I have just returned from the keynote lecture in the Nature of Life series sponsored by the Utah Museum of Natural History and The Nature Conservancy. The speaker was Dr. E.O. Wilson, the world-reknowned entemologist, scientist and conservationist that has taken on the taboo task of merging science and religion in the pursuit of a common goal: the preservation of biodiversity around the world.
His lecture was insightful, sprinkled with humor, and surprisingly optimistic. He spoke with certainty not only of the ability for these two seemingly diametrically-opposed forces to join together for the good of the environment, but of our ability to surmount the mind-boggling problems of global warming, loss of biodiversity, and the destruction of our planet.
His most resounding message was just that...his optimism. He firmly stated that no matter the challenge, we are not incapable of halting the destruction or indeed, of reversing some of the damage, if we act quickly and with resolve. He continued by saying that no nation on Earth is more poised and able than ours to take on these challenges.
But first, he said, we must create a cohesive force among the different religious and scientific factions. Dr. Wilson has stepped out from the crowd of scientists and environmentalists: the ones that are crying wolf but refusing to cross the chasm to reach out to the very people who need to be reached the most.
It may be a lonely place, for the time being, but E.O. Wilson stands with resolve and undying optimism that his work will lead to the changes necessary. He refuses to give in to extremist stubbornness that characterizes so many of his colleagues, but instead cavorts with the "enemies" of science in the hope that together, their love of The Creation, no matter their beliefs on how it came to be, will motivate the saving of it.
He called this the "Century of the Environment", and perhaps the most important time for us to focus on the planet and how we have affected it over the years. We can work together to save the places we love most. The places that are not only our most amazing and diverse places, but the most necessary to our survival as a human race. We cannot do it alone, but must embrace those of different backgrounds and beliefs to create the changes necessary. Dr. Wilson has begun this work, and it is my hope that the scientists and Evangelicals he continues to meet with will follow his lead.
Check out the other lectures in the series here.