Is Europe dying? It certainly is not reproducing itself, as birthrates have fallen far below replacement rates. European nations are relying on immigration to fill jobs—and to fill nurseries. What happens when immigrants' values are at odds with their host countries?
Why Israel Can't Survive." So read the shocking headline atop the May 5, 2008 cover story in Maclean's, one of Canada's oldest and most well-respected newsmagazines. The article went on to explain, "Sixty years on, the country is facing a choice of two futures: it can be Jewish or democratic—but not both" (p. 30).
Why such pessimism? "Within one or two decades, the number of Muslim and Christian Arabs living under Israeli control (including in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself) will surpass the number of Israeli Jews. When that happens, if there is still no Palestinian state (and in the absence of large-scale ethnic cleansing), Israelis will be forced to choose between two futures. Their country will either be Jewish, but not democratic—in other words, a Jewish minority will control a land mostly inhabited by Palestinians—or Israel will be democratic, but not Jewish, because Arabs will form the majority in what will become a bi-national state.… It can't be both" (ibid.).
Indeed, the state of Israel is rapidly approaching a demographic crisis far more dangerous than any military crisis it has yet faced. The weapons are not guns or bombs, but babies. Israel's enemies are giving birth to more future voters—and the day will soon come when Arabs are in the majority and could simply vote a democratic Israel out of existence!
Is this situation unique to the Middle East? No! One could just as accurately write a headline, "Why Europe Can't Survive." Like Israel, Europe is approaching a time of decision—and Europe's enemies are well aware of it. Last April 11, Yunis Al-Astal, a Palestinian cleric who is also a member of his nation's parliament, told worshipers at Friday prayer, broadcast by Al-Aqsa Television, "Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesied by our prophet Muhammad." Al-Astal foretold that Rome, Europe and eventually the whole world would be subjected to "conquests through dawa [proselytization] and even military conquests."
Westerners have grown used to hearing outlandish and preposterous boasts by frenzied fanatics in the Middle East, so it is understandable that most people have not taken comments like Yunis al-Astal's seriously. But maybe, this time, they should!
Management expert Stephen Covey often quotes an old saying, "That which we desire most earnestly we believe most easily." People usually want to believe that all is well, and that everything will turn out well in the end. But what happens when the facts do not match what we want to believe? Yunis al-Astal, and many others like him, hold to a worldview that is far more widespread—more credible, more powerful and more dangerous—than many Westerners like to believe. But if the West does not take action in response to the threat this worldview poses, its values and its future may soon be transformed by the consequences of a silent crisis that is developing in Europe's nurseries.
Europe, just like Israel, is facing a crisis of demographics. Put simply, Europe—or, more accurately Europeans—are going out of business! Ethnic French, Germans, Greeks and Italians are not producing enough children to sustain the populations of their nations. Meanwhile, with the vigor Europeans and North Americans once had, Muslim families are producing babies. This means that as the newly burgeoning populations grow, their religion and culture will clash with the existing European order—but one side will be on the rise, gaining new voters with each new election, while the other will be on the defensive, forced to face the reality of its ultimate defeat!
European leaders recognize that their ethnic and religious heritage is threatened. Author Mark Steyn reminds us that this was not lost on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he chose his "name for the papacy: Benedict XVI. Born in Umbria in 480, St. Benedict was the man who ensured, during the Dark Ages, that the vital elements of Roman and Greek civilization were preserved and that, by infusing them with Christianity, they would emerge in a new and stronger form: the basis for Europe and Western Civilization. Referring to his namesake, Pope Benedict XVI once quoted a Benedictine motto: 'Succisa virescit.' Pruned, it grows again" (America Alone, p. 126).
Speaking to a crowd gathered to observe the 850th anniversary of the famous Austrian shrine known as Mariazell, the pope discussed what he called "the crisis of Europe." In his homily, he decried the moral relativism of post-modernism as an "attitude of resignation with regard to truth," and added, "I am convinced, [this] lies at the heart of the crisis of the West, the crisis of Europe. If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil."
Benedict further declared, in front of the 30,000 faithful who braved cold and rain to hear him, one particular manifestation of the crisis in the West: "Europe has become child-poor: we want everything for ourselves, and place little trust in the future" (Reuters, September 8, 2007).
Demographers tell us that it takes an average of 2.1 births per woman for a country to maintain its population. Yet Europe currently has an average birthrate of just 1.38! This means Europe's population is aging, with too few children being born to support the vast social welfare systems most Europeans have come to take for granted.
However, low birthrate is not a problem everywhere. Women in Nigeria give birth to 7.46 children on average. In Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen, the figure is 7.42, 6.76, 6.69 and 6.58 respectively (Steyn, p. 10). These countries have something other than high birthrate in common—they are all overwhelmingly Muslim, and they have youths to spare.
When a nation fails to reproduce itself, it must either die out or look to immigration. This is the path Canada has chosen; one out of three residents of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was not born in Canada. Across the whole nation, one out of five Canadians was not born in Canada. This is a seismic cultural shift that holds serious implications for the future.
Similarly, in Europe, 9 percent of those living in Germany hold citizenship in some other nation. By far the largest group of immigrants to Germany are Muslims from Turkey. In France, the largest groups of immigrants are Muslims from Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia.
Historically, Italians have been known for their large families. But this has changed in recent years. One BBC report described a bleak picture for the nation: "In Italy, birth rates are among the lowest on the continent.… the statistics are stark; too few people across Italy are having families. A recent UN report gave worse projections for Italy than Italian experts themselves, sounding an SOS in Rome—in the next 50 years the population is expected to shrink from 57 million to 41 million. Without 'replacement migration' as it is called, the retirement age would have to be raised to 77 to maintain the ratio of four workers to every pensioner" ("Italy: Immigration or extinction," BBC News, April 19, 2000).
But where will such "replacement migration" come from? Certainly not from other nations with declining birthrates. The "Islamic Rome" scenario painted by Palestinian cleric al-Astal may not seem so farfetched after all!
Gunnar Heinsohn, a sociologist at Bremen University in Germany, has written on the topic of "population bulge"—also known as "youth bulge." In an August 2005 lecture titled "Population, Conquest and Terror in the 21st Century," Heinsohn traced the history of civilization from 1400ad to the present. After being devastated by bubonic plague outbreaks throughout the 15th century, Europe entered into an era of population explosion that held implications for our entire planet.
"Youth bulge" theory says that when a nation has an overabundance of 15–29-year-olds (considered the prime age for military service), they turn either to internal revolution and civil war, or to foreign conquest. Europe chose the latter course, colonizing 90 percent of the earth during this period of expansion.
The European population explosion that began around 1500 did not level off until the early part of the 20th century. Heinsohn observed that in 1500, out of every 1,000 men worldwide between the ages of 15–29, about 100 came from Europe. By 1914, 350 out of 1,000 were either born in Europe, or were of European origin.
Today, that trend has reversed. European birthrates are among the world's lowest, but there is a baby boom in Muslim countries. From 1930 to 2005, Pakistan's population increased from 23 million to 163 million, with the average woman having four to six children. Compare this to Germany's far-less-than-replacement figure of 1.3. As Heinsohn observed, "The Islamic 'youth bulge' is truly enormous. Of [the 15 million] male Afghanis, seven million are below age 15. Every year 350,000 Afghans reach fighting age.… Since 1945, every Afghan father who has given up fighting has left his unfinished work to three or four sons. Since 1945 the population of Afghanistan has jumped from 8 to 30 million."
Al-Astal's bold prediction of an Islamic Rome may seem absurd at first, but when we look at demographics and history, the facts are on his side! Western secularists may find it difficult to admit that their cherished worldview could be replaced by an ideology as radically different as Islam, but this is indeed what the facts tell us—at least on the surface.
But is an Islamic world truly the future? Or are there some surprises down the road, which neither Muslim clerics nor secular analysts can foresee?
The good news is that al-Astal is wrong; there will be no Muslim conquest of the whole world. The bad news is that a time of worldwide war is ahead, which will bring unprecedented suffering to our planet. Thankfully, there is good news after the bad. The coming time of suffering will end with the return of Jesus Christ, and His establishment of the Kingdom of God on planet Earth.
Before Christ's return, however, the world will come to a breaking point—a point of explosion that was long ago prophesied. A clash of religions and civilizations is in the making. When the flashpoint comes, there will be catastrophe beyond all imagination. As long-time readers of Tomorrow's World know, Bible prophecy plainly foretells of world-changing wars at the end of this age, next to which the 20th century's conflicts will pale by comparison. And religion will play a big part in what is to come!
In Revelation 6, the Bible describes four "horsemen" whose rides bring terrible destruction upon our world. The Apostle John writes that when he opened the first seal on a mysterious scroll handed to him in vision, "I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (v. 2).
Most biblical commentators assume this horse symbolizes Christ or Christianity going forth to conquer. However, the bow in the rider's hand does not match other biblical descriptions of Jesus Christ, and the idea of this rider being Christ does not fit the context of the next three horses, which picture war, famine and pestilence, and are clearly bringing terrible devastation upon the earth. Most importantly, Jesus Himself reveals the meaning of John's vision (Revelation 1:1; 5:5)—and in His "Olivet Prophecy" He clearly describes the second, third and fourth horsemen in the same exact order (Matthew 24:6–7). The fourth horse of Revelation 6 is followed by tribulation, in the exact same sequence found in Matthew 24:9.
So, then, the question remains: what does the first horseman represent? As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked Him, "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3). He responded by warning of what would come before the prophesied war, famine and pestilence (the second, third and fourth horses of Revelation 6): "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (vv. 4–5).
Put plainly, this first horseman looks like Jesus Christ, but represents false Christs or false messiahs! Jesus tells us that before the prophesied end-time wars, famines and pestilences, we will see an upsurge in false saviors—including many who claim to be following Christ.
False religion will set the stage for prophesied war, famine and pestilence in which billions of human beings will die. At one point, an army of 200,000,000 will kill a full third of humanity! (Revelation 9:12–18). This is not the result of precision strikes by "smart bombs." This is all out, no-holds-barred, fight to the death, winner-take-all warfare!
Complacent Westerners, secure in their comfortable mindset, may believe (or hope) that such a calamity could not possibly occur in our modern, enlightened, civilized world. But consider the choices Israelis and Europeans will soon face. They must either give up their religion, culture and national heritage—effectively cease to exist—or they must take some very drastic and unpleasant steps. It is inconceivable that the Jewish state will quietly hand over power to internal enemies who have openly declared a desire to see Israel destroyed. Israel's Jewish leaders will choose Israel over democracy.
Will the Arabs accept this quietly? Not likely. The Bible describes plainly that an event will occur which will cause "all nations of the earth" to surround the Jewish state and fight against it (Zechariah 12:2–3; 14:1–2). We do not yet know exactly what will provoke this conflict, but we do know that Israel has reason to fear its Middle Eastern neighbors gaining atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Failure to successfully defuse such a threat, while there is still time to act, will surely lead to a prophesied confrontation—a confrontation which demographics suggests is no more than 10–20 years away, by which time Israeli Arabs will have gained the demographic majority that would let them conquer Israel by the ballot box.
Just as Bible prophecy reveals that Israel will not finally fall to the Arabs, so too does it refute the idea that there will be an end-time Islamic takeover of Europe. In fact, Scripture tells us that quite the opposite will occur. Daniel 11 describes in detail two power blocs that have clashed through the centuries. These are called the "king of the north" and the "king of the south."
Daniel's remarkable prophecy extends all the way to the end of mankind's misrule of the earth. "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through" (Daniel 11:40). Scripture implies the king of the south as residing somewhere south of Jerusalem, in the general region of Egypt, North Africa and Saudi Arabia.
This conflict that will begin between Europe and Middle Eastern powers will quickly spread to involve Asian powers (v. 44).
The Bible tells us that neither Europe nor Israel will submit quietly to the demographic crisis—and that time is running out for them to act. We can be sure we are entering into momentous times, when nations and groups of nations will feel forced to act in ways quite contrary to what their hearts and long-cherished values now lead them to believe are possible.
There is good news beyond the coming demographic crisis, but human beings will first need to learn some painful lessons. A clash of cultures, religions, and nations is on the near horizon, just as prophesied in the pages of the Bible. While no man can know the day or the hour of Christ's return, we are told: "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:32–34).