Regaining Compassion for Humanity and Nature

by L. Charles Birch

Charles Birch is a biologist specializing in genetics, and resides in Australia. He is joint winner of the 1990 International Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.. His teaching career includes Oxford, Columbia and the Universities of Chicago and Minnesota, as well as visiting professor of genetics at the University of California at Berkeley and professor of biology at the University of Sydney. Professor Birch has blazed new paths into the relationships between science and faith.

Published originally by New South Wales University Press, New South Wales University press, 1993. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Only the rebirth of compassion — for ourselves, for each other, for the planet — has the power to enrich and heal our ecologically fragile world reeling from human greed and exploitation. The author brings together science and process theology to make the connections.


  • Preface

    Whitehead, Hartshorne and Cobb have shown the author the connection between science and compassion for human nature.

  • Introduction

    The thesis of this book is that there is a credible alternative to the materialistic worldview and a credible alternative to the traditional concept of God.

  • Chapter 1: The New Consciousness

    The important frontiers of the future are spiritual, psychological and social, not technical and industrial. This vision of the world stands in strong contrast to supernaturalistic dualism and materialistic atheism.

  • Chapter 2: A New Way of Living

    The first ethical principle is that we should treat subjects as ends in themselves and not merely as means to our own ends. Compassion must be extended to all creatures who share the Earth with us. And we also have a responsibility to the non-animate world.

  • Chapter 3: The World is to be Saved

    The transition to an ecologically sustainable society requires reduced consumption of goods, the efficient recycling of materials, a move away from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable sources of energy, zero global population growth, a reduced standard of living for the rich, an increased standard of living for the poor and an appeal to quality of life instead of materialism.

  • Chapter 4: Order and Change

    The two hardest tasks of all for humanity seem to be: 1) the international political and economic one of managing the world, and 2) reforming religion. These two areas illustrate the need to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.

  • Chapter 5: Human Response to Change

    Human beings can change, though their response to change varies greatly from one person to another. On a grand scale societies have responded to change in major ways, but large cultural changes require a deliberate reorientation in consciousness at the grassroots level.

  • Chapter 6: At-One-Ment

    We are estranged in four ways: from self; from others, from nature and from God. The restoration of a right relationship which has been corrupted is salvation or healing. It is the meaning of atonement.

  • References