Friday, February 09, 2007

BEN Special Passages - E.O. Wilson's "The Creation"

Dear BEN Readers,

Today's BEN Special Passages comes from E.O. Wilson's new book, The Creation - An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. One of Alabama's greatest and most renown scientist, Wilson writes the book in the form of a letter to a Southern Baptist pastor urging science and religion to join forces and save creation.

I strongly recommend The Creation to BEN Readers. It is a great thought provoking book, that also reveals in detail how three University of Alabama teachers helped "grow" his passion for science and biology.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington
BEN Publisher

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Special Notice: If you would like to meet E.O. Wilson in person, he will be addressing the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium Conference, this spring. The conference is scheduled for April 20 & 21 at Samford University. Contact Virginia Brown at 205-726-4246 for additional details.

The following link includes a recent Washington Post story about the book.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/19/AR2006091901664.html

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Excerpts from E.O. Wilson's The Creation - An Appeal to Save Life on Earth

"There seems no better way to explain why so many smart people remain passive while the precious remnants of the natural world disappear. They are evidently unaware that ecological services provided scott-free by wild environments, by Eden, are approximately equal in dollar value to the gross world product. They choose to remain innocent of the historical principle that civilizations collapse when their environments are ruined. Most troubling of all, our leaders, including those of the great religions, have done little to protect the living world in the midst of its sharp decline. They have ignored the command of the Abrahamic God on the fourth day of the world's birth to "let the waters teem with countless living creatures, and let birds fly over the land across the vault of heaven." - The Creation, pg. 10


"Critics of environmentalism (whatever that overused term means - aren't we all environmentalists?) usually wave aside the small and unfamiliar, which they tend to classify into two categories, bugs and weeds. It is easy for them to overlook the fact that these creatures make up most of the organisms and the species on Earth. They forget, if they ever knew, how the voracious caterpillars of an obscure moth from the American tropics saved Australia's pastureland from the overgrowth of cactus; how a Madagascar "weed," the rosy periwinkle, provided the alkaloids that cure most cases of Hodgkin's disease and acute childhood leukemia; how another substance from an obscure Norwegian fungus made possible the organ transplant industry; how a chemical from the saliva of leeches yielded a solvent that prevents blood clots during and after surgery; and so on through the pharmacopoeia that has stretched from the herbal medicines of Stone Age shamans to the magic-bullet cures of present-day biomedical science." The Creation, pg. 31


"Freshwater ecosystems are pressed even more than forests and grasslands. Humans take up a quarter of the accessible water released to the atmosphere by evaporation and plant transpiration, and more than half the runoff from rivers and other natural channels. We are swiftly drawing down aquifers around the world, from America's Great Plains to China's Yellow River Basin and Saudi Arabia's irrigated desert. By 2025, some 40 percent of the world's population could be living in countries with chronic water scarcity. Of all Earth's water, marine included, fresh water makes up only 2.5 percent, and the greatest part of that is locked up in the planet's ice caps." - The Creation, pg. 77


Life on this planet can stand no more plundering. Quite apart from obedience to the universal moral imperative of saving the Creation, based upon religion and science alike, conserving biodiversity is the best economic deal humanity has ever had placed before it since the invention of agriculture. The time to act, my respected friend, is now. The science is sound, and improving. Those living today will either win the race against extinction or lose it, the latter for all time. They will earn either everlasting honor or everlasting contempt. - The Creation, pg. 99


"The basic ingredient for a love of learning is the same as romantic love, or love of country, or of God: passion for a particular subject. Knowledge accompanied by pleasurable emotion stays with us. It jumps to the surface and , when summoned, triggers other memory linkages to create metaphor, the cutting edge of creative thought. Rote learning, in contrast, fades quickly into a jumble of words, facts and anecdotes. The Holy Grail of liberal education is the formula by which passion can be systematically expanded for both science and humanities, hence for the best in culture." - The Creation, pg.127

1 comment:

Jim Shaddox said...

You have got to love people like E. O. Wilson, such wisdom is in such short supply. As a "lifer" environmentalist and one who feels spiritual in nature I have found it difficult to square the Southern Baptists position taken at last summers convention that they could support environmental causes as long as it didn't interfere with the economy, left me thinking, for them commerce has a higher value than creation. So maybe other Baptist groups would offer better opportunities for cooperation.