Mark Leonard. Let There Be Light. WestBow Press, 2015. See here to buy the book.
Let There Be Light is a young-earth creationist science fiction novel. It focuses on two scientist friends: Bill, an atheist with a Jewish upbringing, and Michael, who presents Bill with creationist arguments and arguments that are skeptical of human-caused climate change. Bill invents a time machine and ends up shortly before the time of the Flood. He observes that dinosaurs and humans co-existed, meets Egyptians and learns how and why the pyramids were built, and gets trapped in the Flood. How will he get out of this?
Let’s start with the positives. The book was enjoyable. Bill and Michael were likeable characters, and they were given a back story, which allowed them to appear real and developed. The book also advances arguments: that the atmosphere was different prior to the time of the Flood, allowing people to live longer and throwing off conventional dating methods; that fossils of supposedly different time periods have been found together; and that mountains were lower in the time of the Flood, meaning that the Flood was not exactly covering Mount Everest. In presenting these arguments (however incorrect), the book at least was giving readers something to consider. The military is upset by Bill’s time machine, and a crusty colonel gives legitimate reasons to fear time travel. There were vivid scenes in the book, as when Bill looked outside his time machine and saw waves depositing fossil layer on top of fossil layer. Even after Bill becomes a creationist, he believes in some form of natural selection. And, notwithstanding the book’s climate-change denialism, Bill makes a robust case for taking care of the environment.
Now for the negatives. The book would have been better with footnotes, particularly for the claim that fossils from supposedly different time periods have been found together. There could have been a greater spiritual element. Bill’s conversion was somewhat rushed, and there were very few references to why Noah was building the Ark and what that said about the character of God; the book lightly touched on whether God wants the truth to be overly evident to people, and how some will not want to believe the truth even when they know it is the truth, but the spiritual element of the book could have been developed more. There was a materialistic character who thought Noah’s construction of the Ark was a waste of time, and he was an asset to the story, yet (except perhaps for the king of Egypt) the characters were not particularly wicked, as Genesis 6 depicts the antediluvian age as being. And Bill’s defense of environmentalism was somewhat spoiled by his claim that Christ will come back when things get too bad.
As far as the book’s arguments go, responses to them are out there. Talk Origins has an “Index to Creationist Claims” that succinctly responds to several of those arguments. The book also presents everyone speaking Hebrew prior to the Flood, which is likely unrealistic.
In terms of whether there were contradictions in the book, the book alleges that conventional dating methods are unreliable, yet they were only a few millennia off when Michael used them to locate Bill in time; one would expect greater discrepancy, the way some creationists talk! The book claimed that there are cases in which fossils from supposedly different time periods are found together, yet it also held that, generally-speaking, less developed animals are found in the lower layers and more developed animals in the upper layers. This may not be a contradiction, however, since the book presented different fossils being juxtaposed together as an exception. The book maintains that the animals in the lower and upper layers were contemporaneous, as the developed animals were able to rush to higher ground. A response to this creationist argument is that there are fossils of developed animals that are rather deep in the ground and fossils of marine animals that are higher up, and that one can observe development in marine animals from one strata to another.
This book is entertaining, with a compelling story. In terms of prose, the book is clear, well-organized, and well-written.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest!