukrainian orphan named Sasha.

The majority of the book is an account of the overseas part of the adoption process that the Tauntons went through to bring Sasha into their family. There in the former socialist republic we see evidences all around of just what is wrought when an atheistic worldview holds sway for decades and decades. Officials and even judges have to be bribed – repeatedly – to do the duties that their salaries already pay them to do. Sasha's orphanage has no toilets, only holes in the ground, little oversight, and not nearly enough food. And yet the bureaucrats there make a show of being concerned whether the Tauntons are going to give Sasha her own room, and they forbid the Tauntons from feeding the starving girl any fast food!

Every step in the adoption process takes forever because no one can be counted on to just do their job. The primary motivator for each official they meet seems to be only their own self-interest - they just don't care about the many orphans, and speak of them as if they were somehow less than human.

In contrast the Tauntons come from the Christian West. As a society we are turning our back on God, but many vestiges of Christian influence remain. One example: while we have our bureaucrats too, bribery is the exception rather than rule. And many in our social services are motivated not by their wage but by the opportunity they have to do good. That might not be consistent with their secular faith, but a sort of Judeo-Christian ethical peer pressure persists, motivating people here to act better than they otherwise might. Doubt it? Then you have only to look at how people act where Christian influence has long since seized to be. Taunton paints a scary picture.


I will note one caution specifically for Dutch Reformed readers. "The grace effect" that Taunton speaks of in the title is the civilizing, wealth-building, human-rights-respecting impact that Christianity has wherever it flourishes. In spots he also calls this "common grace," noting that it is undeserved (thus grace) and also extends to even unbelievers (thus common, as in, common to all) in countries that have a Christian heritage.

Some Reformed Christians have a problem with the term "common grace" noting that, unless someone turns to God, this "grace" only increases the unbelievers's guilt (because even after receiving all this he's still in rebellion). And, in turn, that will increase God's wrath against persistent unbeliever. Thus they think "grace" the wrong word to use here.


But let's not get hung up on the terminology and instead focus on the point that Taunton is trying to make. He want atheists to wonder why society is so much better off when Christians, rather than atheists, are in charge. Could it be that our Maker knows what's best for us, and His commands are for our best? If that's so (and it is) then a society that obeys Him in big ways or small, will do better than a society that does not.

And that is exactly what we see happening in the world around us. Even an atheist such as Hitchens wanted to live in the more Christian West, rather than in the atheistic East.

Christopher Hitchens didn't know what to make of the Taunton family's decision to adopt a special-needs child. He didn't get what they would go to that trouble for someone they didn't know, and to whom they had no obligations. Taunton's point was simple. This is just what Christians do, because this is what Christ has done for us. When we seek to be Christ-like, then the world around us benefits too.

So what has Christianity done for the world lately? Taunton says the contrast can be see at its clearest in how the West and East treat widows, orphans, the disabled and sick, and all of society's weakest and most vulnerable. This is a very engaging, and easy read. And at just over 200 pages, it is a pretty quick one too. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys non-fiction, apologetics, economics, or human interest stories. I think it would interest them all!

 To buy a copy of The Grace Effect at click here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How Should Christians Approach Origins?

by John Byl and Tom Goss
42 pages / 2015

Blaise Pascal once quipped that he had written a long letter because he hadn’t had time to write a short one. In this booklet it is evident that the authors put an enormous amount of time and effort to boil down the key issues of the origin debate. In just 42 pages they gave an overview of:
  • the difference between historical and operation science
  • why secular scientists deny miracles as a matter of dogma
  • why many professing Christian scientists do, but shouldn’t, deny miracles
  • the basics of materialism and naturalism
  • what the various origins positions are
  • why Christianity is incompatible with any form of evolution
  • how dating methods can be unreliable
  • what books would be good for further reading
And that isn’t even all of it!

This would be an ideal book to give to any university student, or anyone looking for an introduction to the origins debate. The small size means this is only an overview but you won’t find any better. And for those that want to continue on, the Resource pages in the back are a fantastic place to start. It lists two dozen of the best books on the various aspects of the origins debate. You can pick up a copy (or two or three – these would make a great give away) at

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spectacular Sins - and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ

And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
by John Piper
121 pages / 2008

The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that the chief end of man "is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever," John Piper demonstrates that the glory of God (or, more specifically, of Christ) is the chief end of everything - even of evil.

Piper begins by telling us that sometimes "the bruised heart needs a tire iron" – more confrontation than comfort. In a time when the persecution of the church is beginning also in the West, His people need to hear more about God's sovereignty than His tenderness, because, as Piper puts it,  "wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians." To do that, Piper takes us through the most spectacular sins of history - not the Holocaust, not the fall of the World Trade Towers, but the sins of God's followers against Him. The word "spectacular" in the title is no mere accident. Piper demonstrate how each of these sins is a lens through which we see Christ's greatness all the more clearly.

The first sin is the rebellion of Satan. Though the Bible never explains why and how Satan fell, Scripture does make clear that even evil supernatural powers were created through and for Christ (Colossians 1:16). Clearly, He did not make them evil, but He created beings who He knew would rebel against Him (just as we do) - so... why? Paul makes that clear to Timothy, an early example of at least a potential wimpy Christian. Paul reminds Timothy that God "saved us and called us to a holy calling... because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began" (see 2 Timothy 1:8-12). It was within God's plan to use the evil intentions and actions of both demons and humans to make His grace available to His people.

Piper looks further at how God uses sin for His eternal purposes in looking at the sin of Adam, the pride of Babel, the sale of Joseph, the sinful origin of the Son of David, and the most horrific and spectacular sin of all, the crucifixion of the Son of God (especially the betrayal by His own disciple). In all these sins, God shows both His eternal foreknowledge of man's evil and His sovereign power to glorify His Son as the only Savior from sin. Every situation of great sin in the Bible (and in human history in general) only makes the glory of Christ shine that much greater.

Knowing that even our sins, and the sins of those who oppress us, are no surprise to God, but serve His purpose to glorify our Savior,
  • takes us from a wimpy worldview to a weighty one;
  • enhances our delight in the work of God; and
  • moves us to a life of confident service to a God who is both tender and sovereign ("able and willing").
You can buy a paperback copy of John Piper's Spectacular Sins at by clicking here or you can download a pdf copy for free by visiting here (see the download button on the left).

Saturday, August 6, 2016


How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed
by Douglas Axe
274 pages / 2016

There's no shortage of books poking holes in evolution, but books that blow it up are more rare. But even among these second sort, Douglas Axe's Undeniable is special – he wants us to understand that evolution is not only wrong, but hopelessly inadequate.

His is a hard book to sum up. There's a reason Axe presents his argument over 274 pages – he needs that space to address and answer the many objections critics have raised up against the idea of an Intelligent Designer. So maybe the best way to sum it up is to share with you some key quotes.

On intuition

Let's begin with what Axe means when he says we intuitively disbelief the evolutionary explanation for the origin of life. Axe quotes Berkley professor Alison Gopnik speaking on the challenge for teachers of evolution:
"By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them – even children brought up as atheists." 
But it isn't just children who see God behind creation. Trained, and evolution-professing, scientists also have problems denying what they intuitively know to be so. Deborah Kelemen, a psychology professor is quoted explaining:
"Even though advanced scientific training can reduce acceptance of scientifically inaccurate teleological explanations, it cannot erase a tenacious early-emerging human tendency to find purpose in nature."
Or, in other words, even those who claim that everything came about without purpose or design have a hard time talking that way. They keep speaking about evolution as if it had intent.

Why is that? It's because it's hard not to see how well made creation is. It's hard to avoid the reality that all these creatures we see – from the salmon to the spider to the orca – are so amazing and polished and complete.  When an evolutionist looks at an orca whale breaking out of the ocean surface – "five tons of slick black and white launching out of the water with implausible ease" – he has to profess that this wonder is merely the current manifestation of a creature that was radically different in the past, and will be radically changed in the future. They have to insist there is nothing especially whole, or finished, about how it is now. But we all know better. As Axe puts it, "some things are so good that they cannot be other than what they are." An orca is not incomplete – it is a finished work of art.

This intuition is available to all. As he's says elsewhere even a child can spots holes like this. For example, they know:
"The same instantaneous reasoning that tells us origami cranes can’t happen by accident tells us real cranes can’t either — not even in billions of years."
On why evolution is a non-starter

There has always been a gaping hole in evolutionary theory. Back in 1904, in his book Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, a Dutchman, botanist Hugo De Vries, pointed out:
"Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest."
It's no different today:
"[Evolutionist Dan Tawfik's] own admirably frank: 'Evolution has this catch-22: Nothing evolves unless it already exists.'" 
As Axe puts it,
"What's left of a theory of origins once it has been conceded that it doesn't explain how things originate?"
On what evolution lacks

Axe is a microbiologist, and as such has done research on the limits of what natural selection can do with enzymes. Try as they might, biologists can't get innovation even on this tiny scale - enzymes will not, via random processes, come up with new abilities. And if evolution fails on this microscopic scale why would we think it can do bigger things?
"The claim that evolution did invent proteins, cell types, organs, and life forms is scientifically legitimate only if we know evolution can invent these things. Consequently our demonstration of evolutionary incompetence for an example of the least of these inventions – a new function for an existing enzyme – undercuts the whole project of inferring evolutionary histories. If nothing can evolve its way into existence, then nothing did."
Evolution isn't living up to its big claims. Axe gives an apt analogy:
"Imagine a group of people insisting that a certain man can jump to the moon. We, being skeptical, challenge this man to dunk a basketball, and we find that he comes well short of reaching the rim. When we publish our findings, we get lots of complaints, all of the kind 'We never said he could dunk a basketball...or at least not that kind of basketball, on that rim.'"
Yes, we can see finches get big beaks, and then return to having small ones. We can see dogs diverge into any number of different sizes and types. Natural selection can improve an enzyme's efficiency. But it can't make anything new. As Axe puts it, "As a finder of inventions, Darwin's evolutionary mechanism is a complete bust, sometimes come in handy as a fiddler."

So how did we get the amazing abilities we have? While evolution claims we came about by a unintelligent, purposeless process we all know that:
"Invention can't happen by accident. Invention requires know-how, and there is no substitute for know-how....What the inventor can do – seeing possibilities that are otherwise not there and seizing opportunities that only exist because they are imagined – cannot be done by accident." 
On why there is no reason to think evolution can do wonders

Perhaps the most remarkable claim the Theory of Evolution makes is that this unguided, unintelligent, uninspired process managed to do what even our most brilliant engineers, scientists and designers can't begin to do. At one point Axe compares one of the "more advanced products of human technology" with one of Creation's simplest creatures.
"Tavros 2 was designed to conduct month-long missions in the Gulf of Mexico, measuring and reporting water depth and temperature. What makes this vehicle particularly sophisticated is that it operates autonomously, under the complete control of its onboard computer. Tavros 2 is programmed to rise to the surface when it needs a solar recharge, after which it dives to its previous location and resumes data collection."
This is a remarkable machine, designed and created by some of the world's most intelligent and clever people. But it pales in comparison to the common, tiny, cyanobacteria. Both are solar powered, but while the Tavros 2 "needs a solar collector the size of a coffee table," its living rival "does very well with a collector roughly one-trillionth that size."
"The contrast becomes even more extreme when we consider the manufacturing capabilities. Tavros 2 has none, whereas every cyanobacterium houses an entire manufacturing plant within its microscopic walls." 
Axe goes on for 9 pages giving an overview (only an overview) of how much more complex and incredible the lowly cyanobacteria is than the Tavros 2, one of man's more impressive accomplishments.

So our best work, by our most brilliant designers, doesn't compare to the simple cyanobacteria that evolutionists say came about through mindless, purposeless, mutation and selection. This is ridiculous!

Evolutionists point to time as their theory's saviour - inventiveness on the scale of the cyanobacteria may seem impossible in the short term, but what if we add in countless trials and experiments conducted over millions of years?

But this is only another example of why a child can know better than to believe in evolution. After all, from the earliest age we all know that, "Tasks that we would need knowledge to accomplish can be accomplished only by someone who has that knowledge." So even if we grant time and countless trials we still know inventiveness - especially on the scale of living things! - isn't going to happen. Inventions aren't created by accident.
"The action of bulldozers moving junk heaps at the dump...may well cause a ball bearing to find a makeshift socket or a lever to find a crude fulcrum or a cable to wrap around a cylinder, but none of these simple arrangements do anything significant enough to rise above the junk. Not even on a trillion trillion planets covered with junk would an accidental robot ever rise up and flee from the bulldozers, much less scurry around looking for parts to build a copy of itself."

This is one of those pivotal books that's going to get people riled up and talking for years to come. Douglas Axe wants us to understand that not only is evolution not true, it is so obviously so that even a child can see through it. Axe is a Christian, which comes out clearly in the conclusion to the book. He is not a creationist, but rather an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent, but unlike most in the ID community, he isn't hesitant about naming God as the Intelligent Designer – that comes out clearly in the last quarter of the book. And while he is not a creationist, creationists can embrace the whole of his book. His argument is that biology blows up evolution, and he simply doesn't touch on the biblical stance on our origins.

Axe has set out to show that believing in creation by a brilliant Creator is a matter of common sense. And because he's trying to reach the non-scientist there are only a few places where the science requires some tough slogging. But once I got through them the rest of the book was an easy and thrilling read. Axe wants us all to be confident that, no matter how mainstream science might ridicule those who don't believe in evolution, we are on solid scientific ground.

You can pick up a copy of Undeniable at by clicking here.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's Darwin got to do with it?

A friendly conversation about Evolution
by Robert C. Newman & John L. Wiester
146 pages / 2000

A graphic novel about evolution vs. intelligent design? Now that's got my attention!

The plot here revolves around an upcoming forum put on by Professor Teller, a Darwinist who believes evolution is a "Fact! Fact! Fact!" Of course forums involve speakers from two different sides, so Intelligent Design proponent Professor Questor steps in to offer up another perspective.

One of the first points Professor Questor makes is how important it is to define terms in this debate. Evolution is often defined simply as "change over time" and if that was all there was to it, even creationists would agree that evolution happens. (After all, we believe that all the dog species – the vast array of them – came from just a couple or so types on Noah's Ark. We certainly believe change can happen over time!) The actual debate is over the limits and direction of this change over time, so when we debate evolution, the disagreement is over whether molecules can, over millions of years, evolve into Man.

But in defining her terms, Professor Questor also makes it clear she is not a creationist. She doesn't attack creationists, but in distancing herself from them, it does leave the impression that creationism isn't quite as...legitimate as Intelligent Design. But that's a minor quibble in a wonderful book.

Other issues and topics the two professors discuss include:
  • Is there room in science for any supernatural explanations? And if we rule out supernatural explanations at the start, then is it any wonder we don't find evidence for God in our scientific explanations?
  • Are Peppered Moths, a "proof" of evolution?
  • Are the changing beak sizes of "Darwin's finches" really evidence for evolution?
  • Why do so many creatures have similar (homologous) body structures if we aren't all descended from a common ancestor?  
  • What is the real role of mutation? Can it do all that evolutionists say it does?
  • Is "bad" design evidence of evolution? (And is it actually bad?)
This might seem like the discussion could get quite dry and dusty, but the authors bring in all sorts of analogies and illustrations to keep things hopping. For example, Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes make a couple of appearances, and mutation and natural selection are personified as two superheroes (with less than effective superpowers) Mutaman and Selecta. And there's lots more!

The result is a very fun book which is also highly educational. It would be a great resource for any high school science class to go through because it touches on a lot of the big issues, and it does so with wit and impressive clarity - pictures are used here to boil down pretty complex concepts into only a few pages or a few panels. And for any comic-loving teen, this would make a wonderful present, expanding and stretching them, without overly taxing them.

You can pick up a copy at by clicking here.