Coils of the Serpent Cover
357 pages, softcover.

Front Cover
Back Cover
    Prologue: A Death
    Ch 1. Friends
    Ch 2. Agent Hall
    Ch 5: The Challenge
    Ch 23: Eden
    Suggested Reading
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Excerpt from the end of Chapter 5: The Challenge


What’s this ‘point’ you say we’re missing?” Dan asked intently, surprised by the challenge of the bearded vagabond.

The man leaned toward the group and cleared his throat again. “Well, you say it’s a fact that DNA and the details of life are the same for all life, right?”

Absolutely.” Shannon set her coffee down and picked up the stirring stick again; she waved it as she talked. “There’s no debate about that. Scientists are amazed at the uniformity among—”

Well then,” the stranger interrupted, “is it also true that throughout history, life used exactly the same pattern? For example, were the humans of six thousand years ago also based on DNA and cells like we have today?”

Without a doubt,” Shannon answered. “Mummified remains from Egypt are at least that old. They’ve recently recovered DNA from Neanderthals, perhaps 30,000 years old. I understand that DNA may have been recovered from bones of a prehistoric animal—perhaps a dinosaur—from an 1,800-foot-deep coal mi—”

Surface,” he grunted. “You’re just talking on the surface. You’ve got to dig in. Push your discussion deeper.” He dug his hands into the air before him as if he were scooping out a hole.

The three friends scanned faces and waited for him to continue.

Wasn’t our discussion already deep? What does this guy mean? Dan thought.

Shannon didn’t say anything. She apparently thought 1,800 feet was already deep enough.

The stranger stroked his heavy beard. “Let me start with a simple question: Would God understand DNA? Would God understand this uniform underlying pattern of life?”

Oh great, a homeless beach preacher, just what we need, Dan thought.

Okay, that’s easy,” John said, without delay. “Of course he would. God created the universe, earth, and all life. He would obviously know everything about DNA and how biology works. Indeed, since all life is built on this one pattern, I think it proves a single source of creation, the intelligent design of a single creator.”

Wait...” Shannon held up the red plastic stirring stick to make her point. “This single pattern—it’s more likely the result of evolution from a single primordial life form. God could have used many patterns. Why use only one? Why would an unlimited God be limited to only one pattern? Evolutionary theory is much more strongly supported by this simple question.”

Shannon, we all know we’ll never agree on this,” John said in a condescending voice. “Let’s try to answer this guy’s question and not get sidetracked, okay? If you accept that God exists, he would obviously understand DNA, right?”

Okay, John, fine.” Shannon was abrupt. “Look, if you assume that God created life and knows all about it, then God would obviously know all about it. If he knows it, then he knows it. That’s what logicians call a ‘tautology’—a definition that simply proves itself. It’s worthless!”

This introduction of religion into their otherwise peaceful conversation delineated a war zone between Shannon and John. Dan began to worry that this normally taboo topic would ruin the three-way friendship and bonding the group had developed since they first met at the book club meeting.

Dan wanted to find some middle ground. “Consider this: In spite of all our scientific understanding, the basic forces of nature are still quite mysterious; we have to agree on that. For example, magnetic fields can be defined and mathematically described to great detail—we have cell phones, radios, TVs—but scientists really don’t know how such invisible fields can exist. They just do. Gravity is even more baffling. We are subject to its constant influence, but we don’t know how it works. We can’t manipulate the gravity field at all—at least, not yet. There are no anti-gravity cars or gravity lenses, or anything like that.

Even though we don’t really know how they can exist, these basic forces define how our world works. If evolution is factual, it also complies with these basic laws of nature, even if the ultimate source of those forces is unknown. Evolution doesn’t explain why these underlying laws of nature exist, but it must still conform to those laws. I can understand how a reasonable person can rely on God as the creator of these invisible forces while still embracing the theory of evolution. It’s not too hard.”

Since we have complete agreement on that question, let’s move on.” The stranger smirked, but beneath his cap his eyes twinkled. “You can believe what you want, but let’s assume, for sake of discussion at least, that there is a god—a creator. God would obviously understand DNA and the secrets of biological mechanisms; that seems simple enough. But that’s not really the question I was talking about.” His eyes grew serious as he held their gaze.

The question, my friends, is simply this: Are these biological facts ever described by sacred literature? For example, have you ever seen any mention of DNA and the basic pattern of life in the Bible?”

The room grew quiet. Ceiling fans turned slowly above their heads and the red second-hand of the clock on the far wall ticked off the seconds one by one.

Dan looked beneath the man’s worn bill into clear, youthful eyes surrounded by wrinkles that hinted of a wealth of experience. His full, graying beard effectively concealed most of the rest of his face. This can’t be just a homeless vagrant. Maybe he’s an ex-professor whose life was ruined by the bottle.

Well, you pose a very interesting question, my friend, but we don’t even know your name. My name is Dan.” He shook hands with the stranger.

Hello, I’m Walker.”

Pleasure.” Walker’s somewhat soiled hand fit comfortably with Dan’s, and he had an unusually disarming and solid handshake.

Next Excerpt: Chapter 23 Eden


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