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J. Matthew Sleeth


6.5 Billion and Counting

A Christian case for small families.

As a former emergency room physician, how could I resist an invitation to review a book with "fractured" in the title? When I served as chief of the medical staff and director of emergency services, my job was to put people back together. But after years of practicing medicine, I felt like I was straightening deck chairs on the Titanic while the whole ship was going down. My interaction with 30,000 patients supplied ample evidence of a world made toxic by the stress of too much—too much soot in the air causing asthma attacks to escalate; too many chemicals in the environment, doubling our cancer rates; too many people on the planet living unsustainable, stress-laden lives. So I quit my job and started writing, preaching, and speaking full-time about caring for the created earth, based on my faith as an evangelical Christian.

Perhaps the most controversial issue that I talk about is population. Moral, intelligent, well-intentioned people hold sharply conflicting views on the population issue—an issue that is at the very crux of our environmental crisis. That is why the chapter on population in Allan Carlson's book Fractured Generations, though faulty in its conclusions, strikes me as worthy of discussion.

Fractured Generations is a book devoted to family policy issues. Carlson limits himself to one major issue per chapter, and ends each discussion with a list of public policy suggestions. I find myself agreeing with much of the reasoning in this well-researched book. My major source of disagreement with Carlson lies in Chapter 2, "Recrafting American Population Policy for a Depopulating World." Carlson tells us that many Western countries have either a nearly flat or slightly negative level of population growth, and that the United States, though still growing, may soon suffer the same future. He warns of a coming "surfeit of retirees" and an aging workforce that cannot compete on an international level.

In medical school, we were required to take eight semesters ...

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