Quotation by David Rains Wallace

Why should all the major religions of the modern world include a crucial encounter with wilderness—Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed in the desert mountains, Siddhartha in the jungle? And why should the predominant modern view of the origin and development of life have arisen from the five-year wilderness voyage of a Victorian amateur naturalist named Charles Darwin? There evidently is more to wilderness than meets the eye—more than water, timber, minerals, the materials of physical civilized existence.... Placing Darwin in the tradition of Moses and Jesus may seem heresy from both the Judeo-Christian and scientific viewpoints, but I think the roles played by the three figures have been similar. They wrenched their respective cultures out of a complacency that amounted to self-worship and thrust them in new directions that (if not always entirely beneficial) enlarged the human perspective. Moses forced his society to accept a unifying law; Jesus forced his to accept the unity of all humanity; Darwin forced his to accept the unity of all life. I doubt whether any of the three would have been able to influence his society if he had not been fortified by a season in the wilderness.
David Rains Wallace (b. 1945), U.S. naturalist, essayist. "Tracks in the Wilderness," The Klamath Knot, Sierra (1983).
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