Mary EberstadtHow the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization

Templeton Press, 2013

by marshall poe on September 7, 2013

Mary Eberstadt

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There are a lot of theories that attempt to explain how Westerns came to leave their churches in great numbers. Some focus on ideas, particularly the idea that believing in God made no sense because the evidence for the existence of God is (so it’s said) very thin. Proponents of this theory believe that once religious people reasoned their way to irreligion.

According to Mary Eberstadt, reason may account for some “secularization,” but hardly accounts for very much of it. In How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization (Templeton Press, 2013), she proposes that Westerns “lost God” because the families in which they lived–the main transmission belts for religious beliefs–were transformed by other factors (urbanization, industrialization, etc.). As families became smaller and more fragmented, they ceased to transmit religious beliefs and habits to their younger members. Listen in to this fascinating interview.

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Mike September 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I found this interview highly reductive, historically incorrect, and ideologically suspect. Blaming women’s liberation for higher divorce rates and the breakdown of the modern family without considering the kind of marriages that those women were subject to strikes me as a particularly brutal reinterpretation of history. I see the author is a member of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Those credentials should have been mentioned at the outset, as Hoover is an ideology-driven conservative think tank that is shamefully housed at Stanford University. And that the interviewer seemed to agree with her premises was also suspect and disappointing. I wish the personal commitments of both the interviewer and interviewee were stated at the outset, so as to disabuse us early of the kind of objectivity we’d otherwise expect from this podcast.

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