31 July 2023
By Dr. Adi Schlebusch
In a recent article featured in Horizon: The EU Research and Innovation Magazine entitled “Europeans make love but not babies,” it was reported that leading demographers have found that the number one reason why people aren’t having children is uncertainty about the future.
Today more than half of Europe’s population is already over the age of 45 and nearly a quarter of the population is over 65, because for decades now angst about the future has been motivating so many European couples’ decision to have only one child or no children at all.
What is perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that demographers expect uncertainty about the future to continue to negatively impact birth rates, meaning a complete implosion of the native European population is on the cards in the not-too-distant future.
This reality amplifies what RJ Rushdoony pointed out when he said:
Because man is a religious creature, his being is purposive, goal-orientated, and meaning- orientated. The meaning and solution to a mathematical problem lies in the answer, the conclusion. We do not want problems without answers, nor stories with no ending. As a result, we tend to place great emphasis on the end, the last things.1
Meaning and purpose in human existence is narratively driven, meaning that human existence is shaped through the stories and narratives which provide our lives with meaning. As the contemporary American phenomenologist David Carr points out, human experience, in order to be intelligible, is narrational in nature. Historical narrative as (collective) experience shapes the horizon for a group’s social self-establishment and self-perpetuation by providing the necessary framework which makes this possible in the first place. As Carr explains:
We are situated in the present and face a future ... Our figuring of the future involves a refiguring of the past and the construction of a practical narrative to make sense of what we do. Our claim here is that this practical-narrative structure not only exists at the individual level, but is found also on the social and communal plane and the larger-scale and longer-term plane of history.2
In other words, given the way the human mind is ontologically constituted, our view of the past and the future, as well as the interrelationship between the two, inevitably shapes our self-understanding not only as individuals but as groups, as well as the ways in which we engage in the world around us. Apostacy from the Christian faith and the consequent rejection of the biblical narrative in which Jesus Christ is rightly presented as the great Victor over evil and death therefore goes hand-in-hand with the rise of feminism and childlessness which characterizes contemporary Western society.
Where there is no eschatological hope for the future, demographic death will inevitably follow.
1. RJ Rushdoony, 1994. Systematic Theology, Vol. 2 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House), p. 785.
2. David Carr, 2014. Experience and History: Phenomenological Perspectives on the Historical World (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 136.