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Human population is increasing whether we like it or not and might even hit 10bn in the next few decades. But why is this happening according to a Buddhist's perspective? Some that I know that don't believe in kamma use this as a counter example saying that if people are becoming more sinful they ask how come the population is increasing. While I have my own understanding (devas being born back among humans, kamma alone doesn't determine the next birth "cuti sitha" does) I would like your expert opinion this.

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Human population is increasing whether we like it or not and might even hit 10bn in the next few decades. But why is this happening according to a Buddhist's perspective?

Since life expectancy on average is falling (famine, wars, etc.), the needed Karma need to gain human birth is falling.

Some that I know that don't believe in kamma use this as a counter example saying that if people are becoming more sinful they ask how come the population is increasing.

When humans become sinful the criteria to become human falls and life expectancy falls and life in the human realm becomes hellish with more conflicts.

While I have my own understanding (devas being born back among humans, kamma alone doesn't determine the next birth "cuti sitha" does) I would like your expert opinion this.

Cuti sitha is determined by Karma.

  • Apologies for the lack of knowledge in cuti sitha. But the population increase that has occurred I think, is due the developments in healthcare that has managed to increase the life expectancy. True when compared to the days of Buddha life expectancy has probably gone down by about 40 years but it has gone up since the early 1900s though it maybe a temporary phenomenon. – Heisenberg Feb 23 '16 at 3:41
  • If you look at the world how many of the population has access to these medical innovations? There many who do not have food let alone any medicine. If you consider mortalities in countries like Somalia I do not think life expectancy increased though this may be the case in some developed countries. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Feb 23 '16 at 3:56
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    And also in areas life expectancy has increased birth rates have decreases where population increase is stalling or decreasing. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Feb 23 '16 at 5:25
  • Yes I suppose. The reason why in Africa, though the life expectancy is low, the birth rates are still high due to lack of access to contraceptive methods. I suppose developed societies are more into family planning and maybe that's why birth rates have decreased – Heisenberg Feb 23 '16 at 7:47
  • One would not believe how many small or big living being modern healthcare costs and one would not believe how difficult it is to gain simply according one development a proper live as an normal animal. So gain causes loses on the other side, or disadvantage. Normal life time nowadays without modern treatment, human would no reach 50 easily. Its just because there is additional akusala that provides the directions way. It will be a temporary phenomena. – Samana Johann Feb 23 '16 at 8:51
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Here is not an expert opinion: which is that I don't know why you expect that the total number of sentient beings is finite, countable, and constant.

The perspective in the OP seems to be that the total number is constant, and is asking, "If the number of humans is increasing, then where (which realms) are they (pre-existing beings) coming from and why?"

It has a view of, "this used to be (countably) one old sentient being, and that (same) being is now being reborn as (countably) one new sentient being" ... it has a view that, the type of being and/or realm might change (hell, animal, human, deva), but the total number of beings must be constant.

I don't see why you'd expect that view to be true, though: it seems to me an atman (self/soul) view, not an anatman view.

So far as I know a more anatman view might be look "there's no person now" (there are are just skandhas, an assemblage of parts, c.f. the parable of the Milinda's chariot), "the number of sentient beings isn't countable" (except perhaps to the Buddha), and fabricated things are inconstant.

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here's an interesting perspective on this from the Pali Canon, which implies that it's rather when human morals are high that the population is growing, not the other way round

superstitious quite a bit

Depopulation

Then a certain affluent brahmin approached the Blessed One … and said to him:

“Master Gotama, I have heard older brahmins who are aged, burdened with years, teachers of teachers, saying: ‘In the past this world was so thickly populated one would think there was no space between people. The villages, towns, and capital cities were so close that cocks could fly between them.’ Why is it, Master Gotama, that at present the number of people has declined, depopulation is seen, and villages, towns, cities, and districts have vanished?”

(1) “At present, brahmin, people are excited by illicit lust, overcome by unrighteous greed, afflicted by wrong Dhamma. As a result, they take up weapons and slay one another. Hence many people die. This is a reason why at present the number of people has declined, depopulation is seen, and villages, towns, cities, and districts have vanished.

(2) “Again, at present people are excited by illicit lust, overcome by unrighteous greed, afflicted by wrong Dhamma. When this happens, sufficient rain does not fall. As a result, there is a famine, a scarcity of grain; the crops become blighted and turn to straw. Hence many people die. This is another reason why at present the number of people has declined, depopulation is seen, and villages, towns, cities, and districts have vanished.

(3) “Again, at present people are excited by illicit lust, overcome by unrighteous greed, afflicted by wrong Dhamma. When this happens, the yakkhas release wild spirits. Hence many people die. This is yet another reason why at present the number of people has declined, depopulation is seen, and villages, towns, cities, and districts have vanished.”

“Excellent, Master Gotama! … Let Master Gotama consider me a lay follower who from today has gone for refuge for life.”

Paloka sutta (AN 3.56)

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