|The Christian World|
I think there is a general sentiment among the clerisy (the intellectuals) of the West that Christianity has had its day, and is on the decline. The New Atheists have become strident about it. As a social ideology, it has been supplanted by Liberal Democracy and Scientism. It is medieval. It is opposed to human rights and human progress. It will soon be chucked down the memory hole.
I doubt this is possible, first because Liberal Democracy and Scientism are lacking in the essentials of a viable religious faith. They function well on the social level, but they lack the mystical element. This is dehumanizing. One way to see the Sixties was as a popular uprising against the lack of a mystical element in the ruling ideology. Sadly, on the social level, that rebellion failed. Leaving the problem unresolved, and getting worse.
Second, there is the issue that, on the deeper philosophical level, both science and liberal democracy depend on specifically Christian doctrines. To the extent that either seek to supplant Christianity, therefore, they are only sawing off the branch on which they sit. They cannot supplant their tree. Liberal Democracy's concept of separation of powers, of human equality, and of separation of church and state are all fundamentally Christian. Science's faith in the meaningfulness and comprehensibility of the physical universe and the value of sharing new knowledge widely are also fundamentally Christian. Chuck Christianity, and they fall into self-contradiction.
Scientism may or may not have parted ways with Christianity with Darwin, but certainly did so with Freud. Liberal democracy has parted ways with feminism, abortion, and homosexual rights, if not before. Because their foundations are fundamentally Christian, this will in the end destroy scientism and liberal democracy, rather than Christianity, if the clerisy do not pull up short before that cliff. The doctrines become incoherent—as, indeed, we have already seen in “postmodernism.”
And such logical inconsistencies do matter, vitally, because for a social ideology to stand or fall, it must hold the sincere allegiance of the clerisy, of the intellectual class, who must in turn be genuinely the best and brightest, for a culture to do well.
In the meantime, history itself seems to be taking a turn against scientism and liberal democracy. It now looks as though the net result of the Arab Spring is going to be the clearer rise of “Islamism” as a social ideology in direct rivalry to liberal democracy and scientism, checking what had looked, through the UN and its ilk, like its inevitable worldwide dominance after the fall of Marxism. Islamism now rules Egypt, the largest Arab state, along with Iran, possibly soon Syria, Tunisia, and Libya, technically Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. It appears that free and fair elections in the Arab world lead to Islamism, not liberal democracy.
This might have two effects in the West. First, it looks like a failure of liberal democracy and scientism, forcing it to reexamine its claims of universal supremacy. It contradicts some of its fundamental assumptions: free elections are supposed to lead to liberal democracy. Second, it tends to remind other cultures of their own religious heritage. Islamism has, for example, apparently sparked a tendency towards political Hinduism in India. These become further challenges to liberal-scientistic hegemony. It may well similarly, as it grows, spark an awareness in Westerners of the fundamentally Christian nature of Europe and the New World. It may spark a tendency there to examine political Christianity as an alternative to both Islamism and secular scientism.
Meanwhile, in defiance of the current perceptions of the Western clerisy, Christianity is actually growing and thriving worldwide.
In China and the Far East, they understand the importance of a coherent ruling ideology, and have tried many—Confucianism, Legalism, Taoism, Buddhism, Marxism. They have a history of putting on and pulling off such heavenly mandates. It can happen again. Christianity is now eliciting a lot of interest among Chinese intellectuals, and might well replace Marxism in this role. In fact, it looks like the leading candidate, assuming Marxism is on the way out. If China goes Christian, there will be ripples as well in Vietnam and Korea—Korea is already in the process of going Christian in any case. How much further might those ripples go, given China's concurrent rise to world dominance?
Africa is also going Christian, rapidly, and looks as though it is rapidly on the rise economically and politically—I suspect largely as a result. Won't this also raise the profile and prestige of Christianity elsewhere?
It seems to me likely that a combination of these factors actually points to an ascendancy of Christianity worldwide, not just as an individual faith, but as a social ideology.
This probably does not mean throwing science or liberalism down the memory hole in turn—certainly I hope not. The danger is that, by picking fights with Christianity and looking like its opponent, as they have done with Islam, the partisans of science and liberalism may discredit themselves. It may be hard for them to regain the prestige to which they are legitimately entitled as a result.