Tuesday, August 13, 2013

End of the World and Fertility

Could humans cause the end of the world? I started wondering this after I began learning more about declining fertility rates. Most people are familiar that world population has been increasing for quite some time now. The fallacy is that it will just continue to grow. The fact of the matter is, as one researcher put it, people are not breeding like rabbits, they just stopped dying like flies. The main factor in growing human population is that old people are living much longer than ever before.

But I found something very scary. Replacement fertility rate is 2.1 children per woman. Almost all Western countries are now below this replacement level and rely on immigration to keep populations up. Some country are particularly concerned with low fertility rates and have enacted national policies to deal with the crisis. The thing I found scary is the precipitous drop in worldwide fertility rate. If this rate sinks below 2.1, the population of the world will soon peak and then start to decline unless something drastic happen. And that's why I brought up my original question of whether humans could cause our own demise.

Here is the data (found on Wikipedia):

World historical TFR (1950–2015)
UN, medium variant, 2010 rev.[2]

According to this chart, fertility has declined sharply since the 1950s. From 1995 to 2010, fertility rates dropped by .43. That's just 15 years. If that trend continues from 2010 to 2025, the fertility rate worldwide will be just 1.93. If this is not reversed, the human world would be on a collision course to self-annihilation! Look how far we've come since the 50s! Our current fertility rate is less than HALF of what it was just a couple of generations ago.

Very scary stuff! Our only hope is to listen to the first thing God commands of the human race: "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1: 28)

RIch Preachers (of L.A.)

Check out the following video:

Many people are upset with this new series coming out on the Oxygen network, known to many as Oprah Winfrey's tv station. As you can see from the 3 minute preview, the show follows the lives of several rich preachers. My reaction is not quite the same as most people's. Many react in disgust. How dare these men of God take all this money for themselves. This may be true, I'm not going to judge that. What I will judge is the prosperity gospel which says if you follow God's commandments, he will reward you with material wealth. I believe material wealth is objectively good and more wealth is better than less wealth. But I do not believe that material possessions are an indication of God's favor with a person.

I think the main message of Jesus was to not be attached to worldly things but to instead focus on spiritual things. Attachment to material wealth can lead to dissatisfaction with life and greed. Ultimately it can detract from our spiritual relationship with God. However, I do not think it's anyone's obligation to be poor, unless one takes a vow of poverty. The Catechism has an interesting message about greed. It says it can affect rich and poor. Poor people can become obsessed with money and become jealous of others who are more financially successful. This can lead to dissatisfaction. However, on the other hand, people with a lot of money can become so attached to it that they obsess over maintaining and protecting it. This too can lead to dissatisfaction.

Overall I think wealth creation is a good thing, especially when it lifts people out of poverty. But I think the main problem is attachment to wealth and possessions which can get in the way of our relationship with Christ.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gay Catholic

I just came across this blog post by a gay Catholic. It's a good read. He talks about his struggles and puts things in perspective. He's already received a massive number of comments and it was only posted earlier today (technically yesterday since it's after midnight):