Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good Read on Future Risks, with Practical Actions

The Future of Man- Extinction or Glory?
by Peter Hollings

This is an original, thought-provoking book on the topic of protecting our children’s future in a world of new dangers. Like Sir Martin Rees’ Our Final Hour, Hollings places our risks of technologically-enhanced self-destruction in both cosmological and evolutionary contexts. He also reminds us how misery is not an abstraction; that real injustices cause real people pain. But The Future of Man is unique in proceeding beyond the problems of war, WMD terrorism and environmental self-destruction to presenting specific, actionable steps we individually can take now.

I especially value Hollings observations about the importance of true spirituality in preserving our world. He explains how traditional religion evolved with man’s basic need for context and meaning, needs which remain. Although science has disproven many of the original beliefs of traditional “sacred scripture” religions, as he notes, scientific evidence now also shows our universe is disproportionately well suited to support life. Viewing this as evidence of willful creation, Hollings challenges the reader to become a ‘Future Man’. Real spirituality, as Hollings quotes from Albert Einstein, comes from “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all…” To do this, Hollings calls us “…to give meaning to all that has happened and will happen”, to assume responsibility for finding our God-given purpose. And, as Hollings well explains in a chapter so named, “we must act now’.

This book also presents a Deist’s argument for accepting God as omnipotent creator but rejecting the “sacred scripture” religions whose past intolerances often contributed to human self-destruction. As a Unitarian, believing that although all religious organizations are flawed we should strive to accept others’ faiths as common opportunities to seek truth and meaning, I found this argument not convincing but moderated and instructive nonetheless. In short, even those who disagree with the author about traditional religions will find Hollings larger argument well proven anyway.

The book is clearly written and the author’s compelling arguments are well supported. I highly recommend it.

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