The Rise of Islam. The Fall of Christendom.

Niall Ferguson
Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most influential historians. He’s written about the crisis of Europe’s collapsing birth rate, saying that a youthful Muslim society to the South and East of the Mediterranean is poised to colonise (the term is not too strong) a senescent Europe (that’s ‘senescent’ as in ‘senile’).

Transcript of an interview on Islam and demographics

Quotes from an interview earlier this year:

. . . shifts in global population have big implications. In 1950, there were three times as many people in Britain as in Iran. Well, by 1995 the population of Iran was bigger than that of Britain; by 2050 it will be 50% larger than Britain. It would be a fantasy to pretend that this didn’t matter. Extraordinarily high birthrates of societies like Iran are going to have profound geopolitical consequences.

. . . it’s one of the least studies and most important questions for modern historians, why organised Christianity, both in terms of observance and in terms of faith, sail off a cliff in Europe sometime in the 1970s, 1980s. And the explanations that have been offered for this phenomenon so far are relatively weak and unconvincing. What’s clear is it’s got nothing to do with economic development because it hasn’t happened in the United States, where Christianity is alive and well in what is a modern, secular society in so many ways.

So we have a real puzzle here: why is Christianity dying out in its traditional core heartland, what used to be called Christendom, why are Europeans becoming godless? And it’s such an important question because it makes Europe quite vulnerable . . . . I mean to me this is one of the reasons why it’s quite easy for radical Islamists to make inroads in Western Europe because there isn’t in a sense, any religious resistance there.

. . . I suppose if I were pressed, would have to admit to being a kind of incurable atheist, I’m nevertheless strongly convinced that religion performs important social functions in the transmission say, of ethical values between generations, and that a society that does away with it, that ceases to engage in any kind of formal religious instruction, is a society that’s likely to be less good at maintaining social order than one which maintains a measure of religious faith and observance. And that is based purely on historical observation. The experiments with atheism as the basis for political order, say in the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution, did not produce happy results. So I think one really does away with Christianity, or indeed one does away with God at one’s peril.