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.

25 thoughts on “Welcome the World’s 7 Billionth Citizen

  1. lol I guess god is gonna have to leave a couple million people to starve until they die, pshh God is a fake and a moral lie……..

  2. Interestingly enough, the rate at which the population is growing is actually slowing down. At the current rate of deceleration, the human population will cap out before we hit ten billion, and we’ll get there this century. It will be a turning point for our species.

    The main factor contributing to the desire for smaller family sizes is increasing affluence around the world. Many other stastics rise with wealth levels, including secularisation. I wouldn’t worry about being over-run by a horde of true believers any time soon.

    • That’s true. The Time article said, “The world’s population is growing at 1.1 percent per year, half the peak rate in the 1960s.” Last I heard, there were over 60 countries that are reducing their population (ignoring immigration). And in 2006, when the US celebrated its 300 millionth citizen, China’s 25-year-old one-child policy had already not made 300 million people.

      Despite the good news, this increased population growth will exacerbate lots of problems (energy use, water scarcity, global warming, etc.).

      As for the horde of true believers, it may be the short run where we have to worry. If secularism is indeed on the rise or perhaps even inevitable, the short term (the next 50 years) may be the time when religion feels the pressure.

      Predicting the future certainly isn’t my strong suit. Looks pretty murky to me, but I hope you’re right.

    • We, USA, are already over-run by a horde of religious people, and it is a direct result of them having so many children, and indoctrinating them.

      The human population is so massive, that even a slow down, in world population growth, to 1% per year is still mega growth. If I did the math right, assuming 1% growth per year (.01 x 7,000,000,000 = 70,000,000), we are adding 70 million people per year to this planet, and of course that number gets bigger every year, if 1% world growth rate continues. I think it is dangerous to down play human population growth. Overpopulation is the cause of most of our problems today. This is the single most dangerous and destructive thing about religion: Encouraging people not to control their reproductive system. Overpopulation leads to conflicts, wars over earth’s finite resources. I think Bob focusing on overpopulation, and how religion contributes to it is well merited.

      • Religion = destruction. I almost believed that until I remembered how many hospitals and poverty centered ministries there are started by….drum roll please…Christians.

        Of course, when the Christian points out that the atheist worldview contributed to things like the Holocaust we are the ones blowing things out of proportion.

        • ACB: well you almost believed that religion caused destruction, but I know it has, and it does. Furthermore, I know religion does far more harm than good.

        • ACB: Where Christians do good things, that’s terrific. There are plenty of non-Christian reasons to do good things, however, and those are why atheists and believers in other religions (y’know–the majority of the people in the world) do good things as well.

          Saying “atheists caused the Holocaust” is nonsense because Hitler and his BFFs were Christians. But forget that–saying that atheists caused any particular bad thing is like saying that vegetarians did.

          You did know that Hitler was a vegetarian, right? And you do know how that whole the cause-and-effect thing works? Hitler didn’t instigate the Final Solution because he was a vegetarian. And Stalin or Mao or whoever your favorite atheist is didn’t do their bad stuff because they were atheists.

  3. I think it is more logical that religion influenced Hitler to exterminate millions of Jews than atheism did. Why? Well, for several reasons, but basically because religion simplifies reality. Religion says them evil, us good, therefore we are justified in murdering evil people, destroying them. This type of thinking was used several times by Bush Jr. For example: “Either you are with us or against us.”, or “Iraq is part of the evil axis.” I don’t get that from atheism. From atheism I get no god. Atheism doesn’t simplify reality, instead it just asserts a claim. It does really take the core out of what would justify murdering millions of people because you can’t do it in the name of god if there is no god. It is nonsensical to claim Hitler was an atheist. It is a last ditch effort to scare people away from becoming atheist. A way to simplify reality: atheism bad: religion good.

    • And if you scratch your head in wonderment that a Christian environment could encourage any harm to Jews, keep in mind that Martin Luther wrote the book The Jews and their Lies.

      Protestant Christianity had plenty of antisemitism to justify Hitler’s actions.

      • Can you point out in my response “atheists caused the Holocaust”? I said the atheist worldview attributed to it. And to say that Hitler and his BFFs were “Christians” is nonsense and totally dishonest.

        But then again, why should honesty be important?

        • to say that Hitler and his BFFs were “Christians” is nonsense and totally dishonest

          I’ll grant you that a case could be made that Hitler was simply using the Christian church for his benefit and didn’t believe. But don’t call my point “totally dishonest” when Hitler said, “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord” [Mein Kampf].

          And read Luther’s The Jews and Their Lies if you want to investigate whether the father of Protestantism had any antisemitic thoughts.

          But then again, why should honesty be important?

          Yeah, good point. I depend on the trust of my family, friends, coworkers and fellow citizens and dishonesty would destroy those relationships, but why could that ever be important to an atheist?

    • CD72: Bob misquoted me. And I was correcting that misquote. I wasn’t calling Bob a liar. He was trying to summarize my point but in turn misrepresented it.

      Bob: If you though I was calling you a liar or dishonest I apologize. Not the intention to throw mud. However, I believe that the atheist worldview has no basis for honesty.

      • ACB:

        Your “But then again, why should honesty be important?” did seem a little over the top, but you’re speaking your mind, which is fine. I hope you don’t mind my responding in kind.

        Thanks for your clarification.

        • ACB: I didn’t misquote you. I understood exactly what you wrote, implied. I highly value the truth, honesty, and I am atheist. I rather lose the debate as long as I arrive at the truth. The main reason I am atheist is because I care about honesty, consistency. Not until I really cared about the truth, honesty, did I arrive at the conclusion there is no god, especially the conclusion there is no all good powerful god. I recommend these ideas, for you ACB, to keep in mind if you care about the truth, or want to have a world view that is steeped in understanding what is honesty.

          1. Ask questions.
          2. Define your terms.
          3. Examine the evidence.
          4. Analyze assumptions and biases.
          5. Avoid Emotional reasoning.
          6. Don’t oversimplify.
          7. Consider other interpretations
          8. Tolerate uncertainty.

          These ideas do help one to a greater understanding of the truth. It is basically the scientific method, and no other method has been able to help us discover the truth better. Clearly we disagree on facts about Hitler, and whether atheists have a world view that is based in honesty, whatever you think that world view might be.

  4. ACB- I also think a case can be made that Hitler was an atheist- but c’mon! It’s undeniable that most Nazi’s were in fact Christians. Furthermore, I think that you should think about the good things atheists have done. true, we donate less (even including Bill Gates), but we also control significantly more scientists and philosophers than Theists, let alone Christians. We got Crick, Freud, Nitzche, Hawkings, etc.

    So if you want a pissing contest, fine. I’m fully loaded!

    • Do atheists donate less? IMO, church donations don’t count.

      In the few studies that I’ve seen, Christians might have a slight edge (ignoring church donations), but I didn’t think it was significant. Is there clear evidence one way or another?

  5. Yes, it just absurd to downplay, or nix the role Christianity played in exterminating millions of Jews. As the story goes, the Jews killed Jesus, and an even bigger divide was born between Jews and Christians. Even today, one of the reasons, the USA helps Israel is because some Christians want to be able to visit the so called holy land, and believe that some day all those that don’t believe in Jesus will be killed, and Christians will go back to the so called holy land, which Israel controls.

    I agree that church donations don’t count. Why? Because mostly they go to run the church, and for social functions at the church. Furthermore, many donations, today, go to conservative political campaigns, or many churches put forth a conservative who has views that hurt the disadvantaged, minorities, that divide us. Not all churches, of course, some help illegal and legal immigrants, and the homeless, which I think is great. The I Am Mormon marketing campaign is being used to make Mormons look more like everyday, normal, cool people. This is clearly an attempt to change peoples perception of Mitt Romney, who we all know is a Mormon, and help him win the Republican nomination. They already have their missions, which do no good for the poor, elderly, disadvantaged. They are spending millions on advertising, and I believe it does no good for the people Jesus would advocate for. It is a big waste of money that could have gone to feed, clothe, house those who need it.

    Bill Gates has done, and doing a tremendous amount of good in poor countries. He has saved millions of lives, probably more, and healed millions upon millions of people, and/or prevented them from getting disease. I don’t think there is a person, in the world, who has ever effected more good for more people who need it the most than Bill Gates, and we all know he is atheist.

    • The Gates Foundation is working on many fronts, but one big one is malaria. Just imagine a world without malaria, which today kills close to a million people. And to be able to be a primary mover in eliminating this disease? That would supercede the social impact of his work helping to create the PC industry, IMO.

  6. The Duggar family was JUST on the Today Show and announced that shes pregnant with #18!!

    I’m just floored, anyone else think this is crazy?

    Yes its their choice etc… I understand this, but my gosh 18?
    vans..they have a BUS!!!!
    They really are not financially independent..they are depending on reality tv shows such as the one on discovery to keep them going…
    Completely agree with the adoption aspect!

    Why not adopt unwanted babies..could this be why abortion rates are soooo high..cause everyone wants biological children and not adopted ones?

    • Actually, she’s pregnant with #20.

      Good point about adoption. There are lots of spectacularly big families where most or all of the kids are adopted. Very impressive. But this? It’s just bizarre. The “God will decide” thinking is simply mindless.

      Yes, God could be deciding … or maybe it’s the unprotected sex.

  7. Pingback: 16 Arguments Against Abortion, with Rebuttals (Part 2) | Galileo Unchained

  8. Pingback: 16 Arguments Against Abortion, Addendum | Galileo Unchained

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