Science in Christian Perspective



Introduction of Symposium On the Christian's
Responsibility Toward the Increasing Population
Henry D. Weaver, Jr., Ph.D.*

From: JASA 14 (March 1962): 2.

The Christian Church has been accused of not being relevant to the problems of the age in which she lives. The 1961 convention of the American Scientific Affili ation was an indication that Christian men and women feel that the Gospel of Jesus Christ does have some thing to say to the problems of our age.

At the convention and in the following pages the Christian's responsibility to the increasing population receives consideration. The examination of the problem reveals several factors. First, there is no question but that the population is increasing. It is not clear, how ever, how large a population the earth can or should support. It is evident that in addition to an increase in the population there is also an increase possible in the amount of food that can be produced, the amount of land available to produce food, as well as the minerals and other supporting materials for civilization. Much of the key to the balance between the needs of a large population and the materials to support it is in the en ergy available. It is clear that the future holds almost limitless quantities of energy. 

The crux of the problem comes from at least three considerations. First, the relative rate of population in crease and the rate of increasing the materials needed  to sustain the large population is critical. This probem is accented by the fact that not only is the population increasing, but the needs of each person are in creasing.

Secondly, there is a Christian concern about the quality of life of the people on earth. This includes the kind of diet men have, the time available for them to pursue creative pursuits, the resources available to them and the esthetic concern of space itself.

Thirdly, and perhaps of most concern from the Christian point of view, is the problem of distribution of resources to the population. At the moment some of the areas increasing most rapidly in population are lag ging behind in the increases in technology that make possible even an adequate supply of food. As is pointed out in this issue, means of transportation are advanced enough that the day of an acute famine is over, barring  political or sociological pressures. However, these pres sures are real and add to the problem of distribution  that exists.

These factors inevitably raise the ethical question of  population control. As we will see, this problem is best 
framed in the context of responsible parenthood.

These considerations add up to a situation that is  worthy of the concern of every Christian and the Church. In addition to the obvious responsibility of bringing a witness of the Gospel to the increased population, the Christian must face the question of the Church's responsibility to control the population and to

*Dr. Weaver is Professor of Chemistry at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, and the newly elected President of the American Scientific Affiliation. He was chairman of the Program Committee for the Sixteenth Annual Convention of the Affiliation held at Houghton, New York, in August, 1961.

help increase the essentials necessary to sustain an in creasing population. The purpose of the articles as sembled here is to pinpoint the factors involved to en able responsible thinking about the issue.