"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" Be Hopeful! (5:10-14) INTRODUCTION 1. In an epistle written to Christians undergoing severe persecution, Peter chooses to close on a positive note - 1Pe 5:10-14 2. For no matter how terrible the "fiery trials" may become, Christians can always have "hope"! 3. In these last few verses of this epistle, Peter offers... a. A benediction (10) b. A doxology (11) c. A summary (12) d. A few words of greeting (13) e. A final command to love one another (14a) f. A final prayer for peace (14b) [Throughout this "collage" of concluding remarks, we find several reasons why Christians can always "Be Hopeful", even in the midst of terrible trials. For example, we are reminded of the fact that...] I. WE HAVE GOD'S GRACE A. GOD IS "THE GOD OF ALL GRACE" (10) 1. Indeed, His grace is "manifold" - 1Pe 4:10 2. Just as His gifts are varied, so He provides whatever we need in any circumstance - cf. He 4:16 B. WE STAND IN "THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD" (12) 1. Our salvation is because of His grace - cf. 1Pe 1:10 2. Those who are saved have "tasted that the Lord is gracious" - 1Pe 2:3 [With the knowledge that by remaining faithful to Christ we "stand in the true grace of God", we can take comfort knowing that the "God of all grace" will be with us all the way. Which leads to another comforting thought...] II. WE ARE GOING TO GLORY A. GOD HAS "CALLED US TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY" (10) 1. This is the purpose of our calling, to receive the glory that awaits us 2. That glory involves the "inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" - 1Pe 1:4 B. THE ROAD TO GLORY MAY INVOLVE SUFFERING, BUT... 1. It is no different than what Jesus experienced - cf. Lk 24:26 2. And we can look forward to participating in His glory, if we are willing to suffer with Him - cf. 1Pe 4:13-14 [Knowing what lies ahead for those persevere can help us remain steadfast in the faith. So can knowing that...] III. OUR SUFFERING IS TEMPORARY A. IT IS ONLY FOR "A WHILE" (10) 1. Earlier, Peter had said "a little while" - 1Pe 1:6 2. By their very nature, physical sufferings cannot last forever B. NOTE THE CONTRAST BETWEEN SUFFERING AND GLORY... 1. Suffering is for "a while", glory is "eternal" 2. Is not the "glory" worth the "suffering"? 3. The apostle Paul thought so - cf. 2Co 4:16-18 [But not only can we remain hopeful knowing that suffering is temporary to be replaced by glory that is eternal, in the meantime we can take consolation in knowing that...] IV. WITH SUFFERING COMES BLESSINGS (10) A. GOD WILL "PERFECT"... 1. The word used by Peter means "to equip, to adjust, to fit together" 2. God "perfects" His people using several tools... a. One is the Word of God - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17 b. Gifts were given to the church toward the same end - cf. Ep 4:11-16 3. And suffering is certainly another tool - cf. Ro 5:3-4; Jm 1:2-4 B. GOD WILL "ESTABLISH"... 1. This means "to fix firmly, to set fast" 2. Christians need to be steadfast in the faith - cf. 1Pe 5:9;2Pe 3:17 3. Through persecution often comes steadfastness, for the one who has endured suffering for the cause of Christ is not likely to led away from the truth C. GOD WILL "STRENGTHEN"... 1. Make one stronger 2. Which is a normal consequence of enduring trial D. GOD WILL "SETTLE"... 1. That is, "to lay a foundation" 2. The Lord would have us to be solid, like that house built on a rock - cf. Mt 7:24-27 CONCLUSION 1. Peter is confident that for those who remain faithful in suffering, God will bless them in the four ways listed in verse 10 2. We too can have confidence, knowing that... a. We have God's grace b. We are going to glory c. Our suffering is only temporary d. With suffering comes blessing 3. It is with such confidence that Peter closes with: a. A collection of greetings, from... 1) "Silvanus" - Silas, a traveling companion of Paul 2) "She who is in Babylon, elect together with you" - likely a congregation... a) Either in literal Babylon, located in modern day Iraq b) Or in figurative Babylon, which could be a reference to either Rome or Jerusalem 3) "Mark my son" - John Mark, nephew of Barnabas, and author of the gospel of Mark b. An exhortation to love: "Greet one another with a kiss of love" c. And a prayer for peace: "Peace to all who are in Christ Jesus" May the example of Peter's confidence and hope, as well as his actual teaching found throughout this epistle, serve to help us remain full of hope during our sojourn as pilgrims of God! "To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." -- 1Pe 5:11
The Eternality of God
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
God alone is eternal. The Bible plainly asserts that God had no beginning, and that He will never end, or die—He possesses eternality. Consider Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Isaiah wrote: “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in a high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15; see Deuteronomy 33:27). The apostle John wrote: “Grace to you and peace from Him Who is and Who was and Who is to come...” (Revelation 1:4, emp. added). In beautiful, poetic language, God said: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). It is difficult for finite, human minds to comprehend anyone Who possesses eternality, because every earthly person and thing known to us had a beginning, and has either died, ended, will die, or will end. To emphasize God’s majesty through His eternality, consider several items, which, though striking and awe-inspiring, are not eternal.
The Universe is not eternal. For many years, evolutionists attempted to prove that the Universe never had a beginning. For, they reasoned, if scientists were to arrive at the conclusion that the Universe had a beginning, they must turn to the next logical question: What caused the beginning of the Universe? Attempting to answer that question makes rationally thinking evolutionists uncomfortable. Of course, scientists have shown definitively that the Universe has not always existed, and that it will not exist forever. Because it exists, therefore, someone, or something must have always existed. Astronomer Robert Jastrow observed: “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.”1 In her book, The Fire in the Equations, award-winning science writer Kitty Ferguson wrote in agreement:
Our late twentieth-century picture of the universe is dramatically different from the picture our forebears had at the beginning of the century. Today it’s common knowledge that all the individual stars we see with the naked eye are only the stars of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, and that the Milky Way is only one among many billions of galaxies. It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning ten to twenty billion years ago, and that it is expanding.2
Furthermore, the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that both matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, precludes the idea of an eternal Universe. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that systems become more disorganized, rather than more organized, also establishes that the Universe had to have a starting point. Because matter exists, but has not always existed, then something or someone must have caused its beginning. Some have suggested that the Universe simply created itself. Sproul wrote:
For something to bring itself into being it must have the power of being within itself. It must at least have enough causal power to cause its own being. If it derives its being from some other source, then it clearly would not be either self-existent or self-created. It would be, plainly and simply, an effect. Of course, the problem is complicated by the other necessity we’ve labored so painstakingly to establish: It would have to have the causal power of being before it was. It would have to have the power of being before it had any being with which to exercise that power.3
Obviously, the idea that the Universe was, at one time, nonexistent, but then independently came into being, is contradictory.4 Creationists do not have to wonder about the start of the Universe; they understand that God is the cause, and the Universe is the effect. That event is recorded in the first few pages of the Bible (Genesis 1,2).
Humanity is not eternal in the same sense that God is eternal. Humans have immortal souls—souls that will never die (Romans 5:21; 6:22; Galatians 6:8), and bodies that will be resurrected and reunited with their souls (John 5:28-29). And, although humans can access eternal life (Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 4:18), human beings are not eternal, because each human has a beginning. The beginning of humanity itself is described in Genesis 1-2. And, when the Earth ends (see 2 Peter 3:10-12), humanity on Earth will cease. The Greek word translated “eternal” in passages like Mark 10:17,30, Luke 18:18, and John 3:15 is aionios, a word that also is used to denote the eternality of God (Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 5:10). “Eternal,” then, has approximately three meanings in the New Testament: (1) without beginning (Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2); (2) without beginning or end (Hebrews 9:14); and (3) without end (Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).5Humans are eternal in that their souls will never end, but only God possesses eternality in the first two senses of the word.
Why are humans instructed to live in view of, and prepare for, eternity? A few of the many reasons include: (1) Christians will live for a much longer time in heaven than they will on Earth (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:17); (2) dire consequences await those who refuse to prepare for eternity in this life (Matthew 9:44-48; Matthew 23:33; Luke 13:28; John 5:29); (3) and there are great blessings associated with eternal life (Matthew 8:11; Hebrews 9:24; 1 Peter 1:4, 3:22; Revelation 21:2,3, 22).
Marriage is not eternal. Some religious people teach that marriages will endure throughout eternity. For example, James Duke, representing the Mormon religion, wrote:
Latter-day Saints believe that life is more secure and more joyous when it is experienced in the sacred relationships of the eternal family. Those who maintain such worthy relationships on earth will live as families in the Celestial Kingdom following the resurrection. Thus, a person who lives a righteous life in mortality and who has entered into an eternal marriage may look forward to an association in the postmortal world with a worthy spouse, and with those who were earthly children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.6
Jesus, however, said that, after they are resurrected, no one will be married or given in marriage (Matthew 22:30). Marriage has been created by God, Who is eternal, for the enjoyment and benefit of mortal men, but the institution of marriage will end when Earth ends (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 18:22; Hebrews 13:4).
Angels are not eternal. Here, we refer to spiritual messengers, and not humans (on occasion, human messengers are also called “angels” in the Bible).7 Angels, like humans, are created beings. Paul wrote: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:16). Nehemiah 9:6 reads: “You along are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the Earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You” (emp. added; see Genesis 2:1; Exodus 20:11). Job 38:1-7 makes it clear that angels were eyewitnesses to the creation of the Universe, so we are left to wonder if the angels were created during the Creation week, or at some earlier time. Respected Bible scholar Herbert Lockyer commented:
The heavens include all that are in them created by God, and among these must be the angels (Genesis 2:1). Among the hosts of heaven the angels are the principal part. They are expressly called “the heavenly host” and “the armies of heaven” (Luke 2:13).8
We cannot be certain when the angels were created, but we do know that no other being beside God is eternal in the fullest sense of the word.9
The devil is not eternal. Deity is eternal in the fullest sense (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 102:27), but Satan does not possess the qualities of Deity. Thompson commented:
Scripture affirms: “Greater is he [God] that is in you than he [Satan] that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When he sought to “sift” the apostles as wheat, he first had to “ask for them” (Luke 22:31). Satan is not omnipresent. His position as “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) was “delivered unto him” (Luke 4:6). When he eventually is cast permanently into his place of eternal torment, the devil will be powerless to resist (Revelation 20:10).10
Wayne Jackson noted:
…[S]ince the devil is not of the nature of deity, it is obvious that he is a created being, for all things and beings (outside the class of deity) are the result of creation—“for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Col. 1:16); this would include Satan as he originally was.11
While it is true that Satan will exist forever, it is obviously also true that he had a beginning. Genesis 1:31 reveals that all things which were created were, originally, “very good.” God did not create Satan to be humankind’s evil adversary; rather, Satan made the choice to become evil, and to work to convince others, both spiritual and human beings, to do wrong. Both Old and New Testament passages imply that Satan, at some point before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, led a revolt, the result of which was the ejection of Satan and “his” angels from heaven (Job 4:18; Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). There is every reason to believe that angels still have the ability to choose to do evil. Lloyd Ecrement observed: “They, therefore, have the ability to choose good or evil. It is possible, but certainly not necessary, for them to sin. If they choose evil rather than good, that is no reflection upon their Creator, but simply a rebellion against Him—they abuse the powers of reason and a free will given to them by God.”12 Little is known about why Satan chose to do evil initially, but it is easier to surmise why he chose to become the archenemy of God and man: he had once inhabited glory with God, but had been cast out.13
If a man composed a work in which he considered every temporal item, the work would be enormous, because the number of the things that will, at some point, cease to exist, is inestimable. However, there is only One Who possesses eternality. We should be impressed and thankful that our Creator is ageless, timeless, uninterrupted, and perpetual, not only in His existence, but in His personality and attributes. The truth of His message, like His very personage, never will change (Mark 13:31).
1 Robert Jastrowt (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton), p. 30, emp. added.
2 Kitty Ferguson (1994), The Fire in the Equations: Science, Religion, and the Search for God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 89, emp. added.
3 R.C. Sproul (1994), Not a Chance (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), pp. 179-180.
4 Jeff Miller (2013), “ Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2786&topic=336.
5 See William Arndt and F.W. Gingrich (1974 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), pp. 27-28; Gerhard Kittel, ed. (1981 reprint), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:208; A.T. Robertson (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament In Light of Historical Research, (Nashville, TN: Broadman), p. 272.
6 James Duke (1992), “Eternal Marriage,” http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/family/marriage/eternal_eom.htm, emp. added.
7 See Haggai 1:13; Alden Bass and Bert Thompson (2001), “When Did God Create Angels?” /rr/rr2001/r&r0106b.htm, 2001.
8 Herbert W. Lockyer (1995), All the Angels in the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 14, emp. in orig.
9 See Bass and Thompson, 2001.
10 Bert Thompson (2001 reprint), “Satan—His Origin and Mission,” (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), p. 4-5.
11 Wayne Jackson (1980), “Satan,” Great Doctrines of the Bible, ed. M.H. Tucker (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching), p. 78, emp. and parenthetical in orig.
12 Lloyd Ecrement (1961), Man, the Bible, and Destiny (Grand Rapids, MI; Eerdmans), p. 33.
13 See Wayne Jackson (2004), “Spiritual Warfare Is Real, Difficult, and Dangerous,” http://www.christiancourier.com/penpoints/spiritualWarfare.htm; Thompson, pp. 7-8.
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Though “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is mind-boggling, and though “His judgments and His ways” are “unsearchable” and “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Deuteronomy 29:29), and even though finite man will never fully be able to wrap his mind around a holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, nevertheless, God has consistently dealt with mankind in rational ways providing the evidence needed for a reasonable faith. Consider, for example, how God has always ensured that enough evidence was available for honest, truth-seekers to know that He exists (cf. Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8). Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been able to clearly see how “the things that are made” testify on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). The reason why “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, emp. added), is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence. Sadly, the foolish person dismisses the evidence.
When the prophet Samuel addressed the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation, he did not merely deliver an emotionally based speech. He commanded them, saying, “[S]tand still, that I may reasonwith you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, emp. added). Similarly, Isaiah wrote: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). Consider also the stark contrast between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend prophets “leaped about the altar,” “cried aloud,” and “cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:26,28)—all for naught. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith that was grounded in the Word of God. He said to God, “I have done all these things at Your Word” (1 Kings 18:36, emp. added). His personal faith, as well as the message of faith that He preached, were rooted and grounded in the Heavenly revealed, rational Word of Almighty God. Biblical faith, after all, “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
This same kind of rational, evidence-based faith and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people that He was the Son of God. He could have expected everyone simply to believe His claims that He was Heaven-sent, and never given His contemporaries any proof for His deity. However, even though there were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer additional proof of His deity (because of the hard-heartedness of many of His hearers; e.g., Mark 8:11-12), Jesus understood the essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry, He repeatedly gave ample proof of His deity. He noted how John the Baptizer bore witness on His behalf (John 5:33). He said, “[T]he Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, emp. added; cf. John 1:32-33; Matthew 3:16-17). He spoke of how “the Scriptures…testify of Me” (John 5:39, emp. added), and specifically noted how “Moses…wrote about Me” (John 5:46, emp. added). He also noted how His miraculous works bore witness to His deity (John 5:36). Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His own verbal testimony alone would not convince anyone in a court of law (John 5:31; cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Thus, at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). Sadly, His foolish, stubborn enemies repeatedly rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf.
Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead and never appeared to anyone on Earth. He could have departed from the tomb and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James, and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be questioned several years later when Paul, who also witnessed the risen Savior, wrote 1 Corinthians (15:5-8). Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, emp. added), because He is the Head of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs of Jesus’ resurrection (among other things, e.g., fulfilled prophecies). The emotional, energetic, evangelistic faith of 21st-century Christians must likewise be rooted firm and deep in evidence.
Jesus was not the only New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Consider just the beginnings of these four books. Matthew began his account of the Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17). He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:18-25). Mark began “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) by quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Mark proved propheticallythat John the Baptizer was “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness,” and Jesus was “the LORD” (1:3). Luke also opened his account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence, knowledge, and understanding.
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (1:1-4).
Then there is John’s gospel account, which, from beginning to end, is packed with proof that Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God (1:3: 2:1-11; 20:30-31; 21:25). In fact, the stated purpose of his record of the various miracles of Christ (and there were many others John did not mention) was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31). If biblical faith is merely “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” which is one definition Merriam-Webster (on-line) gives for the word “faith” (2011), then why did John and the synoptic writers spend so much time offering proof for Who Jesus is? Answer: Because the truthful, reasonable facts of God, His Word, and His Son are the foundation of real faith (John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 10:17).
When the apostle Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he spoke of those things “which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23-24). However, as Paul “made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (26:24). How did Paul respond? Did he answer with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable, unverifiable Gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly, but confidently, replied: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).
Sadly, most accountable people in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity and become Christians (Matthew 7:13-14). But, those of us who choose to put our faith in God, Jesus, and His Word, can do so because “the truth” can be known (John 8:32), rightly obeyed (Romans 6:17; 10:12-13), and logically defended (1 Peter 3:15).
The Design's in the Details
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
Michael J. Behe (1996), Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press), hardbound, 307 pages, $25.00.
Hailed by some as a coup for the cause of creation, this eagerly-awaited book does not disappoint. Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, unabashedly argues a case for intelligent design in life. Others have tackled this same argument, but Behe breaks new ground in having his book printed by a division of a major publishing company (Simon & Schuster).
Behe presents three major points. First, he argues that evolution has to go further in explaining the origin of complete structures or organs. Currently, evolutionary speculations involve nothing more than arranging or rearranging a stockpile of preexisting components. Perhaps, following the most vociferous opponents of design such as Richard Dawkins, evolutionists could argue that the nerve cell, retina, cornea, and other parts of the eye came together accidentally. They may even offer a seemingly persuasive scenario whereby this occurred in gradual, successive steps. But this is woefully inadequate, Behe argues.
Following the title motif, the author likens the eye to a kind of black box, and its components to a series of smaller black boxes. A “black box” is a term drawn from the world of modern machines. It is something very complicated that an average mechanic will not touch. He will unplug it, send it away to the factory for repair, and replace it, but he will never open it up to fix anything inside. Someone could go to an airplane, for example, remove the black boxes, put them together with some fresh aluminum sheets and parts from other airplanes, and create a whole “new” design. But he will get nowhere without those preexisting, highly complicated black boxes. When special kinds of scientists—people such as biochemists—open up the black boxes of molecular machines, blood coagulation, and the metabolic pathway (to mention some of Behe’s favorite examples), they fail to find still smaller black boxes. At some point they run into “irreducible complexity”—a single system which, if any part were removed or crippled, would cease to perform its obvious function. But Behe does not merely throw down the gauntlet and walk away. He devotes considerable space to describing the irreducible complexity of the preceding examples, and shows the difficulty in explaining these systems by any sort of blind, unthinking, natural process.
In the second part of the book, Behe takes an unusual approach. He starts out by trying to find the evolutionists’ explanations for any complex biochemical system. A comprehensive search in a seemingly promising source, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, turns up very few attempts to explain the evolution of such systems. Some papers offer very imaginative, or very simplistic, solutions, but none offers a detailed Darwinian model. Behe broadens his search to other likely journals and textbooks, with the same result. He concludes that molecular evolution has not published and, therefore, it should perish.
Finally, Behe tries to establish that the search for intelligent design is possible without ruining science. He eliminates a couple of non-Darwinian, but naturalistic, proposals, and concludes that intelligent design is the only explanation for the irreducible complexity he observes. But the author also draws a distinction between the claims for design or evolution, and scientific proof for such claims. Presumably, Behe would expect to find many examples of design throughout nature, but he urges fellow scientists to look at each organism, part of an organism, or intricate system within the living world, on a case-by-case basis.
Overall, the book is very well-written and presented. Technical descriptions not crucial to the argument are set aside in specially-marked sections, and Behe (with some good editors, no doubt) has done a good job at writing on as popular a level as possible. The author does not hide his belief in God, but a few brief, sporadic comments indicate a desire to distance himself from young-Earth creationism. Perhaps these were intended to make the book more marketable, but they were unnecessary because Behe’s arguments stand without any reference to the age issue. Nonetheless, everyone should catch this glimpse of a design argument for the new millennium.