“Last year, for the first time, the Japanese bought more adult diapers than diapers for babies...’” America’s Baby Bust by Jonathan V. Last in The Wall Street Journal.
How’s that for an eyebrow raising statistic?
According to Last, the downfall of the U.S. will not be the debt ceiling, exploding entitlements or the fiscal cliff, but a demographic cliff. He warns that the falling fertility rate in the U.S., for the first time below the replacement rate of 2.1, ominously foretells stifled innovation and a contracting economy.
Columnist Froma Harrop thinks Last’s ideas are Baby Bust Baloney. She concedes the decline in fertility rates but sees no danger in them. Harrop makes some valid observations.
The most convincing evidence for Last’s thesis, which Harrop ignores, is Japan’s economic history. Japan was the economy to watch in the 80s. Today, however, Japan’s annual rate of GDP growth has dropped to only 1.03% and its population is one million citizens fewer that its peak in 2008. Adults in diapers now outnumber Pampered babies. Last argues that there is a connection.
For decades conventional wisdom has been that our planet is overpopulated and that its resources are dangerously scarce. Therefore, children should be carefully planned and kept to a responsible number.
Is that true? Must we limit procreation for the sake of preserving the earth, or would robust population growth better position humanity to survive and thrive in the future?
More determinative than conventional wisdom, Last’s analysis or Harrop’s reaction is God’s plan for his creation.
In the beginning God explicitly commanded that we “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and govern it.” We might disagree on exactly how to interpret that passage, but the meaning is obvious: fill the earth. Who says it’s full enough? (To be clear, a biblical view of creation care is NOT one of exploitive domination but rather of loving cultivation, like a dedicated gardener.)
God never said we should be stingy with our reproduction. Ever.
God also shows himself to be ready and able to make something exquisite out of nothing special, to multiply scarce resources to more than provide for our needs, and to value every human life as uniquely necessary in this world.
Conventional human wisdom is flawed by limited vision and selfish motives.
God is unlimited, generous, and endlessly creative.
There is room for the young, old and everyone in between in God’s creation. We do not lack space or resources for succeeding generations; we lack vision, generosity and faith in the creative God in whose image we were made.
It’s no accident that the Bible begins in a newly planted garden and it ends in a city, the New Jerusalem, into which nations and kings bring their cultivated splendor. God delights in his people and in their creativity.
God says that humanity flourishes when it multiplies and cultivates the earth. If only we believed him.
What do you think? Are there too many people on the earth or too few?