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Is it time to reject the phrase, "Be fruitful and multiply"?

Early civilizations discovered that it was useful to have many children because they could work the fields and help adults in old age. Due to the high mortality rate it was necessary and desirable to have lots of children in case some died.

Only in the developed world has there been a need to be, "Fruitful and multiply" because there we see declining birth rates compared to the aged.

It was a travesty, in my opinion, for the Pope to congratulate African women who had 13 or more babies (This was several years ago). Should Catholics oppose the Pope when it comes to overpopulation?

In an overcrowded world we now see, the edict be fruitful and mulitply makes no sense at all.

  • Nov 22 2012: Abaolutely. I have no problem with faith, I have a kind of faith myself (blessed are the peace-makers, thou shalt not...etc).But it must be time to call "Time" on pre-enlightenment dogma, of the variety of which the present Pope seems so fond. No thought is spared for the sustainability of the equation "be fruitful..."
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    Nov 19 2012: The one who says 'be fruitful and multiply' also says 'let us make man in our own image'.
    Fruitfulness is good, and to be desired than barreness; but every good thing can only retain their 'goodness' by the application of wisdom.

    'Be fruitful and multiply' also means increasing God-like results in the world (since we are made in his image); and this is only possible if one knows God by his word.
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    Nov 19 2012: Your issue is with the author of the book in which the command originated. That same book commands a responsibility and obligation to care for one's children. To become pregnant when the necessities of life are unavailable is not consistent with the command. If mankind could follow the book more closely, or even at all, global conditions would improve. I suggest the question should be edited to ask if being fruitful and multiplying-- as it is being done today-- needs to be rejected. Thank you!
  • Nov 20 2012: I agree, I think that a lot of people have kids with out thinking about the long term affects. If you live paycheck to paycheck you should not have 4 kids bc the odds of them being successful is slim. You cant possibly afford to give that child 100% when the load is split 4 ways. Somebody is gonna miss out on something at some point. I think we have a crisis in America that is being ignored when it comes to hunger in America. 1 out 9 kids go hungry each day, the ever growing number of homeless kids does not help those figures if I must add. Personally, I think that the government should address this issue the way China did; by placing a limit of the amount a single parent or family can have. Some say its morally wrong, but is it morally right to bring a child in the world against the 8 ball. You say pro life and I say pro choice for the sake of the child and society.
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      Nov 20 2012: Pro-choice for the sake of the one being killed? "We are killing you for your own good and for the good of all those who would have to compete with you for food, clothing, and shelter." I find that to be an absurd argument. Abortion is society's solution to the problem of too many births. What we need is a solution to the problem of too many conceptions.
      • Nov 20 2012: I can agree with that, but realistically people aren't that responsible. I wouldnt bring a child in the world if I couldn't provide for it. Like I said, if you think it's better for a child to live a painful slow death it's your choice. If I had to vote on the issue you know my stance, but please don't mistake this as my first choice. I said limit the amount of kids per family. It's all a moot point given the decline in birth rates and population growth in America.
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    Nov 19 2012: Popes encourage catholics to make more catholics in places where education is scarce and religions can thrive.
    Overpopulation is just another word for ignorance.
    "Be educated and multiply", if you like.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 19 2012: If the pope allows birth control to counter humankind's infestation that will soon cause mass extermination, then God is not what the church needs God to be to get people to give money. That wouldn't be good for them.

    Better to use threats to force people to over populate in a time of growing famine, in a climate of global warming and loss of arable lands and potable water than to give up all those finery in the Vatican.
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    Nov 19 2012: Hi Richard, if you have not yet seen it there was a very good talk here in May showing trends in birth rates since the '60s across nations, religions, and income: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html

    I think we are reaching the limit of how many souls our planet can comfortably support, but it also seems that birth rates are considerably lower in densely populated areas. I recall one study that gave a rodent population a surplus of food and water but constrained them in a fixed area: the population stabilized before using up all of that area. Perhaps we have an innate desire to not overpopulate beyond a certain point?
    • Nov 19 2012: One of the few depressing parts of living in rural America is that I am on dial up so it is difficult to watch the TED talks ): but that is an interesting study with the rats! Our response to overcrowding seems to be to develop peripheral slums around densely populated areas.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 19 2012: Most libraries have wireless freely available, as do many stores.
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      Gail .

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      Nov 19 2012: I remember the study. There was one like it involving monkeys on an island near Japan

      The populations didn't stabalize in any way you would want our population to stabilize. Gangs formed and they went around raping the females, stealing food, and killing their own kind for food. It started with eating the stolen babies. It grew to eating the oldsters.

      If there is not enough food, (unlike the above two studies), then the population does stabilize. Females give birth less often (perhaps because of malnutrition and spontaneous abortions), but starvation is also part of keeping the population within the limits of the area to provide for its inhabitants.

      Not a world I want my grandchildren to live in. You?
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        Nov 19 2012: Well, I could hardly agree to that being desirable! We do have at least one clear advantage (i.e. contraceptives) over either animal in this arena, so things may not be so grim for us. The idea was purely conjecture, of course.

        Out of curiosity, and finding no real investigation of it, I grabbed the census data from the ten cities closest to me (excluding villages and townships) and... found the result to be too closely packed to determine a trend. (doh!) After playing around with it, I noticed that while the cities with a mean income above 45K showed a slowly decreasing fertility rate with population density, this trend was orthogonal to that of the remaining half of the cities. It doesn't exactly back up my idea, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention.
  • Dec 18 2012: Things HAVE changed since Biblical times and I don't know all the answers plus I think more laws and rules are a slippery slope, BUT I firmly believe that if you have children that are currently being supported by the taxpayers and you have more children, you should lose that assistance immediately. Period, with very, very little gray area.
  • Nov 19 2012: How about, "Be fruity and don't copu-ply?"
    This earth had, has, enough resources to support life forms that still number around 8.7 million.
    We are going to experience the melting ice caps. We may experience a pole shift.
    Parts of the earth as we know it may become the bottom of lakes and oceans. Ocean bottoms may be exposed with a pole shift. Humans will survive these changes, but maybe not in large numbers.

    Greenland will be exposed. It is almost as big as the U.S. and Canada put together. That is huge and has tons of resources for supporting life. Antarctica has 200 mountain ranges, some higher than 16,000 feet, with tremendous amounts of resources in the land once the caps have significantly melted and continue to melt. The Russian Federation will be able to access the huge amount of resources they have been denied for decades because of year-round, almost, permanent freezing. If the caps are really going to melt, perhaps humans should begin tapping this fresh water for use.
    The problem isn't so much over-population as it is the management of resources and the absurd belief that some (a few) can own, control and mine the resources of the earth. The resources are there for all 8.7 million species, not for just one - humans and only a few of them. By the way, 8.7 is what is left of a number that was much higher. They are not gone because there wasn't enough to keep them alive. They were destroyed, wastefully, wantonly and without regard for life itself, really.

    It's the management. WE must destroy the idea of ownership and control and take them away from the few and economize our usage for everyone. We must face the false fear they use to keep us believing in them, because they need us, we don't need them. Everyone has a right to their fair share of the earths resources in order to live and live comfortably. We cannot have resource wars but we will if we continue the idea of ownership, money and profit.

    The U.S. will attack Denmark, fight over Antarctica too.