Malthus: Ideology Matters

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 4, 2014 1 comments

by Bill Seng

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

A little over 200 years ago, a man shook the very foundations of the scientific world. We discovered that mankind was no better than any other creature that walked the earth. The plague of sinful man’s existence and prosperity would so exhaust the world’s resources that human life would no longer be sustainable. Because of such findings, we decided that certain people were unfit to live in this world. Racism became more prevalent than ever. The physically handicapped were deemed no more useful than a barnyard pig. And certain countries even made laws to prevent the mentally impaired from reproducing, to the extent where there were forced sterilizations. We never viewed people the same after this man proposed his radical theory. If you think I am talking about Darwin, you are wrong. If you think I am speaking about someone who challenged the Christian faith, you are doubly wrong.

Enter Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. Yes, Reverend Malthus. If you are scratching your head right now, you have good reason to do so. Few have ever heard of Reverend Malthus and yet I would say today his ideas are more influential than Charles Darwin’s. You might be surprised to hear that Malthus’ theory greatly impacted how Darwin himself saw the world. Having mentioned that, it might also interest you to know that Darwin never claimed to be an atheist. He may have respected the fact that Malthus was a man of the cloth.

So what was this man’s earth shattering theory? Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principles of Population. I know, it does not sound as compelling as On the Origin of Species, but his essay proposed that there was a significant problem that threatened the existence of the human race. The threat against the human race was none other than mankind itself.

The take-away from An Essay on the Principles of Population was that mankind was reproducing at a rate that was not proportionate with the amount of food being produced. He predicted that the population would double every 20 years. In his own words, "Population when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetic ratio" (Malthus 1878, 6). By his own estimation, in 200 years the earth’s population was going to exceed 256 billion people. To cap it all off, he taught that God’s judgment upon the world was going to be exacted through the horrible conditions created through overpopulation. Needless to say, he was horribly wrong.

But people have continued to take his theory seriously. Hollywood has popularized his theory with such movies as Soylent Green, 1984, and other dystopic films. Politicians all over the world have feared the effects of overpopulation. You might take notice that many of the hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage, and even global warming either subtly or blatantly hint that population growth needs to be curbed. People blame communism, socialism, and the social cleansing that often results from overly powerful governments on Darwin or Karl Marx. What about our lonely friend Thomas Robert Malthus? I don’t think his name takes near enough heat for the evil he has encouraged.

That is why we must be vigilant. Where in the Bible are Malthus’ ideas promoted? It never addresses overpopulation or anything close to what he was preaching. He tried to read his own ideas into the Scriptures instead of taking God’s Word for what it says. Why do we believe in a literal six day creation period? Because the Bible speaks of nothing else. Why do we believe in a literal resurrection? Because the Bible speaks of nothing else. Why do we know that The End will be brought upon by God and not humanity? Because the Bible speaks of nothing else. In the next few weeks I would like to get a little more specific concerning how horribly Malthus influenced the civilized world. Ideology matters. Are you willing to put yours to the test?


Charlie said...

Very good post, but I suspect Malthus was influenced by Darwinian/Evolutionary thinking. It's all part of the same game to get us away from the authority of Scripture. I heard one atheist professor (may have been Dawkins, but not sure) say in reference to the influence of Evolution vs Creation: "One preacher from the pulpit supporting Evolution is better than 20 scientists." And here, you demonstrated that point. Expose the false teacher and mark them. Good post.