Compound Economic Growth and Judgement Day

Gary North writes:

[The zero economic growth position] recognizes the reality that someday, the growth must stop. Why not now, Mishan asks, before pollution ruins the environment?

What is the biblical answer? Simple: time is finite. We do not have forever. The curse-restrained growth process will cease at the day of judgment. In fact, compound, linear economic growth points to an end, either of growth or of time.


It is inconceivable that even a wholly regenerate and law-abiding world could attain rates of compound growth above 1% per annum for a thousand years. Above zero, yes, but not above 1%. For example, consider the expansion of population. Today there are an estimated four billion people on earth. At 1% per annum, the earth’s human population would be 83.8 trillion people a thousand years from now. The compounding effect is staggering in its multiplication powers. Growth can achieve high rates for a time —  and 5% per annum, which modern economists expect from a 20th-century economy, is astronomically high and absolutely unsustainable for more than historically brief periods — but then stagnation sets in, and more likely economic or population decline. The society-shaking rates of change that we have experienced over the past century are temporary.  The numbers tell us that much. Either growth will slow down, or judgment day will come, before the next thousand years are over. Take your pick.

I’m willing to go with Judgement Day, but for reasons other than that mentioned by North.

As you might guess by the title of this blog, I’m quite willing to boost interstellar expansion and growth, and there is a possibility that the universe is indeed infinite.

But, even though I contradict North on these points, I agree with his main point, mainly because of the rapid expansion of power that small groups of men can gain, with the help of Moore’s Law & Metcalfe’s Law.

Quite simply, it is increasingly possible for even a small group of disciplined men – a dozen, say – to wreak a great deal of destruction, with the aid of ever more more powerful (and ever more cheaper!) technology. Couple this with AI intelligence, robotics, biotech, and all the rest of it, and you get a recipe of great power in more and more hands.

The only way to keep this power harnessed for godly purposes is some kind of huge revival, where substantially more than 99.9% of all human hearts are truly regenerate, loving, and naturally law-abiding. This result simply cannot be created by any human agency, neither the church nor the state: only the Holy Spirit can do this.

Anything else means the destruction of the world as we know it, including a mass extinction event – quite possibly as bad as the Flood. This collapse may well delay our Reckoning, and the use of so much of our fossil fuels and natural resources may delay the arrival of a new technological civilization for 10,000, even 50,000 years… but it will still have only delayed the problem, not resolved it.

A movement of the Holy Spirit as huge as will be required to match our accelerating technological ability points to the Second Coming, and the end of human history.


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