The New Age scientist and author (The Presence of the Past, 1988) delivers a sterling reassessment of humankind's attitudes toward science and spirituality. Sheldrake is best known for his theory of "morphogenetic fields"--quasi-Platonic forms that govern everything from the development of an embryo to the construction of a snowflake. This theory places Sheldrake wholeheartedly against those who view nature as a dead machine. Unlike most New Agers, however, Sheldrake has the scientific schooling to back up his eco-think, and delivers a solid history of scientific thought that demonstrates just where the West went wrong Refreshingly, he places the blame not on the Judeo-Christian tradition, which Sheldrake sees as embodying a sacred view of nature, but on Protestantism and the "secular priesthood" that it spawned, culminating in Descartes' theory of the human spirit as "the ghost in the machine." By deftly zigzagging between scientific theories (such as Darwinism, the Gala hypothesis, the anthropic principle) and religious phenomena (such as prayer, shamanism, veneration of the Virgin Mary), Sheldrake not only produces an extraordinary crossbreed of theology and popular science, but offers a satisfying vision of how we can be "reborn into a living world." Inadequate on two counts: the prose is flat, and Sheldrake glosses over ideas (the astronomical mystery of "dark matter"; the theology of God as Father) that demand books of their own. Otherwise, a first-rate New Age manifesto.