The claim that there are too many people in the world deserves further investigation.
The idea of overpopulation became popular during the Enlightenment period. British scholar Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) spread the belief that the more a population grows, the less it will be able to sustain itself, and eventually people will start starving and running short on other resources as a result of their own prosperity.
American biologist Paul Ehrlich also supported this idea in the mid-twentieth century. Even though Malthus’ and Urlich’s predictions have been proven to be wrong, the idea keeps resurfacing.
It’s what convinced China to implement a one-child policy, and India to force sterilization upon its population. Other policies around the world have been implemented to reduce our “carbon footprint”. It’s been said that some governments have even mixed sterilizers in their people’s running water.
Also, many people use the overpopulation myth to justify their lifestyle choices, like using contraceptives, and choosing to not start a family.
Some people say we will soon run out of food, but farmers are actually being paid not to produce food because we’ve become so efficient at doing so. War, infrastructure, and politics are the real causes of starvation.
G.K. Chesterton said, “The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him whether he is part of the surplus population, or if not how he knows he is not.”
The idea that the world is overpopulated is dangerous, because it gives people a reason to justify euthanasia and abortion. The overpopulation theory is not convicting enough to make a person sacrifice their own life for the cause, but it is persuasive enough to convince a person that other lives should be sacrificed.
Many Christians in the past — and Christ himself — have given up their lives for the Christian ideals they believed in. A distinct quality of truth is that, when a person has committed himself to it, he is willing to sacrifice himself or something dear to him to stand up for it.
While we are called to be stewards of the earth, the idea that humans are the problem is not only wrong scientifically; it erodes human dignity. Humans exist forever. The earth will not. Let’s work toward taking care of the earth while understanding that saving souls is more important than saving our planet.
If you’re passionate about issues like this, read about how the Catechism explains we should be using our political voices in Ascension’s new guide, Clear Conscience: A Catholic Guide to Voting.
Meet Jackie and Bobby Angel
Jackie Francois Angel is a full-time worship leader and speaker. Bobby Angel is a campus minister and theology teacher at a Catholic high school. Married in 2013, they have four beautiful children and strive to grow in holiness each day!