Divine grace begets astrophysics in this grandiose cosmological fantasia.
Ruetz, a Catholic priest and eco-communitarian, offers this fable as a mythic reconciliation of Christian-ish themes with scientific theories of the Big Bang and evolution. In the beginning, it seems, there was a Quaternity of one God in four Persons: Elohim, his wife Sophia, their son Dabar and a feminine Holy Spirit called Ruah. Their heavenly bliss needs constructive outlets, and before you can say “Through our ecstatic love, we will create space-time as a home in which these possible new creations will live,” a 100-trillion-trillion-degree “red bubble-womb” erupts. As the new universe cools, the laws of physics takes over, anthropomorphized by a Disneyesque cast of talking subatomic particles, including the squabbling trio of Quarkie, Quarko and Quarkoff and an alliterative photon named Photie. (Sample soliloquy: “Felicitous, faithful friends, potent perseverance calls you to fastidious fidelity.”) They conduct us on a 15 billion-year narrative in which gas clouds coalesce into galaxies and heavy atomic nuclei are synthesized in supernovae and they gravitate to the nascent Earth. Despite the long-winded dialogue, Ruetz’s fable imparts interesting lore about the developing universe at a level that young readers can digest. Unfortunately, kids and adults may get lost in the story’s second half, which bogs down in details of molecular biology—“First, let us build an RNA messenger made of nucleotide bases from our free-floating raw materials and RNA bases”—as loquacious atoms plan the evolution of bacteria into eukaryotic cells. Throughout, Ruetz blends theology into the science: the fundamental forces of physics are but elaborations of a primordial impulse toward love and fellowship, while free will makes the cosmos open-ended rather than deterministic (dangerously so for a hydrogen atom whose sinful pride draws him toward a black hole). Neither scientists nor religious traditionalists are likely to be swayed by Ruetz’s vision, but it may resonate with those of a determinedly ecumenical mindset.
An imaginative but somewhat stilted portrait of a mechanistic yet gushingly self-aware world.