I appreciated Matthew Arbo’s short reflections on Oliver O’Donovan and creation:

 “abstraction from teleology creates dangerous misunderstanding of the place of man in the universe.” The turn here is Copernican. Teleological order is no longer in creation, but is instead rationally superimposed upon reality through scientific quest. Creation discloses itself to us, in other words, in terms we have decided it discloses to us. It invariably happens that “all ordering becomes deliberative ordering, and scientific observation, failing as it does to report the given teleological order within nature, becomes the servant of techne.” This, claims O’Donovan, helps to explain one of the great ironies of our time, “in which the very protection of nature has to be argued in terms of man’s ‘interest’ in preserving his ‘environment’.” Nature is invariably crushed under the technical demands placed upon it by man. Nor will the abuse likely ease. Claims O’Donovan, “man’s monarchy over nature can be healthy only if he recognizes it as something itself given in the nature of things, and therefore limited by the nature of things.” This modern science finds it virtually impossible to acknowledge.

I started Oliver O’Donovan’s Resurrection and Moral Order a while ago and was honestly too lost to finish, but having taken an ethics class in the interim, I am hoping to return with a little more understanding, since I am very interested in questions of how teleology in creation shapes moral reasoning  without abusing it. I’m particularly interested in what the natural progression of human bodies — conception, birth, life, death, and resurrection — has to do with how we care for our bodies and the political obligations we have to one another’s bodies. If you have reading suggestions for me on this subject, please reply, email me, or @ me on Twitter!

Posted by Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

2 Comments

  1. “…was honestly too lost to finish…”

    I am *so glad* to hear that. I felt the same way when I started reading it and was afraid it meant I was just dumb.

    Reply

  2. You may enjoy MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals, if you haven’t already read it. The focus is on how we should live in light of our common frailty–including but not limited to our dependence on others at either end of this life.

    Reply

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