The New Story

Thomas Berry

It is all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between two stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story. Our traditional story of the universe sustained us for a long period of time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with life purposes and energized actions. It consecrated suffering and integrated knowledge.

We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. We could answer the questions of our children. We could identify crime, punish transgressors. Everything was taken care of because the story was there. It did not necessarily make people good, nor did it takeaway the pains and stupidities of life or make unfailing warmth in human association. It did provide a context in which life could function in a meaningful manner. (DE, chapter 10, page 123-124)

A radical reassessment of the human situation is needed, especially concerning those basic values that give to life some satisfactory meaning. We need something that will supply in our times what was supplied formerly by our traditional religious story. If we were to achieve this purpose, we must begin where everything begins in human affairs – with the basic story , our narrative of how things came to be, how they came to be as they are, and how the future can be given a satisfactory direction. We need a story that will educate us, a story that will heal, guide and discipline us …(DE, chapter 10, page 124)

No sustaining values have emerged. Our social problems are not resolved. The earth continues to disintegrate under the plundering assault of humans….The human venture remains stuck in its impasse. Children who begin their earth studies or life studies do not experience any numinous aspect of these subjects. The excitement of existence is diminished. If this fascination this entrancement with life is not evoked, the children will not have the psychic energies needed to sustain the sorrows inherent in the human condition. They might never discover their true place in the vast world of time and space. Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the mostimportant events in their lives. Children need a story that will bring personal meaning together the grandeur and meaning of the universe. (DE, chapter 10, page 130-131)

The world of today is controlled by its cosmology, not by its philosophy of culture.The present modern cosmology is associated with the observational sciences. We have come to understand our Universe in terms of evolutionary unfolding over vast periods of time, through vast extent of space. (Christian Future/CF, chapter 4, 26)

To know the Great Story in all depth and all the change this brings is the greatest change in human consciousness since the Neolithic period. This change is difficult for all human consciousness, not only for religious people. The New Story shows us where we are in our time: the great Ecological Crisis. We begin to understand in what time we live and where the destruction comes from. We cannot just restore a former, religious, moral, humanist tradition. We are re-ordering the human in its relationship to Earth. (CF chapter 4, 27-28)

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  • CF: The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth, Thomas Berry ISBN 978-1-57075-851-5
  • Bahasa Indonesia   Kosmologi Kristen, Thomas Berry 9-789799 447920
  • DE Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry ISBN 0-87156-622

Christian Cosmology

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  1. Christian Cosmology Thomas Berry

1. Christian Cosmology , Thomas Berry

Our modern cosmology is associated with the observational sciences, whereby we have come to understand our universe in terms of evolutionary unfolding over the vast periods of time and through the vast extend of space. Presently, Christians are not thinking or acting within this accepted story of the universe. Yet outside this story we can do very little in making the Christian vision visible…..

…What needs to be recognized is that the New Story of the universe represents the greatest change in human thought and consciousness since the rise of the Neolithic Period. This it is not only a difficulty for Christians, it is a difficulty for human consciousness throughout the Earth community…. (CF, chapter 4, page 26-27)

The new paradigm for the understanding of reality and of value can be defined in the following manner:

  • First: the new paradigm sees the universe as a sequence of irreversible transformations begun some 13.7 billion years ago.
  • Second: the evolutionary process of the universe has from the beginning a psychic-spiritual as well as a material physical aspect. There is no moment of transition from the material to the psychic or the spiritual.
  • Third: Earth has a privileged role as a planet where on life is born wit all those special characteristics we find in Earth’s living forms. The unity of the Earth process is especially clear…Whatever happens to any member effects every other member of the community. Here we can see how precious Earth us as the one living planet that we know,how profoundly it reveals mysteries of the divine, how carefully it should be tended, how great an evil it is to damage is basic life systems, to ruin its beauty, to plunder its resources. For these things t o be done by Christians or without significant Christian protest is a scandal of the primary order of magnitude.
  • Fourth: the human is by definition that being in whom the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in conscious self-awareness. The human is a mode of being of the universe entire as well as a distinctive being in it.
  • Fifth:….the ultimate created value cannot be found in any one part of the universe, but in the collective whole…We need to avoid that extreme anthropocentrism that would make the human in itself so absolutely norm of value that we fail to recognize that the larger concern must be for the universe that includes the human, but is a greater value than the human.
  • Sixth: the universe itself can be understood as the primary revelation of the divine.St. Paul tells us in Rom. 1 that from the beginning of the world  “we came to know the invisible nature” of God through “the things that have been made”…
  • Seventh: biblical revelation, the incarnation, redemption, and the shaping of the Christian community – all these have taken place within the larger cosmological and historical context.


….The period of creation has not been closed; it is still in progress. We still are in the sixth day of creation. In and through ourselves the world is coming into being. One of the main characteristics of creation given by the New Story is the genetic relatedness of every being in the universe with every other being in the universe. Every living being is cousin to every other being….(CF, chapter 4, Page 29, 34

  • CF: The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth, Thomas Berry ISBN 978-1-57075-851-5










Christian Theological Reflection on the New Story


A theological reading of the story of the Universe

See O.T.  book of Wisdom 7.22-26

Speaks of the intelligent spirit that is in all things and penetrates the whole of creation. She is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the Glory of the Almighty.

We have a new story of creation, emerging from contemporary science. Though there are still differences in understanding, but there is a broad scientific consensus.

To look at it from theological view point; 3 points of reflection:

  •  The community of all creatures in God
  •  Human beings as the cosmos come to self- awareness
  •  God the dynamic impulse from within creatures.
  1. The community of all creatures in God

Creation is one. This fundamental truth has been forgotten in Christianity, because of the tendency to dualism. The separation between a higher spiritual world and the lower material world is very old.

The world of nature has been set over against human culture, body over against spirit, feelings over against thinking, the female over against male, what is human over against the divine..

Dualistic thinking sets up polarities and then presents one side of the polarity ( like spirit) as worthy and free and related to the divine, and the other side of the polarity ( like the body) as demeaning, enslaving, demonic.

Dualistic thinking tends to be suspicious of bodiliness, relationship to matter, connection with the fertility of nature, feelings, instincts, the unconscious and women. Priority is given to the word of ideas, and there is suspicion ad repression toward a science centered on the observable and material. In certain Christian fundamentalist theologies a flight from the world is encouraged.

The creation with its immense diversity is one and part of a unified whole.

The only adequate theological view as a response to our complex world is holistic thinking.

Theological holism is firmly grounded in one creator God.

1.1 God is the one who creates the whole cosmos as one diverse but inter-related system

1.2 The same creator is present to every part of the cosmos sustaining and empowering it

1.3 God will bring the whole movement of evolving creation to its completion.

Creation is one world, united in its origin, with self-realization as goal. There is an inner similarity and inter-relationship of all creatures. In this community of all creation each species has its own unique place. Every creature bears the stamp of origin; the one primordial ground of all being.Every creature reflects something of the mystery of the creator.

Humankind is part of the world of beings which are all interrelated to one another as one community grounded IN God ( Earth community)

Relationship between spirit and matter

Often humans see their body as connected to Earth and the rest of creation and their soul as being in the pure world beyond bonds of matter.This vision will lead to a devaluing of the body and of Earth. But matter and spirit cannot be divided; they are radically interconnected in the community of creation. That we discover when we reflect how in our own life matter and spirit are connected.

Matter is what we experience as specific, concrete, bodily. It is also how we experience ourselves and the outer world as factual realities, with their own proper and independent existence. Because we are matter we can live, encounter others, express love end communicate love. Matter tells us about the otherness of other beings. Matter is needed to become conscious of ourselves and of the mystery that encompasses life.

Spirit is the human insofar the human becomes aware of self in an absolute way. Self-consciousness occurs by the fact that we differentiate ourselves against the absolute reality as such and towards the one ground that we call God. Spirit is the human person insofar as he or she is conscious of self and of the mystery that surrounds our life in the world. In the free acceptance of this mystery the human person is most radically spirit.

Matter and spirit are two related elements of the one human person. Only when both are considered, we are open to all dimensions of the human person.

Matter and spirit make up one world. They share a common history: matter has evolved to spirit or consciousness. Matter comes from spirit and is oriented toward spirit . “Matter develops out of its own inner being in the directions of spirit. The development of biologically organized materiality is oriented in terms of an ever-increasing complexity and interiority towards spirit, until finally, under the dynamic impulse of God’s creative power, and through the process of self-transcendence of this kind, it becomes spirit.”( K. Rahner)

The material world is radically and fundamentally one. God communicates in love with the non-God: the material world is the addressee and the recipient of God’s self-utterance.

We human beings, with our ability to think and reflect, our self-consciousness, our capacity for communication and love, our creativity in art and science, are intimately bonded in a relationship of mutual interdependence with al living creatures on the planet. We are related to the whole great world of matter. We are part of it, from the giant supernova in space to the tiny electron responding mysteriously to the presence of the human observer in the laboratory, from the greatest whales in the oceans to the tiniest insects in the rainforest.

2.Human beings as the cosmos come to self-consciousness

How are we to understand the place of the human in the evolving cosmos?

The old ways of understanding the place of the human in the cosmos, where all was created for the human and everything evolve around the human, has led to disastrous effects. It is this paradigm or worldview that has led to the way of seeing the Earth as a storehouse to endlessly take from for human comfort and greed. This view is called anthropocentrism. It was this vision that caused the brutal opposition against scientists like Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Galileo to their vision and conviction that human beings are not at the centre of the universe.

It is this antropocentric vision that was used as justification by corporations and states to rip the rainforests, to pollute the water, the empty the seas and annihilate countless species.

It is the transition from an antropocentric worldview to an ecological worldview that is at the heart of ecological conversion. It is a matter of change of perception: what do our eyes see when we look at the Earth and all her beauty and resources? Who do we think we are in the midst of all creation?Can we accept that we humans are only but one species among many others and that they have no more dignity and rights than other species? Yet also here we have to reflect more deeply on our position. If the human is seen as having no more value than a worm or a fungus, we can fore go the oppressed poor of the Earth and we separate ecological justice from social justice.

Some visions about the place of the human in the cosmos:

Karl Rahner stated that the human person can be understood as the cosmos coming to consciousness about itself. Humans are part of the cosmos, part of one single history of evolution. Within this one history human beings are the cosmos come to self-awareness. The material universe finds itself in them.  K. Rahner.

Teilhard de Chardin:  human beings discovered that they are nothing else than evolution becoming conscious of itself.

Thomas Berry stated that human beings appear as “the moment in which the unfolding universe becomes conscious of itself.’ “We carry the universe in our being as the universe carries us in its being – the two have a total presence to each other and to that deeper mystery out of which both the universe and ourselves emerged’. ( The dream of the Earth) This gives a new perspective, a new depth to the relationship that human beings have with all matter, to every giant galaxy thousand of million light years away ,and to every subatomic particle. Humans are all of this come to awareness of itself.

The unfolding of the cosmos continues in the human person and in the human community. It is manifest in growing awareness of the Oneness of all life, in growing solidarity, in culture, and in human interaction with the rest of creation.

The movement of self-transcendence however does not reach fulfillment simply in human life, or in the human community, but only in the embrace between creature and creator. This is grace.

Grace is at the heart beat of the universe. It is God bent over to us in love. The life of faith is a free response to this love, directed toward us from every point of the universe.

We are called to grow in this expanding consciousness of the Oneness of the cosmos and the mystery of the Creator expressed in the cosmos. It grounds our hope in the fulfillment of the coming history of the cosmos and of each individual cosmic consciousness, which consists in the direct experience of God.” ( K. Rahner)

In each human being the cosmos presses forward to self-consciousness.

We have reached a time in which this urgency has never been greater. Upon it depends the immediate future of all life on the Planet. Is it God’s call that wants to awaken us, in the growing consciousness about the state of the planet, ecological crisis and the need to change our worldviews? This awareness about the role of the human in the cosmos is a place of great dignity for humanity and for each individual who has been awakened to this vision. It is a very different vision than the antropocentric self-understanding of humans.

This view is profoundly relational: we humans are intimately related to the Earth and are all creatures in bonds of kinship. We are of one blood.

The stories of cosmos and humankind are a single story. It is the story of movement from matter into life, from life to self-consciousness . And it is the experience of conscious and free persons of God’s self-communication by grace.

If human beings are the cosmos come to consciousness before the grace of God, if they are the self-transcendence of matter, they are and remain profoundly inter-connected with birds and bees, with insects and photosynthesis, new born stars and the our home The Milky Way.

3. God- the dynamic principle from within all creatures

How can we understand the whole evolutionary movement? Can it mean something to our “small and significant lives? ” How can we explain the emergence of a human world and the developments up to the present? Can it give us a new perspective in dealing with the massive ecological crisis?

At the end of the twentieth century scientists present to us a new and scientific paradigm – the self-organizing universe.

Besides working with the laws of entropy ( the measure of disorder in a system) there is also ,within the universe and its processes , a concentration of energy which builds things up. We come to understand how open systems can increase in order and complexity. This helps us to understand evolution.

There is in the universe a widespread tendency to self-organization and a capacity to cross critical thresholds into new stages of order and complexity.

This can happen at any moment and without a clear cause. There are sudden and spontaneous leaps into new forms and new consciousness. The results are greater complexity, cooperative behavior and global coherence. (P. Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint)

In the 1970s James Lovelock introduced the concept of Gaia into cosmology.

Gaia ( after the name of the Greek Goddess of Earth)is a way of thinking about the Earth as a holistic organism, just as the human body is a holistic system. An organism which itself shapes the land, the atmosphere and the oceans in such a way as to make them suitable to sustain life. He saw the deep interconnectedness between the Earth and her processes and discovered how the Earth is kept in a relative constant balance. The atmosphere, the oceans, the climate and the crust of the Earth are maintained at a state which is comfortable for life because of the behavior of living organisms.

Theology and the New Story of Creation

The biblical story of creation is not in competition with the scientific story, but a revelation capable of giving profound meaning to scientific discoveries.

Christian theology has the task of reflecting on the story of the universe told by contemporary science, including the big bang, formation of galaxies, development of our solar system, nuclear reaction in the sun, formation of the Earth’s crust, emergence of life, photosynthesis, the balance in the atmosphere, the animal life , the mergence of mammals and humans. We will discover how the cosmos is sustained and upheld by a mysterious being who escapes our comprehension, yet is engaged with us in love ( deifying) This God who is at work in the becoming of the universe is drawing the world toward a future which is both unpredictable, and a fulfillment beyond all hopes.

The openness of the cosmos to what is new, always new, its capacity to leap forward across thresholds, its abundance, its size and beauty, the stunning reality of planetary life, the emergence of intelligent beings capable of love and community – all of the these direct the believer to the nature of the divine presence empowering the whole cosmic process.

Where is the place and role of God in all of this? Is God the great clock-maker, starting a process and then standing back? Is God intervening at some points like the moment the human emerged in the cosmos, or I God to carry creation across the great thresholds of new possibilities?

Some visions:

God is not only the starting point at the Beginning, but there is a continuous engagement. God creates in the most radical sense out of nothing.

Creation is fundamentally and essentially relationship. Creatures do not create themselves, cannot account for their own being. They exist because the absolute being of God. God is being. Creatures have being as a participation in God’s absolute Being. ( still a static view of creation) (Thomas Aquinas)

Creation is continuous. When Christians speak of the beginning of time, it means that time is also created. God’s creative act, which is eternal and identical with God, establishes a temporal world.

What does it mean to speak of God’s absolute being holding creatures in existence, when we know that our Earth is a tiny part of an expanding universe, and that human beings are part of a chain of life which began with blue-green algae 3500 million years ago?

God in creation is now understood as the dynamic power which enables evolutionary change to occur. Creation is now understood, not as a relationship between the absolute being of God and a static world, but as a relationship between the dynamic being of God and a world in process of coming to be. Karl Rahner

In the history of evolution, creatures become more than they were. Inert matter becomes living organism. Living beings become conscious of themselves. So we see a process whereby reality becomes not just more than it was, but essentially different. The new dimension cannot simply be due to the creature in itself.

There is an evolutionary change because of a power that comes from within the creature, but that power is not due to the nature of that creature. It must be understood as the pressure of the divine being acting from within. God is at the heart of evolutionary change. The power that brings the evolutionary change about comes from within the cosmic process. The inner power does not belong to the being of the creature, but to the fullness of God.

Evolutionary change is empowered by the dynamic presence of the absolute being of God. Evolutionary change occurs because of the presence of transforming love, which continually draws creation to a surprising and radically new future from within.

Dennis Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos, 1991 Paulist Press

ISBN 971-510-070-8

Remembering the Universe Story in Our Bodies

The Remembering

The Purpose

With this guided visualization, our evolutionary journey becomes more real to us than before. We reawaken to our panoramic history as integral parts of the evolving universe, and feel within us the presence and summons of this history. Setting our recent chapter as humans within the context of our far larger story, the Remembering evokes the ecological self and loosens the grip of the anthropocentrism of today’s culture. At the same time it fosters a sense of authority; which we can claim when we act on behalf of the Earth: that is, it encourages us to act our age – our true age of fifteen billion years – and take part in the great turning to a sustainable Society.


The Remembering can be offered as a guided meditation with people sitting or lying, or as spontaneous enactment, in which people use bodily movements and sensations to imagine or recapture evolutionary memories. Rocking, nosing, wriggling, crawling, pushing up all help us imagine the inner body sense of amphibian and reptile and early mammal. Even if we only imagine them now, these memories are embedded in our neurological system; each one of our bodies recapitulated our evolutionary journey in the womb. In offering this process, we often use a drum to sound a heartbeat; it enhances the connection with the pulse of life in all beings through time.

Come with me on a journey to the past, a journey to help us remember who we are. We begin with the heartbeat; place your hand over your heart and feel this beat, listen to this beat. Follow this pulse all the way back, back through the long eons .. follow it back to the first fire at the beginning of time, the immense hot birth of the universe some fifteen billion years ago, You were there. I was there, for the cells in our body burn with that same energy today.

We began, long ago, as great hot swirls of gas and dancing particles.

Our galaxy formed, and then our sun, and then, four and a half billion years ago our earth. The Earth was rock and crystal beneath which burned tremendous fires. Through eons it cooled to below boiling, and began to rain, and the oceans were born

In these warm seas, under the brown sky, this dance of rock and air, water and fire organic life arose. Can you remember your life as a single-celled creature, a simple being floating in the Mother Ocean? Only bounded by a thin membrane. You are a bacterium feeding on the minerals in this salty soup. In the warm sea, you are pulled by the currents, stirred by the wind. How does it feel to reproduce by simply becoming two identical beings, and then four…Every cell in our bodies is descended from those first ones.

Some of us learn to utilize the energy of the sun directly and become plants. But you and I from early on take our energy by eating others and we become one- celled animals. In our constant search for food, we actually invade other cells and combine our nuclei. In time this leads to a new way of creating life. Through sexual reproduction, unique individual creatures come into being, to love , to reproduce in turn, and to die.

Float on and remember linking up with other single-celled beings. Joining together, we become a sponge, or perhaps a jellyfish. What are our sensations now?

Can you remember our childhood drifting in warm sees? Even today, some of our relatives continue to live in ancient ways: the corals and snails, worms and plankton…They have never forgotten what we once knew and now try to remember.

Can you remember being a slim silvery creature , a few inches long? Feel the muscles from your head all the way down your body. Feel the strength and support that slowly solidifies and becomes over eons a string of vertebrae, extending the length of your body. We have evolved the first backbone. Now we can swim expertly with our fins, the water streaming past and through our gills.

Immensities of time are passing. Our gills slowly change to lungs. We begin to breathe the rich, harsh air, as our fins become strong lobes we use to drag ourselves through the mud of the receding lakes. We return to the waters to spawn, and our young still begin their lives there. Can you remember raising your eyes from the water into the sunlight, as our amphibian cousins, the frogs and toads and salamanders today? Blink your eyes in this brightness, and venture further and further into this strange new world.

Millions of years pass as we dream amphibian dreams, and the world around us changes. The swamps are drying up and we learn to carry the water necessary for our young ones in the shells of our reptilian eggs. We can live now completely on dry land. We have evolved limbs which straddle out from our body and move together, alternating from side to side. How does it feel to move in this new way, crawling over the land, eating insects and other small creatures? We store the sun’s warmth in our body by day, let our hearts slow down and rest at night. Same of our cousins grow huge and toothy, and send bellows echoing over the once silent earth. Some of our cousins let their legs become wings, their scales become feathers, their bones hollow, their hearts fast and hot. Their children live today as birds. And some of our cousins are content as lizards, as turtles and alligators and snakes; crawling on bellies. They keep today the old wisdom, adhere to the old ways.

But we and other cousins take another path. We grow fur and keep the sun’s warmth in our bodies by using the heat stored in our food. We let our young ones grow within us, to keep them safe and warm. More of our children survive, although they require more care. Our legs grow longer and swifter. As early mammals, we are nocturnal, hiding from dinosaurs during the day, and hunting at night. How alert we are as we dart among the roots of the huge trees, searching for food, ready to flee the great jaws. Remember returning to our underground den and curling up to sleep all warm together.

As we sleep, the rule of the dinosaurs fades away, and we mammals can spread now across the land. Some of our cousins return to the water and become dolphins and great whales. Others, like us, remain on land and become gazelles and lemurs, kangaroos and mice, and great cats. Except for resting, our belly seldom touches the ground. We take on thousands of shapes, try thousands of ways of life, and the ones that succeed are passed down. All around us now in the descendants of these cousins are unimaginable store houses of wisdom and diversity of ways.

We go our own way. We move on hands and feet with greater lightness, leaping and climbing. In the big trees, we run along branches and swing on them. Our acute binocular vision lets us judge accurately the distance between branches.

Our strong opposable thumbs help us grip and release. Our fingers are sensitive, able to test the ripeness of fruit, to groom a friend. Life is easy and full. The food we need is all around us. W e are curious, playful, adventurous. Some of our close cousins live in this way.

Night falls ; we nest in the trees. As we sleep and dream the dreams of monkeys , another transformation takes place. We wake with the body that is stronger and heavier. We balance easily on two legs and look to the far horizon.. We call to each other with strong voices.

As we sleep in our family groups, dreaming the dreams of great apes, our forests slowly give way to grasslands. We awaken to the next chapter of our story, where on the open savanna we learn to walk upright. Without trees to escape into, we are more vulnerable to the big cats and other large hunters that roam our world. But we are inventive, adaptable. We make intricate sounds that let us plan together in our groups. We send some members out to hunt while others gather plants for food and medicine, maintain the camp, and nourish the young. We learn in great leaps now, one discovery leading to another: tools, language, making fire, music, art, telling stories. It all happens so quickly.

We bury our dead with flowers, laying their heads to the east, to await rebirth in the womb of Mother Earth. We know we are related to all the cousins and that we are connected to all life, and we live in grateful harmony with cycles and seasons. We take the shape we now have; from now on we evolve through our minds and hearts as we live as gatherers and hunters for thousands of generations. Can you remember? Can you see the faces of the grandmothers and grandfathers lit by the evening fire, hear their songs and stories ,lean against their solid bodies, feel their arms around you, see in them features you wear today? Much has been forgotten, much passed on.

Only four hundred generations ago, we begin to cultivate food on land we have wrested from our cousin species. It all happens so quickly. Farming, property, domesticated animals, towns, markets, temples, governments.  We build fences and fortifications; we have houses in which to keep our goods and sleep safe from one another. Some of us begin to believe that we are separate from our world, and special .

Night falls, we sleep again, and now we open our eyes as modern humans. We awaken enclosed by the walls of a city apartment or suburban house, in a world constructed by machines. What do we smell and touch, see and hear? How did it happen so fast? Automobiles, freeways, skyscrapers, airplane , television screens, endless aisles in supermarkets filled with cans and boxes of processed food. We push our way along crowded city streets. We have not touched the earth or a wild cousin for weeks. Forces we have unleashed are darkening the air, cutting down and burning the trees, suffocating us and all our relatives. It all happens so quickly.

Yet we are the ones who can remember. We can remember who we have been. We can know once again that we are related to all things, that we are a dance of earth and air, fire and water. And we know we are more than this, too: we are the laughter of a child, the strength of compassion, the gathering under the full moon, the shiver of poetry, the melody of a song not yet sung. We are the part of the world that can gasp with wonder, be moved to tears, and imagine what can come. We are the witnesses and worshipers, the warm brainy ones with clever hands, ones who can love and who can destroy.

Let us enter once more into sleep and dreaming. Can you imagine the capacities that wait to take form in us, through us? This time as we awaken let us bring forth the powers and abundance of our evolutionary journey, and imagine we can help to recreate a life-affirming world. Let us once again take joy in our bodies and in each ether, and all our relatives in the more than human world .. You and I have lived in harmony with the Earth for millions of years and this knowledge has not been lost. It is time now to draw on these memories and these strengths, and to let new ways emerge, so that the fire can still burn, so that the heartbeat will not be lost, so that the dance will go 0n.

Joanna MACY  in Coming back to Life. ISBN 978-0-86571-8, page 154





To Celebrate the Story of the Universe

The Cosmic Walk

As developed in Genesis farm, USA


A Celebration of the New Story



This ritual was designed to provide some sense of the awesomeness of the time / space of the universe. You can change and adapt it as you see it. It conveys a sense of sequence in the Earth’s unfolding process. It also dramatically conveys the brief history of humanity, as well as the uniqueness of each person’s life.

The events that have been chosen for this are arbitrary. We recommend that you look over the “time-line” in the Universe Story by Br. Swimme and Th. Berry. There may be other events that you would wish to highlight. It is very important to “know” the audience. Be inclusive of the events which shaped their continent and bio-regions as well as the cultural, ethnic and religious story.

What you Need:


  1. A length of thick yarn or robe to represent the timeline of the story of the universe.  Total length is arbitrary. E.g. 1 billion years is 5 meters. Mark then the robe with intervals of 1 billion years. Put a piece of coloured yarn at the intervals .

Most of the events happen at the very end and can’t fit on the robe. Group them as close as possible.

  1. A tall candle to be placed at the center of the spiral.
  2. A small candle to be carried by the walker. If each participant is invited to walk the story, then provide a small light for every person.  Make a protection at the candle to prevent wax drippings.
  3. 30 small vigil candles to be placed at the robe at the right
  4. 30 index cards. Each is marked with the event and the year.
  5. Use appropriate solemn/contemplative E.g. Fairy Ring, Mike Rowland


  • The audience: sits in a circle in a large room, space around the rope that is laid on the floor in a spiral. The larger the feel of the spiral, the more effective the ceremony is.
  • A narrator: S(he) tells the story of the Universe
  • A walker: this person walks the spiral, slowly ,stops at each marked place ( index card) and lights the vigil light once the narrator stops talking.


  • Begin the music.
  • The narrator stands off side and reads the prologue to the Story. ( see text*)
  • The walker stands in the center, close to the large candle. She waits till the reader is finished and light the large candle to mark the Beginning. Then the own candle is lit in the flame of the large candle. If it is a not a Christian setting then use another text to start the ceremony.
  • After that the walker slowly begins to walk towards the first marked place on the robe. Stop at that place and wait till the narrator tells the story. Light the vigil light and continue to walk. Till the end.

Narrator at the beginning of the ceremony* 

Now we enter into an enormous experience of space and time of the Universe. We celebrate the mystery of how all life came to be, how the Cosmos was created. We celebrate the story of all the humans that ever were, are and will be. We celebrate all the days of creation and how we have appeared at a certain time.

In the Beginning was the Dream The Dream was with God

The Dream was God

The Dream was with God in the beginning. Through the Dream all came into being

And nothing was created outside the Dream. Out of the Dream God created Light.

Now the candle is lit in the center.

The Universe Story, continuation of the text.

  • You can adapt your own text to audience and circumstances

To be used  by the Story teller in the Cosmic Walk ceremony



Big Bang  free picture NASA



  1. About 13.7  billion years ago, in a great flash the Universe fared into being. In each drop of existence a primordial energy blazed with an intensity that has never happened since. The Universe billowed out in every direction. Elementary particles could stabilize and hydrogen and helium were formed. And in a million years time the fire ball dissolved.


  1. One billion years of uninterrupted night went by. In the depth of the great silence the universe prepared for the formation of galaxies and the primal stars. Our Milky Way galaxy was formed, among the many other galaxies. One hundred billion galaxies in all… Each galaxy brought forth from its own materials billions and billions of stars.


  1. In a process of ten billions years all primal stars were formed. The stars went through transformation and became supernova’s ; exploded and gave birth to new generation of  stars. In the second generation of stars the element beings of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, calcium and other elements were formed. Five billion years ago, Tiamat our Mother star emerged and later went supernova. So she gave birth to our sun. The Sun is one of the ten thousand stars that were born out of Tiamat.


  1. The Sun in her self-organizing ability formed around her a system of planets, all circling around her. So our Earth came into being, the only planet with water and an atmosphere in which life is possible. 4.4 billion years ago the Earth came into existence.


  1. 4.1 billion years ago: the early Earth boiled as molten rocks and gaseous materials. She slowly developed a crust. Matter existed as solid, liquid and gas and created the chemical womb from which Aries, the first living cell arose. And the Earth brought forth an atmosphere, oceans and landmasses.


  1. 3.9 billion years ago; the first life emerged in the oceans. Aries and her descendants, the Prokaryotes – Eukaryotes, learned to catch pockets of energy from the Sun and the Earth invented photosynthesis. This shaped the future of all life on Earth.


  1. 2 billion years ago: after the atmosphere was filled with too much oxygen for eons of time, now there came a balanced atmosphere as we know it. Now every living being can breathe and live.


  1. 1 billion years ago: the Eukaryote cells invented meiotic sex. Sexual bonding entered the Universe as two genetically different beings united and fashioned out of their genetic endowment a radically new being. The foundation for creativity and bio- diversity is laid. The Eukaryotes invented the habit of eating living beings; predator- prey relationships were formed.


  1. 600 million years ago: The Eukaryotes dared to submerge themselves into a larger mind: trillions of them gathered and evoked Argos, the first multi- cellular animal. The jelly fish reminds us of this event. Multi-cellular animals arose in great variety: corals, worms, insects, starfish.


  1. 550 million years ago; the first fishes emerged. They have a nervous system and for the first time the Earth sees herself through the eyes of fishes. Early consciousness in animals makes that the Earth begins to think.


  1. 425 million years ago; ocean seas left plants stranded. They developed wood cells and land plants began to cover the continents. Life that had until now only developed in the waters of the seas, now was landed.


  1. 395 million years ago: the Earth’s mantle, lifeless for two billion years now heaved with amphibians, reptiles, insects, and dinosaurs. Insects live in communion with the bees help the Earth in her nourishing task through pollination.


  1. 370 million years ago: the first trees appear.


  1. 216 million years ago: the mammals entered Earth’s life. They developed emotional sensitivity, a new capacity of the nervous system to feel the Universe. Mother-infant bond entered the universe.


  1. 210 million years ago: the Earth up to this moment just one landmass, called Pangaea, now broke in pieces and the continents are formed.


  1. 150 million years ago: the birds appeared and the Earth broke out in song.


  1. 120 million years ago: flowers emerged and covered the Earth.  Because of the flowers food became plentiful. The last 67 million years the Earth has moved into its lyrical period. Beauty and diversity developed as never before.


  1. 4 million years ago: in Africa, humans stood on their two feet. From there on they have spread all over the Earth.


  1. 2. 6 million years ago: humans engage in gathering and hunting. They developed stone materials and discovered the fire.


20. 110.000 years ago. Homo Sapiens emerged, our direct Ancestor. Languages developed. Humans begin to populate other parts of the world: e.g. Australia.


21. 100.000 years ago: humans developed their first rituals and began to bury their dead. Humans began to express their wonder about the Earth in the first cave paintings.


  1. 20. 000 years ago: in the human flourishes awareness about Earth: patterns of seeds, seasons, primordial rhythms of the Universe are discovered. Humans began to domesticate plants and animals. The Mother God deity was worshipped, strongly connected with the fertility of the Earth.


  1. 12.000 years ago: Neolithic villages arise and gathering and hunting are left. This was the most radical transformation ever to occur in the human history. Humans settled down in villages. Pottery and weaving are developed.

24. 5000 years ago: urban civilization started. It brought many developments like trade, advanced irrigation systems, pyramids, military establishments. Warfare started.

24. 2500 years ago: universal religions emerged, like Buddhism, Christianity. Indigenous people were overwhelmed by these strong movements. Ethical and moral consciousness arose through the works of Buddha, Confucius and other sacred Scripture writers.

26.More than 2000 years ago: Jesus of Nazareth is born and lived among us.

27. 400 years ago: the modern European Scientific Age begins. Europeans colonized peoples all around the planet and destroyed indigenous cultures. The nation state was developed which was later overruled by the multinational corporations. The worldview of this period has brought us in the present global ecological crisis.

28. 100 years ago: the entire modern scientific enterprise, esp. through A. Einstein, has brought forth a radical new understanding of the Universe. The cosmos is a developing and expanding process, a community with the human who has a role and a place in the midst of it. The future of the Earth community rests in a significant way on the role of the human.

29. We connect ourselves to the dynamic process of the story of all life. Card with name, date of birth and eventually a word, sentence is put on the line. Each participant in the circle partakes in it.

30. NOW: all humans can know their common origin story as the story of the entire Earth community in a single sacred Universe.

text Miriam Therese Mac Gilles

Genesis Farm 1998







The History of the Universe



free picture internet, NASA


Fifteen billion years ago, in a great flash, the universe flared forth into being.

In each drop of existence a primordial energy blazed with an intensity never to be equaled again. Through that power, the universe billowed out in every direction, so that the elementary particles could stabilize. Out of that process rose the first atomic beings of hydrogen and helium.

In a process of one million turbulent years after that very first beginning, the frenzied particles calmed themselves enough for the primeval fireball to dissolve into a great scattering, with all the atoms soaring away from each other into the dark cosmic skies opening up in the beginning time.

Now another billion years went by; an uninterrupted night. It was a time for the universe to prepare itself for its next macrocosmic transfiguration.

In the depth of its great silence the universe shuddered with immense creativity necessary to fashion the galaxies. And the galaxies were formed – the Andromeda galaxy, the Virgo cluster of galaxies, Pegasus, Fornax, the Magellanic Clouds, M33, the Coma cluster, Sculptor, the Hercules cluster, as well as our own Milky Way galaxy – one hundred billion galaxies in all.

These gigantic structures pinwheeled through the emptiness of space and brought together all the hydrogen and helium into self-organizing systems, and cluster of systems, and clusters of clusters of systems. Each galaxy had an unique form and had its own internal dynamic. Each brought forth from its own materials billions upon billions of primal stars.

The most brilliant stars went through transformation upon transformation and exploded in colossal supernovas – they became mother stars that matched a billion stars in luminosity and spewed stellar materials throughout the galaxy.

Out of this materials new stars were put together; again a process that took a billion years. These second -generation stars were richer in potentiality and had a more complex internal-structure, because the primal stars had created the elemental beings of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, molybdenum, calcium, magnesium, and all hundred elements. Here we find the building materials out of which all further forms of life were created in a process of ever greater complexity.

Some five billion years after the beginning of time, the star Tiamat emerged in our spiral galaxy. She was the mother star out of which our Sun was born.

When she exploded, all the materials she carried in her fiery belly were dispersed in all directions of the cosmos. Now the adventure of the creation could deepen and enter into a new phase.

Five billion years, after the universe had expanded and developed for ten billion years, our Milky Way galaxy hit a peacefully drifting cloud of Tiamat ‘s remnants. Out of this event ten thousand new stars were born. Some of these turned out to be small brown dwarf stars. Others became blue super-giants that flashed into white glowing new supernovas. Others became stable long burning yellow stars, and still others became slumbering red stars.

From this floating cloud of stars, the universe brought forth our own star, the Sun. Once granted existence, the Sun showed its own self- organizing ability. She blasted off nearly all the clouds of elements yet hovering about it. Out of the rest of the clouds, arose the bonded system of Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

The charged early planets boiled as molten and gaseous materials. On Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Pluto, chemical combinations slowly grew to become rocks and continents and planetary crust that eventually so dominated the dynamics that all significant creativity came to an end. On these planets life never developed beyond this point.

On Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus chemical creativity never advanced beyond simpler compounds and they continued to churn primarily as gases for billions of years. Only on one Planet life developed in the way we know it on our home planet Earth. This could happen because of the balance of the inner dynamics of the Earth and its position in the structure of the solar system. Matter existed as solid, liquid, and gas, and flowed from one form into another to provide an incessantly chemical womb from which Aries, the first living cell arose.

The first living cells- the prokaryotes- had the power to organize themselves, as did the stars and galaxies, but they had stunning new gifts as well. The cells could remember significant information, even including the patterns necessary to knit together another living cell. Cells also possessed a new order of creativity; the ability to catch the packets of energy hurled by the Sun at the speed of light and to use these quanta as food.

Aries and her descendants, the prokaryotes, by gathering their hydrogen from the oceans, released oxygen into the Earth’s system; the oxygen slowly saturated the land and atmosphere and seas.

Thus the prokaryotes altered the Earth’s chemistry and brought the Earth in an Extreme unstable condition because of the explosive capacity of the oxygen.

In time the prokaryote communities perished as their interiors were set ablaze by the oxygen.

Vikengla, the first eucaryotic cell, was fully capable not only to endure oxygen but of shaping oxygen’s dangerous energy for its own purposes. The eukaryotes invented meiotic sex. Sexual bonding had entered the universe as two genetically different beings could unite and fashion out of their genetic endowments a radically new being. Through this event the universe’s diversity expanded a hundredfold. The foundation for bio-diversity was born. The eukaryotes invented the habit of eating living beings; eco-systemic predator-prey relationships emerged.

Then finally, at the end of the period of life on Earth in which the eukaryotes were the most advanced organism in the Earth System, the eukaryotes took the daring step of submerging themselves into a larger mind as trillions of them gathered together and evoked Argos, the first multicellular animal.

Six hundred million years ago, multicellular organisms arose in great variety of qualitatively distinct body plans; they included corals, worms, insects, clams. starfish, sponges, vertebrates, leeches and other forms that went extinct.

Life in the meso-cosmos had begun. Worms sprouted wings to guide them through the oceans and invented the tooth when another creature invented the shell. Ocean seas left plants stranded on the hot rocks; unable to crawl home they instead invented the wood cell and learned to stand up as Iycopod trees that lived along the shores of oceans and rivers and that in turn transformed themselves in gymnosperm trees capable of covering whole continents.

The animals followed the plants to the land and soon the continents that had been floating lifelesly on Earth’s mantle for two billion years heaved with amphibians and reptiles and insects and the great dinosaurs appeared.

AII of this creativity taking place within the Earth depended on many different stabilities, including the Sun’s stable burning of hydrogen. Also the Earth’s stable revolutions about the Sun and the stability of many chemical bonds throughout the Earth’s system.

But disasters visited the Earth as well, most poignantly when other heavenly bodies collided with Earth and its delicate fabric of life.

Sixty seven million years ago astronomical collisions so changed Earth’s atmosphere and climate that nearly all forms of animal life perished or had to reinvent themselves to be able to survive. Mass extinctions occurred and the dinosaurs and many of her animals disappeared forever. Such destruction however has opened new possibilities; now came the time for the birds and the mammals to develop.

Two hundred million years ago the mammals entered the Earth’s life. They developed emotional sensitivity, a new capacity in their nervous system to feel the universe. During the last sixty seven million years of the Cenozoic period the Earth has moved into its most Iyrical period. Beauty and diversity developed as never before. The deep mother -infant bond grew in mammals. The deep sensitivity in mammaIs paved the way for a next step in neural capability; the dawn of humankind with its conscious self-awareness

humans begin to evolve   picture Dana Lynn Anderson

Four million years ago in Africa, humans stood up on just two limbs. And again two million years later they began to use their free hands to shape the Earth’s materials.

One and a half million years ago they were controlling fire, shaping the Sun’s energy that had been stored in sticks, to advance their own projects.

Thirty five thousand years ago, humans began to express their astonishment about existence by making cave paintings and developing rituals and celebrations.

Twenty thousand years ago Earth, through the humans, entered conscious self-awareness in the patterns  of seeds, seasons and the primordial rhythms of the universe. Humans began to domesticate plants and animals -wheat and barley and goats in the Middle East, rice and pigs in Asia, corn and beans and the alpaca in the Americas. A secure food supply enabled populations to grow. The first Neolithic villages to sustain human groups of more than thousand people emerged.

Soon all the world Neolithic villages arose as the bulk of humanity moved from its hunting and gathering mode of life into that of the settled villages. This was the most radical social transformation ever to occur in the human venture. Pottery, weaving, architecture were developed, calendars articulating the cosmic rhythm appeared and shrines to the Mother God deity were elaborated and replaced the totemic animals of the Paleolithic. This was also the time that languages were developed.

Five thousand years ago the human venture brought forth a new form of life, the urban civilization. Intensified social interactions would give rise to new power centers within the human process; Babylon,Paris, Persepolis, Banaras, Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Sian, Athens, Bagdad, Tikal of the Maya, Cairo, Mecca, Delhi, Tenochtitlan of the Aztec, London, Cuzco, the Inca City of the Sun.

The invention of the bureaucratic system with its hierarchical authority relations (and its emphasis on specialization made possible vast transformations of the human and natural processes. Rivers became irrigation systems for agriculture. Caravans criss -crossed the world and forest was changed in shipping enterprises. Population and wealth soared, pyramids rose up along with elaborate temples, lavish palaces and cathedrals. To protect all of these concentrations of wealth and power military establishments came forth and a process of chronic warring had begun.

In the midst of this turbulence, the Tao, the Brahman-Amman Heaven, Nirvana impressed themselves upon the human mind. There arose the universalist beliefs of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, which came to pervade the planet’s centers of civilization from Europe across North Africa and India and throughout the Eurasian continent to China and Southeast Asia. Only sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Australia, and pockets of indigenous peoples entirely escaped the control and influence of these four civilization complexes, the Middle East, Europe, India and China.

Five hundred years ago Europeans initiated the third of humanity’s great wanderings. Europeans encountered humans wherever they went; equipped with superior technologies and bureaucratic systems. They colonized peoples all around the planet, especially the Americas and Australia. In the nineteenth century India was added as a colony and China and Japan were forced into trading patterns with the Europeans. Thus the cultural shape of humanity was altered in a radical manner as the various human communities were in contact with each other and turned to a common. destiny in a way never previously existed.

Europe’s own internal articulation of global political connections came in the form of the nation-state with its self-government. The liberal democratic movement began to spread all over the globe and had its violent beginning in the French Revolution in 1789 and the American Revolution in 1776.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, the nation-state provided the integrating community, replacing the former contexts of the band, or the village, or the capital with its surrounding territory. The sacred mystic of nation-state can be found in ideals of nationalism and patriotism, progress and democratic freedoms, individual rights to private poverty and economic gain. The conflicts between nation-states took the character of holy wars over these sacred ideals end culminated in wars that engulfed the whole of humanity in the twentieth century.

Out of that came not any particular nation-state as dominant entity, but the multinational corporation. By the end of the twentieth century these new institutions direct scientific, technological, financial and bureaucratic powers towards controlling Earth process for the benefit of human economy.

The destruction left by wars between the nations was dwarfed in significance by the destruction of the natural systems by industrial plunder. In geological terms, human activities in the twentieth century ended the sixty-seven-million-year venture called the Cenozoic Era.

As industrial humans multiplied into the billions to become the most numerous of all the Earth’s complex organisms, as they decisively inserted themselves into the eco systemic communities throughout the planet, drastically reducing Earth’s diversity and channeling the Gross Earth Product into human social systems, a momentous change in human consciousness was in process.

Humans discovered that the universe as a whole is not simply a background, not simply an existing place; the universe itself is a developing community of beings. Humans discovered by empirical investigation that they were participants in this fifteen-billion-year sequence of transformations that had eventuated into the complex functioning Earth.

A sustained and even violent assault by western intelligence upon the universe, through the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Buffon, Lamereck, Hutton, Lyell, Darwin, Spencer, Heschel, Curie, Hubble, Planck, Einstein , and the entire modern scientific enterprise, had brought forth a radically new understanding of the universe, not simply as cosmos, but as cosmogenesis, a developing community, one with an important role for the human in the midst of process.

The future of the Earth’s community rests in significant ways upon the decisions to be made by the humans who have inserted themselves so deeply into even the genetic codes of the Earth’s process.

This future will be worked out in the tensions between those committed to the Technozoic, a future of increased exploitation of Earth as resource, all for the benefit of the humans, and those committed to the Ecozoic, a new mode of human Earth relations, one where the well-being of the entire Earth community is the primary concern.

Prologue : The Story. Page 7- 15

The Universe Story:  Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry: ISBN: 978-0-06-250835-5


The Universe story told for Children

  • Born with a Bang. The Universe tells our Cosmic Story. Jennifer Morgan, illustrations Dana Lynne Andersen ISBN 1-58469-032-1
  • Mammals Who Morph. The Universe tells our Evolution Story. Jennifer Morgan, Illustrations by Dana Lynne Anderson ISBN – 58469- 085-2
  • From Lava to Life. Our Universe Tells Our Earth Story. Jennifer Morgan. Illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen ISBN 1-58469-042-9


You want to go deeper?

A project funded by Bill gates makes it possible that people all over the world can learn more and know the Universe Story in all depth. Why do the history classes in our schools mostly start with the arrival of humans on the planet? Do we really know our whole history, starting from where everything that is originates?

Go to:

  •  and
  • Look at video’s of Brian Swimme at YouTube : 6 min Why do we need a new story?
    a beautifully animated overview of Brian Swimme ‘sNew Cosmic Story” the new story











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