TITLE: Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World
AUTHOR: Oren Harman
PUBLICATION DATE: June 2018
FORMAT: kindle ebook/PDF
NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.
From the blurb:
"We no longer think, like the ancient Chinese did, that the world was hatched from an egg, or, like the Maori, that it came from the tearing-apart of a love embrace. The Greeks told of a tempestuous Hera and a cunning Zeus, but we now use genes and natural selection to explain fear and desire, and physics to demystify the workings of the universe.
Science is an astounding achievement, but are we really any wiser than the ancients? Has science revealed the secrets of fate and immortality? Has it provided protection from jealousy or love? There are those who believe that science has replaced faith, but must it also be a death knell for mythology?
Evolutions brings to life the latest scientific thinking on the birth of the universe and the solar system, the journey from a single cell all the way to our human minds. Reawakening our sense of wonder and terror at the world around us and within us, Oren Harman uses modern science to create new and original mythologies. Here are the earth and the moon presenting a cosmological view of motherhood, a panicking mitochondrion introducing sex and death to the world, the loneliness of consciousness emerging from the memory of an octopus, and the birth of language in evolution summoning humankind's struggle with truth. Science may not solve our existential puzzles, but like the age-old legends, its magical discoveries can help us continue the never-ending search."
This book is exactly what it states on the cover - 15 myths that explain our world - but it is not a comparative mythology text or a book that refutes misconceptions of evolution. In this book, Oren Harman takes some of the current scientific knowledge (about the formation of the universe, Earth, and evolution of various organisms) and formulates it into 15 mythological "stories", usually from someone's perspective (e.g. Mother Earth, a trilobite). The writing style is fanciful and lyrical, occassionally overly verbose.
I'm really not sure who the target audience of this book is supposed to be. If you have knowledge of the topics the author covers, you might find this book amusing, though you won't find any new information. If your scientific knowledge is limited, then most of these 15 myths will probably be confusing to you. Personally I found the Chapter "Illuminations", which provides references and explains where the author got his information, more interesting than all the fuzzy mythological stories. In my opinion, this book is either very clever or very silly, depending on the readers mood and inclination for expecting something more substantial than wierd stories touted as myths. I really was hoping for more meat and less fluffiness.