Last night my wife and I hosted a lively book discussion on the first two chapters of E.O. Wilson’s The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth (2006). Our book discussion group just started, and we are working our way through four interesting authors each of whom has a different perspective on the relationship between humans and nature. Three of the authors specifically are writing about the looming ecological crisis. I chose these books because they help us to grapple with the relationship between science and spirituality.
We are starting our discussion by examining the unique project of E.O. Wilson, a Harvard biologist, who is urging the science community and the faith community to work together to save the earth’s biodiversity. He writes his “appeal” to a hypothetical fundamentalist pastor who is not aware or concerned with the slow poisoning of the planet. Wilson argues that human activity is directly and indirectly wiping out species through spoiling wilderness areas, encouraging unsustainable agricultural practices, and climate change.
There were a number of reasons why the group thought that Wilson’s project was groundbreaking and exciting. First, he is attempting to build some bridges between communities that have sometimes been at odds (not for everyone, of course). Most of us thought that Wilson’s project was long overdue. We sense a hunger to integrate science and spirituality. Second, he’s made a pretty compelling argument that time is of the essence in both sides working out their differences. Earth’s biodiversity hangs in the balance. During the discussion we thought about some individual and corporate ways we can do our part. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was mentioned as one way to support positive change.
Wilson’s project is one part of some larger movements within the faith community and the science community to better understand and connect with each other. Through his initiative, groups of religious leaders and scientists are being challenged to rethink their relationships with each other. We live in a unique time, when the two communities are forced to grapple with the others’ perspective on truth and life. We no longer have the luxury of researching nature, or praying, in isolation. And that’s a good development.