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The Universe Story : From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos Paperback – March 11, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (March 11, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062508350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062508355
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Physicist Swimme ( The Universe is a Green Dragon ) and historian/theologian Berry ( The Dream of Earth ) fashion a cosmology with alternating chapters of popular astrophysics and a kind of sociology of science that seems, at the start, like a secular Book of Genesis. The admixture of physics and anthropology soon decays into an artificial comprehension akin to the most irresponsible New Age reasoning. In the "Primordial Flaring Forth" section, the authors discuss their perceived need for a new language to express a current cosmology: "Thus to articulate anew the story of our relationships in the world means to use the words of one of the modern languages that implicitly, and to varying degrees, obscures or even denies the reality of these emerging relationships." Offering evidence that, among other things, first cousins should not marry, this soft union of theology and physics reveals less about the universe than either field can by itself. The writers' tortured prose will likely offend the scientific sensibilities of most general readers.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Physicist Swimme and cultural historian Berry here examine and synthesize a vast body of knowledge and hypothesis from the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, anthropology, and history. They seek to provide a concise but comprehensive story of the development and evolution of the universe, the earth, and humanity. The authors incorporate what they consider to be the most convincing hypothesis and take an inclusive perspective that views the entire universe as a continually developing, interconnected community. Their book presents a fascinating exploration of the earth's history and, in richly evocative language, paints a picture of the evolution of the universe as a tremendous, ongoing creative activity. The final chapter explores the growing human influence on the condition of the planet and pleads for ecological responsibility. This is an engaging presentation written in nontechnical language. Recommended for popular science collections.
- Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

It didn't help that it had a "we need to do better, us humans" ending.
Thomas Berry provides a fascinating explanation of the origins of our beautiful planet in an infinite Universe.
Andrew Paterson
I had read that it is one of the most important books for our continued development.
James L. Facette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Robin Bose on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
The enthusiasm of this book is almost tangible. Describing the history of the universe in a wildly dynamic, even celebratory style, authors Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry evoke emotions of awe at the story of cosmogenesis, an awe that high school students don't always feel when reading science texts. It captures a beauty that microbiologists behold when focusing an electron microscope on a chromosome, that poets experience when describing a rose, and that astrophysicists feel when listening a distant pulsar. This novel is the scripture of science.
Religion sometimes exaggerates Man's place in the Universe, while science frequently diminishes it. To my delight, The Universe Story finds a balance, reconciling the natural world and the special role humans play in it. A revelation of hope for the future, the Story calls upon humans to fulfill their special destiny: to become the first creatures conscious of themselves and their universe. This consciousness is what the stars intended when they so generously erupted tens of millions of years ago, relinquishing their matter to the human form - for indeed, we are star stuff. Now, as we turn to our futures, may our own cosmogenetic stories reach such a climax as the explosion of a supernova! May our own stories never cease, but simply continue to differentiate and to commune with the original stupendous energy which exploded so many billions of years ago with a big bang! These are the stories which will captivate us all ... the stories integral to the one story, the story of the universe.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's been a while since I've read this book, but I can say that it's one of the most important books I've read. It's not a book to be read for entertainment, or for a "wow" experience. And yet I certainly didn't find it dull. I don't think the book is for "overly intellectual" people. But I would say it's a book for thought and reflection, as well as for knowledge.
This book was written because, "In the modern period, we are without a comprehensive story of the universe. The historians ... deal not with the whole world but just with the human, as if the human were something separate from or an addendum to the story of the Earth and the universe. The scientists have arrived at detailed accounts of the cosmos, but have focused exclusively on the physical dimensions and have ignored the human dimension of the universe."
In their account, the authors take a mythological approach to the story of the universe, "humanizing" the various stages of its development, but also basing all that they write on the best knowledge yet uncovered by science. The deliberate, and successful, result is the growing feeling that the universe is at last telling its own story, though us. We ourselves are part of the universe. The universe evolves! It hasn't always been as it is now. This fact may appear boring to some of us, but in a broader perspective, this idea is a radically new and exciting idea -- unthinkable in times past.
Told in this way, the story is one of familiar (i.e., mythological) forces and processes interacting at each stage, but with each stage being yet more complex and intelligent than the last. The universe doesn't just change, it evolves.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By steve on June 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
The book is great in its aim. The story of the universe and our planet can inspire and inform. I simply wish the authors had kept to mainstream science a bit more in places. They also have a tendency to tell rather than show. I get a little uncomfortable when they preach. If they had done a better job of showing, they wouldn't have had to preach.

Some reviewers were offended by the phrase, "The well-being of the Earth is primary. Human well-being is derivative." They seem to think that this means that human well-being should be sacrificed for the good of the Earth.
However, when you consider our intimate interconnectedness with the planet, you will see that human well-being is impossible without the Earth doing well also. Until we can get along without eating, drinking, and breathing, we are going to need to take care of this planet also. The sentence means what it says. We are part of the Earth; the Earth is part of us. We're constantly exchanging atoms with Earth and its systems. Our interconnectedness isn't poetry of or pious wish, it's a simple fact. The tears you cry today were rain in the mountains last year; the breath in your lungs was breathed by the dinosaurs.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Lauren De Boer on April 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Universe Story begins to fills a vast void in Western experience. The telling of our evolutionary story has been marked by the reductionism of science. This is how our scientists are trained -- not to attempt to interpret data within their narrow disciplines in a way which might be meaningful. The idea of relating the remarkable oddessy we have been on as a story is precisely the antidote we need to turn things back from our destructive ways. Telling it as a story embeds us in the evolutionary process, giving the human a role, rather than relegating our species to some (non-existent) meaningless exterior process. Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme have made a remarkable first attempt and should be applauded for their courage. Almost all scientists and most theologians have not had the fortitude to take us down this path. Tell it is a story! How preposterous! It's not preposterous. It's finally acknowledging that we humans are an integral part of the incredible creative event that is still unfolding all around us! And it may be the only thing which will get through to the human mind the necessity for an active compassion toward ourselves and our fellow travelers on this Earth. Swimme and Berry celebrate this and give us a new faith at a time when many despair that the human will survive the despoiling of our beautiful planet home. The science in The Universe Story is impeccable. Swimme's background as a physicist and mathematical cosmologist provides the much-needed grounding in scientific data that makes this book stand a shoulder above many other books which have attempted to place the human within the larger story.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Brian Swimme is a professor of cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in San Francisco. His department, "Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness" (PCC), is the only graduate program in the western world that places equal emphasis on contemporary science, indigenous spirituality, classical philosophy, and feminist thought for its masters and doctoral programs. He and his colleagues at CIIS have created this program in order to re-imagine the human species as a mutually enhancing member of the Earth community.

The heart of Brian Swimme's work is his focus on knowledge that is transformative--of ourselves and of our civilization. His graduate program attracts intellectually engaged women and men who are in varying degrees dismayed by what they see happening in industrial societies and who are striving to find meaningful ways to develop their gifts to serve the future of the world. Keeping in mind Alfred North Whitehead's view that the function of the university is to enable the future to appear, first in conceptual thought, the PCC faculty and graduate students hold in mind three fundamental goals:

1. To open our consciousness, through learning and imagination, to those creative and evolutionary energies suffusing the Earth, the universe, and the deep psyche that will enable us to participate fully in the regeneration of human communities and their enveloping life systems.

2. To analyze the current devastation of planetary life and to strive to liberate ourselves and our communities from the underlying causes of alienation, consumerism, militarism, androcentrism, and unsustainable modes of life.

3. To draw from the deep wells of philosophical and religious wisdom together with other scholarly and scientific insights in order to bring forth a profound vision of a vibrant planetary era.

Brian Swimme's work joins with those scientists, scholars, and visionaries who recognize that the Earth community is facing an unprecedented evolutionary challenge, the most severe degradation of life in the last 65 million years. This multifaceted crisis requires a fundamental reorientation of our civilization, one in which a compassionate humanity becomes a mutually enhancing presence within Earth's complex systems of life. Cultural historian Thomas Berry, who is co-author of "The Universe Story", has called this task "the Great Work."

Brian Swimme's work, both as a writer and a professor in the PCC program, is committed to shaping the leadership necessary for profound, progressive transformation of social institutions and individual consciousness. Drawing upon some of the most powerful ideas of Western intellectual and spiritual traditions, together with insights from Asian spiritual philosophies and indigenous world views, Swimme and the faculty of PCC have constructed a multidisciplinary course of study to help accelerate each student's journey into his or her particular leadership role within this work.

Brian Swimme was born in Seattle, Washington, earned his Bachelor's degree in California, his doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Oregon, and now teaches in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Caroline Webb.

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