People concerned with the rights of unborn fetuses should be more concerned with the needs of children. No child could possibly get what he or she needs in a two parent family with seven other siblings. … There are so many children waiting to be adopted.  And,what kind of a world makes it impossible for homosexuals to adopt children when the alternative for these children is so much worse than the Birdcage?  Furthermore, when did the ability to screw, or buy an embryo, make anyone fit to parent?  I just don’t understand people sometimes. Fuck you I say to those righteous simpletons who haven’t the slightest clue when it come to being a good Christian.”

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  1. Well, maybe you should blog on this….that outta set off a good thread!
    I double-dog dare ya! (…a triple0-dog is in the offing).

  2. Was it Aristotle on Prudence?

    Mr. Cheeks, I would reserve the triple doggie dare for a fight that is worth having.

  3. I guess I must go inform everyone I know (including my dear ol’ potato hoeing granny) from large families that they “did not get what they need” in childhood.

    The article does, however, bring out the troubles associated with in vitro fertilization. Her questioning “the ability to screw, or buy an embryo” as the requisite conditions of parenthood would be similarly questioned by just about any perfectly orthodox Catholic moral theologian worth his or her salt. Unfortunately, there is just about zero legislation regulating in vitro and other reproductive therapies. There once was a time when infertile couples would adopt or accept the cards dealt them by nature, but those days are gone. Though, I think she may be arguing a straw man. Most Christian pro-lifers I know would not be comfortable with in vitro.

  4. An amazingly barftastic article.

    It would have been so much better for everyone if big families had continued in obscure freakishness rather than suffer association with the likes of J + K.

  5. Can anyone refer interested readers to mathematical models of projected world population based on varying ranges of per-couple generation? I ask only because feeding and housing (not to mention providing the appropriate conditions for human flourishing for) people in a world where each generation produces somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight children per reproductive pair, seems, prima facie, unfeasible, especially considering how difficult it is to feed and house people in a world where per couple reproduction is far below that level.

    I guess I’m citing data from the UN here, which puts the total fertility rate (the number of children the average woman will bear during her reproductive years, assuming she survives until the end of those years) at approximately 2.82. Elevating that number to an average of even 4.0–let alone, 7.0 or 8.0 as some have mentioned here–would seem to involve far higher rates of resource production than are feasible, given current levels, which seems further unimaginable, given an advocacy for methods of sustainable food production, which necessary though such methods may be, cannot produce the number of sheer calories per acre that industrial agriculture is able to produce. (Berry’s accounting in The Gift of Good Land notwithstanding.)

    [The difficulty here, of course, presumes that we’re interested in feeding and housing everyone. But if we’re happy to let natural selection work its way through the human species as it does through over-populated deer herds, then we may as well keep trying to afford all children the joy of many brothers and sisters. If this is the plan, though, one suspects we should begin to develop contingency plans for the inevitable consequences of a third-world too late in learning that while man may not live on bread alone, every word that God utters makes for a pretty sparse diet.]

  6. Aaron, there are approximately 46 million abortions done each year around the planet. How many more do you require?

  7. Sorry, Bob, but that’s a red herring fallacy–or more charitably, a fallacy of false dilemma.

    Red Herring: I didn’t mention abortion in my question, so I’m not sure why you’re trying to use it as a point against what I asked.

    False Dilemma: The threat of over-population doesn’t necessitate a pro-abortion policy (although it is surely a point in such a policy’s favor). The real dilemma (which may itself be a false one if someone else can provide a third option) that I’d like to read some discussion on is something like this: over-population or population control. And while abortion may be one manifestation of population control (see: Aristotle), there are many other less objectionable ones that you did not too hastily suggest. Legal limits on reproduction is one that comes immediately to mind (though, I’ll admit, not immediately enough for me to post some deliberately obfuscating tripe in the comments section to a post that I could, by all appearances, hardly read, let alone form coherent thoughts about such that anyone other than the most lock-step, anti-intellectual, quasi-literate ‘conservative’ would believe contributed to the discussion in a meaningful way).

    Setting aside Bob’s logic miscues, the premise for my question to readers of a presumably more advanced reading level was this: having children at rates incommensurate with our ability to (among other things) feed them either will result in over-population or it will necessitate a legal codification of population growth controls. My question was: Is this premise accurate in the first place? That is, does anyone know of any studies that might show that the international per-female reproductive rate could increase significantly without putting too significant an additional burden on our ability to provide for the increase in progeny? I’m not particularly well-read on this subject, so before pushing back against the idea that many-children families are a blessing, I’d like to, you know Bob, engage in critical thinking, and get my facts straight –in this instance, about whether the intuitive problem has been verified or disproved by the empirical data.

    Again, then: does anyone have any knowledge of data on this topic? Or is it reasonable to think that the dilemma of population control/over-population still stands for those who argue in favor of larger families?

  8. Aaron, I’m going to try harder to focus on what you’re saying, because its very smart stuff. I hope you comment here more are the dude.

  9. And here, Bob, you get me worked into what another writer on this site has oft called “a womanish snit,” and then you go and respond with good Christian humility. How’s a semi-liberal, semi-conservative, batting way out of his league in too-big britches with more than a little something to prove supposed to respond to that?

    Sorry I jumped on you. The point could’ve been made in a friendlier fashion, and I might’ve done better to have made it so.

  10. Aaron, you’re alright and don’t you worry about ‘jumping on’ me or anyone else. This is always a fine conversation here and its even more fun when people get ‘fired up.’ Beats the drool cup!

  11. Mr. Shroeder, I’m not sure where you are finding any assertion that fertility rates ought to be higher or lower before your exchange with Mr. Cheeks. I thought this post was about something else.

  12. AML,

    What I’m saying is that, while children may be able to get the kind of emotional or developmental attention they require in large families, the larger problem for advocates of such a position is that large families on a larger-scale would seem to make manifest a host of difficulties that such advocates have not yet begun to offer clear answers to. And that because, I think, the difficulties themselves may not be entirely clear.

    I was trying to begin a discussion about those larger difficulties facing the pro-large family people. Such a discussion struck me as interesting in that the notion of large families seems to get a lot of play on FPR without any direct defense against the more or less obvious Malthusian worries here considered. There are smart people on this site thinking about just such problems, and I’d thought that a few of them might have begun to work on solutions for this one in particular.

    So, you’re right that there’s no assertion about increases in fertility rates earlier in the post, but any defense for large families would seem somewhat uninteresting if it didn’t come with a concomitant recommendation, as well. And taking such a recommendation as an implied premise would seem, as near as I can tell, to open up the position to the concerns I’ve tried to raise.


  13. Dr Wilson,

    I’m sorry for what’s looking like my startling ignorance on this, but how/about what was Malthus wrong? I’m referring only to his discussion of human population growth, and not to his biological or economic positions (about which I know nothing, though one suspects that his theory of population would have involve some discussion of the latter two). As I elementarily understand him, Malthus argued that populations grow geometrically–which they do–and food production increases arithmetically–which it does. Or in other words, the world has a finite carrying capacity and an infinite reproductive capacity. Clearly, these two premises collide in such a way that one of two conclusions seems possible: Either (1) the world’s carrying capacity will temper its reproductive capacity, or (2) the world’s reproductive capacity will bring about an increase in its carrying capacity.

    We experience (1) every day, when we see any species overpopulate some area that it is unable to migrate from. Members of the species die off (whether by predation, starvation, or, as in China, a conscious attempt to reduce population) until its numbers return to the carrying capacity for the given area. We also experience (2) every day, but it seems more or less obvious that the degree to which ancient sunlight, industrialized agriculture, and monoculture hybridization are able to increase our food producing capacity is shrinking with some rapidity.

    So, you might say that that argument is or isn’t Malthusian. If it is, and it was disproved somewhere as you suggest, I’d wonder whether you could provide a citation. In a brief survey of some of the earlier criticism, I found that many of the essayists’ conclusions are pretty obviously objectionable. Shelley’s amounts to little more than name-calling. And Godwin demands statistics proving the likelihood of the Malthusian Catastrophe, which was never the thrust of Malthus position in the first place. And more contemporary criticism may prove Malthus’ wrong, but they do so by simultaneously arguing against those in favor of large families. That is, they prove that developed populations control growth naturally , which ought not to satisfy to anyone who thinks that it’s better that families have seven or eight children.

    [And the argument that the ‘Malthusian Catastrophe’ didn’t happen is surely contestable as grounds suggesting that such a catastrophe will not happen in the future. Further, it’s not clear that the catastrophe hasn’t happened already–though perhaps some would consider the world’s 923 million malnourished something other than a catastrophe.]

    If, on the other hand, this argument isn’t Malthusian (or if it’s Malthusian-in-tone-only), and has thus not been subject to the criticism you mentioned, it would stand to reason that overpopulation as a result of over-reproduction still poses something of a worrisome problem.

    On a (somewhat) lighter note, this conversation reminds of something I heard James Howard Kunstler say a speech some two autumns ago. To underline the foolishness of the Cheney (or Bush I) line that “The American way of life is non-negotiable” Kunstler offered something close to the following illustration. “No way of life is non-negotiable. And if you haven’t figured that out yet, that is, if you’re unable to negotiate like an adult the terms of your existence that Nature hands you, then Nature automatically assigns you a new negotiating partner. Named Reality . And Reality will negotiate the terms of your existence for you. You don’t have to be in the room.”

  14. From Richert’s piece: “In the desire to provide children with everything that they ‘need,’ too many parents today schedule every last moment of their children’s lives, unintentionally smothering the sparks of spontaneity and creativity and individuality. No parents of eight could have enough control over their children’s lives to do the same.” This made me laugh out loud. I’ve only five children, but it’s still too many to micromanage, no matter how hard I try.

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