Mark Steyn on atheist Europe:
As [Henri] de Lubac wrote, “It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can only organize it against man.”
Which is why there are no examples of sustained atheist civilizations. “Atheistic humanism” became inhumanism in the hands of the Fascists and Communists and, in its more benign form in today’s European Union, a kind of dehumanism. Last year The New York Times ran a column by the eminent Princeton economist Paul Krugman. The headline was “French Family Values, ” and the thesis was that, while parochial American conservatives drone on about “family values, ” the Europeans live it, enacting policies that are more “family friendly.” On the Continent, claimed Professor Krugman, “government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff–to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family.”
How can an economist make that case without noticing that the upshot of all these “family friendly” policies is that nobody has any families? Isn’t the first test of a “family friendly” regime its impact on families? On present demographic trends, by 2050 60% of Italians will have no brother, no sister, no aunt, no uncle, no cousins. The last surviving big bountiful Italian mamma will have no one to dole out the pasta to. “Funiculi, funicular, funic yourself, ” as Noel Coward remarked in another context.
As for that “desirable tradeoff” and all the extra time, what happened? Continentals work fewer hours than Americans, they don’t have to pay for their own health care, they don’t go to church and they don’t contribute to other civic groups, they don’t marry and they don’t have kids to take to school and basketball and the 4-H stand at the county fair.
So what do they do with all the time? Where’s the great European art? Where are Europe’s men of science? A present tense culture amuses itself to extinction. Post-Christian European culture is already post-cultural and, with the present surging Muslim populations, it will soon be post-European. An entire continent is expiring from civilizational ennui.
I don’t know whether a society can recover its faith, or even recover the lip service to faith of, say, social Anglicanism. But it should at minimum be able to end its disdain for the public expression of faith. Separation of church and state is one thing, but the modern social democratic West’s belief in the state-as-church has been a disaster.
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