"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" God asks Job in the "Whirlwind Speech," but Job cannot reply. This passage – which some environmentalists and religious scholars treat as a "green" creation myth – drives H. H. Shugart's extraordinary investigation, in which he uses verses from God's speech to Job to explore the planetary system, animal domestication, sea-level rise, evolution, biodiversity, weather phenomena, and climate change. Shugart calls attention to the rich resonance between the Earth's natural history and the workings of religious feeling, the wisdom of Bible scripture, and the arguments of Bible ethicists. The divine questions that frame his study are quintessentially religious, and the global changes humans have wrought on the Earth operate in not only the physical, chemical, and biological spheres but also the spiritual realm. Shugart offers a universal framework for recognizing and confronting the global challenges humans now face: the relationship between human technology and large-scale environmental degradation; the effect of invasive species on the integrity of ecosystems; the role of humans in generating wide biotic extinctions; and the future functioning of our oceans and tides.
2. Laying the Foundation of the Earth
3. Taming the Unicorn
4. Freeing the Onager: Feral and Introduced Animals
5. Bounding the Seas
6. The Ordinances of the Heavens and Their Rule on Earth: Adaptation and the Cycles of Life
7. The Dwelling of the Light and the Paths to Its Home: Winds
8. Making the Ground Put Forth Grass: The Relationship Between Climate and Vegetation
9. Feeding the Lions: The Conservation of Biological Diversity on a Changing Planet
10: Making Weather and Influencing Climate: Human Engineering of the Earth
11. Conclusion: Comprehending the Earth
H. H. "Hank" Shugart holds the W.W. Corcoran Chair in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and has produced more than 400 scientific publications that largely involve systems ecology and ecosystems modeling strongly focused on regional and global change.
"Foundations of the Earth serves as a primer to our planet's natural and anthropological history prompted by questions raised in the book of Job. With his ingenious use of Job, Shugart effectively bridges ancient issues and modern ones."
– William P. Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary