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Palaeontology: A Brief History of Life

Templeton Press, 2010
RRP $32.95

Reviewed by Russell Clark, Mareeba.

Mr Tattersall’s book is one in a series on science and religion, and traces the development of all life, as revealed by the fossil record, from the earliest period of known life, to the formation of human cognition and spiritual awareness in our current time.

In the introduction, the author claims, ” ‘Scientific proof’ is one of the great myths of our age”.

Science, he claims, merely tries to achieve a more accurate picture of nature, by proposing new ideas and theories and eliminating false ones. In this regard, science, to a degree, is faith based.

The distinctiveness of humans in developing spiritual awareness is closely related to the development of symbolic consciousness.

He sees both science and religious belief as two outcomes of this symbolic consciousness.

If you are looking for a extended treatise on faith and science, be prepared to be disappointed.

Religious development is limited to the last twenty-five pages of this book.

However, the previous pages are a lead up to this particular part of life evolution.

The book covers a broad topic in a concise and well written manner.

It is easy to read and has both clear explanation and appropriate depth.

In a clearly and well-documented manner, the author has traced life from the Precambrian to the present.

The illustrations are simple and meagre, but this does not detract from the content. However, the reading audience would be limited to those with a particular interest in Palaeontology.

I found Palaeontology: A Brief History of Life to be a good read and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the topic.