Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Overpopulation Question Applied to Eternity: Will There Be Room for All the People that Ever Lived?

Some initial scribbling:
- background: since Thomas Malthus began proposing city planning intended to stimulate disease proliferation, voices throughout the last few centuries have raised up to proclaim that the birth rate is too high and the death rates are too low, and the growth rate of population is too much for the earth to support. 
- his alarmism was obviously way off. why? His view was technologically myopic. Various revolutions resulted in increased crop yields and now a far smaller proportion of farmers can feed a far larger sheer number of people.
- the same applies to now. “climate change” is predicted to reduce yields as well, but the net yield predictions actually show growth, based on expectation of alternate effects of climate change, as well as as-yet-uninvented technologies
Bottom line: if the world can’t hold people, the population can’t increase. But it’s increasing, which, despite undoubtedly low-quality-of-life contexts for many, demonstrates that the carrying capacity hasn’t been reached. Environmental biology flashback: die-off occurs after CC is reached, so that’s what we should notice if and when the earth reaches this point. But the population stabilizes after this point, not catastrophically continuing a decline, so there’s no fear regarding this.
ALL OF THAT SAID, I was interested in calculating if there was physically enough room for people to live comfortably on earth, without considering food supplies, since it’s fair to assume that since we can’t die in eternity, farming will likely be for the sheer enjoyment of a variety among foods, rather than a necessity.

The New Jerusalem is an enormous [castle?]-like building also called “the heavenly city,” and if my theological understanding is correct, this is also referred to as Zion. Is the State of Israel a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy? Undoubtedly yes, in at least one sense—that political entities are Biblically recognized in prophecy. But demographics matters more. Merely naming something doesn’t make it the historical entity you’ve named it. Egypt, for example. The country exists by name, but Biblical-prophecy-wise, Egypt no longer exists as a kingdom, having been conquered and subdued. So modern Egypt is not Biblical Egypt. Is modern Israel Biblical Israel? No, and there’s a very particular, compelling reason why not: it’s not a theocracy. Biblical Israel was. The Levitical laws were the law of the land and sacrifices were observed at the Temple. Right now there isn’t a temple, there aren’t any sacrifices, and the nation isn’t observing the Levitical code as a nation. Right now, just like how there are Christians in America but America isn’t a Christian nation, there are practicing Jews in Israel but Israel doesn’t practice Judaism—much less Christianity. So while the Jews are, we know from prophecy, still a special group of people (though not in an eternal sense any different—salvation for all is by grace alone through faithalone in Jesus Christ alone, whether Jew or Gentile), the political entity itself isn’t necessarily. We may or may not be observing great blessings on and through modern Israel, but these may well be incidental, since these blessings (assuming that it isn’t mere coincidence as a result of Jewish cultural chutzpah) have been notable since before the creation of modern Israel. No, the future holy city is still future. When you see how it’s described, you realize it can’t be anything but.
Revelation 21Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundationwas jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
 A study Bible I came across helpfully noted that the references to 'furlongs' in the Greek are using the word 'stadia.'

12,000 stadia in length, width and height. A stadia(um?) is c. 185 meters. That makes the city 10.9 billion cubic kilometers. Imagine owning a plot of land a kilometer square. Imagine you had a house on that land that reached 1,000 meters in height. That would be the case if there are just that many believers entering eternity, namely 11 billion. If you give everyone a 10x10x10 meter room, that would house 1 million people per cubic km, or 11 trillion inhabitants. So there’s a lot of room, and just how spacious it will be depends on how many people there are to fit inside it. This raises the interesting question, how high is the number of people who have ever lived.
I'm going to experiment with putting a jump break right here, to see if it works. If it does, click the title of the post to see the whole post on a separate page.

Thought experiment:  Suppose you start with two people. These have two children. The children, when grown to procreative age—ignoring ethical concerns for mathematical simplicity—have two children of their own. When these grow up, the first parents have died. You have 4 people alive, double the original amount. Further, 50% more than the total number of people alive gives you the total number of people ever lived. These extremely basic guidelines will form the background for estimating a rough maximum when I do the calculation below.

The time it takes to arrive at the moment above described is the “doubling time” for the population. If the average age at the birth of your first child is 25, the doubling time would be 50 years; if 30, 60. Taking menopause as the absolute upper limit would make the doubling time physically bound to be 100 years or less. This is a convenient number to guess at, since 10 doubling times would be 1000 years, simultaneous with the fact that 2^10 is 1024, which can be rounded to 1000. In other words, given the paradigm I’ve constructed here, every 1000 years ADDED to the timeline will MULTIPLY the population by a factor of 1000. 1000 years gives 1000 people, 2000 gives 1,000,000, 3000 gives 1,000,000,000 – or one billion, in other words. This is fascinating for another reason.

The best estimates by historians put the global population at around 950 million around 1 AD. [THIS STATEMENT IS INCORRECT. I wrote this based on my memory, off line, but according to Wikipedia, the numbers are closer to 300 million. This merely means that my total estimate will be higher, and since the point was to show that there's enough space for the max amount of people that may have lived, I think I'll be lazy and neglect to go back and re-edit all the numbers. It's a thought experiment, not a mathematical inquiry into the exact value of the total human population of all time] If you go back 3,000 years, you go beyond the date for the Flood by 700 years—meaning that my doubling period is, for a certainty, an overestimate. It didn’t take more than 2300 years for the population to get to 1 billion, and that isn’t too difficult to explain, since there would have been very few limiting factors keeping population low (resource scarcity, crowding) early on when there were very few people, so it’s expected that the population would have grown much faster in the early years.

We can actually scrap the concept of the doubling period for the purpose of estimating the all-time world population, for two mathematical reasons:
1. Since we’re not guessing the age of the world or estimating population at a given time, because we have 950M @ 1AD as a given, it is irrelevant what the value of the doubling period is
2. In any population, if it is continually growing and has not had die-offs, or a leveling-out of the growth curve, then the total amount of all the people that ever lived is simply double the present amount. [I’m unsure but I think another requirement is that the population doubles once per generation, otherwise there will be more people that have died that haven’t been accounted for]  My thought experiment hinted at that.
Sadly this is the most relevant image I can find. See how if you double the size of the 40 acre bit, in 4 doublings you have the whole mile square occupied with the same density, assuming that people would spread out evenly.
Going off of point 2 above, we can thereby estimate that the total all-time world population up to 1 AD would have been about 2 billion. 

The estimate of the global population 1000 years later is still 950 million, so to guess how many people lived during that time, it seems you would split the difference, taking 1000 years, dividing it by 25 to get the number of generations, and multiplying that by 1 billion to get …. 42 billion as the grand total. By 1850 the global population was about 2 billion, so 2*34 = 68, added to 42, gives 110 billion people. Over the next hundred years, the population doubled to 4 billion. There couldn’t have been more than 8 billion people who lived and died in that time period (I’m not so much interested in the technical mathematical formulas for accuracy, just upper limits, because of what I’m calculating). Since then, we’ve gone up to 7 billion in 50 years. So my 3rd-grade-level calculus here would bring the grand total of people thus far to 110+8+14=132 billion.

Now I might be about to blow your mind.

Going off of the statistic that historically, about 1/3 to 1/2 of conceptions have resulted in live births, and applying that to all women who have lived, (66 billion) for the sake of averages, you get a full 132 billion MORE people who have existed but never lived (or died shortly after birth, I suppose). Double the total amount. Since abortion isn’t a natural miscarriage, adding the global total amount from the last century or so gives a “mere” additional 1 billion people.

265 billion people. (But I haven’t added the pre-flood society. Since we can’t really know the habits of that society, I’ll just roughly double my total to 500 billion for good measure, to get a good “round number” upper limit. Whatever the real total, it must surely be less than this)

Will they fit? Well, my calculation above gave the range of 11 billion to 11 trillion saved inhabitants of New Jerusalem. 1 Trillion would make it a very spacious place, even if there would be that many of us. After all, the vast majority of people who LIVE are unsaved, but the vast majority of people who EXIST, a full 2/3 at least, are saved from death and will populate God’s new universe to come. So my assumptions for calculation have been more or less accurate.
I found an image from where somebody has helpfully modeled the size of the New Jerusalem relative to the Earth.
Here's another size comparison.

Supposing that the world population plateaus when it hits 9 billion, then adding the miscarriages, 18, and estimated increases in abortion, 3 billion, for an upper limit of 30 billion people added every generation, presumably 4 per century. If we propose 1 trillion just for fun as the total population cap for all time, history could easily march on for 400+ years without crowding the afterlife. All this is to show is merely that you can’t anticipate how soon the end will be on the basis of how much room it would leave in the hereafter. We definitely haven’t exhausted our capacity in terms of human numbers. There could potentially be much more history to come, because there’s SO much room.

~ Rak Chazak

Afterthought: if the NJ is a pyramidal shape, then the formula for the volume of a pyramid (l*w*h/3) would mean that there's a 3 billion-3 trillion person capacity. Not a very significant difference. 

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