Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear and other best-selling novels, delivered this lecture at the Commonwealth Club on September 15, 2003.
“I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer,” opens Crichton. “The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.”
You can read the entire speech in PDF format at www.heartland.org/policy-documents/mankinds-greatest-challenge . . .
This is not a rebuttal as much as my own viewpoint on the subject. I do not refute what Michael is saying . . . I agree with much of it . . . BUT . . . like Paul Harvey used to say, here’s my rest of the story.
In his lecture Michael relates the negative sides of environmentalism as well as the negative aspects of religion, pairs the two quite well and comes out with a savior called science. In other words he gives a good version of the old ‘science vs religion’ gunfight and does it skillfully . . . but to me it tasted sorta like overcooked pasta swimming in rancid tomato sauce.( I can see why Heartland.com would pick it up and post it on their website as it fits perfectly into their “big oil” agenda).
Now on one level I suppose you could say that environmentalism IS a religion, but IMO it’s not a religion at all. Religion can be anything from begging God for a new Mercedes Benz to killing children in the name of God. Religion is proof positive that few folks have even the slightest clue as what God actually is, unless they parrot for their particular faith.
This environment in which we live is much more than any of that, it’s in our face, it’s the root foundation of everything we know. We are hooked to it by the umbilical chord
Religion demands faith and the ability to read . . . science demands proof . . . the environment demands merely that one open their eyes and observe. If there is a God out there somewhere the only way we will ever see HIm/Her/or It will be through the natural world of which we are a part. The Artist revealing his work . . . that’s it.
Religion reveals it’s God(s) in a book . . . environment reveals it’s God via the things that are made. Science is the study of all these things that God has made. Without the environment there would be no need for science Or religion to exist.
We may be able to argue ad infinausium about the depletion of fossil fuels, or the state of the ice field, or what Fukashima did (is still doing) to the Pacific Ocean, or the reasons as to why all those whales are floating up on Alaskan beaches . . . but we need very fogged up glasses or a very greed fucked brain not to see with our own eyes the true state of this planet we call home.
As a word of caution, it behooves those of us in the environmental movement NOT to make things up in order to make reality sound worse than it actually is . . . or to go all faddy urban greenie so we can impress our friends. . . this thing is serious, folks.
We need to come together and work in earnest using ALL aspects of this argument in unison if we are to ever win this thing for our children and their children after them. That means both religion AND science need to get involved in order to save this environment.
Religion (unless it’s way off norm) has the morality issue . . . science has the knowledge issue. . . the environment in which we live IS the issue. What else could be more important?
In the beginning of his speech Michael Crichton said when asked, “What do I consider the most important challenge facing mankind? I have a fundamental answer,” opens Crichton. “The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda.”
I agree with that . . . but if I were asked the same question I would answer ”the greatest and most important issue facing mankind today is spiritual ignorance. We have been systematically robbed of our basic knowledge and intuition by religion . . . we have been systematically robbed of our basic knowledge and intuition by science . . . and the state of our environment, without a doubt, proves it.”