Sean McDowell is a Christian apologist, but his latest suggestions for summer reading aren’t all, or even mostly, apologetics. One of the picks is about a successful traveling speaker’s realization that “influence in students’ lives was strongly correlated with personal investment.” Another is The Allure of Gentleness by Dallas Willard. Another is the Gospel of Mark. Another is The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall. McDowell says about that one:
Gottschall opened my eyes up to how central story is to virtually everything we do as humans — campaigns are stories, commercials are stories, movies are stories, songs are stories, we communicate with stories and our lives are stories. The author attempts to give a Darwinian account for our storytelling nature, and as I describe here, I believe he falls short. To me, our storytelling nature best points to the fact that we are part of a Grand Story.
Number 2 on McDowell’s list is The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, co-authored by Center for Science & Culture senior fellow Jay Richards. McDowell describes it as one of his all-time favorites.
The book makes a conventional fine-tuning argument for intelligent design but also an original argument that extends further. McDowell explains:
The authors discuss the fine-tuning of the laws of physics and also how there needs to be a number of precise factors in place for life to survive on Earth — such as a carefully calibrated atmosphere of the right gases, a moon, surrounding gas giants, a sun of our size and age, and much more. But then they make an additional argument, namely, that our location in the galaxy is carefully designed for discovery. There is a surprising “coincidence” between the factors that enable us to survive and those that allow us to make discoveries about our universe. For instance, Earth sits within a narrow range of places where life could exist, and yet Earth also has a rare platform uniquely suited for discovery. This book was a game-changer for me about how I look at our moon, surrounding planets and our place in the galaxy.
The Privileged Planet is available for purchase here. A one-hour documentary based on the book, which aired on PBS and in dozens of countries around the world, is available here at Amazon for purchase or rental, and here at Netflix.
Get one or both and make it a summer of discovery.
Photo: Earth as seen from Apollo 10, May 18, 1969, via NASA.