Book Review: “Before Adam” by Jack London (1906)

“My dream life and my waking life were lives apart, with not one thing in common save myself.” (9)

Best known for his naturalistic novels White Fang and The Call of the Wild, Jack London uniquely personified the beasts in his stories and thereby bridged the mysterious evolutionary gap that distanced mankind from what he and Darwinians of his day considered our common ancestors. Perhaps no other London book captured this ideal better than Before Adam, whose very premise is that of a man who dreams the everyday life of his missing-link ancestor.

By some genetic anomaly (not reincarnation, 16), London’s protagonist relives the memories of this ancestor through a quirk of nature, a disassociation of personality not unlike the fear-of-falling which most modern humans still experience in their dreams and which can (theoretically, according to this Darwinist philosophy) be traced back to the real-life falling fears of our tree-dwelling great grandparents (14). Only for him, these dreams are far more than mere flashes. In his dreams, he is awake, but neither himself nor in his own time. In his dreams, he is a monkey-like humanoid described as Big Tooth who faces true danger, hunger, and pain while trying to survive in a wordless society amongst others who, like himself, exist in the blurred fringe between man and beast.

As a piece of fantasy literature, this tale is as gripping as it is enjoyable. It reminded me of a mixture between Michael Crichton’s Congo (for obvious reasons) and H. Rider Haggard’s She. It boasts strong characters (despite their inability to speak), heart-pounding adventure, a tinge of mystery, and even a moment or two of romance. It’s truly a return to nature, and as an experimental glance into our theoretical past, it makes for educational reading.

It must be stated, however, that as espousing to record a glimpse into our evolutionary past, this book is as godless and anti-biblical as any. It suggests that humankind is not unique, save for our supreme cruelty which has allowed us to survive as the fittest of all the primates, and not created in the image of God Himself.

For the life of me, I cannot imagine why our world would prefer to consider themselves soulless and accidental beasts rather than the special and intentional design of an all-power Creator! Of the two theories, one results from an naturally-impossible and tremendously-inexplicable accident (the Big Bang) and the other by the simple fiat of a supernatural God (biblical Creation). Both require faith, yet only one has even a remote possibility of being true!

If God exists, He exists above nature and therefore need never have not existed: every question of origin, existence, and destiny thus has an answer. But if God does not exist, there are no answers to those questions of origin, existence, and destiny, and we remain soulless, accidental, and hopeless creatures. Life is meaningless: go rape, plunder, and murder to your hearts content!

But thanks be to God our Creator, He does exist! We are made in His image. We are unique and special and held to a higher standard than every other living creature. London is correct about the cruelty of mankind, a flaw resulting from our sin nature which has separated us from our Creator. But in His love, God sent His own unflawed Son to live our human life, to die by our own cruel hands for the sins that enslave us, and yet also to rise again from the dead in order to defeat both sin and death in our place. Thanks be to God who has called us from this sin-sick kingdom of godless philosophies and hopeless ideals to His glorious Kingdom of Light and Truth!

The question for you, Reader, is this: will you respond to that call by confessing your sins before God and accepting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for yourself? Or are you instead satisfied with the belief that you are just a soulless animal destined for non-existence after seventy-odd years of survival?

©2016 E.T.

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One Response to Book Review: “Before Adam” by Jack London (1906)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur C. Clarke. (1966) | Elliot's Blog

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