NOTE: If you have come to this page before viewing the PDF file of CLASSIC QUOTATIONS on the Great Story (by Aldo Leopold, Charles Darwin, Julian Huxley, Carl Sagan, Teilhard de Chardin, Maria Montessori, Loren Eiseley, Ursula Goodenough, and many more) then you have skipped the central text. That compilation is beautifully formatted, as it was published in the first issue of the Epic of Evolution journal. CLICK IMAGE UPPER RIGHT.
"That we are star-born and earth-formed are no less important to self-understanding than the many features that we recognize to be exclusively human." Loyal Rue, Religion Is Not About God, 2005
"Evolution isn't just a story about where we came from. It's an epic at the center of life itself. Far from robbing our lives of meaning, it instills an appreciation for the beautiful, enduring, and ultimately triumphant fabric of life that covers our planet. Understanding that doesn't demean human life it enhances it. We may be animals, but we are not just animals. We are the only ones who can truly appreciate, as Darwin put it, that there is "grandeur in this view of life," and indeed there is. To accept evolution isn't just to acknowledge the obvious that the evidence behind it is overwhelming it is to open one's eyes to the endless beauty that life has generated and continues to produce. It is to become a knowing participant, in the truest sense, in the living world of which we are all a part." Kenneth R. Miller, biologist, 2012
"Our bodies are made of stardust; our souls are made of stories." Rev. Thomas Rhodes, Unitarian Universalist minister, 2007
"We have all heard some fundamentalist-minded person say something like, 'Don't tell me I'm related to monkeys.' The fact of the matter is that now that we have discovered DNA and its code, we know that we are not only related to monkeys, we are related to zucchini. So let's get over it." Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Unitarian Universalist minister, 2006
"It takes an entire universe to make an apple pie!" Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980
"How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.' Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'" Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
"Evolution is not the enemy of ethics but its first source." Stuart Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred, 2007 (p. 260)
"We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests, and hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians. We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been human. Our identity is a dream. We are process, not reality." Loren Eiseley, "Starthrower" in Unexpected Universe, 1969
"Our unique attributes evolved over a period of roughly 6 million years. They represent modifications of great ape attributes that are roughly 10 million years old, primate attributes that are roughly 55 million years old, mammalian attributes that are roughly 245 million years old, vertebrate attributes that are roughly 600 million years old, and attributes of nucleated cells that are perhaps 1,500 million years old. If you think it is unnecessary to go that far back in the tree of life to understand our own attributes, consider the humbling fact that we share with nematodes (tiny wormlike creatures) the same gene that controls appetite. At most, our unique attributes are like an addition onto a vast multiroom mansion. It is sheer hubris to think that we can ignore all but the newest room." David Sloan Wilson, Evolution for Everyone, 2007
"The most extraordinary fact about public awareness of evolution is not that 50 percent don't believe it but that nearly 100 percent haven't connected it to anything of importance in their lives. The reason we believe so firmly in the physical sciences is not because they are better documented than evolution but because they are so essential to our everyday lives. We can't build bridges, drive cars, or fly airplanes without them. In my opinion, evolutionary theory will prove just as essential to our welfare and we will wonder in retrospect how we lived in ignorance for so long. David Sloan Wilson, Evolution for Everyone, 2007
"The reassuring aspect of the portrait of the universe we now see drawn across the sky lies in its reconciliation of humanity with the material world. That we are part of the galaxy is literally true. The atoms of which we are formed were gathered together in the toilings of a galaxy; their fantastical assembly into living creatures was nourished by the warmth of a star in a galaxy; we look at the galaxies with a galaxy's eyes. To understand this is to give voice to the silent stars. Stand under the stars and say what you like to them. Praise or blame them, question them, pray to them, wish upon them. The universe will not answer. But it will have spoken." Timothy Ferris, Galaxies, 1982
On the return of "universal history" ("big history") as an academic discipline: "[I predict that] history will have a powerful impact on public thinking about the past because it will begin to play a role similar to that of traditional creation stories: it will aspire to create a map of the past as a whole. That map that will allow individuals and communities throughout the world to see themselves as part of the evolving story of an entire Universe, just as they once mapped themselves on to the cosmologies of different religious traditions, from the dreamtime stories of indigenous Australians to the Ptolemaic maps of medieval Christianity. The new universal history will contain a clear vision of humanity as a whole, for within its universal maps of the past it will be easy to see that all human beings share a common, and quite distinctive, history. Understanding of this shared history will help educators generate a sense of global citizenship, just as nationalist historiography once created a sense of solidarity within different nation states." David Christian, "The Return of Universal History", 2010.
"The Great Story of our immense journey contains crucial lessons for guiding humanity safely through the dangers and confusions evident today. This grand epic will propel us forward in a spirit of expectant curiosity. We will place our trust not only in the Whole but also in our own species' capacity to serve as the vessel through which the evolutionary impulse is most active at this time." Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution 2008, p. 277
"The error, indeed the tragedy, is arguing that biblical portrayals of God accurately reflect the nature of Ultimate Reality. No time or culture even our own should be burdened post hoc with the responsibility of shaping humanity's understanding and relationship to Ultimate Reality once and for all. Each people will describe and relate to the divine as best they can for their time and their conditions. Each generation honors its ancestry by taking from the past only that which is still lifegiving. Each generation provisions posterity by remaining open to new teachings and by advising those who shall follow to do the same." Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution 2008, p. 323
"Enlightenment, in an evolutionary paradigm, is to feel the non-coercive pull from an as-of-yet indeterminate future (agape) and to feel from within the gentle nudge of an actual force (evolutionary eros) pushing us onwards. It is to know oneself to be a center of this evolutionary creative pressure, to become a center of creative emergence. We aren't naive about the challenges and the roadblocks implicit in the human condition, but there is a genuine excitement about what is on the horizon. As we open ourselves to this power, we feel not merely bliss, and not simply presence as important as these are but the power of a 13.7 billion year universe manifesting in the realm of nature, self, and culture. This surging power transcends the personal self, inviting us to surrender in service to its unfolding. All of this is Spirit the eternal, formless Spirit, and the surging, creative power of an emergent future." Bruce Sanguin, 10/07/10 If Darwin Prayed blogpost
"We are the Spirit-infused evolutionary universe come to conscious awareness the universe reflecting upon itself. In the human being, natural selection has become 'actual selection' we are now to exercise the incredible power to select our preferred future. We may consciously choose to cooperate with the evolutionary process." Bruce Sanguin, 10/07/10 If Darwin Prayed blogpost
"Nature is narrative to the core." John Haught, 2002
"Only after we had absorbed Darwin and recalculated the age of the universe, after the vision of static forms of life had been replaced by a vision of fluid processes flexing across vast tracts of time, only then could we dare to guess the immensity of the symphony we are part of." Christopher Bache, 2003
"Human consciousness is not merely an emergent phenomenon; it epitomizes the logic of emergence in its very form. To be human is to know what it feels like to be evolution happening." Terrence Deacon, 2001
"From a pragmatic point of view, the difference between living against a background of foreigness (an indifferent Universe) and one of intimacy (a benevolent Universe) means the difference between a general habit of wariness and one of trust." William James, Pluralistic Universe 1901
"The religious conservatives have an important point when they oppose presenting the subject [of evolution] in a manner that suggests it has been proved to be entirely determined by random, mechanistic events, but they are wrong to oppose the teaching of evolution itself. Its occurrence, on Earth and in the Universe, is by now indisputable. Not so its processes, however. In this, there is need for a nuanced approach, with evidence of creative ordering presented as intrinsic both to what we call matter and to the unfolding story, which includes randomness and natural selection." Mary Coelho, Awakening Universe, Emerging Personhood, 2002 (p. 184)
"There is a reawakening as a new, ancient story begins to be told. It is earth's story; it is the story of billions of far-flung stars and of tiny sea anemones; it is a story told by mystics and mountains, prophets and planets, scientists and systems. This story speaks of an intimately connected and intrinsically relational universe unlike anything we have dreamed of before." Mary Westfall, The Greening of Faith, 1997 (p. 220)
"There is no drop of water in the ocean, not even in the deepest parts of the abyss, that does not know and respond to the mysterious forces that create the tide." Rachel Carson
"Life spirals laboriously upward to higher and even higher levels, paying for every step. Death was the price of the multicellular condition; pain the price of nervous integration; anxiety the price of consciousness." Ludwig von Bertlanffy
"My portion of the great work, like that of any other person, creates its own synergy. My job is to be vigilant to the fact that the world creates neither coincidence nor accident only opportunity. I need only have the courage to ask for what I need and the valor to accept it once it appears." Ed Collins, pers. comm., 2003
"I rejoice in the knowledge of my biological uniqueness and my biological antinquity and my biological kinship with all other forms of life. This knowledge roots me, allows me to feel at home in the natural world, to feel that I have my own sense of biological meaning, whatever my role in the cultural, human world." Oliver Sacks, "Darwin and the Meaning of Flowers," 2008
"Our true ancestry is the emergent creativity of the universe. Our forebears were the great inventors who 'learned' how to coalesce hydrogen and helium into stars, to form planets, to sustain life first from mineral nutrients in the sea and later to capture delicious photons, to exploit oxygen for energy rather than be exterminated by it, to diversify via sexual reproduction, to form social groups for greater security and protection of offspring. We are the beneficiaries (and, admittedly, also the victims) of this narrative of emergence. Our 'companions' abstract as this must sound to the uninitiated are all of these progenitors. Indeed they are more than companions; they are family. From them we have inherited our corporeal shapes and movements, our body chemistry, and even some of our behavioral agendas." John Brewer, pers. comm., 2004
"We humans are truly marvelous, adaptable creatures, products of an exciting and inspiring even though often dangerous evolutionary story, a story to be celebrated with conviction and enthusiasm even as we move on to new challenges." Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, Driven, 2002
"The dust of many crumbled cities settles over us like a forgetful doze, but we are older than those cities. We began as a mineral. We emerged into plant life and into the animal state, and then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early spring when we slightly recall being green again. That's how a young person turns toward a teacher. That's how a baby leans toward the breast, without knowing the secret of its desire, yet turning instinctively. Humankind is being led along an evolving course, through this migration of intelligences, and though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are." Rumi, "The Dream That Must Be Interpreted"
"We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring." Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980
"A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge. Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot 1994
"If Enlightenment is the discovery of what IS, then it must embrace the ultimate nature of all thingsseen and unseen, known and unknown. And I think the most truly all-embracing and inclusive definition of reality includes both Being and Becoming. Being is that timeless void out of which the cosmos was born, the empty ground from which everything arises and to which everything ultimately returns. Becoming is the something that emerged out of nothing and is still emerging in this moment. Becoming is Eros, the evolutionary impulse, the first cause, that original spark of light and energy that created the entire universe. It is that very same creative spark that awakens in our own hearts and minds as a sense of ecstatic urgency to evolve. This is why I have reenvisioned the very goal of the spiritual path, seeing the purpose of enlightenment as not merely to transcend the world but to transform the world, through becoming an agent of evolution itself. This is the new source of spiritual liberation. It's not just awakening to timeless Beingit's awakening to eternal, ecstatic Becoming. Evolutionary Enlightenment calls on us to awaken to both the timeless peace of Being and the relentless passion of the Evolutionary Impulse." Andrew Cohen, 2012, Evolutionary Elightenment
"Those of us who are interested in the future need perpetual access to mystical empowerment and spiritual energy a source of infinite renewal that will enable us to bring into creative action the highest evolutionary potentials we have glimpsed. It's one thing to have an intuition of what's possible, but it's another thing altogether to have enough spiritual self-confidence to translate that kind of inspiration into action. And the place we find that confidence, that fearless willingness to take responsibility for creating the future here and now, is through awakening to what I call the evolutionary impulse the ever-present energy and intelligence that gave rise to the entire cosmic process." Andrew Cohen, 2011, Evolutionary Elightenment
"When you awaken to what I call the Authentic Self, which is the spiritual or evolutionary impulse, what begins to emerge is the dawning recognition of the fact that each one of us, at our highest level, is that Authentic Self, which is actually the same energy and intelligence that originally inspired the entire creative process. You begin to intuit and feel directly connected to the very impulse that initiated the whole event fourteen billion years ago and is driving it right now." Andrew Cohen, 2006. (Click here for more Andrew Cohen quotes from his website. This quote is drawn from his "The Outer Reaches of the Big Bang.")
"Awakening to the evolutionary impulse, to that mysterious drive towards the future, can spiritually empower us to bear the intensity of our exponentially changing world. When we awaken to this impulse, we find ourselves suddenly compelled to ride the crest of that wave, rather than going the traditional mystical route and seeking peace and relief in the solitude of meditative transcendence. An evolutionary spirituality compels us to jump right into the midst of change, carried by the spiritual inspiration of the creative process itself. And that's why I feel a spiritual path like Evolutionary Enlightenment is so culturally relevant for our time." Andrew Cohen, 2011, Evolutionary Enlightenment
"The evolution of our consciousness and our culture is an awe-inspiring task, but I believe it is possible for anyone who cares deeply enough about it. Those of us who feel compelled by the evolutionary impulse must be willing to embrace the dramatic scale at which the life-process is operating. When we awaken to the fact that we are part of a fourteen-billion-year process that is going somewhere, we begin to see our own day-to-day, moment-to-moment choices in a literally cosmic context. We see our own presence here on earth in relationship to the evolution of the cosmos itself.
This cosmic orientation is essential if we are to succeed in taking the next evolutionary step. If our orientation is not that big, we are always going to fall short. Our habitual ways of thinking are just too small-minded, petty, and personal. In order for authentic, profound, and meaningful transformation to occur, we have to make the effort to see all of our choices in this cosmic context. And that, in itself, is evolution. That's what our next step is: awakening to a cosmic orientation to being a human being, here on earth, right now." Andrew Cohen, 2012
"It is my belief that we need a new transnational sustaining 'myth' that can impart value and respect. It is my further belief that we are coming to see our universe and life as creative, without a directing agency. Meaning emerges with life. If this view becomes widespread, it has the promise to become the sustaining myth we need to sustain in turn an emerging global civilization." Stuart Kauffman, 2006
"Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? Our poets do not write about it; our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. The value of science remains unsung by singers: you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age." Richard Feynman
"One view of God is that God is our chosen name for the ceaseless creativity in the natural universe, biosphere, and human cultures. Because of this ceaseless creativity, we typically do not and cannot know what will happen. We live our lives forward, as Kierkegaard said. We live as if we knew, as Nietzsche said. We live our lives forward into mystery, and do so with faith and courage, for that is the mandate of life itself. But the fact that we must live our lives forward into a ceaseless creativity that we cannot fully understand means that reason alone is an insufficient guide to living our lives. Reason, the center of the Enlightenment, is but one of the evolved, fully human means we use to live our lives. Reason itself has finally led us to see the inadequacy of reason. We must therefore reunite our full humanity. We must see ourselves whole, living in a creative world we can never fully know. We must see ourselves whole, living in a creative world we can never fully know." Stuart Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred, 2007
"The universe is a single reality one long, sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens; it is evolution happening. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold; it is the unfolding drama itself. If ever there were a candidate for a universal story, it must be this story of cosmic evolution. . . This story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story, more than any other, humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation. Like no other story it bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn and collective responsibility for the future." Loyal Rue, Everybody's Story, 1999
"I foresee a day in the not-too-distant future when tens of millions of religious believers Christian, Jewish, and Muslim alike embrace the discoveries of science as public revelation, and in so doing become religious knowers. I foresee a day when a new understanding of our scientific heritage prevails. No longer will the scientific picture of the Universe be thought to imply a cold and mechanistic rendering of cosmic processes, nor a 'nature red in tooth and claw.' How will this cultural shift come about? In part, because scientists themselves will applaud those who make the effort to interpret the discoveries of science in sacred ways. When God-language is used for such interpretations, that God will be seen as so much more awesome and worthy of worship than are literalist portrayals of the biblical God. God will be seen as more powerful, too, and light-years more in line with the moral stance appropriate for globally interdependent cultures and for the cross-species interdependent web of life.
Two thousand or more years after the biblical scriptures were written, humans have substantially expanded our circles of compassion beyond what is evidenced in the old texts. We see this in the way that genocide not only now has a name, but that name is invoked for the express purpose of eliciting moral outrage. Expanded circles of care are also evident in the international sanctions (global morality) that are regularly applied to motivate transgressor nations to clean up their act.
When freed from the erroneous belief that ancient holy texts reveal an accurate picture of God for all time, we can begin to appreciate how they nevertheless served as indispensable guides for many, many generations. And then, we need no longer judge unsavory scriptures harshly even the most violent passages or approach them with trepidation. After all, that was then; this is now.
Over the coming decades I foresee that religious believers of every tradition will embrace a far larger, more reality-based view of God than was possible even a century ago. This will be a vision of the Holy One that will draw the vast majority, regardless of religion or philosophical worldview, into a place of respect, adoration, love, and care for the larger body of which we all are part. Scripture will have become more encompassing and universally inspiring because altogether new writings will qualify as scripture. Our spirituality no longer restricted to ancient texts, we will come to know and be led by God's Word in every fact, every detail, every truth of cosmic history and of that undeniable Wholeness in which we all live and move and have our being." Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution 2008, p. 324
"Not long after writing emerged, the Bible came to be. For many in the land of Moses and for centuries thereafter, it would have seemed a miracle to watch someone coax words from scratches on clay tablets or from strange symbols on papyrus or animal skins. What words would have been called forth on those occasions? Such pronouncements would surely have included what we now call Holy Scripture, or what Jesus' ancestors called the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. For the Hebrew people, interpretations of the Word, even written interpretations that would become the Talmud, would be subject to question, debate, and revision while the Word itself stood firm. It is thus no wonder that, for Christians, tradition places great significance on scripture as the written Word.
A much broader understanding of scripture is now emerging, however. It includes awareness that interpretations of the Holy Word should not be tethered to the meanings made manifest at any particular time. Rather, interpretations should grow commensurate with our understanding of the human condition, the world, and indeed the Cosmos. God's Word has always been evidenced most abundantly and faithfully on every page of that which is fundamentally Real the entirety of the natural world." Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution 2008, p. 328
"Many among us have yet to cast off the belief that God spoke clearly and was actively involved in human affairs only in the distant past. Thankfully, there is a groundswell movement among Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, Mennonites, Quakers, Pentecostals, New Thought Christians, and others, who find glad tidings in the God-glorifying ways of embracing a multibillion-year story of evolutionary emergence a story big enough and open enough to uplift the biblical stories within its compass. Thus we arrive, with reluctance or with great expectation, but nevertheless inevitably, at a threshold:We now know that, as a matter of course, it took many generations for the events described in the Bible to be recorded in written form. Yet today, by continuing to insist that ancient biblical texts are accurate records of the dictated words of an otherworldly, invisible Father, we turn millions away from the real truths available in scripture. Adherence to literalism thus undermines the very gospel it seeks to support. Th ose who think that peoples of the past would not embellish stories to their own ends, and that these departures would not magnify over the decades and in some cases centuries of oral transmittal before they were recorded in writing, do not understand human nature and the biblical portrayal of sin.
To hold that a literal interpretation of the Bible is the best or only legitimate interpretation is to foster a schizophrenic break between the religion that still guides our souls and the science that is foundational in so many aspects of our lives including healing many of us from diseases, injuries, and birth defects that in other times would have been lethal. To continue to insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible in this age of science is to make an idol of human language, while underestimating both the extent of divine revelation and the depth of human fallibility.
Although most Christians still call the collection of letters written two millennia ago The New Testament, the revolutionary idea today is that God has, for centuries, been faithfully and publicly revealing truth via facts uncovered by science. Perhaps we should call sacred interpretations of science The Ever- Renewing Testament.
There is a world of difference between a preevolutionary and an evolutionary understanding of 'biblical inerrancy.' With a God-glorifying understanding of deep time, one need not make an idol of human words as a carrier of God's Word. Rather, from an emergent perspective, we can see that the Bible accurately reveals how the authors and editors of the books of scripture understood themselves, their world, and the nature of Ultimate Reality two or three thousand years ago. Th ose understandings include many powerful insights we can use today, woven in amongst much that is of primarily historical or symbolic value, and even some components that modern sensibilities rightly find morally off ensive. It is up to us to find life-serving meanings in the guidance given us by the Whole over time, no matter what the vehicles of delivery." Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution 2008, p. 332
"I've never understood the rabid emotions with which people separate evolution from God, God from the body. Why do the devout need suddenness human life as the brand new product on the shelf produced deus ex machina as proof of the Divine? Darwin, troubled by dreams of being beheaded or hanged, realized that stating his beliefs in evolutionary process was 'like confessing a murder.' But evolution is godly, its bias toward enhancing collective survival at the price of individual life, the origin of morality. Each body is a storehouse of godly decisions made in the complex biological improvisation of Earth, nature the divine chronographer, genetic chance (the DNA as dice) is God-the-inventor, the intelligence, the luck behind us all." Alison Hawthorn Deming
"We have Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and God-like technology. That's the source of all our problems." Edward O. Wilson (2008, Dec 20 issue of Science News, p. 32)
"The universe is a single reality one long, sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens; it is evolution happening. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold; it is the unfolding drama itself. If ever there were a candidate for a universal story, it must be this story of cosmic evolution....
This story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers. We are fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story, more than any other, humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation. Like no other story it bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn and collective responsibility for the future." Loyal Rue, Everybody's Story, 1999
"When we talk about the Universe Story we are talking about the acquisition of a totally new paradigm, one which overturns many of the patterns that we unconsciously believe to be true. There is not simply the addition of new metaphors and images, but the metaphors and images themselves flow out of a new consciousness inspired by a new awareness of the cosmos." Judy Cannato
"Just as Christians have 'accepting Jesus,' we have 'accepting Reality'. Accepting reality is a religious commitment to put Reality first. It is to allow the universe to contemplate its own existence through you. It is where your story becomes your adventure and you become part of the Great Adventure. Accepting Reality is owning yourself: taking responsibility for your actions. It's an awareness that history is immutable and that what you do becomes what you did, and that matters. Thus in accepting Reality, I choose to learn to live in "Right Relationship with Reality" (the 3 Rs)." Marc Perkel, 2012, ChurchofReality.org
"The great discovery of contemporary science is that the universe is not simply a place but a story a story in which we are immersed, to which we belong, and out of which we arose." also, "The forms of creativity that pervade nature are neither haphazard nor determined but are rather, profoundly exploratory, capable of bringing forth such a display of magnificence that it endlessly evokes our wonder." Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Journey of the Universe, pp.2 and 53, 2011.
"Human beings, it appears, do indeed belong in the universe and share its unstable, evolving character. What happens among human beings and what happens among the stars looks to be part of a grand, evolving story, featuring spontaneous emergence of complexity that generates new sorts of behavior at every level of organization from the minutest quarks and leptons to the galaxies, from long carbon chains to living organisms and the biosphere, and from the biosphere to the symbolic universes of meaning with which human beings live and labor, singly and in concert, trying always to get more of what we want and need from the world around us." William McNeill, historian, 1998
"The ideal religion is a combination of the head and the heart. If your religion is only a rational construction, it will stiffen into a dry, meatless, and unappealing bone. Faith without sensation is arid. If your religion is only a spiritual perception, it will degenerate into a muddy swamp of obscure gibberish. Faith without reason is mush. The proper balance is what William James described as 'the union of the mathematician with the poet: fervor with measure, passion with correctness this surely is the ideal'." David O. Rankin, in Meditations: Dancing in the Empty Spaces
"One of the great achievements of the scientific quest for knowledge is showing us that the universe we live in is quintessentially a story. The cosmos itself, beginning with the Big Bang, has now come to be seen, not as an inert or static backdrop for the planet, but an ever-changing manifestation in which everything is essentially historical and developmental. Time and space, matter and energy, atoms and elements, stars and galaxies, the earth and the diversity of life, our bodies and civilizations, cultures and traditions, ways of thought, the qualities we possess, everything we see and are made of has had a marked an identifiable origin during some salient time of crisis and creative explosiveness." Ken Gilbert, 2012, "The Universal Breakthroughs of Big History."
"Ecology is the new theology; big history is the new Genesis. Those who fail to understand that evidence is modern-day scripture, and that the world we live in is an honorable world, betray God and humanity in the most egregious of ways." Michael Dowd sermon video 2013.
"Aspiring to multidisciplinary consideration of the past in Big History, along with the establishment of a working synergy between the sciences and the humanities (including philosophy, religion and the arts), profound questions naturally arise as they always have in the life of humanity. Questions of meaning can take their rightful place alongside questions of fact. They can enhance each other and jointly point toward greater dimensions of self and world understanding. Together they can only serve to enhance our efforts in accomplishing a truly rich and more holistic synthesis where there has previously been division and fragmentation. It is the role of the sciences to continue to expand and tell us what we can know. As a result, the new global creation story of Big History is now poised to become our shared human heritage. It is the role of the arts and humanities to explore, to consider and discuss what this newly emerging story might mean to us as human beings. Both can contribute together in a grand and open-ended dialogue toward an integrated wholeness that is greater than the sum of the parts." Ken Gilbert, 2012, "The Universal Breakthroughs of Big History."
Grand is the seen, the light, to me grand are the sky and stars,
Grand is the earth, and grand are lasting time and space,
And grand their laws, so multiform, puzzling, evolutionary.
Walt Whitman, "Grand Is the Seen," Leaves of Grass
In every object, mountain, tree, and star in every birth and life,
As part of each evolved from each meaning, behind the ostent,
A mystic cipher waits infolded.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
The two old, simple problems ever intertwined,
Close home, elusive, present, baffled, grappled.
By each successive age insoluble, pass'd on,
To ours to-day and we pass on the same.
Walt Whitman, "Life and Death," Leaves of Grass
POEM: "All My Life"
All my life I've wanted to believe in God,
gone to church, followed every spiritual teacher in town,
meditated and prayed, attended 12-step programs,
but still I felt abandoned and alone in the universe.
All my life I've wanted to see the face of God.
Is he really just a mean old man in the sky?
Perhaps God is a chubby Buddha,
or maybe the Dalai Lama, always laughing.
Or is She a woman, the green Tara, weeping pearl tears,
the Virgin of Guadalupe, crowned with roses?
All my life I've tried to solve that old mystery,
Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here?
Then one day I saw the pictures
sent back by the Hubble Telescope:
Hot blue stars born out of the red glow of galaxies,
a pulsating firestorm of fluorescent clouds,
the obsidian sky of deep space.
Spirals of comets, like swirling diamond necklaces.
Black holes, exploding supernovas,
a hundred thousand light-years away,
endless, unimaginable, eternal.
And I knew that finally I had seen the face of God. Joyce Keller
POEM: Life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God. Langdon Smith (1858-1908)
POEM: "The Rope" by Loren Eiseley
(click for a PDF version of "The Rope")
Access 45 moving quotations drawn from the book, THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams.
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