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The Sacred Depths of Nature Paperback – June 15, 2000
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In eloquent prose, Goodenough, a noted molecular biologist, offers a scientist's insight into the dialogue between science and religion. The book's structure is similar to the Daily Devotionals found in some Protestant denominations, but with a decidedly broader approach to the vast ontological questions being pursued. Beginning with an autobiographical sketch, Goodenough moves resolutely through the major questions of being. Her inquiries cut across the boundaries of cosmology, astrophysics, cell biology, evolutionary theory, sexuality and death, moving into the realms of philosophy and theology. The author, while no theist, recognizes the eternal human quest for meaning engendered by the essentially non-quantifiable mystery of consciousness. Displaying open-mindedness to non-scientific approaches in her search for ultimate understanding, she writes with equal respect of Taoism's enigmatic, ironical credo and of 19th-century Transcendentalists' humanistic vision. This spiritual diversity, accompanied by scientific observations drawn from such authorities as Stephen Hawking and Edward O. Wilson, makes for a stirring, enlightening read. In part a reverential memoir by a dedicated scientist, this book provides a meeting place for the revelations of advanced science and technology and the universal, unanswerable questions of humanity. 18 line drawings.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In this work, she opens at the beginning, explaining how physics underlies everything, including life. She relates how "life from non-life" can and does occur. She moves to a description of the origins and later development of life's processes. Cell mechanisms are portrayed. In this topic, she creates a wonderful idea - the Mozart Metaphor. We listen to a Mozart sonata with a sense of awe and veneration. Those feelings, she urges, aren't diminished by the knowledge that the music is reducible to blobs of ink on a page. Any musician can read those dots and restore the wonder by playing the music. In life, our knowledge of life's processes doesn't diminish the marvel of them. Goodenough translates that feeling into a "Mystery" which she wishes to share. If you need to understand how much of life functions, but fear abandoning "traditional" beliefs, this book is a fine first step.
A second step is one Goodenough regrettably omits.Read more ›
As Ms. Goodenough amply demonstrates in this unique little book, science needn't be devoid of awe; its language needn't be dry and unpoetic; its students needn't be deprived of feeling. In fact, quite the contrary. The intricacy and grandeur or nature, as revealed by science, is every bit as awe-inspiring as the greatest religious myths; indeed, even more so. Ms. Goodenough argues that understanding life is like understanding a Mozart sonata. As she puts it, "The biochemistry and biophysics are the notes of life; they conspire, collectively, to generate the real unit of life, the organism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a clearly written source of how our world came to be and how it works. I've sent it to my granddaughters as a primary source
to acquaint them with how things... Read more
A little too wishy-whashy for me. The spiritual philosophy was fine for some folks who need the softening of life's truths, but I'm beyond that need now. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Judy
Every American, whether researcher in some aspect of the evolutions from physics, "physics" being energy, mass and space-time, should re-read this book. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Phillip R. Beaver
Dr. Ursula Goodenough aptly named her book, The Sacred Depths of Nature. Her view of Nature as sacred has brought to the front and center the notion that the emotional aspects of... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Benjamin Godfrey
Received this item quickly and packaged securely. Described accurately. Thank you.Published 21 months ago by I. Desiderio
This book is very science-based and way beyond my total understanding, but the science gave a different perspective that was quite interesting to me. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Lana
I was expecting much more from this book - I was not really interested in the fact that the authors Christian beliefs or how she attempts to tie them into her science based... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amira
I have owned this book for at least ten years. I like it so much that I put it on my Kindle so that it travels with me. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Susan J. Parr
I absolutely love this book. I recommend it to those who think that science takes all the awe and wonder out of understanding nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read morePublished on September 15, 2014 by Alice Sanvito, Licensed Massage Therapist