The article “Apocalypse Now” written by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson is an entreaty for Christian environmentalism. In the article, Wilson is writing to an imaginary Baptist pastor in a plea for an alliance between religion and science. He asserts that although science and religion differ in many ways, they both share the ultimate goal of human welfare. Wilson contends that in order to achieve this goal religion and science must unite in an effort to save the earth’s biosphere. Wilson’s argument is that “religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today, and especially in the United States. If religion and science could be united on the common ground of biological conservation, the problem might soon be solved.” In my opinion Wilson does an effective job in creating a rogerian argument by establishing common ground between science and religion.
A major problem conservationists are confronted with today is the rising destruction of habitual environments. Wilson claims, “If this rise continues unabated, the cost to humanity—in wealth, environmental security, and quality of life—will be catastrophic.” In turn, Wilson asserts if current rates of destruction persist, nearly half of all earth’s species may become extinct by the end of the current century. He also goes on to contend that destruction of the earth’s environment today will not come without a cost for future generations to come. Not only are we destroying our own resources but tomorrow’s resources as well. “Gone forever will be undiscovered medicines, crops, timber, fibers, soil-restoring vegetation, petroleum substitutes, and other products and amenities.” In short, Wilson is reminding us that the human race ultimately relies upon the protection of the earth’s biosphere. Without a healthy and stable environment the human race would surely not exist. Here, Wilson is establishing a universal concern for both science and religion; another reason why I believe Wilson’s is creating a very effective rogerian argument.
In order to achieve the overall goal of uniting religion and science, Wilson contends that although there are obvious differences in their origin of creation, saving the creation is at the heart of both forces. Wilson claims that environmentalists today do not have enough political power to save our creation. He goes on to say “An alliance between science and religion, forged in an atmosphere of mutual respect, may be the only way to protect life on earth, including, in the end, our own.” In this instance, Wilson is trying to make us understand the potential of such unification. An alliance between science and religion is not only important but absolutely vital to saving the creation. This is why Wilson asserts differences in worldview should not setback a movement that is held central to both the scientific and religious community. “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.” Again, Wilson is creating common ground, this is essential to getting his argument across to the pastor and religious community.
Although it may sound dubious for religion and science to ever unite, Wilson claims many efforts are actually being set forth to make this happen. According to Wilson, organizations such as the “Green Cross” and the “Evangelical Environmental Network” are expanding their efforts each and every day. Even religious leaders such as Bartholomew I, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church are speaking out on its importance. Wilson quotes Bartholomew I, “For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation … these are sins.” Wilson then affirms the pastor that he feels many religious leaders are doing a great job in their support for environmentalism; however, there still is a long way to go and much work to be done. Again this is an intelligent approach by Wilson because he is showing the pastor that science has already gained the support of many religious leaders; therefore, a unification between science and religion may not be so far fetch after all.
In relation to Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Small Change” I believe in order for Wilson’s environmental movement to be successful, it’s important for Wilson to take into consideration some of Gladwell’s steps in achieving successful activism. Gladwell asserts that in order to achieve change, activism needs to have a hierarchy within the movement and strong ties. If both scientific and religious leaders could figure out a way of organizing and distributing power fairly throughout the movement, the movement would become much more effective. Also, by creating strong ties with the overall goal of human welfare in mind, science and religion would be able to overcome their differences and unite much easier. In turn, these steps would only enhance Wilson’s aim in creating common ground.
In conclusion, the promotion of Wilson’s idea to unite religion and science in an effort to save the environment may have extraordinary potential. The biosphere is in dire need of help and Wilson does an effective job of reminding us without intervention the consequences could prove catastrophic for future generations to come. Although many may think an alliance between science and religion is far fetch, Wilson does a good job of disregarding such a stereotype by creating common ground between both religion and science. This is a very strategic and intelligent approach by Wilson, which is why I believe he does an effective job in creating his argument for a union between two very opposite parties.