Up Close: Rachel Carson by Ellen Levine: A Book Review

Rachel Carson is famous for her science nonfiction, THE SILENT SPRING. I had been aware of its immortality among the literati, notably on the list of the TIME as one of the best nonfictions of all time. In fact,I had turned my back on it many times whenever I saw it at my stomping ground. I just skimmed it since it is nonfiction,and I was borne upon the idea that it could no longer be reliable.

Had it been written in great detail or by Rachel Carson herself,for sure, I would have given 5 stars. Nevertheless, I still LIKED it a whole lot,because Rachel Carson was an amazing woman . She inspired not only people with scientific mentality, but even the laymen like me. She even caused me to regress to the “delusional personality “I tried to be- a trying -hard environmentalist. I believe that any books attempted to be written about her would be still worth reading just the like of this Ellen Levine’s.

This book reflects in the other side of Rachel Carson,mostly her dedication to her field of studies, her determination to achieve her dreams, her sisterly and daughterly love for her family,and her viewpoints about religion and science -let alone the question about her being a spinster.

What I liked about Rachel Carson,according to the book, is her “reverence for life”. She humbled herself despite her superior intelligence. She preferred to use her god -send talent in writing in informing the public about how they should have loved the nature ,how they should have been aware of the dangers of artificial chemicals,particularly the pesticides. She used the literature as the instrument to catch their interest in natural sciences. She intended not to be technical ; she put her ideas into the language of the layman. This was how she may have been revolting against the greedy capitalists in 1960’s. She was the antithesis of Harriet Beecher,the author behind the UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Both were considered nothing in the eyes of the big time business men and politicians but they made a big difference.

In some cases, reading a biography could be apocryphal because of the credibility of the facts and information data gleaned by authors. They could pad their “masterpieces ” with a pack of “fairy tales” to pan out in the market. So could autobiographers. On the other hand, Helen Levine’s may be credible since all the information came primarily from Rachel Carson’ s documents.But what I appreciated about H. Levine is the simplicity of how she narrated Rachel Carson’s personal and professional life. Reading it was like as though I watched a documentary peppered with enough information- enough to inform a reader like me.

Had she written it in great detail combined with her writing skills , like an ambitious novel,for sure, I would have really given it 5 stars. But giving it 5 or 4 stars is neither here nor there. I care about the message of Rachel Carson,so when I go to the bookstore one of these days, I will not give a shadow of doubt about buying the SILENT SPRING more so I’ve got an idea of how she wrote it.

TRIVIA :

Rachel Carson was an ailurophile. She had a confederation of cats which became her companions in writing her notable books. The last cat that became the instrument of her writing the SILENT SPRING was Jeffie. Hahaha! Cool, Rachel. ^^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

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GOD and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway? by John C. Lennox: A Book Review

stephenI can feel that John C.  Lennox is deeply devoted to his God. Thus, I cannot blame him if he is such a dye in the wool; he is not far different from the said notorious atheists  such as Sam Harris,  Christopher Hitchens,   and Richard Dawkins , militantly criticize all  the major religions in the world.  I may be an avowed atheist as I always put it here bluntly,  in accord with their proposition that God does not exist, but I have at last agreed with the famous contemporary British philosopher , Alain de Botton, that in practicality, people need religion , in a sense that  without it,  is dangerous  since  such practice has become part of  culture around the world. In fact, Alain de Botton  is an atheist too.

In this book, originally a response article to  Stephen Hawking’s book The Grand Design  (co-authored with Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow ) that appeared in the Daily Mail, September 3, 2010, John Lennox, a Mathematics professor and religious adviser , contradicts  Stephen Hawking’s claim  that:

 “ Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

In Lennox ‘s  apologetic opinion, the Universe  and everything  needs a creator: God. However, the problem with John Lennox’s argument is anthropomorphic and pantheistic.  Cognizant he may be of these facts , he points out that the Universe and all natural phenomena cannot come into existence without a creator: God. If so, what does he mean by God? In a sense that God is  in human form, a superhuman with such superpower to be able to create everything even the vast Universe? Such an idea is beyond our imagination. Or does  not he  mean that   creator is a  force  as what pantheists believe? How about  the idea of Carl Jung that human is the God itself? Since he argues that everything cannot be put into action without an agent?

John Lennox argues that scientific laws and theories do not  actuate human and have cause nd effects; they, according to him,  only describe how things happen. They are even untestable; for instance, the idea of M-theory.  He must have overlooked or, to put it mildly, brushed the fact aside that scientific laws and theories have   been the bases on explaining how things happen  and are changing ,or  can possibly happen  in the future , since the time immemorial. To put it bluntly again, I ‘d rather believe in those laws and theories than in something irrational, inconstant, and illogical.

Miracle is another argument not only John Lennox, let alone the believers turn to to believe that God exists. As far as we  are concerned, miracle means  something happens without explicit and rational explanation. In other words,  when people are not able to explain a phenomena, they invoke God. Once again, God means in superhuman  or pantheistic form? How about drawing the conclusion that   such case is under the subject to extensive and thorough studies Period.? The problem with believers is that they are instilled in the fear of denying  God’s  existence. And this is the point of Alain de Botton as I have mentioned above.

For me, not in a bellicose and belligerent way, John Lennox’s argument is a product of  religious upbringing. His reasons are incorrigible. But to avoid religious collision, I will take deBoton’s opinion: Respect one another. Sad to say, it turns out not to be a religious anti-dote at all.

I could have liked the book by giving it 2 out of 5 stars  only if Lennox were not so “ idealistic”.But 1 star does not necessarily mean this is poor, but in a sense that how the book convinced me. This is the way here on Goodreads it is!