Babies in the Biosphere by John Oliver

Babies in the Biosphere

John Oliver on Abortion as a Matter of Ecology

Imagine a patchwork quilt. Dozens of well-designed individual squares have been sewn together to form an integrated whole. The seams, though visible, are evidence not of division but of relationship and connection. The quilt is the unique within the uniform, and we call it beautiful. But we would not call beautiful a quilt that was torn and frayed and no longer whole. Instead, we might wonder if there was any hope of restoring this fabric.

One consequence of our fall from Paradise is that our cosmology has been shattered. Where there is integrity and dependence, we tend to see separate “issues.” Consider abortion and ecology: These are disconnected in the cultural discourse of political “conservatives” and “liberals” in a way that is neither subtle nor trivial. The champion of one is often the champion of the other, and the enemy of one often the enemy of the other.

Sadly, the fissure is found not only in politics but also in religion: Our clergy, like our political candidates, too often profess no connection between the preservation of our children and the preservation of our world, which these children will inherit.

Creation’s Philosophy

In the ecological discussion of a century ago, the term of favor was nature. Now it is environment. But the better word in any age (certainly for Christians) is creation. The risk of referring only to nature or the environment is that it may introduce into the discussion—unnoticeably—the very philosophy that produces ecological problems: that the natural environment is severed and separate from us, and we are distant and disconnected from it.

Creation has the advantage because it carries its own subtle introduction, not of a philosophy, but of a Person: A creation requires a creator. Then, as man discovers he is not the god of the world but simply a priest, he can assume a more humble position of dependence, with every other creature, on his Father, “in whom we live and move and have our being.”

Creation is a giant—but closed—system. Life exists as a thin skin around Earth, where air meets water and soil. Human and non-human survival depends on the harmony of ceaselessly moving, connected, and intricate cycles of nature, much like the efficiency of an automobile depends on the smooth cooperation of all its inward parts. The fundamental cycles—of water, nitrogen, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus—make repeated use of essential substances found on Earth only in fixed amounts.

Human behavior is today affecting these cycles more powerfully and permanently than the activity of any other organism, because of the human drive for control that Francis Bacon called our tendency to “bind nature into service.” No organism can match our reach, our speed, or our appetite. Beavers will fell a tree to build a dam; humans will fell a forest to build coffee tables.

We humans cannot destroy the biosphere, then order a better one and have it delivered. No, the Creator has given us one creation, and it will yield its promised abundance only if it has abundance to yield. Ecology (from oikos and logy) means “the study or management of the household.” That language is appropriate even for Christians, whom St. Peter calls “strangers and pilgrims” in this world. Risking a cliché, the Earth is our home away from Home. The Creator-creation drama is played upon a stage of soil and water and air, and on that very stage we pray that our Father’s will be done as it is in heaven.



more on abortion from the online archives

27.2—March/April 2014

The Rights of Aphrodite

on C. S. Lewis & the New State Paganism by W. E. Knickerbocker

30.3—May/June 2017

Known Trespassing

on the Misuse of Property Rights to Justify Slavery & Abortion by Robert Hart

19.1—January/February 2006

As If We Were to Be Immortal

on Death & Seven of the Last Words of Socrates by Graeme Hunter

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

32.6—November/December 2019

Listening Up

Historical Truth, Beguiling Stories & Three Kinds of Hearers by Anthony Esolen

26.1—Jan/Feb 2013

Lost & Found in the Cosmos

The Alternate & Alternative Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft & C. S. Lewis by C. R. Wiley

32.2—March/April 2019

The Mimetic Bachelor

Reality Shows, Even in a Popular TV Series by C. E. Smith

00