‘Weaving the Cosmos: Science, Religion and Ecology’ by Chris Clarke

O Books, 2010,223pp

ISBN 978-1-84694-320-1

Reviewed by Ian Mowll

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What I like about this book is its breadth. Quantum physics, philosophy, psychology, history, religion, personal spiritual journey and the challenges of the modern world are all pulled together into a coherent flow. I love this kind of `big picture’ thinking, something that speaks to me of the whole rather than dealing with disjointed segments, as is prevalent in our educational system.

There are three themes in the book which I found helpful and inspiring. Firstly, looking at the rational and intuitive parts of our human minds which builds on the work of Isabel Clarke in her book Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God. I find intriguing the idea that our brains may have evolved to reflect the way the Universe is – a blend of the intuitive and rational. And I enjoyed learning more about quantum physics; particularly the `logical crack’ which shows that the Universe does not run on purely rational lines.

Secondly, the author argues that the environmental crisis (particularly climate change) is seen as giving us an opportunity to look afresh at spirituality – prompting us to respond by drawing from the depths of mainstream religions. Furthermore, it is suggested that this crisis can help us to call on the wisdom needed to reconnect the rational and intuitive sides of our minds. A discussion of the concept of our ‘ecological self’ reinforces this approach.

And thirdly, the book helps to bring together science and spirituality. Sometimes authors portray science and spirituality as completely different fields but with an overlapping objective of seeking truth. This has always felt a little blunt to me and the book helps to unpack some of the overlaps. Specifically the author proposes an ‘organic working together’ of science and religion (page 182). Matthew Fox has spoken of science being a ‘wisdom tradition’ and, for me, this book honours science in the context of understanding the earth and our place within it.

And finally, the book is beautifully summed up in the last couple of sentences: “The Cosmos in its power and splendour provides all we need in order to move into our full humanity in harmony with the earth. It is up to us to accept this gift of the cosmos, and to take up our part in its constant ongoing weaving of itself.”

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