Debunking myths behind what is known collectively as the new cosmology—a grand, overlapping set of narratives that claim to bring science and spirituality together—Lisa H. Sideris offers a searing critique of the movement’s anthropocentric vision of the world. In Consecrating Science, Sideris argues that instead of cultivating an ethic of respect for nature, the new cosmology encourages human arrogance, uncritical reverence for science, and indifference to nonhuman life. Exploring moral sensibilities rooted in experience of the natural world, Sideris shows how a sense of wonder can foster environmental attitudes that will protect our planet from ecological collapse for years to come.
Introduction: The Return of Mythopoeic Science
1. Seeking What Is Good in Wonder
2. The Book of Nature and the Book of Science: Richard Dawkins on Wonder
3. E. O. Wilson’s Ionian Enchantment: A Tale of Two Realities
4. Evolutionary Enchantment and Denatured Religious Naturalism
5. Anthropic and Anthropocene Narratives of the New Cosmology
6. Genesis 2.0: The Epic of Evolution as Religion of Reality
7. Making Sense of Wonder
Glossary of Terms
Lisa H. Sideris is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, where her research focuses on religion, science, and environmentalism. She is the author of Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection.
"Lisa Sideris’s Consecrating Science: Wonder, Knowledge, and the Natural World is a rich and deeply insightful analysis of a family of ambitious historical narratives, each of which is vying to become the new myth everyone lives by. Through careful textual study, Sideris convincingly argues that despite their stated goal of promoting a deep respect and care for the natural world, these narratives may inadvertently undermine development of the environmental ethic they seek to foster."—Reading Religion
lays out a detailed and incisive critique of current attempts to fashion cosmology, biology, and other sciences into a new religion. Offering an eloquent alternative to this project, Sideris expands on the insights of Rachel Carson, Loren Eiseley, and Annie Dillard to reveal how we can cultivate a transformative sense of wonder, drawn from our direct and corporeal encounters with the natural world."—R. S. Deese, author of Surf Music
and We Are Amphibians: Julian and Aldous Huxley on the Future of Our Species
"This is an original and potentially controversial book. It develops an insightful discussion of the idea of 'wonder' at the natural world, while engaging critically and thoughtfully with different accounts of scientific-spiritual narratives of the 'new cosmology.' It’s an important book for those who have interests at the intersection of religion, environment, and philosophy."—Clare Palmer, Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University