Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Beautiful Coffee Table Book About Science and Creation {A Review}

In recent months, my children have been showing increasing curiosity about evolution vs. creationism vs. some hybrid of the two.  So, when we were offered an opportunity to review  Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Purposeful Design, I took it!

What is Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation?

Purposeful Design Review

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is a hardcover coffee table style book that that pairs the seven days of creation with many of the accepted principles of science in our world. 

The book's author, Jay Schabacker, has worked on the Apollo Moon Program and in church ministry.  His background in both science and theology becomes evident as readers dig into Purposeful Design.  For, after a brief introduction, each chapter of the book unfolds with:

  • Bible verses related to specific days of creation.
  • connections between the Biblical description of creation and the science of our world.
  • countless captivating photographs and engaging graphics that further illuminate the text.
  • support that God's "Purposeful Design" was lovingly created for us.

Finally, Purposeful Design closes with a one page epilogue that ties all the faith and science of the book's previous pages together with these words:

"Yes, there is the scientific - and even the "miraculous", but the author would like to invoke the "personal", "human touch" to the creation account for you.

"It was done for you and me - lovingly and personally!...

"...by a very personal and compassionate God."

Without question, each of the seven chapters of  Purposeful Design points to such a thesis, recounting how masterfully our Creator has designed such things as:

  • gravity, planets, orbits and more in light of God creating the heavens and the earth on the first day

  • the rain cycle and the perfect percentage of the earth's surface that is water when creating the atmosphere and water on the second day

  • the importance of vegetation and all living things in creating the dry land and vegetation on the third day
  • seasons, the earth's orbit around the sun, the earth's tilt, the phases and benefits of the moon, the ocean tides, opportunities for celestial navigation and more in creating the sun, the moon and the stars on the fourth day

Nina thought he dumbo octopus was "so cutie" she just wanted to hold it.

  • the instincts of birds and fish, the property of ice which makes it float and more while creating the birds and the fish on the fifth day

  • amazing animals (like the camel and cattle) and their features, unique humans with remarkable bodies, cell structures and DNA, incredible brains and more when creating land creatures and humans on the sixth day

In the final chapter, the author discusses the importance of rest in conjunction with the seventh day of creation.

Luke found the design of the Ground Zero memorial interesting.

In the midst of all that, the author also touches on unexpected topics, such as Stonehenge, "Ground Zero" Memorial designs and how man-made structures and technology sometimes mimic God's natural designs.

A Hit Within A Miss

Jack liked looking at the photographs sometimes and asking me to tell him about why they were there.  For example, the submarine and how its  design cues are taken from nature.

When I signed up to review Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation, I was confident that my children would love the book.  

After Purposeful Design arrived and I previewed its page after page of  gorgeous photographs and graphics, I could not wait to introduce it to my children as a visually delightful read aloud.  For even though the book is appropriate for all ages, its reading level is beyond my children's ability.

Upon introducing the book, however, I was disappointed.  

To be honest, my children just were not as taken by it as I thought they would be.  Sure, they found some of the book's stunning photographs, drawings and images interesting, and they appreciated specific pieces of the information and facts that were presented in the book, but, overall, they jut did not love the book the way that I had thought they would.  In fact, just to get my children into the book, I had to lay it aside and, then, re-introduce it several times.

While Nina's interest was not held by lists of facts like the one's above about the cell, she was interested in other images and information, like seeing "the mama taking care of the baby" (in her words).

Among the children's stated issues with the book were that:

  • "There was too much talk and talk... too many details." (Nina, age 7)
  • "I wanted more pictures of humans."  (Jack, age 4)
  • "There was not enough imagination and interesting ways to tell the facts."  (Luke, age 8)

Implied complaints about the book were that it simply did not read well as a read aloud.  Parts of it were too dry, a little technical or just too choppy.  The text lacks a consistent voice.  Sometimes it tells a story. Sometimes it just presents facts.  And, it doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a reading book or a reference book. 

That said, the book makes a delightful coffee table (or end table, as was the literal case in our home), book.  Presenting many nuggets of information paired with rich images, Purposeful Design makes for great browsing, which, in turn, for the curious, can turn into more in-depth reading.

In fact, as my husband and I read parts of the book ourselves and to our children, we learned a few new things and connected ideas we may not previously thought much about.  We also found ourselves continually reminded of the main message of the book:

 Our world is quite purposefully designed by a Master Creator.  

Indeed, in Purposeful Design, that message comes through on all 90+ pages with a menagerie of gorgeous photos and graphics, a wide array of sound scientific facts and an overriding theme of theology.

The plate of cookies pictured at the end of the book prompted Nina to ask about the accompanying text.  That text offered an analogy about how intelligence and a "human touch" were needed for the cookies to be made and left steaming hot, ready to eat, much like our world required the masterful intelligence and purposeful design of a master Creator who loves us.

The facts, scriptures and details presented in Purposeful Design are further emphasized in the free Young Explorers Club Curriculum download that goes along with the book, which we opted not to use in our home yet since the children are, in our opinion, not ready for the reading and writing involved with it.

Final Thoughts

Even with my children's less-than-expected enthusiasm during their first tastes of Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation, I have come away from our weeks of browsing and reading the book glad that it entered our home.  Its message is beautiful; its visual presentation is a feast; and its collection of facts is interesting.  It is a book that is worth a peek!

Fellow Catholics may also be interested to note that although the book was written by a non-Catholic Christian, I noticed nothing in it contrary to Catholic teachings and beliefs.  Further, the book was a 2014 Catholic Book Award, Catholic Press Association winner, garnering Third Place in the Coffee Table book category.  It also has won awards from other organizations for in Home School, Bible School and Juvenile Non-Fiction categories.

Learn More

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Purposeful Design Review

  • Take advantage of the current 25% discount off the usual $24.95 price of the bog by ordering it now for $18.95.

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