Books

 

Epic of Evolution

Evolutionary Epic: Science’s Story and Humanity’s Response
Edited by Cheryl Genet, Russell Genet, Brian Swimme, Linda Palmer, Linda Gibler. Foreword by David Christian

This book is a feast of diverse and profound perspectives about the Epic of Evolution and how we humans fit into the emerging creation story. The many authors who contributed to this book came together in January of 2008 to celebrate the power and beauty of this important story. Contributers to this book include leading cosmologists, biologists, theologians, historians, philosophers, environmental scientists, doctors, business leaders, poets, and anthropologists. Although they all have differing points of view, all agree that they are profoundly inspired by the majesty, beauty and power of the epic of evolution.

 

Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity
by David Christian

The enthusiasm of historian David Christian is palpable as he makes Big History come alive in these video talks. In this set of 48 lectures from The Teaching Company, Christian gives an overview of Big History, also known as the Epic of Evolution. Christian has the amazing gift of describing complex ideas about cosmology, thermodynamics, economics, and world history in a way that is clear and awe-inspiring. I highly recommend this series of videos to everyone who wants to know where they came from so as to better understand where they might be going.

 

Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here)
by Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman 

While most of the other books and videos reviewed here give us a view of how we got there, this book provides a hopeful and inspiring way to continue humanity’s participation in the Epic of Evolution well into the future. The main idea in this book is that science tells us what spiritual teachers have been saying for ages: that love is the way. This book clearly shows the cutting edge science that evolution is not random but rather a dance between organism and environment. Evolution is about survival of the fittingest, that is, those organims that harmonize best with their environment, survive. With a Ph.D. in microbiology, I sometimes get annoyed with books that distort science to support a spiritual perspective. In this book, I rejoice that Lipton’s science is solid which makes his spiritual views all the more inspiring.

 

Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos
by Eric J. Chaisson

This book covers the grand story of our origins from the Big Bang to now. In it, Chaisson covers all ages of evolution, including particle, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical, biological and cultural epochs of evolution. “We are agents of the universe — animated, cultural instruments commissioned by the Universe to study itself,” writes Chaisson in his hopeful closing chapter.

 

Everybody’s Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution (SUNY Series in Philosophy and Biology) by Loyal D. Rue

The prose in this this book is so elegant and concise that I let the book speak for itself: “To know one’s place in the cosmos is to know something of immense spiritual value,” writes the author, a professor of Religion and Philosophy at Luther College. He convincingly argues that “Everybody’s problem calls for everybody’s story.” In this book he shows how the Epic of Evolution constructs “a new wisdom tradition that couples an evolutionary cosmology to an ecocentric morality.” This book fulfills the author’s goal “to inspire grateful service to the enduring promise of life on this planet.”

 

Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
by David Christian

Maps of Time attempts to assemble a coherent and accessible account of origins, a modern creation myth.” ~ David Christian

This book unites human history and the history of the life and the origin of the universe into one single narrative, which David Christian calls “Big History.” Acknowledging people’s need to find meaning in story, Christian offers his version of this grand, united narrative.

“Teaching this large story persuaded us that beneath the awesome diversity and complexity of modern knowledge, there is an underlying unity and coherence, ensuring that different timescales really do have something to say to each other. Taken together, these stories have all the power and richness of a traditional cycle of creation myths.” ~ David Christian

 

The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era–A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry

This book presents a sweeping chronology of the Epic of Evolution. Written by a mathematical cosmologist and a priest, it tells the story of our universe in mythic terms.

 

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean B. Carroll

Molecular biologist Sean Carroll combines his wonderful talents of researcher with the gift of storytelling to present a case for biological evolution that answers that mystery: how are new traits formed? Although Darwin proposed the idea of evolution by natural selection, he did not have the tools of molecular biology to show how variation in DNA arises. Although this book doesn’t provide an overview of the entire Epic of Evolution, it is so good at explaining grand biological evolutionary principles that I put it here.

 

The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos by Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams

Wow! In eloquent, easy-to-understand English, this book tells us about the first theory of the universe that may actually be true. This book seeks to reconcile the cosmology of culture with the cosmology of science, to give us a science based explanation of our place in the universe. The authors share their excitement that “human beings can personally connect in a meaningful way to the real cosmos.” NPR chose this book as the only science title in their top 10 summer reading list. This book is a classic in its own time. ISBN#1594489149

 

Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan

This book presents the sweeping epic of biological evolution on Earth. Margulis and Sagan present evidence against the popular (and wrong) notion that survival of the fittest means exclusively survival of the most ruthless. Instead, they write, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.” In addition, the authors show that symbiosis is a major source of novelty upon which natural selection works. “Symbiosis, the merging of organisms into new collectives, proves to be a major power of change on Earth.” This book tells us that we humans are partners with other creatures on the planet, not lords domineering all. Our symbiotic relationships with other creatures is a “symbiotic, cooperative venture in which partners triumph.”

 

The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins

Evolutionary biologist and master storyteller Richard Dawkins tells the epic tale of evolution beginning with humans and moving backwards in time. On this pilgrimage, Dawkins introduces us to our common ancestors at forty “rendezvous points” until we go back billions of years to meet our original ancestor. This rich story about the Epic of Evolution is entertaining, packed with information, and organized in a way that paints a broad picture that makes the story of evolution come alive.

 

The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard de Chardin, a priest and anthropologist, was one of the first to tell the Epic of Evolution and human’s place in this extraordinary unfolding story.

Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science by Connie Barlow

This book eloquently recounts personal stories of people involved in telling the Epic of Evolution. In a way, this is the story of the Epic. Among other stories, she tells of biologist Edward O. Wilson, who coined the phrase “Epic of Evolution.” This book makes a strong case for an ecological ethic based on the merger of science and religion.

 

Evolution’s Arrow: The Direction of Evolution and the Future of Humanity by John Stewart

This book builds on the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin that evolution moves in a direction of ever greater complexity. “The emergence of organisms who are conscious of the direction of evolution is one of the most important steps in the evolution of life on any planet. Once organisms discover the direction of evolution, they can use it to guide their own evolution. If they know where evolution is going, they can work out what will produce success in the future, and use this to plan how they will evolve.”

 

The Sacred Depth of Nature - by Ursula Goodenough

This eloquently written book blends science, spirituality and philosophy into rich poetic prose. As a cell biologist and a self-described religious naturalist, Goodenough finds joy and solace in science and sees in it the mystery, awe, and purpose that most people find in religion. The author writes about life from the perspectives of a cell biologist and a woman of spirit. For example, on Origins of Life she writes: “I take the concept of miracle and use it not as a manifestation of divine intervention but as the astonishing property of emergence.” For Goodenough, the study of evolution provides a feeling of communion with all creatures. For her, acknowledging bloodier invokes a sense of reverence and dependence on all creatures. “We are called to acknowledge our dependency on the web of life both for our subsistence and for countless aesthetic experiences.”

 

A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us — The Evolution of Life on Earth - by Sidney Liebes, Elisabet Sahtouris, and Brian Swimme.

This scientific understanding of the story of our origins helps give meaning to evolution. This book is beautifully illustrated with photos and illustrations.

TimeScale: An Atlas of the Fourth Dimension by Nigel Calder

A great handbook that shows our progress through time. Unfortunately, this awesome reference is out of print.

 

 

Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution by Lynn Margulis

Her work in microbiology opens a window that lets us view the possibilities for life everywhere, perhaps not just on planet Earth. As author of the endogamous theory, her great contribution to science is evidence that evolution advances by cooperation and symbiosis.

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon

Although written as a natural history of alien life, this thoughtful book has much to say about the Epic of Evolution and the origin of our universe. In order to tell us about extraterrestrial life, the author illustrates the history and future of life on our planet. Written by a space scientist, this book presents the notion of Cosmic Evolution, the story that shows we are on a trajectory “toward higher consciousness and spiritual enlightenment that transpires all over this universe.” This view acknowledges that without spiritual enlightenment, technology could destroy us first. In the chapter on “Astrotheology,” Grinspoon suggests that highly advanced spiritual beings are probably the ones with enough intelligence to travel long-distance in space. “Technical advancement without spiritual progress creates a dangerous and unstable condition that will be selected against. Natural selection on a galactic level will favor those living worlds where technical and spiritual advancement proceed together. Cosmic spiritual advancement by Darwinian natural selection!” Grinspoon suggests that the key to our long term survival is the integration of our scientific and spiritual capacities.

 

Nova Origins DVD Set

ASIN: B0001WTWPG

 

 

 

 

Biological Evolution

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer

This companion to the 7-part PBS Evolution series is a well written and beautifully illustrated reference to evolution. Evolution - “A journey into where we’re from and where we’re going.”

PBS Evolution Series on 4 DVDs

If you get one video series on evolution, this is it. ASIN#B00005RG6J

 

The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins

This epic tale of evolution begins with humans and moves back in time. On this pilgrimage, Dawkins introduces us to our common ancestors at forty “rendezvous points” until we go back four billion years to meet our original ancestor.

 

Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan

How did the amazing variety of species come into being? Darwin’s Origin of Species puts forth a theory of natural selection, but never tells how the variation was created upon which natural selection could work. Many people struggle to understand how the incredible variety of biodiversity can be explained solely by random point mutations. This book shows that random point mutations is not the whole answer. “We believe random mutation is wildly overemphasized as a source of hereditary variation,” write the authors. Instead, this book reveals an important and over overlooked mechanism that is essential for understanding evolution. This is the acquisition of genes, which is an essential aspect in the creation of evolutionary novelty. The authors write “We show that here that the major source of inherited variation is not random mutation. Rather the important transmitted variation that leads to evolutionary novelty comes from the acquisition of genomes.” I would substitute the word “genes” for genomes since many species arise without acquiring entire genomes.

From Lucy To Language by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar

Astonishingly gorgeous and detailed photos of fossils, bones and other artifacts that help tell the story of our human evolution. Wow. Revised and updated in 2006. ISBN#0743280644

 

Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth by Kirk R. Johnson and Richard K. Stucky. Denver Museum of Nature and Science. 2006.

If you love the Prehistoric Journey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and wished you could take it home with you, well now you can. This full-color book contains the dioramas, paintings, and fossils of the exhibit, and more photos, illustrations and detailed information. ISBN#1555915531

 

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner

0679400036

Our Inner Ape by Frans De Waal

DeWaal’s fascinating stories show how humans, like other apes, evolved as social creatures. Ape society is full of politics and full of compassion. An important survival strategy seems to be compassion, an urge that is even more important than eating.

TimeScale: An Atlas of the Fourth Dimension by Nigel Calder

A great handbook that shows our progress through time. Although out of print, used copies are still available through Amazon.com.

 

Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution by Lynn Margulis

Her work in microbiology opens a window that lets us view the possibilities for life everywhere, perhaps not just on planet Earth. As author of the endogamous theory, her great contribution to science is evidence that evolution advances by cooperation and symbiosis.

 

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon

See review above.

 

Biology by Neil Campbell, Jane B. Reese, and Lawrence G. Mitchell

This outstanding biology textbook for college students is permeated with great information about evolution.

Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution by Wen-Hsiung Li and Dan Graur

This book explores the evolution of macromolecules and provides reconstruction of evolutionary history of genes and organisms.

 

The Evolution of Cooperation (1985) by Robert Axelrod.

Axelrod uses game theory to show how self interest gives rise to cooperative behavior.

 

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

“Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species have ever aspired to.” ~ Richard Dawkins 099291152

 

Ancient Denvers: Scenes from the past 300 million years of the Colorado Front Range by Kirk Johnson and Robert G. Raynolds.

 

Evolution and Religion

Thank God for Evolution

Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World by Michael Dowd

“Without a meaningful evolutionary worldview it’s impossible to understand yourself, your world, or what’s needed for humanity to survive and thrive in the coming decades,” according to Michael Dowd, author, minister and Evolutionary Evangelist. He and his wife, Connie Barlow, travel the country giving lively and inspiring presentations about the Epic of Evolution to churches, schools and community groups. His enthusiasm for sharing the science of evolution is infectious and easily accessible to all. Although Dowd typically addresses an audience typically neglected by authors of books on evolution – religious folks – his message is based on robust scientific evidence which makes his message particularly insightful and empowering for people of all philosophies. To see additional rave reviews for this book that has been endorsed by 5 Nobel Prize winners, and scores of scientific, religious and other cultural leaders, visit Amazon.com. Released June, 2008. Originally published November 2007. For more information, visit www.ThankGodForEvolution.com.

 

Book Picture

The Epic of Evolution: Science and Religion in Dialogue edited by James B. Miller

This collection of essays is a product of the first major public conference organized by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion. Leaders in their respective fields provide scientific accounts of and philosophical and religious commentaries on evolution from the Big Bang through the evolution of human culture.

 

Thank God for Evolution

 

The Evolution Dialogues: Science, Christianity and the Quest for Understanding by Catherine Baker, edited by James B. Miller

This book is from the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion. With colorful illustrations and in plain language, it presents the ideas that evolution does not necessarily disprove the existence of God. It also presents the point of view that Christianity and evolutionary science may interact in mutually enriching ways. 2006. ISBN 0871687097.

 

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins ISBN

“If God is truly Almighty, He will hardly be threatened by our puny efforts to understand the workings of His natural world.” I love this book because it gets to the heart of the Epic of Evolution, which is that the truth of our existence lies in the exploration of both science and faith. I appreciate that Collins is explains his path to Christianity, yet allows that other spiritual paths may work well for others. He does a great job of explaining work on DNA and the human genome project. 2006. ISBN#0743286391

 

Evolution and Christian Faith by Joan Roughgarden

Hallelujah! This book should be a breath of fresh air to all those of faith working in biology departments across the country who hear that evolution proves there is no God. Of course this has never made any sense, despite the loud voices who claim otherwise. It’s refreshing to hear a clear voice who presents the opposite view. Both the scientific and the religious world views become one rich tapestry of understanding in this book. Roughgarden doesn’t compromise on her faith or on her science. Roughgarden’s book is so clear about the most important concepts of biological evolution: that everything is related and that all species change through time. 2006.

 

Zygon: Journal of Science and Religion

Zygon® focuses on the questions of meaning and values that challenge individual and social existence today. It brings together the best thinking of the day from the physical, biological, and social sciences with ideas from philosophy, theology, and religious studies. The journal’s contributors seek to keep united what may often become disconnected: values with knowledge, goodness with truth, religion with science. B00006LE9U

God After Darwin by John F. Haught

Tells the Epic of Evolution from a Christian perspective, building on the process theology of Alfred North Whitehead. The views of evolution are those of the scientific establishment.

 

Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientists Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller

A cell biologist and Catholic, Miller gives compelling evidence for evolution. For him, the study of evolution is about the study of God. “. . . there might even be a smile on the Creator’s face — that at long last His creatures have learned enough to understand His world as it truly is.”

 

The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard was the first to show how our lives can be improved through an integration of faith and science-based evolution.

Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science by Connie Barlow

This book eloquently recounts personal stories of people involved in telling the Epic of Evolution. In a way, this is the story of the Epic. She begins the second chapter with the biologist Edward O. Wilson, who coined the phrase “Epic of Evolution.” This book is a plea for an ecological ethic based on the merger of science and religion.

 

Science and Faith - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

 

The Sacred Depth of Nature - by Ursula Goodenough

See above.

Earthspirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity by Michael Dowd

Michael Dowd is a dynamic and articulate communicator of the Epic of Evolution. This book shows how the Epic of Evolution brings Christianity into it’s fullness. More info is available at Evolutionary Christianity. Dowd has “an integral vision of the Christian faith that honors biblical and traditional understandings, conservative and liberal, while enthusiastically embracing an evolutionary world view.”

 

 

New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality by Alan Anderson and Deb Whitehouse

This book is not so much about the Epic of Evolution as it is about how an evolutionary world view can bring you spiritual and material wealth. Anderson and Whitehouse show how process theology (which stems from evolutionary thought) enriches our lives in practical ways, giving us greater peace, health and prosperity. This book is a clear, concise, humor-full ed overview to New Thought.

 

 

Pagaia

PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion
by Glenys D Livingstone

“PaGaian Cosmology brings together a religious practice of seasonal ritual based in a contemporary scientific sense of the cosmos and female imagery for the Sacred,” according to the web site. This book is also available for free download at: http://pagaian.org.

 

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon

See previous review.

 

The Universe in a Single Atom: the Convergence of Science and Spirituality by the Dalai Lama

In the chapter on “Evolution, Karma, and the World of Sentience,” the Dalai Lama writes that evolution is the “conceptual underpinning of modern biology.”

The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature by Starhawk

Chapter Four of this book, “Creation: What Every Pagan Should Know About Evolution” is a beautiful and succinct overview of biological evolution that stresses the cooperative nature of evolution.

The Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe. Introduction by Sharon Begley, edited by Michael Reagan.

Beautiful images from the Hubble telescope with quotations convey the connection between science and religion.

God and the Evolving Universe: The Next Step in Personal Evolution by James Redfield and Michael Murphy

This book chronicles the evolution of human consciousness in light of the science of the Epic of Evolution.

One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind & Spirit by Robert Godwin.

ISBN: 1557788367

 

 

Teaching Evolution

Investigating Evolutionary Biology in the Laboratory: A complete guide for enhancing laboratory instruction. Edited by William F. McComas. 2006.The abundant and clearly illustrated evidence book will convince anyone still uncertain about the theory of evolution by natural selection. Published in 2006, this thoughtful book offers more than a large collection of laboratory experiences that examine the evidence for evolution. This book addresses the philosophical, historical and cognitive challenges that students might have in learning about evolution. This is a great resource – like having expert advice on teaching evolution from the 35 or so contributing authors. They include such details as where to get supplies. This is among my favorites because it provides concrete evidence for evolution from many separate disciplines.

Life Through Time

Curriculum guide for 5th – 8th grade students. Gives detailed instructions for creating an aquarium and a terrarium that show what life was like during different times on Earth.

Virus And the Whale: Exploring Evolution in Creatures Small And Large (2006) edited by Judy Diamond, Carl Zimmer, E. Margaret Evans, Linda Allison, and Sarah Disbrow

This book contains concise chapters that give an excellent overview of evolution as well as several chapters of activities for middle-school students.

Adventures in Paleontology: 36 Classroom Fossil Activities by Thor Hansen and Irwin Slesnick. Illustrations by D.W. Miller. 2006.

Lots of great activities with clear directions and good illustrations for activities for students in grades 5-8. ISBN#9780873552721

 

Parade of Life: Monerans, Protists, Fungi, and Plants

Although it doesn’t directly discuss evolution, this book for middle school students provides an overview of the diversity of life on Earth. ISBN# 0132255901

 

 

Epic of Evolution for Kids

Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

This beautifully illustrated book, for kids of all ages, shows how we are related to all life through our DNA.

 

Born With A Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story by Jennifer Morgan

 

From Lava To Life: The Universe Tells our Earth Story by Jennifer Morgan

 

 

Mammals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution Story by Jennifer Morgan and illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen

1584690852

The Evolution Book by Sara Stein

Lots of activities for kids.

 

The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution by Ellen Jackson, Judeanne Winter Wiley

 

Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kristan Lawson

 

Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution by Steve Jenkins

 

The Cartoon History of the Universe

 

DK Prehistoric Life -

 

When Bugs Were Big, Plants were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner

This books uses humor, fun illustrations, and interesting details to tell about life during the Carboniferous and Permian. Among other great illustrations, it includes a colorful and winding timeline of life on earth. ISBN #079226326X

 

DK Fossils -

Another great DK book with lots of pictures and information on fossils. ISBN#0756606829

 

 

Bill Nye the Science Guy Great Big Dinosaur Dig - with additional writing by Ian G. Suanders, illustrated by Michael Koelsch.

Almost as zany and even more informative than the TV shows, this book is packed with simple and engaging activities to try at home. ISBN#0786805420

 

Walking with Prehistoric Beasts – 0789478293

 

Virus And the Whale: Exploring Evolution in Creatures Small And Large (2006) edited by Judy Diamond, Carl Zimmer, E. Margaret Evans, Linda Allison, and Sarah Disbrow

 

DK Dinosaurs - 0756606470

 

T-Rex to Go: Build Your Own from Chicken Bones; Foolproof Instructions For Budding Paleontologists by Christopher McGowan

This fun and educational book gives detailed instructions on how to create your very own miniature T-Rex skeleton. ISBN #0060952814

Why Did the Dinosaurs Disappear? by Philip Whitfield

This nicely illustrated, detailed book asks and answers 99 questions about the evolution and fate of dinosaurs. Published 1991. ISBN #0670840556

 

Future of Evolution

 

The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard was the first to show how our lives can be improved through an integration of faith and science-based evolution.

 

Evolution’s Arrow: The Direction of Evolution and the Future of Humanity by John Stewart

Evolution moves in a direction of ever greater cooperation and adaptability. “The emergence of organisms who are conscious of the direction of evolution is one of the most important steps in the evolution of life on any planet. Once organisms discover the direction of evolution, they can use it to guide their own evolution. If they know where evolution is going, they can work out what will produce success in the future, and use this to plan how they will evolve.”

 

Evolutionary Psychology

Understanding the Epic of Evolution has lead to major advances in how people understand themselves and each other. The relatively new field of Evolutionary Psychology helps people understand themselves others to successfully overcome many psychological roadblocks and to achieve their goals.

 

Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts by Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan

 

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley

 

A General Theory of Love

 

Biology of Belief

 

The Moral Animal