Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xii

A pleasant upside of spending several years writing a book is that it leaves you with many people to thank. Th is project began several years ago with a fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany, and has evolved quite a bit since that time. I am deeply grateful to the Carson Center and its director, Christof Mauch, for providing me the time and resources to think through what this project aimed to do, and for the opportunity to pursue my research in the company of a truly interdisciplinary, international collection of...

read more

Introduction: The Return of Mythopoeic Science

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-13

The sciences have an important role to play in the formulation of environmental ethics, and no less so in religious environmental ethics. The lack of coherence between religious environmental ethicists’ vision for nature and the realities of Darwinian science has been the subject of my own research.1 I have argued that ecological theologians, as well as many secular environmental ethicists, tend to ignore, or make selective use of, scientific—particularly Darwinian—information about the natural world. Darwinian perspectives allow us to appreciate that processes...

read more

1. Seeking What Is Good in Wonder

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 14-28

What does it mean to wonder? Wonder is almost routinely exalted as a laudable state, but perhaps not all expressions of it deserve to be celebrated. Wonder seems to exist at the border of sensation and thought, aesthetics and science. It has the power to transfi x as well as transport us. It is characterized both as a childlike capacity, closely aligned with sensory and emotional engagement, and as a kind of scientifi c virtue. Wonder is both the province of the wide-eyed child in the woods and the wild-eyed scientist in the lab. Aristotle considered wonder to be the...

read more

2. The Book of Nature and the Book of Science: Richard Dawkins on Wonder

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 29-49

In a thoughtful editorial appearing in Conservation Biology, a science student named Hanni Muerdter refl ects on the vast diff erences between an unexpectedly wondrous encounter with the natural world and the experience of learning about nature in her biology classes. Out for a walk during one of the fi rst sultry nights of a Midwestern spring, she experienced a revelation: “I realized how long it had been since I had smelled fresh buds and seen the shadow of new leaves dappling the ground. I stopped, awed by the spring night.”1 Like many, she came to the study...

read more

3. E. O. Wilson’s Ionian Enchantment: A Tale of Two Realities

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 50-82

In a scene from Dead Poets Society, students are instructed in a quantitative method by which they may determine whether or not a given poem is truly great. Their charismatic English teacher, played by Robin Williams, asks a student to read from an authoritative text, Understanding Poetry, authored by one J. Evans Pritchard. His classmates diligently take notes on the Pritchard method as the student reads aloud: “One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem’s perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered...

read more

4. Evolutionary Enchantment and Denatured Religious Naturalism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-115

In chapters 4–6, I turn to the variety of ways in which scientific accounts of the natural world are being consecrated and reenchanted to serve as a new global myth. Recall that these narratives go by a variety of names, including the Epic of Evolution, the New Story, the Universe Story, the Great Story, and Big History.

Whatever the name the core idea is the same: there is emerging today a coherent story, based on modern, scientific information that tells the history of our Universe, from its very beginnings to today. That story can help each one of us understand our place in a larger Universe. The evolutionary epic links modern accounts of the...

read more

5. Anthropic and Anthropocene Narratives of the New Cosmology

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 116-145

What is the relevance of cosmology for ethics? Do the stories we tell about our place in the vast universe impact our deepest values and daily practices? Does cosmic wonder inspire greater care and concern for the natural world? Th ese questions have emerged in various forms throughout this book. In this chapter I turn to Universe Story movements for whom questions about cosmology—and their answers—are especially central. Like other grand narratives, the Universe Story heeds the call for a functional “New Story” that properly orients human culture to...

read more

6. Genesis 2.0: The Epic of Evolution as Religion of Reality

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 146-168

In 2002, a conservative Christian pastor named Michael Dowd and his wife, a successful freelance science writer named Connie Barlow, quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and purchased a van that they decorated with emblems of a Jesus fish kissing a Darwin fish. Since that time, Dowd and Barlow have lived as itinerant preachers whose “good news” is not the word of God, but the wonder of evolution and the sacred story of science. The kissing fish represent the “marriage of science and religion for personal and planetary wellbeing.”1 In homage to Thomas Berry, the license plate on their iconic...

read more

7. Making Sense of Wonder

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-202

Where can wonder fi nd purchase in modern scientifi c and environmental discourse? In this chapter I turn to some proposals for a rehabilitated sense of wonder, keeping in mind, as always, wonder’s proper relationship both to science and the natural world. To better appreciate the options for wonder that remain open to us, let us recap some of the key claims of the preceding chapters.

I have argued that forms of consecrated science promoted by public icons like Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson, and showcased in mythic narratives of the new cosmology, encourage celebrations of wonder and reverence for science over and...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 203-250

Glossary of Terms

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-254

References

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 255-270

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 271-282