Saturday, May 16, 2009

Another reason to have a family: It's a smart crowd that visits Inductivist, so I'm sure you guys have thought about this before, but I have to make the case anyway.

Many readers are atheists, and I, myself, have to make the case to you for having children? A Christian like myself hopes for existence beyond the grave. If I have no kids, so what, I will never end.

Many of you respect evolution and genes as well. Nature says if you don't have kids, you basically missed the point. You are a big, fat loser. You crossed the finish line last. In my view, it's not completely inaccurate to say you are your genes. (My pro-life position probably has something to do with this view). An endless chain of ancestors got you here, and you're okay being the loser who brings that awesome success to a pathetic end?

I've got a bunch of little Rons running around (God help us). They might not be able to continue the ancient chain, but they have a better chance than your non-existent kids. It's the closest you're going to get to immortality, unless you're Isaac Newton or George Washington. And sad as it is, most of us ain't Newton or Washington.

Now, some of you might not care in the least about your ancestors or immortaility. Understood. But let me make one more pitch, even though it will probably fail to move your type as well. You are capable, talented folks. Your community, your country needs the kinds of kids you would raise. In these selfish times where duty means little, this argument will sound pathetic, but I'm making it anyway. Who's going to run America in the future: your kids or those of your high-school dropout neighbor?

And for those of you who do believe in life after death, I'm probably preaching to the choir about having a family, but you simply do not know you will exist beyond death. Any thoughtful person recognizes they could be wrong on this. So hedge your bet, and if it turns out that you're nothing more than lunch for worms, well, the family goes on.

Also--encourage your relatives to have kids. You should be making my arguments to them. Even if I was childless, I have twelve nieces and nephews and dozens of cousins. Think of yourself as one element of the clan, and how the clan might go on indefinitely. It might not work for you, but I like the thought.


Anonymous said...

Who's going to run America in the future?My neices and nephews, who I do have some influence on.

Jim Bowery said...

You don't get it Ron. The idea is to invite the fertile undeveloped world to the developed world where the childless culture can reduce the fertility -- of the children of the founding stock while the message of infertility flows off the backs of the children of the immigrants like water off a duck's back.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I don't know if the evolutionary argument for reproducing is effective. Although the organisms alive today are the process of eons of natural selection, there were even more dead ends over the years, and there's no reason for this process to stop now, especially with the radical social and technological changes in the modern environment we live in. Besides, I don't think it's accurate to say I "have the genes" of the first life forms that arose from the primordial soup, even though I'm technically descended from them.

The other arguments seem pretty sound to me, though, especially the one about having more people like me in the world.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I agree with you.

I think the best way for a guy to be happy is to sew any wild oats at the bars for a few years when really young if he just -has- to do so, then go to churches and find a devout gal and get married. This even if he doesn't believe a word of the Bible or any of that. Just fake it. A devout "good girl" who is so much more low-risk, is certainly worth it. M

Jason said...

As I've often said, the mentally-challenged man who empties the waste baskets at your local genetics lab will have more of an effect on the future of human evolution than the dude with 12 kids.

Breeding is slow. Science is fast.

And if you want to help the species the old-fashioned way, remember that any unique genes you have dilute by 1/2 every generation. Nephews and nieces are genetically equivalent to grandchildren as far as commonality. Grandparents love to dote on grandchildren. Imagine skipping straight to that stage. Oh wait, I don't have to. :)

Anonymous said...

IMHO, to have children is such a burden that we would not have any if it was not deeply programmed in the majority of us... (of course, evolutionism explains very well why it's programmed!)

William James Tychonievich said...

The first anonymous commenter does have a point. From a gene-centered evolutionary point of view, the question isn't how many direct descendants you have, but how many copy of your genes are still around after you die, and for how long.

Your siblings have exactly as much of your DNA as your children do. Nieces and nephews are genetically equivalent to grandchildren. Anyone who shares a lot of your DNA and is younger than you could be considered your "descendant" in the larger sense, even if you don't have any actual children.

William James Tychonievich said...

Make that "how many copies."

Tom said...

To the poster who said kids are a burden. Well. I suppose to you they are. To me they are just the best thing I have ever had happen to me. I love having them, being around them, teaching them.

We are fortunate in living in an era when you don't have to have kids if you don't want them, and I can have them. In the past it was a lot harder to get that balance,.

BGC said...

The primary ethic of secular liberal elites is lifestyle freedom (including/ especially sexual freedom) - they clearly aren't bothered by keeping other types of freedom such as freedom under the law, or economic freedom.

Lifestyle freedom seems so overwhelmingly important because... well Charles Murray said it beautifully, just a few weeks ago (he was talking about Europeans, but the argument generalizes to liberal elites in the US, and everywhere):

"Throughout history, much of the meaning of life was linked to the challenge of staying alive. Staying alive required being a contributing part of a community. Staying alive required forming a family and having children to care for you in your old age. The knowledge that sudden death could happen any time required attention to spiritual issues.

Life in an age of plenty and security requires none of those things. Being part of a community is not necessary. Marriage is not necessary. Children are not necessary. Attention to spiritual issues is not necessary. It is not only possible but easy to go through life with a few friends and serial sex partners, earning a good living, having a good time, and dying in old age with no reason to think that one has done anything more significant than while away the time.

Perhaps, as the song says, that’s all there is. (...) That seems to be the attitude of an increasing number of European young adults. Secular, childless, preoccupied with the length of their vacations and the security of their pensions, they appear to have decided that the purpose of life is indeed to while away the time as pleasantly as possible"

Anonymous said...

Want a good selfish set of reasons for having children?
How many here believe that Social Security will be around for them? Nobody I know who is in my age bracket (30-40) does. There is only one social security program that is not dependent on economic growth or the fiscal responsibility (hah!) of a central government. That would be having children and raising them to want to take care of you in your old age. I've seen plenty of old folks with nobody who particularly gives a damn about them, and it is not pretty (I grew up in Florida)---you don't want to be in those circumstances. Plus, your children are likely to be of a similar mental level to your brothers and sisters if you practice 'assortive mating', so you will most likely gain a number of people worth talking to that have an irrational attachment to you. If your estimate of the future of the country is considerably darker, well, let's just say its good to have more folks around that have your back.


BGC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BGC said...

Jason said: "Breeding is slow. Science is fast."

Common mistake - big mistake.

Some groups in some countries are doubling in size with each generation - that is doubling in size every c. 25 years (i.e. every generation).

Increases of this order include some of the poorest countries in the world, in sub-Saharan Africa. Under modern conditions constant famine is compatible with rapid population growth.

Other groups and nations are approximately quadrupling in size every generation - that is doubling every c.12 years (for example, this is apparently the rate of growth in Gaza where the average age is 15).

Work out the projected growth over a century...

Then factor-in that IQ and personality differ between groups, and that IQ and personality are substantially hereditary, and that science depends substantially on IQ.

Think of the growth of Islam. Islam does not win many converts - Christianity is much better at winning converts. But according to Huntingdon - the Islamic share of the world population went from 4 percent in 1900 to 16 percent in 1995 - and significantly higher now.

What did it? - differentially-higher birth rates.

The result (Huntingdon) was that the percentage of Islamic-controlled territory trebled, and the number of Islamic-controlled nations rose from 2 to 21 (Wikipedia) with many more nations having a Muslim majority.

What about science? Science used to be fast, but is not so fast nowadays.

The funding of medical science doubled each decade over recent decades, but its efficiency declined and rate of production of breakthroughs declined (refs D.L. Horrobin and Richard Wurtman). Useful new drugs are ever less frequent while their development costs have spiralled.

Some areas of medicine have actually gotten worse - I would argue that probably psychiatry is worse than it used to be, and certainly has fewer effective drugs available. Some hugely-funded areas of 'medical' research have made little or no contribution to therapy - e.g. functional brain scanning. Lee Smolin has documented similar problems in theoretical physics.

Demography is stronger than science in the medium term (ie timescale of decades), not just the long run (timescale of generations) - but especially in democracies, where demographic advantage works even quicker.

Demography is destiny - but the progress of science is contingent because it depends on hard work by smart and honest people operating in the proper social structures.