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The Sacred Depths of Nature
ISBN 0195136292 / 9780195136296 / 0-19-513629-2
Publisher Oxford Univ Pr
List price $16.95
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Ursula Goodenough is an internationally recognized cell biologist; she is also an accomplished amateur theologian--an unusual combination of interests in a time when science and religion are widely divided. In The Sacred Depths of Nature, she proposes what she calls a "planetary ethic" drawing on the lessons of both science and metaphysics, celebrating some of the mysteries that are central to both: "the mystery of why there is anything at all, rather than nothing," for one, and "the mystery of why the universe seems so strange," for another. Exploring scientifically based narratives about the creation of the universe and the origins of life, Goodenough forges a kind of religious naturalism that will not be unfamiliar to readers of New Age literature--save that her naturalism has the hard-nosed rigor of a laboratory-trained scholar behind it. Goodenough offers a crash course in the life sciences for her readers, encompassing the basics, for instance, of biochemistry in just a few paragraphs (and getting it right in the bargain), touching on Darwinian biology and population dynamics and even chaos theory to make "an epic of evolution" that has all the hallmarks of an origin myth. Faith and reason, in her view, are not mutually exclusive, and her well-written treatise makes a good argument for bridging the gap between the two. --Gregory McNamee [via]