In 2009 I wondered if secularism was an evolutionary dead end, a self-terminating defect. It is a fascinating question.
The expansion of modern secularizing culture — in particular its characteristic features of irreligion, prolongation of education and the expansion of the educational franchise to women, widely available contraception and abortion and the elimination of any stigma regarding their application, and transition to knowledge-based economies in which women can compete as equals against men — always acts so as to sharply reduce fertility rates wherever it takes hold. This makes the young and productive an ever-shrinking segment of society, while the old geezers who contribute little or nothing and must be supported become proportionally more and more numerous. This puts unsustainable fiscal pressure on a dwindling economic base. Catastrophe looms.
I see three possibilities:
1) Total social and population collapse.
2) A return to higher birthrates either through radical changes to the secular culture (by economic incentives, perhaps, or, conceivably, worse), or through a rejection of modern secular culture in favor of more “traditional” family and social norms, including religion. In either case, contraception and abortion would have to be broadly suppressed, or rejected outright.
3) Direct government production of babies ex utero.
I consider 3) the most likely, though that’s just a hunch. (Huxley had it right, I think.) Perhaps all three will happen in different parts of the world. In any event, I expect some rather unpleasant “bottlenecking” to happen in coming decades. (Keep your powder dry.)
Here is an outstanding survey of the issues, by Stanley Kurtz. Read. Discuss.