Journal or Conference Title
Braided Way: Faces and Voices of Spiritual Practice
Religion and Philosophy
Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme have noted that, “we seem to be moving beyond any religious expression so far known to the human into a meta-religious age that seems to be a new comprehensive context for all religions.” That “new comprehensive context” is of course now known as Big History -- a.k.a. the Evolutionary Epic, Universe Story, or New Cosmic Story—the astonishing contemporary synthesis of modern sciences that tells a coherent story of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago to the present.
Yet with the notable exception of the writings of Berry and Swimme themselves, leading Big History texts like David Christian’s Maps of Time, Fred Spier’s Big History and the Global Future of Humanity, Cynthia Brown’s Big History, and the college textbook, Between Nothing and Everything, by Christian, Brown and Craig Benjamin, are committed to a thoroughgoing materialism in which the history of human religiosity is the history of a delusion and in which the perennial human yearning for self-transcendence is an evolutionary dead end.
Only Big Historians can decide whether their narrative should assign religion – humanity’s ceaseless symbolic attempts to relate itself to the ultimate conditions of its existence1-- a less marginal role. But to me science’s new Cosmic Story offers our stillyoung species an opportunity to see its religious past, in all its sublimity and horror, as radically unfinished and still evolving toward a nobler form. The pace of this evolution will depend crucially upon our advance toward what celebrated Harvard scientist recently hailed as “the greatest goal of all time: the unity of the human race.” Here are six Big History-inspired reminders of the very real foundations of our dreams for unity and spiritual maturity.
Novak, Philip, "The Prospect of Human Spiritual Unity Through the Cosmic Story" (2018). Collected Faculty and Staff Scholarship. 327.
Originally published as Novak, P. (2018). Homo Religiosus in Big History: The prospect of human spiritual unity. Braided Way.