01 December 2010

Survival of Someone

Everyone who references Phillip Longman's article "Survival of the Godliest" titles thier own critiques "Survival of the Godliest" so I didn't. He writes about the trend of religious people having more children than secular people, so in the future there will be a trend toward more religious people and less secular people. Also, the more religious the person is the more children they have, so more deeply fundamental religious folks have more children than fair weather religious folks, but more on that latter.

Once again we resume our exploration of the topic of the demographic decline of atheism. Modern fundamaterialists of all stripes like to think that we're fucking killing the earf and humans have to go extinct to save the planet. Some like to anthropomorphise the planet, thinking the earf to be their mother goddess. Those who are not dirt worshiping dirt worshipers (when people refer to "mother earth" they mean dirt) are in the Dickey D crowd, folks who think they're better than us and shutter at the fact that they must inhabit the same space-time continuum as us lower forms of life. They don't care about the earth but they are smart enough to use the language of the dirt worshiping dirt worshipers in order to get the dirt worshiping dirt worshipers to join forces with them against their religious enemies.

Not too long ago I got into an argument with someone who may or may not fall into one or both of the above groups. Now, I don't like to get into arguments. They're rarely fun and even rarelyer accomplish anything. I'm more like a reporter. I report things here and then tell you, my valued couple of readers, to go out and do your own research and come to your own conclusions. Often I will give opinions, but more often than not I will admit that more study is needed and we shouldn't jump to conclusions. She used a lot of ten dollar words, said I was mistaking correlation with causation, and that when Muslims move to Europe and secularize their fertility rate drops. Well, big words won't win you an argument, around half the people who take a side on the issue of declining population raise the issue of the decline of secular people and I doubt ALL of them are mistaking correlation with causation (aside from myself and Phillip Longman, Vincent Torely at UD, and secular University of London professor Eric Kaufmann must be mistaking correlation for causation, plus Dean Radin didn't mention any logical mistakes with this argument, though he did question what the world would look like if the trend continues), plus, the argument is that religious people have more children so will outbreed secular people, if Muslims who migrate to Europe SECULARIZE one would expect them to have fewer children if the argument were correct. I'm not trying to make an argument from authority. All the people I've listed fall into the group of humanity, and as a member of that group there is metaphysical certainty that they will be mistaken at least once in their lives. I'm also not trying to make a climate change (hide the decline) type appeal to concensus, which does not exist in science. However, using fancy rhetorical devices won't make the argument go away just because you don't like the implications with regard to your lifestyle choice. Vincent at UD presented a good argument why secular people may still win the demographic battle, due to legislation (some passed, some very easy to pass) that would limit the number of children religious people could have or prevent them from having children in the first place, and those few children they do have, assure that they are given secular indoctrination so secularism survives the demographic decline. On top of that I might suggest that in the future, at the current rate of government expansion, there may come a day when political dissidents (libertarians, fundamentalist religious folks, etc.) may just be rounded up into camps (extraordinary rendition, 110,000 Japanese rounded up during WWII, it's happened before) and exterminated, or at least removed from the breeding population.

Getting back to Longman's article, he writes:

"To be sure, in countries rich and poor, under all forms of government, birth rates are declining across the globe. But they are declining least among those adhering to strict religious codes and literal belief in the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran. Indeed, the pattern of human fertility now fits this pattern: the least likely to procreate are those who profess no believe in God; those who describe themselves as agnostic or simply spiritual are only somewhat slightly less likely to be childless. Moving up the spectrum, family size increases among practicing Unitarians, Reform Jews, mainline Protestants and “cafeteria” Catholics, but the birthrates found in these populations are still far below replacement levels. Only as we approach the realm of religious belief and practice marked by an intensity we might call, for lack of a better word, “fundamentalism,” do we find pockets of high fertility and consequent rapid population growth."

If you're wondering where the Urban Mystic falls on that scale, well, I'm wondering too. At the present moment it's best to let Longman do the talking.

"When confronted with the fact that they are being outbred, secularists often respond that many if not most children born into highly religious families will grow up to reject the faith of their fathers — such is the assumed allure of freedom and individuality....Arguing against this proposition, however, are some stubborn demographic facts. Among fundamentalist families, it turns out, the apple does not fall far from the tree. And the more demanding the faith, the more this rule applies."

According to Eric Kaufmann's new book, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, Darwin explains why secular people will be much fewer and farther between in the future and the religious shall greatly multiply.

"In a world in which childbearing is rarely accidental and almost never rewarding economically, birthrates increasingly reflect values choices. And so, by Darwinian process, those who adhere to traditions that preserve and celebrate the ancient injunction to “go forth and multiply” wind up putting more of their genes and ideas into the future than those who don’t. As Kaufmann shows, fertility, over time, plays out like compound interest. That is, even if religiously fundamentalist families only have a few more children than secular or religiously moderate counterparts, and they can keep those children holding on to fundamentalist faith and values (especially related to child-bearing), the passage of generations will greatly magnify their numbers and influence. Similarly, secularists and others who choose to have only one or two children, and who pass those values on to their children, will, over time, see their population decline precipitously."

Will religious people inherit the earth? Will secular people go extinct? I will say this only once, so pay attention: I don't know.

I am NOT an unbiased observer. There are few such people, maybe none. I do have a stake in the matter, and you may as well. I can only present to you the information that I am given and then ask that you draw your own conclusions.