Sunday, 3 May 2015

Can Western Societies Survive Without Christianity?

This - Is the West's Loss of Faith Terminal? by Douglas Murray - is a very interesting article not only because of the main question it poses and its observations on the reasons for the decline of the influence of the church on Western life (science/scientism and historical criticism of the Bible) but also because of its anecdotal reports that increasing number of Western converts to Islam, many of them women, do not consider Christianity a "live option".      

"Having been for some years, as Roger Scruton has put it, downstream from Christianity, there is every possibility that [Western] societies will either become unmoored entirely or be hauled onto a very different shore. Very unsettling questions lie dormant beneath our current culture.  There is, for instance, that question which Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde posed in the 1960s: “Does the free, secularised state exist on the basis of normative presuppositions that it itself cannot guarantee?” It is rare to hear this question even raised in our societies. Perhaps we sense the answer is “yes” but we do not know what to do if this is the case.  But in fact the wind of opinion in recent years appears to have begun to blow against those who insist that Western liberal societies owe nothing to the religion from which they arose. Partly because the more we become acquainted with other traditions, the harder it becomes to sustain. Indeed, although some people still hold out, it should be evident by now that the culture of human rights has more to do with the creed preached by Moses and Jesus of Nazareth than that of, say, Muhammad. Nevertheless, the question of whether this societal position is sustainable without reference to the beliefs that gave it birth remains deeply pregnant and troubling in the West." 

Murray has no religious axe to grind, being an atheist and one time protege of Christopher Hitchens; to my mind that only makes his insights more valuable.

Read it all here.