In the following TED talk, Hans Rosling posits the argument that religion really has nothing to do with birth rates. The talk is a fascinating one, and seems to indicate a general global pattern of declension from the God-given mandate to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28)
Despite the experiences of people who daily battle traffic jams through urban sprawl on the coasts and in the scattered large cities between, much of North America is vast, open, empty space, and even the farmland is producing at rates substantial enough for significant exports. The same could be said of pretty much every continent, leaving me to surmise that rather than cheering the leveling off of human population, perhaps it is rather a sign, as Rosling notes, of at least in part the global impact of egalitarianism or feminism, counter to the blessedness of God’s call and paradigm for humanity.
Rosling’s statistical analysis in relation to religion is undoubtedly affected by the simplicity of his three broad categories: Christianity, Islam, and Eastern religions. What would the trends look like if one differentiated further: conservative, evangelical Christianity? Fundamentalist Islam? Are there religious influences which counter the general trend? Knowing parts of the Christian community in North America, I believe there are, though even there I believe that Rosling’s overall analysis gives much food for thought. Are we as a Christian community being carried along, pulled along by a global culture of dual income, small family? How well does this cohere with God’s gracious and good call to be “fruitful and multiply?”