Doug Phillips on the Threat of Population Decline

I recently ran across an article on Vision Forum president Doug Phillips’ blog, in which he repeats a line I heard so often growing up: Our world isn’t facing an overpopulation crisis, but is rather headed toward a demographic decline that will result in economic catastrophe. In other words, having 12+ children doesn’t contribute to overpopulation but rather serves as a way to fight and avert the potential problems of demographic decline.

This idea is frequently put forward by the conservative Christian news magazine World, and has been the subject of several documentaries, including Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb. It shouldn’t be surprising that this idea was put forward in the 1970s by the man who single-handedly created dominionism, Rousas Rushdoony himself. Based on these ideas, Vision Forum, which sells Rushdoony’s books and supports his views, recently held a pro-mass-reproduction event called the Baby Conference.

Doug Phillips’ blog post begins by addressing the population declines in Russia:

Once a feared superpower, Russia’s might is fading as their population declines.

Boasting the largest land mass of any nation on earth, the Russian Federation’s population is smaller than both Pakistan and Bangladesh and is decreasing 0.5% each year. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned that, if this trend continues, the Russian population will likely decrease by as much as 50 million people during the next generation. Russia’s vast expanse, Putin argued, could turn “into an ‘empty space’,” resulting in “a geopolitical ‘void.’”

Putin, who is seeking a third term as President in March, recently made a campaign pledge to offer monetary subsidies to Russian parents with three or more children. Not surprisingly, this proposed policy to reward childbirth was met with scorn by many who were nourished on anti-child propaganda in the former Soviet Union. One woman opined, “Putin is like a God. He will restore the birthrate and save Russia. Oh Prometheus!”

This is standard for those arguing that we are faced with a “demographic winter;” European countries facing negative population growth rates are frequently cited, along with the huge aging population and comparatively small youth population in places like Japan. We see this below:

Mocking aside, astute demographers are sobered by the startling inevitability of a “Demographic Winter” that will soon grip not only Russia, but many other industrialized nations as well, including Japan, the US, and the countries in Western Europe. This fact is well documented in such films as Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family and Demographic Bomb, and was thoroughly explored at Vision Forum’s Baby Conference.

Doug Phillips next addresses the cause of this huge demographic problem:

This looming global crisis hasn’t happened by accident. It has been fueled by an agenda at war with God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, a worldview of selfishness that says that it’s better to have another car in the garage and a bigger 401k plan than it is to welcome more precious souls into the world through the fruit of the womb. We have valued pretty things and “security” above the blessing of children, and our myopic hedonism is hurling much of the world toward economic disaster.

The enfeebling of our old Cold War nemesis should prod us to humility. Rather than gloating over Russia’s struggles, we should realize that our nation is only a few steps behind in its moral and economic decline due in large degree because we’ve rejected fruitful wombs for more immediate temporal niceties.

It’s time we cherish children above “things” and embrace them as our greatest reward this side of heaven.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)

The problem, Phillips argues, is that we have ceased to value God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” The solution is to put the second car and the 401K play on the back burner and start having more children. We need to reject selfishness and hedonism and instead start welcoming more precious souls into the world.

Phillips sets up a dichotomy here: If you don’t want more children (or any at all), you are selfish; if you have multiple children, most especially 6, 8, 10, or more from the looks of the pictures featured on the Baby Conference website, you are following God’s commands. It’s easy to see how susceptible people can fall prey to Phillips’ teachings and to the rhetoric of the Quiverfull movement.

The trouble is of course that choosing to have only one or two children, or even none, does not mean one is automatically “selfish.” There are all sorts of ways to give back to the world and to those around us, to work to make the world a better place, outside of having children. Furthermore, wanting to give each child the best we can, or to raise children with economic security, is not selfish.

On the contrary, because we live in a country that uses exorbitant amount of finite resources, every additional child we have leads to additional environmental strain and potential for resource wars or economic problems down the road. Choosing to have six or eight children, then, is not somehow being “selfless” when it comes to our environment, economy, or the world. Further, choosing to have that many children might mean, for some, raising children in poverty and on the edge of economic disaster. I don’t see this as being very “selfless” either.

Here we also see the tendency of Christian Patriarchy groups to advocate a one-size-fits-all model for families. The truth is, every family is different, with different needs and different challenges. The idea that every family should start having child after child in order to “follow God’s command” and not be “selfish” is stifling and restricting. It’s also environmentally dangerous for several reasons.

Not unexpectedly, Phillips rejects the idea that a continually expanding population could lead to environmental catastrophe or resource wars or food shortages. Why? Because (a) God told us to be fruitful and multiply, not to be fruitful and multiply until there are enough people; (b) God has said that only he can destroy the earth; and (c) the earth was created to meet our needs and will therefore always be adequate. This is (a) dependent on the existence of God and divine nature of the Bible, (b) stems from a fairly fundamentalist and literal interpretation of the Bible, and (c) runs contrary to what we know – resources are limited, and mankind can destroy, or at least very much damage, the earth (imagine what a nuclear war would do, for instance).

Finally, do you notice how very nativist this entire idea is? Phillips ignores the fact that the populations in most parts of the world are booming. The trouble is that our populations, the populations of white Western Christendom, face decline. Kathryn Joyce addresses this nativism, especially as connected to Europe, in an excellent article here.

Fixing the world by making more babies sounds like a colossally bad idea to me. I would rather work to fix the world by helping those around me, supporting social justice and environmental justice, and extending my hands to all of humankind regardless of color. Rather than looking no further than my own home, I want to embrace the world and seek global well-being. But more than anything, I am simply glad that I no longer have blinders on telling me that the best thing I can do for the planet and the future is be a baby-making machine.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • twist

    This just reinforces my opinion that christians of the more fundamental persuasion live in a world that is almost entirely seperated from reality.

    I’ve also never really understood how not wanting to have children makes one selfish. It’s not exactly selfless to have more children than you have time to meet the emotional needs of, and bring them up as personality-free clones who have their natural curiosity beaten out of them practically before they can walk, just to get into god’s good books.

    I’ve thought before, just what exactly do these people think would happen if everyone had upwards of ten children? And then they all had upwards of ten children? And then they all did, and so on? Now I see that overpopulation isn’t seen as a problem if they can just deny that it could ever possibly exist, much like climate change denial. The ability to ignore evidence is astounding.

    • Tria

      That and these fundy fucktards seem to think WE should follow THEIR religious rules. I refuse to follow the rules of any “game” I didn’t agree to play.

  • iknklast

    These people really get my goat. Yes, it’s essentially racist. And sexist. But it’s also stupid to think that there is no overpopulation. We are currently using so many resources that we are threatening the future, to which we’re bequeathing a still larger population. It’s time to hear some sense in the media, but they are so scared off by accusations of racism or by the anger of Christians when they broach the issue of population that they sound the drum of the pro-natalists and ignore the actual facts on the ground.

    It’s time to ask ourselves just how many clowns can we fit in one Volkswagen?

  • Kevin Alexander

    I don’t get the economic collapse angle. He’s basically saying the same thing that Ayn Rand did in Witlas Thugs (sp?) If the natural aristocracy withdraws its talents then the common scum will starve.

    Last time I looked business was booming in China and India but I guess they’ll just slide back into the jungle when there’s not enough white people to show them how it’s done.

    • starskeptic

      witless thugs!!! I love it…

    • mudpduddles

      Excellent.

    • Steve

      “collapse” is pure hyperbole. It’s true that low birth rates and an ageing population have negative effects on a country though. That’s simply because in countries with well established social nets and especially pension systems, less and less young people have to pay for more and more old people.

      But the solution to that can’t be for everyone to pop out 6-10 children. Two to three children per couple are enough to keep the population stable or have a relatively small growth. Especially combined with immigration

  • calipso

    Years ago I was worried about the population decline in my country – Bulgaria, which is mentioned frequently in the last decades-after the end of the communist regime.The arguements are almost the same without the christian part-how the bulgarians will be assimilated by the turks and gypsies,how the people are selfish and have different priorities(as if the only role of the people and in particular women is to have kids,or the fact that you don’t want kids make you selfish and incomplete).Now I am just laughing at this.After the last census our population is about 7,50 million.This is not a small number,also there are more stable countries with far smaller population.

    On a slightly different note-why the desired numbers of babies are almost always even-6,8,10,12…Is there some kind of a fear from the odd numbers?Like they are devil numbers?

  • longstreet63

    Yeah, it’s funny how you don;t have to squint to read between the lines on these ‘demographic crises’–the crises in question are not the declines in populations, but the decline in ‘white’ populations.
    And for reference, Russia will cease to be a power only when her population declines to the point where no one is left to press the launch buttons. Power really doesn’t depend on great masses of infantry being available any more.

    I’m more alarmed that Bangladesh’s population has grown so much than that Russia is reducing hers. But don’t worry. A few more decades of global warming and lots of brown people will disappear under the waves, thus serving the real concerns of these demographic alarmists.

  • anotherone

    The overt racism of these arguments are what gets me the most–the underlying fear that **horrors!!** white people might become a minority and those scary scary brown people take over the world. Doug Phillips’ shortsighted (at best) opinions on reproduction feed into larger narratives about race that breed fear, hatred, and violence.

  • leftwingfox

    Negative-growth Economics is one of the areas I’ve been very interested in.

    Our current economic policy is based on growth: more people, more consumers, more income, more jobs, more profit. The idea of a shrinking economy is horrifying, and because our systems are based on growth, decline has very real consequences.

    Thinking about how an economy could be reorganized with a declining population while maintaining quality of life has resulted in some very interesting thoughts. FOr example, if there is surplus labour for the workload, why not mandate a decrease in the number of hours per week people should work? Why 8 hours a day, or only two days off per week? Increased recreational time could mean a huge increase in charitable work, volunteer effort, care of the elderly, and entrepreneurial projects. The increasing surplus of estate goods could mean a larger second-hand economy, and possibly encourage new products to compete with a glut of cheap used goods by increasing the quality and potential resale value of existing products.

    These might be overly rosy scenarios, but pushing a viable alternative to the growth-based, profit-based worldview might help blunt the fear-mongering of the reactionary policies.

  • SteveS

    Vison Forum’s crackpot ideas remind me of one of the main reasons I became an atheist: to escape this kind of thinking. It’s been a ery effective strategy. I also like how these fear-mongerers will tell you that the whole world population could fit on a space of land as big as Texas! It’s not the issue of living space – it’s the issue of people consuming our precious, finite resources! Water, air, food, ozone, et cetera! Thanks for your stark outlook on this topic. This is also a reason I find abortion perfectly fine. I know it sounds a bit heartless, but I think you have to start culling the population somewhere, and if it’s a mother’s choice and she doesn’t wish to have the child, why not let her abort? Relgious zealots, so full of crazy.

  • amavra

    It is racist in at least two ways. First that the worry is the lower number of children being born to (white) christians from Western Civilization. Secondly it is completely ignoring the devastating tragedy being faced in other parts of the world not inhabited by good Western Christians of famine, starvation, and lack of clean drinking water. They say nothing bad has happened as a result of population or global warming, and it is a lie. If they are waiting till good Western Christians start dying of famine and starvation, how many of god’s other precious womb fruit* are going have to die first?

    *fruit of the womb is super grossing me out

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Very true. I am very disturbed by the complete lack of acknowledgment of the fact that non-white populations in developing countries even EXIST, let alone are affected by our over-consumptions. It’s like those people aren’t even people to them. They just don’t count.

      On a different note, ya know, it’s funny, because I often DO worry that I’m selfish–selfish for wanting to have babies some day! With 7 billion people on this earth, sometimes I find myself thinking “yeah, because your precious genes are just soooo special that you have to pass them down to new people? What a narcissist!”

      But whatever–I guess I’m a narcissist, because I can’t give up the idea of having children. I have somewhat changed my ideal plan though. I’ve wanted to have 3 for as long as I can remember. Now I think, if things go as I want them to (never something to count on), that I will have 2 biological children at the most and then I will adopt one, maybe a kid who is too old to have much of a chance of being adopted. The world doesn’t really need more children, but there are plenty of children who need parents, and lots of them are rotting in the foster care system. At this point, I just don’t think I could ignore all that while I create my perfect little family in some bubble.

  • shargash

    11And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

    12And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

    13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

    14And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

    15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

    16And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

    17And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

    Emphasis mine. It looks like the Bible is pretty explicit about what is actually promised to Noah. You’d think that people who go on and on about taking the Bible literally would like, you know, actually read what it says.

  • shargash

    Libby, there’s something about fundamentalists that has bugged me for years, and I was thinking maybe you could explain it to me.

    How is it that fundamentalists can claim to take the Bible literally? They clearly don’t. An obvious example is John 1:29 (“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”). I’m pretty sure no fundamentalists believe that Jesus was an actual, literal lamb. It is clearly a figure of speech, and it is taken as such by fundamentalists.

    A more complex example is the parable of the goats and sheep from Matthew (25:31-46). Leaving aside that “goats” and “sheep” are clearly metaphors, fundamentalists also interpret the meat of the parable metaphorically.

    42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    A literal reading of the text is pretty clear that Jesus is saying that if you don’t clothe, feed, and house the poor (“the least of these”), you’ll wind up a “goat” condemned to Hell. But my understanding is that fundamentalists twist this into a metaphor where clothe = preach the gospel, feed = preach the gospel, and house = preach the gospel. This conveniently gets them out of having to do anything to actually help the poor, but can “earn” their way into heaven by passing out Chick Tracts instead.

    In any case, I’ve wondered for years what’s really going on in fundamentalists’ heads. Do they not understand what “Literal” means? Is it a form of cognitive dissonance? Do they not actually have any idea what is written in the Bible?

    I’ve always figured it was the first, that they thought “literal” meant something like “really” or “very much”, as in “He literally hit the ceiling when he heard the news.”

    • minuteye

      Not only do they ignore all the metaphors and allegorical passages when making claims of literalism, they also ignore the fact that it’s a translated work! Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek are all extremely different from English, so much so that an actual “literal” translation would be completely nonsensical. I haven’t read any of the older source material, but to get anything that reads as smoothly as, for example, the KJB, you have to interpret the heck out of your original text. The linguist in me is horrified that you can get bibles annotated with all sorts of guides to interpretation, but not bibles annotated with translator’s notes (which are actually useful).

      • shargash

        I agree that there are many levels of wrongness in biblical literalism. My questions/critique assumes the translation was divinely inspired, as much as the origin text.

        Nieztsche (himself a classical philologist) had a related aphorism I love: “It was clever of God to learn Greek when he wanted to communicate with the masses … and not to learn it better”

      • minuteye

        I’ve never heard that Nietzsche quote, but I like it!

        But the idea of a divinely inspired translation is an interesting one. Do many Christian sects claim as much? Or is it implied? I remember reading that Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible and the gold tablets was explicitly claimed as divinely inspired, but thought that was something unique to Mormonism.

      • shargash

        When I was a young atheist, I used to spend a good bit of time debating the faithful. I heard about divinely inspired translators a lot. But that was a while ago. Libby Anne might have a more current take on that.

        I would also point out that most of the fundys I know DO refer to the original text (at least when it serves their purposes), some even going so far as to study Hebrew or Greek.

    • Anna

      That’s funny, the issue of “literal” interpretation is one of the many things that drove me out of fundamentalism. I listened to a sermon about how we have to be “literally” born again and couldn’t believe that no one else was picking up on the fact that this would mean coming out of your mother’s actual womb again. To them, “literally born again” meant praying a certain prayer and intellectually assenting to their particular list of salvation relevant beliefs. Nothing whatsoever in common with a literal rebirth. I have concluded that in fundamentalist circles a “literal” interpretation (with allowance for “context”) really just means “our interpretation”. Using the word literal is a simple way to silence dissent. I think it’s just one more component of the absolute arrogance it takes to believe that your particular set of beliefs are the only truth.

    • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

      The usual line is that stuff which isn’t clearly allegory or poetry is literal. Otherwise, you get Jesus making jokes at the expense of people who take him literally several times in John gives you problems. How do you decide what’s clearly allegorical? Whoever’s in charge gets to decide what they like better. Literalists are just inerrantists who wanted to use a stronger word.

    • Benjamin Allen

      Honestly, I have never heard anyone talk about inspired translation. They always just sort of assume that the KJV was the correct translation… which makes no sense. If The Lord God were calling the shots in the translation department why in the hell did he pick a large council of puritans and anglican bishops in 1603-1611? You would think that the Lord God would make sure the damn christians got it right the first time. Say for example, that the original word arsenkoites would have been translated properly into Latin in 405. It was translated to masculorum concubitores, or male concubines. So then, when it gets to english and John Wycliffe translated it, it should have been the same. Male concubines. Instead it comes to “thei that don leccherie with men”. People who engage in lechery with men. So… those who sleep around with men (from the Old French). Hell, even in King James, it is “abusers of themselves with mankind” which can just as easily mean the same thing. Where do they get “homosexual” from in the later translations? Did God wait until the mid 17th century to get it right?

  • http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/ Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe

    Once a feared superpower, Russia’s might is fading as their population declines.

    lovely. and of course exactly backwards: population crashed after the economy did, for obvious reasons; BC and abortions were still available, while the means to support a child weren’t.

    anti-child propaganda in the former Soviet Union

    this is another lie. pro-natalist propaganda was HUGE in the Soviet Union.

    • anotherone

      “pronatalist propaganda was HUGE in the Soviet Union.””

      History, shmistory! why do you insist on letting pesky little facts mess up his crackpot narratives?

    • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

      My wife has done product research in Russia for her company, in the feminine products division, and she was really surprised at how flabbergasted her superiors were at the idea that the average Russian woman had had an abortion in her lifetime.

      • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

        Also, even at the height of the USSR, most of russia was empty. Think Nebraska but colder… ;)

  • P Smith

    I’d like to know how choosing not to bring up children in poverty is “selfish”. Or how increasing human consumption of natural resources is “selfish” when many resources are already in decline or destroyed, like fisheries. And many people choosing to have fewer or no kids are those aware of environmental problems.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/07/oregon_state_researchers_concl.html

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=are-babies-bad-for-the-environment-09-08-06

    Using fewer resources and having fewer kids using those resources – is most definitely not “selfish” behaviour.

    .

  • Amber

    Population growth also isn’t compatible with technology, since the bulk of labor in the past has been replaced by automation and most people are not cut out to be computer programmers or engineers.

  • ScottInOH

    You are right about the falseness of Phillips’s dichotomy (have children or be “selfish”).

    One source the dichotomy springs from is a belief (or at least a professed belief) that sins against God are the most important ones; sins against other people are not as big a deal. As you point out, a person without kids could do all kinds of great things for his/her neighbors, but Phillips will argue (perhaps disingenuously, perhaps not) that the important thing is that you are violating a commandment of God.

    The cynic would point out that this approach makes God a very useful tool for condemning other people–for you to be a Good Person you must do what (I say that) God says.

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

    It is somewhat of concern to economists and demographers that an increasingly larged aged population will present a disproportionate burden on the fewer, younger people working and being taxed for pensions. This is already happening in some countries. This is not to buy into any of VF’s ridiculousness; one could also loosen immigration policies to allow more young people in (our “immigration crisis”). These “dominionists” are more interested in domination than sustainability or anything sensible.

    • Steve

      Exactly. A decline in the total population really isn’t the problem. Most countries would do just fine with a lower population. The issue is the age composition of the population. People like him deliberately confuse the two

  • davidreynolds

    Some highly intelligent, and well educated people (Robert Park) believe that the world population is already unsustainable. I’d believe him if he weren’t so educated and intelligent. “Somebody has to stand up to these experts!”. ;-P

  • Art

    Larger populations mean you have more competition for resources. Right now it is oil and land we fight over. Soon enough it will be water. Food is always an issue if your population doesn’t produce enough to feed itself or if inequalities don’t allow people to buy the food present.

    Competition tends to shift from financial, to political, to ‘politics by other means’, war. Given that these same people talk of having a “quiver full”, and given what you put into a quiver is an arrow, a weapon, I get the impression that these same people are planning to use force to make sure they get their share of the limited resource.

    This ties in well with the idea of separation of power and rolls by sex. With men on top directing and fighting and women relegated to making and raising babies. This magnifies a man’s/tribe’s ability to produce warriors to capture more land and resources. It also makes children commodities that are expended to win and hold property. No wonder this same group isn’t big on education or socialized medicine. Spending a lot of time and resources on children goes against seeing them as expendable as the arrows they are thought of as.

  • http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/ James K

    Contrary to many people here I am utterly unconcerned with overpopulation – I’m an economist myself and I can’t see a feasible scenario where overpopulation causes a crisis. Most of the people raising red flags, no matter how smart they are, have a very naive view of how markets function, and they don’t understand how resource prices would contain population growth before it could push us to breaking point.

    Mind you, I don’t think Phillips or his ilk are right either. The only real problem with current demographic trends in the rest is financing superannuation and that could be fixed with a combination of more immigration (which would be good for a host of other reasons as well) and adjusting superannuation schemes to be more fiscally realistic.

    • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

      The problem with overpopulation is that, while it’s self-correcting, the self-correction through deaths: from wars (over resources), famine, and epidemic disease (from crowded conditions and hunger). Family planning is what sensible people call a much better option.

      • http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/ James K

        Yes if that’s your concern with population growth, you have a valid point. It’s just that every so often I hear someone assert that population growth will result in the global economy collapsing, and I start getting stabby.

        Based on the development economics literature I’ve read, the key seems to be educating women. Of course getting a poor country to the point where they are educating their women is a lot harder than it sounds.

  • sheila

    “The notion of ever more old people needing ever more young people who in turn will grow old and need ever more young people, and so on ad infinitum, is an obvious ecological ponzi scheme.” David Attenborough

    “Anyone who believes in infinite growth on a finite planet is either mad, or an economist.” David Attenborough

    Clever bloke, David Attenborough.

    FWIW, the British science magazine New Scientist got two people to guess the world population by 2100. One of them was asked to make the most optimistic assumptions that could be called reasonable, and the other one, the most pessimistic assumptions that could be called reasonable.

    From memory, the optimistic guy reckoned that the population would stabilize at 9 billion, but only if we had unprecedented international cooperation. It involved everybody going vegan, and filling the Sahara will solar panels, while all the land with a crop-growing climate was used to actually grow food e.g. plough up London and New York. And the population stayed stable using birth control.

    The pessimistic guy reckoned that the population would climb to 9 billion, and then crash to 1 billion via wars, famine, epidemics and global-warming-induced floods and storms.

    Yes, that is 8 billion dead. No, I did not slip the decimal point.

    It’ll be somewhere in-between, of course. Exactly where in between the two is our choice.

  • slasher111

    ” There are all sorts of ways to give back to the world and to those around us, to work to make the world a better place, outside of having children. ”

    Those things are indeed not selfish and by being charitable indeed make you a non-selfish person.

    But it is entirely possible to be charitable and to still do selfish things. Not having children is a selfishness in its own right and by itself.

    It’s like this: Dropping change in that change jar the cashier counter to give to breast cancer. But not slipping your dog a piece of chicken thigh at the dinner table that same night.

    In other words, being charitable doesn’t make you forever un-selfish. You are still perfectly capable of being selfish in other ways. So because you donated to breast cancer you are not eternally un-selfish, because remember, you didn’t give that dog the chicken thigh.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Why is it selfish not having kids? I seriously don’t see how it is selfish, not a single reason it is selfish. I don’t think having kids is selfish either but if I had to choose between the two for that title, I’m pretty sure a good bunch of kids are had for selfish reasons and overpopulation is indeed a problem.

      Also, even if you do believe it is selfish, people shouldn’t have to agree with you and you shouldn’t shame people into doing it and your comparisons were pretty nasty for me.

      I don’t think people here are proposing that if you do something charitable you can then do whatever but hanging onto even the smallest stuff and trying to be perfect or sinless is a christian obsession I’m happy of not completely understanding. You should do unselfish things because you want to, not because you are forced to because you don’t want to be or look selfish. Also, sometimes is good or important to be selfish, you can’t take care or help others if you don’t take care of yourself first for starters.

  • http://susanbarackman.freeservers.com Esbee

    When God said be fruitful and multiply, wasn’t he addressing Adam and Eve?

    • Froborr

      God says it or something very similar (“be fruitful and increase in number”) three times (IIRC) in Genesis, once each to Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, and Jacob.

      It would seem equally rooted in the text to read it as a blessing, as a command to only individuals in the process of founding (or re-establishing) a new people, or as a command to everyone.

    • diligentdave

      Esbee wrote, “When God said be fruitful and multiply, wasn’t he addressing Adam and Eve?” Yes he was. But the implication was and is ALSO, that he was commanding them AND their posterity to keep this commandment. A phrase used in the New Testament conveys this, “And what I say unto you I say unto all,…” (Mark 13:37)

      You will note that God also gave this command to Noah and his wife and their three sons and three daughter-in-laws. “AND God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)

      In the documentary, “Demographic Winter”, Harvard trained Nick Eberstadt, who was/is, among other things, a consultant to the IMF says, “Population over the last century has grown, not because people suddenly started breeding like rabbits, but rather, they quit dying like flies”.

      He points out that the world’s population growth has been the result of a health boom, not a birth boom. More people have been kept alive from infancy to old age more and much better due to vaccines, anti-biotics, increased and improved food supply, refrigeration, increased and improved sanitation, and improved healthcare, and living conditions, for billions of people.

      And, I would add, that this population boom resulted despite the fact that from 1910 to 1945, and since the 1970′s, in the U.S., at least, we have seen two major declines in birthrates. The latter “birth dearth” (from the early 1970′s on) has been at subreplacement levels. If it were not for illegal immigrants and their “anchor” and other babies, and the illegal immigrants themselves, the U.S. would be declining in population. The “over supply” of homes in the U.S. is much more an “under supply” of people. The last census decade (2000 to 2010) was the lowest ever growth in the U.S. The last year in the U.S. has revealed the lowest fertility rate ever in the U.S. (13.9 children born for every 1000 people).

      I assert that it was not World War II, but rather the 18 year long “baby boom” (1946-1964) that got and kept us out of the Great Depression. And, yet, even the so-called “baby boom” was not that big. That is, historically, the “baby boom” had a lower average birth rate and fertility rate than other periods in the U.S. For example, 1900 to 1910 (the last previous ‘normal’ birthrate period in the U.S.) was a fair bit higher than the ‘baby boom’ period was. But, of course, the far lower number of deaths at all ages during and following the more recent ‘baby boom’ resulted in a much greater increase in population.

      But fewer babies are currently born, worldwide, than were born 40 years ago. A LOT FEWER BABIES! Countries like Mexico are precariously close to sub-replacement birth levels, if they aren’t already there. Same is true of much of Central and South America. Ditto for even many Muslim nations, like Iran.

      Europe, though it has around 1/2 billion people, is losing over 2 million net in population per year, because more old people are dying than babies are being born. You better be careful what you wish for, because you are getting and going to get it. And within the next 25 to 40 years, those then living will likely see worldwide population plummeting downward.

      Today’s economic recession/depression is due to sub-replacement birthrates. Europe is running out of money because it largely quit having babies decades ago. Today, on average, 138 babies are born across Europe for every 200 adults PER LIFETIME! Spain is in big financial trouble because it first was in demographic trouble, with a TFR (Total Fertility Rate) near 1 (or just 100 babies born for every 200 adults PER LIFETIME), whereas about 211 to 213 are needed just for exact replacement.

      It doesn’t matter how many of you agree with each other. Truth is independent of opinion. Someone once defined “truth” as “the way things really have been, are, and will be”. By that definition, demographically, and economically, we are collectively in and headed for a LOT OF TROUBLE!

      • Caravelle

        I assert that it was not World War II, but rather the 18 year long “baby boom” (1946-1964) that got and kept us out of the Great Depression.
        What is your evidence for this assertion ? Or your mechanism for that matter, how do little babies stop a Great Depression ?

        And what is your evidence that low birthrates cause economic problems and not the opposite ? If it’s true why don’t we observe a positive relationship between fertility and GDP per capita ?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TFR_vs_PPP_2009.svg

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        I’m not going to reply to most of your comment because films like the Demographic winter have already been refuted elsewhere but about Spain, that’s not the reason is in crisis. It’s been an awful amount of years that there’s a huge real state/building bubble (kinda like the one it preceded the WS crash of ’29) and the banks were lending more money than people could barely or not return because they thought the bubble would continue to grow indefinitely and if they couldn’t pay they would get the houses which would always be more and more valuable (that part sounds very familiar to you guys I guess).

        The main problem is that Spain’s two main industries that give most of the capital are Building and Tourism by far and imagine what happens the worldwide crisis starts with our own building/real state status. We lose Building but also tourism gets pretty reduced since everybody is in crisis. That’s part of the reason we haven’t got out of the crisis yet, the other reasons like the pressure Germany and France (but mainly Germany) are putting are more complicated and too long to explain in a simple comment.

        You seem to feel contempt for the immigrants but they are rejuvenating your country and augmenting the fertility rate so they are doing what YOU want unless only white babies count. I don’t trust all the data you’ve shown but I haven’t studied US demographics so I’ll let other people take the time of they want to answer you- In my own opinion, overpopulation and lack of resources for everybody are a real problem and I can’t for the life of me understand how you can believe we are going to lose so much population in so short time unless WWIII starts. Also I don’t believe in God so don’t try religious arguments on me XP

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Interesting thing I learned in history class in college – one reason Europe started moving out of the medieval period and becoming more modern was that Black Death got rid of a third of the population. The smaller number of people meant more resources and food for everyone, and it also meant that innovations like machine power became more economical, because every person’s labor was worth more since there were fewer people, and the result was technological innovation. In contrast, China fell behind during these same years because it had so many people and therefore such cheap labor that technological innovation just wasn’t a good investment. I’m no expert in this period’s history, but based on what I learned in class it sounds like population decline is not the automatic disaster you are making it out to be.

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