06-03-2005, 05:01 PM

One of the important religious questions arises when thinking about reincarnation if the number of people alive today is greater than the number of people who have ever died.

According to Snopes.com, this assertion is false.

The rationalization for this judgment is based on a rough estimate. Snopes asserts that estimates for the number of people who have died since the pyramids were built (i.e., about 5,000 years ago) are around 6 billion, which is fairly close to the current world population. The estimates vary about how long modern man has existed and in what numbers. Snopes says most demographers peg the number of dead at approximately 60 billion, which means that there are several dead ancestors for each one of us, and we're not likely to catch up for a long, long time â if ever.

I think these demographers are not mathematicians. If its taken 5,000 years to reach 6 billion, then the population increase is exponential in nature. meaning the increase is not linear but on an upswelling curve. For a good example, ask a friend to take your house for free, and the only payment he has to make is to put a penny on a checkerboard, and then double it on each square. If he falls for this, then you are rich beyond your wildest dreams, because there is not enough money in the world to pay off 2 to the 63rd power. At 2^32 it would equal $42,949,672,96, and you're only halfway through the board. Consider this kind of increase in population - and I think we can assume a very small primordial population.

The curve may not be 2^n, but 1.2^n or less.

Anyone with a good guess on how many generations mankind has existed? or how many times we've almost been wiped out?

According to Snopes.com, this assertion is false.

The rationalization for this judgment is based on a rough estimate. Snopes asserts that estimates for the number of people who have died since the pyramids were built (i.e., about 5,000 years ago) are around 6 billion, which is fairly close to the current world population. The estimates vary about how long modern man has existed and in what numbers. Snopes says most demographers peg the number of dead at approximately 60 billion, which means that there are several dead ancestors for each one of us, and we're not likely to catch up for a long, long time â if ever.

I think these demographers are not mathematicians. If its taken 5,000 years to reach 6 billion, then the population increase is exponential in nature. meaning the increase is not linear but on an upswelling curve. For a good example, ask a friend to take your house for free, and the only payment he has to make is to put a penny on a checkerboard, and then double it on each square. If he falls for this, then you are rich beyond your wildest dreams, because there is not enough money in the world to pay off 2 to the 63rd power. At 2^32 it would equal $42,949,672,96, and you're only halfway through the board. Consider this kind of increase in population - and I think we can assume a very small primordial population.

The curve may not be 2^n, but 1.2^n or less.

Anyone with a good guess on how many generations mankind has existed? or how many times we've almost been wiped out?