LOREN EISELEY. THE SACRED CHARACTER OF THE NATURAL WORLD IN A MODERN NATURALIST

SUZANNE MARGARET MCGUIRE, Fordham University

Abstract

This study discusses the work of the late Loren C. Eiseley (1907-1977), in the American tradition of natural history essayists, with special emphasis upon the sense of the sacred in nature as a distinguishing quality of his writings. The loss of this sense of the sacred aspect of the natural world has resulted in a disturbed relation between the human and the natural; recent centuries of scientific and technological development have been marked by alienation from, and exploitation of, the natural world. Traditional Western theology and religion have so far shown little interest in environmental and ecological issues, issues which have extensive implications for man's experience of God and the sense of the sacred as an essential part of the world, as well as for man's future life on this planet. The traditional view of the cosmic-natural order as being revelatory of the sacred appears to have been lost. The work of Loren Eiseley offers a view which may help to restore this critical awareness.^ Dr. Eiseley's extensive writings (fourteen books, and over one hundred articles) explore the subject of man and his relationship with the natural world, displaying his profound recognition of the presence, immanent in nature, of a transcendent mystery. He saw that it is by contact with this mystery that value and meaning are given to man's existence. Though Dr. Eiseley's perceptions were not elaborated in the rigorous terms of the theologian, for he was a scientist and a naturalist, Eiseley's meditational essays give eloquent expression to his sense of the sacred in nature. The implications of Dr. Eiseley's work are only now being evaluated, but it is the conclusion of this study that his insights will have great influence for the fields of religion and science in future years. His appreciation for the essential connections between man and the natural world constitutes a healing vision which may help to ameliorate the tragic dislocation existing in this time of ecological crisis. ^

Subject Area

Biography|Theology

Recommended Citation

SUZANNE MARGARET MCGUIRE, "LOREN EISELEY. THE SACRED CHARACTER OF THE NATURAL WORLD IN A MODERN NATURALIST" (January 1, 1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8714572.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8714572

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