The always interesting Andrew Sullivan has a great post up today in which he quotes Anthony Gottlieb on the correlation between religion and fertility. Part of the quote reads:
Conventional wisdom says that female education, urbanisation, falling infant mortality, and the switch from agriculture to industry and services all tend to cause declines in both religiosity and birth rates. In other words, secularisation and smaller families are caused by the same things. Also, many religions enjoin believers to marry early, abjure abortion and sometimes even contraception, all of which leads to larger families. But there may be a quite different factor at work as well. Having a large family might itself sometimes make people more religious, or make them less likely to lose their religion. Perhaps religion and fertility are linked in several ways at the same time.
It seems to me that what Gottlieb defines here as “conventional wisdom” would simply be repudiated through the events of the last few decades. With the growth of the technology industry many aspects of business have become more and more industrialized and yet since the 1970s much of the nation has seen a religious revival.
The link to fertility is also interesting from a personal background. It does seem to me (despite the fact that I grew up in a very conservative and very religious area) that my friends who came from backgrounds of large families were more religious. Furthermore, even those that weren’t religious in a traditional sense were what many would call “spiritual.”