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Welcome the World’s 7 Billionth Citizen

An old-fashioned car odometer rolls over to zeroHere’s a scary thought for Halloween: today marks the rollover to a world population of 7,000,000,000 people.  Some say: No problem; God will provide.

Not me.  This freaks me out.

I recently came across the television show 19 Kids and Counting (yeah, I know—where have I been?).  It’s the story of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 children.  No, they don’t adopt needy children, they make them the old-fashioned way.

Their web site is full of Christian talk, links to Creationist sites, and ads for Christian products.  Here they talk about birth control.

We prayed and studied the Bible and found a host of references that told us God considered children a gift, a blessing, and a reward. Yet we had considered having another child an inconvenience [by the wife taking birth control pills] during that busy time in our lives, and we had taken steps to prevent it from happening.

We weren’t sure if Michelle could have any more children after the miscarriage, but we were sure we were going to stop using the pill. In fact we agreed we would stop using any form of birth control and let God decide how many children we would have.

This is the thinking of the Quiverfull movement, whose name comes from Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  From Quiverfull.com:

We exalt Jesus Christ as Lord, and acknowledge His headship in all areas of our lives, including fertility.  We exist to serve those believers who trust the Lord for family size….

What kind of childish logic is this?  Maybe during the Bronze Age, people could say, “We’ll let God decide how many children we’ll have,” but today, we know very well where children come from and how to avoid them.

If you drink poison, you’re not letting God decide whether you live or not; you’re deciding.  If you wave a gun in a bank, you’re not letting God decide whether you get arrested or not; you’re deciding.  And if you have frequent unprotected sex, you’re not letting God decide how many children you have; you’re deciding to have as many as biologically possible.

Quiverfull aficionados reject all forms of birth control.  But if vaccines and antibiotics aren’t messing with God’s plan, why would contraception—not killing an embryo but simply preventing it from happening—be a problem?

Back to the Duggar family, someone might respond that they’re paying their way.  They’re not asking for handouts, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that the planet has a finite carrying capacity.  There’s only so much oil, fresh water regenerates only so fast, and so on.  To make it worse, Americans live a rich life compared to most other people.  For example, the resources that support these 19 kids, assuming they consume at the rate of average Americans, could support 600 average Kenyans.

“God will provide” might satisfy a child, but adults should know better.

In a discouraging article that concludes that religious believers will simply outbreed their competitors, author Tom Rees says:

In Israel and Palestine, both orthodox Jews and religious Muslims have astonishingly high birth rates, at least in part as a consequence of waging war “by other means.”  Throughout the Islamic world, those who have the most extreme beliefs are also the most likely to endorse the desirability of large families.

That other guy thinks he’ll win by having more children?  We’ll have even more than that—we’ll fight fire with fire!

We find similar thinking in the U.S.  Again, from Quiverfull.com:

Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they’re building for God.

But is that the way to play the game—we just descend to the other guy’s level?

Is there no role for reason here?  You don’t fight fire with fire, you fight it with water!

Related links:

  • No Longer Quivering is a site that provides education and support to those getting out of the Quiverfull movement.
  • Bryan Walsh, “The World at 7 Billion: Why the Real Victim of Overpopulation Will Be the Environment,” Time, 10/26/11.
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, “Billions and Billions,” The New Yorker, 10/24/11.
  • Tom Rees, “Shall the fundamentalists inherit the earth?” Epiphenom blog, 5/4/10.
  • “Overpopulation,” Wikipedia.
About Bob Seidensticker
  • Retro

    Once upon a time, when I was attending a church group, the question was asked, “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”

    Everyone else came up with “standard” and “acceptable” questions they would ask God. Of course the question I would ask God wouldn’t be considered “unacceptable”.

    So what question would I ask God if I could only ask one question? I’d ask “Why did you set it up so it’s so easy for humans to reproduce?”

    Any “Intelligent Designer” would set things up so people who don’t wish to have kids wouldn’t have them. Any “Intelligent Designer” would set things up so irresponsible people who cannot and should not have children wouldn’t have them. Biblically, Genesis 20:18 states that God “closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech”, so it’s not beyond the power of the Christian’s supposed God’s ability to do this.

    As things are now, the last people on this planet who should be entrusted wth raising children are having the majority of the children.

    Way to go God!

  • Bob Calvan

    You could put the entire population of the world in the state of Texas.. And the rest of the world would be empty…We need more people.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      You could put the entire population of the world in the state of Texas …

      and the entire state would be as densely packed as New York City. We’d have a Texas-sized New York City.

      Why would that be a good thing? Or are you saying something clearly ridiculous simply to make a point?

    • Werdna Nossnoj

      And where are the resources to maintain that population growth coming from? Mars? Its my understanding that the environment is finite, and the more that we destroy to accommodate population growth, the worse it will become.

      The point is that population growth is being justified by a belief that it is God’s intention for all god-fearing people to have as many children as possible to overpopulate the world with zealots. The bible was written with very little understanding of the environment, or any modern scientific theories. It might just be me being a pagan, but I’m not on the same page here. That belief system is incredibly ignorant and dangerous. Unless your a fan of deforestation, starvation, turf wars, destruction of non-renewable resources, and lowered conditions of living to name a few. You should not support a god that wants hell on earth: black skies, famine, pestilence, and war.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Unless your a fan of deforestation, starvation, turf wars, destruction of non-renewable resources, and lowered conditions of living to name a few.

        When you read the Old Testament, it sounds like that kind of thing might be just the ticket for the God of that time.

  • Bob Calvan

    werdna nossnoj
    The ignorant writers of the Bible (LOL at your ingnorance) who were inspired by God. Tell us that God has a means to His ends on the future of the planet..Being God created it and controls it you need not worry yourself about deforestation, starvation, turf wars, etc..God has determined when HE will come to judge the planet..So it will be here doing fine untill His second coming.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      A nice tale. But why should I believe it?

    • Retro

      So tell me Bob Calvan, what’s God’s purpose for all the innocent children who are born simply to suffer and die?

      What’s your explanation for the story of Job? God allows all of Job’s children, seven sons and three daughters, to be killed over a bet with Satan. But hey, I guess it turned out to be worth it because God replaced Job’s dead children with seven new sons and three new daughters… and Job 42:15 even states that these new daughters were the most beautiful in all the land.

      Why should we trust any god that would do such a thing?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I’m guessing he’ll use the “God’s ways are not our ways” excuse.

        Dang–this “God” is so unintelligible, I wonder why the “God exists” hypothesis was even introduced. It sure doesn’t clarify.

  • Bob Calvan

    Retro and Bob,

    No I will not give you the verse God’s ways are not our ways. But that is a true statement.

    When Retro said:
    So tell me Bob Calvan, what’s God’s purpose for all the innocent children who are born simply to suffer and die?

    Your statement presupposes all children are innocent. If you are going to use an agrgument attacking te Bible’s revelation of od’s word. THen it is only fair to include what God says about the fallen reace. There is no one who does good, the heart is despritley evil. There are no good innocent people..We have all broken God’s Holy law and we all deserve to be punished.
    In God’s plan for fallen man.. God shows all His attributes to show His glory.. GOd shows His love, mercy, and grace, by giving His elect the gift of eternal life.. God shows his justice and wrath by leavig those who love their sins to perish. No man, women, child , recieves injustice..The worst any one gets is Justice.

    • Retro

      If a newborn baby isn’t innocent, then the definition of “innocent” means absolutely nothing.

      If God is innocent, even when He destroys babies in the Flood and the Canaanite Conquest, then the definition of “innocent” means absolutely nothing.

      I guess that might makes right.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Agreed. Bob C’s version of Christianity is the ultimate unfalsifiable hypothesis. God does something good and he’s “good.” God does something hideous and he’s also “good.”

        This “God” dude just can’t miss!

        I have a hard time imagining Bob C at the bedside of a dying child and thinking to himself, “This does look like a tragedy, but I must remind myself: this kid deserved it. This is only justice.”

  • Bob Calvan

    Sorry about the spelling mistakes..I have trouble on this comment format to go back and read what I wrote?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      What I find helpful is composing in Word or Outlook (which has a spell checker) and then pasting in the result when I’m done.


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