Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Overpopulation? Latest research suggests that we face a decline in population

From the left-wing Slate, of all places.

Excerpt:

A report issued last month by the Pew Research Center found that immigrant births fell from 102 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 87.8 per 1,000 in 2012. That helped bring the overall U.S. birthrate to a mere 64 per 1,000 women—not enough to sustain our current population.

Moreover, the poor, highly fertile countries that once churned out immigrants by the boatload are now experiencing birthrate declines of their own. From 1960 to 2009, Mexico’s fertility rate tumbled from 7.3 live births per woman to 2.4, India’s dropped from six to 2.5, and Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average birthrate remains a relatively blistering 4.66, fertility is projected to fall below replacement level by the 2070s. This change in developing countries will affect not only the U.S. population, of course, but eventually the world’s.

Why is this happening? Scientists who study population dynamics point to a phenomenon called “demographic transition.”

“For hundreds of thousands of years,” explains Warren Sanderson, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University, “in order for humanity to survive things like epidemics and wars and famine, birthrates had to be very high.” Eventually, thanks to technology, death rates started to fall in Europe and in North America, and the population size soared. In time, though, birthrates fell as well, and the population leveled out. The same pattern has repeated in countries around the world. Demographic transition, Sanderson says, “is a shift between two very different long-run states: from high death rates and high birthrates to low death rates and low birthrates.” Not only is the pattern well-documented, it’s well under way: Already, more than half the world’s population is reproducing at below the replacement rate.

If the Germany of today is the rest of the world tomorrow, then the future is going to look a lot different than we thought. Instead of skyrocketing toward uncountable Malthusian multitudes, researchers at Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis foresee the global population maxing out at 9 billion some time around 2070. On the bright side, the long-dreaded resource shortage may turn out not to be a problem at all. On the not-so-bright side, the demographic shift toward more retirees and fewer workers could throw the rest of the world into the kind of interminable economic stagnation that Japan is experiencing right now.

It kind of undercuts the need for the leftist fixation on abortion, environmentalism, etc. doesn’t it?

Ari also sent me this article from Foreign Policy magazine that argues that the declining rate of population is actually good news for conservatives.

Excerpt:

Declining birthrates also change national temperament. In the United States, for example, the percentage of women born in the late 1930s who remained childless was near 10 percent. By comparison, nearly 20 percent of women born in the late 1950s are reaching the end of their reproductive lives without having had children. The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will leave no genetic legacy. Nor will their emotional or psychological influence on the next generation compare with that of their parents.

Meanwhile, single-child families are prone to extinction. A single child replaces one of his or her parents, but not both. Nor do single-child families contribute much to future population. The 17.4 percent of baby boomer women who had only one child account for a mere 7.8 percent of children born in the next generation. By contrast, nearly a quarter of the children of baby boomers descend from the mere 11 percent of baby boomer women who had four or more children. These circumstances are leading to the emergence of a new society whose members will disproportionately be descended from parents who rejected the social tendencies that once made childlessness and small families the norm. These values include an adherence to traditional, patriarchal religion, and a strong identification with one’s own folk or nation.

This dynamic helps explain, for example, the gradual drift of American culture away from secular individualism and toward religious fundamentalism. Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry. It may also help to explain the increasing popular resistance among rank-and-file Europeans to such crown jewels of secular liberalism as the European Union. It turns out that Europeans who are most likely to identify themselves as “world citizens” are also those least likely to have children.

Does this mean that today’s enlightened but slow-breeding societies face extinction? Probably not, but only because they face a dramatic, demographically driven transformation of their cultures. As has happened many times before in history, it is a transformation that occurs as secular and libertarian elements in society fail to reproduce, and as people adhering to more traditional, patriarchal values inherit society by default.

At least as long ago as ancient Greek and Roman times, many sophisticated members of society concluded that investing in children brought no advantage. Rather, children came to be seen as a costly impediment to self-fulfillment and worldly achievement. But, though these attitudes led to the extinction of many individual families, they did not lead to the extinction of society as a whole. Instead, through a process of cultural evolution, a set of values and norms that can roughly be described as patriarchy reemerged.

I think that if conservative men and women can get together and raise effective, influential children outside of the public school system, then we have some hope for the future. The welfare that is used to support single motherhood by choice is going to come to an end because of the debt crisis. When that happens, families headed by high-achieving men will be raising a higher proportion of the leaders of the next generation. Men and women who pool their resources and have more children will have more of an influence on the next generation.

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Why do Democrats hate Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin

This analysis from the Wall Street Journal nails it. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today’s topic).

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, “feminist” is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism–the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination–is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin–especially not Hillary Clinton, the left’s favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton’s accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.

But there is more to feminism than political and legal equality. Men and women are intrinsically unequal in ways that are ultimately beyond the power of government to remediate. That is because nature is unfair. Sexual reproduction is far more demanding, both physically and temporally, for women than for men. Men simply do not face the sort of children-or-career conundrums that vex women in an era of workplace equality.

Except for the small minority of women with no interest in having children, this is an inescapable problem, one that cannot be obviated by political means. Aspects of it can, however, be ameliorated by technology–most notably contraception, which at least gives women considerable control over the timing of reproduction.

As a political matter, contraception is essentially uncontroversial today, which is to say that any suggestion that adult women be legally prevented from using birth control is outside the realm of serious debate. The same cannot be said of abortion, and that is at the root of Palinoia.

To the extent that “feminism” remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the “right to choose,” but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree–that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin’s opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn’t help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.

It used to be a trope for liberal interviewers to try to unmask hypocrisy by asking antiabortion politicians–male ones, of course–what they would do if their single teen daughters got pregnant. It’s a rude question, but Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy coincided with Mom’s introduction to the nation, answered it in real life.

Let me explain what I think the problem is in plain English. Feminists want to blame their failures on the men. They have invested everything in the belief that the world is inhospitable to women. The only way for women to succeed according to feminism, is to whine and complain and be a victim, and to make yourself into a man and deny your femininity and kill your own offspring. Sarah Palin didn’t do any of that. Yet she was very nearly Vice President. She doesn’t hate men, and she doesn’t kill babies. Her success is the counter-example that shows that all of feminism is just self-serving lies that feminists invent in order to blame men for their own failure to succeed, marry and have children. THAT is why they hate Sarah Palin. They hated Bush because he was a Christian, and they hate Palin because she is pro-male, pro-marriage, and pro-life.

And as you all know, I do not want Palin to be President in 2012. I want Michele Bachmann to President in 2012, who, as a homeschooling mother, is the stronger purer form of what Sarah Palin represents. She’s 100% feminity wedded to 100% conservatism. She is a walking refutation of feminist griveance-mongering. You don’t have to be a feminist in order to succeed as a woman. You don’t have to hate men. You don’t have to hate marriage. And you don’t have to kill children. You can love men, love marriage, and love children, and you can still go straight to the top.

UPDATE: Robert McCain has more.

Taranto is very close to something here, and I wonder if he doesn’t push the argument to its logical conclusion because he is afraid that he would be denounced by hysterical women — yes, even Republican women, even some “conservative” women — if he spoke the blunt truth.

One of the necessary consequences of the Modern Professional Feminist Career Woman Lifestyle is that it tends to limit women’s procreative capacity. It isn’t merely that feminism’s embrace of the Culture of Death elevates abortion to sacramental status. Rather, it is that feminist notions of Progress require that women foresake (or at least postpone) the love-marriage-motherhood model of happiness in pursuit of careerist equality. Even if a woman does not actually go all-out in following the anti-phallocratic ideology — “Feminism is the theory; lesbianism is the practice,” to quote Ti-Grace Atkinson — her pursuit of the career woman lifestyle inevitably restricts her reproductive opportunities.

By the time she finishes college and grad school and establishes herself firmly en route to an upper-middle-class socioeconomic future, the the Modern Professional Feminist Career Woman is 30 or older. Even if she could meet Mister Right, she’s not going to abandon her career — for she has been taught to consider life meaningless without a professional career — in favor of domesticity. Ergo, even if she marries and decides she can afford a baby, she’ll have to hire someone to raise it for her while she returns to the job from which she derives her sense of purpose and identity.

He’s one of the few bloggers who gets deep into these moral issues. All my Christian readers should bookmark his blog.

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Paul Copan interviewed on the hard passages of the Old Testament

How would you respond to all of the troubling stories in the Old Testament, (conquest, slavery, etc.), and the characterizations of God as jealous and angry and vengeful? Paul Copan has written a new book on those topics and more.

From the Evangelical Philosophical Society blog. (H/T Mary)

What surprising thing did he learn while researching the book?

Surprising—and yet not surprising—is the fact that the more deeply I dug into understanding the ancient Near East, the more the biblical text made sense and the more favorable it looked in comparison to other relevant texts in the ancient Near East.  For example, the strong bravado and exaggeration typical of ancient Near East war texts (“leaving alive nothing that breathed”) was used even when lots of the enemy were left standing and breathing!  What’s more, Israel’s warfare—directed at non-combatants in citadels or fortresses (“cities”)—is tame in comparison to other ancient Near Eastern accounts of, say, the Assyrians.
As far as servitude (“slavery”) goes, this was voluntary and contractual rather than forced (unless Israel was dealing with, say, hostile foreign POWs who might be pressed into service to cut wood and carry water).  Yet Israel’s laws prohibited (a) kidnapping, (b) returning runaway (foreign) slaves to their masters, and (c) injuring servants.  If these three Mosaic regulations were observed during by Western colonial powers, slavery would not have emerged and the nineteenth-century history of the United States would have looked much different.

What kinds of questions will people who read the book be able to answer?

While I can’t cover all the territory I would like in this book, I try to address the range of topics that are most pressing and most frequently raised by the critics.  Part I deals with the phenomenon of the New Atheists and their arguments—and their case against the “Old Testament God.”  In fact, as you can see in the table of contents below, I use their quotations as my chapter headings!  In Part II, I deal with issues related to the nature of God: Is God narcissistic?  Why should God get jealous?  How could God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Part III looks at life in the ancient Near East and how Israel’s laws look in comparison to those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  I maintain, first, that while many of Israel’s laws are not ideal (human hard-heartedness is part of the problem, as Matthew 19:8 indicates), they are generally a significant humanizing improvement over other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  God meets his people where they are—with their embedded, fallen moral and social patterns—but he challenges them to greater moral and spiritual heights.  Then I go on to address topics like Israel’s kosher and purity laws, its civil laws and punishments, the treatment of women in Israel, slavery (or better “servitude”) in Israel (and I extend the discussion to include the New Testament), then finally the question of Canaanite “genocide” (which it most certainly is not!) and of whether “religion” produces violence.

In Part IV, I argue that the biblical God serves as the basis for objective moral values and that atheists borrow the metaphysical grounding for human dignity and rights from a theistic worldview in which God makes human beings in his image. Finally, I refer to the role of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the Old Testament, who illuminates the Old Testament and puts it into proper perspective.  Moreover, his followers, when living consistently with his teachings, have actually made a remarkable moral impact on the world which scholars in both the East and the West, both Christian and non-Christian, acknowledge.

If some of you are following my debates on Facebook, then you know that I am using this argument against one of the atheists I am currently debating on the topic of spanking. Never, ever let an atheist get away with making moral statements. Moral statements are meaningless in an atheistic universe.

Paul Copan’s new book might be worth picking up because I don’t have anything on that topic. Not many people ask me questions like that, but maybe that’s God’s grace since I would not be able to answer them well anyway. Usually when I read something, he sometimes gives me that question from someone the very same week. It’s very interesting when this happens. But that’s what I mean when I say relationship with God. I mean we work together.

By the way, if you are looking for some good apologetics books for Christmas, take a look at this list at Apologetics 315.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should fundamentalists encourage pro-abortion, pro-public-school and anti-marriage policies?

Here’s a post from Newsbusters about a group of “patriarchal” Christians that opposed the nomination of Sarah Palin for the post of vice presidency based on their interpretation of the Bible.

Excerpt:

The Los Angeles Times seems to have taken a sudden new interest in biblical study. No, they haven’t become religious or anything close to that. Instead, they are microanalyzing the Bible for passages that they think they can use to slam Sarah Palin for running for vice-president. They are also searching the countryside to dig up the very few strongly religious Christians they can find who think Palin is wrong to run for public office.

Should fundamentalists directly or indirectly support the election of Barack Obama, which caused disastrous effects in society, (increasing abortion, enabling a stronger influence for public schools, and potentially legalizing same-sex marriage, for starters)?

Does Scripture actually justify any of these radically left-wing positions? Won’t these fundamentalist Christians be judged based on the fruits of their opposition to Sarah Palin? Don’t Christians have a responsibility to be educated about the consequences of their positions? Isn’t it important to interpret the Bible correctly?

See my previous post on the need to have an influence in the public square in the most effective ways possible.

Another point of view

A mother of 12 writes:

It is a continual source of amazement to me that some Evangelicals/Protestants raise such a ruckus about Catholics believing in the spiritual authority of the Pope, even while setting up little mini-Popes of their own – and that these leaders disobey God’s imperative to servant leadership in order to revel in their pedestal status.

Often these begin as well-intentioned people seeking righteousness, but then giving into the temptation of spiritual pride. Like the Pharisees Jesus condemned, they become white-washed sepulchers.

Our family’s experience in a legalistic church (mercifully brief 1989-1990) was filled with people bossing us around, telling us that they had a Word for us from God. How dared they presume that God would speak to a stranger rather than guiding us Himself?

And how dare the Vision Forum crowd presume to become the Pope to Sarah Palin?

The truth is that these well-meaning people have become isolated and insulated, building an alternative universe and then judging the outside world by their self-imposed standards rather than by the historical truth of a heavenly Father who throughout the Bible has chosen unlikely leaders and who has warned us about making our own.

Found here.

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