by Andrew McColl, 7/7/2015
- With the arrival of compound economic growth in 1800, the thinking of the Western world began to change. What had been understood in theory as early as 1650 in Holland became a reality in 1800. This was a kind of economic postmillennialism, but without a Christian confession.
Specific families can grow larger, but at some point, families in general cannot, unless some families cease to grow or there is sufficient economic growth to accommodate new arrivals. This restraint hampered population growth until 1800. Then it was loosened. World population grew from a billion people to seven billion in two centuries. The birth rate increased because of younger marriages, infant mortality decreased, and life expectancy increased. Per capita wealth worldwide increased by at least a factor of 10. It may have increased by a factor of 45 in Norway, and by 40 in the United States. South Korea is the most astounding case. Its per capita wealth increased by a factor of 18 in the four decades after 1953.
McCloskey capitalizes this as the Great Fact of the modern world. It deserves to be capitalized. We have seen the preliminary conquest of scarcity in the last two centuries. If this growth continues for another five decades, there will be few destitute people in the world, and there will be nine billion people. Two questions arise: (1) Why did this begin in 1800? (2) Why did it begin in Great Britain and the United States? There is no answer as of 2014, although I regard this as the most important historical question there is. The world changed after 1800 as never before in recorded history. It got rich. We do not know why (p.367).
There is a link between Christianity, capitalism, and economic growth. God promised there would be in Deuteronomy 28:1-13. Christian societies tend to be blessed, while non-Christian, pagan societies tend to regress.
Think of Haiti. Its chronic witchcraft and general paganism is linked to its economic stagnation and poverty. This is why it is in our best interests personally, as a family, a community and a nation to honour God. The Bible says,
Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine (Prov.3:9-10).
He who knows our hearts and activities also owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He can send rain, buyers, and give our wives fertile wombs. Or He can withdraw His blessing. Quite simply, it pays to be godly.