Environment: All God's Creatures

We have a long way to go to make peace with this planet, and with each other," E. O. Wilson writes in his new book (his 22nd), "The Creation." He's addressing an (imaginary) Southern Baptist preacher, appealing for help in a cause close to Wilson's heart as he nears the end of his legendary career as a biologist and philosopher: saving what remains of the natural world. With nearly half the species of plants and animals on Earth in danger of extinction in the next century, he writes, "the Creation--living Nature--is in deep trouble."

Wilson, one of the world's leading experts on ants and a prominent thinker on evolution, knows this as well as anyone. But he doesn't think scientists should have to go into battle alone. He wants to enlist an army of evangelicals to the cause--rejecting both the militant atheism of British biologist Richard Dawkins, and the currently fashionable attempts to bridge the differences between science and religion. "The gap between the two world views is very wide, and it's widening," he says. Millions of Americans believe the End Times will occur within their own lifetimes, in view of which the fate of a particular species of frog or beetle seems irrelevant. Wilson is nevertheless convinced that some of those millions can be made to care about God's creation--and that he himself, raised a Southern Baptist, can help bring it about.

--Jerry Adler