Fossil Hunter is part of the Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed campaign. Expelled is a documentary (I haven’t seen it) exploring the difficulties that those in the fields of education, science and academia encounter when they simply suggest or explore the possibility that an intelligent being (God) was involved in the creation of the Earth. A quick peek through the movie website and blog reveal the intensely vitriolic feelings aroused by this topic.
I read Fossil Hunter to see how the conflict between intelligent design and evolution was developed and explored within the context of a fictional novel. Before I read this title, I knew very little about the Intelligent Design movement, the beliefs of those involved in it, and the difficulties they face within the hardcore sciences. I now feel that I’ve at least had a glimpse into what those who believe in an “Intelligent Designer” (God) face in their professional lives, as well as their beliefs. Author John B. Olson, holder of a Ph.D. in biochemistry, does an excellent job portraying the persecution Christian academics face, and the suppression of scientific data that does not match the theory of evolution.
Dr. Katie James is a paleontologist, one of the ‘hot’ names in the field of working with whale fossils. She is also a Christian, her father a Pastor – not a fact that she widely broadcasts, nor a secret either. When she comes under scrutiny for her beliefs and loses her position, her only chance to redeem herself is to undertake an exciting, dangerous, once-in-a-lifetime expedition to Iraq. Turbulent times follow, with a dangerous political climate, fossil smugglers and a competing team, led by Dr. Nick Murad seeking to beat her to the find.
Katie is a complicated character, fiercely self-reliant, yet achingly vulnerable due to a debilitating phobia that has haunted her, and damaged her professional career. It is no surprise then, that Nick finds himself entranced by this unique combination of traits (few men can resist a vulnerable woman). His interest is tastefully developed and never crosses the line into inappropriate behaviour. Unlike many modern heroes, he conducts himself in a most gentlemanly way towards Katie. Based on his previous experiences with women, this is definitely a change of pace for him, but you’ll love the gentle way he treats Katie, and his respect for her Christian convictions despite his own confusion and ambivalence regarding her faith.
Reading Katie’s discussions with Nick and others on her faith, belief in God as creator, and views on evolution, I wished I could join in the fictional conversation. Though she is a Christian, she feels that the Bible does not clearly and literally speak to a seven-day creation period or disallow evolution. Our family does believe in a young earth and seven-day creation, we feel the Bible speaks very clearly in this regard, and I’d love to share some scriptures with her character. You won’t find a vigorous defense of biblical creationism within these pages; the science presented uses evolutionary time-spans and terminology.
While Katie’s Christian standards do shine through in her response to Nick’s romantic interest, there are other areas in her Christian walk that I would have loved to see her grow in during the course of the book. Katie has a problem with deception, including outright lies. We do see her clearly and publicly repentant on one occasion, but that is not the end of her deceptions, and this sin isn’t resolved within the course of the novel. I was disappointed to find violence on her part towards those opposing her to be so lauded and admired. Jesus gives us clear instructions on dealing with our enemies – physical violence is never one of the options he gives us. I do feel it’s possible for Christian authors to write intense adventure stories without having Christian characters resorting to violence.
Vividly written, with just enough heat-rash, grit, and sand to make you jump in the shower, Fossil Hunter is sure to appeal to those with a love of the sciences, action, fossil digs and political intrigue.Powered by Sidelines