The Sacred Depths of Nature

by Ursula Goodenough
New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 220 pages.

In prose that has been lauded as elegant and eloquent, Goodenough offers incisive explanations of the scientific facts of what she calls "the Epic of Evolution" and personal philosophical reflections suggesting how one may draw a sense of meaning from these facts. The Epic of Evolution explores the origins of the earth and life on the planet, the way life and organisms work, the mechanisms of evolutionary change, the evolution of biodiversity, awareness, emotions, the role of sexual reproduction in evolution, multicellularity, death, and speciation. The factual sections provide an accurate and engaging primer on biology and evolution; the personal reflections weave in a range of inspirations from thinkers such as Oren Lyons, Faith-keeper of the Onondaga Nation, poet Sharon Olds, and pioneering psychologist William James.