Most theists (perhaps, most people in general) would say that having a happy person is better than having no person at all. Indeed, most theists admit to this by saying that God "wanted to" or "lovingly" created humans, which suggests it is a moral act.

So, it would seem that, altogether, having more people is better than having less people. If we assume that a theist admits > 50% of people go to heaven, it seems that having the maximal number of children is the best thing one can do in life. Even if one says that there are other goods that are given up when having so many children, it seems that an infinite good is given up (an eternity of happiness for a person).

However, most theists do not advocate having as many children as possible, especially at very young ages. How can this be justified?

  • 2
    "having more people is better than having less people" From what point of view : surviva of the human species, ecology ? Jul 9 '19 at 8:24
  • 2
    "a theist admits > 50% of people go to heaven" Why ? What grounds for asserting this ? Jul 9 '19 at 8:24
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA For the first question, as I tried to outline in the paragraph above, a theist would have to say that having an eternally happy human being is more valuable than not (would you disagree with this?) Therefore, the more humans you have, the more value you have, and hence it should be done.
    – APCoding
    Jul 9 '19 at 15:47
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA For the second question, while I suppose that some theists would not admit this, a theist might either say 1) they would raise a child in such a way that it is likely that they will go to heaven, or 2) accept a universalist theism. If either of those stand, then it could be asserted for at least that person's children.
    – APCoding
    Jul 9 '19 at 15:48
  • Why would a theist subscribe to a rank utilitarianism of this sort? Theist ethics is usually deontological, or virtue based. And even if they did, how exactly are they supposed to "raise a child in such a way that it is likely that they will go to heaven" if they have two dozen children to look after, and "especially at very young ages"? Theists, and conservatives generally, explicitly denounce the irresponsibility of such behavior.
    – Conifold
    Jul 9 '19 at 19:34

If we add the premise that all innocent children go to heaven when they die, then it would be most ethical to murder as many children as possible to prevent them from sinning and possibly going to hell! Thus really, how can any theist justify not having and then murdering as many children as possible?

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    Welcome to the SE! Your point may be interesting as a question in itself. But you don't really try to answer the OP question, so it would be better have been posted as a comment. (or a question)
    – christo183
    Jul 10 '19 at 5:48
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    @christo183 I think he answers well by debunking the framing of the question. Just as Sokal and his successors debunked a certain pretentious kind of academics Jul 10 '19 at 6:19

Your argument is based on the following premises:

  • P1 - Every person who is exists AND goes to heaven represents an infinite amount of happiness.
  • P2 - More than 50% of everyone who is born will go to heaven.

Your conclusion is:

  • C - having as many children as possible is the greatest possible good, because it generates an infinite amount of happiness.

Let's consider the premises first:

  • P1 seems to be borrowing from Pascal's famous wager. We'll let that one stand as is.
  • P2 doesn't seem to have much support behind it. It isn't necessary to your argument in the case that people who don't go to heaven are neutral quantities. On the other hand, if they suffer an infinite amount of unhappiness, which I believe is the Pascalian assumption, then your > 50% is seemingly needed in order to make sure that the potential unhappiness is more than balanced out.

Does the conclusion follow from the premises?

  • Is your decision process independent of the results? What if your fecundity leads to a world where people are dramatically more likely to go to hell? If you shift that magic 50% balance just a bit, you could be introducing a net amount of unhappiness into the universe rather than vice versa.

  • Do infinite quantities stack? The force of Pascal's wager is that for any individual, the contrast between infinite happiness, and infinite unhappiness is stark. But is a universe with two infinitely happy people actually happier in sum total than one with just one infinitely happy person? Not by standard mathematics.

  • Is your decision potentially endangering your own salvation? If the route to maximizing your number children puts you personally on the path to hell, shouldn't you take that into account?

In the larger picture:

This is basically a utilitarian argument (greatest happiness for the greatest number) and theists are not necessarily utilitarians. A lot of theists --Pascal notwithstanding --might also simply dismiss this kind of argument as a prima facie ludicrous attempt to use math to derive spiritual conclusions.

  • Thank you for the answer. I suppose that the weight of my argument depends on how many people one expects to go to heaven. What if one accepts a universalist account, where every person is said to eventually achieve salvation in heaven? It would seem that P2 is then valid, and the conclusion follows (your arguments #1 and #3 no longer apply). Also, your argument about stacking infinite quantities doesn't make sense to me. For example, isn't the set of all integers twice as large as the set of all even integers, yet both are infinite?
    – APCoding
    Jul 9 '19 at 20:15
  • The set of all integers is NOT bigger than the set of all even integers, mathematically speaking: They can be mapped to each other in a 1-1 relationship (Hilbert's paradox). Jul 9 '19 at 21:00
  • Also, the work of Georg Cantor, who established that all ordinary infinities are the same size. Jul 9 '19 at 21:09
  • Interesting. I suppose that you could still define happiness as time approaches infinity (as a limit), where I think it would still make sense to say one grows faster than the other with time, but that is besides the point. What about what I said in my other comment about the consequences if one accepts a universalist theism?
    – APCoding
    Jul 9 '19 at 21:32

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