Re: [asa] Dobson

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Mar 06 2007 - 06:43:34 EST

a) New agricultural technologies can change the time scale - i.e., can decrease the time it takes to increase food production - to a certain extent but the world & its resources are finite so there's a limit to that. OTOH of course contraceptive technologies can, in principle, result in a stable population.

Not all science fiction pictures technological utopias. There are SF scenarios which deal precisely with bad results of uncontolled population growth, environmental disaster & the limits of technology. Christians especially should be wary of the notion that technology will solve all our problems. (& yes, I'm in favor of human space exploration, colonization of the moon & Mars - eventually - &c, but it's going to be a real long time before any significant # of people can be moved off earth.)

b) Abortion or infanticide will be an option if affordable & easy forms of contraception aren't made available. & ask women who have been reduced to the role of baby producing machines in many cultures if they feel "devalued" by being given the option of having sexual relations without having to fear bearing yet another child. (Which one of the Puritan divines was it who said "Let them have children till they die of it, for that is what they were made for"?)

c) The RCC has a dogmatic policy against "artificial" contraception which is not likely to go away soon. But the Evangelical community, not being locked into an obsolete Aristotelian natural law ethic, & not having (at least to the same extent) the distaste for sex that the Roman hierarchy does (I am not saying that without due reflection) has the opportunity to give a much better Christian witness in this area.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: George Murphy
  Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 10:41 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Dobson

  (a) What Malthus and the later environmentalists missed was the rapid growth of technology. Technology has always grown faster than population. Feeding the world isn't a scarcity problem, it's primarily a corruption problem. (And as a science fiction aficionado, George, I'd think you'd understand that humanity will find ways and places to live however much the population expands).

  (b) But the grim reality is that when population control is made a political priority, the resulting policies always include the promotion of abortion as a form of birth control. Moreover, the net result usually is a further devaluing of women in societies that adopt such policies.

  (c) Personally, I agree with you. However, many of my Christian brothers and sisters think otherwise, particularly the 1 billion or so Catholics around the world (at least to the extent they are faithful to the Magesterium). This brings up another grim reality of population control policies: they always go hand-in-hand with religious intolerance.

  An environmentalism that is linked to government population control policies, IMHO, has to be rejected.

  On 3/5/07, George Murphy <> wrote:
    Apropos the statements below on population control -

    a) x^n grows faster than nx - Malthus was right, though the time scale may be difficult to predict.

    b) The fact that abortion may have been used for birth control in China doesn't mean that it's the only means, or even the only ethical means - as even the Vatican

    c) I know of no good theological argument against birth control (excluding abortion!) which is practiced voluntarily by a married couple.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: David Opderbeck
      To: Carol or John Burgeson
      Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 8:44 PM
      Subject: Re: [asa] Dobson

      Well, it was pretty stupid of Cizik to mention population control. That feeds the worst fears of folks like Dobson. Frankly, it scares me as well, and I think Dobson's comment about forced abortion and infanticide in China is right on point. Christian environmentalists need to acknowledge that the environmental movement was dead wrong about the "population explosion" and must distance Christian responses to problems like gobal warming from the "secular" environmental movement's untoward emphasis on population control.

      On 3/5/07, Carol or John Burgeson < > wrote:
        Dobson seems to have followed Falwell in dissing Global Warming.


        Date: March 5, 2007
        From: Focus on the Family

        Dr. Dobson, Evangelical Leaders
        Challenge Global-Warming Rhetoric

        Letter urges National Association of Evangelicals to restrain its D.C spokesman.

        In a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), James C. Dobson, Ph.D., chairman of Focus on the Family Action, joined other pro-family leaders in urging the NAE to refrain from taking a position on the controversial and divisive topic of global warming and other issues.

        NAE official Richard Cizik, who works in the group's Washington, D.C., office, has told the media it's indisputable that human activity has contributed to global warming and has encouraged evangelicals to make it a top issue. On other occasions, he's said evangelicals "must confront population control."

        "We ask," Dobson and the others wrote, "how is population control going to be achieved, if not by promoting abortion, the distribution of condoms to the young and even by infanticide in China and elsewhere? Is this where Richard Cizik would lead us?"

        To demonstrate that not all evangelicals are on board with global-warming alarmism, the letter references a statement by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance that challenges common assumptions about global warming.

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Received on Tue Mar 6 06:44:13 2007

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