David Goldman is probably one of the brightest men on the planet, and this book brings news that many people are going to find disturbing and unwelcome.
His major thesis is hardly a secret: societies and people which are religious are the ones having children these days, while the liberated atheists are not. If a society is not having children, naturally, it will soon be nothing but a memory --- and not even that for long.
I should stress that this is not Goldman's crackpot theory: it is backed up by plenty of data and many different population studies. The facts have even spawned one book which was desperately worried that the U.S. was going to turn into a fundamentalist theme park.
This discovery is hardly welcome in "enlightened" circles. They had it all figured out: religion was the enemy, and once society got rid of the enemy, peace and love would break out on all sides. They were satisfied to "prove" to themselves that God did not exist, and they fancied themselves brave enough to live with the resulting ideas: that a man's individual life was a matter of pure chance, that his life was of no importance at all to the universe, and that his death would wipe him out forever. Maybe these men were brave enough to live with such a view of the universe, but apparently most men were not. The result is something never seen before in human history: prosperous, educated, "trouble-free" societies which are committing slow-motion suicide. The most obvious example is Europe, but another, surprising, example is the Muslim world, in particular Iran.
But is this all just a rehash of Goldman's other book, "How Civilizations Die"? Fortunately, not at all. Goldman takes the reader to many fascinating places: a revaluation of Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings," Wagner, modern art, and a number of essays contrasting Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In his introduction, Goldman writes that he is really trying to convey the thought of Franz Rosenzweig and his masterpiece, "The Star of Redemption," which Goldman spent the 90's working on.
I notice another reviewer calls Goldman out for being a Jew. You could hardly read five pages in this book without "noticing" that! Goldman returned to Judaism in his late 30s, perhaps because he suddenly realized that the only two advanced countries which were replacing their populations were America and Israel, but more likely because he slowly came to realize that there was something about "enlightened" atheist thinking that just did not work for humanity. Much to the horrified surprise of enlightened policy-makers, religious faith suddenly went to the top of the agenda. They imagined that religion was part of the barbaric past.
That's about all I can say about this brilliant, thought-provoking book. It will surprise you, at the very least by its stunning revaluation of the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. And, as a caution: don't try jumping into "The Star of Redemption" unless you are ready for a graduate course in philosophy and theology.