Things I Liked:
I loved reading a biography of Charles Darwin that talked about his wife! I thought it was very intriguing to see how much they disagreed on the subject of God and his role in the creation and in their daily lives. I also thought it was very interesting to read about the kinds of difficulties Charles felt while trying to sort out and publish his ideas on natural selection. I am both a religious and a scientific person (I studied physics and astronomy before I became a librarian) and I was particularly interested in Charles' friend Asa Gray's views on reconciling those two seemingly conflicting beliefs. The book offers such a unique look at how people dealt with those kinds of discrepancies back then and probably still applies to many people today. Reading about how both Charles and Emma interacted with their children and dealt with grief was much more interesting to me, however, than reading Darwin's work on natural selection or worms. The relationship between them was very touching, despite their differences.
Things I Didn't Like:
I wish there had been more about Emma. I kept wanting to know if she would discuss religion and God with Charles often or if she just let him take his own path. We didn't get a lot of insight into her, but what we did see was intriguing. I had to laugh a bit at the arrogance in this statement: "In The Origin, Charles wasn't trying to murder Emma's God; he was trying to show how he believed creation really occurred. He knew he was right." (p 182). He wasn't generally arrogant (at least that wasn't the impression I got from the biography), but this statement just made me want to laugh a bit. I also found it highly ironic that he would often use phrases like "Thank God" in his letters - who did he think he was thanking? I'm sure he was just using common phrases of the time, but I wonder if it ever struck him how humorous it was to use such phrases and not really believe in a God.
I kept thinking of Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
A bit like The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
It also made me interested in picking up Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle
BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
a very few
a couple of suggestive parts
Overall rating: ****
If you are a religious person, do you ever struggle to reconcile your religious beliefs with science?
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