As I write this, the world’s population will have topped seven billion.
October 31st was the estimated date, although that is only a guestimate. Population analysis is, at best, an inexact science. Some countries, especially very large and very poor ones, have no idea how many people they have. It is highly likely that our seven billionth inhabitant will be born into one of these countries. There is a just better than even chance that he will be male, as the statistics indicate slightly more males born than females.
What does life hold for him? Well, unless he was born into a very poor country, his chances of surviving infancy are quite good. So also, believe it or not, are his chances of not being killed in a war or a terrorist attack. A recent report showed that more of the world is living in peace than ever before. 1
Peace maybe, but not prosperity. Life for most people in our world is still a grim struggle for survival. Average income worldwide is $7,000 a year. However, the distribution is uneven. The median annual income is only $1,700. About half the world’s population has never made a phone call, and about 40% have never ridden in a car. With the rapid spread of cheap digital technology this will almost certainly change during his lifetime. He can expect that life to last about 64 years (unless the seven billionth person is a girl—women live on average four years longer). Statistics like this can only be general. And in this precarious world, it all could change—for the better or the worse. He will have to take his chances. It is hard to predict anything certain about his future.
However, there is one thing we can say for certain. We may not know who the seven billionth person is, or where he is, but God does. The Creator, who is “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3) is very much aware of the details of his creation. Jesus told us that whereas “five sparrows are sold for two pennies … not one of them is forgotten by God.” (Luke 12:6)
How many sparrows are there? There are at least 35 kinds of sparrows in the world. Some flocks have been estimated as numbering 20 million. So how many individual birds are there? God knows.
Jesus also said that we humans are of much greater value to him. “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” he explained. Our seven billionth baby probably doesn’t have too many hairs on his little head yet, but God knows about him, loves him, and has plans for him. Those plans were established “before the foundation of the world.” Jesus, the Son of God, was born as one of us. At that time there were probably only about half a billion people alive. He lived, died and was resurrected for them. And for all who had gone before and would come after—a number estimated at just over 100 billion altogether.
So welcome to the human race, whoever you are and wherever you are. And Happy Christmas—it is good news for you too.
1 Associated Press, Oct. 22, 2011