Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Making babies is not only fun

August 25th, 2016 by Vader

It’s also a good idea.

What is remarkable is that Caplan is an atheist.

Comments (9)
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August 25th, 2016 08:26:37

August 25, 2016

Any one who professes a belief in science, evolution, or just basic logic can see that reproduction is an essential part of life. So I’m not surprised to see an atheist point this out.

It’s not science but an anti-progress, anti-civilization, anti-human religious cult clothed in the false robes of a ‘scientific’ priesthood that teaches to refrain from doing that very thing that our entire bodies are born to do.

August 25, 2016

Travis Rieder’s point has always been the natural conclusion of the CO2=bad thesis from the beginning. If CO2=bad, and humans create CO2, then more humans = more bad. Anyone who didn’t see that coming is either stupid or a liar.

August 25, 2016

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Bruce Charlton
August 26, 2016

Caplan has been arging a secular pro-natalist case on utilitarian/ hedonic grounds for about a decade – but it doesn’t work and won’t work.

Of course there are individual exceptions (and I know a few) but there isn’t a single secular group in the developed world who *chooses* to have above-replacement average fertility – only religious groups, and indeed not very many of *them*.

If you are aiming purely to maximise happiness/ pleasure/ utility in your personal life – or minimise hazard, potential suffering, hardship… then having many children is a very high risk/ high responsibility ‘bet’. So many and such bad things can ‘go wrong’ with children – and the more you have th emore likely.

There have to be (and are) much better, deeper and more important reasons to have children – but these reasons are not recognised by atheists.

The only known antidote to sub-fertility is religion – and only some religions of some types.

September 1, 2016

I agree with BC that religion is necessary for above-replacement fertility in the industrialized world. I think the “why” is pretty complex.

The most obvious reason that presents itself is that, for the religious, posterity has eternal rewards which outweigh the considerable burden that children impose in this life. That has to be part of it, although part of me thinks that if the prospect of eternal rewards were enough to make such a huge difference in life choices, then I would be a lot better person than I am, and so would lots of other Christians. Perhaps the key is that multiplying and replenishing the Earth only requires you to make the morally correct decision for, um, few minutes every couple of years, then you’re stuck with the consequences of that decision forever. Whereas less momentous choices, like whether to be mean to your kids or not, present more chances for backsliding.

But there are multiplier effects in having a fertility-friendly culture, too. The social penalty that having kids imposes on most college-educated young people is reversed in Mormon culture (to the detriment of the unwillingly childless, I recognize). Then there are the network effects of living in close contact with other stay-at-home moms who can watch your kids for a few minutes during doctor’s appointments, etc. In other words, it isn’t just that Mormons think better of having kids than seculars do; having kids actually IS better for Mormons than it is for seculars.

Then there are the ways that feminism and other modern evils have worked to make family life less enjoyable. Religion is a bulwark against these. We know that Mom has to stay home in order for big families to happen: http://www.jrganymede.com/2010/11/05/multiplying/
Atheistic hedonism has no antidote to the forces that have pushed down fertility.

September 1, 2016

All good thoughts, MC, but Bruce C. isn’t talking about “religion.” He’s talking about “only some religions of some types.” Plenty of sects that believe in eternal rewards do not have great fertility (though, aside, its curious that after they stop having kids, after a while they stop believing in eternal rewards also–was it Mary Ann Glendon who argued that historically the demographic transition *precedes* secularization?).

So the kingdom’s secret sauce does include the network and status effects you are talking about, but I think the belief system helps. Family structure is deeply embedded in LDS doctrine and practice.

But I am also groping towards a thesis that growing up in an LDS ward habituates you to the kind of happiness that families provide. The social aspect of our churches is a lot like family. I don’t mean anything saccharine by that. I just mean that our congregations are informal, personal, and communal in their affect.

September 1, 2016

“So the kingdom’s secret sauce does include the network and status effects you are talking about, but I think the belief system helps. ”

Since the children of cultural(-only) Mormons rarely stay active, one could say that the belief system system is a key ingredient of the secret sauce.

Geoff B over at M* said he knows of no children of cultural mormons or NOMs who have stayed active.

All sorts of outside organizations have studied the MTC, BYU, the LDS Missionary system, home teaching, RS, YM/YW, but even though it is all in plain sight, afaik, no one has been able to duplicate the desired beneficial results. It sort of illustrates that underlying beliefs actually matter.

If I remember correctly, it was the real life results/fruits of Mormonism that got Dr. C. to take a look at the underlying beliefs.

September 1, 2016

The socio-economic view is also illustrative. Relative income matters.


November 5, 2016

The NYT, remarkably points out that much of our current toxic politics, stems from our thinning families. I am not sure it does complete justice to the Conservative POV, but it is close enough to not quibble.


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