Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maybe the Real Job of Religion is Making Babies

Here's a look at Singapore, stunningly successful city state, except for one thing. Young Singaporeans aren't having babies. The fertility rate for Singaporean women is 1.3, meaning that the average woman has 1.3 children in her lifetime.
The low-birth pattern is also evident in Singapore’s competitors, notably Hong Kong, where nearly half of young couples believe that they can’t afford to have children. Shanghai, notes Jones, now has one of the lowest peacetime fertility rates ever recorded.

Young Singaporeans say that the decision not to have children is pragmatic. “Having kids was important to our parents,” noted one thirtyish civil servant, “but now we tend to have a cost and benefit analysis about family. The cost is tangible, but the benefits are not knowable or tangible.”
Well, of course. Pragmatically, having kids is crazy, because instead of living a two-income lifestyle in a yeasty urban environment, you have to more to the suburbs and fight with dirty diapers and the impossibility of a work/life balance.

Maybe that explains why religions all tend to be vigorously pro-natal, and create a social culture in which child-bearing and child-raising is highly valued and is part of the religious conditioning shared among the members of the church or sect or cult.

And maybe that's why great empires like the Roman Empire decline and fall. Because if people don't have children then there is nobody to do the heavy lifting when the going gets tough.

Maybe that's why the left's secular religions are doomed to failure, just like the Shakers in the 19th century. The left, going back to Mary Wollstonecraft, has always argued that women have better things to do than waste their lives on domesticity. Because patriarchy. Of course, well-born women have always considered themselves above the drudgery of child-minding, and hired it out whenever possible. Our modern feminism is nothing new; it is just another upper-class movement advocating a cleaner, more creative life for women than merely getting babies on the ground and got out of the nest.

That's one thing you can say for the Islamists. If you sequester the women and cover them in niqabs or whatever, then the only thing women can do is bear children. Lots more fodder for the suicide belts. And guess who wins the future. In Europe, unless they get a clue pretty quickly, the future will belong to the Muslims, because your average Euro, like your average Singaporean, isn't really into children.

In the US, of course, it is a commonplace that conservatives and religious people get married and have families, while liberals hanker after a creative life, maybe as a videographer or something in global health. Or, of course, they go gay or lesbian or trans. Either way, the idea is to spend your twenties in some urban environment, wearing artistical black, and forget about children.

No really. In Japan, the young people are reported to be uninterested in the other sex. In Germany, about 30 percent of adult women are childless. Italy has an abysmal birth rate. What is wrong with these people?

Now, I'm not really religious, but I have a couple of kids. My children aren't really religious, but they have presented me with six grandchildren. How come? It is hard to say. They are, of course, not liberals.

One of the things that I look out for is a religious revival. Yes, I know that God is Dead and all that, and God has been replaced with Gaia and the ethic of earth guardianship. Not to mention Peace and Justice. But I keep thinking about Charles Murray and his Coming Apart. Top 25 percent of Americans doing fine, he says. Middle 40 percent not so good. Bottom 35 percent, the women don't marry much and the men don't work much. Something there has got to give.

In America the top 25 percent get a kind of religion from their education, which inducts them into the culture of creativity so that they take their place as People of the Creative Self. But for people below the creative elite, things are pretty shaky, and the creative elite do all they can to keep religion and the lower orders apart.

Here's my take. If you aren't born with a creative spoon in your mouth, and maybe not even then, you are heading for oblivion unless you get religion. And time is running out.

Because, despite what you have been taught, the only thing that matters is children.

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