Review: Dawn: A Proton’s Tale of All That Came To Be

Dawn: A Proton’s Tale of All That Came to Be (Biologos Books on Science and Christianity), Cees Dekker, Corien Oranje, and Gijsbert Van Den Brink, translated by Harry Cook, afterword by Deborah Haarsma. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2022.

Summary: An imaginative account of cosmology, evolutionary biology, and the creation-fall-redemption story of Christianity, bringing all these together in one grand narrative, recounted by a proton who witnesses it all.

I’ve never encountered a book like this before. I’ve read books on cosmology. I’ve read books on evolutionary biology. I’ve read and re-read the biblical narratives. And I’ve read numerous books trying to relate cosmology and evolution with the Bible. I’ve never read an account attempting to describe cosmology, evolution, and the biblical account of beginnings, human rebellion, and God’s redemptive work as a single story. Until this book.

Furthermore, it is an eyewitness account. How can this be? The story is narrated by a proton, emerging in the first second after the Big Bang and persisting throughout the existence of the universe, combining with neutrons and electrons to become an atom, and bonding to others to become a molecule, witnessing the formation and death of stars, the beginnings of our own solar system, ending up on earth, becoming part of a strand of RNA incorporated in the earliest forms of life, witnessing cell division, and the emergence of various forms of life, including the advent of homo sapiens.

They witness Maisha and Womuntu (Eve and Adam) among an early human community, the rebellion against God’s command not to draw water from a particular well (not a tree in this account), the dire consequences, God’s restart in Abraham, the deliverance under Moses, the hopes under David and hopes dashed and the many years until Proton in a spider web witnesses the birth of the child, God’s Son among us. Yet here as well, it appears the plan is frustrated as it ends in the Son’s death, or so it seems until, as part of Peter’s walking staff, Proton witnesses the risen Lord and the work of the apostle John on Patmos. The narrative continues up to the present and a conversation between a Christian and skeptics aboard the International Space Station. On a space walk, Proton is carried back into space, having witnessed the fulfillment of the Creator’s loving plan.

The story was written as a collaboration of a scientist, a theologian, and a children’s writer gifted in explaining scientific ideas for young readers. It offers an imaginative rendering from a proton’s perspective of the first seconds of the universe, the forming of heavier elements, the cooling and coalescing of matter into stars and planets, the incorporation of atoms into molecules that form the building blocks of life, the experience from inside a cell of cell division. It also creatively retells the biblical narratives. This pivot is set up by the conversations Proton has with other particles about the purposes of the good creator, waiting with anticipation over the eons of how the creator would fulfill his purposes in creation, and the puzzling of how God would do so when humans rebelled against God’s command.

The account draws on current understanding of the evolution of human life, setting the first couple among a community of others, but singled out to know Creator’s intention (even the biblical accounts hint at the possibility of other humans in the marriage of Cain in Genesis 4). The fall also occurs as a result of drinking from a well rather than eating fruit from a forbidden tree. Otherwise, the narrative tracks closely with the biblical accounts, as rendered through the eyes of a proton. We capture the wonder of the nativity, the opposition of an enemy, the bewilderment and dashed hopes of the crucifixion, and the unbelievable joy of the resurrection.

The book does stretch credulity that this particular proton witnesses all this, but if one can set that aside, this is an imaginative rendering that weaves into one story the sweeping stories of cosmology, evolution, and the redemptive arc of God’s work with the human beings he loves.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

One thought on “Review: Dawn: A Proton’s Tale of All That Came To Be

  1. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: October 2022 | Bob on Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.