Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Danger Box by Blue Baillet

My previous experience with books by this author is that her beginnings are promising, but I have a tough time maintaining my interest to the end. I had a similar experience here.

This hagiography of Charles Darwin is told through the eyes of a boy who lives with his paternal grandparents after abandonment by his mother and troubled father. He stumbles across a mysterious notebook (It is Darwin's: based on a non-fictional notebook that is, indeed, still missing).

This boy has OCD, and he befriends a girl his age who is as excited as he is as they learn about the owner of the notebook. Together, they create a fun newsletter that slowly reveals facts about the life of Darwin which are printed as free newsletter copies. These newsy little pieces appear between the book chapters telling the story of the main characters. Each newsy-letter issue offers interesting tidbits on Darwin's life.

The newsletters are at least as interesting as the bigger story. Learning more about Darwin was worthwhile since he is an influential scientist who introduced evolutionary theory during a time when species were thought to be quite static.
Nonetheless, there were points I would pick on.

When the author makes a point about Darwin's theory, there's a little added instruction on how it is a theory with such facts to back it up, that "theory" is practically misleading. While I'm neither a 6-day creationist nor a materialist, let's just say, I get the feeling here that critiquing the theory of evolution might not receive the same open-minded admiration from this author that Darwin gets for bucking the status quo of his day.

There are 2 patently silly comments characters in the book make. One is when the grandma says that Darwin's theory wasn't taught in school because people were uncomfortable with it... Maybe in Grannie's day, but such a situation is anachronistic at this point in the history of education.

And the next bit of silliness is the comment that "some people won't use God and evolution in the same sentence." I snorted at this one. OK. This comment was likely geared to the 6-day creationists, and maybe is not too broadly applied for the audience she refers to, but she's misses the mark in search of points for her perspective. It is far more common in educational and cultural elite circles today that the scientific materialists are the ones who will not allow God and evolution in the same sentence. This author would like us to believe it applies to some vague "anti-evolution" group instead.

The book missed the real argument anyway, while skirting around an apologetic for Darwinian evolution. Science can tell us whatever it can and will about the hows of the laws that govern the natural universe. The heart of the argument is whether time and random chance are the causal mechanisms. The book missses this entirely.

I don't even want to argue about evolution. I get a headache at all the agendas out there, and I'm tired of it. I do,though, think it is crucial we teach our children about the topic before they enter college years. And I think it important to teach them in a much more open-minded perspectie than current political correctness allows. I, as usual, am with the Pope: science is a tool and whatever it tells us about evolution, it won't be contrary to Truth, which is symphonic.

FYI: This book is a good example of the dominant paradigm our children will encounter in the popular world re: evolution. But it's not an in-depth exploration.

One last thing: the girl and boy of the novel both have at least one highly dysfunctional parent who has abandoned them. The boy's dad even threatens him. The boy and girl both decide that this has made them better people. That's a bit over-the-line for me. These two may overcome the devastation of this rejection, and this may help them develop important virtues. But I don't think that celebrating the destruction of your natural family is anything short of denial. It is something to be survived, not embraced as an inherent good!



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