E.O. Wilson: Some Words to Ponder
E.O. Wilson has been called both one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century and "Darwin's natural heir." In advance to his visit to Utah later this month, I picked up his latest book, "The Creation, An Appeal To Save Life on Earth."
Though I'm only a rough handful of pages into the book, there are several passages that resonated with me when I think of the current battles facing the national park system. Let me leave them with you to ponder this long weekend:
The defense of living Nature is a universal value. It doesn't rise from, nor does it promote, any religious or ideological dogma. Rather, it serves without discrimination the interests of all humanity.
Even if the rest of life is counted of no value beyond the satisfaction of human bodily needs, the obliteration of Nature is a dangerous strategy.
Even the most recalcitrant people must come to view conservation as simple prudence in the management of Earth's natural economy. Yet few have begun to think that way at all.
... the modern technoscientific revolution, including especially the great leap forward of computer-based information technology, has betrayed Nature a second time, by fostering the belief that the cocoons of urban and suburban material life are sufficient for human fulfillment. That is an especially serious mistake. Human nature is deeper and broader than the artifactual contrivance of any existing culture.
We need freedom to roam across land owned by no one but protected by all, whose unchanging horizon is the same that bounded the world of our millennial ancestors.
.... While most people around the world care about the natural environment, they don't know why they care, or why they should feel responsible for it. By and large they have been unable to articulate what the stewardship of Nature means to them personally. This confusion is a great problem for contemporary society as well as for future generations.
Though-provoking stuff, no? Definitely something to think about when we look about the national park system and consider the impacts of snowmobiles, personal watercraft, new roads, downloaded park interpretation, and the like.
In this daring work, Edward O. Wilson proposes an alliance between science and religion to save Earth's vanishing biodiversity.Dear Pastor:
We have not met, yet I feel I know you well enough to call you friend. First of all, we grew up in the same faith. Although I no longer belong to that faith, I am confident that if we met and spoke privately of our deepest beliefs, it would be in a spirit of mutual respect and goodwill. I write to you now for your counsel and help. Let us see if we can, and you are willing, to meet on the near side of metaphysics in order to deal with the real world we share. I suggest that we set aside our differences in order to save the Creation. The defense of living Nature is a universal value. It doesn't rise from nor does it promote any religious or ideological dogma. Rather, it serves without discrimination the interests of all humanity.
Pastor, we need your help. The Creation—living Nature—is in deep trouble.
The Creation is E. O. Wilson's most important work since the publications of Sociobiology and Biophilia. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, it is a book about the fate of the earth and the survival of our planet. Yet while Carson was specifically concerned with insecticides and the ecological destruction of our natural resources, Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, attempts his new social revolution by bridging the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of fundamentalism and science. Like Carson, Wilson passionately concerned about the state of the world, draws on his own personal experiences and expertise as an entomologist, and prophesies that half the species of plants and animals on Earth could either have gone or at least are fated for early extinction by the end of our present century.
Astonishingly, The Creation is not a bitter, predictable rant against fundamentalist Christians or deniers of Darwin. Rather, Wilson, a leading "secular humanist," draws upon his own rich background as a boy in Alabama who "took the waters," and seeks not to condemn this new generations of Christians but to address them on their own terms. Conceiving the book as an extended letter to a southern Baptist minister, Wilson, in stirring language that can evoke Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," tells this everyman minister how, in fact, the world really came to be. He pleads with these men of the cloth to understand the cataclysmic damage that is destroying our planet and asks for their help in preventing the destruction of our Earth before it is too late. Never a pessimist, Wilson avers that there are solutions that may yet save the planet, and believes that the vision that he presents in The Creation is one that both scientists and pastors can accept, and work on together in spite of their fundamental ideological differences.