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Dancing with the Sacred: Evolution, Ecology, and God Paperback – August 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563383934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563383939
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

If modern science, and evolution in particular, leads you to conclude that no personal God governs the universe, does that make you an atheist? No, replies Zygon editor Peters (philosophy and religion, emeritus, Rollins Coll.). In lieu of a personal God, he describes a "naturalistic theism, in which the sacred or divine is thought of as a system of nonpersonal processes within the natural world." In other words, the divine character of reality is expressed in the very forces of cosmic and biological evolution. Variations arise, and through the processes of nature some of these variations spawn new aspects of existence: reality is both designless and bubbling with creativity. God is not one with whom we dance; God is the dance itself. Whether this qualifies as theism is a matter of definition. There is little that is new here theologians such as John Cobb, Arthur Peacock, and Ted Peters have addressed the religious implications of science in more detail. Nonetheless, Peters's vibrant optimism and joy of life comes ringing forth from his science-based spirituality. Recommended for all libraries. Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Although the title of his book seems to suggest otherwise, it is the dance itself that is sacred in the naturalistic theism that Peters develops: the sacred isn't a dance partner; the sacred is the dance of life. Readers unfamiliar with naturalistic theism will find Peters' accessible style a good medium for becoming acquainted with it, particularly if they are interested in ways of thinking about the sacred that don't require personal images of God. Many may also find Peters' treatment of Darwin and evolutionary psychology helpful for thinking about relationships between religion and science. In developing his image of the sacred dance, Peters briefly introduces the thought of American philosopher C. S. Peirce and pursues process thought and Taoism at greater length. An excellent popular work on its subject, suitable to a broad range of readers. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cavanaugh on September 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
As president of IRAS (the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science) I know that one of the most persistent accusations against those who try to understand religion naturally, is that there is no "oomph," no emotional depth, in what they say. It is too rational.
It would be hard to imagine that accusation being made against Karl Peters's book "Dancing With the Sacred." Page after page reveals the sense of struggle, and ultimately the sense of joy, that Peters has experienced in terms of making sense of his own life and that of friends he observes.
The result is not a syrupy story, however. It is a deeply emotional and satisfying, but still deeply rational and objective, treatment of issues that have traditionally been dealt with supernaturally. Peters shows in sensitive detail why supernatural treatments have not worked for him, why he thinks (accurately, in my opinion) that they have not worked for large segments of modern persons, and most importantly how a more natural approach CAN and DOES work.
The subtitle (Evolution, Ecology and God) gives a hint of the approach Peters takes, and the Table of Contents gives other hints (with Chapter titles like "To Err is Divine," "Morality and Meaning for our `Big Selves'," and "Seeking our Sacred Center."), but it in only in reading the actual paragraphs, word by word, that the full impact of his message comes through. Don't worry, it is a slim volume, and Peters is a gifted writer, so it will NOT be hard reading.
One final comment. Some of those chapter titles may seem like "New Age" titles. And indeed I suspect what Peters says would dovetail with at least some New Age approaches.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amy N-K on June 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I picked up this book, I did not know that I would find a kindred spirit within its pages. For over 10 years, I had been adrift in a wash of religious confusion, having come to a realization that the Christian faith of my upbringing simply didn't "work" for me. As a person inspired by science, and working within the field, I found much sacred inspiration in the workings of the natural world. The same is true for my husband. Having grown up in a culture that strictly defines science and religion as very separate entities, it was difficult to express my feelings on the subject. A few pages into Peters' book, I began to weep for joy. Finally, someone had given words to what I had been contemplating for so long. Finally, I had a chance to believe in the "divine" in a way that meshed with my scientific views. This book has changed my life for the better. I am very grateful to Dr. Peters, and hope to thank him personally someday. He's brought me a good deal of peace, and has helped to bring structure to my religious worldview. This book brought me home - that's the best way to describe it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Williams on March 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author needs to be deeply thanked for writing a book so heartfelt and expressive of important and sensitive things he has experienced in his life. Simply on the level of a very personal and thoughtful autobiography this is an excellent and to-be-recommended book.
But it is more than simply a discussion of one man's spiritual journey, it is a good introduction to process theology and the way creative and deeply centered humanism is taking ideas and weaving them with the idea of evolution and progress to build new theologies.
Now i do not share the authors viewpoint nor his basic theology, but the ideas he shares are clearly and forcible stated. Well backed up with current explanations interwoven with the authors own carefully analysed life experiences. The writing is presented as a dialogue, an offering to the reader of wisdom, hard won in struggles of the soul on dark nights. You sympathize, you understand, he shows you what he believes without trying to persuade or convince, this is the book's great strength.
The tone, the spiritual journey, the relevance to modern evolutionary thought, all make this a good recommendation for an introduction to evolutionary process theology, as explained in terms of a dance:
pg 46 chapter entitled "darwin and the dance of tao". "The best kind of dancing is when no one leads, when the leading is a back and forth sharing, when each party responds to the subtle movements, touches, gestures, and words of the other.... Dancing with no one leading, with no goal or purpose but the dance itself, is a good metaphor for portraying our contemporary scientific understanding fo evolution on our planet. If one follows strictly the philosophical implications of neo-Darwinian theory, there is no overall purpose to evolution."
Thanks for reading this review and i hope you enjoy the book as much as i did.
richard williams
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