The following quote from Michael Gerson came up in one of my Atheist Quote of the Day widgets, and I found it interesting. The quote is:

Britain is exhibit A for the secularization thesis - the idea that modernization and scientific rationality will cause religion to wither and die. That is manifestly false in places such as Africa, India or the Muslim world. Only in Europe does it feel true.

-- Michael Gerson

I believe that, at least anectdotally, it is true. I think the primary cause for this European Secularization is education - Europe has had a strong education system, by-and-large, for many many years (centuries?), maybe even since the Renaissance. As we all know education is the enemy of religion, and so I believe that education has help Europe finally break the bonds of religion.

Maybe that's why America is still largely religious - we haven't had a good education system until relatively recently. Just a thought.

I would love to know your thoughts on this - especially from our European members. Is Gerson's observation true? And if so, what do you believe is the cause?

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I lived in Florida for 4 years and I am not wholly unfamiliar with rednecks, both from that area and visits to Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. In addition, much of the same (sub)culture exists in the boondocks of Norway, though with less emphasis on god, and more on the concept of "drekka, pule, spy og slåss" (drink, fuck, puke, and fight). At least to me it appears that most rural areas share many of the same uncivilized characteristics.

I grew up eerily close to what was once noted the most redneck place in Norway where cow pie fights, cow tipping, and tractor races are common, while no street sign is without a bullet hole.

As a side note: You probably didn't know that Norway has its own bible belt, complete with alcohol sales being banned after 6pm and on the weekends.

"drekka, pule, spy og slåss" (drink, fuck, puke, and fight).


I like the first two!  Also, thanks for disabusing me of the notion that all Norwegians were civilised and peaceful.

Hey, the Norse come from good old Viking stock, after which I named my son, Eric! You gotta expect a little drekka-ing, pule-ing, spy-ing og slåss-ing.#-o d'oh!

I suppose it is in their DNA.

Andyinsdca is right.  What's more education in America is poorer today than it was even 50 years ago.  All one has to do is listen to letters written by civil war veterans to know that they had a better education than our kids today in an America where anti-intellectualism is gaining momentum by the minute.  Europe has long valued education and the arts and humanities more than Americans, and the retro-religiosity that we are experiencing now is one of the prices we pay.

While Civil War veterans could be quite literate, they were often quite religious, too. 

Interesting you should choose "50 years" - that's about the time that children born in WW2 matured and likely married. Don't you think Rob, that part of that - and I agree with you completely - might be due to the fact that since WW2, we've had more women enter the workforce than at any other time in our history? That possibly the fact that in most homes, both parents have to work outside the home to make ends meet or have a few luxuries, and that in so doing, we've lost a lot of the structure we had years earlier, when Mom could afford to stay home and care for the kids?

I realize that today, most moms would like to have a career, even if it wasn't necessary, because, "I'm just a housewife" has garnered such a bad connotation, and many of us define ourselves (and others) by what we do. But I fear that the progress women have made in this country - and I support it - may well be coming at the price of our directionless youth.

I agree that a solution must be found, and I confess I don't know what it is.

pax vobiscum,

It is an interesting point.

One of the perhaps forgotten drawbacks of women's lib is that 'back in the day' a lot of the smartest women became teachers (essentially there were only three major employment opportunities for women, with secretary and nurse being the two others). The teaching profession is the one that has suffered the most quality wise, and it ties back neatly into Rob and your points.

Of course one partial solution would be to not have more children than you can adequately care for.

One of those who regularly post here - Kir - has taken a couple of weeks off, but was previously working on an idea about communal childrearing. Hopefully, Kir will elaborate on that upon returning.

pax vobiscum,

Isn't 'communal' almost to a swear word in the US..?

In Scandinavia there's now talk of the 'whole-day-school', where working parents can drop off their kids at 8 in the morning and pick them up at 6pm from the age of 2. Even as a (european) conservative I have no issue in paying good money in taxes for such a system, as long as the socialist "kids must be allowed to play!" people shut up, and discipline and learning is the focus.

Regarding not having more children than can be taken care of, I think that would make an average of ~2.1 per couple to ensure a stable demographic in the long run.

The number one way kids learn is by 'playing.' Allowing kids play time doesn't mean that you forgo discipline. I work in a center where parents drop off their children at 8 in the morning and don't pick them up again until 6. I spend more time with these people's children than they do... it's not an ideal situation.

Becca -

A.S Neill, headmaster of the Summerhill school of Leicester, England for 50 years and author of Summerhill: a Radical Approach to Childrearing, maintained that children would learn best after they were saturated with playing. Maria Montessori built the principles of her own educational system partly on Neill's work.

The Japanese and Chinese children in their native countries are pressured to learn and excel in school at all costs, and the suicide rate among Japan's youth is one of the highest in the world.

Children need to be taught that learning is important, but that playing is important too.

Many animals are able to hit the ground running shortly after birth - it's a survival mechanism. Humans, by comparison, have a childhood extended far beyond that of most animals and there are anthropologists who believe that having that much additional time to play and fantasize, is largely responsible for all of the ideas, thoughts and inventions that have propelled Mankind to the level our species now occupies.

pax vobiscum,


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