The Problem With “Traditional Marriage” (It wasn’t all that great to begin with)

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Personal, Politics, Religion, Social Justice |

What on earth is so great about “Traditional Marriage”?

 Christians keep harping on about “redefining marriage” and how traditional marriage is some magical sacred institution that is so perfect that we dare not change a single thing about it.  They talk about the sanctity of the institution of marriage and how to change course now is to destroy the very fabric of our society. 

How great is “Traditional Marriage™”, really? 

When my wife and I decided- after five years of dating, four years of cohabitation, two children,  and several family functions-to get married, I had to ask my wife’s father for her hand in marriage.  She didn’t need to ask my father- or my mother-no….  I needed to ask her father.  It is Tradition™, after all. 

Why?

Because “traditionally“, daughters were the property of their fathers. “Traditionally“- women are property that gets transferred from man to man. “Traditionally“, I own my wife.

 You know what?

 F-U-C-K tradition.

 I, like any reasonable and loving human being- like anyone deserving of being married- define marriage as a partnership of equals.  I don’t own my wife.  She is an amazing, strong, passionate human being- not an iPod.  That’s not what Tradition says.  That’s not what thousands of years of law and convention says.  That is just a fact- and an inconvenient one if you happen to think that marriage was perfect until we started to meddle with it.  I don’t want to “redefine” marriage.  It continues to change with a society that has realized how traditional doesn’t mean the same thing as optimal.  It is evolving to mean what it should have meant from inception- the joining of two equals in a promise of love and commitment.  Did I just “redefine” marriage?

  I already “redefined” marriage when I chose to view and treat my wife as a human being as opposed to a commodity that I could acquire from her father. I redefined marriage when I chose to value her as my equal.

When I asked her father for his blessing, I was following tradition.  Would it have been rude to refuse to take part in a ritual subjugation of my future wife?  I don’t think so. 

  “Traditional” doesn’t mean “right”.

Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we can’t do it better.  We can do a whole lot better than “Traditional Marriage”- so stop acting like it’s so Goddamned important.

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30 Responses to “The Problem With “Traditional Marriage” (It wasn’t all that great to begin with)”

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Well said as always.
I think that the word ‘redefining’ was deliberately chosen by religious institutions and those against gay marriage as a curve ball of sorts. You see, almost everyone is resistant to change. The more radical the change, the more resistance there is. By using that word – ‘redefining’- religious institutions and their sympathizers are able to play on the fear of change, making gay marriage a bigger deal than it really is. At the end of the day, marriage is “the joining of two equals in
a promise of love and commitment.” And the fact that it’s heterosexual or homosexual has no bearing whatsoever on that definition.

Amen and Amen.

That you get a hearty “Amen and Amen” from moral relativists like Julie Ferwerda is no surprise either. Since Julie knows it doesn’t matter what you believe. Go be a good misotheist! God loves you! Jesus has clear-cut a nice place in heaven for you! /:0)-

George.
Why are misotheists so… pro-homosexual? Your “head-over-heels obsession” for homosexual marriage vs traditional marriage is uncanny!
For me, it just shows another inconsistency with your wordview (morality being another example).
But, given what the Bible say’s about mans hatred of anything Holy, like the sanctity of human life, or, the God ordained covenant of marriage, one would expect to see things like abortion and homosexual marriage in a world where Biblical Christianity were true. These are the logical outworkings of sin which is consistant w/a X-tian WV.
How is morality (universal, immaterial, abstract, absolute…) and “hobo-sect-duality” (wink-wink) consistent w/EVO-lution? Where is the logic of this thinking? (oops, logic is universal, immaterial, abstract absolute… as well).

Psalm 2 comes to mind.

George, I think Lamont and his unsurpassable wisdom is trying to tell you and anyone else who disagrees with his bigoted nonsense is: God will condemn people for loving someone of the same sex and reward the people that hate them for it. Some God you’ve got there Lamont.

I believe in God and I hold the Bible in high esteem, but I also acknowledge the Bible to be a relic of the Bronze Age with many precepts and rules that no longer have relevance. If you are not capable of understanding that, than I suggest you study the teachings of Hillel the Elder and another fine Rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth (who never mentioned homosexuality once – nor did the Decalogue)

Nelson.

First off, if atheism and evolution are true and God ‘does not exist’ as George maintains, and, given natural selection and survival of the fittest, homosexuality w/b incompatible and inconsistent with his worldview. But it is not be incompatible or inconsistent with a Christian worldview.
Apparently, it doesn’t matter to you whether God exists or not, or, whether you are rational or not, just as long as homosexuality exists!

(N): “Lamont…with his bigoted nonsense is:”

(L): Ad hominem? Your first comment… is a last gasp!

(N): “…God will condemn people for loving someone of the same sex…”

(L) Nelson, where is “Love” condemned in the Bible? In fact, God commands us to love our brother. Not have sex w/him! Homosexual sex is one sin among many that are condemned by God.

(N): “Some God you’ve got there Lamont.”

(L): He is the “True and Living God.” I didn’t make Him up! (like your god).

(N):“I believe in God and I hold the Bible in high esteem…”

(L): God is encouraged that you believe in Him, though methinks He would disagree that you hold His Word (the Bible) in “high esteem!”
What you hold in high esteem is… Nelson! You put yourself as judge over the Word of God. In fact, your god is unrecognizable apart from you Nelson. You pick and choose what “your god” would say, or, not say. What “your god” would do, or, not do! What is right/wrong, good/evil. There is a Biblical term for this. It is called IDOLATRY! It is the most heinous of sins against God! It is utter treason!

(N):“…but I also acknowledge the Bible to be a relic of the Bronze Age with many precepts and rules that no longer have relevance.”

*(L): Sure, there are things in the Bible in which this is true. Homosexuality not being one of them though!

(N): “If you are not capable of understanding that…”

(L): I understood that better then you did! (See answer to* above)

(N): “…than I suggest you study the teachings of Hillel the Elder and another fine Rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth…”

(L): Jesus of Nazareth is Hillel the elders Creator! I’ll read His writings instead!

(God): John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

(God): “Col 1:115-17 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(N): “(who never mentioned homosexuality once…”
(L): He mentions it in his Word! So, Yes! He Does! Furthermore, He confirmed marriage between a man and a women…

(God): “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

(L): Homosexuality is the epitome of narcissism. It is the attempt of a man/woman to marry “his own image.” Homosexuals could never be “one flesh.”

(N): “…-nor did the Decalogue)”

(L): The law condemns all mankind, homosexuality notwithstanding! (See Romans 1-3 for starters). God calls all men everywhere to repentance!

Lamont, I don’t know whether I should pity you or just blow you off as a dogmatic sociopath. You, like many other mentally deranged religious Christians, twist Scripture to your liking. The Bible is a creation of MAN. It is no more the word of God then the Harry Potter books are. You have no evidence outside of the Bible itself to prove otherwise. Jesus was a man, not God and he created no one.

As to George’s point, which was apparently hijacked by the homilies of Reverend Lamont, I agree with Curtis. People should be allowed to live in happiness. If 2 men get married it does nothing to weaken an institution that has evovled many times. It has not been the same since Adam and Eve – Just ask the several hundred wives and concubines of Solomon.

Lamont,
Your ignorance is showing. You might want to get that checked out…….
Listen, I’m not “Obsessed” with Gay marriage, I’m “obsessed” with the rights of my fellow human beings- I’m obsessed with how we treat “the least of these”.
None of these things are inconsistant with my view that god is a human invention. None of those things are inconsistant with Nelson’s view that god exists. None of these things are inconsistant with Julie’s view that the Bible is the word of God.
They are inconsistant only to those who search to give cosmic credence to their own prejudices and insecurities.

Your ignorance of evolution is unsurprising. Not a single person I have ever met who rejects evolution has a clue what they are rejecting. What precisely is my inconsistancy?

Your last sentance is regurgitated presuppositionalist tripe. You can do better…..

Honestly.

George,

“Listen, I’m not “Obsessed” with Gay marriage, I’m “obsessed” with the rights of my fellow human beings-“

Here’s a quote from one of your bedfellows…

“Morality, on this view, is something most of us believe in, follow, and practice, even though it doesn’t exist in reality; its just an illusion foisted on us via evolution so that we don’t kill ourselves off as a species. There is no objective right and wrong on these views though.”

Dick Dawkins (Selfish gene)

Then to be consistent w/your atheist WV, you would wholeheartedly agree w/the rights of this, one of your “fellow human beings” too, correct?

“Then I learned that all moral judgments are ‘value judgments,’ that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself–what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself–that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any ‘reason’ to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring–the strength of character–to throw off its shackles…I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable ‘value judgment’ that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others?’ Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure that I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me–after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited.”

–Ted Bundy, cited in Louis P. Pojman, Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, 3rd edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson, 1999), 31-32.

Let’s not forget some of the world record holders…
Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Pol Pot.

If not, on what moral grounds? And why is this consistent w/the WV you chose?
The simple answer is… It’s not!!! I thank “The Triune God that exists that your just George W!

At least Dick & Ted &etc… (though they are/were evil & beyond horribly mistaken) are/were true to their WV.
Your WV is untenable. You want it both ways.

(G) “None of these things are inconsistant with my view that god is a human invention.”

Because He exists, I am able to show your inconsistency!

Lamont,
Please understand that what you just typed was not an argument. It was, quite possibly, the least intelligent non-rebuttal I have ever heard.

My wife used to work at a call center for Sprint when we were in our twenties. She worked in the “e-care” department- and her job was to literally open up customer e-mails and choose from a list of 44 pre-written responses to their concerns. The responses didn’t actually address the concerns in the e-mail so the trick was to choose which of the 44 stock responses was most germane to the complaint at hand.

I tell you this story because I want you to know….I understand. I understand that you don’t care enough about what I say to actually contemplate, ruminate, and evaluate what I actually say. I understand that just like that giant, faceless, sociopathic behemoth of a corporation- you have already determined that nothing I say is of any value. You have your 44 stock responses to whatever any atheist has to say to you and you just drag it from your drop down menu and on to my comment box.

You are- and I’m sure you would wear this badge with pride- a Godbot. You don’t ever bother to grasp what is said to you- if I asked you to explain in your own words what was said and meant in my last comment to you, you would cut and paste 3-4 lines of my text, throw in some quote from an atheist I don’t even like or agree with- compare me to a serial killer, throw in a bible quote or two, and think you have destroyed my argument. I didn’t argue that Dicky Dawkins was right about everything, or that I ascribe to his beliefs on morality. Yet somehow you manage to quote him as though I said it- then juxtapose it against a quote by Bundy- then assume you have done what, exactly?

I don’t know Dicky Dawkins. I don’t know Ted Bundy. I don’t know Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Hitler, Obama, Marx, Hawking, Sagan or just about anybody else you happen to disagree with at this moment. Just because you and I disagree doesn’t mean I hold the opinion of every person you have ever disagreed with. That is not an argument. It is a self-aggrandizing, boastful, ignorant, religiously twisted circle jerk. So if you don’t want to discuss things in a manner that shows that you understand the topic at hand- take your auto-erotic manipulations elsewhere.

Got that? Write it down.

George,
What a load of “El Torro Cau-cau! Your tantrum is nothing more than a red herring! (You can’t chop down a tree w/a herring George!)
Your attempt to smuggle human rights (esp. sodomite sex) into an atheist WV is untenable!
It has been weighed in the balances, and found wanting! How does matter, motion, time & chance obtain human rights i.e. morality?
Whether one biological bloated sack of protoplasm agrees or disagrees w/another biological bloated sack of protoplasm isn’t the point and you know it! Your morality amounts to a chemical reaction in your brain caused by last nights bowl of “Rare Beef & Tripe Pho” from Billy Bob’s Vietnamese noodle house & Barbecue pit! You’re having a moral moment George! I suggest you try either flatulating, or change you WV?

There are no red herrings here, Lamont. You insist that the opinions of others can be projected onto me by virtue of nothing more than an agreement on the liklihood that God exists. I don’t quote Luther and insist that it might have well come out your mouth.

I don’t fault you, Lamont. You struggle desperately against the ridiculous bile that has been injected into your religious worldview. Not every person can escape that kind of disability. I’m just glad that you stick around here to see that Julie has done it, Nelson too. Even John B. has risen above the worst of it. With strength, maybe you can too.

Why don’t you try asking specific questions to better understand my position? That way you wouldn’t need to quotemine people who are not me in an effort to counter my arguments. You could also read the 100,000 or so words that I have written on this blog. Perhaps you could find some direct quotes from me that are mutually exclusive.

Or, of course, you could just be lazy and project comments by other people onto me and gloat or ask me to build an entire case for morality from first principles so you don’t have to think about what you believe- specifically- is contradictory about my worldview.

I bet I know which route you will take……

Well said George. I agree that tradition should not be used to avoid examining what we do. Traditions can be important for society, but they can not be treated as beyond review.
As for Lamont, I don’t think evolution means what he thinks it does. Particularly when homosexual behaviour has been seen in most animal species on the planet. Just look at our close cousins the Bonobos.
Further, I don’t think you have a “head-over-heels obsession” with gay marriage as much as you believe in human rights and equality for all.

Curtis,

“As for Lamont, I don’t think evolution means what he thinks it does.”

(L) As for Curtis, I don’t think evolution means what he thinks it does.

“Particularly when homosexual behaviour has been seen in most animal species on the planet.”

Animals eating their own kind has been observed in over a thousand animal species.
So why was Dahmer condemned? What about his rights?
A dog will hump a couch, or, the leg of your dinner guest. Is that homosexul behavior?

Have you seen this rational argument why the state has interest in the “traditional” definition of marriage. While we may decide the costs are worth including homosexuals under the marriage umbrella, there are cost factors to consider. I think the most important of which is fostering and incentivizing relationships where procreation in possible so the world doesn’t get old and die out all together.
http://tech.mit.edu/V124/N5/kolasinski.5c.html

Hi Mike, I’m rather new here so I don’t know how seriously you take that linked article. I can say it may appear rational on the surface but really is rather ridiculous. You mention incentivizing relationships to prevent the world from dying out. Really? I don’t think there is much chance of that. The article actually talks about a society, which may, in the authors view, mean the US. Again, not likely, unless he is referencing a racial disparity. Adam Kolasinski mentions how we restrict and regulate other forms of marriage but not people beyond reproductive age because it is so rare it is not worth the effort. Given that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3% of the population identifies as homosexual, and it takes two people and everyone of them would need to be of marrying age and want to get married, that still give 1.5% of the population. I would call that rare too. Compare to the fact that 5% of all women who married in the US in 2009 were above 50 years old.
Aside from all the inaccurate and poorly argued points in the article, basic human rights should lead all of us to conclude the full rights of marriage should be extended to all. It is irrelevant that there are other parts of the regulation that are unfair, that should not prevent the addressing of this issue.

I just came across this blog today. It’s been a little while since I read that article, but I thought it brought up some interesting points and wanted to see what other people here thought about them. I don’t necessarily subscribe to anything it says. The “dying out” comment was a little hyperbolic, but I do think the reduction in fertility rates is a serious issue, especially in the first world, but even in places like China. Shrinking populations lead to shrinking economies and less young workers to support the growing elderly population. That’s a recipe for unrest and falling quality of life.

When it really comes down to it, gay marriage can only be presented as a civil right because some couples are allowed to enter into that particular contract while others are not. There’s no inherent right to any type of “marriage.” As far as I can think of, there’s nothing marriage gets you that you can’t already do with other types of contracts, besides a couple of tax breaks. It’s fine if we want to give those tax breaks to same-sex couples, but we can discuss those things without resorting to charges of bigotry or the contradictory arguments I’ve seen like, “marriage is a pretty terrible institution, but it’s really important that gays can be a part of it.”

Mike,
First off, I don’t think marriage is a “pretty terrible” institution. I’m married, as my post makes clear. I think the world of my wife, and I take our commitment to each other very seriously.
Has marriage always been “good”? On the whole, I’d say yes. Has it always been a perfect institution? Not by a long shot. Could it ever be theoretically perfect? No, but it could be better. That is what we have done over the past few centuries. Women are no longer chattles. Women are partners instead of servants. Blacks, Asians, Indians, Aboriginals and Caucasians are able to marry partners of a different race. Catholics marry Protestants. Hindus marry Buddhists. Atheists marry Muslims. Love never fails. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love perseveres- so no- I don’t think marriage, based on love, is a terrible institution.
The idea that 3-5% of the population entering into a marriage that can bear no children is somehow a recipe for disater is preposterous. Is everyone going to stop having children? Gay marriage has been legal in my country since 2005, and since that time I have had three children. I guess I didn’t get that memo- you know- the one that says heterosexuals are no longer supposed to have babies once gay people can get married. Populations will continue to grow at a healthy rate in spite of gays getting married or hetero couples choosing to be childless. What do you think all these gay people did before they could get married? Do you honestly beleive they were out having loads of unprotected hetero sex, like little homo-confused baby factories? Besides, the idea that we need to maintain exponential population growth is patently ridiculous.
Get a grip. Marriage stopped being a “religion-only” institution the day people started getting married by government officials. It ended the first time we let someone choose to have a non-religious ceremony. It ended when the government codified who can and can’t get married. Marriage is a legal contract- and if you can’t make a law saying that only men can enter into contracts with other men, then you can’t expect a law saying that contracts can only be between one man and one woman to stand on its merits. If you didn’t want marriage to be a constitutionally bound, legally recognized right- maybe you should have spoke out years ago.

Wow, guess I should have introduced myself a little. I saw some of your comments elsewhere in your blog and you were very rational and conciliatory. I myself enjoy talking about controversial topics such as this in a passionless, detached manor, and I thought that’s what I was doing, but apparently I hit a nerve.

I tried to phrase myself as carefully as possible. I wasn’t accusing you of making a poor argument, but I have seen others make those arguments and your post reminded me. I also didn’t claim we needed exponential growth in population, nor that gay marriage stops the production of babies completely, but I can imagine (doesn’t mean it does) that it adds to the chance that some couples have less kids since it reenforces the perception (and maybe unavoidable progression) that marriage is only about the love and happiness of the couple. And populations are not going to continue to grow at a healthy rate. I commend you for having 4 kids, but you are the exception. All first world countries have bellow replacement rate fertility, meaning even though populations are currently growing, each woman is averaging less than 2.1 children. This will eventually lead to the collapse of populations.

Mike,
If you honestly felt that I was being irrational or unfair then you really need to get some thicker skin. You didn’t hit a nerve, you asked for my opinion and I gave it.
Do I need to congratulate you on your witty rebuttal or concede that you make good arguments just so that you feel I’m being “fair” to your position? I would do those things, Mike, if there were any reason to do them.
You boiled my argument down to “marriage is terrible”, or at minimum implied that I made a similar argument. If you read the post, you would have comprehended the fact that my issue with Traditional Marriage is the “traditional” part and not the “marriage” part. If you can’t grasp that, I’m not sure you and I are going to have a fruitful conversation.
I have five kids (thanks for reminding me to update my profile) and I’ll tell you this: marriage is about legalizing, formalizing, maintaining and building a relationship with your partner, not about children. They call that “parenting”, and it can be done with or without marriage. Couples need to decide together whether parenting is something they value for themselves.
I would just like you to expand on what it is about gay marriage that is going to make heterosexual couples decide to not have children, because I think your argument sounds just like the causal link between pirates and average global temperatures…….

I apologize for implying you were saying marriage it terrible, and I don’t think you became irrational. The “rational” comment was actually my attempt to complement you, but apparently my comments haven’t been coming off as intended.

It was also probably wrong to post somewhat off-topic out of the blue, which implied I believed things I don’t. Your original post is completely legitimate and I agree with it, as I agree with much of what you’ve written throughout your blog, lets make that clear.

I was presenting other’s arguments that sounded plausible to me, but they seem likely to crumble under scrutiny. I don’t know if defining marriage as any two people who love each other could cause a drop in fertility, but marriage use to strongly imply child barring while that implication has fallen considerably. Perhaps the acceptance of gay marriage is simply the result of the evolving ideas about marriage over the last couple decades, which is fine with me if that’s the case. Kudos on the 5th child.

Mike,
The move toward less children has nothing to do with gay rights. The fertility rate has been dropping steadily in the United States since it peaked at around 4 children per family back in the mid 1950’s. The fertility rate was actually much lower in the beginning of the last century, and the number of children per household in the 1930’s was statistically equivalent to the fertility rate today. Certainly we can say that this is an indication that gay marriage has nothing to do with birth rates.
My educated guess for the decline in birth rates is that there are several factors that impact fertility rates- including culture, access to health care, social policy etc.- but the most important (at least in the developed world) are money and time. Most families today cannot function on a single income. This means that women don’t just choose to work (though many would)- they need to work. Having four children (or five!) with both parents working is quite difficult. Many countries do not afford sufficient maternity leave, child benefits, and other social programs to make children affordable to the average couple. Add to this the amount of time spent persuing a career- and you have a recipe for people having less children.

So the next question becomes: Is this a bad thing? For literally centuries we ran society at not much better than 50% efficiency. Half of the human population were relegated to housewives and mothers. These jobs are important, for sure, but technology has made the daily grind of keeping a house in order immesurably easier. These innovations have made it possible for women to persue rewarding careers. If our society has a flood of skilled human capital in the form of women entering the workforce, why do we need to constantly increase our population? Why is “better than replacement” such a desirable goal? Why is letting parents make the decision of how many children they want a bad thing given that we don’t need growth in population? At a population of around seven billion people (and, thanks to a global birthrate > 2.1), how many years do you imagine will pass before our species needs to worry about extinction? Here is some simple (and not perfect) math.
Most couples have finished child-bearing by age 35. The average person lives for 70 years, let’s say. If the birthrate plummeted to the UN projected birthrate for 2100 of 1.63 children per family tomorrow (can we both agree that this is never going to happen?) how many years would it take for our population to reach even 1 billion? For the sake of this experiment, I’m using this chart. Let’s begin:
7ish Billion (2012)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>3.25 billion-total population of 7.3 billion by 2047
7.3 billion (2047)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>2.65 billion-total population of 5.9 billion by 2082
5.9 billion (2082)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>2.16 billion-total population of 4.8 billion by 2117
4.8 billion (2117)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>1.76 billion-total population of 3.9 billion by 2152
3.9 billion (2152)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>1.43 billion-total population of 3.2 billion by 2187
3.2 billion (2187)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>1.12 billion-total population of 2.6 billion by 2222
2.6 billion (2222)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>0.91 billion-total population of 2.0 billion by 2257
2.0 billion (2257)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>0.74 billion-total population of 1.7 billion by 2292
1.7 billion (2292)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>0.60 billion-total population of 1.34 billion by 2327
1.34 billion (2327)>>Total number of children born to people aged 0-35—>0.49 billion-total population of 1.09 billion by 2362

So we need 350+ years of a birthrate of 1.63 to get to even 1 billion people. That of course assumes that we all start having 1.63 children per female today(impossible), that our life expectancy stays static at around 70 years (unlikely), and there are no other circumstances that change our birth rate during that period. I’m not sure that 1B people is really considered a population crisis, as many species on our planet don’t enjoy such large population numbers.

Marriage is the formalization of a coupling of adult humans- and as such has the unintended consequence of being tied to the birth of children. Arguing that marriage is the only way- or the best way- to procreate is to assume that marriage is intrinsically tied to child bearing. Perhaps you might be better to think of it as a “risk factor” for becoming a parent. Is that pedantic? Perhaps, but the distinction is important- especially in a discussion about whether marriage evolving has any consequence.

George,

You make some good points that are completely true. Women entering the workforce have been an incredible boom to the economy. Unfortunatly, I think we’ve saturated their contribution at this point. Economic growth over the last several decades have a lot to do with women entering the workforce. Now that they have, the easy economic growth due to them has been used up. So if we want to continue to grow the economy, and thus the position of the poor (and the rest of us), population growth must increase unless we greatly increase the rate of efficiency growth. Efficiency and population are the two main aspects that contribute to the overall economy.

Thus, if the population decreases, we need to make up for the reductions with increases in efficiencies, which I believe is the main reason to fear a population decrease. I am afraid that a reduced population will result in lower quality of life for those people left. Not to mention the fact that the people in a 1 billion population world will be much older than the people today and likely somewhat less productive overall, and once the rate of child birth has gotten that low, it is unlikely to recover psychologically.

So while we may not need to worry about literal extinction for quite a while, the reduction in total population could be a net detriment to life on Earth. But I will say that overall I tend to be an optimist, and thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find a solution to this problem before it becomes serious.

Mike. What is the current unemployment rate in Ohio? What is it in Michigan?
Do you really think the answer to stagnated growth is a larger workforce? What you are suggesting, I think, is that you believe that the only way to continue to grow the economy is to create more consumers. Where I tend to disagree is that consumers are only consumers if they have disposable income. The only way they have income is by being productive- and at the moment, and more so in the future, there is more people than there are productive jobs.
As we saw with the advent of women choosing to join the workforce, wages in general trend down relative to the cost of living. If there is surplus labour, the market devalues its worth. It’s not just labour, either. As a person living in “the rust belt” in Ohio, you have to be acutely aware of the effects of automation. If a computer can do the job of a person- and decrease costs to the company- why wouldn’t a business go that route? So now you have more people in Ohio than skilled employment. This is not a passing fad- technology and capitalism are going to keep marching forward regardless of how many people we create.

Your recipe for “Economic Growth” is a recipe for disaster. More people, less skilled employment. Increased demand with less disposable wealth. That isn’t economic growth, Mike, its growth for the sake of growth. It is putting the needs of corporations and their shareholders ahead of overall economic sustainability. We do not exist to be capital traded between corporate intests. What you are in essence saying is that we need to strive toward infinite growth. Not only is that impossible, it is dangerous. What we need to do is work toward a self-sustaining economic model- not one that puts profit ahead of prosperity. The last twenty years of “Globalist Economic Theory” has proved to be disasterous- yet this has been the largest sustained period of growth…even surpassing that of the Post-WWII era when nations rebuilt entire countries from the ground up. Why has it been a disaster? Because at the beginning of the 1970s the gap between rich and poor was one tenth of what it is today. Because the immense growth of the global economy has been in large part due to mergers and aquisitions- essentially trading on the uncertain future you are assuming is inevitable.

The problem, of course, is that corporations don’t care about sustainability. They are pathologically obsessed with short term profit for their shareholders.
If you don’t mind me asking, why would you assume that in a period of high population growth and exponential economic growth as we have seen in the last 30 years where our standard of living is projected to decrease for the first time in 500 years- that the answer to the problem is to keep chugging along on the same course?

Wow. It’s fascinating to see the direction these comments go.

I think it’s rather clear the position George has and the reasons he has for having them. Women are not property, period.

The whole construct of ‘traditional marriage’ that many modern Christians espouse is nothing close to the characterization as defined in their beloved bible. They cannot seem to grasp that.

The reference to the argument about government’s concern about marriage is truly laughable.

It’s amazing to see what the next rebuttal is when you show that the current argument is invalid.

Why is it so difficult to promote equality?

Um Mike, I’m going to grammar nazi you a little. By saying child ‘barring’ as opposed to child ‘bearing’, you are making your argument confused.

You’re right, sorry about that, I don’t always proofread my comments thoroughly.

It happens.🙂

I read your most recent post on your blog. Best of luck with your mom.🙂

Thank you Mike.🙂


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