August 7, 2006


Culture and the Demographic Crisis (Frederick Turner, 07 Aug 2006, Tech Central Station)

If we eliminate all external causes for population collapse, what is left is people's own reproductive choices. The reason people stop replacing themselves is, I would argue, cultural.

What, basically, persuades people not to have babies even when they have the political, social and economic stability to do so? Among the eras and nations where this phenomenon occurs or occurred one basic characteristic stands out: the loss of a transcendent future. What I mean by "transcendent" is some ideal or love or hope or faith that rises above the interests of the self, the practicalities of expected income, the security of predictable outcomes, and the lifetime of the individual. What I mean by "future" is that it is an ideal, love, hope, or faith that extends beyond the present and is not satisfied with an instantaneous and eternal reward in the now.

Religion is the way that humans attempt to put into language, stories, art and ritual their guesses about such things. As a species whose major and unique specialization is language, we are meaning-seeking beings, and when the buck of meaning has been passed around the various contents of the world about us, it ends up usually in the plate of religion. One hypothesis about demographic collapse that might be worth checking out is that it happens when a nation loses its religion.

...that to believe in Darwinism is to render oneself unfit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2006 11:29 AM

Oh, wow! Religion is part of the pattern of thinking and acting of successful civilizations. Great idea--I wish I'd thought of that. All we have to do is make the connection between religion amd creativity, religion and innovation, and religion and material power and we'll have it all in one bag.

It's quite simple. actually. Certain religions provide internal social control without stultifying oppression. People don't need big brother watching them, because Big Father is already doing the job.

It is no accident that America is thriving while old Europe dies, following godless commonism into that old ashheap.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 7, 2006 12:00 PM believe in Darwinism is to render oneself unfit.

Does this mean that Darwinism is correct; but if you believe in it, then you die out?

Norman, coordinate.

Posted by: Brandon at August 7, 2006 1:01 PM

It may be the air we breathe. One of my sisters had an abortion on her 5th child when she turned 40. That's she has 4 children already. My other sister tried, but couldn't conceive. One has one baby and two miscarriages. Two sisters and two brothers never married. One brother has one child, but they couldn't conceive a second baby. Another brother has two, the perfect family ( which is still below the replacement level of 2.1 kids). My parents have 9 children, but only 8 grand children. I also have a friend who tried very hard but failed to conceive. Her family starts out with 5 children, now has only 2 grand children. This is anecdotal, but something other than religion, economic, or social factors may be at work here.

Posted by: ic at August 7, 2006 1:19 PM

It was less than 40 years ago we were being told horror stories about overpopulation and energy shortages and the coming Ice Age. So why do I get the feeling that around 2040 "population crash" and "climate change" and "energy shortage" will be considered just as quaint, outdated and wrong? (Or still with us, as in the last case.) Because maybe all these terminal problems tend to solve themselves, or were never problems but bad data interpretation?

(And myaybe it's space aliens who are just humanely preparing this world for their occupation. A number of Sci-Fi writers have written stories on the subject as far back as the '50s.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 7, 2006 1:46 PM

"godless commonism"

Lou, that's a sweet turn of phrase.

Posted by: Mike Morley at August 7, 2006 2:46 PM

Brandon - It means that if you believe in Darwinism, you have to believe that the world was designed maliciously, so that truth is set against success, goodness against life. Only the 'red in tooth and claw' are fit and survive, while the meek and humble die and get eaten. It is a doctrine of despair. In that sense it is essentially anti-Christian.

Posted by: pj at August 7, 2006 3:41 PM


Maybe so, but what has that got to do with what OJ's point appears to be - that believers in Darwinism are unfit. Unfit in what sense? For survival? Then Darwinism is correct, whether it is anti-Christian or not.

Posted by: Brandon at August 7, 2006 4:36 PM

Unfit by the terms of their own ideology.

Darwinism is just an intellectual theory and it's easy enough to analyze a postulate from within the enclosure.

Posted by: oj at August 7, 2006 4:42 PM

Mike M.: Thanks: I try.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 7, 2006 5:40 PM