In a recent essay, liberal British writer Kenan Malik suggests that we need not fear that the decline of Christianity in Europe will mean a weakening of Western democratic values and a vacuum-filling by radical Islam. He says that what we commonly think of as “Christian” or “Western” values aren’t uniquely Christian, having mainly been borrowed from the Greek and Judaic traditions and especially from the Enlightenments — both of them — and manifesting in historical Islam as well. Here’s an excerpt:
Christianity may have forged a distinct ethical tradition, but its key ideas, like those of most religions, were borrowed from the cultures out which it developed.
Early Christianity was effectively a marriage of Athens and Jerusalem, a fusion of the Ancient Greek tradition and Judaism. Few of what are often thought of as uniquely Christian ideas are in fact so.
(Extra paragraphing added.)
According to Malik,
Christianity has certainly been the crucible within which the intellectual and political cultures of Western Europe have developed over the past two millennia. But the claim that Christianity embodies the ‘bedrock values of Western civilization’ and that the weakening of Christianity inevitably means the weakening of liberal democratic values is a Janet and John [that is, overly-simplified] reading of history and ethics.
It’s a worthwhile read; so are the comments.