Type “population explosion” into google. It returns over 27,000,000 hits and almost every one refers to future human population. The current world population is over 7 billion people. It was 1 billion just after 1800. But as we look back the census data becomes less certain. It is difficult to find an agreement about the census of 1 AD. Estimates vary from 2 to 6 hundred million for a worldwide population. Most population estimates either use 2 or 300,000,000.
From 1 AD to the present, human population has not grown at a consistent rate. The major change has not been a massive jump in the birth rate (worldwide, some local jumps have occurred), but an increase in lifespan. As medical treatments and living conditions have improved so has life expectancy. So we either look at all the data and have a somewhat erratic growth chart, or we average the data and make a smooth growth chart. When we average the data, there is enough evidence to make reasonable estimates of past growth rates as well as future projections.
The first observation is that human growth rates prior to 1800 AD were much lower than human population growth rates are today. The second and critical observation is that as we look back in history, the data is less reliable and more subject to misinterpretation. Back to 1 AD the following data comes from Vaughn’s Summaries, World Population Growth History. All dates are AD.
1810 1 billion
1800 900 million
1750 750 million
1650 600 million
1500 500 million
1000 400 million
500 300 million
1 200 million
As we move back, the data is unreliable. Most population sites do not post data beyond 1 AD. This site does. While the following population figures are unreliable, the trend is critical. From this point, all dates are BC.
1000 50 million
2000 27 million
27 million people is roughly the greater metropolitan New York City Area.
Before we even look at data from the Bible, one fact jumps out. These growth rates do not support a human population that is one million years old. They do not support a human population that is 100,000 thousand years old. The population data is a much better fit with a very young human population. People who want to believe in a very old human population will claim that the rate of growth might have been lower in the past, that there might have catastrophes to reduce population, that environmental conditions might have caused human population to reach the earth’s carrying capacity and the population stabilized for thousands of years.
None of this speculation has any scientific basis. These and other arguments can be made by people who desperately want to believe that the human race has lived on earth for hundreds of thousands or millions of years in spite of the human population growth rate not supporting that belief.
These population growth statistics, however, fit very well with a 2350 BC beginning as Noah and his family left the Ark. Since there is no record of Noah producing any more children, we can calculate population growth from his three sons and their wives. Also, though there might have been deaths from accidents and murders, there were no deaths due to natural causes before the death of Peleg 340 years after the flood. For that 340 year period, population growth would not have followed normal population formulas.
Both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein were told by their publishers that they would lose half of their audience for each formula included in their books. So here is the conclusion. You do not have to look at the formula if you do not want to. For an average overall population growth rate of slightly less than half of one percent per year (.0049) starting just after the death of Peleg in 2010 BC would result in a world population of 232,725, 878 in one AD. This is very much in line with the estimates for world population in 1 AD. Right around the time of Peleg people lived longer and had much larger families, accounting for a more rapid growth rate before 1 AD.
Then the average overall population growth rate drops down to less than one tenth of one percent (.0009) from 1 AD to 1800 AD. The average overall population growth rate then jumps from 1800 to the present. One factor accounting for the decline in world population during this period is the Black Death, carried everywhere by European traders.
This means that the population growth of the human race from three sets of parents in 2350 BC is very much in line with existing population growth rates using standard population formulas. The population growth rate is much higher today than it was before 1 AD.
Uniformitarianism needs a completely flat, no growth rate in order to have any human population before 20,000 BC. According to Occam’s razor, the simplest solution is usually the correct solution. No growth rate for hundreds of thousands of years is not a simple solution.
Since you cannot have a part of a person, there is rounding of final numbers. All calculations are estimates, with no attempt to represent these calculations as actual demographic information. It is, however, to be a reasonable estimate.
Image from “Population Growth Over Human History”, http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/human_pop/human_pop.html