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Population, Religion, and Ecology

Abstract and Keywords

A chastening look at our history shows that ethics and religion are no match for the efficacy of genetic inscription when it comes to the protection of our species and of our biological and terrestrial neighbors. Yet they are what we have, and in their own fashion they have all addressed the problem, including the problem of family planning and population pressures. This article focuses on the interrelationships among population, religion, and ecology and discusses humanity and the perils of power, ethics and religion, the natalist thrust of religions, Chinese religions and Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

Keywords: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, ethics, ecology, population, humanity, power

Human life is marked by a special consciousness, and the conclusion that presses itself upon this consciousness is, in the words of Arnold Toynbee, “that human life and its setting are mysteries.”1 We are aware that there is a delicate, perilously perched phenomenon on the surface of the earth. Weight-wise it is almost insignificant since it is less than a billionth of the weight of the planet. It is, of course, not negligible since the name we give to this miracle is life. The effort to respond wisely to this precarious and special mystery and its terrestrial matrix in the universe is called ethics. Some manifestations of this life event are so precious that we reach for the highest encomium in our language and speak of the “sacredness” and the “sanctity” of this life. The discovery and reaction to the sacred is called religion.

Our gifted consciousness recognizes that we have powers of choice—we can choose to enhance life or destroy it. Those choices are the stuff of ethics, making ethics a permanent challenge for humans. Toynbee calls the task of ethics an “intrinsic and universal” characteristic of our human nature.2 So too is religion the discovery of the sacred—however that sacred is explained, theistically or not.

The burdens, then, on ethics and religion are prodigious and fearsome since our level of consciousness gives us both freedom and power unmatched in the rest of the evolutionary process. We are the best news or the worst news in planet life. Joseph in the Genesis story became powerful in the land of Egypt and was in a position to say to all his brothers that he “could preserve you all … and take care of (p. 314) you” (Gen. 45:7, 11). Our “brothers” are the multiple exuberant life-forms of the biosphere into which we are knit. We can preserve and take care of them, but we also have a redoubtable capacity to destroy our biological kin. We are impressively endowed with the talents of creativity and imagination, but we are also flawed—maybe fatally so. Maybe we lack the essential gentleness of Joseph in the use of his power. Can humankind be a caring “steward” of the rest of nature as Judaism and Christianity would see it or, more humbly, as Buddhists would prefer, a “neighbor”? Or are we in spite of these religious protestations more of a threat?

Humanity and the Perils of Power

The Christian teaching on original sin arose from a sense that something is wrong with us human beings. Though the theological dons played with this idea to the point of silliness—Augustine thought it was caused by sexual pleasure—the basic insight was correct. Something is wrong.

What is wrong? While speaking recently to a group of Ford Foundation program officers in Greece, I made reference to “the common good.” As we stopped for a break, they asked me to return to the common good and to tell them what it is. For my break I took a walk down a dirt path toward the lovely Aegean Sea. Ahead of me I saw what looked like a black ribbon stretched across the dirt path. As I got closer I saw that it was not a ribbon, but two columns of ants moving back and forth in single file. Those in one row were carrying something; the others were going back for a new load. A real estate change was in process. Every ant was committed to the project. There were no shirkers or apostates from the common effort. There were no special-interest groups. All these insect citizens were bonded to the common good of that community.

How convenient for the insects! The needs of the common good are inscribed on their genes. Human genes have no such inscription. We, like the ants, have need of common good considerations, since the common good is the matrix of minimal livability within which individual good can be pursued. Biblical wisdom would point to that as our potential undoing. Indeed, all the moral traditions of the world religions in their distinct fashions point to this soft center in our makeup. All of them address our tilt toward moral autism. Our genetic impulse seems more directed to egoistic good in opposition to the common good, and since the common good includes the good of all of nature, this momentous flaw in our composition portends planetary ruin.

In a blunt indictment, anthropologist Loren Eiseley says: “It is with the coming of [human beings] that a vast hole seems to open in nature, a vast black (p. 315) whirlpool spinning faster and faster, consuming flesh, stones, soil, minerals, sucking down the lightning, wrenching the power from the atom, until the ancient sounds of nature are drowned in the cacophony of something which is no longer nature, something instead which is loose and knocking at the world's heart, something demonic and no longer planned—escaped, it may be—spewed out of nature contending in a final giant's game against its master.”3 Tragically, we are winning that battle with the rest of nature, self-destructively failing to realize that the economy and human life itself are wholly owned subsidiaries of nature. Edward O. Wilson calls Homo sapiens the “serial killer of the biosphere.”4 Nature is mother and matrix, not a competitor to be subdued.

We have lost a fifth of tropical rainforests since 1950. These natural treasures provide oxygen, absorb excess carbon, and supply medicine, not to mention their intrinsic value apart from us (75% of our pharmaceuticals come from plants). We all get hurt when the planetary womb in which we live gets hurt. David Orr records some of the results: male sperm counts worldwide have fallen by 50% since 1938. Human breast milk often contains more toxins than are permissible in milk sold by dairies, signaling that some toxins have to be permitted by the dairies. At death some human bodies contain enough toxins and heavy metals to be classified as hazardous waste.5 Newborns arrive wounded in their immune systems by the toxins that invaded the womb. One report from India is that “over 80 percent of all hospital patients are the victims of environmental pollution.”6 Human consuming is stressing the oceanic fisheries to their limits, and water tables are falling as there are more of us to share this limited resource.

And there are more of us. Along with our profligate ways, our very numbers are a threat. The question of how many of us is too many has long engaged the human mind. Joel E. Cohen in his monumental book How Many People Can the Earth Support? notes that in the seventeenth century a prescient estimate was that planet earth “if fully peopled would sustain” at most thirteen billion. That is close to modern estimates, even though those vary from four billion to sixteen billion depending on variables such as consumption patterns. At any rate, says Cohen: “The Earth has reached, or will reach within half a century, the maximum number the Earth can support in modes of life that we and our children and their children will choose to want.”7 One particularly pessimistic study done at Cornell University estimated that the earth can support a population of only one to two billion people at a level of consumption roughly equivalent to the current per capita standard for Europe.8 As Harold Dorn says: “No species has ever been able to multiply without limit. There are two biological checks upon a rapid increase in numbers—a high mortality and a low fertility. Unlike other biological organisms [humans] can choose which of these checks shall be applied, but one of them must be.”9 Our species, until recently, was blighted with a sense of an earth that was infinitely supplied with the resources needed to sustain human life, and so we can now increase and multiply without limit. That tragic illusion is no longer sustainable.

(p. 316) Ethics and Religion to the Rescue?

A chastening look at our history shows that ethics and religion are no match for the efficacy of genetic inscription when it comes to the protection of our species and of our biological and terrestrial neighbors. Yet they are what we have, and in their own fashion they have all addressed the problem, including the problem of family planning and population pressures.

The earliest record we have of the gods being concerned with population is seen in a Babylonian tablet dating back thirty-five hundred years. The gods made humans to serve them, but found that the humans had a perverse tendency to reproduce excessively. Their approach to population management was drastic: they sent plagues to trim the human herd, and then they made it a religious obligation for the surviving humans to limit their births.10 In the Cypria, written in the period 776–580 bce, Zeus used war to handle the population problem:

There was a time when the countless tribes of men, though wide-dispersed, oppressed the surface of the deep-bosomed earth, and Zeus saw it and had pity and in his wise heart resolved to relieve the all nurturing earth of men by causing the great struggle of the Ilian war, that the load of death might empty the world. And so the heroes were slain in Troy, and the plan of Zeus came to pass.11

As Cohen observes, “The notion that gods impose war and plague to prevent the Earth from becoming too full of people persisted at least another two millennia, and survives in the thinking of some people even today.”12

Aristotle insisted that the number of people should not exceed the resources needed to provide them with moderate prosperity. Somewhat surprisingly, Catholic Saint Thomas Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that the population should not be in excess of the provisions of the community. He even went so far as to say that the limiting of births should be enforced by law as needed. He sidestepped the question of how this would be enforced and did not get into issues of sanctions or incentives.13

The Natalist Thrust of Religions

In the Western world, probably no text has merited the attention that Genesis 1:28 has received: “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it: and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.’ ” In a critique that has been endlessly (p. 317) reproduced, Lynn White indicted Judeo-Christian teaching for Western society's “ruthlessness toward nature.”14 “Be fertile and increase” seems to suggest mindless reproduction. Of course, a text once written enters the free-for-all of historical interpretation and is used and abused in diverse ways. The text in itself, however, is more subtle.

It invites humanity into a special, coprovidential relationship with God. It is the opposite of a mindless writ for maximal reproduction. It puts human sexuality, as Jeremy Cohen writes, into “a singularly human realm.” It “charges people to transform their otherwise instinctive sexual drives into subjects of their rational wills, thereby using sexuality to express the distinctively human freedom of choice.”15 It can thus be seen as putting reproduction into the realm of rational and caring choice on the model of God's own wisdom and caring. Overproducing would clearly violate that model, as would heartless domination of the rest of nature since God, in the same passage, pronounced the rest of nature “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

Still, it is clear that religions have contributed to the desire for large families. Small wonder. They were spawned in a world where the problem was depopulation. Emperor Augustus penalized bachelors and rewarded families for their fertility.16 Widowers and divorcees (of both sexes) were expected to remarry within one month! Only those over fifty were allowed to remain unmarried. Remember that Augustus presided over a Roman society with an average life expectancy of less than twenty-five years. It was a society where, as historian Peter Brown says, “death fell savagely on the young.”17 Only four out of every hundred men—and fewer women—lived beyond their fiftieth birthday. As a species, we formed our fertility habits in worlds that were, in Saint John Chrysostom's words, “grazed thin by death” (De virginitate 14.1). Such instincts are deep rooted. If, as Teilhard de Chardin sagely says, nothing is intelligible outside its history, this reproductive thrust, especially in stressful conditions, is the defining story of our breed. These religions, as we shall see, also contain the cure for this problem, but we concede that for most of history their concern was for more, not for fewer, children.

Chinese Religions and Buddhism

Daoism and Confucianism are the main shapers of Chinese religious culture. Buddhism, which has found expression in many cultures, is also part of the Chinese heritage. Much in these religions is relevant to ecological concerns and the management of human fertility. First is the idea of the fundamental unity of everything in the universe. “All living and nonliving things in the universe are constituted of ch'i. This is the worldview shared by all Chinese religions.”18 Because of the natural unity, harmony is a supreme value in this religious milieu. (p. 318) There is a “mandate of heaven” which has come to be seen in the sense of “moral destiny, moral nature, or moral order.”19 This is not theism as understood in Western cultures, nor does it have connotations of otherworldliness. Chun-fang Yu says: “There is no God transcendent and separate from the world and there is no heaven outside of the universe to which human beings would want to go for refuge.”20 However, the mandate requires working harmoniously with all of nature with whom we are kith and kin—and not just with humankind. The ecological implications of this are clear.

As with other religions, there is a strong pronatalist thrust in Chinese culture. Confucius said that a noble man would be ashamed of land wasted due to a lack of people. Women were to marry by age fifteen and men by age twenty to maintain the population.21 Confucian scholars, however, sounded the alarm about too many people and too few resources. Daoists advocated the idea of a “little state with a small population,” as promoted by the founder Lao Tzu.22 From earliest times, the Chinese recognized that excess population would destroy the essential harmony of the universe and so were open to family planning, including abortion. Geling Shang writes: “There has never occurred in the Chinese tradition a ban against abortion: rather, Chinese attitudes toward abortion were mostly tolerant and compassionate.”23

This was helped by the fact that the Chinese religions did not see sex as essentially reproductive. Sexual pleasure had its own purposes and legitimacy. Chun-fang Yu says: “The indigenous Chinese religions, both Confucianism and Taoism are not ascetic. They do not regard sexuality as a problem, but on the contrary, as natural. In the Book of Mencius, the philosopher Kao Tzu says, ‘By nature we enjoy food and sex’ (6A.4).”24

Regarding Buddhism, Buddhist scholar Rita Gross writes: “Buddhism can in no way be construed or interpreted as pronatalist in its basic values and orientation.”25 Buddhism tends to view sexuality positively, not as something to be justified only by reproduction, much less seeing reproduction as being its primary and dominant purpose. The ecological sensitivity of Buddhism shows in its belief that “the preciousness of human birth is in no way due to human rights over other forms of life, for a human being was and could again be other forms of life,” this stemming from the traditional Buddhist belief in rebirth.26 Two principles in Buddhism particularly militate against overreproduction: interdependence (pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit and paticcasamuppada in Pali) and Walking the Middle Path. Too much fertility as well as too much consumption would indicate selfishness.

Abortion would seem a special problem for Buddhism since “the being about to be born” has a previous record of lives. William LaFleur, professor of Japanese and the Joseph B. Glossberg Term Professor of Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, addresses this in his Liquid Life.27 He shows in this remarkable study how a contemporary Japanese woman could accept Buddhism with its “first (p. 319) Precept” against killing, have an abortion, and still consider herself a Buddhist in good standing. LaFleur believes that abortion and infanticide were widely used by Buddhists.

La Fleur discusses how the Japanese Buddhists come to decide that abortion was compatible with their life-affirming religion. The answer is found not so much in texts as in rituals and symbols. There are rituals to remember the aborted fetus which show that they think of them not so much as being terminated as being put on hold, asked, in effect, to bide their time in another world. The “life” that was rejected or that died through miscarriage or early infant death is called a mizuko, and parents pray for their well-being in the sacred realms to which they have been “returned.” Elaborate rituals are employed to remember these rejected “lives.” Little child-size statues of Jizo, a sweet savior-figure associated closely with children, are found in abundance and are visited by parents who lost children or had abortions. In some images, Jizo wraps the mizukos under his protective cape and gives them comfort.28


Hinduism, properly known as Sannatan Dharma (“the eternal tradition”), is more like “a confederation of religions than a dogmatically unified system, as, for example, is Roman Catholicism.”29 Like all the major religious traditions, it is a treasure trove of insights into the moral challenges presented by human power in a finite world. Sandhya Jain writes, “Hinduism is simultaneously a religion and a way of life, and constitutes a unique blend of spirituality and practicality that is inspired by the ideal of universal welfare of all beings, both human and other creatures.”30 Hinduism puts more stress on dharma, a “natural cosmic law” or ethic, than on dogmatic consistency. Thus, “Hinduism recognizes even the atheist as morally valid, and does not deny the atheist space on the religious-spiritual spectrum.”31

Hinduism is realistic about our capacity to inflict devastation on our earthly home. The epic Mahabharata (ca. 500–200 bce) gives a graphic description of the worst of the periodic destruction of the world: “The population increases, tress do not bear fruit, a drought prevails, people destroy parks and trees, and the lives of the living will be ruined in the world.”32 The concept of karma with its stress on bearing the fruits of our actions has significant ecological importance. The wrecking of the earth, therefore, is not easily viewed as some blind fate that leaves us innocent.

Regarding population, there is strong stress on the blessing of fertility: “Almost all dharmic texts of Hinduism praise the joys of having children, especially sons. The Laws of Vasishta say that nonviolence [ahimsa] and procreation are the (p. 320) common duties of members of all castes.”33 Abortion is often seen as a heinous crime. However, one cannot speak of a simple or single Hindu view on abortion. Arvind Sharma writes: “The main body of revealed literature in Hinduism frowns upon abortion, but a body of literature called Ayur Veda allows it, and this Ayur Veda enjoys the status of a revelation as part of the larger corpus.”34 In Hinduism, the canon of revelation was never closed but grows throughout time. This allows for revelation to respond to new conditions in new ways. Sandhya Jain says that dharma “is not a static notion espousing only the values of a bygone era, but is reflective, contextual, and characterized by movement, change, dynamism, and adaptability.”35

Abortion is treated with daya (“compassion”) and this shows in the modern 1971 Indian Medical Termination of Pregnancy act. Abortion is thus available in India, and religious authorities have not objected to current moves to make it available even to minors.


Judaism is mindful of the need to care for the earth which God declared with satisfaction to be “very good.” There is a strong stress in Jewish history on the human and environmental need for restraint. Laurie Zoloth writes: “We are enjoined always to take less than we could, to wait longer to harvest the first fruits, to let the land rest every seven years, in an entire year of Shabbat, and finally to declare a year of Jubilee every fifty years, when not only the land rests, but the marketplace and social hierarchy itself is restored to its point of origin.”36 Increasingly, holidays like Tu Bishevat and Sukkot are infused with new liturgical stress on habitat preservation.37

As seen above in the discussion of the classical and influential text of Genesis 1:28, Judaism does not commend mindless reproduction with no consideration of human and terrestrial needs. Certainly there is a stress on reproduction. Zoloth writes: “The promise that is the basis of the covenant itself is the repeated assurance that the tribe of Abraham will be continued, made numerous, and that the Jewish future and, through it, the human future is safe.”38 However, tractate Yevamot in the Mishnah (200 ce) says: “A man may not desist from [the attempt to] procreate unless he already has children.” This implies that if he already has children, birth control may be used. When pregnancy involves risks for women, the male obligation to procreate is suspended, and birth control may be used.

The main Jewish tradition has a developmental view of the embryo-fetus. The fetus is not considered an ensouled person: “Not only are the first 40 days of conception considered ‘like water’ but also even in the last trimester, the fetus has a lesser moral status.”39 “Texts about abortion as the final extreme of reproductive (p. 321) practices are not a matter of deep contention in Jewish thought, since there is wide agreement on textual warrants for abortion under certain circumstances.”40

There is stress in Judaism on producing not just a human being but “a humane being; there is stress on the quality not the quantity of children born.41 Saadiah Gaon, the rabbinic leader of Diaspora Jewry, said in the early tenth century: “Of what benefit are children to a person if he is unable to provide for their sustenance, covering or shelter? And what is the good of raising them if it will not be productive of wisdom and knowledge on their part?”42

Christianity, Protestant and Catholic

Though spoken of in the singular, all religions are plural. Religions are also mutants, constantly changing in the shaping swirl of history's actions and reactions. Thus, there are many Hinduisms, many Judaisms, many Buddhisms, many Christianities, and so on. Even within one religion there are innumerable subdivisions. Thus one cannot speak simply of Protestantism and give “the Protestant” view on population and ecology. The earliest Protestant movement in the German-speaking countries centered on Martin Luther (1483–1546). The Reformed churches were led by Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) and John Calvin (1509–64). Anabaptists rose more out of rural communities, and they too spread and took different forms. Today's fundamentalist Protestants are again quite distinct. If anything unites Protestants, says Gloria Albrecht, it is the belief in the “priesthood of all believers” and the responsibilities that that entails.43

Some generalizations can be made regarding these richly diverse traditions. The Bible on which the various Christianities leaned was not consumed with ecology so much as with economic justice and peace. It is true, as Catherine Keller writes, that Jesus “did not send us to our jobs on time, but rather—back to the fragrant lilies.”44 Still, as Keller also writes, historical Christendom was not a gentle force in nature. Rather, “it has interpreted its theological sources, its manly mandates to populate, dominate, use, and convert the world. If I do Christian theology, I do it in penance for the effects of Christendom.”45 Still, Protestant theology has led the way in religious ethics in the development of a vibrant ecotheology, witnessed in works by John B. Cobb and Herman Daly, Sallie McFague, and Larry Rasmussen.46

Stoic attitudes on sexuality influenced Christian attitudes toward birth control, since reproduction was seen as the only “rational” use of sex. Thus, the Catholic church hierarchy still condemns the use of contraceptives and of abortion. However, changes are taking place. Just as Protestant thought was changed when it moved to a married clergy, so too Catholic theology is no longer a clerical preserve. Men, and for the first time in great numbers, women are doing Catholic (p. 322) theology today. Catholic theologians and Catholic laity largely dissent from Vatican theology, which bans all use of contraceptives and abortion. Even many of the Catholic hierarchy are among the dissenters. When Humanae vitae, the 1968 encyclical retaining the ban on artificial contraception, was issued, “the episcopal conferences of 14 different nations issued pastoral letters assuring their laity that those who could not in good faith accept this teaching were not sinners.”47

Catholic theologian Christine Gudorf predicts that Vatican theology on this point will not stand, for two reasons: first, the command of Genesis to increase and multiply is understood today in terms of “today's fragile biosphere.” There is broad recognition among Catholics that we must heed “the divine call for human stewardship over creation also revealed in Genesis.” Second, she writes: “The Roman Catholic Church (and Christianity in general) has in the last century drastically rethought the meaning of marriage, the dignity and worth of women, the relationship between the body and the soul, and the role of bodily pleasure in Christian life, all of which together have revolutionary implications for church teaching on sexuality and reproduction. In effect, the foundations of the old bans have been razed and their replacement will not support the walls of the traditional ban.”48

Signs of the ongoing change are seen in A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion by Catholic professors Daniel A. Dombrowski and Robert Deltete.49 In this book, relying on Catholic moral traditions, they argue that “the Catholic ‘pro-choice’ stances is at least as compatible with Catholic tradition as the anti-abortion stance, and may even be more compatible with Catholic tradition than the current anti-abortion stance defended by many Catholics and by most Catholic leaders.” They insist that “most twentieth-century Catholic theology on abortion is a caricature on the rich and variegated tradition in Catholicism on this topic.”50

Religion and Earth Community

Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman observed that people will die for a dogma who will not stir for a conclusion. There is nothing that so stirs the will as the tincture of the sacred. Thus religions should never be ignored on important social issues. Its deep wells should be tapped since they contain renewable moral energies and poetic power that can animate the will of this species to live at peace with the earth. From the wisdom of indigenous religions to that of the classical major religions, there are insights into the necessity to view our terrestrial setting with wonder and appreciation. Of course, those religions are never pure success (p. 323) stories in the history of ethics, and so critique is part of the service we owe them. Then we can move to reassessment and appropriation of their successes.


(1.) Arnold Toynbee, Change and Habit: The Challenge of Our Time (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 14.

(2.) Ibid., 13.

(3.) Loren Eiseley, The Firmament of Time (New York: Atheneum, 1960), 123–24.

(4.) Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life (New York: Knopf, 2002), 94. Wilson points out (150) that if everyone were to consume as we in the American empire consume, it “would require four more planet Earths.”

(5.) David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 3–5; and idem, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994), 1–3.

(6.) Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Vintage, 1994), 191, quoting H. Govind, “Recent Developments in Environmental Protection in India: Pollution Control,” Ambio 18.8 (1989): 429. Kennedy notes that this use of the term environmental pollution is broad and looks to more than respiratory effects.

(7.) Joel E. Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support? (New York: Norton, 1995), 367.

(8.) David Pimentel, Rebecca Harman, Matthew Pacenza, Jason Pecarsky, and Marcia Pimentel, “Natural Resources and an Optimal Human Population,” Population and Environment 15.3 (1994).

(9.) Harold F. Dorn, “World Population Growth: An International Dilemma,” Science (26 Jan. 1962); repr. in Readings in Conservation Ecology (ed. George W. Cox; New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969), 275.

(10.) Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support? 6.

(11.) Anne D. Kilmer, “The Mesopotamian Concept of Overpopulation and Its Solution as Reflected in the Mythology,” Orientalia 41 (1972): 160–76, at 176.

(12.) Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support? 6.

(13.) Thomas Aquinas, Sententia libri politicorum (Omnia opera 48; Rome: Ad Sanctae Sabinae, 1971), A.140– 41.

(14.) Lynn White Jr., “The Historic Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155 (1967): 1203–7.

(15.) Jeremy Cohen, “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), 15.

(16.) See Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 6.

(18.) Chun-fang Yu, “Chinese Religions on Population, Consumption, and Ecology,” in Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology(ed. Harold Coward and Daniel C. Maguire; Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), 163.

(19.) Ibid., 164.

(20.) Ibid., 162.

(21.) Geling Shang, “Excess, Lack, and Harmony,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 229–30.

(22.) Ibid., 230.

(23.) Ibid., 232.

(24.) Chun-fang Yu, “Chinese Religions on Population,” 172.

(25.) Rita Gross, “Buddhist Resources for Issues of Population, Consumption, and the Environment,” in Population, Consumption, and the Environment: Religious and Secular Responses (ed. Harold Coward; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 156–57.

(26.) Ibid., 159–60.

(27.) William LaFleur, Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

(28.) See Parichart Suwanbubha, “The Right to Family Planning, Contraception, and Abortion in Thai Buddhism,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 145–65.

(29.) Sandhya Jain, “The Right to Family Planning, Contraception, and Abortion,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 129.

(30.) Ibid., 129–20.

(31.) Ibid., 130.

(32.) Vasudha Narayanan, “ ‘One Tree Is Equal to Ten Sons': Some Hindu Responses to the Problems of Ecology, Population, and Consumerism,” in Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology (ed. Harold Coward and Daniel C. Maguire; Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), 111.

(33.) Ibid., 120.

(34.) Arvind Sharma, “Conclusion,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 280.

(35.) Jain, “Right to Family Planning,” 130.

(36.) Laurie Zoloth, “The Promises of Exiles: A Jewish Theology of Responsibility,” in Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology (ed. Harold Coward and Daniel C. Maguire; Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), 104.

(37.) Ibid., 97.

(38.) Ibid., 31.

(39.) Ibid., 39.

(40.) Ibid., 36.

(41.) Sharon Joseph Levy, “Judaism, Population, and the Environment,” in Population, Consumption, and the Environment: Religious and Secular Responses (ed. Harold Coward; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 80.

(42.) Quoted in ibid., 81.

(43.) Gloria Albrecht, “Contraception and Abortion within Protestant Christianity,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 81.

(44.) Catherine Keller, “The Lost Fragrance: Protestantism and the Nature of What Matters,” in Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology (ed. Harold Coward and Daniel C. Maguire; Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), 90.

(46.) John B. Cobb and Herman Daly, For the Common Good (Boston: Beacon, 1989); Dieter Hessel, Theology for Earth Community (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996); Sallie McFague, The Body of God (Abingdon, 1991); and Larry Rasmussen's prizewinning Earth Community, Earth Ethics (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996). An early Catholic voice in ecotheology was Rosemary Radford Ruether's New Woman New Earth (New York: Seabury, 1975).

(47.) Christine Gudorf, “Contraception and Abortion in Roman Catholicism,” in Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions (ed. Daniel C. Maguire; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 71. See also Charles Curran et al., Dissent in and for the Church (Franklin, WI: Sheed & Ward, 1969).

(48.) Gudorf, “Contraception and Abortion,” 70.

(49.) Daniel A. Dombrowski and Robert Deltete, A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).

(50.) Ibid., 1. See also Daniel C. Maguire, Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001).