How do you keep 7 billion people from reproducing?

Dear Father Bloom,

Depending upon your point of view, God first created this world as a garden. Being a creation of God, it is a sacred creation. That we fail to care for it properly, respect it, and all of God's creatures, is a very grievous return for God's compassion and generosity, not to mention God's hospitality. Human beings are like a large herd of greedy moles digging up God's garden.

But most of our sins and errors arise from our ignorance and our survivalistic emotions. Greed is a very important instinct, but in our world it runs amok. People don't stop at mere cessation of need.

The problem with 1 billion people (circa 1800) is that in a relatively short time, they become 3.5 billion. Now we are closer to 7 billion souls. The problem is not truly about how to you feed 7 billion people, but how do you keep 7 billion people from reproducing and creating 12 billion. And so on. It will happen. It will be devastating.

Suppose every person who has carved out a niche for themselves, be it a square yard or 25 acres, had to live using only the resources available in that locale. Suppose also, that each person could not remove from that spot any of their trash, waste, used toilet paper rolls, car parts, plastic bottles or old clothes. The trash would not be far from their sight or thoughts. Some people live and make their living on trash heaps. Somehow, I don't think Eden had a trash heap, and animals far outnumbered the humans.

I don't suppose that if the Catholic Church would call for a whole generation to live a celibate life, to not create offspring, and to devote their free time to restoring God's garden that they would give it a lot of thought.

People who live in a world of jet air planes are unlikely to live in awe of birds.

I enjoyed your correspondence with an old acquaintance, Stephen Kepple.

Beth Thomson


Dear Beth,

I do agree that we humans have made a pretty awful mess of things - wars, rape, greed, etc.. Still God is a remarkably provident Father. Did you follow Julian Simon's Bet With Paul Ehrlich?

About population growth: were people better off materially in 1800 when we had one seventh the number? I can only think back as far as my grandparents, but I know that we grandchildren are much better off (materially, probably not spiritually) than they were. The great majority of people in this country - and most others - would admit the same. Just in terms of material comfort, would you trade places with your grandmother or someone who lived two hundred years ago?

Population growth is slowing down drastically - in many countries it is below the replacement level. But even if it increases to twelve or forty billion, why we would we not be able to take care of the trash, provide water, food, homes, etc.?

I only recommend celibacy for those who have the charism (and it's hard enough for us) but for the others, marry and have children. That is God's plan for the great majority. His first command to humans was "Be fertile and multiply." I am convinced he has given us the corresponding resources to live out that command.

What do you think, Beth? God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

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