In suggesting what our world might look like in fifty years Christian de Duve, founder of the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Belgium (and a Nobel Prize winner in 1974) paints a dark portrait. He says that if our children and grandchildren "keep letting nature follow its course, the situation fifty years from today can only be dramatically worse than it is now" (11). He goes on to paint an extremely grim portrait of humans destroying the planet in a myriad of ways. He concludes: "Large cities, crushed by overcrowding, will have degenerated into jungles ruled by crime and violence" (12).
Christian de Duve, who celebrated a gala 90th birthday event in October of 2007, then concludes in this present essay:
"There is nothing unexpected in this dismal view; it is none other than the extrapolation of the present into the future. It is not an apocalyptic picture conjured by some prophet of doom, but the expression of a stark reality. The handwriting is already on the wall. Humans are multiplying almost unrestrainedly, while their habitat is shrinking. Natural resources are being depleted; some, like fossil fuels, already nearing exhaustion. Biodiversity is being threatened. Species are becoming extinct in ever-increasing numbers. The environment is being polluted. Climate is changing. Cities are straining under the pressure of their growing populations to the point of becoming ungovernable, if not unlivable. . . . Conflict and strife are everywhere, supported by an increasingly powerful and uncontrolled technology of death" (emphasis mine, 12-13).
If you ever wanted a "religion" of scientific naturalism then there you have it. Christian de Duve holds anything but a Christian view of the world in which he lives, and as a result predicts a grim future based upon the model of what he sees happening in the present. The elements are all here: radical environmentalism, over-population, conflict and ever-increasing human strife.
Some people advocate a "back to nature" solution to this grim future. Christian de Duve says this solution rests on a "faulty premise." Why? "Nature is not good or benevolent. Neither is it bad. It is neutral and, especially, totally improvident" (emphasis mine, 13). The solution we are assured is to "put reason in the lead" (14). "Humans have a unique ability, in this evolutionary scheme of things, to succeed at using reason," de Duve argues.
What measures should we take if reason is to lead us? His answer: Curb population, which is the root of all other problems. If this is not done "by every available means" then the results will be seen in famine, disease, genocide and war. The future will be catastrophic. Dr. de Duve saves his final words for a direct attack on the Catholic Church specifically, and all Christians in general, when he writes, "Those who still oppose birth control, whatever their motivation, should reflect on the dramatic long-term consequences of their militancy. Figures don’t lie" (14).
The truth of the matter is that Christian de Duve must profoundly hate what is represented in the very name that his parents gave to him almost 91 years ago. He is an excellent example of how radical naturalists really do think about the present world and the future. What he believes is rooted in much more than "good" science. It is rooted in a view of the world that is very religious. It is the religion of scientific naturalism. I have not seen a better representation of its grim account for the world than this one. So much for hope!