n a prophetic conference held in Vienna on May 7, 1935, the philosopher Edmund Husserl said, “The greatest danger to Europe is tiredness”. Eighty years later, the same fatigue and passivity still dominate Western European societies.
It is the sort of exhaustion that we see in Europeans’ falling birth rates, the mushrooming public debt, chaos in the streets, and Europe’s refusal to invest resources in its security and military might. Last month, in a Paris suburb, the Basilica of Saint Denis, where France’s Christian kings are buried, was occupied by 80 migrants and pro-illegal-immigration activists. The police had to intervene to free the site.
Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University in London, recently published a report, “Europe’s Young Adults and Religion”:
“Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years,” Bullivant said.
According to Bullivant, many young Europeans “will have been baptised and then never darken the door of a church again. Cultural religious identities just aren’t being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them… “And we know the Muslim birthrate is higher than the general population, and they have much higher [religious] retention rates.”
Richard Dawkins, an atheist and the author of The God Delusion, responded to the study’s release by tweeting to his millions of Twitter followers:
Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let’s not forget Hilaire Belloc’s menacing rhyme:
“Always keep a-hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.”