Don’t look now, but children may be on the way to endangered species status.
Worldwide, there are 6 million fewer children, 6 and under, today, than there were in 1990. If present trends continue, the United Nations estimates that by 2050 there will be 248 million fewer children in the world than there are now.
The Pew Research Center reports that “Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.”
There was a time when young couples were encouraged (subtly or otherwise) to start having kids shortly after marriage. Most people accepted the notion that children are the future, that procreation was one of the main reasons God invented marriage. Having kids was cool.
What has happened? In a word, worldview creep. The drop in birthrates is the natural fruit of a change in attitudes about the value of children, attitudes that are the harvest of atheistic humanism. Man is an animal; the fittest survive, babies are disposable. From there it’s not far to “children are unimportant.” When abortion became legal in 1973, it meant that nothing, including children, should be allowed to interfere with one’s happiness.
Such is the heart of fallen man, and thus is set in motion the long-term effects on the very survival of humans.
The term “demographic winter” has been coined to capture the frightening effects of the decline in global birth rates. If one is willing to temporarily suspend skepticism (doomsday prognostications don’t have the most stellar track record) he will find a measure of sobriety in the arguments. Here’s how demographer Philip Longman, author of “The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity” puts it, “The ongoing global decline in human birthrates is the single most powerful force affecting the fate of nations and the future of society in the 21st. century.”
In 1968, Paul Erlich wrote The Population Bomb and a new phobia was born. Forty-two years hence we have not recovered from the false alarm, Christians included. Witness the testimony of a couple of academicians. Or this report from Killing a Church by Mark Tooley, … Mainline Protestants … have notoriously low birth rates. The current Episcopal Presiding Bishop even celebrated this demographic collapse, claiming that Episcopalians were protecting the planet by abstaining from children.
Notwithstanding some regional exceptions, the specter has become, not too many, but too few, children. Even the United Nations recognizes that during this century, the world’s population will peak and start down. The UN Population Division says we could achieve below-replacement fertility by 2030.
A society in which the typical child has no siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles is not far away for many European countries. Today 59 countries with 44% of world’s population are below maintenance fertility.
God designed us for growth (Genesis 1:22). Healthy economies and societies are built on growth. Without a growing population, a free society like America could never have been conceived. Too many older people plus too few young workers equals economic collapse, impoverishment and suffering. Another word for it: death.
Which evokes Proverbs 8:36, “… all who hate me love death” In a forthcoming book, Darrow Miller will muster an argument about what he calls the “Great Liberal Death Wish” from Malcolm Muggeridge’s book of the same title. He writes, “Atheists will watch their nation and civilization die rather than admit their assumptions are wrong or their grand vision only an illusion.”
Two narratives confront us: God loves life and ordains procreation vs. The planet deserves protection from people
Which story will prevail?
– Gary Brumbelow