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November 11, 2003

American Exceptionalism

This Economist article on the above topic is interesting, especially the graphs showing an inverse relationship between American and European responses as to "Religion plays an important role in my life" and the most important function of government is "to guarantee no one is in need."

Europe is increasingly effete for a reason. Might American religiosity be a source of national power, rather than an intellectual embarassment?

The decadent left has always attacked religion for obvious reasons-it cuts into the State's market share. Now a new faction of scientific realists ("brights" is just too ridiculous) attacks it from another angle. Just the other day, a very smart fellow told me the Declaration of Independence failed scientific scrutiny. No doubt he's right, but the virus-like quality of that idea has the potential to destroy the body politic.

As Parapundit and Razib correctly note infra, many totalitarians claim God on their side. That hardly ends the debate, however. Secular totalitarianism is far from dead. The "sharp and educated" may prove just as much a threat in the end as "massive unskilled immigration."

Posted by martin at 10:37 AM

It horrified me all the same ;)

Posted by: martin at November 11, 2003 02:21 PM

From this (European) side of the Atlantic, many things about the USA seem very odd. For example, some aspects of the legal and penal system seem very primitive, e.g. the use of bounty hunters, the use of very long jail sentences for crimes other than homicide, or the apparent official acceptance of gang-rape as an integral part of the jail regime. (OK, maybe I've watched too much Oz, but there is also non-fictional evidence.) For some reason, Canada seems much more 'European' in social and political attitudes. Does anyone know why?

Posted by: David B at November 11, 2003 02:23 PM

Didn't you guys have a post here once about twins separated at birth and raised by different families who still had the same level of religious *fervor* (even with different religions)? So if there is a genetic component to intensity of religious belief, and many (most?) of us are descended from relgious wackos who were willing to cross an dangerous ocean and set up civilization again from scratch for the sake of their beliefs...

(Then again, I'm willing to move to New Hampshire or Costa Rica for my beliefs...)

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 11, 2003 02:43 PM

religious belief or avowal does not always translate into behavior we might expect if those beliefs are held. additionally, i think a lot of the american assertions of religiosity are influenced by societal expectations, while european ones might have a reverse affect.

Posted by: razib at November 11, 2003 02:55 PM