Author Topic: Fertility rates  (Read 1804 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2021, 07:37:01 PM »
So some families choose to follow their vocations and make their contribution to the world and use the gifts that God gave them in ways that do not involve the rearing of children.
These families may also suffer hardship and trial and grave difficulty as they work as teachers, lawyers, scientists, repair people, politicians, nurses, doctors, pilots, members of the armed services or in a host of other callings that do good for humanity. For the sake of their calling a family may decide not to have children or to limit the number of children they care for. They may make this and other sacrifices for the sake of their callings.
How is this spiritually sick?
And there may be people - I think we have all known more than a few - who simply do not have the gifts necessary to be good parents. Is it spiritually sick for them to say "I don't think I can be a good parent, so I won't be a parent"?
I do not get the idea that everyone - save for the few called to be celibates - has the responsibility to breed.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2021, 11:29:13 PM »
So some families choose to follow their vocations and make their contribution to the world and use the gifts that God gave them in ways that do not involve the rearing of children.
These families may also suffer hardship and trial and grave difficulty as they work as teachers, lawyers, scientists, repair people, politicians, nurses, doctors, pilots, members of the armed services or in a host of other callings that do good for humanity. For the sake of their calling a family may decide not to have children or to limit the number of children they care for. They may make this and other sacrifices for the sake of their callings.
How is this spiritually sick?
And there may be people - I think we have all known more than a few - who simply do not have the gifts necessary to be good parents. Is it spiritually sick for them to say "I don't think I can be a good parent, so I won't be a parent"?
I do not get the idea that everyone - save for the few called to be celibates - has the responsibility to breed.
I don't think anyone suggested that everyone except those called to be celibate has the responsibility to breed. Though it is telling that you, being a wordsmith, use the word "breed" instead of "procreate." Just for the sake of lurkers, that shade of meaning says a lot about Charles's viewpoint in general. 

As usual, you turn what others say into a cartoonish strawman in order to make irrelevant contrary points. I said "if not in every given case, then certainly as a general cultural movement." You then stipulate exceptional cases as though they are typical in order to defend a general cultural movement against procreation.

Charles Austin

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2021, 11:38:24 PM »
Peter writes:
As usual, you turn what others say into a cartoonish strawman in order to make irrelevant contrary points. I said "if not in every given case, then certainly as a general cultural movement." You then stipulate exceptional cases as though they are typical in order to defend a general cultural movement against procreation.
I comment:
No, I'm saying you need to show me more proof of a "general cultural movement against procreation," and you need to show me how, if such a thing exists, it is inherently "wrong" or "spiritually sick."
So let me try it another way and ask: Supposing a couple says "Kids? Don't want 'em. Would rather have our professions, our freedom, the extra bucks." Is that wrong? Why?
   Almost everyone I know of my generation and the generation following decided to limited the number of children they would have, usually to two, maybe three. What's wrong with that? I do not believe the things I describe about childless families are “exceptional,” I think they are quite common. Contraception makes it possible and generally safe.
   If someone wants larger families and has the mindset and means to support the family adequately, I say "Go for it, and good luck."
Are you opposed to those who say "no kids for us" or "one only"?
« Last Edit: March 06, 2021, 04:42:12 AM by Charles Austin »
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2021, 08:51:34 AM »
Should we not be concerned about our ability to feed an eternally expanding population when our ability to produce food is also declining?

Are we unable to feed the existing population or one that would be larger still in the future?
Is our ability to produce food declining?

I tend to answer those questions as no to both.


 It seems to me that the amount of farmland is certainly declining. The housing development we live in, used to be an orchard. In the 13 years we've lived here, I've seen farmland become housing developments. Long before this, a member of my congregation had been featured in a 20/20 story about how his dairy farm outside of Kansas City had become the largest mall in Kansas.


This means that the land that is still being farmed has to produce even more crops and do it more efficiently.

You have to be careful that you do not evaluate land usage and land availability based on just one region or area.  I live in a rural area of Wisconsin.  While the number of dairy farms has fallen over the last several years and continues to fall, many of these farmers will continue as 'cash croppers' producing corn, soybeans, oats, etc. for other larger farms.  Large 'mega farms' exist now where only family farms used to be, sometimes owned by groups of owners outside the area.  But they are producing large volumes of milk and other grain crops. 

Not every closed farm becomes a mall or a housing development.  I still believe that we have more than enough productive land to produce food sufficient for the needs.  Equipment and technology within agriculture has made it possible to do more with less, and in many cases can be far more efficient. Old folks still talk about the days when they picked stones by hand, and now large, sophisticated stone picking machines do that work. Potato farming is huge in my community, and in the 20+ years I have lived here I have not seen it shrink in volume.  Their harvesting machines are mammoth machines capable to tackling many rows that I'm sure would have taken several crews of men and women to accomplish in another era.

So out here farming has changed, but the land is not being swallowed up by housing developments.  We're still producing crops and milking cows to feed America.  I suspect we are not alone.
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St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Dan Fienen

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2021, 11:02:16 AM »
So some families choose to follow their vocations and make their contribution to the world and use the gifts that God gave them in ways that do not involve the rearing of children.
These families may also suffer hardship and trial and grave difficulty as they work as teachers, lawyers, scientists, repair people, politicians, nurses, doctors, pilots, members of the armed services or in a host of other callings that do good for humanity. For the sake of their calling a family may decide not to have children or to limit the number of children they care for. They may make this and other sacrifices for the sake of their callings.
How is this spiritually sick?
And there may be people - I think we have all known more than a few - who simply do not have the gifts necessary to be good parents. Is it spiritually sick for them to say "I don't think I can be a good parent, so I won't be a parent"?
I do not get the idea that everyone - save for the few called to be celibates - has the responsibility to breed.
The debate over contraceptives has been going on within Christendom for generations. The advent of safe, convenient, and effective contraceptives has had a profound effect on society and mores. I have no interest here in getting into that debate except to note that while abortion is indeed a form of birth control I and many others do not find it morally acceptable except in the few extreme cases where the alternative is likely to result in the death or lasting disability of the mother.


That said, the demographic changes, especially in the West to which effective contraceptives have contributed has been profound. Back in the mid-twentieth century it may have made sense to talk about the population explosion with popular non-fiction books painting doomsday visions of runaway population increase that would far outstrip food supplies and natural resources. Speculative fiction of that era was similarly rife with apocalyptic themes of what the world with a wildly unsustainable population would be like. The Boomer generation grew up on those apocalyptic visions and the general assumption of their veracity. So perhaps it is understandable that they think as though the world is tottering on the brink of a population explosion. I remember from that era that there was a general cultural meme that discouraged having children since to do so, especially by American parents, was just contributing to the looming collapse of civilization under the unsustainable weight of the hoards of children being born for whom there would never be enough food or other natural resources. The population explosion would end civilization before the turn of the millennium. Aging Boomers still come out with questions like, "Should we not be concerned about out ability to feed an eternally expanding population when our ability to produce food is also declining?" But should we, dare we, make decisions based on apocalyptic visions that have proven at best overblown?


The decision of whether to have children or how many is an intensely personal one. And technology has increasingly made it a decision over which we have increasing control. The morality of making the decision to forgo children or limit their number is heavily disputed by some. I choose at this time to not enter that dispute. It seems to me that some people for a variety of what appears to them to be reasonable have chosen to limit the number of children they have or forgo that altogether. Ultimately, that is their decision (although God at times has ways to step in and countermand our decisions), and personally I would not dispute that. Neither would I dispute the decision of others to have a many children as might happen. (Even given the impending doom of civilization due to reckless procreation  ::)  as some still fear.) Finally that is up to the couples themselves and what their faith informs them. I will not speak slightingly of those who limit or forgo children or of those who welcome many children.


But as a society we need to take into account accurate demographics, not the holdover fears of impending doom that have not proven sooth. The facts are that world population growth is slowing, has slowed considerably, particularly in what could be called the First World. Much of Europe and North America have fertility rates that are below replacement. Current global demographic predictions suggest that within a half century, global population will peak and begin to decline. What may prove to be a greater problem is that this shift in fertility and population will be accompanied by a major shift in the age of the population. What this portends may not be a dramatic as the apocalyptic visions of a population bomb, still needs serious consideration.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2021, 11:06:39 AM by Dan Fienen »
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Charles Austin

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2021, 11:41:41 AM »
There are numerous reports from the UN and other agencies expressing concern that the need for more food (70 percent more, if population growth continues) will not keep pace with the increase in population. Of course the rich countries will be fine, but even there the amount and quality of the food may decline, due to changes in climate, and pollution of soil, air and water.
On the other hand, nature may "cull the herd" with disease, a type of "population control" and who knows what wars, both local and regional, might do to populations in some areas of the world.
It is short-sighted and not smart to dismiss all concern for population growth.
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RDPreus

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2021, 12:34:38 PM »
This topic is simple yet profound.  There are two questions that face us Christians when it comes to the matter of procreation and "family planning."  First, are children gifts from God?  Second, if God gives us children will he not also give us the means to provide for them?  If the answer to these questions is yes, the idea of "family planning" goes out the window.  God plans.  We receive his gifts with thanksgiving.  If he chooses not to bless us with the gifts we want to receive from him, we thank him for the gifts he gives and accept his will for us as good and gracious.  We who do not believe in family planning may be blessed with many children or none at all. 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2021, 01:02:20 PM »
Should we not be concerned about our ability to feed an eternally expanding population when our ability to produce food is also declining?

Are we unable to feed the existing population or one that would be larger still in the future?
Is our ability to produce food declining?

I tend to answer those questions as no to both.


 It seems to me that the amount of farmland is certainly declining. The housing development we live in, used to be an orchard. In the 13 years we've lived here, I've seen farmland become housing developments. Long before this, a member of my congregation had been featured in a 20/20 story about how his dairy farm outside of Kansas City had become the largest mall in Kansas.


This means that the land that is still being farmed has to produce even more crops and do it more efficiently.

You have to be careful that you do not evaluate land usage and land availability based on just one region or area.  I live in a rural area of Wisconsin.  While the number of dairy farms has fallen over the last several years and continues to fall, many of these farmers will continue as 'cash croppers' producing corn, soybeans, oats, etc. for other larger farms.  Large 'mega farms' exist now where only family farms used to be, sometimes owned by groups of owners outside the area.  But they are producing large volumes of milk and other grain crops. 

Not every closed farm becomes a mall or a housing development.  I still believe that we have more than enough productive land to produce food sufficient for the needs.  Equipment and technology within agriculture has made it possible to do more with less, and in many cases can be far more efficient. Old folks still talk about the days when they picked stones by hand, and now large, sophisticated stone picking machines do that work. Potato farming is huge in my community, and in the 20+ years I have lived here I have not seen it shrink in volume.  Their harvesting machines are mammoth machines capable to tackling many rows that I'm sure would have taken several crews of men and women to accomplish in another era.

So out here farming has changed, but the land is not being swallowed up by housing developments.  We're still producing crops and milking cows to feed America.  I suspect we are not alone.


If farm lands become housing developments or shopping malls in one part of the country, that means there are fewer farms to produce food; unless previously barren lands become fruitful. To use some made-up numbers if there were 1 million sections of farmlands in 1900 and there are 750,000 of them in 2000; there are fewer acres available to grow crops.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2021, 01:28:05 PM »
The first command that God gave to the humans is "Be fruitful and multiply." It's a command that's repeated often: Genesis 1:28; 8;17; 9:1, 7; 35:21. And it happened: Genesis 47:27; Exodus 1:7.


We don't usually present this command like we do: "You shall not steal" or "You shall not murder." We expect those commands from the Ten to apply to everybody. We do not expect everyone to be fruitful and multiply.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2021, 01:31:14 PM »
Pastor Preus:
... if God gives us children will he not also give us the means to provide for them?
Me:
Then why are there hungry and starving and sickly children in this country and around the world?

Pastor Preus:
If the answer to these questions is yes, the idea of "family planning" goes out the window.  God plans.  We receive his gifts with thanksgiving.  If he chooses not to bless us with the gifts we want to receive from him, we thank him for the gifts he gives and accept his will for us as good and gracious.  We who do not believe in family planning may be blessed with many children or none at all.
Me:
And tens of millions of people, based on where they live or how they live, are “blessed“ with children who will die young, suffer throughout their lives and create immense problems for their families because they do not have access to adequate food, clean water, or medical care. If God provides for the “blessings” God gives, then somebody in that heavenly department needs to be investigated.
As for the command to “be fruitful and multiply,“ I think we can say to God, “OK, did that. Now what?”
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Steven W Bohler

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2021, 02:42:28 PM »
Should we not be concerned about our ability to feed an eternally expanding population when our ability to produce food is also declining?

Are we unable to feed the existing population or one that would be larger still in the future?
Is our ability to produce food declining?

I tend to answer those questions as no to both.


 It seems to me that the amount of farmland is certainly declining. The housing development we live in, used to be an orchard. In the 13 years we've lived here, I've seen farmland become housing developments. Long before this, a member of my congregation had been featured in a 20/20 story about how his dairy farm outside of Kansas City had become the largest mall in Kansas.


This means that the land that is still being farmed has to produce even more crops and do it more efficiently.

You have to be careful that you do not evaluate land usage and land availability based on just one region or area.  I live in a rural area of Wisconsin.  While the number of dairy farms has fallen over the last several years and continues to fall, many of these farmers will continue as 'cash croppers' producing corn, soybeans, oats, etc. for other larger farms.  Large 'mega farms' exist now where only family farms used to be, sometimes owned by groups of owners outside the area.  But they are producing large volumes of milk and other grain crops. 

Not every closed farm becomes a mall or a housing development.  I still believe that we have more than enough productive land to produce food sufficient for the needs.  Equipment and technology within agriculture has made it possible to do more with less, and in many cases can be far more efficient. Old folks still talk about the days when they picked stones by hand, and now large, sophisticated stone picking machines do that work. Potato farming is huge in my community, and in the 20+ years I have lived here I have not seen it shrink in volume.  Their harvesting machines are mammoth machines capable to tackling many rows that I'm sure would have taken several crews of men and women to accomplish in another era.

So out here farming has changed, but the land is not being swallowed up by housing developments.  We're still producing crops and milking cows to feed America.  I suspect we are not alone.


If farm lands become housing developments or shopping malls in one part of the country, that means there are fewer farms to produce food; unless previously barren lands become fruitful. To use some made-up numbers if there were 1 million sections of farmlands in 1900 and there are 750,000 of them in 2000; there are fewer acres available to grow crops.

There are fewer American farms today than 50 or 100 years ago.  But they are producing much more food.  http://jaysonlusk.com/blog/2016/6/26/the-evolution-of-american-agriculture

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2021, 03:56:33 PM »
The idea that God will not provide is theologically bankrupt. The idea that a short life filled with hardships is not a worthwhile life is similarly theologically bankrupt. The proof that there is a general cultural trend away from procreation involves basic math, so I won't add to anyone's confusion by presenting it.

Procreation is what allows there to be neighbor to serve. That a doctor or a teacher is a good thing to be presupposes that a human being is in and of itself a good thing. If overpopulation is a problem, then doctors are villains preventing the elimination of the unfit. If all the poor people in the world disappeared overnight, the world would be a worse place, because a poor person is a better thing than no person. Every human being is an improvement on creation. Every single one of them.

To say something is symptomatic of spiritual sickness is not to say that in any given instance it involves a sinful choice. Materialism is a spiritual sickness, but that doesn't mean everyone who buys a super nice car has sinned. It means a society in which it is seen as normal and responsible to choose a really nice car over having a child is spiritually sick. If a large percentage of people in town live all alone in huge houses, you can identify a spiritual sickness at work without necessarily accusing any particular person of having sinned.   
« Last Edit: March 06, 2021, 05:41:33 PM by peter_speckhard »

D. Engebretson

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2021, 06:31:58 PM »
This report from the UN is from 2019, but I assume the data is still relevant:
https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/10/1048452

They post "solutions" to "zero hunger" on the planet, so it's assumed that we can potentially feed all the world's population, even with projected growth.  It is interesting that in the five solutions presented birth control or population control is not mentioned.  They note that "around the world, innovation and technology are being used to improve a wide range of food production challenges." Achieving "zero hunger" is a "challenge," but they do not posit it as impossible or even improbable, given certain solutions and strategies. 

Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

James S. Rustad

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2021, 10:20:54 AM »
The idea that God will not provide is theologically bankrupt. The idea that a short life filled with hardships is not a worthwhile life is similarly theologically bankrupt. The proof that there is a general cultural trend away from procreation involves basic math, so I won't add to anyone's confusion by presenting it.

Procreation is what allows there to be neighbor to serve. That a doctor or a teacher is a good thing to be presupposes that a human being is in and of itself a good thing. If overpopulation is a problem, then doctors are villains preventing the elimination of the unfit. If all the poor people in the world disappeared overnight, the world would be a worse place, because a poor person is a better thing than no person. Every human being is an improvement on creation. Every single one of them.

To say something is symptomatic of spiritual sickness is not to say that in any given instance it involves a sinful choice. Materialism is a spiritual sickness, but that doesn't mean everyone who buys a super nice car has sinned. It means a society in which it is seen as normal and responsible to choose a really nice car over having a child is spiritually sick. If a large percentage of people in town live all alone in huge houses, you can identify a spiritual sickness at work without necessarily accusing any particular person of having sinned.

How does this fit in with Paul's advice that it is better to be celibate than to marry?  Is there a conflict between this and your argument that not procreating is a symptom of spiritual sickness?

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fertility rates
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2021, 01:23:37 PM »
The idea that God will not provide is theologically bankrupt. The idea that a short life filled with hardships is not a worthwhile life is similarly theologically bankrupt. The proof that there is a general cultural trend away from procreation involves basic math, so I won't add to anyone's confusion by presenting it.

Procreation is what allows there to be neighbor to serve. That a doctor or a teacher is a good thing to be presupposes that a human being is in and of itself a good thing. If overpopulation is a problem, then doctors are villains preventing the elimination of the unfit. If all the poor people in the world disappeared overnight, the world would be a worse place, because a poor person is a better thing than no person. Every human being is an improvement on creation. Every single one of them.

To say something is symptomatic of spiritual sickness is not to say that in any given instance it involves a sinful choice. Materialism is a spiritual sickness, but that doesn't mean everyone who buys a super nice car has sinned. It means a society in which it is seen as normal and responsible to choose a really nice car over having a child is spiritually sick. If a large percentage of people in town live all alone in huge houses, you can identify a spiritual sickness at work without necessarily accusing any particular person of having sinned.

How does this fit in with Paul's advice that it is better to be celibate than to marry?  Is there a conflict between this and your argument that not procreating is a symptom of spiritual sickness?
I think St. Paul points out the advantage of singleness— undivided devotion to the Lord. I think it makes perfect sense. And if people were entering monasteries and convents in droves to serve the Lord with undivided attention, or seeking opportunities for selfless service that marriage and family would overly complicate, then I would not see any spiritual sickness at work in that. Notably, he doesn’t recommend childless marriage, he recommends singleness, and condemns sexual expression outside marriage. So one way one can know whether one is called to such a life is by whether one is able to forgo sex and the other kinds of intimacy that go along with erotic love.

Choosing sex without marriage or marriage without children (as a deliberate goal), or singleness for the purpose of self-fulfillment and a comfortable lifestyle has nothing to do with what St. Paul is talking about.

In alpb circles, Richard Neuhaus is a modern example of what St. Paul meant. RJN made a conscious vocational choice to remain single. I don’t think young people choosing a celibate life of service to the church is what is driving the decline in marriage and child-rearing.