From Big Bang to Big Mystery
Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution: a study of human origins combining science and philosophy.
Everyone knows about the ‘mystery’ of the Big Bang – what started it? This book is about the other ‘creation mystery’ – where did human beings, in particular, come from? It traces the material part of our origins from the Big Bang through evolution, including the almost 7 million year hominid sequence up to the first humans in Africa over 150,000 years ago. That data doesn’t seem to explain what paleontologists and archaeologists call ‘the Big Bang of Human Consciousness.’ In his fascinating, accessible and thorough study, renowned priest and academic Brendan Purcell shows the complementarity that scientists, theologians, and philosophers bring to a deeper understanding of the mystery of human existence and human consciousness.
Brendan Purcell has given us a study of human origins that is comprehensive, wise, and of startling philosophical clarity. He combines the latest discoveries in paleoanthropology, genetics, neuroscience, linguistics, and other sciences with the insights of thinkers from Xenophanes and Aristotle to Eric Voegelin and Bernard Lonergan to produce a deeply impressive and convincing synthesis.
Stephen M. Barr
Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Delaware and author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith
Purcell moves easily from the best scientific data on evolutionary genetics to mystical affirmations of God without skipping a beat. This is an astonishing, learned, and profoundly moving book.
Professor of Politics, The Catholic University of America
This is a profound, challenging and erudite book, offering a fresh and constructive approach to issues and debates that affect us all. Highly recommended!
Assistant Director, Centre of Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham; Author of Darwin’s Pious Idea
Purcell has achieved a remarkable synthesis: he has brought together Bernard Lonergan’s philosophical concept of “emergent probability” and Eric Voegelin’s philosophy of participatory (and not just perceptual) consciousness with an immense and ever-growing literature dealing with the hominid sequence. This book is must-reading for philosophers and theologians and especially for paleoscientists. Their sciences will never be the same.
Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Calgary
Of the many books that continue to be written on human evolution, very few deal with the philosophy of human origins. But now we have a very welcome study by Fr. Brendan Purcell that addresses this very topic. Purcell paints an enormous canvas, ranging from the Big Bang to human consciousness. Drawing on a wide range of authoritative sources to compose a gracefully written scholarly synthesis, the book is full of valuable insights. For example … [Purcell] explains ‘the fallacy of answering the unasked question’ – when science or religion undertake to answer questions that don’t arise within their methodologies. Given that this fallacy is avoided, the author proposes that a sensible relation of complementarity should exist between science, religion and philosophy rather than a confrontational interaction where one discipline tries to refute and supplant the explanations of the others.
Associate Professor in Biochemistry, University College Cork, andScience Today columnist in The Irish Times
Like G.K. Chesterton’s opening lines to his The Napoleon of Notting Hill, the book is addressed to ‘The human race to which so many of my readers belong.’ So I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a member of that same human race with an interest in the wonderful mystery of how we came into existence and why.
Cardinal George Pell
Archbishop of Sydney
This is a great book with a powerful message of the distinctiveness of human beings in the evolutionary story about life. The work stands at the crossroads of scientific, anthropological, philosophical and theological interests. Purcell’s work asks all the relevant questions at this intersection, with the information and clarity of thought to address them – there is no ‘blinking.’ A fine book for believers and unbelievers alike.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Ames
Lecturer in ‘God and the Natural Sciences,’ University of Melbourne
About the Author
Brendan Purcell is Adjunct Professor in the School of Philosophy at Notre Dame University, Sydney. Having studied philosophy at University College Dublin, theology at the Pontifical Lateran University Rome, and Psychology at the University of Leuven, he lectured in Philosophical Anthropology and Psychology at University College Dublin, retiring as Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophy in 2008.
|Publication Date||Feb 29, 2012|