The Great Story (also known as the Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, or Big History) is humanity's common creation story. It is the 14 billion year science-based sacred story of cosmic genesis, from the formation of the galaxies and the origin of Earth life, to the development of self-reflective consciousness and collective learning, to the emergence of comprehensive compassion and tools to assist humanity in living harmoniously with the larger body of life.


  • Wikipedia entry on "The Epic of Evolution"


    encompasses meaningful ways of telling the history of everyone and everything. The Great Story is humanity's sacred narrative of an evolving Universe of emergent complexity and breathtaking creativity — a story that offers each of us the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in our lives and our time in history.


    "In the course of epic events, matter was distilled out of radiant energy, segregated into galaxies, collapsed into stars, fused into atoms, swirled into planets, spliced into molecules, captured into cells, mutated into species, compromised into thought, and cajoled into cultures. All of this (and much more) is what matter has done as systems upon systems of organization have emerged over thirteen billion years of creative natural history." — Loyal Rue, philosopher at Loyola College

  • "Big History" is the academic discipline that looks for patterns and interpretive significance within the mainstream scientific understanding of cosmic, geological, and biological evolution over the course of 13.8 billion years, plus the patterns and lessons drawn from the flow of human and cultural history. Crucially, the process of inquiry and the modes and standards of evidence are not less important in this story than the events themselves.

    Check out the "Big History Project" website being developed (with funding from Bill Gates) to make timelines and course curricula freely available to high school teachers throughout the world.

    RIGHT: Bob Bain is a leader in creating the free online curriculum, Big History Project, for students around the world. Watch his 16-minute TEDx talk (2014) for a superb introduction to this topic.

    "Nothing in the universe makes sense except in the light of Big History." — Jon Cleland-Host, 2013 (a rephrasing of T. Dobzhansky's 1973 statement.)


    AUDIO INTERVIEW with David Christian (by Barlow and Dowd, 2011)

    Prof. David Christian is the leading professional voice in the discipline of Big History, which seeks to present the overall patterns and significance without getting into philosophical, spiritual, or other nuances of meanings that we, as individuals, may draw from it. In the 18-minute TED Talk at right, recorded in 2011, Prof. Christian's survey of the sequence and patterns of billions of years of history is powerfully enhanced by leading-edge digital illustration, thanks to the enthusiasm that Bill Gates has for this new discipline of Big History. Seven major "thresholds of complexity" are surveyed. During the 7th threshold, "collective learning" newly emerged, thanks to our own species ancestry. See also his 2010 16-page text, "The Return of Universal History".

    Note: Click for Michael Dowd's over-the-top review of David Christian's college-level "Big History" course (48 half-hour episodes), available in audio or video via The Teaching Company. Watch how the course also excited Bill Gates.


    Social Networking and Resource Sharing website for the Epic of Evolution / Great Story:

       Deep Time Journey Network

    An online service connecting educators, artists, writers, storytellers, and all who are situating their work in the world within the deep time context of an evolving universe. This website features member profiles, resources, forums, groups, and events. Find out who is doing what, where, and how.

    "Science is handing us an origin story, and we've barely begun to understand its mythic dimensions."  —  Jennifer Morgan, founder

    Jennifer Morgan

       Educational resources for hands-on teaching of the science grounding the great story of our evolutionary journey

    ABOVE: Nancy Ellen Abrams, from her 2009 Yale lecture series (with Joel Primack): "Cosmic Society" (Terry Lectures).


    ABOVE: "The Great Story in Kosovo", is a remarkable 21-minute example of how this story encircles the globe — and can delight children everywhere. The children journey through the countryside around Kosovo, as the 14 billion year epic of their ancestry is laid out proportionally over the miles.

         Cosmologist Brian Swimme teaches science's great discoveries about our planet, our galaxy, and the Universe through the art of meaningful interpretation and masterful storytelling. Click on the image left for excerpts from his classic video, "The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos."

       The spiritual and psychological benefits that flow naturally from living within an awareness of this story are experienced as Great News by a growing number of people the world over. Great news, in turn, draws each of us to participate in, what celebrated cultural historian and Passionist priest Thomas Berry calls the Great Work — the work of ensuring a just, healthy, beautiful, and sustainably life-giving world for future generations of all species.

    Click images below for short YouTube VIDEOS:


    Five Unique Features of The Great Story

       1. The Great Story is the story of the changing story. Whenever a new discovery is made in the sciences, this creation story changes. Change is to be welcomed — not feared.

    2. The Great Story is a creation story that is not yet over. Evolutionary change at all levels (cosmos, planetary, life, culture) will continue into the future, and we humans bear a responsibility for how the story will continue on Earth.

    3. The Great Story is a new creation story shaped with a planetary perspective to which all cultures contribute. Because the scientific enterprise is now global in scope, this story necessarily has its origins and ongoing influences centered at the scale of the whole Earth — influenced by peoples of all ethnicities, all religious traditions, and hailing from all bioregions. (This is the unity character.)

    4. The Great Story is radically open to multiple interpretations. Because the empirical and theoretical sciences search entirely for material explanations of the world, whenever one ventures into the realm of meaning or into the realm of spirit, the interpretations necessarily go beyond the science. And yet, make meaning we must! Humans are intrinsically meaning-makers, whether we construe that meaning to be innate in the cosmos or created by the human mind. (This is the diversity character.)

    5. The Great Story manifests synergistic coherence between science, religion, and the needs of today's world. Because the creation stories of classical religions and primary peoples were birthed well prior to the discoveries of an evolutionary universe, these stories can at best be reconciled with scientific awareness. In contrast, The Great Story grounds its celebratory creation story on the contributions of the scientific endeavor, and the interpretations are nuanced to be empowering for today's concerns.

       CONNIE BARLOW summarizes the five features of "The Great Story" in her 2006 talk, "Celebrating the Great Story" (beginning 12 minutes into the AUDIO mp3 of this talk).
    Connie's free online resources for bringing the Great Story to CHILDREN
    MICHAEL DOWD sets the broader context of the key characteristics of The Great Story in his reading of the Preface to his Thank God for for Evolution book (6 minutes AUDIO in mp3).

  • Click here for A DOZEN DIFFERENT TIMELINES to choose from for learning the major events and transitional moments in the 13.8 billion year "Epic of Evolution"

  • Click here to read "THE BIG PICTURE", a short telling of our 14 billion year sacred story.

  • Click here for CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS for teaching The Great Story.

  • "Articles Published in the Epic of Evolution Journal
    Here is a vital hubpage for accessing online classic essays in the 1990s phase of the Epic of Evolution movement. Here you will find 14 such essays in PDF by Connie Barlow, Ursula Goodenough, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Ruth Rosenhek, John Seen, Bill Bruel, Larry Edwards, Jennifer Morgan, plus intra-group forums.

  • Another highly recommended synopsis of the Epic of Evolution is an interview: Brian Swimme tells the story beautifully in a published magazine interview, titled "Comprehensive Compassion". A version of the story by Patricia Gordon is also available online. A moving interview with Thomas Berry (by Caroline Webb) appeared in a 2003 issue of Caduceus magazine, and is accessible directly here.

        In 2006 the national magazine of the Unitarian
    Universalist Association published an article about
    the Great Story traveling ministry of Connie Barlow  
    and Michael Dowd, titled
    "The Wonder of Evolution"
        "The Greatest Story Ever Told"  
    is a celebratory essay of the
    Epic of Evolution by planetary   
    scientist Carolyn Porco.

    A sampling of MUSIC VIDEOS that celebrate The Great Story
    by Keith Mesecher, Peter Mayer, Connie Barlow, and John Boswell. Click on the images below.


    Watch Karen Kudebeh present in 14-minutes the trajectory of cosmic, geological, biological, and cultural evolution, using her 2D and 3D Time Spirals, which have enraptured all ages with their pattern, colors, and superb attention to the key events discovered by mainstream science. Truly, "a bird's eye view of Big History."

    "The Living Past" (youtube channel)
    This young man dreams of becoming a paleontologist — and he shares his enthusiasm (and knowledge!) with us. Take a moment to click on any of the above, short videos and remember why you, too, are thrilled to be alive in this brief moment of geological time when the wonders of the past are no longer hidden.

    Ethan Cowgill launched his "The Living Past" youtube channel early in 2015, at age 16.

       VIDEO: "The Evolutionary Dimensions of Laudato Si'", by Ursula Goodenough

    Plenary address in 2016 at Dusquene University conference: "Integrity of Creation".

    Illustrated talk by Prof. Goodenough begins at timecode 0:26:45 and lasts about an hour. The summary chart at left (timecode 1:27:17) outlines the aspects of the Epic of Evolution that she touches upon. As a biologist, she begins with the "Biological Evolution" phase, then summarizes the earlier steps, and fast-forwards to the "Evolution of Minds" step for her finale.

    Goodenough draws upon her 1998 book, The Sacred Depths of Nature in drawing forth the religious/spiritual aspects of her understanding of the evolutionary journey: awe & wonder, reverence, humility, assent, gratitude, and "astonishment in being alive at all."

    Note: This video requires high-speed connection; and it takes a long time to load and hear the sound when you advance along the time bar. Two images appear at all times: the speaker and her images. Click on either box to make it full screen.

    Why Call It The Great Story?

    Cosmologist Brian Swimme sees HUMAN PURPOSE AND MEANING rooted in The Great Story:

    "The creation story unfurling within the scientific enterprise provides the fundamental context, the fundamental arena of meaning, for all the peoples of the Earth. For the first time in human history, we can agree on the basic story of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, minerals, life forms, and human cultures. This story does not diminish the spiritual traditions of the classical or tribal periods of human history. Rather, the story provides the proper setting for the teachings of all traditions, showing the true magnitude of their central truths." —The Universe is a Green Dragon, 1984.

  • Click to access "metareligious" essays, that show how the Great Story enriches a variety of religious faiths and traditions.
    Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry

    Cultural historian Thomas Berry has inspired many to look to The Great Story for GUIDING AND INSPIRING our personal and cultural choices:

    "We have a new story of the universe. Our own presence to the universe depends on our human identity with the entire cosmic process. In its human expression, the universe and the entire range of earthly and heavenly phenomena celebrate themselves and the ultimate mystery of their existence in a special exaltation. Science has given us a new revelatory experience. It is now giving us a new intimacy with the Earth." —The Dream of the Earth, 1988.

  • Click to access the "We Are Made of Stardust!"ritual or the "Greet Your Ancestors" ritual, both of which demonstrate how the Great Story can be celebrated in playful and meaningful ways. You may also access audio clips of Thomas Berry reading from his book, The Great Work. Click here for the new official THOMAS BERRY WEBSITE.

  • Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson believes The Great Story is a tale of SUPREME RELIGIOUS GRANDEUR:

    "The evolutionary epic is probably the best myth we will ever have." —On Human Nature, 1978.

  • Click to access a stunning list of examples of convergent evolution that show the epic quality of Earth's 4 billion year history.

  • Philosopher Loyal Rue regards The Great Story as UNIVERSAL:

    "The new naturalism does a superior job of telling everybody's story. It is more durable than metaphysical perspectives precisely because it rejects claims to finality, inviting upon itself scrutiny and falsification. And it gives us what is to date the most reliable and satisfying account of where came from, what our nature is, and how we should live." —Everybody's Story, 2000.

  • Click to access a dozen playful ways to teach children the Great Story while nurturing values.

  • Physicist Joel Primack and cultural leader Nancy Abrams view The Great Story as CRUCIAL FOR THIS PIVOTAL MOMENT in history:

  • Click to access dozens of more QUOTATIONS by Primack and Abrams.
    (You can also watch online a video of their highly illustrated co-presentation of the core concepts in their book.)


    "There's a joke among cosmologists that romantics are made of stardust, but cynics are made of the nuclear waste of worn-out stars. Sure enough, the complex atoms coming out of supernovas can be seen either way, but these atoms introduce into matter the possibility of complexity, and complexity allows the possibility of life and intelligence. To call them nuclear waste is like calling consumer goods the waste products of factories. A cosmology can be a source of tremendous inspirational and even healing power, or it can transform a people into slaves or automatons and squash their universe into obsession with the next meal or with trivial entertainment. The choice of what attitude the twenty-first century will adopt toward the new universe may be the greatest opportunity of our time. The choice between existential and meaningful is still open." —The View from the Center of the Universe, 2006.

    Other superb videos of Abrams and Primack:
  • "Cosmic Consciousness in the Real Universe," Nancy Ellen Abrams
  • "Consciousness of the Cosmos," Joel R. Primack
  • "Nancy Ellen Abrams "Between the Lines" Interview with Barry Kibrick for PBS-TV


    Religious Historian Mary Evelyn Tucker at a Chautauqua event, New York, 2013, says:

    "Over the past century, the various branches of science have begun to weave together the story of a historical cosmos. It's a story. This isn't just a place. It's a story of 13.7 billion years of unfolding." (quote at timecode 13:20 at the video left, which was recorded in 2013)

    We have "a deep desire for find meaning" — to feel that "our individual purpose is connected to a larger purpose." (timecode 25:17)

    Note: The video at left is long (owing to Q&A), but Mary Evelyn Tucker's talk is just a half hour long, beginning at at timecode 04:12 and ending at timecode 35:40.

    Deep ecologist Joanna Macy believes the Great Story is CRUCIAL for the full community of life and FOR our PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH AND SUSTENANCE:

    "There is science now to construct the story of the journey we have made on this Earth, the story that connects us with all beings. Right now we need to remember that story, to harvest it and taste it. For we are in a hard time. And it is the knowledge of the bigger story that is going to carry us through." —Thinking Like a Mountain, 1988.

  • Click to access an example of a deep ecology / deep time ritual that shows how awareness of the story can provide ecospiritual sustenance.

  • Neurobiologist Terrance Deacon suggests we can begin to emotionally grasp the contours of the evolutionary process by LOOKING WITHIN:

    "To be human is to know what it feels like to be evolution happening." — in When Worlds Converge, 2001 (Matthews et al eds.).

    The Great Story grounded Aldo Leopold in his CONSERVATION ETHIC:

    "It is a century now since Darwin gave us the first glimpse of the origin of species. We know now what was unknown to all the preceding caravan of generations: that [people] are only fellow voyagers with other creatures in the odyssey of evolution. This new knowledge should have given us, by this time, a sense of kinship with fellow creatures; a wish to live and let live; a sense of wonder over the magnitude and duration of the biotic enterprise." —A Sand County Almanac, 1949.

  • Click to access an essay that shows how the great story can nurture ecospirituality within the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

  • The Great Story can enhance the intimacy of one's EXPERIENCE OF THE DIVINE:

    "The emergence of the Great Story — a sacred narrative that embraces yet transcends all scientific, religious, and cultural stories —will come to be cherished, I believe, first and foremost for enriching the depth and breadth of our experience of God." —Michael Dowd, 2002.

  • Click to access a dialogue that shows how The Great Story can enrich one's Pentecostal Christian faith.

  • The Great Story inspires EVOLUTIONARY WONDER AND AWE:

    "Tell me a creation story more wondrous than the miracle of a living cell forged from the residue of an exploding star! Tell me a story of transformation more magical than that of a fish hauling out onto land and becoming amphibian, or a reptile taking to the sky and becoming bird, or a mammal slipping back into the sea and becoming walrus! Surely this science-based culture, of all cultures, can find meaning and cause for celebration in its very own cosmic creation story." — Connie Barlow, Green Space Green Time, 1997.

  • Click to access "Ozzie and the Snortlefish", an evolutionary parable for children and adults that celebrates vertebrates coming out onto land, by accalimed comic book writer Denny O'Neil.

  • The Great Story ENHANCES INTIMACY with the natural world:

    "There can be no better laboratory for the elaboration of thoughts on man's orientation in a complex world than a flowering meadow, or a noisy brook, or a spiral galaxy. For the green leaves are sucklings of a star's radiation. The rapids in a brook, responding to universal gravitation, perform erosions of a sort that have worn down to oblivion the lofty pre-Alps and the primitive Appalachians. The hundred-ton maple tree that calmly dreams through the decades is in the same universe as the Andromeda Galaxy with its billions of seething stars." — Harlow Shapley, Of Stars and Men, 1958.

  • Click to access "Pluto's Identity Crisis", an evolutionary parable for children and adults that teaches the most up-to-date science of our solar system while helping children understand adoption.


    "I marvel at my family tree, which goes back though innumerable life forms, through amazing stories of survival, hope, courage, and parental love. It includes a tiny mammal during the year-long darkness after the asteroid impact, surviving by eating (and likely hiding in) a frozen dinosaur carcass. It includes the first mother to produce milk, and the first blurry view through a newly evolved eye. Each of us has grown from a long line of survivors — noble creatures of every sort who conquered deadly challenges billions of times over. I stand on a mountain of love and success, knowing that without winning a cosmic lottery against unbelievable odds, I wouldn't be here. What other outlook could possibly give my life more meaning?" — Jon Cleland-Host

  • Click to access audio interview with Jon Cleland-Host

  • The Great Story is the context for TRANSFORMING SCIENCE EDUCATION:

    "Stars mimic living systems. They are born, live to maturity at metabolic rates determined by their masses, and die, spewing forth the matter by which their stellar offspring can take form. Throughout, they convert the light atoms of their birth into the heavier ones dispersed at death. The chemicals that constitute our beings were manufactured in the bowels of stars that today exist only as memories." — George A. Seielstad, Cosmic Ecology, 1983.

  • Click to learn how the science story of stardust can be understood in deeply meaningful ways.

  • The Great Story is the FOUNDATION FOR ALL EDUCATION:

    "Educationalists in general agree that imagination is important, but they would have it cultivated as separate from intelligence, just as they would separate the latter from the activity of the hand. They are the vivisectionists of the human personality. In the school they want children to learn dry facts of reality, while their imagination is cultivated by fairy tales, concerned with a world that is certainly full of marvels, but not the world around them in which they live. On the other hand, by offering the child the story of the universe, we give him something a thousand times more infinite and mysterious to reconstruct with his imagination, a drama no fable can reveal." — Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, 1948.

  • Click to access CHILDREN'S CURRICULA or to to learn about Great Story Beads, a playful teaching tool used in Montessori and other classrooms.

  • The Great Story can move one to RAPTURE and COMMUNION with the divine:

    "How important it is that we learn the Sacred Story of our Evolutionary Universe, just as we have learned our cultural/religious stories. Each day we will begin to do what humans do best: Be amazed! Be filled with reverence! Contemplate! Fall in Love! Be entranced by the wonder of the Universe, the uniqueness of each being, the beauty of creation, its new revelation each day, and the Divine Presence within all!" —Sr. Mary Southard, Spiritearth, 1994.

  • Click to access one woman's personal story of how The Great Story enhances her Catholic faith.

  • The Great Story can AWAKEN one to the wonder of life and the value and beauty of a multitude of ways of celebrating ultimate Reality:

    "The new cosmic story emerging into human awareness overwhelms all previous conceptions of the universe for the simple reason that it draws them all into its comprehensive fullness. Who can learn what this means and remain calm?" —Brian Swimme, The Universe Is a Green Dragon, 1984

  • Click to access STORIES OF AWAKENING to this meaningful cosmic perspective.

  • The Great Story can nourish RITUAL invocations:

    "We call upon the power which sustains the planets in their orbits, that wheels our Milky Way in its 200 million year spiral, to imbue our personalities and our relationships with harmony, endurance, and joy. Fill us with a sense of immense time so that our brief, flickering lives may truly reflect the work of vast ages past and also the millions of years of evolution whose potential lies in our trembling hands. —John Seed, Thinking Like a Mountain, 1988.

  • Click to learn about RITUALS for experiencing our connection to the STARS and for playfully learning the history of LIFE.

  • The Great Story inspires a CALENDAR form of celebratory storytelling:

    "Beginning thirteen billion years ago, ushered by transparent fields of beneficence, immense clouds of hydrogen collect and condense along seams of the fabric of the universe, forming the hundreds of billions of galaxies that paint the heavens. The fields of beneficence comprise the songlines of the universe. Misnamed 'dark matter,' the fields are a uniting energy interconnecting in mycelium-like networks. Galaxies emerge along the filamentary pathways, each galaxy swaddled in a timeless field of beneficence. Without the sustaining supportive energy of these fields, the components of galaxies would disperse, and planets and life forms emanating from the activity of galaxies could not develop. Invisible, the fields are known solely through their gravitational effects, and are ten times larger than the galaxies they permeate and cocoon. Embraced by unconditional fields of beneficence, the drama of creation and destruction plays out amidst stars and planets and life." — Peter Adair, The Great Journey Calendar, 2013 (narrative passage for the month of April).

  • Click to view or purchase the current year Earth Story Calendar.

  • The Great Story can BRIDGE science and religion:

    "The Epic of Evolution, in the form that scientists present it in their research papers, is the warp on which all present and future meaning for our lives must be woven. There is no single correct way in which the weaving will take shape, no single authorized manner in which the Epic must appear in our worldviews. We are here to weave the spiritualities that are life-giving for our phase of the Epic of Evolution and for the next generation." —Philip Hefner, AAAS Epic of Evolution Conference, 1997.

  • Click for testimonials of Christians, Unitarians, and others who are passionate about The Great Story.

  • The Great Story offers an inspiring ROLE for humankind:

    "The world is almost mind-numbingly dynamic. Out of the Big Bang, the stars; out of the stardust, the Earth; out of the Earth, single-celled living creatures; out of evolutionary life and death of these creatures, human beings with consciousness and freedom that concentrates the self-transcendence of matter itself. Human beings are the universe become conscious of itself. We are the cantors of the universe." —Elizabeth Johnson, EarthLight, 1997.

  • Click for a poetic way to understand the human role as celebrants of the Universe Story.

  • The Great Story can inspire GREAT WORK:

    "The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner." —Thomas Berry, The Great Work, 2000

  • Click to hear audio clips of Thomas Berry reading from The Great Work.

  • Access a free downloadable STUDY GUIDE for group exploration of Thomas Berry's book, The Great Work.


  • "We must live as though we are setting the pattern for the future. At any moment, we may be. How the present period of human inflation ends will determine whether the stable period that is coming will be dark and repressive or will nurture the human spirit. It may sound terribly overwhelming and even unfair that so much responsibility for the future rides on every decision we make. But no — this way we live large. This is what it means to matter to the universe. Like the ancients who felt there was a bridge between their acts and the invisible beyond, our generation's choices will have power over times and size-scales that we can hardly imagine. If we take on the cosmic responsibility, we get the cosmic opportunity — that rarest of opportunities for the kind of transcendent cultural leap possible only at the dawn of a new picture of the universe." —Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe, 2006

  • Click to access dozens of more QUOTATIONS by Primack and Abrams.

  • The Great Story can TRANSFORM our institutions:

    "Both education and religion need to ground themselves within the story of the universe as we now understand this story through empirical knowledge. Within this functional cosmology we can overcome our alienation and begin the renewal of life on a sustainable basis. This story is a numinous, revelatory story that could evoke the vision and energy required to bring not only ourselves but the entire planet into a new order of magnificence." —Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth, 1988

    The Great Story can TRANSFORM humanity:

    "We are in the midst of a revelatory experience of the universe that must be compared in its magnitude with those of the great religious revelations. And we need only wander about telling this new story to ignite a transformation of humanity. —Brian Swimme, in The Reechantment of Science, edited by David Griffin, 1988

    "Our evolution has been an awesome journey of fifteen billion years. Every entity that ever moved or swam or crawled or flew, every being that lived to reproduce itself, all the vast numbers of species now extinct and presently living who have invented the amazing capability which we have inherited as our eyes, our ears, our organs, our very atoms, molecules and cells — all of those preceding us are represented in our emergence now. We bow down in awe and gratitude for the past. Without all that came before us, none of us would be awakening now!" — Barbara Marx Hubbard, Emergence, 2001

    The Great Story can enrich the EASTERN SPIRITUAL QUEST for enlightenment:

    "The big picture is the evolutionary context, which I am convinced is the most important factor in awakening to a new moral framework for our own time. When we discover this evolutionary context and recognize what a big part our individual and collective transformation could play in the larger scheme of things, a higher conscience awakens in our own consciousness. . . When one authentically awakens to the evolutionary context, one discovers a sense of urgency — a passion that just screams: We've got to wake up!" — Andrew Cohen, What Is Enlightenment? Magazine, 2004

    "What is this impulse to evolve? What is this that awakens in the heart a concern for the unthinkably tragic and glorious whole that we are a part of? Sri Aurobindo, the twentieth-century philosopher and sage, had an intuition of this when he wrote: 'There is in the cosmos, in the collectivity, in the individual, a rooted instinct or belief in its own perfectibility, a constant drive towards an ever increasing and more adequate and more harmonious self-developments nearer to the secret truth of things.' This is what we each have to find: the drive of the truth within us, an inner imperative that calls us to act for the sake of something far larger than ourselves." — Elizabeth Debold, What Is Enlightenment? Magazine, 2004

    The Great Story can help us UNDERSTAND OUR DEEPEST TROUBLES:

    "For peoples, generally, their story of the universe and the human role within the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. Only through this story of how the universe came to be in the beginning and how it came to be as it is does a person come to appreciate the meaning of life or to derive the psychic energy needed to deal effectively with those crisis moments that occur in the life of the individual and in the life of the society. Such a story communicates the most sacred of mysteries. It not only interprets the past, it also guides and inspires our shaping of the future." — Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth, 1984

    "It's all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we are in-between stories. The Old Story - the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it - sustained us for a long time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with life purpose, energized action, consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, and guided education. We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. We could answer the questions of our children. But now it is no longer functioning properly, and we have not yet learned the New Story." — Thomas Berry, "The New Story" (pamphlet), 1978

    The Great Story can evoke POETRY:

    "Four billion years ago the planet Earth was molten rock; now it sings opera!" —Brian Swimme, Canticle to the Cosmos, 1990

    "Children as we are of far flung stars: familiars of the firmament." — adapted from G. Joseph Moody, 1999.

    The Great Story grounds RELIGIOUS HUMANISM:

    "The world is undoubtedly in need of a new religion, and that religion must be founded on humanist principles if it is to meet the new situation adequately. Humanists have a high task before them in working out the religious implications of their ideas. When I say religion I do not mean merely a theology involving belief in a supernatural god or gods; nor do I mean merely a system of ethics, however exalted; nor only scientific knowledge, however extensive; nor just a practical social morality, however admirable or efficient. I mean an organized system of ideas and emotions which relate man to his destiny, beyond and above the practical affairs of every day, transcending the present and the existing systems of law and social structure. Such systems of ideas and emotions about human destiny have always existed and will always continue to exist. They certainly include the theistic religions, and I believe we have nothing to lose by using the word religion in the broadest possible sense to include non-theistic formulations and systems as well. Otherwise, we shall run the risk of sterilizing the ideas we put forward, by implying that our systems are not so full satisfying or compelling as those of the theistic and supernaturalist religions.
         "The prerequisite to-day is that any such religion shall appeal potentially to all mankind; and that its intellectual and rational sides shall not be incompatible with scientific knowledge — but on the contrary, based on it.
         "I do not think that any attempt to produce a synthetic system out of the common elements of the main existing religions of the world can succeed: their conflicting formulations need to be by-passed. And I am sure that purely ethical systems, albeit they are necessary, will not alone fill the bill." — Julian Huxley, "Evolutionary Humanism" Presidential Address, in Proceedings of the First International Congress on Humanism and Ethical Culture, 1952 (publ 1953)

    * * *

    THE GREAT STORY OFFERS A FRAMEWORK for leading lives congruent with the evolutionary flow. It evokes a spirit of service, a zeal to participate in the Great Work of our time, and it provides psychological tools for thriving in the face of life challenges.


    The evolutionary epic is "The GREAT Story" because it:

  • is a deeply inspiring narrative, that
  • embraces and uplifts all sacred stories,
  • makes sense of all tragic stories,
  • bridges science and religion,
  • and opens the future to hope.

  • Peruse "CLASSIC" QUOTATIONS, new and old, of The Great Story celebrating our evolutionary journey.

  • 45 moving quotations from THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams.

  • Brief overview of "The Wonder of Evolution" in the Spring 2006 issue of UU World magazine.

  • Theme issue on "The New Story" in the Winter 1985/86 issue of In Context magazine.

  • More AUDIO CLIPS of THOMAS BERRY reading from his book, The Great Work.

  • THOMAS BERRY audio and video clips, prepared by videographer Caroline Webb.


    LEFT: This 7-minute video, "The Known Universe," by the American Museum of Natural History, demonstrates why the science by itself (even if artistically presented, as here) cries out for interpretation. Absent interpretation, one might (after exclaiming, "Wow!") feel very, very small. With interpretation, we instead may sense ourselves to be very, very large indeed: "See! the role of our species is to help the Universe grasp and celebrate its own magnificent story — and you yourself, right now, are the conscious being through whom the Universe gets to do this!"

    "We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: stardust contemplating the stars!"

    — Carl Sagan

    See also a video short, "The Astronomer" that beautifully portrays how sensing our connection with the cosmos offers an identity crucial for solving human/ecological problems here on Earth.





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