the Bible and Demography
“Demography” is a science defined as “the statistical study of human populations especially with reference to size and density, distribution, and vital statistics” (m-w.com). Honest studies of the historical development of the world’s human societies reveal that the families and nations of mankind are not to be considered in an evolutionary context. The many and distinctly different nations did not evolve somehow like different colonies or herds of animals, but were created by God according to His unique and eternal purposes.
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth,…has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:24, 26-28).
World Population Before the Flood
God told the first man and woman: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” (Genesis 1:28). According to the genealogical records of Genesis 5, there were some 1600 years from Adam to the Flood. The record indicates that people lived exceptionally long lives and had large families. The average of the recorded ages of nine of the ten patriarchs listed in Genesis 5 was 912 years (Enoch was an exception, having lived only 365 years before God took him). Each of the listed patriarchs is said to have had “sons and daughters,” so that each family had at least four children, and probably many more.
Scientists that study demography (world populations) have a formula they use which considers the average family size, the length of a generation, and a conservative birth and death rate. Using this formula, they have calculated a probable population of over 3 billion people on the earth at the time of Noah. With this estimate in mind, it is reasonable to believe it would take a global Flood, rather than a local one, to destroy 3 billion people.
The fact that many hundreds of millions of people perished in the Flood does not mean that we could now expect to find millions of their remains. As the Flood waters rose, men would flee to the highest hills and would be the last of all living creatures on the dry land to be overtaken by the waters and drowned. Most would not be buried in the sediments of the Flood as animals would; only some people would be trapped and buried, and their bones eventually fossilized. The absence of pre-flood human fossils is not a serious problem for creationists who accept the Biblical account; it is a serious problem for the evolutionist. If man has actually been living on the earth for a million or more years, there would have been uncounted billions upon billions of people who have lived and died. Surely the bones of a fair number of these multitudes would have been preserved somewhere, but there is no such evidence.
From the Flood to the Birth of Abraham
After the Flood, God renewed His command for man: “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’…Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth…and from these the whole earth was populated” (Genesis 9:1, 18-19). From this time after the Flood to the birth of Abraham a total of about 300 years and 8 generations are recorded (see Genesis 11:10-26). By the time Abraham journeyed into Canaan, about 400 years had elapsed since the Flood. There were then apparently a number of well-populated cites and nations in the world, as mentioned in Gen.12—25 (Egypt, Chaldea, Philistia, etc.). The world population at the time of Abraham is calculated by demographers to be about 3 million. This estimate more than adequately explains the Biblical and archaeological population inferences for this period of earth history.
The Tower of Babel seems to have been built about 100 years after the Flood, near the time of the birth of Peleg: “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg (Lit. Division, NKJ footnote), for in his days the earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25). Since there are 70 nations mentioned in Genesis 10 as resulting from the “division” at Babel, it is reasonable to infer that there were 70 families at Babel, representing probably the generation of Noah’s grandsons and great-grandsons. “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood” (Genesis 10:32). Seventy families (possibly 800-1000 people total) seem to fit the situation described at Babel very adequately. These Biblical chronologies are all very reasonable in the light of population statistics; and any significant departures from these chronologies, as required to meet evolutionary speculations, are highly unreasonable and improbable.
The Present World Population
Today’s world population is estimated to be about 7 billion. This is a strong argument in favor of the short Biblical chronology of some 4500 years from the Flood to the present; evolutionists cannot adequately explain why the population, after a supposed million years of man’s history, is only 7 billion. Based on a literal acceptance of the Biblical histories, the Flood is dated at about 4500 years ago. The present population of the world has come originally from Noah’s three sons: “Shem, Ham and Japheth…from these the whole earth was populated” (Genesis 9:19). When demographers figure that a generation is about 40 years, there have been only about 110 generations since Noah. Based on an average family size of about 5-6 people, scientists calculate that it would take about 110 generations in order to bring the population to its present 7 billion. This is notably reasonable and is strong support for the Biblical chronology.
However, a period of human history much greater than indicated by the chronology of the Bible is rendered improbable in a very high degree by the present facts of population. A million years of man’s history, as supposed by evolutionists, would be 25,000 generations and would produce a world population of 10 to the 2700th power (i.e. 1 with 2700 “0’s” following) people. It is evident that the human family cannot be very old. The traditional Biblical chronology is definitely more realistic than is the million-year history of mankind assumed by the evolutionist.