August 1, 2005


Death by secularism: Some statistical evidence (Spengler, 8/02/05, Asia Times)

Underlying the demographic crisis of the industrial world, I believe, is a spiritual crisis. If the above analysis has any merit, the issue is not wealth, but rather the desire of men to continue to inhabit this planet. Secular ideologies - socialism, positivism, and so forth - promised a world free of bigotry and hatred, and an unending vista of peace and prosperity. Humankind, however, has vomited up these ideologies. Secular Europe and radical Islam in that sense represent two sides of the same coin: both have rejected the secular order, the latter through open battle, and the former through fatal resignation.

Demographic analysis can help strip secularism of its progressive mask and reveal the death's-head underneath. The analysis shown above may be the work of an amateur, but it will serve a good purpose if it provokes the professionals to do a more thorough job.

There's nothing in that coin-toss for us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2005 11:31 PM

If you read Spengler's other articles linked to in the above one, especially "Why Europe Chose
Extinction" and "The Sacred Heart of Darkness", he is a lot less sanguine about Christianity than OJ's selective quotes would indicate. Basically, according to Spengler, the secular ideologies that Europe has vomited up were themselves the result of Europe's earlier bout of sickness when it vomited up Christianity. The dress rehearsal for Hitler's pagan religion of nationalism was France's engineered destruction of Europe during the 30 year's war under the very Christian generalship of Richelieu and his master diplomat Pere Joseph.

I guess that Europe just can't keep anything down, Christianity or Secularism. I suppose in 50 years they'll be vomiting up Islam as well.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 2, 2005 2:15 AM

Robert, you likely already know this, but some day you should study the difference between true Christianity and politics (ie, Richelieu). The wars were wars between princes and they had been fighting long before protestantism. The persecution of the Huguenots was because they were establishing their own state within a state (and it ultimately led to France losing much of their economic and scientific wealth to Switzerland when the Huguenots fled the persecution).

Richelieu was correct in his understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the king and the pope, but that relationship is temporal, or political. Both get their authority from God.

But none of that has anything to do with Christian faith.

Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.' (John 18:36)

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 2, 2005 4:11 AM

Randall, you can take it up with Spengler while you're at it, I'm just paraphrasing him. The proble m with your argument is that "true" Christianity, whatever that may be, only exists in theory, encased in a vacuum tube and balanced on the head of a pin surrounded by some indeterminate number of angels. The Christianity that impacts the world of people should be judged by the actions, for both good or bad, of those people who acted in it's name and the results they achieved. As the Gospel says, you shall judge the tree by its fruit.

I could use that same tactic and claim that the terrible legacy of Communism in the 20th century cannot be held against the account of secular humanism, because true secular humanism is about love and respect for all human beings, but I don't think you would let me get away with that. The Humanist Manifesto is all about the higher ideals and aspirations of all men, but Communism as practiced by the Bolsheviks was just about raw temporal power, and not a reflection of what Humanism can mean for mankind if it is just followed in the correct spirit.

The problem with that is if men had the correct spirit, neither Christianity or Humanism would be necessary.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 2, 2005 7:06 AM


Spengler's argument is that European Christianity was fatally compromised by the deals it made with native paganism. Certainly something went wrong in Europe that didn't happen here--perhaps that's it.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2005 7:43 AM

There is nought a communist who has ever preached "My kingdom is not of this world." Exalting the very men who have proven a failure is not an alternative. Communism and humanism have achieved their goals in the slaughter of the 20th century. Just as Christianity's goal was achieved when we crucified our Savior.

The fact that men do not have the correct spirit and that humanism has failed very much demonstrates the need for Christianity.

Reducing everything to politics is a sad way of looking at people, especially for a humanist who exalts man beyond what he deserves.

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 2, 2005 7:47 AM

Given that one can readily identify the costs of childraising with the relatively low birth rate in the US, the low birth rate in Europe is a mystery. The main costs of childrearing in the US are medical care and education, both of which are provided by the State in Europe, so something else must be at work.

I think the reason goes to the lack of optimism, more than some sort of secular v religious battle. If Europeans thought the world would be better off in the future, they'd have more kids. But they are not so convinced, in fact most Europeans take it as a given that tomorrow will only be worse. That needs to be addressed.

Posted by: bart at August 2, 2005 7:49 AM

The U.S. doesn't have relatively low birth rates.

The lack of optimism is a function of secularism--people live only for themselves. You can't address the truth.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2005 8:29 AM


Posted by: Ali Choudhury at August 2, 2005 9:03 AM

Ali -- I think just the opposite: that the lack of optimism makes it possible for governments to maintain high taxes. In Canada, the Liberals regularly use fear of cuts in government against the Conservatives -- and it works.

However, in the U.S., cutting taxes is a winning platform.

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 2, 2005 9:40 AM


Yes, the more pessimistic you are about your own future the more dependemt you are on government for security, so taxes are more tolerable.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2005 9:49 AM


There are plenty of places that have low taxes, high economic freedom, high prosperity and not especially high levels of religious observance (Singapore, Estonia, New Zealand).

Birth rates are collapsing even in areas where religious observance is higher than average like Iran.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at August 2, 2005 10:13 AM

Thwe lack of optimism

Posted by: at August 2, 2005 10:36 AM

Whether Christianity was lived authentically or not, it was able to create a society in which people where inspired to build, explore, search for truth, abolish slavery, have children, believe in the future, etc. (In this regard, I recommend books on monotheism by Rodney Stark, a sociologist: "For the Glory of God" and "One True God.")

Secularism, multiculturalism, and socialism have left Europeans self-absorbed and dispirited. There's nothing to call forth their idealism or creative energies. There's nothing to believe in, nothing to have pride in, nothing to strive for, nothing to pass on to one's children, (so why have them?) The welfare state and the therpeutic culture have relieved them of any sense of responsibility towards relatives so why not let them die? Life is about striving to live like trust fund babies. Children are just optional accessories or pets.

By the way, I'm struck at how appropriate that many American movies stars nowadays are giving their children animal names: Scout, Apple, Jermajesty, Dakota, Rover, et al. It says it all.

Posted by: L. Rogers at August 2, 2005 10:40 AM

Ali -- all you said was "taxes" -- I was assuming you meant in relation to optimism and was simply inverting the cause and effect.

So now I don't know where this thread is heading...

In Iran, the religious climate after the fall of the Shah created a baby boom so much that, what, half the population is under 20?

Or are you saying that birth rates are high in New Zealand because their taxes are low?

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 2, 2005 11:01 AM

Maybe Ali is saying that there are many different factors controlling birth rates and that a higher or lower birth rate is not necessarily an indicator of any one phenomenon (though it might be a symptom).

For OJ birth rates (and population growth rates) are always an indicator of the health of a culture; the higher the birth rate the healthier the culture. Those of us with the ability to grapple with complex concepts know better. OJ's philosophy, of course, leaves us begging him to explain how exactly western African animist culture is healthier than European culture.

Posted by: Shelton at August 2, 2005 1:02 PM

One will still be around in 100 years, the other won't.

Posted by: Timothy at August 2, 2005 1:34 PM

Ali: Singapore's 4 - 5 million people, New Zealand 7, Estonia 1.5 or so. Is there an example over, say, 30 million you can think of offhand?

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 2, 2005 1:54 PM


No, exceptionally high rates are dangerous too. Failure to maintain replacement rate is a sign of a failing culture though.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2005 2:16 PM
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