January 13, 2011

Will the religious inherit the earth?

The paper is free, so you can make up your own mind on its thesis.

In my opinion there's no such thing as a "religiosity" gene, and if religiosity drives genetic evolution, we now live in the genomics era, and I'd like to see which genes are on the increase due to increased fertility of the religious.

That shouldn't be very hard to study: take a homogeneous ethnic group and see whether there are any genetic differences between the religious/not-religious.

Proc. R. Soc. B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2504

Religion, fertility and genes: a dual inheritance model

Robert Rowthorn

Religious people nowadays have more children on average than their secular counterparts. This paper uses a simple model to explore the evolutionary implications of this difference. It assumes that fertility is determined entirely by culture, whereas subjective predisposition towards religion is influenced by genetic endowment. People who carry a certain ‘religiosity’ gene are more likely than average to become or remain religious. The paper considers the effect of religious defections and exogamy on the religious and genetic composition of society. Defections reduce the ultimate share of the population with religious allegiance and slow down the spread of the religiosity gene. However, provided the fertility differential persists, and people with a religious allegiance mate mainly with people like themselves, the religiosity gene will eventually predominate despite a high rate of defection. This is an example of ‘cultural hitch-hiking’, whereby a gene spreads because it is able to hitch a ride with a high-fitness cultural practice. The theoretical arguments are supported by numerical simulations.



Fanty said...

This recalls me that I have seen a TV show about Computergame addiction in China and how they "heal" it.

It showed that in China, Computer Game (in that case it was "World of Warcraft" addicts) get daily injections(!) against it.

That doctor claimed to the reporter, that they found that religious fanatism is technically identical to computer game addiction and that their injections already "healed" religios fundamentalism.

I just thought at that moment that their injections also heal democracity and freedom of will and other nasty things too. ;-)

Jack said...

I think there is a serious problem here, the definition of religious.
I suspect that they are talking about obsessive-compulsive religious members versus non.
The sick shall inherit the Earth.

Fanty said...

I read that beeing "religious" has advantages.

It was in an article, that talked about a study about this.

Religious humans are more happy in the same circumstances. Can bear more hardship, without beeing broken. Are more optimistic. Less fearfull. Are likely to live longer.

The effects are suposedly independent of the type of religion. Any does the job.

It would give populations the psychological stability to exist under almost unbearable circumstances. To survive passing deserts, tundra, oceans.

On the other side, do hardships turn people religious. The famous "There are no atheists in foxholes".

Or the old testament, that claims, once the Jews feel save and fed up, they become atheists. Only if they are afraid and hungry they turn to god.
So, god keeps them in constant danger and sends enemy after enemy to keep them cowering under his wings. ;-P

Now would be the question, are these just the psychological effects of a Religion, or are these genetical abilities, connected to the same genes, that cause "Religiousness" ;-D

Gui S said...

to Fainty:
I don't think democracy and freedom are addictive activities like video game or religious practice can become. If such a drug works it might as well heal people from jogging addiction and other obsessive activities, but I doubt it would heal from democratic/libertarian leanings.

I like the study you propose, Dienekes, although it might be a bit complicated to determine what religiosity is. Some atheistic people have can have very religious approaches to things in their lives, in some communities like the metalhead community, or many others, some attitudes are very hard to differentiate from fondamentalist religious ones. And I am pretty sure this can be applied to other non-religious groups.
Also, some people might be religious for different reasons, basing their religiosity on very different processes in their lives.

I remember a documentary film called God on the Brain, which vulgarised some of the research around "neurotheology" and among other things, tested different subjects, includding Richard Dawkins to be submitted to electromagnetic stimulation of their (if I remember correctly) temporal lobe. Some of the people experienced "mystical" experiences, others like Dawkins none.
They concluded out of it that there might be an innate characteristic to our ability to experience "mystical" moments.

sykes.1 said...

Considering that atheists are a vanishing small fraction of the population everywhere except maybe Western Europe (and they are declining both relatively and absolutely there), the religious have already inherited the world and have been in full possession for tens of thousands of years.

Anonymous said...

There is a study by the University of Pennsylvania Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili e Vince Rause

They studied the brain reactions of Tibetan Buddhist monks and Franciscan nuns and found that during the state of prayer they had a kind of black out the rear hemisphere of the brain.
They conclude thatIn the face of infinity the human mind is programmed to believe.