Some Publishers Won't Monkey Around with Books on Evolution

According to the Discovery Channel's, a new book about evolution that publishers in the United States wouldn't touch has won a Canadian book award.

"On Wednesday (September 14, 2011) the book, Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be, by Daniel Loxton, won the 2010 Lane Anderson Award in the young reader category for a book published in the field of science and written by a Canadian."

Loxton's book is, of course, not the first book devoted to evolution, nor the first to create a controversy. The article includes a photo essay, Evolution Controversies: A History, beginning with the 1925 State of Tennesee vs. Scopes trial, dubbed "The Monkey Trial." The website explains why they think Loxton's book has drawn fire: "Part of the answer is that, unlike most books on evolution, it's aimed at kids (suggested for ages 8 to 13). To those who dispute evolution, this smacks of indoctrination, not science education. Loxton told Discovery News that he approached several American publishers but was told that his book might be controversial and was 'too hot a topic.'"

"...surveys show that a significant number of people (around 40 percent, depending on the poll question) have doubts about evolution. Many are creationists, who insist that evolution contradicts The Bible, despite the fact that Pope John Paul II issued a statement in 1996 saying the scientific evidence for evolution was well established ('more than a hypothesis') and compatible with Catholic faith." "Loxton said that he has already received angry emails from creationists demanding to know why his book doesn't give 'equal time' to their point of view. He explains that his book is about science, not religion. Furthermore, the Christian creation story is only one of many from various cultures around the world."


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Indie Groundbreaking Book

Indie Groundbreaking Book: BANG!

Author/Painter presents an eloquent version of How We Came to Be

Author and painter Michael Rubino was born and raised in San Francisco, always loving nature and living with many pets. He had an early fascination about evolution, and one of his childhood memories is of a diorama he made of a fish crawling out of water.

In college, he majored in art, but took a couple of courses in paleontology and anthropology. As part of a term paper, he submitted a series of charcoal drawings of our evolutionary lineage, and then pursued this idea further in an art class, where he painted a few of our aquatic, evolutionary ancestors. His professor suggested that the subject matter might be better served if painted in a more precise and detailed manner. The seeds of a future book were sown…

After college, Rubino moved to Los Angeles, got married, and the book idea receded to the back of his mind. “My wife had health issues and we were an infertile couple,” he recalls. “Toward the end of our 10 year marriage, I became a sperm donor. As with most sperm banks, the California Cryobank had a policy of anonymity, and I did not expect to meet any of my offspring until they were at least 18, and I in my mid-fifties. I eventually stumbled upon a website that aimed to connect children with their siblings and donor parents, and have since connected with 11 of my donor offspring, all of whom are between the ages of 10 and 14. Forming relationships with these children, and their parents, has enriched my life in ways that can hardly be described. I decided that I wanted to give them all something that would truly represent their bio-dad, so I finally lifted that book off the back-burner and set to work on it.”

The result is an eloquent blend of art and science entitled, BANG! How We Came to Be. Made up of 28 paintings and accompanying text, the book creates an evolutionary timeline beginning with the Big Bang about 13 million years ago and moving forward to the present. The final painting depicts an embryo that shows how similar all vertebrates appear at that early stage of life.

Along the way, Rubino covers the formation of stars and galaxies; the origin of our solar system and the earth; the epochal march of life from single-celled organisms through bacteria, insects, fish, dinosaurs, birds, and early mammals; to the evolution of the first humans from their simian cousins. It’s all here, in an easy-to-understand guide, an ideal source for parents looking to present a scientific worldview for their children.

Yes, it seems a bit ironic how a book that will become Rubino’s legacy is a concise history of evolution and procreation on planet Earth. Throughout the book, he emphasizes the family ties established by genetics that link the human race to every other form of life. “We’re all related,” he says, possibly acknowledging his own contribution to the human gene pool. Another irony is the many text pages that include “illuminated” letters, much the way early versions of The Bible were hand-decorated. Herein lies a much different explanation of mankind’s origin.

Rubino conveys not only the facts but also the excitement of the scientific explanation of our world, from the origin of the universe to the present reality of our planet, teeming with life but threatened by overpopulation and pollution. His affection and concern for all life forms is evident throughout, but especially in this concluding text on the final page:

“We humans differ, in a significant way, from all of the other animals that share planet Earth: we are able to drastically manipulate the environment to suit our needs. Unchecked consumption, pollution, and the clearing of natural habitats for housing and farming, has led to the extinction – the irrevocable loss – of millions of our fellow creatures. We seem to be busy converting all of Earth’s magnificent biodiversity into humans. Billions and billions of humans. But there are definitely things we can do to bring harmony back to our struggling, overburdened world. We can, for starters, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, conserve energy, recycle waste, and switch to a healthier, more vegetarian diet. As we make this extra effort to protect the air, water, plants, and animals for the sake of our home planet – and for ourselves – we’ll be paving the way for the countless new life forms to come.”

Simple but brilliant in its straightforward style, Rubino's passion for the topic and talent for painting combine to create a classic book that deserves a wide audience and great acclaim.

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“Where do I come from? Why does anything exist? For too long, young minds have been fobbed off with traditional answers, which are not only false but actually rather boring compared with the truth. Michael Rubino tells the true story – which means the scientific story – illustrated with his captivating paintings. Children will be fascinated by this book, and they'll use it to educate their parents.”– Richard Dawkins, cover quote for BANG!

BANG! How We Came to Be Written and illustrated by Michael Rubino Published by Prometheus Books • October 2011 70 pages • Paperback • $17 • Also available in ebook format ISBN 978-1-61614-472-2