Saturday, July 13, 2013

Be fruitful and multiply

Libby Anne's latest column made me think. A lot of evangelicals think they're supposed to let God give them all the children they possibly can. Why? Well, the Bible does say that God blessed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and told them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it."

But here's the problem. Even if you believe the Bible literally, we're not in the Garden of Eden anymore. Moreover, God gave those instructions to the human race when there were (supposedly) exactly two humans on the planet. But God in all his omniscience can't have failed to notice that despite being cast out of the Garden naked and defenseless, we humans have rather cleverly managed to struggle to the top of the food chain and eradicate a lot of things that kill us, thus increasing the population quite drastically. God is presumably not oblivious to the fact that the Earth is in fact pretty well filled now.

I said on Libby Anne's blog that I imagine God's latest words would be, "Haven't you people heard of birth control?" But I suppose an evangelical would find that presumptuous. It's true that we don't know what God thinks nowadays, because he never speaks to us directly as he allegedly did in the Bible. The evangelical answer to that is typically, "All the answers are in the Bible." But it seems to me that maybe evangelicals ought to consider the possibility that conditions on Earth have changed enormously since the Bible was written. "Be fruitful and multiply" made sense when humans were few. But there are over seven billion of us on the planet now. Things have changed.

At any rate, if there is a God, maybe he's no longer speaking to us because he wants us to use our brains and think a little. And one of the questions I really wish evangelicals would consider more seriously is that of overpopulation. The honest truth is that even if we believe in God (and I of course don't), we really have no idea if God would frown upon birth control or not. It wasn't even a concept when last he supposedly spoke to us. So assuming he'd be opposed to it seems just as presumptuous as assuming he'd be in favor of it.

In matters in which the Bible is silent, it seems to me that even religious humans should use their brains, rather than trying to interpret the Bible to render an opinion on something that hadn't been thought of two thousand years ago.

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