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Profile for Z. Holmboe > Reviews


Z. Holmboe's Profile

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Z. Holmboe "Biologist and Christian" RSS Feed (Beaverton, OR USA)

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The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity
The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity
by Lee Strobel
Edition: Paperback
572 used & new from $0.01

43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophically Strong, Scientifically Weak, January 24, 2005
It cannot be overstated what Lee Strobel has done for apologetics. He is truly talented and articulate. I think that his lack of fear in tackling big Christian issues is noble. This book, like "The Case for Christ", is an enjoyable and faith-building read.

That said, I would like to make my one contention. Namely, as an individual with his master's degree, and a major in biology, I cannot help but say that Strobel's chapter on evolution is misleading at best. The issue is not about that one chapter, but the fact that his lack of forwardness may encourage honestly investigating "seekers" to discredit all his work.

First, he says that if evolution exists, it undermines God. Says who? He does not support this statement, but assumes it, as many uneducated about biology do. Strobel is willing to accept many non-literal interpretations of the bible (see his chapter on hell), but he is not willing to state that perhaps Genesis was written in a non-literal way.

Second, he says that any thinking person has to admit that evolution occurs, "at least somewhat". But, if evolution occurs, and it undermines God, then why is he writing this book?

Third, he talks nothing about evolution, but, rather, the origin of the first living thing. A misunderstanding about evolution is that it claims to answer where the first living thing came from. Evolution describes a pattern of change in organisms over time. It does not say where the first organism originated. There are scientists who study that, and Strobel does confront those scientists well.

The reality is, there is virtually universal consensus among biologists that evolution occurs; and among those people are Christians who see evolution as no threat to their faith whatsoever. Many would even argue that, once take slightly non-literally, Genesis takes on a surprisingly accurate description of exactly what scientists of all types are elucidating about our universe, and, as such reinforces the validity of the bible.

It seems, in this chapter, as though he is catering to a vocal demographic of Christians who wish their faith to be the result of neglected evidence, as opposed to supporting evidence. It goes without saying that there is plenty of supportive evidence as to believing in Christ, and, as such, it is disappointing to make such a flimsy argument here.

The biggest problem is not the lack of supportive evidence against evolution; it is that it undermines one's confidence in the rest of his work. The major problem is that he is in a position where people are using him to find their faith. If he becomes partial in the evidence he considers, then those reading him will begin to discount all his work, based on a few flaws, even if most of it is sound.

I am not willing to remain silent as he alienates well-educated people from Christ because he doesn't want to upset those pre-existing Christians who wish to deny the overwhelming evidence for evolution. He should not be writing things so poorly supported that people have to question the overall support of the evidence for Christ.

I would like to reiterate that I do find his work to be generally well supported, and think that he is doing great work. I simply could not leave it unsaid that this chapter could be seen as an apologetic weakness that encouraged greater skepticism in his work.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2014 9:28 AM PDT

The Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.62
460 used & new from $1.93

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening, though not pleasant, read, January 24, 2005
This review is from: The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)
In the foreword C.S. Lewis notes that this book was not fun to write. I would argue that it is not fun to read, either. You are likely rechecking how many stars I rated this book, and yes, I meant to give it 5. I regard it highly because this book forces us to see how in even this simplest of things we can be neglecting God. While it is not enjoyable to hear about how even the simplest things one does can hurt others, or play into the hands of evil, it is highly valuable. Don't expect to smile as you read this book, but expect to learn more about yourself.

Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)
Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)
by Terry Goodkind
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.37
313 used & new from $0.01

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A painfully good story: a warning to Christian readers., January 24, 2005
Terry Goodkind has been losing critical and reader enthusiasm through recent years. Many have attributed this to his increased focus on Objectivist philosophy; but a read of this novel would contend that argument. In his most recent book, while recapturing a great story, he has been left with little more than a thinly veiled, and poorly supported, philosophical attack on those of faith.

He has struck a tone with this novel like he has not since "Temple of the Winds". The premise that Richard would wake to find that no one remembered Kahlan was as creative as his first two novels were. The story is both imaginative and intriguing. I would suggest the story highly.

That said, the philosophy has become nearly too much to bear. Despite his improved story line, he has become philosophical to a fault. His prior books, beginning around book number 5, have been philosophical attacks on communism. It is easy enough to not offend people with such writing, but in his latest book, he has crossed the line.

Goodkind may as well have titled this book, "Why I Disdain People of Faith". He equates the "Imperial Order" with Christianity throughout the book. There are inumerable examples, but, to note a couple: he says that the Imperial Order believes that people have sin, and that they should act generously towards others. Near the end of the novel, he attacks anyone who has faith by saying that people of faith are fools who choose to ignore evidence.

Despite his obvious equating of the Imperial Order with Christianity, he fails to explain how their philosophy of selflessness leads to their malicious and totalitarian behavior. In spite of supposedly believing, for example, that all people should act for the good of others, the Imperial Order behaves ruthlessly: raping; pillaging; murdering. There is a huge unexplained disconnect between Goodkind's wishes to paint Christianity as evil and foolish, and the beliefs that he attributes to them.

Most disappointing, however, is how Goodkind's philosophy has altered Richard's motivation. In the first novels Richard fought because it was "right", because of love, because he "had to", and because it would save the lives of others.

Goodkind's philosophy has watered his motivation, however, down to little more than glorified selfishness. In a very early portion of the book, Richard is giving a speech in which he says that he is not fighting for anyone but himself, and that everyone else should fight for the same selfish cause. It made Richard's preexisting noble cause into nothing more than selfishness.

Most glaringly, it creates a huge inconsistency in the book. Richard says that you should fight for your own self-interest. Yet, somehow, he holds up freedom, in a general sense, as worth fighting for, despite no obvious personal interest in giving a number of others freedom. For example, it is not in Richard's interests to give Jagang freedom. Rather, he wants to kill him. But if he believes that everyone has the right to fight for their own self-interests, then he is justifying Jagang's raping, pillaging, and murdering, because those things are in the self-interest of Jagang.

I simply wish to make sure that all are forewarned; while this book is, in many ways, a return to the more creative and engaging "early" Goodkind work, it is perhaps the most philosophically inconsistent and offensive. If you are a person of any faith (or, as Goodkind would call you, a "fool"), you may wish to consider your wish to financially support such writing.

If you feel you can sufficiently separate your personal beliefs from your reading of this book, then it could very well be a good investment for you. While it is obvious that his philosophy and quality of work are not connected, I am left wishing that while his story got better, that his philosophy did not become so much worse.

The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being a Groom, 2E (Pocket Idiot's Guides)
The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being a Groom, 2E (Pocket Idiot's Guides)
by Jennifer Lata Rung
Edition: Paperback
112 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, maybe; Good, for sure, September 10, 2003
It has been said that this book is too simple, that it tells someone getting married what he should know anyway. I cannot argue that this book is highly detailed, however, that, by no means implies that this book has no merits. First, it provides a backup, just in case the guy who thinks he knows it all, in fact does not; hopefully it also makes sure the bride and the groom are "on the same page" when it comes to the wedding planning. Secondly, it provides a great sense of focus, that can help make the wedding planning a lot less confusing. While planning it is easy to forget everything you need to do (even if you knew it months before), and sometimes it can help one remember the real meaning of the wedding. And lastly, for those guys who have to mediate anything between their bride and/or their families, this book provides a great reference for telling "Dad" that, in fact, he does have to pay for the ladies' corsages, or the bride that, despite her feelings to the contrary, that she might be spending a bit much on the cake. Sure, it is a simple book, but that can be exaclty what one needs: a simple reference to double check info with, and to keep his focus.

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
by Francisco Jiménez
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.98
161 used & new from $1.74

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled Compassion, September 10, 2003
Francisco Jimenez doesn't preach, he doesn't tell, he doesn't demand that you change your views about the migrant population in the US; he does tell a story of a migrant family with more tenderness than I have read anywhere. He doesn't rely on dramatic anecdotes to relay his point, but rather allows the realistic simplicity of the stories to speak for themselves. Doing so makes the stories all the more meaninful, as the reader never feels like he is being told exagerated accounts of a migrant child's life.

A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Patricia Hersch
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.05
319 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Call to Arms, September 10, 2003
Patricia Hersch, author of A Tribe Apart, does a spectacular thing: she takes an honest and thoughtful look at today's youth. Rather than treat them as statistics, or worse, see them with fear, she is able to fall into their world, and later, to come out with real and fair assessments of the thoughts and feelings of adolescents. She does so without being condescending or cruel, and in doing so, gives those not among these youth, a means by which we can better understand these children, and, ultimately, take responsibility for our own role in their lives and experiences. In that light, Hersch shows that giving a child physical things, like a house, a car, and food, is not enough to help them achieve neither academically nor socially. Rather, in a world that seems committed to, or ignorant of, a lack of guidance being given to these children, these youth need adults that can give them perspective, and a sense of morality that is derived from something other than their own scared lives. As an interesting twist of fate, it takes Hersch's journey into the world of these teens to give us the perspective to see that, more than anything, these children need our perspective to gain a hold over their own lives.
It seems as though nearly every time we hear about youth, it is to hear some terrifying statistic such as that 25% of 18 year olds have been sexually abused (p. 246). The unfortunate side effect of this is that we are constantly being thrown statistics that turn youth into monsters, not humans. It looks nothing at the cause of these problems, but rather alienates youth, so that parents and society can develop a misconception that their own actions have nothing to do with the current condition of youth. It works off the assumption that somehow these youth are inherently different, and that modern influences have nothing to do their transgressions. It is a shirking of responsibility, born from the very mentality that has led to these children being raised as clumsily as they are (p. 22); in the sixties there was a portion of society that adhered to concepts of morality based in lack of judgment, and full of contradiction. The fact of the matter is that these youth are no different than previous generations, except that the family and society they are being exposed to is different. It is therefore the responsibility of parents and society to realize their own faults, and support the youth that have for too long gone neglected. The beautiful thing about A Tribe Apart is that it doesn't rely on fear tactics, it doesn't disavow responsibility, but rather takes a look at today's "normal" kids, examines their feelings, and shows the means by which so many of our youth are reacting to society so violently.

Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray
Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray
by Helen Fisher
Edition: Paperback
121 used & new from $0.01

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Honest Look at Love, September 10, 2003
As I biologist, I am constantly frustrated by the unscientific (and often ultra-philisophical) interpretation that goes on when considering humanity, and particularly love. This book took the extreme interest that exists about human sexuality and love, and places them in a scientific light, without necissarily demonizing or undermining the amazing feelings that go along with love; Fisher simply explains the science behind these amazingly rich and powerful feelings in an attempt to better know ourselves.

Naked Empire (Sword of Truth)
Naked Empire (Sword of Truth)
by Terry Goodkind
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.38
322 used & new from $0.01

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on Track, July 27, 2003
It seems as though Terry Goodkind had trouble with 2 things recently: 1) he didn't know how to combine a moral message he considers important with the storyline, and 2) he was having trouble thinking of new (and "fresh") problems for Richard and Kahlan. Goodkind is truly an amazing author, and I feel that this book is a testament that the fire is not out of him yet. While I would still rank WFR, SOT, and TOTW over this book, it is the most energetic and engaging book he has written in some time. I would go so far as to say that chapter 53 (I'll stay vague so as not to spoil it) was my favorite single chapter of all time. Terry Goodkind found a second wind with this book, and was able to make an exciting and believable conflict, while still expressing a strong moral conviction. Some great plot twists. Definitely worth reading, even if you've become disillusioned by his last 3 books.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Offered by Legendary Games
Price: $93.01
245 used & new from $29.97

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Story Yet, April 9, 2003
This installment in the Zelda series lives up to its name. It has all the elements that Zelda players love, such as a large and interesting world, great puzzles, suspense, and the BEST STORY associated with a Zelda game yet. Just the premise is great, but even so, the plot twists will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I know I wasn't expecting all of it.
The only problem people have noted about the game is the graphics. The cell shading makes the game look like a cartoon, and some people have thought that this is untrue to the essence of Zelda. But, for another example of the same phenomena, just look at SNES Zelda: A Link to the Past, which is similarly cartoon-like, given its 2D format.
I am confident that even the greatest skeptics will change their mind about the graphics once they play the game. The detail that has been given to the world is astounding. The arrows that bounce unintended targets, the enemies that can injure one another accidentally, the ocean swells, all of these things make for the most realistic and engaging Zelda World yet.
My only personal sadness with the game was that it was too short. It took only 6 (arguably) dungeons to finish the game. The game took me about one half the time Zelda: Ocarina of Time took me. On the brighter side, the game is worth every moment of your time regardless of that fact, and, though I have heard no rumor of the sort, the conclusion of the game leaves things wide open for a sequel. I will anxiously await word on such a game.

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