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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.


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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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        Nov 19 2012: Most libraries have wireless freely available, as do many stores.
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      Gail . 50+

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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.

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