Stanley, you’re right, that’s a fascinating article, and it’s worth a lot thought. For now, I think it’s worth noting that while secular liberals may (I’m not convinced) have taken for granted the fact that mankind would move forward in the direction that you suggest, the same is almost certainly not true of the secular right. For what it’s worth, I’ve always seen the Enlightenment as, forgive the phrase, something of a miracle given mankind’s long history of barbarism, and its achievements, therefore, as inherently fragile.
One of the more interesting aspects of the rise of Islamic extremism in Europe is how the response to it is going to raise some rather awkward challenges to long established ways of thinking. To take just one example, religious folk over there (as well as many grateful secular parents) have long accepted that taxpayer-supported ‘faith schools’ are an unquestionable good. Will that still be true when the faith school being supported is Islamic?