So writes Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker, arguing in favor of a zero-population world.
Referring to the book, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence, by University of Cape Town professor David Benatar, Kolbert says Benatar’s logic leads to the “Conclusive Conclusion” that we need to eliminate human beings from the earth. She continues,
For Benatar, this is an outcome devoutly to be wished. “Humans have the unfortunate distinction of being the most destructive and harmful species on earth,” he writes. “The amount of suffering in the world could be radically reduced if there were no more” of us.
We have turned a corner, and not a healthy one. Elites are talking of eliminating human beings from the planet. They are making the argument with reverence and passion, and they are being heeded. Entire nations are committing cultural suicide with stunning speed. (See the documentary films Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb to appreciate the danger to human existence arising from this school of thought.)
Kolbert begins her piece, The Case Against Kids: Is Procreation Moral?, by introducing Dr. Charles Knowlton (1800-1850). Knowlton was a free thinker – atheist – physician who wrote the defining book, Fruits of Philosophy: The Private Companion of Young Married People, by a Physician.
Like Thomas Malthus (1788 -1844), Knowlton was concerned about the earth becoming overpopulated. As a solution, he promoted separating sex from procreation: “Heaven has not only given us the capacity of greater enjoyment, but the talent of devising means to prevent the evils that are liable to arise therefrom … .” By “evils” he was referring to conceiving children. The goal was to enhance sexual pleasure while avoiding procreation. Fruits of Philosophy not only laid out the intellectual argument for having sex without children, it also provided specific contraceptive technologies that led to our modern world in which sex is separated from covenantal marriage and the establishing of families and reduced to recreation or entertainment.
Kolbert writes of our current dilemma: “Kids are a pain in the (expletive deleted) when they’re small. They require lots of care just at the time their parents tend to be busiest establishing themselves in their careers.” Read more from Kolbert here.
So there you have it. Two reasons not to have kids: they interrupt their parent’s careers and they endanger the planet. We are seeing the impact of the (dying) worldview of secular humanism/modernism that regards man as god and the (newly reborn) worldview of neo-paganism/post-modernism that regards nature as god. The latter is heavily promoted by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and James Cameron’s Avatar. The former elevates personal selfishness and lust for consumption of the world’s resources over children and families. The latter believes human beings are destroying “Mother Nature” and seeks to repress childbearing to preserve natural resources and save the planet.
Both Secular Humanism and Neo-paganism hold the mind-boggling idea that we need to reduce or eliminate the world’s population. And this idea, like all ideas, is having consequences.
It is time to re-tell the ancient story that God made the universe, and that he placed human beings on the earth as his vice-regents to pro-create – have children and form families, and to co-create – to take what God has given and make it flourish. Stewardship of creation means that the human family is to both develop and conserve the earth. We are not to rape it in a lust to consume, and we are not to cease forming families for fear of destroying the earth.
It is noteworthy that the Greek term oikonomia behind our word “economics” (moral stewardship) and the Greek term oikologia behind our work ecology (care for the creation) are not strangers but cousins!
The modern suspicion of the family and the corresponding demise of family formation is revealed in the current US election cycle.
In 1996 Rick Santorum (until a few weeks ago a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency) and his wife, Karen, were expecting a baby boy whom they had named Gabriel Michael Santorum. Baby Gabriel was born at 20 weeks and lived outside the womb for two hours. The Santorum family was heartbroken. What happened next reveals the profound difference in moral vision for our nations. We are two different nations trying to co-exist as one geography.
For the Christ-professing Sanatorums, Gabriel was a baby, imago Dei, and a member of their family. Instead of releasing his tiny body to the morgue, Rick and Karen spent the night in the hospital with their dead child. The next day took the tiny body home to be “bonded” in his death with his living family. In her book Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum, Karen writes movingly about the introduction of Gabriel to his siblings.
Your siblings could not have been more excited about you! …. Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, “This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.”
For the culture that understands the importance of families and the humanity of an unborn baby, this was a beautiful and natural thing to do. But for a culture that sees man as a product of evolution and babies as “products of conception” or “tissue,” the Santorum’s actions were strange at best and ghoulish at worst. This moral vision was expressed by liberal political commenter and radio personality Alan Colmes on a nightly news show:
… undecided voters will ultimately not stick with the surging Santorum once people get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby when it died right after childbirth home and played with it so that his other children would know that the child was real.
Colmes later apologized to the Santorums. Yet his words reflect the great divide in American culture. I speak not simply of differences in preference, but of a disagreement about fundamentals: the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage, and the fundamental importance of the family to building healthy societies.
Who would have thought, just a century ago, that we would debate the humanity of a child? Today we are confronted with a serious assault on family formation. It is inconceivable that anyone could seriously ask, “Is procreation immoral?” But it is the logical conclusion of both Modernism and Post-Modernism.
- Darrow Miller