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Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846681448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846681448
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Brilliant and provocative. . . .A book every liberal should read."—John Gray

"Kaufmann is controversial, highly informative, and thought provoking. A not-to-be-missed contribution to one of the most pressing and complex debates of modern time."—Morning Star

About the Author

Eric Kaufmann, an American academic, is currently Reader in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. In 2008-9, he was a Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard University. He is a frequent contributor to Prospect and other publications.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
This is an excellent book that is balanced and factual.
Michael V. Julien
What I can say is that this is a very interesting and thought - provoking work, one which should be read by all those interested in the overall condition of humanity.
Shalom Freedman
In my experience, most demographic projections that are more than a few decades out tend to be way off the mark.
Joel in Somerville

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Blume on April 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Studying the (on average) higher fertility of religious populations from an evolutionary perspective for some years, I have been somewhat sceptical about applying such observations in the contemporary field of political analysis. But Eric Kaufmann did the job. Making clear his own, rather secular position, he is nevertheless avoiding biasses or polemics, but is informing the reader. He does this by patiently combining available demographic data, historical descriptions and case studies on a wide range of populations as i.e. Haredim Jews in Israel, Mormons in the US, strong Calvinists in the Netherlands, Salafist movements in the Muslim world and many more. Although he is discussing projections and problems, Kaufmann doesn't fall into the trap of mindless alarmism, carefully weighing further options for secular und moderate religious movements, too. Although my interest started from the purely empirical side, I began to like the book for its political and philosophic clout in presenting tough questions and tentatively probing for new answers. For almost any reader, this will be a captivating and thought-provoking read and for scientists from different fields a chance to discuss, test and revise or expand sound observations and hypotheses.
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Format: Paperback
The fundamental thesis of this book is that the religious are going to inherit the earth. The secular liberal democratic societies now tolerate fundamentalism in their midst. The secular liberal democratic populations are at less than replacement level. As opposed to them the closed religious groups are multiplying at very rapid rates with five and more children per family. This work studies the populations of Israel, the United States and Europe.
It contends that the Haredim in Israel ( The ultra-orthodox religious population) will be a majority in 2050. It contends that extremist religious groups in the United States, such as the Amish and Mormons will be a far larger share of the total population than they are now. This is happening as America is according to the author going through a delayed secularization process which is making a larger percentage of its population more secular than before. The author also deals with the growing insular Islamic population in Europe though he seems not to sympathize with the claims of Melanie Phillips, Bruce Bawer, Mark Steyn and others about this population converting the continent into Eurabia.
Is he right?Is the world moving to having a larger percentage of 'too true believers'?
Of all the societies studied I know most about what is going on in Israel. It is correct to say that the ultra- orthodox are a rapidly increasing population. I am not sure however it is right to say that their growth will continue at the present pace, that other groups including the more moderate Orthodox, will not work to maintain their own positions in the society. Israel which has been a society desiring immigration may too be able to increase its secular population that way, though at the moment this looks unlikely.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lance Eccles on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
The idea that secularists have few or no children, that the religious have lots of children, and that this will lead to a lessening of the influence of secularism, had occurred to me from time to time, especially with regard to Europe. I am grateful to Eric Kaufmann for clothing this idea with facts and figures, and producing a very thought-provoking, as well as readable, book. The author's assertions and conclusions, especially in his last chapter, will give rise to dispute, but they cannot be ignored.

The question in the title, "Shall the religious inherit the earth?", is answered in the book's final sentence: "The religious shall inherit the earth."

I tried to figure out the author's personal religious viewpoint, and I came to feel that he believes in the possibility of a God of some sort; but he is basically a secularist, with the standard secularist outlook on such things as abortion and gay rights, and even global warming. This means that he cannot be accused of promoting a piece of religious propaganda - in fact, he seems distressed by his conclusions.

His principal focus is on three areas: the religious right in the US, fundamentalist Islam, and ultra-orthodox Judaism. This last area is particularly fascinating and contains much that those outside the Jewish world will be unfamiliar with.

There is surprisingly little mention of Catholicism, and in fact he seems to make an error regarding the Catholic Church. On page 23 he says, referring to Vatican II, that it "helped bring Church policy on contraception and birth control into line with the liberal practice of many modern Catholics...". This is completely wrong. Has he never heard of Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae, which caused such an uproar?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Nevermind VINE VOICE on February 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This books is chock full of bad news for secularists, atheists, and liberals in general.

Their days are numbered.

There is little future in general for secularists; Kaufman points out that they "have a low fertility rate 1.64" (p 92) while the religious marry and have children.

The news is even worse for those who claim to be atheists, whose reproduction rate may be the lowest in the world, at .85. From the statistics, atheists have no future at all (according to the research children tend to take on the beliefs of their parents).

In Europe, statistics bear out that the religiously devout reproduce, while the nonreligious are, apparently, more interested in making sure their lives are full of pleasure instead of full of diapers and toys. "Today, evangelicals, Pentecostalists and charismatics make up more than 8 percent of the European population, twice as numerous as Muslims, and they are increasing at the same rate," (p 159).

Statistics also bear out that "those without children tend to leave church as they enter adulthood, but those with children remain in the pews" (p 163).

This situation is starkest in Israel, where the religious Haredim will eventually overwhelm the secularist Jews.

This was an eye opening book. Anyone interested in the subject will also want to read Goldman's "How Civilizations Die" which covers the demographic decline world wide, including the Muslim and less developed areas.

Here is a snip from my review of that book: The ancient world clearly suffered from shocking population declines, which many have argued caused their eventual ruin.
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