Who Will Inherit The Earth?

The idea that fecund religious fundamentalists will (eventually) take over the world is not a new one, but it gets a fresh airing in a new book by Eric Kaufmann discussed in this interesting (if vaguely leftish) piece from the UK’s New Humanist magazine (yes, it’s a mildly depressing title for a magazine, but what can you do?).

 It’s always necessary to be careful about population projections, but statistics such as these are indeed striking:

 In his American chapter Kaufmann goes to some lengths to describe the huge, and hugely unexpected, growth rates of sects we might have imagined would be obliterated by modernity. Thus the Hutterites, Anabaptist followers of 16th-century dissenter Jakob Hutter, who shun the modern world and live quiet communal lives in rural Middle America, have grown from a colony of 400 souls in 1900 to 50,000 today. Since they do not proselytise this is all internal growth. In the same period the buggy-driving Amish have grown from 5,000 to 250,000. That will double by 2050.


Right at the end of the piece, Kaufmann is quoted as saying that he wishes to “force a certain rethink of the idea that we are moving naturally toward secularism”

If people do indeed still have that idea (at least if we equate “secularism” with a lack of religious belief, which is, of course, not necessarily the case), they are seriously misguided. The future, like the past, will be religious. The only question is what shape those religions will take.

H/t: Rod Dreher

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7 Responses to Who Will Inherit The Earth?

  1. I would hope that the geek shall inherit the earth, but unfortunately, they don’t breed as fast.

    Those who don’t believe overpopulation is a problem are the ones breeding the fastest, thus sustaining their majority. Society likes to hide problems until they hit a critical point and then panic. We will see a shift of opinion somewhere around the time the oceans run out of their prime food fishes and the oil dries up, then we can do things the hard way.

  2. Bradlaugh says:

    Andrew: Eric Kaufmann is a powerful thinker and writer. His 2004 book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand 20th-century American social and demographic change.

    There was a very good exchange of views on VDARE last summer between Kaufmann and Kevin MacDonald, on the topic: Who Killed Anglo-America? MacDonald says it was murdered by the Jewish elites who came up in the mid-20th century; Kaufmann argues that it was more a case of suicide, one strain of the national psyche (universalist, individualist) triumphing over the other (self-consciously Anglo-Protestant). Both men are learned and well worth reading. MacDonald’s piece is here, Kaufmann’s response is here.

    Kaufmann, by the way, describes himself in Rise and Fall as “part postwar Jewish, part Chinese, part Hispanic … I was born in Hong Kong, spent eight early years in Tokyo, studied — and live — in England, and was raised by parents who collectively speak ten languages.”

  3. John says:

    I would hope that the geek shall inherit the earth, but unfortunately, they don’t breed as fast.

    I’m doing my best for us geeks 🙂

    We are in what will probably be considered in the distant future to be a very peculiar time in history: one in which the number of children people have is mostly determined by how many they want to have. Before birth control and universal education, birth rates and death rates were much higher. Most people had lots of kids, but for various reasons, only some lived to be old enough to have many kids of their own.

    Now, people can choose not to have any, and we see a lot of people, especially educated people, deciding to have no children or have one. As a result, world population is leveling off. However this will not last. The people of tomorrow, whether they are religious or secular, will be the descendants of people that wanted to have large families. Therefore, I believe that the leveling off of human population is only temporary. Once it starts rising again, what will happen? Anyone’s guess.

  4. Lorenzo says:

    Macdonald’s argument is actually very poor: he relies on taking every decision he regards as being pro-Jewish as being an example of Jewish power. This so does not follow.

    For example, recognition of Israel in 1948 surely had something to do with reaction to the revelations of the death camps. Jews remained a small proportion of the US population and had to convince much larger groups to get what they wanted:sometimes they were successful, sometimes not (this leaving aside the questions of divisions within the Jewish community).

    A lot of the Kaufman-Macdonald debate seems a touch misguided, since the real debate was open or closed borders given that the source of migrants for the US was going to change from being overwhelmingly European due to changing global conditions.

  5. OneSTDV says:

    If you read atheist sites, they’re always complaining about Christians, such as the quiverfull movement.

    But iirc, Muslims are having lots of kids. And that’s not a future I want to see.

  6. Pat Shuff says:

    The Shakers built 500 settlements that attracted some 20,000 converts over the next century. Strict believers in celibacy, Shakers maintained their numbers through conversion and adoption of orphans. Turnover was very high; the group reached maximum size of about 6,000 full members in 1840,[2] but as of December 2009 had only three members left.[3] Only a few of the original Shaker buildings are still in use today.


    As the song goes, may you stay forever young.
    Equally, powerfully imprinting at a young age is one’s formative music. For those, Elvis, Sinatra never age. Stones, Doors imprinted for life. Cobain, RadioHead. Etc.

    Looking at post-fall-of-the wall Eastern Europe, apparently political beliefs don’t similarly ‘take’
    in cementious fashion.

  7. Rich Rostrom says:

    It is I think an evolutionary necessity that characteristics associated with high reproduction will expand relative to other traits.

    There does seem to be a correlation between religious fervor and fertility; but religiosity is a changeable quality. Many people raised in religious subcultures leave as adults. There would be lots more Mormons in the world if not for such apostasy.

    The present era is seeing massive declines in fertility more or less across the board. For instance, the majority of large Moslem countries have seen fertility declines of over 40% in the last 30 years; Turkey, Algeria, and Iran (down 70%) are below replacement. (Moslem countries and sub-populations are trailing white Europe and East Asia in this aspect, so there is a demographic shift in progress.)

    The trend predates modern contraception. One proxy stat for U.S. fertility declined by a third from 1800 to 1850, and another quarter by 1900.

    Africa has high fertility, but Africans seems to be fertile whether religious or not.

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