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over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living
thing that moves upon the earth.” 137 In effect, God wanted human beings
to participate in the process of creation, to extend his founding act over
generations of procreation. So far, humanity has fulfilled this command
very well indeed: have we not filled the earth and subdued everything
that moves? In fact, haven't we already exceeded the earth's capacity to
sustain us? Aren't we in the process of subduing even the climate itself ?
Should we go right ahead and help kill the Earth? Doing so would hardly
keep faith with a command that sees us as part of the creation, not the
agency of its destruction. To reproduce unthinkingly would hardly do
justice to the divine plan.
Some might object that if everyone chose not to reproduce, before
long the human race would come to an end. They have a good point. If
this practice became truly universal across all humanity and were sus-
tained long enough, it would indeed result in the end of the species. If
the ideas outlined here became widespread enough to influence a good
part of the human race, we'd obviously need to collaborate intelligently
as a species to reduce our numbers while still guaranteeing our survival.
Anyone who feels responsibility for the fate of all life must greet the pros-
pect of such a development with joy, not dismay; if we as the human race
proved ourselves capable of cooperating for such a purpose, we would
at last demonstrate that we had grasped our place within the network of
life and were capable of acting accordingly. Until then, individual actions
will have a very positive impact in their own right. The point is not to
end reproduction forever for the entire species, but to make a differ-
ence in humanity's impact on the biosphere now, at a moment when it
really counts.
Some people raise a much more mundane objection, arguing that
they would like to have kids who could take care of them in old age. One
problem with this idea, of course, is that parents cannot know whether
their children will live nearby or have the time or inclination to help
out. Moreover, having kids for personal convenience scarcely takes into
account the situation of other people, much less the good of the bio-
sphere; it places one's own potential interest above the survival of all
others. Finally, and most crucially, it takes for granted that there will be
a future to worry about in the first place. If everybody reproduces in this
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