World Withering of Atheism

  1. The World Withering of Atheism
  2. The Trumpista mic drop line
  3. Stealth Radicalization
  4. Stealth Indoctrination

1

John Mark N. Reynolds has a couple of closely-paired and provocative articles on world religious demographics.

The first, “The ‘Nones’ are Disappearing (On Tribalism),” is some relatively dispassionate commentary on sloppy writing about religious demographics, notably inflated claims for the world growth of atheism based on hyperinflation of trends toward religious disaffiliation in the global West.

Reynolds, a Christian, opens with a challenge to his own tribe:

Don’t lie. Don’t lie to yourself especially.

Fibbing to self can be easy to do about bad news because it is nicer to hear good news than bad. As a Christian, I wish Christian belief was growing in the United States, but it is not. This is not good news, but this is what the best data we have says is happening. Of course religious beliefs can change over time so one cannot make simple predictions about the future as a person can with a category that does not change like ethnicity. We do not know what will happen for sure, but if we had to guess, then Christianity will decline to roughly two-thirds of the population of the United States over the next few decades.

We will see. That’s not the whole story anyway.

Most people would be surprised that as a percentage of global population:

Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.

In fact, the parts of the world where “atheist” or “spiritual-but-not-religious” monikers are growing are the parts of the world that are dying demographically:

Why are the religiously unaffiliated shrinking?

Today’s religiously unaffiliated population, by contrast, is heavily concentrated in places with low fertility and aging populations, such as Europe, North America, China and Japan.

This is the best data we have. The future of the global population is not in Western Europe, but in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions that are growing. There are many implications to this, but one should not deny the facts. Religious people are growing more numerous, Islam especially, and Christianity is growing much less white.

Oddly, though academics do not deny this information, “pop atheism” often falls into denial when presented with this data …

I believe there’s a cause-and-effect relationship there, as loss of religious faith somehow suppresses the desire for children.

The second article of these fraternal twins is more polemical: The Last Atheist Will Get Good Care from A Chinese Christian.

If things go as they are going, the last Swedish atheist will get decent care from Christian Chinese nurses.

The good news about global change is that atheism and the religious “nones” are in decline as a percentage of the global population. Humankind is becoming more brown and religious.

In China the official atheistic regime has not been able to keep people away from the truth. In this highly educated country, Christianity is booming.

Meanwhile in the North America and Western Europe some oldsters keep reporting on trends in Scotland as if the five million Scots matter in the face of 182 million Nigerians. The United States will be smaller than Nigeria in population soon. Isn’t it time that our media paid more attention to sub-Saharan Africa and less attention to tiny, shrinking West European countries and their concerns?

If the West is to be saved, it will be because new people groups decide Western ideas can be their ideas. We should care about the Indian Supreme Court as much as  the US Court to find the future.

Let us see power go to the global South and have those of us who are “white” and European in background be quiet and listen to the wisdom of most of humankind.

Here is what I hear just now from my global friends:

The world is tired of us. Everything we do, we broadcast. Western European and secular US culture has become the nearly-senile relative who must trumpet every bowl movement to the entire family. We don’t matter nearly as much as we think we do and it is time to sit down, listen, and let the rest of the world teach us what we have failed to learn.

Most of the world thinks we have become deranged on sex. “If you are not “sex positive,” then shame on you” is not a message that resonates in the parts of the world still having actual sex that produces  babies. While some decadent secularists view babies as a burden, the rest of the world views children as a blessing.

Sanity will win, because sanity knows that the future belongs to those who procreate!

In the “West” we are presented three tired alternatives: right-wing secularism (individualism!), left-wing secularism (It takes a village!), and strongman rule. Most of the world says “no.” …

Reynolds says “I cannot wait!” for the shift. My head says he’s right. My viscera remain reflexively more negative. I’m glad he’s here to talk a bit of optimism into me from time to time, extending my own horizon.

2

The mic-drop response of Trump apologists for every new outrage: “What? Are you saying that you wish Hillary had won?”  (Via David French)

French’s response almost certainly will surprise you. (Sorry to be so click-baity):

My response? “It’s too soon to tell.” Before he could voice the fury that covered his face, I followed up with a question. “With the benefit of hindsight, how many Democrats are glad that Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in 1976?”

In January, two conservative thinkers, National Review’s Reihan Salam and the New York Times’ Ross Douthat, both raised the thought that President Trump risked becoming a Carter — a “disjunctive” president who tried and failed to keep together competing Democratic coalitions. Reihan and Ross focused on the difficulty of Carter’s political task and the tensions inherent in his fragile coalition. The concern was that, to use Reihan’s words, Trump (like Carter) would “try and fail to paper over the deep divisions plaguing Republicans.”

After Carter’s narrow victory, Republicans won three consecutive landslides. Democrats, stung by defeat after defeat, kept tacking right in national politics — culminating in a Clinton presidency that in many respects was to the right of both national parties today.

[F]ailed presidencies have serious consequences. That’s why “better than Hillary” simply isn’t an argument. Trump has to be good. Trump has to be effective. Hillary won’t be on the ballot in 2020, and she’s not the alternative today. She is no longer the measuring stick, and any callback to her failures signals that the person making the argument is bereft of a meaningful Trump defense.

David French has, I think, come into his prime as a very sharp analyst, good at cutting through crap and avoiding an inflammatory tone.

3

My late father once lent his name (or more) to an “Ad Hoc Committee for” something-or-other. Mission accomplished, they continued using the letterhead with his name for some new cause. He demanded that they cease, pointing out the meaning of ad hoc.

Nominally, there’s nothing objectionable to women marching, but I’d wager that many middle-class women have been sweet-talked into support of the Women’s March, unaware of the radical politics of those holding the reins.

On a related note, I will never endorse “Black Lives Matter” — not because black lives don’t matter, nor because I see nothing fishy about any police shootings of black people, but because of what I’d be tacitly endorsing:

We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement …

I dare say that many well-meaning people have endorsed BLM unaware of this and other dubious and tangential radical goals of a benign-sounding movement.

Looking for the Black Lives Matter guiding principles that had offended me in the past, I came across this much stronger indictment of BLM. I’m not quite ready to say with her that the BLM narrative is dishonest, but BLM definitely has accused police in some perfectly justifiable shootings, and that police are on edge as a result — sometimes with lethal consequences — seems plausible.

UPDATE: David French apparently keeps a better filing system than I do, and has a more detailed indictment of BLM and its leadership, especially “Linda Sarsour, the mainstream-media darling whose story has been ably told by our own Ian Tuttle. Among other things, Sarsour is a conspiracy theorist, she fabricated a hate crime against herself, and she’s uncomfortably close to Islamic terrorists.”

4

For many years I made it a priority to buy books, new, from independent booksellers. They provided a public space and service that should be treasured, I believed. Even though I was an underpaid, uninsured caregiver, it was very important to me to spend my money in an ethical way.

It never escaped me that the philosophy and religion sections were shrinking. Time after time I noticed the only books on theology would be “Why I Am Not A Christian” by Bertrand Russell. I’d notice there would be three shelves on Jewish mysticism, two on Sufis, four shelves on Buddhism, and a scrappy half-shelf on Christianity. Usually that shelf would include Karen Armstrong and other critics; a really good bookstore would have a few by C.S. Lewis. That’s it.

This was more than a hobby to me. I visited bookstores all over the country, tracking them down like a pilgrim seeking holy places. Over the past fifteen years the subtle censorship has accelerated. Even the great, eclectic Powell’s has employees who have quietly spoken up in odd corners of the web about the censorship.

This is stealth indoctrination.

(Reader Annie, quoted by Rod Dreher) This blog, though starting with mockery of a Boston-area independent bookseller, really isn’t a screed about leftist indoctrination:

No bricks-and-mortar bookstore can stock everything, so decisions have to be made. How do we make them?

The problem here, I think, is that [the object of Dreher’s mockery] doesn’t appear to work for a bookstore that considers itself to be anything other than a general book retailer. [The object of Dreher’s mockery] is trying to get away with enjoying the reputation as a “full-spectrum” bookstore without actually being one.

If I were an independent bookstore owner, I would stock a wide range of titles, both left and right, but there are certain kinds of books (e.g., books I considered to be pornographic) that I would not stock … I would stock Atlas Shrugged and The Communist Manifesto, not because I agree with them, heaven knows, but because I think they are within the bounds of important and necessary discussion. For that matter, I would stock Muslim books, Jewish books, Hindu books, and so forth. But I would not stock works of the racialist right, or for that matter queer theory, or anything that serves what Annie calls “the progressive, intersectionality religion.”

Which, to me, is an interesting place to draw the line. Why would I stock books from what you might consider the “Old Left,” but not some on the Postmodern Cultural Left? I’m not quite sure. It has to do with drawing boundaries within which the discussion I would like to see can take place (as distinct from saying which books I believe people should or should not read).

What do you think? How would you handle this if you were the bookstore owner?

I’m dreaming more of retirement than a second career as an independent bookseller, but it’s a good question.

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum
There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.