Monday, January 27, 2020

Review - Do Animals Believe In God?

Do Animals Believe In God?
by Carl Solomon Sr.
Date: 2018
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing, Inc
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 28
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Do Animals Believe In God? is a story of what some of the creatures of the earth might say if they could speak if asked, “Do you believe in God?” This book is filled with beautiful illustrations of Daniel’s journey.

Daniel decides to go on a journey to ask the creatures he meets whether they believe in God. Each of the creatures has their own special story to tell Daniel about why they believe in God. As Daniel ventures across different terrains—from his backyard, to a farm, through a forest, into a jungle, across a garden, along a river, and along the shore of the ocean—he meets creatures big and small that share their story with Daniel. It surprises Daniel to learn that each creature has its own unique story to tell about God, which reflects on their own way they experienced God, and they share their story in a way that is easily understood by Daniel. Some of the answers to Daniel’s question will surprise you or humor you.

As the story comes to a close, Daniel finds himself returning home after a day filled with exploration, adventure, and answers. His final question about God is to his mom and dad, who confirms what Daniel had learned on his journey: God is the Creator of all living creatures on the earth, under the earth, in the oceans and seas, and in the air.

This easy-to-read and colorful book allows a child’s imagination to wander and think what a creature would say if they could understand and respond to a question asked by a little boy named Daniel. Its message is timeless and eternal. Each page brings a different message than the last page read, so your child will, in anticipation, want to see what is next.

(synopsis from NetGalley; see it on Goodreads)

I was really curious as to what the message of this book would be. After all, believing in a deity (or deities) is something that appears to be uniquely human. According to this book, though, animals are just as sentient and sapient as we are, able to contemplate their place in the world and realize that they were created by one specific deity. Books like this are kind of insulting, in my opinion. They make Christians appear overly credulous and unable to think critically. They're preaching to the choir, and to anyone who doesn't share the belief system, they look an awful lot like propaganda.

I don't really have anything good to say about this one. The writing is pretty bad, with a verb conjugation error in the very first sentence. The rest of the book is written almost like a script or an Internet meme, with no conventional dialogue tags (even though almost the whole book is dialogue):

DANIEL: Excuse me, Mr. Whale, do you believe in God?

WHALE: Yes, I do! Remember, God asked me to swallow Jonah to test Jonah's faith in Him.

Most of the animals' reasons for believing in God are rather circular. Many are a variation on: God made me, so I believe in God, because He made me. The snake is an exception but, like the whale, its belief is tied back to Bible stories (it believes in God because it sinned, so God made it crawl on the ground).

I wondered what livestock might believe. Would animals crammed into a stinking feed lot believe in God? We don't really find out. The only livestock animal that's featured is a cow in a pristine pastoral setting, and she believes in God because God made grass for her to eat so she can make milk and serve humans. In fact, the last sentence of the book talks about how animals were only put here by "the Master" for us to enjoy. (This book would not go over very well with vegans.)

The layout isn't great, either, with the text sometimes layered over dark and busy parts of images, making it challenging to read at times. The digital illustrations are bland and uninteresting.

I wasn't expecting to love this; I was more curious than anything. I don't think I would've been satisfied with the answers in this book as a kid, though. The question is kind of ridiculous to begin with, but I wish there had been more than circular reasoning offered. Animals believe in God because they believe God created them? Sorry, but that's a weak argument... even for a children's picture book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Christian Faith Publishing, Inc for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 0.67 out of 5

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