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E.O. Wilson recently stated his belief that man's search for spirituality would be one of the major historical episodes in the 21st century. Regarding this, he feels we need to create a new epic based upon the evolution of humanity. Loyal Rue has substantially started us on this path in this very readable and concise book whose ideas I truly wish every person would thoughtfully consider. I can't imagine an open-minded person not finding this book compelling. Starting with the premise of a "narrative drive" in human nature as the primary mechanism for how we come to terms, if not understanding, with what we observe, philosophy and religious studies professor Loyal Rue sets forth a quite aesthetically pleasing argument that the story of evolution (radiant energy to matter to atoms to molecules to life to consciousness), offers a truthful and spiritually nourishing epic that not only instructs us on "how things are" but also "what things matter." And just so that you understand "everybody's story," he quite succintly lays out the evolutionary epic from the "big bang" on in language and depth that should not intimidate anyone with the most modest scientific literacy. Explaining that as many of the propositions and explanations offered to us by the traditional "wisdom traditions" that emanated from the Axial period (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Zorasterism,...) have either not stood up to the light of scientific investigations or no longer comport to the realities of the modern human condition, the author supports his contention that the story of evolution, unlike many of the old "wisdom traditions", has the power to unify all of humanity and strengthen both natural and social systems.Read more ›
I don't have time to write at length, but I want to say that this book is another example of Rue's lucid thinking and incisive statement of issues. He captures perfectly the critical need today for re-shaping the basic myths we live by, and he also manages to map one of the most important parts of the territory in which religion and science and interact. Even readers who disagree with Rue's own resolution of the issues will find this book essential reading.
As a scientist I have always felt uneasy about the widely accepted position that science and religion should be kept in separate, logic-tight compartments and that science is intrinsically devoid of moral values. Rue's closely reasoned analysis make it clear that this is not the case at all. He argues that the continued well-being of our species depends on the development of a synthesis between science and religion that is sufficiently convincing rationally and sufficiently compelling emotionally to inspire us to turn away from our present course of action--the destruction of our life support system, Planet Earth. As a life-long agnostic, I find his synthesis of science and religion particularly convincing because (1) it leaves room for a fairly wide range of personal beliefs, (2)it also leaves room for the changes in scientific knowledge that the future will surely bring, and (3) it includes a strong focus on ecological morality. Definitely a must-read.
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I had Loyal Rue for a class I attended at Luther College. He is an absolutely brilliant. One of the greatest teachers I ever had. We had to read this book for his class. The ideas he put forth in this book managed to raise a rather quiet class to have a very lively discussion. His views are both refreshing as well as thought provoking.
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