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Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?

It is widely believed that the west is becoming more liberal and secular. But the facts point in the other direction: what no one has noticed is that far from declining, fundamentalist populations are growing and will reverse the march of secularism before 2050. Eric Kaufmann's most recent publication draws on a wealth of detailed demographic research to argue that we are standing on the cusp of unprecedented demographic upheaval. Almost everywhere in Europe and the United States, devout families – whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim – are expanding their share of the population, while their nonreligious counterparts are having too few children to replace themselves.

Religion gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage over other species. Will it insulate the faithful from the world’s impending population decline? What will the demographic rise of fundamentalism mean for secularism, modernity and climate change? It is too early to tell how liberal societies will respond to this dramatic population shift, but if current trends continue as Kaufmann suggests in his powerful and controversial book, the religious shall indeed inherit the earth.

ERIC KAUFMANN is Reader in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was a Fellow in the Religion in International Affairs Program, Belfer Center, Kennedy School, Harvard, 2008-9. In 2008 he won the Richard Rose Prize of the Political Studies Association for a scholar under 40. He is the author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth (London, Profile Books, April 2010), which has been reviewed in, among others, the Times, FT, Independent, Metro and Literary Review. He is also author of The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America (Harvard, 2004), The Orange Order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History (Oxford 2007; paperback 2009), co-author of Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland Since 1945 (Manchester 2007) and editor of Rethinking Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities (Routledge, 2004). He is an editor of the journal Nations & Nationalism and has also written on religion and demography for Newsweek International, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. He may be found on the web at http://www.sneps.net/

SPES Sunday lectures are free and open to all – no bookings are required. For more info please contact programme@ethicalsoc.org.uk



Eric Kaufmann | talks


Date and Time:

11 July 2010 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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