This book is a gem. Not only are the science passages an exquisite introduction to astronomy, cell biology and evolution, but her reflections on the meaning she personally derives from such knowledge leave the reader yearning for more. Her passages on the meaning of death–indeed, a celebration of death, for the kind of life and love only it can call forth–is unsurpassed by all the outpourings from the humanities. She is fully, intimately, restfully at home in the universe, in her version of divinity: the sacred depths of nature. And then, able to draw no more from either the science or her own soul, she offers up a poem or psalm from various of the world’s wisdom traditions.”

Connie Barlow Eco-activist, author of Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science

“A truly fascinating, wide-ranging, beautifully written, and eye-opening book that considers the origins of earth, the origins of life itself, where we are now, where we are most likely heading, and the importance of developing a shared global cosmology and ecomorality that can benefit us all in the future.”

Marc Bekoff  Ecology and Evolution, U. Colorado, author of Rewilding our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence

“Ursula Goodenough argues passionately, wisely and even lyrically for a new, modern, scientifically-informed world view that can tell us both about the Universe we inhabit and the moral rules we need to inhabit it well.  This is a wonderful account of the history of life by a great biologist. It invites us to find in modern science the profound sense of wonder and belonging, and the deep ethical sense present in all the world’s religious traditions.”

David Christian History, Macquarie University, author of Origin Story: A Big History of Everything 

“Even better the second time around! Engagingly and clearly written, replete with striking metaphors—especially ones from music—and with conscientious respect for the scientifically untrained reader. A convincing demonstration of the integral relation between generously open-minded natural science and equally receptive, non-dogmatic religious thought. The two are shown to interact with, jointly inform, and mutually inspire one another in Goodenough’s engrossing version of Religious Naturalism. Here the compelling sacredness of all of living and non-living nature is brought into sharp focus.”

Donald Crosby Philosophy, Colorado State University, author of Sacred and Secular: Responses to Life in a Finite World

“Not since Loren Eiseley or Lewis Thomas has biology had such an eloquent spokesperson, nor one with so much heart. Finally, someone who can breathe life into molecules, and make us feel it.”

Terrence Deacon Anthropology and Cognitive Science Program, UC Berkeley, author of Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter

“What perfect timing for this revised edition of Ursula Goodenough’s classic, The Sacred Depths of Nature. As we witness and experience, emotionally and socially, the unraveling of the biosphere and industrial civilization, a meaningful, reverential worldview grounded in evidence is more relevant than ever. An excellent introduction to the religious naturalist orientation! Only my wife, Connie Barlow’s, Green Space Green Time, is even in the same league. Bravo, Ursula!”

Michael Dowd Eco-theologian, author of Thank God for Evolution

“Tender, yet passionate, Goodenough immerses us in a collective spiritual vision, allowing us to discover and feel the numinous in science, synthesizing these understandings and the religious impulse without doing harm to either. Our best hope for a future.

Anne Druyan Writer/director/producer of COSMOS and co-creator with Carl Sagan of the motion picture CONTACT”

The Sacred Depths of Nature is both a spiritual exercise and a sophisticated, crystal clear, and lyrical primer on what science teaches us about this wondrous universe and the mysterious gift that is being here at all.”

Owen Flanagan, Philosophy, Duke University, author of The Geography of Morals

No one speaks for Indigenous Peoples as a whole, nor does one person speak for any Indigenous lifeway. Yet indigenous elders do speak about their people’s relationships with the cosmos, with our shared world.  In The Sacred Depths of Nature, Ursula Goodenough presents an exquisite and informed view of life on Earth from the perspective of a “religious naturalist.” By including appreciative attention to Indigenous ways of knowing, Ursula points towards ways of assent, attunement, and intimacy that elders also know from the standpoints of their lifeways. The depths of this vibrancy resonates in the fecundity of emerging life, speaking to both.

John Grim Forum On Religion and Ecology, Yale University, editor of Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community. 

“Goodenough invites us to share her extraordinary personal experience of nature and its meaning, and encourages us to imagine that this can be our experience too. That’s the great joy she gives us, the gift of herself and, with it, the gift of ourselves. It’s irresistible.”

Philip Hefner, Lutheran School of Theology, author of Human Becoming in an Age of Science, Technology, and Faith.


“Hosanna! Here, now, this! The New Revised Version of Sacred Depths of Nature is manna from heaven on Earth. Muons and neutrinos, eukaryotic sex and somatic death, covenant with mystery, Goodenough’s Gospel of Life is the true myth we and our planet desperately need.” 

Michael S. Hogue, Meadville Lombard Theological School, author of American Immanence: Democracy for an Uncertain World

“At once expansive and intimate, empirical and immanent, analytical and intuitive, material and spiritual, science and poetry get to dance joyfully together in these pages. The Sacred Depths of Nature allows us to see and celebrate our fundamental kinship with all beings, united by the  forces that propel life’s improbable unfolding.  In this time of crisis, we urgently need the planetary ethic that resists the degradation of the shimmering world.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, SUNY-ESF, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants 

“This book is a treasure for all those who seek to connect with a deeper meaning in the universe without jettisoning empirical scientific evidence. Ursula Goodenough dissolves the conventional split between science and religious orientation, showing with delightful prose and breathtaking examples how a deeply scientific investigation can naturally lead us to a ‘covenant with mystery’ and a ‘credo of continuation.’ 

Jeremy Lent  Author, The Patterning Instinct and The Web of Meaning

“Thank you, Ursula Goodenough, for telling us the science-based story of life on earth and the wonders of our universe in a way that brings them down to the level of our hearts, and deeper still, to the very place from where our prayers come. “

Peter Mayer  Singer/songwriter, lyricist of “Blue Boat Home.”


“I am so glad this important book is being revised for our time. It is wise, calm, and compassionate; it treats us as the mature, complex, and fascinating creatures that we are, and in so doing helps point the way towards a future where we act together far better than at present.”

Bill Mckibben  Founder of, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened

“To experience the sacred, we need not ask the WHY question, which is, after all, unanswerable. In this absolutely amazing book, biologist Ursula Goodenough shows us that pondering the HOW of things brings us face to face with that which is sacred. Through science, poetry, and her own remarkable personal stories, Goodenough shares her profound religious stance as a Credo of Continuation.” 

Jennifer Morgan, President, Deeptime Network


“An engaging, authoritative account of the evolution and molecular basis of life from the perspective of a religious naturalist who rejoices in the complexity and wonder of the natural world. A successful cell biologist and gifted writer, Goodenough weaves together our scientific understanding of the appearance, place and workings of life on earth in the context of the diversity of religious traditions. The book will inspire both scientists and non-scientists to appreciate the magic of our existence and the necessity to preserve that which makes it possible.”

Thomas Pollard  Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, co-author of textbook Cell Biology 4th Edition


“Goodenough’s masterpiece unites the beauty of biology and the wonders of evolution in a magnificent, heartfelt celebration of life. Like its author, this book is eloquent, vibrant, inspiring and truly one-of-a-kind.”

Barbara Smuts, Psychology, University of Michigan, author of Sex and Friendship in Baboons

“Incisive, comprehensive, witty, and beautiful, with paragraph after paragraph of lucidity and significance. We could be witnessing one of the most important cultural events of the last three centuries – the moment when scientists themselves take seriously their role in forging a planetary wisdom.”

Brian Swimme  Evolutionary cosmologist, California Institute of Integral Studies, co-author of The Journey of the Universe

“Goodenough gives us a new bridge between science and religion that is both eloquent and elegant. She offers us the poetry, power, and passion of her vision of nature, a vision born from scientific knowledge, nurtured by religious sensibility, and inspired by nature itself. Such a pathbreaking interdisciplinary work illumines the way for each of us – embracing an ecomorality that is comprehensive and compelling.”

Mary Evelyn Tucker School of the Environment and Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University, co-producer of the film Journey of the Universe

“A delicious account of the grandeur and intricacies of natural reality that will have you falling in love with the beauty of scientific knowledge while honoring the grand wisdom of religious valuing. The new chapters on human evolution, human morality, and eco-morality reveal why The Sacred Depths of Nature remains a remarkable gift for our generation. Goodenough demonstrates, in her inimitable lucid, poetic style, a religious naturalist orientation that is uniquely positioned to address—all at once!—such urgent topics as systemic structural racism, cultural imperialism, and environmental injustices.” 

Carol Wayne White  Religious Studies, Bucknell University, author of Black Lives and Sacred Humanity Toward an African American Religious Naturalism

”I have been waiting years for this paean to the universe. With lustrous turns of phrase, skillful explanations of nature, a profound vision of the past, and a prescient sense of the future, Ursula Goodenough reintroduces us to the present moment, the fulsome present, bursting with an invitation to gratitude and reverence. There’s not a single person on this planet who doesn’t need and deserve this book.”

Wesley J. Wildman  School of Theology and Faculty of Computing and Data Sciences, Boston University, author of Spirit Tech

“The first edition of The Sacred Depths of Nature was a revelation to me. Before reading it,  I had no idea that the workings of a single cell were so elaborate as to be awe-inspiring. This second edition has brought many more such revelations. Illustrated with lovely photos and poems from wise poets, this is a detailed short treatise on the science of life. It proves once again that a science book can be a page turner. I learned from every page and could not wait for the next one.”

Paul Woodruff  Philosophy, U Texas Austin, author of Living Toward Virtue: Practical Ethics in the Spirit of Socrates

“ What a beautiful, lyrical, lively, fascinating and outstanding book. Delightful to read. Awesome achievement.”

Richard Wrangham Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, author of The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution