Friday, April 02, 2010

The Religious Will Inherit the Earth

(Picture from Quiverfull, and referred to by Caspar Melville as "propoganda," as seen when you go to Melville's article and right-click on the picture.)

Political scientist Eric Kaufmann's Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? is reviewed here by Caspar Melville. Melville's "review" is almost immediately discredited when he writes: "If, like me, you skip the six dense chapters of politico-demographic analysis, in the very last line of the book you can find his answer: “The religious shall inherit the earth.” So, it appears that this is a partial review of Kaufmann's text.

The bullets are:

  • Far from declining, religious populations are actually multiplying.
  • The assumption that modernity leads inexorably to a lessening of religious belief and a day when we are all rational humanists, is wrong; it's a "failed prophecy."
  • Liberal secularism contains the seeds of its own destruction.
  • Kaufmann says: “By this I mean post-’60s secularism, one that is post-ideological, multicultural and liberal. My argument is that there is something about this multicultural liberal secularism that is good for fundamentalism and bad for itself.”
  • This is about birth rates.
  • "Literalist religious conservatism is being reborn and... secular liberals are the midwives."
  • Kaufmann brings in big-time, scholarly demographic studies to make his points.
  • I find this interesting re. America, and do not doubt it. "“America really is a case of delayed secularisation, what happened in Europe in the middle of the last century is happening to America now in terms of the young turning away from organised religion. Currently America is about 14 per cent secular, that is unaffiliated, and we predict this will grow to about 17 per cent by 2050, then plateau out.” [Kaufmann]  This growth is not a matter of fertility rates. Secular fertility in America is as “stagnant” as everywhere else Kaufmann looks at, well below replacement at 1.65. But, Kaufmann admits, secularism profits from “conversion” – people born with religion become secular. However, these secular converts come overwhelmingly from moderate religions."
  • In America, secularism grows slightly ("a bit"), moderate religions lose out "a lot," and fundamentalism "flourishes."
  • "New variants of ultra-modern fundlamentalism" will form.
  • Kaufmann says: "I don’t think we want to get in a population footrace. It may be necessary for secular people to have slightly more children but it would be nicer if we could get fundamentalists to have fewer children.”   
  • Part of Kaufmann's argument is that religion provides a certain "enchantment," whereas secularism lacks this.
  • "If Kaufmann admits that his scary headlines somewhat belie the provisional nature of his findings, he has an answer: “I am trying to force a certain rethink of the idea that we are moving naturally toward secularism. To shake up our complacency and, perhaps, stir up some debate.”Secularists may well be shaken by his book, but will they be stirred?"
  • says: "Not only will the religious eventually triumph over the non-religious, but it is those who are the most extreme in their beliefs who have the largest families. Drawing on extensive demographic research, and considering questions of multiculturalism, nationalism and terrorism, Kaufmann examines the implications of the decline in liberal secularism as religious conservatism rises - and what this will mean for the future of western modernity."
I don't know if Kaufmann looks at the phenomenon of ex-fundamentalist Christians who leave their fundamentalist Christianity only to bring their deep-seated fundamentalist hermeneutic to their "secularism."