We have before us two articles appearing in different papers dealing with the population problem. Christian Economics presents a brief article written by Hugh Moore appearing in the November 17th issue and entitled: “The Population Bomb” in which the writer expresses great alarm at the fact that the world population is increasing at such enormous rates that he sees it as a threatening bomb with greater disaster potential than the atom bomb. 

U.S. News & World Report, December 7th issue, also considers the problem through the eyes of Catholic Bishops who disclosed their reactions in a released publication on November 26, 1959, at the close of their annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Their report obviously does not reflect the scare others seem to have over the problem of population increase. And in no uncertain terms they decry the birth control measures advocated by many today which is considered to be the only technique destined to keep the population bomb from exploding. 

It is undisputed fact that the population is increasing with enormous pace. Hugh Moore informs us: 

“Never has mankind experienced a population growth like that of the past 200 years, and especially not like that of the last ten years. 

“Two hundred years ago world population numbered about 700 million. 

“In the following century it increased by 400 million and in the last century — it increased 1500 million. What is particularly frightening about these figures is that the rate of increase has been growing— and is still growing. When we break down this figure of 1500 million increase in the past century into growth of the first and second 50 years, we find that the increase in the second 50 years was twice as much as that in the first 50 years. But the worst is still to come. Taking the last century by decades the first half averaged an increase of 100 million per decade and the second half over 200 million per decade. The present decade will well exceed a 400 million increase. 

“The United Nations estimates that world population is now growing approximately 47 million a year or more than the population of France.” 

The reason for this rapid increase, according to Moore, is the “progress in medicine and sanitation” which “pushed death rates down in Europe and North America. Later, and especially after the last war, these medical discoveries and sanitary improvements were made available to the people in the less developed countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is in these areas where we find the most rapid increase of population today. 

“For example, Mexico has an annual birth rate of 46 per thousand population and a death rate of 13. Its annual growth is 3.3 per cent. At this rate there will be 60 million Mexicans in 20 years compared with 30 million now. 

“Many other countries have similar growth rates.” Mr. Moore’s solution to the problem is birth control. Writes he, “The inescapable conclusion is that improvement of living standards in most underdeveloped areas is impossible without a slow-down in population growth. Birth rates must somehow be brought into balance with death rates.” “If we care to look, we find a spreading desire among destitute people to limit the number of their offspring. Lacking the knowledge and means of birth control they are unable to do it. We can give them the necessary knowledge and material. This is not interference in the domestic affairs of other people. We have been giving our know-how on reducing death rates. Nobody calls that interference. Likewise, giving know-how on reducing birth rates is not interference, when desired by the recipient.” 

It is against this advice that the Roman Catholic Bishops in the above mentioned article in U.S. News & World Report set themselves. Speaking for their church, here is what they say: 

“For the past several years a campaign of propaganda has been gaining momentum to influence international, national and personal opinion in favor of birth-prevention programs. The vehicle for this propaganda is the recently coined terror-technique phrase, ‘population explosion.’ The phrase, indeed, alerts all to the attention that must be given to population pressures, but it also provides a smoke screen behind which a moral evil may be foisted on the public and for obscuring the many factors that must be considered in this vital question. 

“More alarming is the present attempt of some representatives of Christian bodies who endeavor to elaborate the plan into a theological doctrine which envisages artificial birth prevention within the married state as the ‘will of God.’ Strangely, too, simply because of these efforts and with callous disregard of the thinking of hundreds of millions of Christians and others who reject the position, some international and national figures have made the statement that artificial birth prevention within the married state is gradually becoming acceptable even in the Catholic Church. This is simply not true. “The perennial teaching of the Catholic Church has distinguished artificial birth prevention, which is a frustration of the marital act, from other forms of control of birth which are morally permissible. Method alone, however, is not the only question involved. Equally important is the sincere and objective examination of the motives and intentions of the couples involved, in view of the nature of the marriage contract itself. As long as due recognition is not given to these fundamental questions, there can be no genuine understanding of the problem . . . 

“United States Catholics believe that the promotion of artificial birth prevention is a morally, humanly, psychologically and politically disastrous approach to the population problem . . . They will not, however, support any public assistance, either at home or abroad, to promote artificial birth prevention, abortion, or sterilization, whether through direct aid or by means of international organizations. 

“The fundamental reason for this position is the well-considered objection to promoting a moral evil—an objection not founded solely on any typically or exclusively Catholic doctrine, but on the natural law and on basic ethical considerations . . .” 

The R. C. Bishops believe they have a solution to the “population explosion” scare. Among the several arguments they present is the one concerning “Food and Agriculture.” The argument is as follows: 

“United States Catholics do not wish to ignore or minimize the problem of population pressure, but they do deplore the studious omission of adequate, reference to the role of modern agriculture in food production. ‘The ‘population explosion’ alarmists do not place in proper focus the idea of increasing the acreage or the acreage yield to meet the food demands of an increasing population. By hysterical terrorism and bland misrepresentation of data they dismiss these ideas as requiring too much time for the development of extensive education and new distribution methods and for the elimination of apathy, greed and superstition. 

“Such arguments merely beg the question, for the implementation of their own program demands the fulfillment of the same conditions. It seems never to dawn on them that, in a chronic condition where we have more people than food, the logical answer would be not to decrease the number of people but to increase the food supply, which is almost unlimited in potential. 

“We make these observations to direct attention to the very real problem of population pressures. Such remarks are not intended to exhaust this complex subject, nor to discourage demographers, economists, agricultural experts and political scientists in their endeavors to solve the problem. 

“Rather our intention is to reaffirm the position of the Catholic Church that the only true solutions are those that are morally acceptable under the natural law of God. Never should we allow the unilateral ‘guesstimates’ of special pleaders to stampede or terrorize the United States into a national or international policy inimical to human dignity. For, the adoption of the morally objectionable means advocated to forestall the so-called ‘population explosion’ may backfire on the human race.” 

In this debate we are attracted to the argumentation presented by the R. C. Bishops, and that for several reasons: 

In the first place, we go along with them in their stand on birth control. However, we believe the argument can be made even stronger against proposed birth control. Not only the natural law is violated when these scientific measures are employed, but the Moral Law of God is also transgressed. Are not they guilty of infanticide who use them? The willful destruction of the seed of generation or conception makes one a transgressor of the sixth commandment as the out and out murderer. 

In the second place, it seems to me that the R. C. Bishops are right when they point to the fact that where the number of the people is increased, the supply of food must be commensurate. It seems silly to me to talk about possible food shortages while our government is striving all the time to hold down over-production. A certain Mr. Yankus felt he had to move to Australia because he didn’t want to live under a government which told him he couldn’t raise as much grain as he wanted to. A short while ago I called attention to the corruption of feather-bedding in the railroad unions. But the same principle is employed by the federal government when it pays the farmer for crops he never planted or harvested. In our country they talk about possible food shortages while they are burning up the pigs and throwing all the surplus potatoes in a hole in the ground. 

And finally, isn’t it also true that the Lord God takes care of the surplus population, either by feeding them all or taking their lives away from them through war, famine and disease, or as Revelation has it, through the breaking of the seals, blowing of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the vials? This is God’s way of taking care of the regulation of the population. Never has He charged man to take the problem in hand.