A Review of Robert Godwin’s One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit
Book Review by John Speyrer
The author, a clinical psychologist, has a great writing style and his panoramic book begins with the big bang—the very beginnings of everything. Soon Dr. Godwin is discussing the origins of life and of the human mind. I received my biggest bang from his explanation of how the human mind developed. He believes that Darwinian evolution cannot account for how we acquired language and an appreciation of the arts, and writes that humans are the result of evolution— but not just physical evolution but emotional evolution as well. This emotional evolution occurred, he believes, because of the intimate relationship of the mother and her baby. Unfortunately, that’s also what allowed the unfortunate but pervasive psychiatric problems of humankind. Godwin, however, does not use the typical primal author’s way of writing about abnormal psychology. His model is the more recent attachment and bonding theories of neuroscientists and anthropologists. And there is practically nothing about psychotherapy in his book. To write so convincingly about the origins of neurosis, I had reasoned that he had to have undergone some deep regressive work—but he only mentions his practice of yoga.
Supported by over 500 footnotes, the book is also blessed with an extensive bibliography. Luminaries from anthropology, biology, and psychology are quoted on just about every page. I had no idea that so many others in disparate fields had come to practically the same conclusions as had Janov and other primal theoreticians. Dr. Godwin builds up suspense in the reader as he persuasively ties in the evolution of man with the origins of neurosis. He presents convincing explanations, proceeding slowly and methodically, thus making sure the explanation underlying his hypothesis is well understood. Man’s psychiatric disabilities are the result of early traumas and he calls their neurological residuals, “mind parasites,” “neurotoxins,” or “self-replicating psycho viruses.” These entities are continually interfering with our pursuit of happiness and particularly our relationships. This baggage of our neuroses began accompanying us on our journey through life when our ancestors first became bi-pedal while living on the African savannah. But how? You’ve got to read the book!
Slowly building his case on evidence from many scientific fields, his book is a convincing tour de force. Alas, only one third of One Cosmos under God is devoted to our psychogenesis. I would have preferred an entire book on this subject. Godwin also writes brilliantly on psychohistory as he makes a logical step and applies the lessons learned in studying the origin of neurosis in individuals to cultural and national sociopathies.
After a concept is explained, the author does not leave it at that but rather explains it over and still once again. He is such a good wordsmith, however, that you might find yourself rereading a page just to enjoy his writing style. And that one third of the book on Psychogenesis was an exciting read. I can’t remember being more thrilled about a book since I read Andrew D. White’s two-volume work, The Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom(1895) in 1955!
One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit ,Robert W. Godwin, Ph.D., Paragon House, St Paul, 2004
This article appeared in the Summer 2005 IPA Newsletter.