From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos
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 Physicist Swimme (The Universe Is a Green Dragon, 1984--not reviewed) and cultural historian Berry (The Dream of the Earth, 1988) attempt to offer a new creation myth that incorporates a scientific view of the universe with philosophical speculation on humanity's place within it. The result in an overly reductive tale unlikely to win many converts. For thousands of years, the authors claim, humanity has envisioned the universe as an inviolable world without end--and as the 20th century comes to a close, they say, this erroneous view is catching up with us at last. Suffering from an increased separation from nature, a misplaced faith in the resilience of our environment, and an uneasy malaise as our old myths lose their credibility, we crave a renewed connection with our universe--a connection, the authors contend, fortuitously provided by recent scientific discoveries regarding the universe's birth. Beginning with the Big Bang, Swimme and Berry take us on a quick tour of cosmic history, pausing to point out the metaphorical significance of the fact that life originated in the explosions of ancient stars; that humanity's evolution depended on an apparently statistically impossible sequence of cosmic events; that the extremes of destruction and creation evident in the universe have been expressed repeatedly and compulsively throughout human history; and so on. But the authors' often dry exposition, combined with such patronizing techniques as assigning the names of Greek gods to groundbreaking events in nature (``Aries'' for the first prokaryotic cell, ``Argos'' for the first multicellular animal, etc.), utterly lacks the power of the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and other ``myths'' that it proposes to succeed. Readers who share the authors' hope that the right story will lead humanity into a new ``Ecozoic Era'' must look elsewhere for inspiration. Laudable in intent--though not in execution. (Fifteen b&w photographs.)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-06-250826-1
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992


NonfictionTHOMAS BERRY by Mary Evelyn Tucker
by Mary Evelyn Tucker