The Serpent's Promise: The Bible Retold as Science

Steve Jones

The Serpent's Promise: The Bible Retold as Science

The Bible was the first scientific textbook of all; and it got some things right (and plenty more wrong). Steve Jones' new book rewrites it in the light of modern science. Are we all descended from a single couple, a real-life Adam and Eve? Was the Bible's great flood really a memory of the end of the Ice Age? Will we ever get back to Methuselah given that British life expectancy is still rising by six hours a day, every day? Many people deny the power of faith, many more the power of science. In this ground-breaking work, geneticist Steve Jones explores their shared mysteries - from the origins of life and humankind to sex, age, death and the end of the universe. He steps aside from the noisy debate between believers and unbelievers to show how the same questions preoccupy us today as in biblical times - and that science offers many of the answers. 2.8 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
The Serpent's Promise: The Bible Retold as Science

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Science & Nature
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication May 2013
ISBN 978-1408702857
Publisher Little, Brown
 

The Bible was the first scientific textbook of all; and it got some things right (and plenty more wrong). Steve Jones' new book rewrites it in the light of modern science. Are we all descended from a single couple, a real-life Adam and Eve? Was the Bible's great flood really a memory of the end of the Ice Age? Will we ever get back to Methuselah given that British life expectancy is still rising by six hours a day, every day? Many people deny the power of faith, many more the power of science. In this ground-breaking work, geneticist Steve Jones explores their shared mysteries - from the origins of life and humankind to sex, age, death and the end of the universe. He steps aside from the noisy debate between believers and unbelievers to show how the same questions preoccupy us today as in biblical times - and that science offers many of the answers.

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Reviews

The Sunday Telegraph

Caspar Henderson

[A] baggy, entertaining book … Sardonic and self-deprecating in a way that is, perhaps, characteristically Welsh, he is not angry in the way of so-called New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins. And while he quotes both Napoleon — “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” — and Groucho Marx — “The secret of life is honest and fair dealing: if you can fake that you’ve got it made” — he is sensitive to the strength and power of religious ceremony that was absent from the humanist events that marked the death of his own parents.

07/05/2013

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The Times

Bryan Lovell

[An] important book … we are treated to some superbly presented genetics, coupled with pungent excursions into the territories occupied by the likes of astronomers, bookmakers, doctors and lawyers. A minor frustration is that Jones guides us wonderfully round the Bible, but not round the literature underpinning his commentary. A list of further reading, as in Almost Like a Whale, would be welcome.

04/05/2013

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The New Statesman

Nick Spencer

The book’s guilty secret is that the Bible angle is really not much more than a marketing ploy, a hook on which Jones can hang some very engaging scientific discussions … [A] largely entertaining and informative book, which reminds us that when scientists write about science, they are often readable and sometimes riveting — and when they don’t, they aren’t.

16/05/2013

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The Observer

Robin McKie

… we are asked to believe a number of intellectual contortions including the claim that Genesis was "the world's first biology textbook". Really? ... Such notions stray far from my idea of a work of science and look more like a publisher's wheeze to maintain a popular and undoubtedly gifted writer in the public's gaze. On the other hand, it is always fun to compare past visions of "cosmic truth" with our own understanding of the origins of life and the universe, and I cannot think of a wittier guide for such a journey than Jones.

05/05/2013

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The Guardian

Steven Shapin

... by now, he's preaching to a well-rehearsed choir. The Bible's resigned acceptance of human mortality apart, Jones's judgment is that holy scripture is a miserable science textbook. If this comes as news to you, then Jones and his publishers have done a good piece of work; if not, then a nugget of biblical wisdom is apposite: "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh."

27/04/2013

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The Independent

Doug Johnstone

… too often the reader is left with superficial or boring scientific bluster that has little or no bearing on the famous book that The Serpent’s Promise is meant to be “retelling”. I’m not against book covers making grand claims, but the content has to back up those boasts. It doesn’t here.

04/05/2013

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The Daily Mail

Peter Lewis

Sorry, but this book does not retell the Bible as science. It does not retell it all. There is virtually nothing about the New Testament — Jesus, the Holy Ghost and the Reincarnation are not even indexed. Only St. Paul’s supposed epilepsy attack on the road to Damascus gets a quick mention.

02/05/2013

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The Spectator

Christopher Howse

Just as The Serpent’s Promise gets interesting, its author, like Mr Dick with King Charles’s head, feels compelled to wrench it back to some brief, mocking mention of the Bible ... The fatal flaw of The Serpent’s Promise is that it is not, as its subtitle says, ‘The Bible retold as science’. Biblical ‘questions asked long ago can be explored with the latest technology’, writes the respected geneticist and Daily Telegraph columnist. ‘This volume is an attempt to do just that.’ That promise, like the serpent’s, is hardly attempted.

11/05/2013

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The Sunday Times

James McConnachie

It is hard to know if ignorance or arrogance best explains this refusal to engage with genuine scholarship on religion, but the pages of this book are soaked in a reductive contempt, and speckled with outright error ... So don’t throw away the King James yet. This book amounts to a re-cranking of the Darwinist barrel organ — accompanied by the monkey of New Atheism, of course, as it screeches petulantly at religion.

05/05/2013

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