Eric Kaufmann: Inheriting the Earth

The Friendly Atheist has an interview with Eric Kaufmann, author of the just-released book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Kaufmann’s book appears to be an attempt to persuade us, using demographic statistics, that secularism and liberal democracy are soon to be a thing of the past. Religious fundamentalists simply have more children than the rest of us, and nobody has fewer children than atheists and secularists. This is bad news because, any way you look at such a future, you lose.

One obvious remedy would be for secularists to play the game of demographic warfare, tripling the number of children they currently are having and indoctrinating them in a fundamentalist-style secularism. But that would make us just like the religious fundamentalists. Indeed, secularists more or less agree on the fact that secularism relies heavily on critical thinking, individual liberty and the rule of law, not dogma and zealous indoctrination. So that is an unlikely solution. Kaufmann has another suggestion.

FA: Should atheists start having more babies?

EK: Tough question. My instinctive answer would be ‘yes’, but this would only be effective if immigration were reduced and religious fundamentalists responded to calls for smaller families, which is unlikely. There is also the matter of global warming to worry about — we don’t want a population footrace with fundamentalism. So in the end, the most promising course is to somehow attract more people away from fundamentalist religion, no easy task.

I’m looking forward to the critical reception of Kaufmann’s book. So far, the only other article I found is this one from the Telegraph, gleefully (almost) herlading the demise of modern secular democracy (“Atheism is doomed,” etc.)