Last Wednesday, James J. Lee’s concern about overpopulation cost him his life. Police snipers killed him to save the lives of three hostages he was holding. He was demanding that the Discovery Channel air messages “curbing the planet’s population growth, finding solutions for global warming and dismantling ‘the dangerous US world economy.’”
Lee’s manifesto speaks of “parasitic human infants.” He views humans as “the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.” He demanded that Discovery produce programs “that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race. Talk about Evolution. Talk about Malthus and Darwin until it sinks into the stupid people’s brains until they get it!!”
Granted, James Lee is on the far extreme, yet I believe his basic conviction is quite popular among many in the United States and around the world, including many in the church.
Of course, most Christians would disagree that people are “destructive, filthy creatures,” but many may quietly or subconsciously agree that “overpopulation” leads to a scarcity of resources as well as more poverty and environmental degradation.
In setting forth the cultural commission in Genesis (1:28) God makes his will clear: “Be fruitful and multiply…fill the earth.” This is reinforced after the fall (see Gen. 9:1). Yet in many evangelical churches, having more than three or four children is seen as a bit extreme (I speak here from personal experience. My wife Kim and I have five kids). Two or three is much more reasonable. Why? Well, for one, children are costly. They infringe on our lifestyle choices, and yes, too many people in the world can lead to the problems identified by James Lee.
For the past 50 years or more, secular thought-leaders have championed the idea of “overpopulation.” The great modern champion is Paul Erlich, who wrote his bestselling and deeply influential book, The Population Bomb back in 1968. When Erlich wrote his book, the main concern was poverty. Today, it is environmental destruction and global warming.
What most people don’t realize, is that today, we actually are facing a severe population problem, but it’s just the opposite of what people like Erlich would have us believe. Rather than having too many people, entire cultures are becoming extinct because they are failing to reproduce themselves! Countries at the top of this list include nearly all the nations of Western Europe, Russia, and Japan, and the United States is not far behind.
If you haven’t seen these powerful, well documented videos on this tragic problem, I urge you to watch them and share them with others.
The overpopulation theory is a myth that deserves to be cast in the dustbin of history. Many of the most densely populated countries in the world are among the most developed and the most environmentally sensitive—nations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Holland, and many others. Some of the poorest and most polluted are relatively sparsely populated. Where the overpopulation myth goes wrong is primarily in its understanding of human nature.
The theory of overpopulation is rooted in a secular, materialistic worldview, and is closely tied to Darwinism. Its first and arguably greatest champion, Thomas Malthus, was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and was heavily influenced by his work. Secularism and Darwinism view humanity as fundamentally no different from other animal species. We are products of a blind, purposeless process of evolution. Like other animals, we are primarily consumers, “red in tooth and claw,” or in the vernacular of overpopulation proponents, “mouths to feed.”
The Bible has a very different perspective on humanity. Man is not fundamentally a consuming mouth or a destroyer of earth’s resources. Rather, he is made in the image of a creative God. He was given a mind, will, hands and language with which to create. More than a consumer of resources, man is a creator of resources. Rather than a destroyer of the environment, man was given the task of caring for and conserving creation. Because he is also a fallen and sinful, mankind has failed to live up to this high calling, but his fundamental nature remains intact.
Darwinism and secularism are profoundly anti-human philosophies. Wherever they take root in a culture, humanity pays the price. Today, the greatest price is being paid by the unborn, who are being aborted in record numbers, or, as is now the case in many countries, are not being conceived at all.
Ideas have consequences. People, including many Christians, who have been influenced by the myth of overpopulation, have only one solution to the problem. To borrow Charles Dickens’ famous phrase from his classic, A Christmas Carol, that solution is to “decrease the surplus population.” How is this done? By creating cultures where having no more than one or two children becomes normative (even if that means those cultures eventually go extinct, as we are seeing today in Europe), or if that fails, through government policies that limit childbirth, such as exist in China. If these fail, then forced abortion, forced sterilization, and even in some cases infanticide are resorted to. Make no mistake; the real-world consequences of the overpopulation myth continue to be tragic and deadly. Here’s how Darrow Miller puts it in a forthcoming book:
We are in a battle between stories, a conflict of moral vision and worldview. … But only one story reflects reality. It begins in Genesis in the Garden of Eden and ends in Revelation in the City of God. It begins with royal vice regents receiving a mandate to create culture (Genesis 1:26-28). It ends with their descendents bringing culture’s fruits—the glory and honor of the nations—to the wedding of the Lamb (Revelation 21:23-26).
The concept of overpopulation and its attendant strategies to restrict the birthrate (including that of Planned Parent founder Margaret Sanger, “The most merciful thing a large family can do for one of its infant members is to kill it”) have no place in a Christian worldview.
God views man as a co-creator. The secularist sees man as a consumer, a mouth. If man is a consumer, too many mouths equals overconsumption of limited supplies which leads to disaster. That view has been proven false and deadly.
- Scott Allen