Cosmology and the Universe Story

by Michael Colebrook

The universe, the solar system, and planet earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that ultimate mystery whence all things emerge into being.

There is eventually only one story, the story of the universe. Every form of being is integral with this comprehensive story. Nothing is itself without everything else. Each member of the Earth community has its own proper role within the entire sequence of transformations that have given shape and identity to everything that exists.

The universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.

These quotations from Thomas Berry refer to the Big Story. The story of every single component of the universe from its beginning to the present. This is a story so vast as to be totally beyond the capability of humans to imagine, let alone tell in any comprehensive sense. Nevertheless the story is so important that we have to try. We have to try to create in our minds something of the Big Picture, however blurred and incomplete it may be. We are in a position to say something about the significant processes and to outline the main sequence of events involved in the evolutionary unfolding and emergence of the universe, the solar system and the planet Earth. At the same time, we have to recognise that any telling of the story is tentative, new facts are emerging all the time.

The significance of the universe story for green spirituality is self evident. It is the story about how we came to be and what we are.  _______________________________________________________________________

To read more about how well-or otherwise-the story has been accepted in our culture and to delve more deeply implications of the story for our lives today, read:

Exploring the Universe Story

Cosmology and 21st Century Culture

See also these outside links:

Papers from the ‘Journey of the Universe’ conference at Yale

  THE GREAT STORY A community empowerment website created by Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd, which includes their Great Story itinerant preaching and teaching schedule. It is a tool for the Great Work, especially for those interested in sustainability, conservation biology, creation spirituality, evolutionary consciousness, the new cosmology, deep ecology, bioregionalism, or the marriage of science and religion for personal and planetary well-being.
  There is a large collection of excellent pictures of objects in space based on data from theHUBBLE TELESCOPE. Most of the pictures are available in a variety of formats .gif, .jpg, .pdf & .tif and at a variety of files sizes from a few KB to several MB. 
  Travel all the way from 10 million light years out in space down by POWERS OF 10through an oak leaf to a single subatomic particle. An animated show that can only be viewed on your screen, but definitely worth it.


The following makes no attempt to be comprehensive book list. It is a short list of up-to-date books which attempt to tell the story, either the whole story or just the earth story, in very different ways.

Bill Bryson. A Short History of Nearly Everything (Doubleday, 2003)
David Christian. Maps of Time (University of California Press, 2004).
Armand Delsemme. Our Cosmic Origins (CUP, 1998).
Richard Fortey. Life, an Unauthorised Biography (Flamingo, 1998).
Richard Fortey. The Earth, An Intimate History (HarperCollins, 2004).
Lawrence Krauss.  Atom (Little, Brown & Co., 2001)
Simon Lamb & David Sington. Earth Story (BBC, 2003).
Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry. The Universe Story (HarperCollins, 1992).

See also the book and tape pack from Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker entitled Journey of the Universe