Living Large in Nature
A Writer’s Idea of Creationism
Distributed for Columbia College Chicago Press
In Living Large in Nature, Reg Saner—regarded as one of America’s greatest nature writers—employs his lucid and unpretentious style to offer his unique take on the fundamentalist advocates of creationism and intelligent design. Rather than combat fundamentalists with the latest research in evolutionary biology and cutting-edge astronomy, Saner interweaves a creative mix of memoir and intellectual critique to expose the irreligious and immoral aspects of militant creationism and—by the end—to offer instead his own worldview, an existence grounded in a reverence and respect for nature but free from religious dogma. Along the way readers meet the author as a five-year-old creationist, attend his laughable and losing debate with a creationist spokesman, learn the theological reason for deities on the ceiling, hike into the scriptural geology of the Grand Canyon, encounter creationism’s relation to Pinocchio’s nose, and receive satirical suggestions for a diety upgrade.
“Living Large in Nature is articulate, courageous, and beautifully written. Philosophically, scientifically, and aesthetically informed, the book recounts and analyzes a non-fundamentalist way of seeing and being that is deeply spiritual but non-dogmatic. This is essential cultural work, a deeply important and challenging book of our time and our place.”
“Living Large in Nature is a thought-provoking and well-written book that is the literary equivalent of watching a painter produce a painting. By presenting a set of short essays whose ideas emerge gradually, the book succeeds in multiple ways: not only as a moral argument against creationism and intelligent design, as an homage to the beauty of nature and to the power of the experience of living as part of it and fully attending to it, and as a valuable manifesto of the importance of writing as a form not so much a self-expression as of self-creation, a kind of memoir linking these themes together vis-a-vis vignettes from Saner’s own life and writings.”
“Anyone who has read Reg Saner’s books knows his work ranks with the masters of the genre: Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Gretel Ehrlich, Edward Hoagland, and Pater Mathiessen, among them. In his new book, Saner undertakes a creative mix of memoir and intellectual critique to explore the unscientific ideas upon which the faux-scientific edifice of creationism is built. Saner’s book is utterly unlike others because he presents complex scientific ideas in clear, understandable language and because his argument is meant to inspire honest, independent thought rather than rhetorically trounce an opponent. His reliance on the importance of writing in self-discovery—combined with his repeated appeals to a mixture of scientific evidence, personal witness, and what can only be called ‘informed common sense’—make the book unique and unusual, like the writer himself.”