November 26, 2002
LAST BEST HOPE:
A Christian Boom
(Daniel Pipes, November 26, 2002, New York Post)
The numbers are jaw-dropping: Nigeria already has more practicing Anglicans than any other country, with Uganda not far behind. The Philippines has more baptisms per year than France, Spain, Italy and Poland together. By 2025, two-thirds of all Christians (and three-quarters of all Catholics) are expected to live in the South. (This actually understates the contrast in growth rates: Many Southern Christians are relocating to the North. In London today, half of all churchgoers are blacks.) Under present trends, by 2050 non-Latino whites will make up just one in five of the worlds Christians.
The import of these numbers still seems to elude folks. Because Judeo-Christianity is necessary to democracy
, Man's best hope for continued freedom lies not among the dying post-Christian white Europeans--who by their very addiction to the social welfare state demonstrate what happens when faith declines--but with rising populations of multi-ethinc Christian Third Worlders and immigrants. In all likelihood, the preservation of Western Culture today depends more on America's Asian and Latino immigrants than on its supposed intellectual and academic elites. That's why it's self-defeating for some conservatives to oppose immigration. They're trying to keep our own ultimate allies out. Instead, we should be welcoming them and working to indoctrinate and assimilate them into the totality of traditional American culture, including self-reliance; self-governance; and the decentralization of political power.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 26, 2002 10:16 AM
You're right, but for this policy to work, it is required that a nation still believes in its own idea(l)s. Immigrants feel whether their new country respects itself, and if it doesn't, they won't do it either.
With elites who openly reject their own nations as imperialist abominations, the West faces terrible problems. Europe is worse of than the US, but the self-haters are in no short supply in the States either. And they are as strong in the media, academia and government jobs as they are in Europe.
So who's the problem--not the immigrants, but the elites.
Yes - you're right Orrin - Hannah Arendt said that the West gets invaded by barbarians every generation -- they're called children. We've allowed our educational institutions to be taken over by people who live off the government and therefore have a bias toward big government; and these institutions undercut the core principles of Judeo-Christian liberalism. Immigrants may well be more supportive.
If the Islamicists start to perceive themselves as losing territory in Africa, the riots will begin (well, get worse) and the refugees will start to leave. As my concept of America includes America as refuge, I certainly hope to see many of these people as my fellow citizens in the next 20 years.
Thomas Sowell has done some terrific research on how successful black immigrants are when they come here, even groups whose progress we'd think most unlikely, say Haitians, tend to "make it" quickly.
Yeah, Japan will never be a democracy because it does
not have enough Christians.
You can come to my county, David, and see Christian refugees from Moslems right now. From Indonesia.
And those delusional Indians, who only think they live in the world's largest democracy. Hah, we'll show them. Get the crucifix.
Japan, a one party state since its democratization, has virtually ceased to function, its economy in free fall, its population in decline. It's a prime example of the fact that democracy in the abstract can not succeed. There are necessary pre-conditions for successful democracy.
The Indian experience too calls into question whether democracy can succeed there in the long term. Even setting aside Indira Gandhi's setting aside that democracy, the current Hindu Nationalist government is hardly a promising sign.
Heck, Harry, I can stay in my own county and meet Muslim refugees from Somalia
Not that I wouldn't love to visit your county, once the kids are older, but refugees will probably be pretty low on the list of sites to see. (Actually, the best time I ever had on a vacation was a week on Molokai in February.)
I find it very odd that in order to support your argument that democracy cannot survive without Judeo-Chrisianity, you link to a review of Robert Kraynak's book, which argues that Christians should do away with democracy and live under a "Constitutional Monarchy under God".
As a non-believing lover of democracy, I find this whole "no democracy without religion" argument totally without merit or support. Where is the evidence? Can you word your argument in a way that would be persuasive to someone who isn't already pre-disposed to believe in it by their religious affiliation?
A liberal democratic society is one of widely distributed power: no one person or group holds substantial power. Economic and social power is distributed through the dispersion of property and the allocation of rights to every person; political power is dispersed through such mechanisms as elections, bicameral legislatures, multiple branches of government with checks and balances. The allocation of power is 'the law'; respect for the law is 'the social compact.' Persistence of such a society requires:
1) Universal renunciation of violence. People must refuse to kill, to rob, and to lie. These acts of violence radically assail the social compact.
2) Renunciation of the pursuit of power beyond that allocated in the social compact. People must be satisfied with humble positions, and must on occasion willingly accept humiliation at the hands of others. It is further desirable that people should have what de Tocqueville called "the spirit of liberty," that is, an understanding of the social compact, a willingness to exercise their own rights in the face of resistance, and a willingness to rebuke those who would encroach upon another's rightful powers.
3) Communal action is sometimes necessary; for it to occur in a society of widely distributed power, it is necessary for many to work together cooperatively. Therefore liberal democracy needs what Learned Hand called "a spirit of moderation", so that cooperative coalitions embracing much of society can be formed when necessary.
For Christians submission to these principles is a divine commandment. The Ten Commandments forbid murder, stealing, and lying to all persons in all circumstances, including government officials in their duties. Christianity teaches humble service, not the exercise of power: "he who would be first shall be last; he who makes himself last shall be first." Christianity teaches civil graces that promote cooperative action, e.g. charity towards others.
Thus, a faithful Christian respects the foundations of liberal democracy. While a non-Christian people may also come to believe in these principles, the historical record does not suggest that non-Christian peoples retain that belief for long. It seems too easy to lose faith in those principles if they are not thought to be divinely commanded; and temptations to violence and usurpation of power gradually undercut them.
By contrast with India and Japan, consider South Korea. The last figures I saw, several years ago, indicated that one-third of all inhabitants of the ROK were Christians, either Catholic or Protestant of various denominations (factoid: the world's largest Protestant church is said to be in Seoul), and one need only consider the amazing way in which Korean democracy has taken root in the thirteen years since 1989. Taiwan is another very interesting case study; I have no numbers for that nation but I believe there are increasing numbers of Christians in the ROC as well.
At it's most basic level there is no basis for morality, nor for any obligation to others than yourself, in the absence of God and religious morality. That's why the Founders grounded our inalienable rights on our having been Created.
Orrin, your argument basically comes down to an unsupportable assertion, which is not an argument, it is a prejudice. I can easily disprove your argument by living morally, and fulfilling my obligations to others in society as necessary for the maintenance of a free and civil society, which I do. You can chose to believe that I am a liar, or that I am just an exception that proves your rule, but you still have not proven your assertion. How do you prove your assertion to someone who is not pre-disposed to want to believe it (ie, someone who is not a Christian)? Where is the evidence?
There's not much point, Harry and Robert; this isn't your blog and you're not going to change any minds. You'd be better off posting a full rebuttal on YOUR blog(s) and throwing us a link.
I agree, you needn't believe in Judeo-Christianity to live a moral life. But the life you live is defined by Judeo-Christian morality. The problem is that you can't derive morality absent at least the idea of God, to establish absolutes.
Richard Rorty's name for the phenomenon you describe is especially good: "free-loading atheism"
Orrin, the real fallacy in your thinking here is not the idea that Judeo-Christian philosophy is a prerequisite for democracy, but that democracy is a prerequisite for freedom.
Well, some form of roughly consensual government is required. Enlightened despotism never works for very long.
American immigration policy does not favor Christian refugees from the third world; it favors whoever is willing to disregard our laws and cross the southern border. It should
favor Christian refugees, but in order to make such a change, we first need a debate on immigration policy. Such a debate is unlikely on the muddled grounds we have now, where most commentators resolutely elide over any distinction between legal and illegal immigration.
Well, Richard Rorty may call himself a freeloader if he wishes. We are all indebted to the accomplishments of our ancestors, so we are all "freeloaders" in that regard. If you add to the patrimony of those who came before you by living your life with goodness and honor, and by defending if from those who would destroy it, then you are not a free-loader, but you have earned the right to claim that heritage as your own.
In that regard, Christianity has "freeloaded" on the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks, who are the true originators of the Western traditions of individuality and self-government on which modern liberal democracy depends. The Western democratic tradition is also indebted to skeptics as well as Christians, including David Hume and Thomas Paine, among others.
Likewise, you cannot claim all morality as the sole property of Judeo-Christianity, moral codes against murder, stealing and adultery have developed in countless societies independently of the J-C tradition. Judeo-Christian morality is human morality, it persists because it is in accord with human nature and can be sustained by human societies that are value the fruits of such a morality, irregardless of whether or not they justify that morality on a theological philosophy or not.
Those are Christian Latinos coming over the Southern border.
What are some examples of nations that have sustained both a moral code and liberal democracy without a large majority of their population adhering to Judeo-Christianity?
Speaking of Christian Latinos, why is it that very few Christian Latin American countries have been succesful at sustaining democratic governments?
Well, moral codes can exist in a society without democracy, as democracy has been the exception throughout history, not the rule, but just about every society that has held together for more than a few generations has had a moral code. Do you deny that ancient Greek and Roman societies (pre Christian) had laws and codes of conduct? Do the Confucian rules of conduct mean nothing?
As far as countries that have moral codes and democracy without majority Christian status, are you really going to argue that England is not a democracy? Is Turkey not a democracy? India?
Some are, some aren't. There is no telling. They are not religious refugees, though, that much we do know.
England of course has residual effects from being a Christian nation for centuries, but one can hardly be sanguine about its future. Turkey, thanks almost exclusively to the Westernizing of Attaturk, has a chance to develop into a healthy democracy, though the resurgence of totalitarian Islam is troubling and even as is the military has had to step in frequently. India was of course part of the Empire, so it too benefits from a residual Christian democratic influence. But until it establishes the rule of law--rooting out corruption and treating all wrongdoers equally--it will have little chance of ever becoming a healthy democracy.
Greek, Roman and Confucian "codes of conduct" have proved inadequate to the task.
While it would certainly be possible for others to take advantage of the porous Southern border, there's little or no evidence that I'm aware of that anyone other than Latinos is coming across.
I think you're missing the point -- it's not whether the general populace has a moral code -- indeed Christianity holds that God's laws are "inscribed on our hearts", that everyone knows killing is wrong -- but whether there is a code that restrains rulers
. The Judeo-Christian innovation was that its moral code applied to all persons in all roles -- including rulers. Thus it served to limit power. No other ancient laws did so. The Code of Hammurabi recognized an aristocracy with special rights; in Rome emperors were above the law.
Rulers are subject to grave temptations to violate the moral code. It's easy to obey the code in normal circumstances; the question is, how do people do under pressure? To resist temptation and to obey the moral code when all seems lost, people need faith. And so far, Judeo-Christianity is the only faith that has proven to have staying power.
It's also the internalization of that absolute morality that makes it possible to reduce the power of government. If you look around the Western world, it's no coincidence that the rise of the massive regulatory social welfare state has marched in lockstep with the decline in morality/faith. Remove religious restraints and government has to fill the gap. Thus are atheist libertarians the enemies of freedom.
Orrin - If I interpret you right, you're saying that Christianity teaches us to give generously to others and to be satisfied with what others voluntarily choose to give us, while in the absence of Christian faith people tend to seek much for themselves and to seek to give little to others. The welfare state is an expression of the desire of influential voting blocs to take from others while giving little in return. In the absence of faith, people seek a powerful government to attain their personal ends, and politics becomes a dog-eat-dog struggle for power that ends up destroying civil society.
Is that a fair restatement?
Another reply to Robert comes to mind. Communal decision-making has a somewhat different dynamic than individual decision-making: it emphasizes common ends. Selfishness is a motive that everyone shares to some degree, while other ends vary across persons. Thus, in communal decision-making selfish ends gain greater power than in individual decision-making.
An example here is campaign finance laws: all incumbent politicians have a selfish interest in laws that promote their re-election; thus, even though each individual lawmaker may be motivated 95% by concern for the public weal and only 5% by his own career, lawmakers differ in their opinions about what will further the public weal, but agree in what will further their own careers. Thus we get campaign laws that assure 99% re-election rates for incumbents.
In short, even if basic motives are good at an individual level, the political process can select and promote baser motives. Christian faith can strengthen the resolve to bring about justice and resist that tendency.
That's certainly part of it, bercause individualism turns our focus inward and has us ask always and only: is it good for me? Equally important though is that if we have no moral absolutes and we elevate the individual then morality is necessarily relativistic. If we are all equal and nothing is forbidden us, then by what right can anyone tell you how to behave? And if we've no idea how people are going to behave, because we can't be sure they share our morality, then we require an extensive government to regulate all behavior. The Left and libertarians seek to liberate Man from rigid traditional morality, but when they do they make necessary the very government that destroys freedom.
My fundamental disagreement with Orrin is his belief that we require an absolute foundation for morality. Why?
I admire slippage, compromise, debate. Humans are not logical, do not respond in expected ways.
In my own field, which can throw up some pretty baroque ethical or moral questions, I have never been able to determine any set of rules that works in all cases. Of all the professional ethical/moral rules I started out with, the only one I retain after 35 years is that I never, ever worry about the poverty of people of have more money than I do.
You might be surprised how often I'm asked to.
Here is is in its simplest form. You concoct your morality, which you believe makes human life sacrosanct. I concoct mine, which justifies my killing someone if my own existence is at stake. The QEII sinks and we're adrift in a lifeboat with no food. Well, actually, I have food, but it's you.
There's actually a whole book about that, Orrin. Title slips my mind, but up until 1854, what you just describe was the law of England.
But we do not concoct our own morality. Unless we are a sociopath. Morality is made up by a society as it goes along, and it works out in slippage, compromise, not absolutes. Absolute moralists usually turn out to be great criminals. Calvin, for example.
Which time would you rather live in, morally-speaking, the Age of Faith, or now?
I pick now.
Obviously one would choose to live in the society that's creating freedom rather than the one that's squandering it--unless all one cares about is creature comforts.
PJ, I disagree that the success of Western democracy is due to the self-restraint of it's rulers due to their Christian moral code. Christian rulers from Constantine down to King George were no better at resisting their temptations to gather the maximum power for themselves than have been any other non-Christian monarchs throughout history. The genius of modern democracy is that it does not rely on the virtue of its rulers, as it rests on the separation of powers,where the ambitions of one are checked by the ambitions of others.
Speaking of Christian restraint, isn't Bill Clinton a Christian? You speak of Christianity in the ideal, there are many moral codes, including Humanism, that would suffice quite nicely if all of its inherents would live up to the ideal. There have been many pious Christians throughout history who have had no problem reconciling slavery, racial murder, and worse with their Christian beliefs. Man is a rationalizing animal.
I meant adherents, sorry.
I don't think the success of American democracy is due to
the self-restraint of rulers, but that American democracy has been strengthened by the Christian virtues of many of our Presidents and leaders. Democracy is strengthened when rulers do not test the limits of their powers, and weakened when Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and others seek unlawful powers. Had George Washington sought to be president for life, our democracy might not have survived this long.
For democracy to survive, the people need to be virtuous. Their fidelity to the principles of liberty can then choose good Presidents, first of all, and then restrain the occasional President who seeks unlawful power.
All persons are subject to temptation. But if Christian morals make each person slightly more likely to resist temptation and slightly more likely to resist evil on the part of others, the chances that society as a whole will avoid disaster are increased immeasurably.
Here is the mystery. Christianity, whether you like it or not, works. It achieves a balance of freedom and order that allows human genius to produce wealth. The wealth thus produced brings power. Actual power: SSBN/carrier battle group/airborne laser power. Thus a country guided by Christianity has become the conqueror of neo-pagan Germans, pagan Japanese, the Communists, and so on--and all of humanity has benefitted. It couldn't have worked out better if God Himself had planned it.
You wrote: "The genius of modern democracy is that it does not rely on the virtue of its rulers, as it rests on the separation of powers, where the ambitions of one are checked by the ambitions of others. "
Here I think we are as close as I can ever expect to get you to agreeing with me. Judeo-Christianity, uniquely, teaches that Man is fallen and that all men are therefore sinful. This is the underlying premise of our government, the reason that we have so many checks and balances, and it is the genius of the system.
Humanism, in its failure to recognize Man as fatally flawed, in its core belief that as you say men could possibly live up to its ideals, is a utopianism, little different than Marxism or Islamicism or what have you. It is based on a lie and therefore doomed to disaster.
The book on morality in lifeboats is "Cannibalism
and the Common Law" by A. W. Brian Simpson, and a
rollicking good read it is.
If you do read it, it will be impossible to
maintain some argument of Christian morality
being superior to modernism. Under
Christian ascendancy, it was OK to eat the
cabin boy. That cabin boys have rights, too,
is a secular idea.
Simpson, who held a dual appointment at
Chicago and Cambridge (even I am impressed)
when he wrote the book is a prodigious
I agree with the virtues of the ethics that may have emerged from the Bible, but there's something that needs a bit of clearing up:
You mention "Judeo-Christianity" quite often, but it's a construct that doesn't necessarily mean the same to thing to all people (and may not really exist, for that matter, on closer scrutiny, except in the minds of those that speak of it). True enough, Christianity grew out of Judaism, and though it derived significant swatches of its ethical principles from it (Jesus being himself a Pharisaic rabbi--critical, albeit, of other Pharisaic Jews, but since when has Jews criticizing Jews been such a novelty?). But Christianity became a different religion. True, the two are similar on certain issues; but to speak of "Judeo-Christianity" runs the risk of overlooking the rather significant (and unbridgeable) differences between them. Hence, the term could be misleading; especially when one says, "Judeo-Christianity holds that Man is fallen and that all men are therefore sinful." This belief may be true of Christianity; it is definitely not true of Judaism. While it does say in Genesis that "Man is bad (or evil, if you will) from his youth," that statement has evolved in normative Judaism, not into the principle of "man is fallen from birth," but into the belief that people possess both a "Good Inclination" and "Bad Inclination" and that, moreover, people need both to function properly(!), with the caveat, however, that they should try their utmost to cultivate the Good Inclination and restrain the bad, this with the help of the "mitzvot" (i.e., commandments) as the guiding blueprint.
Saying otherwise is a misrepresentation of Judaism, and I assume that this is not what you intended to do....
I don't think there's any difference in what we're saying. Of course no man is at all times evil. But utopian political constructs like communism and libertarianism necessarily deny the existence of Evil. They assume it possible to create a society where men would be so satisfied with life that they would be at all times good. This false belief even underlies socialism and, I believe, Islamicism, which is why they fail as political systems.
We used it in our law school ethics class. I agree we can eat the cabin boy, he's an inferior. My example assumed that the two of us in the boat were equals, as most folks (though conspicuously not the unborn and the terminal) are now considered to be in our culture. You proclaim your belief in Darwinism; might it not serve the greater good to just allow our two survivors to fight to the death, assuming that the species is best served by survival of the fittest?
I agree that utopian political constructs, such as communism are dangerous to freedom and lead inevitably to tyranny. I disagree that Humanism is necessarily utopian. I am not speaking of official Humanism, such as stated in the Humanist Manifesto, but in the broadest sense as any philosophy that posits human welfare as the highest goal of human aspirations. There is room for a recognition of human limitations in such a philosophy.
The dangers of utopian thinking exist in both religious and secular spheres. The very word Utopia was invented by a Christian. Robert Kraynak's vision of a society ruled by the "City of God" is also utopian. What he describes, for all it's high rhetoric, is basically a religious tyranny.
What democracy requires for its successful maintenance is a citizenry which values its freedoms more than its ideologocal projects, both religious and secular. You ignore how much Christian thought had to be modified, and Christian authority had to be weakened, in order to allow democracy room to take hold and flourish. This modification and weakening process was never acknowledged as such, of course, but was accomplished by the new "revelations" of the Protestant Reformation, but even that wasn't enough, and the very secular spirit of the Enlightenment was required to finish the job. Modern democracy is the result of a dynamic tension between religious and secular traditions.
As I commented in a thread above, the Enlightenment was not a secular doing. Otherwise, Robert, you've made a fair description of the learning process that Christians had to go through to learn that (a) liberal democracy is the only faithful implementation of Judeo-Christian ethics, and (b) that it was necessary for Christians to be true to their faith if liberal democracy was to succeed. Thus did repeated failure teach the way to ultimate success.
Granting all of your points, for the sake of argument, is it not curious that freedom thrives only in those states, like ours, that are profoundly Judeo-Christian and that it shrivels even in the formerly Christian nations of Europe once their faith dies out?
Orrin, the situation you have set up in the
lifeboat is not darwinian but spenserian.
I did not learn from Simpson that it is OK to
eat the cabin boy. I can't guess how you got
that out of it.
It is true that power generally overcomes
weakness, but that has nothing to do with
As to whether modernity (as I like to call it)
can exist with religion, specifically Christianity,
consider the scientific method.
It also arose in a Christian setting, though it
would be a bold apologist who argued that
it was either inevitable or specially Christian.
Be that as it may, it could only be invented
once, so we don't know if it could ever have
been invented in any other setting.
But obviously, once invented, it can be
transferred to nonChristian societies.
My view of popular self-government is that in
America it arose, more than a little mysteriously,
from a tension between religion and irreligion,
and that it is simplistic and antihistorical to
claim it came from Christianity.
If that were so, why didn't it start in Italy?
Anyhow, like science, now that principles of
popular self-government have been worked
out, I cannot see any reason why non-Christians
could not recongize them as worthwhile and
adopt them for themselves.
The fact that so many non-Christian societies
(read: Islam) have not says something about
their values. Nothing about the value of
We would all like your belief to be true; it would make it much easier to bring freedom to the world. And the scientific method example is a good comparison -- for it did arise out of the Judeo-Christian conviction that all truth is God's truth and that all discovery is holy and brings us closer to God, and that because God is consistent the world must obey a uniform set of laws that can be discovered. So the search for truth was begun . . . And one could equally look around the world today and say, based on the distribution of Nobel prizes, where has science been conducted effectively, but in the Judeo-Christian world? And in, say, the Muslim world, what is the state of science?
Can the scientific spirit flourish through many generations of atheism? Already, in many fields of academia, we see our professors focusing more on collegiate politics and the struggle for prestige and money than on the advancement of knowledge. As the Bellesiles illustrates, academic fraud is becoming more and more common. In the life sciences today, the amount of erroneous work published in major journals is staggering. Fields like English have become a ghetto of like-thinking post-Marxists. In more and more fields, the best work is done by people outside the academy.
Time will tell the answers to these questions . . .
There's a nearly complete disconnection in
academia now between science and non-science.
And in the borderland fields, the victory has
gone to the antirationalists. I am thinking of,
for example, anthropology, where I mentioned
to one of the most distinguished of the older
anthropologists that I thought the current PC
trend could destroy the discipline.
"It already has," he said, with a calm I thought
was astonishing, considering he had spent
40 years in the field.
I have before mentioned the line "finest minds
of my generation." Science has become so
difficult that only the finest minds even attempt
to enter any more.
By a darwinian (listening, Orrin?) process,
that means the rest of the academy is
occupied by second-raters.
C.P. Snow as right, it turns out.
Anyhow, I cannot imagine generations of
atheists. Our brains are poorly designed for
atheism, hardheadedness is extremely rare
and, like monarchy, theism will keep springing
back no matter how awful our previous
experience of it was.
That's why I distrust political systematists. The
perfect is the enemy of the good.
Orrin & PJ
Just so that there is no misunderstanding of my motives, I want you to understand that I am not anti-Christian or anti-religious. I was a practicing Christian (Catholic) for the first half of my life, and I do acknowledge a great debt of gratitude to the Christian giants whose shoulders we all stand on today. But to pick up on Harry's point, now that the democratic tradition has been established, are we to assume that it is only the Christians who have the necessary virtues to maintain it? I say no, you say yes, and I don't think that either of us will convince the other. As a scientific question, this will be decided in the laboratory of history.
But the point you are missing is that even if you are able to convince someone who is not Christian that Christianity is the best religion for the defense of democracy, that doesn't mean that you have convinced them to become a Christian. We don't choose religions based on their utility, we join a religion when we are convinced that it is true. Secularization is a historical process that may or may not be inevitable, but certainly it is a major social reality that is not going away, and those people, like myself, who find themselves without faith will still need to solve the problems of how to maintain the values, disciplines and institutions which make civil society possible. We will do so with the philosophical tools available to us.
Part of the problem that Christianity faces is that the schism of the Protestant Reformation, which began the evolutionary process of Christian thought which paved the way for the secular rule of nations, individual free agency in the economic sphere, and finally democracy and religious freedom, also fatally wounded the notion of Christian Authority. Christianity can no longer maintain its authority when individuals are free to follow the dictates of their conscience over the dictates of the Church. Today Christianity can only sustain itself through persuasion, not authority. Persuasive truth is subjective truth. The subjectivization of Truth, which conservative Christians like yourself so bemoan, is the direct, if unintended, outcome of the Reformation. (cont..)
This is the process that the Islamic fundamentalists are resisting so intensely, for they know that democratization of their world will inevitably lead to the destruction of Islamic Authority. However, it is the subjectivization of Islam which will allow Islamic societies the flexibility to develop democratic institutions. New readings of the Koran will "reveal" truths that are in accord with religious liberty, secular rule and economic self-determination, precisely as the evolution of Christian thought since the Reformation has. This will occur once the people of these societies become sufficiently
enamored of the new freedoms to be willing to forego the comforting, if restricting, traditions of their autocratic, absolutist past.
I am optimistic that liberal democracy will eventually rule the day for most, if not all, of the world's nations. It will not be because of the overwhelming influence of any one religion, but because democracy, as an institution, will prove itself to be the most effective solution to the socio-economic problems faced by all societies. I do not think that secularization will win out over religion, but that it will be a permanent social force, existing alongside religion as a competing worldview. And competition in the world of ideas will continue to shape religion, including Christianity.
Religious and secular philosophies succeed to the extent that they are able to solve temporal human problems. They evolve as the nature of the human problems to be solved evolve. The Christianity of a 21st Century urban democrat is very different from the Christianity of a 12th Century European vassal. Christianity has been so successful precisely because of its ability to adapt, and to find philosophical justifications for new ways of structuring society. (cont..)
In the end, my loyalties are with democracy, specifically American democracy, and not secularism. I would rather live in a country that is 90% Christian but guarantees my right to religious liberty, than in a country that is predominantly secular but does not guarantee that right. Such liberty can only be secured when secularists are willing to fight for the freedoms of the religious, and the religious are willing to fight for the freedoms of the secularists. I believe that most American Christians feel that way, but not all. I think that people like Robert Kraynak do not have that loyalty to democracy, but are more interested in re-establishing their vision of Christian Authority, which in the end will not only destroy the liberty of secularists and non-Christians, but Christians as well.
An eloquent sermon, Robert.
But it took 300 years for the wheel to turn
180 degrees for Christianity, from Bellarmine
in 1600 to the secular democracies of 1900,
and the rear guard was still battling (think
Islam does not have 300 years. It probably
does not have 30 years. It would be nice
if this evolution were to occur in the mosques
and in the schools of theology and law, but
I don't think that's where the action's going
Islam was imposed on most of its votaries
by extreme violence, and it is likely to be
deimposed the same way.
I agree with nearly all of that. And I do believe non-Christian societies can democratize somewhat and be much freer than most are today, though I suspect they will eventually go the way of Europe, rather than of the U.S. Still, that's better than where thay are now. I wrote shortly after 9-11 that George W. Bush (or his successor) may end up being the Martin Luther of Islam, which needs, more than anything else, to disconnect government from religion.