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The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth Paperback – September 17, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With his usual eloquence, patience and humor, Wilson, our modern-day Thoreau, adds his thoughts to the ongoing conversation between science and religion. Couched in the form of letters to a Southern Baptist pastor, the Pulitzer Prize–winning entomologist pleads for the salvation of biodiversity, arguing that both secular humanists like himself and believers in God acknowledge the glory of nature and can work together to save it. The "depth and complexity of living Nature still exceeds human imagination," he asserts (somewhere between 1.5 million and 1.8 million species of plants, animals and microorganisms have been discovered to date), and most of the world around us remains unknowable, as does God. Each species functions as a self-contained universe with its own evolutionary history, its own genetic structure and its own ecological role. Human life is tangled inextricably in this intricate and fragile web. Understanding these small universes, Wilson says, can foster human life. Wilson convincingly demonstrates that such rich diversity offers a compelling moral argument from biology for preserving the "Creation." Wilson passionately leads us by the hand into an amazing and abundantly diverse natural order, singing its wonders and its beauty and captivating our hearts and imaginations with nature's mysterious ways. 25 illus. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Famed entomologist, humanist thinker, and cogent writer Wilson issues a forthright call for unity between religion and science in order to save the "creation," or living nature, which is in "deep trouble." Addressing his commonsensical yet ardent discourse to "Dear Pastor," he asks why religious leaders haven't made protecting the creation part of their mission. Forget about life's origins, Wilson suggests, and focus on the fact that while nature achieves "sustainability through complexity," human activities are driving myriad species into extinction, thus depleting the biosphere and jeopardizing civilization. Wilson celebrates individual species, each a "masterpiece of biology," and acutely analyzes the nexus between nature and the human psyche. In the book's frankest passages, he neatly refutes fantasies about humanity's ability to re-create nature's intricate web, and deplores the use of religious belief (God will take care of it) as an impediment to conservation. Wilson's eloquent defense of nature, insights into our resistance to environmental preservation, and praise of scientific inquiry coalesce in a blueprint for a renaissance in biology reminiscent of the technological advances engendered by the space race. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (September 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330489
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wildness VINE VOICE on October 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank you Edward O. Wilson for taking this burden on your shoulders; for making the plea to the religious among us to abandon the Dominionist principle that the Earth is here to be bent to humankind's will and save the biodiversity that makes our lives livable.

Wilson, who was brought up southern Baptist, addresses this book to a pastor of the same faith. The book starts out as an open letter to the pastor and a plea that the biosphere, or Creation for the pastor's purposes, is in grave danger and the humans have a lot to do with it...and, can take a hand in saving it. He spends the first part of the book trying to equate the Creation and the Biosphere as one in the same; and, that whether one has faith or not, it is the most important aspect about life on Earth.

After the first few chapters, Wilson really gets into the meat of the plea; he waxes eloquently about the marvels of the natural world only as Edward O. Wilson. Early on, he writes about ants, and his passion for even the smallest life forms is apparent and persuasive. As he progresses through the book, he highlights the remarkable nature of the biosphere and its biodiversity; and, he brings home why this is so important to the comfortable survival of humankind. One bit I learned: ants and termites are more responsible for turning the soil than earthworms.

This is an important book that really needs to reach its target audience. As a member of the secular among us, it only preaches to the choir (though, like I said, I still learned new things from this book!); this book really needs to be put in the hands of the faithful.
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Format: Hardcover
When Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species" he declared it to be "one long argument". Today, less than 150 years later, Edward O. Wilson explains that the one species omitted [except for one sentence] from the "argument" is devastating the life of the planet. In one long appeal to a fictional Baptist pastor, Wilson describes what is clear to all but a few dedicated die-hards - life on this planet is in deep trouble. The die-hards are firmly identified in the opening passages; Christians in the US who regard themselves as "biblical literalists". Such folk expect the Apocalypse soon and saving the environment is of little concern.

Wilson clearly knows his potential audience and addresses it. He understands the opinions his readers hold and addresses them in language familiar to them. "Biology" he contends, "now leads in reconstructing the human self-image". That means that biology can explain what is happening to the life around us and how we are dealing with it. He carefully allows the potential for a deity to have a role, but it isn't one dealing with the current situation. Because it is humanity stripping the rainforests, causing the oceans to warm and destroying life in them, or filling the atmosphere with chemicals it cannot absorb, it is up to people to take the steps necessary to halt these degradations.

In showing his "pastor" the interconnectivity of all life, the author utilises clear, undemanding prose. Whether one believes a god plays a role in this network is immaterial. People and their actions are unweaving that network. Species extinction is forever, and whatever biology can explain, it hasn't had the time or opportunity to assess the impact of what is occurring. The job, he says, is clearly too vast, and the relationships are too intricate.
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Format: Hardcover
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"Pastor, we [that is, humanity] need your help...Scientists estimate that if...destructive human activities continue at their present rates, half the species of plants and animals on Earth could be either gone or at least fated for early extinction by the end of the [twenty-first] century. A full quarter [may] drop to this level during the next half century as a result of climate change alone. The ongoing extinction rate is calculated in the most conservative estimates to be about a hundred times above that prevailing before humans appeared on Earth, and is expected to rise to at least a thousand times greater or more in the next few decades. If this rise continues unabated, the cost to humanity, in wealth, environmental security, and quality of life, will be catastrophic."

The above is taken from the first chapter of this exceptional, easy-to-read, slim book by biologist, former Harvard professor, conservationist, and prolific author Edward O. Wilson.

This book is really one long letter to a Southern Baptist Pastor. In this letter, Wilson has briefed the pastor on a subject of common concern--the creation (that is, living Nature or biodiversity) and how it is in "deep trouble." He focuses on the interaction of three problems that affect all life on Earth:

(1) the decline of the living environment
(2) the inadequacy of scientific education
(3) the moral confusion caused by "exponential growth of biology"

When taken as a whole, Wilson's letter is "an appeal to save life on Earth."

This book is divided into five sections. Each section has a cover page that has a brief description of what each section is about.
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