“All thinking men are atheists,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote. That line could serve as an epigraph for Rem Stokes’ thoughtful, if uneven, From God to DNA.
Blending deeply personal stories with an historical investigation of science and religion, the author chronicles his spiritual and intellectual journey away from a belief in a “capital-G God” toward an embrace of reason and the Self. It is, for the author, a migration from out-of-date ideas toward rational freedom and unbiased truth: “Once I overcame the brain-numbing, irrational repetition of ancient mystical beliefs in churches and realized that supernaturalism cannot possibly co-exist with a system of interconnected natural laws, I could move into modernity.”
Scrutinizing, over many years, such topics as the historical Jesus, morality, evolution, and neuroplasticity, the author eventually concludes that the real parental God isn’t a spirit but our own genetic makeup. As the author writes: “Your DNA cares for you more than anything else in your life…[and] is dedicated uniquely to you 24/7. What else in life even comes close to being ever present for your advantage?” Though Stokes rejects the divinity of Jesus, he believes that one of the prophet’s most famous sayings, “The Kingdom of God is within,” may best be taken literally: that the realm of creation is found not in heaven or in an afterlife, but in the regulating cells of the body.
Stokes’ avuncular, conversational style makes it easy sometimes to overlook some of the book’s faults, including awkward sentences (e.g. “I’m not sure that anyone knows, but I am sure it did many times.”) and some factual mistakes (e.g. on page 15, the author seems to mean the First Council of Constantinople not the Second).
Though rough around the edges and in need of further editing, the book sounds a note that should resonate with open-minded thinkers unsatisfied with the answers religion provides about who we are and why we’re here.
Also available as an ebook.