Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Dying Culture

Perish The Thought

We have come across a piece published in Scientific American.  The thesis was clear and unambigious: religious people are outbreeding irreligious.  The title of the piece was: "God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide".  Get the point.

The author, one Jesse Bering, is pursuing the occupation of Evolutionary Psychology.  Being a professional evolutionist, Bering is interested in the survival of the human race.  Being a homosexual there is little that he can personally do about it.  His is a sterile line.  He gets the point:
People really do need to reproduce, either directly or indirectly, for nature to continue operating on their genes. This is not the "reason" or "purpose" we’re here, as that would insinuate some form of intelligent design for human existence, rather it’s just a mechanical fact.
But, we wonder, on what basis apart from superficial sentimentality can Mr Bering maintain the argument that "people really do need to reproduce".
 What principle or ethic or ultimate axiom can be pluck out of his hat to make the survival of the human race a moral imperative?  After all there are plenty of folk who argue the world is over populated and that overpopulation does extreme harm to the planet.  There are many voices vilifying human kind for the damage they do to the planet.  Why assume that the continuity of mankind is a moral good?

Consequently, we find ourselves a bit surprised by our Evolutionary Psychologist.  One might have expected him to mount a moral rostrum and lecture us all about the superior ethics of homosexuality which ultimately would mean the end of the human race.  We would expect him to argue that this is a good thing and that Gaia would approve.  But no, he has chosen a different path.  He wants to argue for what is a traditional, long standing Christian ethic: "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it".  [Genesis 1:28]  But without God, of course.

Bering proceeds to grasp the nettle.  He refers to the work of Michael Blume,  "an evolutionary theorist and religion researcher at the University of Heidelberg" who has made an amazing discovery of the "well I never, knock me over with a feather" kind.  Mr Blume has discovered that those religious groups who put Genesis 1:28 at the forefront of their obligations and duties to God grow and extend and increase.  How startling!  On the other hand, those religious groups that do not, die off.  Mmmmm.  This is worth a thousand PhD's.  Amazing . . .
Blume has found that those religions that actually put this issue front and center in their teachings are—for rather obvious reasons—at a selective group advantage over those that fail to endorse this stern commandment. He reviews several religions that are either already extinct or presently disappearing because they strayed too far from this reproductive principle. The Shakers, for example, hindered and even forbade reproduction among their own followers, instead placing their emphasis on missionary work, proselytizing and the conversion of outsiders. But this turned out to be a foolish strategy, evolutionarily [sic] speaking. "In the long run," Blume points out, "mass conversions happen to be the historic exception, not the rule. Most of the time, only fractions of populations tend to convert from the religious mythology handed to them vertically by their parents and they convert into different directions. [C]ommunities who start to lack young members also tend to lose their missionary appeal to other young people. Therefore, the Shakers overaged and deteriorated."
The author reviews a number of other Christian denominations which have put Genesis 1:28 as fundamental to Christian life, living, and duty in this world, and which have grown and prospered.

In fact, it is evident to any who stop to think about it, that child bearing and child raising in the West easier than it has ever been.  Not infrequently we meet Christian folk who have conceived, birthed and raised many children.  We live in sufficiently prosperous times that large families can be raised without poverty or deprivation--in fact, the opposite tends to be the case.

But what about the children of Unbelief?  Not so much.  Bering knows this.  He also knows it portends a death knell for the human race, or at least for those born, raised, and living in Unbelief.  His final injunction to his readers?  Wait for it:
As a childless gay atheistic soul born to a limply interfaith couple, I suspect, perhaps for the better, that my own genes have a very mortal future ahead. As for the rest of you godless hetero-couples reading this, toss your contraceptives and get busy in the bedroom. Either that or, perish the thought, God isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Perishing there will be.  But not God.  Nor the people of His possession.  Meanwhile, we have work to do--and not just the labour of bearing and raising children unto God--but of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, to the people of a dying culture.  

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