More Lost Than We Realize?

Michael Metzger

Scientists are currently trying to make human eggs outside ovaries. Does this indicate we’re more lost than we realize?

The making of human eggs outside ovaries might seem insignificant to you, but it isn’t to those who have read Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos. Percy was a pathologist in 1941 when he contracted tuberculosis. While recovering, he read widely, including the works of Martin Heidegger. He decided on a career in writing. Six years later, Percy became a Christian, entering the Catholic Church in 1947, along with his wife, Mary.

Percy would become a part of a pantheon of great Southern novelists that includes Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, and many others. He won the U.S. National Book Award in 1961 with his debut novel, The Moviegoer. Today, Percy is recognized for his works on the New South transformed by industry and technology.

This includes his final book, Lost in the Cosmos (1985). Here, Percy asks tough questions of the practitioners of the human sciences, specifically how their technologies are transforming the ways we understand ourselves, our bodies. Percy felt these are questions for Christians as well, but sensed neither Christians nor scientists give them much thought.

He tells us why in Lost in the Cosmos. “The Self since the time of Descartes has been stranded, split off from everything else in the Cosmos… marooned in the Cosmos, with which it has no connection.” Descartes intoned the Enlightenment, the age of self-defining, what Voltaire meant when he dared people “to think for yourself!” But self-defining maroons us from the One True God who defines all things. We become lost in the cosmos.

A recent example is marriage. God defines marriage as the permanent, monogamous, heterosexual union of male and female in a covenant of love. Today it’s defined as any two adults—male, female, trans—who love one another and consider themselves married.

The most recent example of being lost in the cosmos is what’s happening at Conception Biosciences. CEO Matt Krisiloff has dozens of scientists trying to make eggs outside ovaries using skin cells. The technology is called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) and it redefines how children are made. IVG could allow skin cells from any two people—male, female, trans—to make a human egg outside ovaries. Krisiloff, who identifies as gay, says IVG could allow male couples to have biological children without anyone else’s genes. No female egg is necessary. Any couple—male, female, trans—could have biological children without anyone else’s genes. To me, this indicates that our definition of childbearing is coming undone.

Eight years after publication of Lost in the Cosmos, Neil Postman’s Technopoly hit the market. Few Christians that I know of have read it, or Lost in the Cosmos. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts, I recommend both. Postman wrote how new technologies only tell us what they promise to do. They render us “incapable of imagining what they will undo.”[1] Walker Percy imagined what many new technologies will undo. They disconnect us from God, leaving us lost in the cosmos. But we might be more lost than we realize.


[1] Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, (Random House, 1993), 5.


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