Tag Archives: science

Apocalypse Now

Taylor Andrea and Kim Hay

 “Apocalypse Now”

        Do you ever sit and wonder how the Earth was formed, how we have evolved as humans or how one day, humans may no longer be around? All of us have learned about the evolution of species and Earth and many have strong viewpoints on how everything came about.  On one side we have the deep rooted believers in God and his creation of the world while on the other side we have secular scientists who take a different stand point and believe the Big Bang Theory created Earth and that Earth eventually evolved into where we are today.  Whatever you believe, you are taking a stance in how the Creation was formed and you have become part of a bitter rivalry that has been around for centuries between those of religious faith and those of science belief. Edward Wilson is a scientist who writes “Apocalypse Now” in the form of a letter as an attempt to bridge the gap of these two rivals and form an alliance for the common good of all people. Whether one believes this Earth was created by God or that it was just a lucky coincidence that we all ended up here in this world, one thing is for sure; the destruction of our planet will inevitably lead to our own demise and Wilson believes among our different viewpoints, this should be something that we all are concerned about.

        Wilson wrote “Apocalypse Now” in the form of a letter to an imaginary Pastor with the intended audience of either those of religious following, secular belief or anyone that wants to prevent further destruction of the planet. The goal is to pick up the pieces of what has been broken to make a better world for us to live in.  Wilson’s main focus is on nature and if the problems aren’t addressed now, nature and ultimately humans are near an untimely end.  When writing to the Pastor he addresses him in a very humble, respectful, and almost informal tone, explaining the ever apparent differences in opinions and beliefs that both sides have, but he also shows similarities from which both sides stem upon. Wilson needs to persuade those of religious belief to set the differences aside and form a common ground in order to save nature.  He chooses to write to the Pastor because he understands that the Pastor is a leader in his community and is well respected among his people. Wilson believes in order to save humanity the Pastor and his followers need to join forces with him and those of science belief.  All in all, Wilson hopes as humans we could set these differences and uphold a common ground in order to preserve the planet that we share. 

        Wilson attempts to persuade his readers with his major claims, support points, and qualifiers throughout his letter addressed to the Pastor.  His letter can be broken down to form one major claim, which is “Creation—living nature—is in deep trouble […] and if religion and science could be united […] the problem might soon be solved.”  Throughout his entire letter he continues to iterate that nature can only be saved if religion and science unite “simply because religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today.” Wilson even acknowledges the fact that “environmental activists cannot succeed without [the Pastor and his followers] as allies.”  This was a huge breakthrough in his letter showing that he was not trying to convince his readers what side to be on; but rather show his readers his main focus is in fact on nature.  He also supports his claim by data stating that “the ongoing extinction rate is calculated […] to be about 100 times above [what it was before] humans appeared on earth, and is estimated to be 1,000 times greater in the next few decades.”  This data helps readers come to realize that nature is in trouble and something needs to be done to save it before its too late.  Wilson goes a step further and states that if the ongoing extinction rate continues to rise as estimated, “the cost to humanity– in wealth, environmental security, and quality of life– will be catastrophic.” Then Wilson explains that the long-term effect of everything is no longer just a danger to nature it’s a danger to our society as a whole and ultimately our very existence.

        In Wilson’s writing he is not trying to panic his readers by saying our lives are in danger; but rather he is trying to inform them of the importance to unite on a common ground for the safety of our planet. Wilson claims in his writing that regardless of whether or not you’re deep rooted in your faith or just a person who wants the hard scientific facts, we are all people first. Even if everyone has different beliefs, those beliefs can be set aside because we are all inhabitants of this planet.  His voice throughout his entire piece is very welcoming to his readers and he is trying to influence everyone to become allies in order to save something we all share, Earth. No matter what anyone believes in, there is one obvious truth; our world is crying out for help from all the destruction we have caused and we need to care enough about our own well being to answer that call.

          Community seems to be the reoccurring theme throughout this piece; and it reminds me of the essay done by Ari LeVaux “A Different Education: Compost and Community, Not Literacy.” In both of these essays, it is apparent that a community is more than a group of people living and interacting with one another.  Rather a community is a group of people working together for a greater good as a whole. Whether it is a group of illiterate kids coming together to grow food in and around their neighborhoods to replenish the agriculture of their disaster stricken homes, or two completely opposing communities, religion and science, uniting as one to preserve humanity on Earth – the only thing that matters is the well-being of all present in the community. Both of these pieces stress how uniting together as a community is the only way to achieve a common goal of saving the community (and humanity).

            In “Apocalypse Now” Edward Wilson writes a letter to a Pastor in hopes of convincing those of religious faith to unite with those of science belief in order to save our environment. Wilson understands that there are some areas that those of religious faith and secular scientists will never agree upon, but he believes they should forget their stark differences and come together to save the home in which we all live, which is one thing we obviously all have in common no matter what any of us believe in. In fact, Wilson takes on this tough situation of discussing religion by illustrating his mutual respect for those of different faith and by realizing that his goal of saving our planet cannot be done without both science and religion coming together. Wilson opens the eyes of his readers by supplying data that demonstrates our planet is in danger and by backing up his claims, in hopes to save our planet from ultimate destruction.

Alliance of the Times- Article 2

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.


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