Science, Wisdom, and the Future
Humanity's Quest for a Flourishing Earth

438 page book containing 38 chapters.
 Hard Cover

Edited by
Cheryl Genet, Jack Palmer,

Linda Gibler, Linda Palmer,
Russell Genet, & Vera Wallen

Foreword by
Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack

Published by
The Collins Foundation Press
Santa Margarita, CA 

Science, Wisdom, and the Future goes to Evergreen State College in Washington
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Book Description and Contents


Across the globe, individuals and organizations are taking a deeper look at the human species and its relationship to the Earth and all other life. There is a growing sense that humans are bringing life on Earth to an evolutionary "tipping point" that will lead to our transformation—or our extinction.

This recognition crosses all disciplinary, social, political, and religious boundaries, making it clear that these traditional boundaries no longer serve a maturing humanity. At the brink of adulthood as a species, we must understand our past and consider our future. We are charting a new course into unknown territory. We are primordial stardust come to consciousness, aware of our evolutionary past in deep time. Will we treasure and nurture this precious gift of awareness? Can it guide us as we attempt to chart our future course?

Scientists, philosophers, economists, educators, activists, artists, and business people consider such vital questions and in their deliberations provide a broad vista of the human and planetary conditions. Several important themes emerge from these pages:

• Our impact on the living systems and resources of our planet

• Our interconnectedness with everything

• The importance of community, relationships, and wisdom

• The urgent need to address our daunting reality and our future

• Our scientific cosmology’s capacity to inform and guide us

While the chapters illuminate and explain the multitude of challenges that face us, the book is full of hope, vision...and solutions. It illuminates how we can draw on both science and wisdom to create a sustainable future on a flourishing Earth.

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The Flow of Ideas

Foreword: Scientific Cosmology, Cultural Wisdom, and Questions  -   Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack
: A Hopeful Vision for Challenging Times  -   Cheryl Genet

Where Are We?
Time is Up!   -  Duane Elgin
Climate Change  -  Peter M.J. Hess

Beginning Our Quest
1    An Introduction to Science, Wisdom, and the Future -  Russell M. Genet
  Science, Cultural Evolutionary Forces, and a Flourishing Planet  -  Russell M. Genet
2    The Way of Wisdom  -  Sheri Ritchlin
3    A Theory of Wisdom  -  Richard Hawley Trowbridge

Part I Understanding Ourselves and Our Cultural Evolution
    Human Nature and Human Possibilities  -  Riane Eisler
5     The Wisdom of Virtue::A Scientific Exploration of Honesty, Humility, and Love  -  Linda K. Palmer and Jack A. Palmer
   An Introduction to the Concept of Sapience  -  George Mobus
6     The Sapient Brain: The Evolution of Wisdom  -  George Mobus
7     Wisdom Therapy: Developing Wisdom Sooner Rather Than Later and the Impact on Emotions  -  Shani Robins
   The Science of Song  -  Pauline Le Bel
8     Evolution Is More than Genetic Determinism  -  Paul G. Fast
9     A Comparison of the Development of Life on Earth and the Human Embryo  -  Paul G. Fast
10   Power and Restraint: The Question of Human Genetic Engineering  -  Jack A. Palmer
11   Ganesh Baba’s Cycle of Synthesis:A Blend of Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science  -  Eve Baumohl Neuhaus
12   Eve, God, and the Quantum Age - Heather Mendel

Part II Changing Our Evolutionary Trajectory
  New Ways of Living  -  Duane Elgin

    Positive Psychology: Promise of a New Perspective  -  Jack A. Palmer
14    Sing Two Songs and Call Me in the Morning: Science and the Healing Power of Music  -  Pauline Le Bel
15    Future Primal: A Politics for Evolving Humanity  -  Louis G. Herman
16    Utopia and the Evolution of Wisdom  -  Jean Belisle Lombardo
    The Cosmic Adventure  -  Tom Lombardo
17    Vision for the Future: The Wisdom of a Plant-Based Diet for Humans - Linda K. Palmer, Jack A. Palmer, and Nani F. Palmer
18    The Politics of Wisdom in the Educative Process  -  Florence Pittman Matusky
    Applied Wisdom: Reducing Animal Suffering  -  Shani Robins
19    The Evolutionary Communion for Pioneering Souls  -  Barbara Marx Hubbard
    A Brief Story of Wheat  -  Linda Gibler 
20    Critical Thinking and Wisdom: A Buddhist Perspective  -  Robert Sachs
21    The Evolution of a Politician: Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara’s Personal Journey of Integrity  -  Cheryl Genet
22    The Global Sounding: Scientific and Spiritual Guidelines for a Global Ethic and a Better World   -  David Loye

Part III Making Corporations Sustainable
 How to Lead a Transformation to a Sustainable Enterprise…From the Middle  -  Bob Willard
24    Who Will Be the Rock Stars of Corporate Sustainability?  -  Victoria L. Zelin
    Sustainable Business Education  -  Dwight E. Collins
25    What Is the "Good Life" in a Finite World? Engaging Chinese Scholars with a Pragmatic Approach to Economics - Ron Nahser
26    Philosophical and Ethical Approaches to Business and Sustainability:A Personal Perspective  -  Warren W. Wolf
    Holistic Management  -  Rob Rutherford
27    Making Third World Farming Sustainable: The Wisdom of Fair Trade Solutions  -  Tom Neuhaus
28    Rwanda—Gorillas, Guerillas, and Missionaries: Reconnecting Fractured Worlds--One by One  -  William O’Toole
    Carrying Capacity and Human Flourishing  -  Peter M.J. Hess and Richard J. McDonald
29    Negotiating a Human Future: Evolution, Population, and Ethics at the End of Affordable Oil  -  Peter M.J. Hess
                                                                                                                                               and Richard J. McDonald
Part IV Raising our Evolutionary Consciousness
 A New Story for the Human Journey  -  Duane Elgin
31    The Ecstasy of Awakening to Our Role in a Living Universe  -  Keith Mesecher
32    Evolving catholics Evolving the World: Love’s Unfolding Mystery  -  Alice MacDonald
33    Transition, Opportunity, Resilience, and Celebrating: How Can We Move Through These Most Interesting Times? - Bob Banner
    Wisdom: The Highest Part of the Mind  -  Richard Hawley Trowbridge
34    The Necessary Flow of Wisdom  -  Josefina Burgos
35    A Space-Time Map of the Universe  -  John A. Gowan
    Utopia: The Ideal, the Perfect, and the Good  -  Jeanne Belisle Lombardo
36    The Evolutionary Account of the Universe:A Support for Behavioral Change Toward Sustainability  -  Dwight E. Collins
37    Wisdom, Enlightenment, Science, and the Future  -  Tom Lombardo
38    Living in Evolutionary Wisdom  -  Michael Dowd

re:vision - a poem by Drew Dillenger

Index 417

   Camera Icon denotes a short "snapshot" piece on a particular topic

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Developed from epigrams devised to capture the central ideas of each chapter

Where Are We?

Never before has the entire human family been entrusted with the task of working together to imagine and consciously build a sustainable and meaningful future.

Duane Elgin

Humanity is conducting an unprecedented and possibly irreversible experiment on the gas composition of our atmosphere. Our descendants will live with the consequences of this experiment for centuries to come.

Peter Hess

Beginning Our Quest

...we may be in the position of knowing we are in trouble, of knowing, ecologically, what needs to be done to avert evolutionary disaster, but not knowing, culturally, how to solve such political (cultural) problems. We see the crash coming, but we may not know how to actually take our foot off the accelerator, let alone apply the brakes.

Russell Genet

Our that positive cultural evolutionary forces, such as scientific understanding and good will—which are promoting individual flourishing and planetary sustainability—are countered and could even be trumped by more powerful negative economic and political cultural evolutionary forces.

Russell Genet

It seems at first as if wisdom is a thing we seach for. We are seekers of wisdom on a quest. [But it is found] not in the seeking but in the seeing.

Sheri Ritchlin

The purpose of a theory is to provide a testable claim: ...a theory provides a framework for practice. Conceptually, a theory [of wisdom] orients understanding.

Richard Trowbridge

Part I Understanding Ourselves and Our Cultural Evolution

Beneath the many differences in human societies across time and space, cross-culturally and historically, are found two basic possibilities for structuring institutions, relationships, and beliefs—the configurations of the partnership system and the domination system. If we examine these configurations, we see a clearer picture of human nature and human possibilities.

Riane Eisler

[A] life firmly grounded in virtue has the capacity to flourish and to impact positively upon all life. Therefore, we are wise to consider the significance of developing personal virtues in relation to our efforts to establish sustainability.

Linda and Jack Palmer

A key motivation for wisdom research can be drawn from this question: if we humans are so smart, and creative, why is the world in the state that it is...?

George Mobus

Today many neuropsychologists are tackling explanations of what part(s) of the brain are involved in what basic behavioral productions, and this has thus far proved fruitful. We should tackle sapience in the same way.

George Mobus

Wisdom Therapy involves developing skills across [several] dimensions, whch leads to siginficant reductions in the frequency, intensity, and duration of emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression.... The key is to practice them.

Shani Robins

One of the great mysteries about music is that it does not exist outside the brain....The brain itself creates the sounds we think we hear as music.

Pauline Le Bel

Nothing living or "dead" exists without a parent. No idea, no rock, no cultural feature, no social structure, no diversity. Every thing grows or grew out of a preexisting structure, and most of the steps are tiny.

Paul Fast

I have assembled here some of the major broad parallels between the evolution of life and the development of the human embryo in the first eight weeks after conception....

Paul Fast

With every [cognitively enhanced] generation, the chasm separating the human and transhuman would expand exponentially. Certain ineffable qualities uniquely associated with humankind could, one by one, be forever lost to existence.

Jack Palmer

Beyond the inordinate grace of showing up in my life at all, the greatest gift Ganesh Baba gave me is the Cycle of Synthesis. A Sufi word, ta’wil, wherein a powerful archetypal image unfolds greater and greater truths over time, best describes my experience with this extraordinary drawing.

Eve Neuhaus

In light of our burgeoning knowledge of our physical world, what vital and unexpected reality is waiting discovery beneath the static surface of the written pages, particularly regarding our origins, destiny, and relationship with God?

Heather Mendel

Part II Changing Our Evolutionary Trajectory

Our choice as a species is straightforward and profound. We can continue along our current path of denial, bargaining, and increasingly unsustainable consumption, [or we can] awaken ourselves from the dream of limitless material growth and actively invent new ways to live within the material limits of the Earth.

Duane Elgin

Instead of studying and classifying mental disorders as clinical psychology does, positive psychology studies the other end of the spectrum—that which bestows healthiness, happiness, goodness, and productivity in humans.

Jack Palmer

Song has been used throughout the ages to unite people, to teach the young, to give strength, to offer hope and create zest and stamina during difficult times. Singing is the one art that is transportable, sustainable, and absolutely free.

Pauline Le Bel

This is the paradox at the core of the human condition: we are born within an ongoing evolutionary event receding billions of years into the past. We awake to consciousness emerging out of unconsciousness. We are created by what we are not. Wilderness makes civilization. The experience of this foundational paradox is what generates our philosophy, religion, ethics, and politics—all our seeking and striving for ‘how best to live.’

Louis Herman

One thing seems certain: it is in thinking about the future that wisdom emerges. Wisdom is not some static set of principles handed down by the sages, nor some indisputable fact of nature. Rather, like the cosmos itself, it is a dynamic and evolving reality.

Jeanne Lombardo

We naturally look outward with both hope and fear into the deep unknown, with a sense of mystery and wonder, and a deep realization, if we grasp it, that the starry night sky above is our neighborhood—this is where we live. The exploration of space will yield both self-understanding and cosmic understanding, helping us to see ourselves in the context of the whole.

Tom Lombardo

The vision for a sustainable future...needs to include a careful consideration of the optimal human diet: what kind of food is best for the health of humans, for the welfare of the animals and other living things that share our planet with us, and for the ecosystems and environment upon which we all depend? What kind of diet is ethical, economical, and supportive of the Earth?

Linda, Jack, and Nani Palmer

I propose a definition of wisdom as a knowledge- and experience-based process whereby intuitive, emotionally sensitive, and altruistic processes of the right hemisphere are required to temper, synergize, and elevate knowledge that is gained from the logical, analytical processes of the left hemisphere.

Florence Matusky

It seems that all the dimensions of wisdom will be necessary if we are to reduce the mountains of [animal and other] suffering that are still currently experienced on this globe.

Shani Robins

Problems are evolutionary make it through this current crisis quickly enough to avoid the collapse foreseen, we must consciously foster and participate in a nonlinear, exponential interaction of what is emergent and creative within society and us.

Barbara Marx Hubbard

What might we learn if we combine the scientific stories of sacred objects, stretching back to the Beginning 13.7 billion years ago, with the sacred stories we already treasure?

Linda Gibler

In essence, all Buddhist methods help to develop and hone our critical thinking skills. Thus the type of critical thinking that is necessary for the pursuit of science is the same critical thinking that Buddhist teachers encourage.

Robert Sachs

For Les, everything is an integrity issue....He would donate his life to an experiment in transforming politics....Living his life as an experiment gave him the breathing room and freedom to create his life as he chose and to learn and be empowered by the mistakes he made along the way.

Cheryl Genet

Differently stated but the same for all, the message of thousands of studies of progressive science is exactly the same as for thousands of years for progressive religion: Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.

Daivd Loye

Part III Making Corporations Sustainable

As the most influential actors on the planet, companies must lead by example by adopting sustainable economic, environmental, and social practices.... Despite the urgent need for corporate transformations, the change leadership style advocated is decentralized and non-directive. It is courageously soft.

Bob Willard

...who will go down in history as leading the corporate sustainability revolution?....They will be leaders who pay attention to the vast majority of scientists who foresee catastrophe in "business as usual." They will have profoundly reckoned with the impact of externalizing their costs and plundering the Earth.

Victoria Zelin

Students who choose [sustainable MBA] programs are focused more on demonstrating that business can be practiced as a noble profession than on maximizing their lifetime income.

Dwight Collins

I offer pragmatism as a practice of moral philosophy to help individuals and organizations, based on their values and goals, evaluate the market, society, and environmental evidence and make different and better decisions....

Ron Nahser

In trying to solve complex problems in the world of business and technology, we cannot address the core of problems unless we take a systems approach, use the best knowledge of human experience, and apply critical thinking.

Warren Wolf

At its very core, Holistic Management recognizes that all civilization is sustained by the functioning of ecosystem processes—the water cycle, the mineral cycle, solar energy flow, and community dynamics.... Furthermore, from this perspective, it is recognized that there is only one ecosystem on the planet and that all life in its many forms exists as a result of a set of relationships.

Rob Rutherford

Whatever president in power, the United States has consistently contributed to the coffers of other nations’ ruling classes in order to extract commercial advantage while depriving the poorer classes of their economic rights.

Tom Neuhaus

Only through a movie, Blood Diamonds, do we recognize that somehow the things we buy tie us to this region and its roving militias. It is a measure of the oddity of such a small country [Rwanda] figuring so largely in our minds that, in addition to Blood Diamonds, two other movies have touched millions: Gorillas in the Mists and Hotel Rwanda.

William O’Toole

Species flourish only when they live at or below the maximum population their ecological niche and the annual input of solar energy can support.... With the discovery of tools, fire, iron, coal, and recently oil, however, we were able to expand our population far above the natural carrying capacity, and to occupy virtually every ecological niche on earth.

Peter Hess and Richard MacDonald

Humanity is now at a classic "tipping point" where a continual population expansion is intersecting with an oil production that is nearing its peak and soon will fall into irreversible decline.

Peter Hess and Richard MacDonald

Part IV Raising Our Evolutionary Consciousness

One of the most critical challenges facing humanity is not devising solutions to the energy crisis or climate crisis or species extinction; rather, it is bringing images and archetypes of the human journey into our collective awareness that empower us to look beyond a future of great adversity and to see a future of great opportunity....To change the future, we need to discover a new story that reorients how we live together.

Duane Elgin

We are beginning to contemplate that we are this universe, self-aware, and pondering the astonishing idea that we actually have a role in the unfolding of the cosmos. This awakening can drive a fiery ecstasy through our tender bodies, emotions, and imaginations.

Keith Mesecher

This dance is a mutual, reciprocal exchange of energies, a self emptying, self giving and receiving, a great dance that is creating us and a dance that is being re-created by us at one and the same time....Love, hidden within the evolving process and yet Transcendent to it, is able to bring order out of the chaos of a creation becoming.

Alice McDonald

How can we re-link our sacred world to our livelihoods so our day jobs become our places of healing and transformation and passion? The answer can be sought through an understanding of what I believe to be the secret of happiness: giving our gifts and being of service to our community makes us happy!

Bob Banner

Only an understanding that can account for the totality of interconnections and influences can provide the basis for a healthy, sustainable planet....The concept of the individual is an abstraction, a convenient but naive way of perceiving the world.

Richard Trowbridge

Therefore, in order to sustain the necessary flow of wisdom during this new century, humanity is faced with the haunting task of evaluating the immense impact of the past century’s advancements of knowledge on our current explanation of the whole of creation and of our place in it.

Josefina Burgos

A map of the whole cosmos is...helpful to understand what and how we see, and to ground our observations in reality....The special significance of our "observer’s position" is that it is the 4-way intersection of space, time, light, and matter, the only point in our personal universe where two-way interactions are possible.

John Gowan

Applied to the concept of utopia, the perfect society would be one that had no further capacity or need for growth or improvement. But that any society could be complete or could fully have achieved its purpose is inconceivable; no matter how good a society is, it can always be better.

Jeanne Lombardo

Why are human institutions on our planet not taking actions to restore the base of natural resources on which we and all life on Earth depend for our survival? It may be that our genetic-cultural co-evolution as hunter-gatherers has not wired us to perceive accurately or focus on the impact of outcomes that are beyond the scope of our relatively brief lives.

Dwight Collins

...thinking about the future is the most enlightening and practical topic the human mind can entertain, therefore the enhancement of future consciousness is essential in higher education. The best way to enhance its capacities is through the strengthening of character, virtues, and in particular, wisdom.

Tom Lombardo

The scientific history of cosmos, Earth, life, and humanity is our shared sacred story—our common creation myth. It is an epic tale that reaches back billions of years and crowns each and every one of us as heir to a magnificent and proud lineage.... The good news is that the coming decades will see each of our religious, ethnic, and cultural stories embraced within [this] larger sacred context.

Michael Dowd

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Abrams, Nancy Ellen – Philosopher of science, a lawyer, and a writer.
Co-authored, with cosmologist Joel R. Primack, The View from the Center of the Universe and The New Universe and the Human Future.

Banner, Bob – Publishes HopeDance online at and screens transformational documentaries in many cities in California.

Burgos, Josefina, M.A., Ph.D. Philosophy and Religion – California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has presented and published extensively in the field of Process Philsophy.

Collins, Dwight, Ph.D. – President, Collins Family Foundation; Faculty Member and Lecturer, Sustainable Operations Management, Presidio Graduate School, San Francisco.

Drew Dellinger - poet, writer, speaker, and educator exploring and expressing the cultural implications of contemporary cosmology. He is the author of Love Letter to the Milky Way.

Dowd, Michael – Evolutionary Evangelist with his wife, Connie Barlow; author of Thank God for Evolution.

Eisler, Riane, J.D. – President, Center for Partnership Studies; author of The Chalice and The Blade, Sacred Pleasure, The Real Wealth of Nations, and other books.

Elgin, Duane, M.B.A. and M.A. – Speaker, author, and trans-partisan media activist. Author of: The Living Universe, Promise Ahead, Voluntary Simplicity, and Awakening Earth. Currently gathering a series of deep stories of humanity’s time of great transition; Frequently writes a blog for the Huffington Post on a wide range of themes.

Fast, Paul G., Ph.D. – Retired biological research scientist—deeply influenced by Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Pauline Le Bel, and Stuart Kauffman.

Genet, Cheryl, Ph.D. – Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Cuesta College; Managing Editor of the Collins Foundation Press; Science and Humanities Program Director, Collins Educational Foundation.

Genet, Russell M., Ph.D. – Research Scholar in Residence, California Polytechnic State University; Adjunct Professor of Astronomy, Cuesta College: Director, Orion Observatory.

Gibler, Linda, O.P., Ph.D. – Associate Academic Dean, Oblate School of Theology; Adjunct Professor, Loyola Institute for Ministry; Science Editor, Collins Foundation Press.

Gowan, John A., B.A. – Research Technician (retired) Biological Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Science writer and Web author.

Herman, Louis G., Ph.D. – Philosopher; Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii, West Oahu.

Hess, Peter M. J., Ph.D. – Director of Outreach to Religious Communities, National Center for Science Education, Oakland, CA; lecturer, Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, California; co-author of Catholicism and Science; Fellow, International Society for Science and Religion.

Hubbard, Barbara Marx – Social innovator, speaker, author, educator, and leader in the new worldview of conscious evolution. Co-founder of The Foundation for Conscious Evolution; Conscious Evolution Chair at Wisdom University.

Le Bel, Pauline, B. Music – Singer, songwriter, recording artist, vocal teacher, screenwriter, novelist, author of The Song Spinner.

Lombardo, Jeanne Belisle, M.A. – Co-Director of the Center for Future Consciousness in Scottsdale, Arizona, co-author (with Tom Lombardo) of Mind Flight, free-lance writer & editor, program director at Rio Salado College, Tempe, AZ.

Lombardo, Tom, Ph.D. – Co-Director of the Center for Future Consciousness in Scottsdale, AZ, Professor Emeritus, Rio Salado College, author of Wisdom, Consciousness and the Future, Mind Flight, and others; professional speaker.

Loye, David, Ph.D. – Psychologist and evolutionary systems scientist, author of The Parable of the Three Villages 2012, founder of the new Moral Transformation Network and Osanto University.

MacDonald, Alice, M.A. Theology – Adult Educator in the Catholic Community of Santa Barbara, CA.; Retired Coordinator, Word and Life Faith Community.

McDonald, Richard J., Ph.D. – Retired experimental nuclear physicist, resource investor.

Matusky, Florence Pittman, Ph.D. Human and Organizational Development –Mentors doctoral students and has taught counseling psychology at Prescott College, Arizona. She has researched and written extensively about the Western intellectual tradition.

Mendel, Heather – Mystic, artist, writer, facilitator and teacher of kabbala. Trained as a speech and hearing therapist. Author of Dancing in the Footsteps of Eve and facilitator of workshops and retreats.

Mesecher, Keith – Singer/songwriter; staged North America’s first Evolutionary Revival, in partnership with Michael Dowd, Connie Barlow, and his Cosmic All Stars band. Socially responsible investment advisor.

Mobus, George, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Computer Science, Engineering, and Systems, Institute of Technology, University of Washington, Tacoma.

Nahser, Ron, PhD. – Senior Wicklander Fellow, Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, DePaul University; Provost Emeritus, Presidio Graduate School. San Francisco.

Neuhaus, Eve Baumohl, M.A. – Pacifica Graduate Institute, author of The Crazy Wisdom of Ganesh Baba.

Neuhaus, Tom, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus, California State Polytechnic University. President of Project Hope and Fairness, an NGO established to enhance economic and environmental sustainability of West African cocoa farmers.

O’Toole, William, B.A. Biology/Systems Ecology – Founder and President of EcoNomics, Inc. He applies principals of ecology to the political and business arenas and provides sustainability advice to solid waste and recycling firms and numerous organizations.

Palmer, Jack A., Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe; researcher and author; co-author of Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior; co-editor of Science, Wisdom, and the Future.

Palmer, Linda K., M.S. – Researcher/writer/editor specializing in science and spirituality; editor Naam Publishing & Collins Foundation Press; co-author of Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior; co-editor of The Evolutionary Epic and Science, Wisdom, and the Future.

Palmer, Nani Faye, B.S. – News production director at a CBS affiliate on the west coast; photographer/writer/editor with broad interests in the exploration of communication, culture, and science.

Primack, Joel R., Ph.D. – Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz and a leading cosmologist. Co-authored, with Nancy Ellen Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe and The New Universe and the Human Future.

Ritchlin, Sheri, Ph.D. – Free-lance writer, editor, and lecturer.

Robins, Shani, Ph.D. – Instructor at Stanford University; Licensed Clinical Psychologist, founder of Wisdom TherapyTM; Director of the Wisdom Therapy Institute & the Monterey Peninsula Wisdom Adult Day Health Care Center.

Rutherford, Rob – Professor of Animal Science; certified educator of Holistic Management

Sachs, Robert – Licensed clinical social worker, massage therapist, certified yoga instructor, and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and teacher. He is the author of Becoming Buddha and The Wisdom of The Buddhist Masters.

Trowbridge, Richard Hawley, Ph.D. – Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY.

Willard, Bob – Sustainability speaker & author of books, spreadsheets, DVDs, and slides for sustainability champions.

Wolf, Warren – Consultant in the fields of energy, sustainability, and new business and technology development.

Zelin, Victoria L. – Currently, business development for Deloitte’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice; previously at human capital solutions and transformational consulting firms.

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Scientific Cosmology, Cultural Wisdom, and Questions

The science of our cosmic and biological evolution is the basis of a new story of how we humans came to be here on planet Earth and what can lie ahead for us in the millions of years to come. This account, drawn together from multiple sciences into a contiguous story, can unify the human race and transcend all religious or local mythologies. But our scientific understanding has moved light years ahead of our society’s political and social development. The chapters in this book are written from diverse perspectives to address this disparity between science and culture, while sharing a common foundation in our evolutionary story. They help the public understand and appreciate that science is providing the great creation story that will serve the future global civilization; that, in fact, we need such a story now; and that, if we can express it accurately but powerfully in mythic-quality language and imagery, it will be of central importance to our lives and redefine our identities as members of the human species. As Joseph Campbell put it, the story that unites a culture "is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart." No individual can create a new cosmological story—it must arise from the collective work and imagination of the culture. Now, for the first time in human history, we have the scientific knowledge to make the story accurate, and science is shared around the world even among people who do not see eye to eye on many other things.

There are, however, countless questions to be answered in order to integrate new knowledge from a wide range of sciences, including social science, into a coherent, overarching vision. This vision must supply our emerging global civilization with basic principles of a sharable view of reality while honoring cultural diversity. What do we actually know about what it takes to make individuals healthy, happy, and fulfilled? What prescriptions have been offered to create fulfilled individuals in functioning societies on a peaceful and sustainable planet? Do social scientists understand why some societies are healthy and others dysfunctional? Can they tell us why some cultures peacefully coexist while others are continually embroiled in strife? What do we really know about the interaction between a suddenly dominant sentient species and an obviously finite planet? Is our scientific understanding sufficient to solve the problems facing us, or do we need additional insights beyond science itself to create a flourishing humanity on a sustainable planet? What is the true nature of wisdom and its cultural impact? Is there wisdom in philosophical, humanist, spiritual, and religious traditions that can guide us toward a flourishing humanity? How should our local and national political leaders deal with what to many appears to be an impending global crisis? What part should evolutionary cosmology play in education? What new directions in education, politics, cultural studies, spirituality, business, and sustainability are pointing the way to a desirable future?

Around the world there is a growing sense that humanity is approaching an evolutionary "tipping point"—one that will lead to our transformation or our extinction. This recognition crosses all disciplinary, social, political, and religious boundaries because it is clear that these traditional boundaries, cradles of our civilization, no longer serve a maturing humanity. We are at the brink of adulthood as a species and must understand our enormous past in order to understand the enormous potential of our future. We are the first intelligent life we know of in the universe, charting a new course for itself into unknown territory. We are the primordial stardust come to consciousness, aware of our evolutionary past in deep time. Will we ignore this precious gift and responsibility of awareness, or will we treasure and nurture it? Can this awareness guide us as we attempt to chart our future course?

These questions are, of course, enormous and beyond the scope of any one book or conference. Nevertheless, this book makes substantial contributions, from many different viewpoints, to finding answers to these questions, or at least to more precisely articulating them. Science, Wisdom, and the Future is a primer to understanding a worldwide movement to explore and define the possible meaning of our ever-growing science-based story of ourselves—the first that is equally true for every person on Earth. Nothing could be more valuable to the creation of a sustainable, even flourishing, world, than the kind of cooperation that would be engendered by both a unifying cosmological story for humanity and development of answers to the many questions it raises.

Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack

Authors of The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World (Yale Univ. Press 2011) and The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos (Penguin/Riverhead 2006)

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