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Meet the Grantees

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The Quickening: How Chemistry Shaped Biology

Seattle Pacific University
Dr. Benjamin McFarland

I propose to write a popular science book titled The Quickening: How Chemistry Shaped Biology that will tell the story of how the familiar columns of the periodic table of elements constrained and guided the development of life.  This story shows how the chemical “personalities” of elements organized evolution into a good and viable creation, countering the impression that evolution is a completely meaningless, random process. Recent genomic and biochemical data will be presented as a narrative for the curious non-specialist and illustrated with creative figures provided by Gala Bent, a collaborating art professor. This book will be written for a broad audience and made available in printed and electronic formats. I will also write three articles for a specifically Christian audience connecting Christian theology and scripture to The Quickening’s natural theology. The two central intellectual points of this book are: 1.) the earth provided a special chemical environment that, like a womb, nurtured new life; and 2.) this environment contained a path of chemical development: biological and geological cycles intermingled like wheels within wheels, following the rules of chemical reactions and rolling inexorably away from hydrogen toward oxygen, moving from left to right along the periodic table and producing complex life. A possible quote from back of book is “The periodic table is not just a set of squares on the wall – it was also a roadmap for life. The Quickening shows how that map can be read.”

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