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In Gaia’s Gift, Anne Primavesi asks that we complete the ideological revolution concerning human importance which was set in motion by Copernicus and developed by theorists such as Charles Darwin. This radical thinking of Copernicus and Darwin challenged the traditional notion that humans had a god-given centrality within the universe and within the Earth’s history. Yet, as we continue to exploit the Earth’s natural resources and species, it seems that we remain wedded to the theological assumption that these are there for our sole use and benefit.
Drawing on James Lovelock’s Gaia theory-the understanding of the Earth as a living organism-Gaia’s Gift, raises the question of our proper place within the universe and turns decisively towards an understanding of ourselves as dependent on, rather than in control of, the whole Earth community.
Summary: A Modern Synthesis
“Gaia’s Gift” brings together many threads of modern knowledge and great issues of concern such as threats to earth integrity and unjustice between nations and individuals. These are placed in the context of a critical history of religion, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition. The organization and prose make these potentially difficult and complex analyses relatively easy to follow and remember.
As I am a scientist with no formal training in Theology or church history, Primavesi’s books have helped me to understand why the scientific findings that are so compelling to me are rejected by a large proportion of society. Furthermore, why I should be concerned to increase social consciousness of the impact of religion on civil and social practice.
On the other hand, many of my scientist friends dismiss all religious belief and practice with scorn. “Gaia’s Gift” would help them to understand that impulses of awe, joy, and thankfulness are fully appropriate as we accept our gift of life that has been prepared by earth and the web of life throughout deep time and in the present.