The Great Fecundity of Human Barrenness: From Human Barrenness Arises Bounty and Fertility

In olden times, the general belief among humans was that having as many children as possible was virtuous, while having few or no children was selfish and socially deviant. Even today, many people continue to believe that a human being who doesn’t have any children is therefore barren, since they believe that one of the primary purposes – if not the primary purpose – of our existence is to procreate and bring forth new human life. But considered in the present context of human overpopulation, this traditional view is extremely myopic and mistaken. For it views fertility and its opposite, barrenness, from the solipsistically selfish perspective of humanity’s very narrow concerns.

As the global human population has exploded in recent centuries, and especially in recent decades, when the human population has been increasing by one billion in a little more than a decade, the age-old belief that having children is both wonderful and selfless, and the more children one has, the more wonderful and selfless one is, has become less and less true, to the point that now, the opposite is true. Here we can see how the context in which a statement, such as the biblical exhortation to go forth and multiply, is made has an important effect on whether it is true or not, or whether it is fair or unfair, just or unjust, or sensible or mad. To go forth and multiply in this day and age, when the human population is rapidly approaching eight billion ravenous human beings – with more than 100 million new humans entering the world every year – many of whom are never satisfied with their lives no matter how many things they possess, how many places they have visited, how many things they have already done, how much energy they have consumed, and how much pollution and garbage they have produced, is a form of collective madness which will bring about our species’ demise if it is not soon corrected. For all the many bad things that we humans produce and cause, including garbage, pollution of the land, water, and air, species extinction, greenhouse gases, climate change, extreme weather events, radioactive wastes, toxic chemicals, oil spills, algal blooms, urban sprawl, coral bleaching, rising sea levels, deforestation, non-human habit loss, ecological degradation, and so on, will only get worse the more human beings there are living on the planet.

There is a very clear inverse relationship between the number of human beings and the number of the great majority of other creatures that exist on the Earth: the more humans there are, then generally speaking, the less there are of almost all other forms of multicellular life – less non-human mammals, less birds, less fish and crustaceans, less amphibians, less insects, less cetaceans, less reptiles, less marsupials, less trees, less plants in general – except of course those plants that we humans like to eat, less arachnids, less shellfish, less coral, and less diversity of life in general. Since this is so obviously and visibly true in all parts of the world where humans have gone forth and multiplied, in many places to a highly irresponsible and unsustainable extent, it is very clear what we humans must do: we must reduce the global human population, since it is this total that is causing so much harm and devastation, not to mention rapid climate changes, that threaten and imperil not only the survival of a great many other species of organisms, but also our own future human survival on the only habitable planet in our solar system.

Viewed from the more broad perspective of Life on Earth, and not just human life, a human being who chooses not to have any human children will permit all the many other living organisms, which – let us not forget – were also created by God, to go forth and multiply in their turn. In other words, these humans’ barrenness will contribute to a greater fecundity of non-human mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, cetaceans, insects, shellfish, plants, trees, fungi, and other forms of Life. And these many wonderful creatures will not multiply so they can be eaten or used by us selfish humans for our very narrow purposes: they will multiply in order to demonstrate the greatness, variety, and fecundity of God’s Life Project, the Living Masterpiece that is Life on Earth.

Though wanting all your children to survive may be a natural desire, to have all your children survive is an extremely unnatural outcome that has only been made possible in recent decades due to the marvels of science and technology. Hence, in order to counterbalance this highly unnatural – and in many ways perverse and extremely destructive – but presently common outcome, at least in the case of humans, it must be accompanied by the equally unnatural practice of limiting one’s fertility or reproduction to rates that are more sustainable and environmentally balanced. In other words, henceforth, all human couples can – or should – have only one child, or two children at the very most, regardless of whether these children are with one or more partners. For example, having three children does not sound like much, but it is one too many; for three exceeds two by 50%, which is an increase in the population over one generation, generation after human generation, that is clearly unsustainable. Assuming a 100% survival rate, and assuming that the children will have the same number of children when they mature, as well as assuming that all people will procreate, this will lead to a five-fold increase in the population in just four generations – an increase that is clearly unsustainable even over relatively short periods of time like decades and centuries. Given our present global population of roughly 7.8 billion, this would mean that in just four generations, which could be as little as 80 years or less, the world population would increase to about 39 billion if all couples had, on average, just three children each.

In the light of these stark demographic realities, rather than viewing those who choose not to have any children as strange and selfish, these individuals should rather be viewed as selfless and rational human beings who, recognizing that there are already too many human organisms on the Earth, are willing to forgo their right to procreate and beget children in order that the devastating deluge of humanity diminishes, so that all the many other wonderful creatures, whether plant, animal, or other, will be able in their turn to go forth and multiply, which many of them presently are not able to do because of humanity’s monstrous selfishness, myopic egotism, and our general indifference to their plight. In other words, viewed from the global, holistic, and more generous perspective of all Life on Earth, humanity’s diminished fecundity, or its increased barrenness, will result in a flourishing of all the many wonderful non-human creatures that live on this planet, as existed before our perilous and tragic rise to planetary dominance.