‘Cultural Climate Change’

‘Cultural Climate Change’ by Rod Dreher.

Three “master narratives” have guided Western thought since the 17th and 18th centuries:

  1. The world is getting progressively more secular.
  2. The world is getting more Westernized.
  3. Any religion, to survive in the contemporary world, has to accommodate to society, has to go with the flow.

Each of these is breaking down today.

  • In the 17th century, the West had the “secularization of knowledge”.
  • In the 18th century, it had the secularization of power.
  • In the 19th century, it had the secularization of culture.
  • In the 20th century, it had the secularization of morality (e.g., it repudiated the Judeo-Christian basis for morality, especially regarding the sanctity of life and of traditional marriage).

Religions that accommodate themselves to Western secularism are dying, but the more orthodox ones are holding their own. Lord Sacks characterizes it like this: “not religion as accommodation, but religion as resistance.”

“These are not small developments,” he says, adding that “it’s the biggest thing to happen to the west since the great wars of religion in the 16th and 17th centuries.” …

Lord Sacks says that the loss of religious faith in the West has had, and is having, dramatic consequences for family, community, and society.

The West is dying in part because we are not reproducing ourselves. The birth rate in the US is now the lowest on record. Europe has been ahead of us in this race to oblivion, of course. From an entirely Darwinian point of view, we are declining because we are “spectacularly failing to pass [our] genes on to the next generation.”

Lord Sacks says that this is because fewer and fewer people want to sacrifice personal happiness for a goal larger than themselves. The fact is, raising children requires real sacrifice. Parents know they have to die to themselves to a large degree, so that their children might flourish. Religious people — authentically religious people, I would have added — know how to do this, and expect to do this as a normal part of life. …

There is no case on record in which a secular society has been able to uphold its birthrate,” Lord Sacks says.

Europe took Darwin “as the patron saint of atheism when actually he was the prophet of reproductive success, of having enough faith to bring a child into the world.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil