Saturday, July 9, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Eight

This excerpt is from the eighth chapter of Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

The Intelligent Designer

On Wednesday, just as I was about to go through the coffee shop door, I heard a voice coming from the courtyard. It was the stranger saying, “I’m out here, friend. It’s such a pretty day, why don’t we sit outside?”

That wasn’t my pattern, but conversing with this stranger for the past several days wasn’t my pattern either. “Sure,” I said. “I’ll be back as soon as I get my coffee.”

With coffee and bagel in hand, I went back outside and sat down. It was a little bit windy and my napkin started drifting across the table. Quickly, I reached out and grabbed the napkin just before it fell into the stranger’s lap. As I was about to retract my hand, he noticed a scar on my finger. “I hope you don’t think I’m being nosy, but I see that you have quite a scar on your finger. Do you mind telling me what happened to your finger?”

I thought, Do I think he’s nosy? I almost snickered. This guy had decided to be my friend without any encouragement on my part. Now, he was looking out for my health. Is he nosy? You bet he is.

Looking down to see what he was referring to, I saw the scar. I had nearly forgotten about the injury. “Oh, that. A couple of months ago, while repairing my gas grill, my hand slipped against a sharp component of the grill. It nearly cut my finger to the bone.”

“Did you go to the doctor?”

“No, I’m not into that medical stuff. Doctors and dentists scare me to death. I would rather take a beating than to go to a doctor.”

“But you said you were cut to the bone. To me, that sounds serious enough to require medical attention. At the very least, you needed a tetanus shot.”

“Probably so, but I did my own doctoring. I looked in my bathroom cabinets and found antiseptics and butterfly bandages. Then I closed up the wound and gave it time to heal. I don’t think it looks any different than it would have if a doctor had taken care of it. There were other nosy people who were also chiding me for not seeing a doctor, too.” Uh-oh. I just had a slip of the tongue. Telling a little white lie I continued, “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to imply that you were being nosy.

With a broad smile on his face he said, “No offense taken.”

“Well, sir, like you, they were acting concerned and suggesting that I could end up with a dangerous infection or a horrible-looking scar. But here I am, healthy and whole.”

“Thank goodness for that,” he said. “It sure is nice that your body is capable of healing itself of so many potentially dangerous infections and diseases. Your body is an amazing self-healing machine, isn’t it?”

Before I could open my mouth to answer he continued, “You closed up the wound with a bandage and then watched as your body knitted the wound back together. Have you ever considered just how proactive your body is in destroying potentially life-threatening attacks? Do you realize that this activity goes on continuously: minute by minute and day by day?”

“No, I haven’t given it much thought.”

“Exactly,” he said. “There are literally hundreds and thousands of potential disease and infection attacks on your body every day. If you had to think about a response to each and every one of those attacks, you wouldn’t have time for doing anything else. Your body is designed to keep itself healthy with little or no conscious thought on your part. Just think of the contaminants in the air you breathe. And then, nearly every time you put something in your mouth, you are also swallowing innumerable bacteria that would just love to ravage your body. Thankfully, the various defense mechanisms in your body just automatically identify, attack, and destroy all of those harmful intruders.”

“Interesting,” I replied. “I wish my computer was that efficient. I’m always dealing with a computer virus.”

“Yes, friend, as smart as computers are, they don’t stand a chance against the complexities and abilities of the human mind and the human body.”

“Perhaps so, sir.”

“Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t see a doctor. A doctor, along with the medicine he gives you, assists your body in healing itself, sometimes at a much faster rate. The medical world has done wonders in eliminating many serious diseases.”

“I suppose you’re right, sir. There certainly does seem to be a lot more disease in third-world countries than there is here at home.”

“Yes, we have a lot to be thankful for. Speaking of disease and sickness, have you ever wondered why they say there is no cure for the common cold?”

“Come to think about it, that certainly is strange. They can just about eliminate polio from the face of the planet, but they can’t do much about a simple thing like the common cold.”

“Well, friend, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard that the common cold may never be eliminated.”

“That’s interesting. I’ve got a feeling that you’re getting ready to tell me why. I’m eaten up with suspense, sir. Let’s hear it.”

“From what I hear, the common cold is the body’s way of cleaning house.”

“That makes no sense to me, sir.”

“Think about it for a second. You vacuum a carpet, because over time the carpet accumulates dirt, dust, pet hair, and everything else you can imagine. Your vacuum cleaner removes all the dirt for you. However, if you don’t empty the bag, the vacuum cleaner will eventually lose suction and quit cleaning the carpet. Likewise, I’ve heard some people claim that your body also cleans house. The contaminants you breathe and swallow need to exit the body in some way or another. If they can’t be expelled properly and quickly, your body will give you what is known as the common cold. For two or three days you cough, sneeze, and blow your nose. Could it be that your body has just cleaned out its vacuum cleaner bag? I don’t know, but it sounds logical to me.”

“Sounds far fetched to me, but who knows, maybe it’s true.”

“And then, there’s the fever. There are those who say that your body develops a fever to burn out and destroy harmful organisms in your body. I’m not a doctor, but that sounds reasonable also.”

“Are we having all of this discussion because I’ve got a scar on my finger?” I asked.

“Yep, you’re right,” he said. “Whether the common cold theory or the fever theory is true or not, it’s still true that your body is an amazing healing machine. Wouldn’t you agree with that?”

Wearily, I agreed.

Without any sign of slowing down, he continued, “Your body is one complex organism, doing many things at once with little or no conscious effort on your part, right?”

Before I had a chance to respond, he continued, “Your body is one single biological unit, but on closer examination a person would have to admit that the human body is able to function only because many organs and other body parts are working in cooperation and in unison with each other. While the heart’s only function is to pump blood, it depends on signals from the brain to determine the rate of its pumping action. Even though the heart has no direct contact with the kidneys, it must supply blood to the kidneys so that they might do their own function for the health of the body. If the heart failed to supply blood to the kidneys, the kidneys would fail to do their part. If the kidneys failed to do their part, the heart would ultimately fail. So the kidneys are dependent on the heart, but the heart is dependent on the kidneys. It gets confusing doesn’t it?”

As usual, he had my mind going in circles. It seemed as though every subject he talked about gradually went to the impossible premise that everything is dependent on something else.

“Think about your vision,” he said. “You don’t even think about the effort involved in order to cause your eyes to function properly so that you can enjoy looking at nature. Your brain tells your eyes to focus on your cup of coffee. Then in an instant, when you decide to look up at a tree, your brain instructs your eyes to change shape and focus on the tree. Like your body, your eyes are made up of many intricate mechanisms that all work together in an intelligent manner so that you might be able to see the tree.” Without missing a beat he continued, “Your body is an amazing biological machine. Your body is made up of many interconnected, dependent organs. The organs are made up of specialized tissues and cells. The cells are made up of molecules, and the molecules are made up of atoms. Each and every step we take toward the most basic parts of our bodies, we find materials that are working together in an efficient and intelligent manner for the good of the greater.”

“I didn’t know I was meeting you this morning for a biology lesson,” I said.

“Well, with me you never know, do you? It appears that the wonders of your body can prove that there is a God.”

Here we go again, I thought.

He continued, “The way your body works and the way every part of your body works together can only be accomplished by an intelligent order. Like the relationship between the heart and the kidneys, if any interdependent part of an organ fails to do its part, other parts, and the body as a whole, will suffer. The only way such interdependence can exist is by way of intelligent design. Design doesn’t just happen by chance. Design is the product of a designer.

“The universe and everything in it operates the way it does because of its design. Since everything in the universe is dependent upon something else in some way or another, there must be intelligent design.

“This intelligent design cannot be a part of the universe because the entire universe operates as a result of intelligent design. There must be something that is not a part of the universe that intelligently designs all that is within the universe. There must be something that is designed in and of itself and requires no outside influence for its own intelligent design.”

He stopped and sat back in his chair for what seemed like an eternity. The ensuing silence allowed my mind to consider his latest statements. I could not deny the fact that the components of the universe seem to have the uncanny ability of working together as if they were designed to do so. Although I didn’t have any strong feelings regarding the existence of God, his argument certainly did cause me to wonder about the possibility of some sort of intelligent design. I didn’t have anything more to add, so I just waited for his next words.

Presently, he said, “There must be a non-designed intelligent designer. This non-designed designer must be designed in and of itself. It cannot be designed by any other outside influence. There must be an Intelligent Designer of this universe and all that is in it. The Intelligent Designer is God.”

He had done it again. It seemed that every time he came to one of his deep and mysterious conclusions, he would break out in a great big smile as if he was patting himself on the back for how smart he was.

“You make a good argument,” I said. “I don’t know if I’m more intrigued with the subject matter of your arguments or your techniques for building a case.”

“I take that as a compliment,” he said. “You are very kind.”

I hadn’t made up my own mind if I was being kind to him or not. How many days was I going to have to listen to this stranger? I really liked the coffee shop and I didn’t want to try out a new one, but it seemed that as long as I continued to frequent this particular shop, I was going to have to deal with him.

Time was beginning to slip by and I needed to leave for work. I told him that his intelligent designer argument was somewhat interesting, but not interesting enough to sway my opinion one way or another.

Unaffected by my candor, he smiled at me and continued drinking his coffee. I didn’t know if I could ever hurt his feelings. My remarks just seemed to go right past him as if I hadn’t said a word. As a matter of fact, he seemed to get friendlier than ever before.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

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