Population: How Near the Limits?
world's population is expected to double in the next century to
the inevitable 10 billion. According to the U.S. BUREAU OF THE
CENSUS, WORLD POPULATION PROFILE, every 2 seconds 9 babies are
born and only 3 people die. In other words, while you are reading
this newsletter the Earth's population will increase by over 2,000.
In fact, the world population growth per hour equals 10,600.
consequences are boggling. "Today the Green Revolution falters,
ecosystems are badly degraded and fresh-water supplies continue
to shrink. Refugees produced by population pressures in Africa
and Asia already threaten to destabilize nations." (TIME,
June 17, 1994) Some would predict "a world of growing chaos,
anarchy, disease and corruption as hungry refugees surge across
borders in search of food and nations fight over scarce resources."
(U.S. News&World Report, September 12, 1994). "Imagine
a world in the not too distant future that teems with 17 billion
people. Virulent plagues sweep the planet. Wars are fought to
control not oil, but fields of wheat. It would not take much to
trigger such an apocalypse" (TIME, September 5, 1994) "If
governments continue to fiddle while human numbers explode, it
becomes ever more likely the horsemen of famine, disease and anarchy
will have their day."(TIME, June 17, 1994)
United Nations' International Conference on Population & Development
in Cairo this September contrived a 20-year action program which
some 180 countries were expected to endorse. This conference was
planned to consider ways of averting human and environmental catastrophes.
However, the conference was attacked by the Vatican and its "newfound
Islamic allies" as promoting a "project of systematic
death" because it offers safe abortions. Other issues such
as, "women's empowerment" and the relationship of poverty
to large families emerged. In the end, no country voted against
the final draft of the 113-page plan calling on governments to
commit $17 billion annually by the year 2000 to the cause of curbing
population growth. Still no matter what actions the nations are
able to take to curb the population explosion, the Earth's population
is almost certain to double in fifty years.
there some miscalculation on God's part regarding the Earth being
adequate for humanity's home? How can there be enough food for
everybody? How can the environment support the thronging billions
today? And if the Scriptures also teach a resurrection of Earth's
dead billions to a Millennial Kingdom on Earth, isn't this promised
Kingdom totally impractical?
commissioned the first pair in the Garden of Eden: "Be fruitful
and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28,
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD). For 6,000 years the divine command has
been in process of fulfillment. If babies are still being born,
confidence and faith in God's foresight would indicate that the
Earth has not reached its capacity for population.
Population, A Recent Phenomenon
to the mid-1800s, the population of the earth has been relatively
low. Only in the last one hundred years or so has the Earth's
population reached 1 billion. In other words, the number of people
living in the twentieth century is comparable to all the people
who have ever lived since the earliest civilizations. In AD 1
the world's population was about 200 million and stayed about
the same till 1850 when it reached up to 1 billion. In 1975 it
shot up to 4 billion and in 1993, it topped 5.5 billion (THE WORLD
ALMANAC:1994, p. 499). Therefore, only recently has Thomas Malthus'
18th century projections of doom actually become the overpopulation
specter which could threaten humanity.
God commissioned the first pair to "fill" the Earth,
did not He justly and lovingly provide an adequate Home for humanity?
Yes, He did, but when Adam and Eve sinned, they were not only
were condemned, but also their home—the Earth—was
cursed (Genesis 3:17-19):
unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice
of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded
thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for
thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee in the sweat
of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground.
a result, Earth became a very inhospitable Home to man. But if
the Earth's productivity had not been diminished, the abundant
yields would have given Man too much time to get into more trouble
than he did anyway. Thus man, for most centuries of human history
has laboriously eked out a living from the stubborn soil.
the end of the last century, however, the agricultural scene changed
dramatically. And today, instead of walking behind a plough and
ox, the farmer may sit in his air-conditioned cab and while listening
to CD's of Bach in stereo, he plants seeds or harvests all day.
Almost. Many of the Third World countries still farm primitively.
Nevertheless, famines in these countries are just as much the
result of politics and greed as they are from shortage of rain
and lack of technology.
is in surplus. Forty-six million acres of U.S. farmland and 11
million acres in Europe have been deliberately idled under government
programs to boost farmers' incomes. Are problems of food shortages
and population really based on the size and capacity of the Earth?
say that the ecological capacity of the Earth—set by available
land, climate and sunlight for photosynthesis—is sufficient
to produce food not just for 10 billion, but a staggering 1,000
billion people. (U.S. NEWS, September 12, 1994) One liberal estimate
of the number of people who have lived since the beginning of
creation is approximately 252 billion. Even then, allowing ten
square feet for each individual, they could all fit in the state
of Texas. (THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, pp. 160, 161)
still we see wrenching scenes of starvation, masses of refugees
and the hapless homeless on our television news. We wonder why
if we have the technology and room to provide for the needs of
man, will Man ever learn to share? Is the Earth still "cursed"?
LORD said, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my
footstool and I will make the place of my feet glorious"
(Isaiah 66:1; 60:13). The "curse" laid on the Earth
in Eden will be lifted in God's Kingdom on Earth. "And there
shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb
shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him" (Revelation
the "ransomed of the Lord shall return," the wilderness
shall be habitable and "the desert shall rejoice and blossom
as the rose" (Isaiah 35:10,1). Man will "return"
to where he was. Not heaven. Man, as represented in Adam, was
in a perfect Garden of Eden. Man was ejected from this paradise
on Earth. He worked with the "thorns and thistles" and
eventually died in sorrow. But the Scriptures say, "The earth
shall yield her increase" (Ezekiel 34:27). In the Kingdom,
Adam and his children will "return" to an uncursed,
blossoming, glorious Earth. Not only will there be enough space
for food production, but for flowers!
does it mean that Man should "subdue" the Earth? And
what is the "dominion" that he lost over the Earth and
will regain? As the full establishment of the Kingdom approaches,
man is already subduing the Earth. He is probing its secrets and
discovering new and better grains and rices—as well as ways
to preserve the Earth's ecological balance and integrity. These
advances in technology are not because Man is "smarter"
now, but because this is the due time for increasing knowledge
in the "time of the end" (Daniel 12:1-4). In the genetic
engineering of better variations of food products, scientists
are not actually creating "new" strains but may be merely
re-connecting heartier, superior strains lost after the "curse"
on this planet Earth.
would seem that we are catching glimpses of the incredible potential
of Earth now, but that in the meantime real solutions by man are
prevented because of greed, politics, and money.
the population conference in Cairo, the related problems of poverty,
gender equality, women empowerment, birth control and abortions
emerged as significant factors in population control. Although
the draft resolution passed, is implementation realistic in each
nation and culture? In each family? What solutions may we expect
from our great Creator on the many-faceted dilemma of over-population?
if conditions in God's Kingdom on Earth are to be like the Garden
of Eden, a limit as to the capacity of the Earth as Man's Home
would have to eventually reach a limit. Since God commissioned
the first pair to "fill the earth," this request would
imply that sometime in the future the earth would be filled to
capacity. Exactly what does God have in mind for birth control?
Jesus was asked whose wife would the woman (who had seven husbands)
be in the resurrection, he answered, "The children of this
world marry and are given in marriage: but they which shall be
accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from
the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage" (Luke
20:33-35). The sex division between Adam and Eve was merely for
the propagation of the race and not a permanent arrangement. When
the Earth is filled to capacity—including room for all those
who died in Adam to be resurrected—the marriage arrangement,
as Jesus said, will become obsolete. Since the Millennial Kingdom
is a program of gradual rehabilitation and reconstruction, no
doubt marriage will gradually and naturally dissolve.
will be one family. The Earth will be abundantly fruitful. While
this promise may not be literal, the prophecy (Micah 4:1-4) would
certainly indicate enough food and space for everyone:
in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain [Kingdom]
of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the
mountains [man's kingdoms] they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a
sword against nation. But they shall sit every man under his vine
and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the
mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
devoted toward the military will be converted to agriculture.
Economic security and human dignity will be the inheritance of
every single human being that has ever lived:
they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant
vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and
another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat the wolf
and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw
like the bullock. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy
mountain, saith the LORD. Isaiah 65:17
spite of the gloomy outlook of our Earth supporting a burgeoning
population, God is in control. Man may have almost reached his
limits, but God has an all-encompassing Plan of blessing Man.
Man will not be allowed to destroy himself and his Earth with
overpopulation. (Neither will God burn up the whole Earth as some
may tell us.) God has no limits to His wisdom nor lack of power
to execute His promises. "The Earth abideth forever."