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Friday, September 12, 2008

Intelligent design and popular culture: Darwin dissing thrillers?

Some friends and I were wasting time this afternoon and we got round to the question of whether anybody had written a thriller dissing Darwinism.

Yes, I said we were wasting time, okay? No, I was not using my time efficiently.

Anyway, one friend sent me a note saying that Frank Peretti wrote the definitive Darwin disser, Monster.

From Publishers Weekly

In this long-awaited novel, Peretti (This Present Darkness; The Visitation) tells the story of a young woman who disappears in the Idaho wilderness and the ensuing search for her. The author's prose is clear and crisp, with only a few lapses into Lovecraftian hyperbole: his description of the novel's almost mythical setting is rich and detailed without being overwritten and his characterization of the woman, Beck, and the very unusual creatures she encounters is compelling. Peretti successfully incorporates several contemporary detective drama/suspense thriller tropes; one of his main characters, for example, is a crime scene investigator, and welcome doses of forensic evidence and DNA analysis are thrown into the mix. But the novel suffers from too many supporting characters, and Peretti's failure to develop them greatly compromises the conclusion. More problematic, though, is the novel's agenda with regard to the theory of evolution. Not raised overtly until the middle of the book, Peretti's critique of certain aspects of Darwinism eclipses the story and leads it to an unsatisfying and somewhat confusing end. As in Peretti's previous novels, those who hold conservative views are portrayed as heroic and those who disagree as evil. The novel's devolution into this simplistic moralism, however, will not keep Peretti fans away, and its many merits may attract other readers as well. 400,000 first printing. (Apr. 12)

The author of the review is clearly uncomfortable with a non-reverential attitude to Darwin. Perhaps due to too many ponderous public broadcasting science specials. The friend comments, "This is actually a pretty good read, though not as intense as The Oath."

My own view was,
Most “cause” books and movies are terrible. Just terrible. Freakingly awful.

There is a good reason for that.

A novel or film must incarnate, not explain.

It must show people living the situation, not talking about it.

Here is an example. The only genuinely good pro life movie I ever saw was Bella.

I review it here.

Bella makes NO attempt to preach or convert. The young pregnant woman spends a day with the only man around who actually understands viscerally the dilemma she faces (= a few moments’ carelessness have radically altered her life). It totally works and it won the Toronto People’s Choice Award.

Rent or buy Bella and see what I mean.
A person who wants to write a novel or screenplay about the intelligent design controversy must make the lives of the people real. Incarnate them. No, it is not easy, but it is where the bar is set.


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