Researcher Says Genes Predisposing People To Religion Will Dominate Future Due To Higher Fertility Rates Among Religious

Robert Rowthorn is an emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge University. He holds that there are genetically inherited personality characteristics that predispose people to being religious. He says that due to higher fertility rates among the religious these characteristics will become more and more prevalent in future populations resulting in the world becoming more and more religious.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-religiosity-gene-dominate-socie...

My answer is that it will not happen if Atheism goes in the direction of Secular Humanism.

Tags: Fertility, Genes, Jubinsky, Rate

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Replies to This Discussion

Holy crap John, i'm so glad you posted this. I was just thinking about something similiar a couple days ago. My thoughts went somewhere along the line of: " i wonder if religiosity will increase because of all the superstitious people making more babies than the freethinkers?"

Wait! there is hope for us yet, i just had the greatest idea since natural selection. Godless ones on this site! unite! Lets start making some babies!!!!

 

XD

It's a pretty bold assertion, but not outside of the realm of possibilities, unfortunately. After all, there is pretty clear evidence that at least some of what goes into making up personality is heritable.

However, I think those same traits that make a person amenable to coercion by authority of religion make them just as pliable to an authority figure that espouses a rational worldview. It is the environment that determines the specifics of personality development. After all, as has often been said, we are all born atheists. If rationalism is what gets shoved into their little plastic minds instead of having one of the commonly held myths crammed in there, one might well end up with a bunch of fundamentalist rationalists.

 

(suicide bombers for science, anyone?)

I am really skeptical that religion has a genetic basis, it is a fact that less intelligent people are more likely to be religious but there are some very smart people (with engineering degrees) in my family who believe the bible is literally true so...
I don't think there is a gene set that specifically predisposes an individual to religion, there may be, however, a genetic composition that predisposes an individual to be susceptible to authoritarian persuasion. That trait would only be expressed if there is an environmental trigger and reinforcement.
I think cultural memes have a stronger influence than do genetics.
So why haven't homosexuality and lesbianism died out from lack of offspring?

Recessive traits can remain in a population for many generations as they don't express in the heterozygous state - only in the homozygous state.

Also, I've heard that the gene that makes men predisposed to homosexuality has positive effects on a woman's reproductive rate.  A single gene often has multiple effects.  The reduced chance of reproduction due to homosexuality may be balanced by the other effects, particularly if it's only a predisposition towards homosexuality and not a sure thing.
But gay people DO have children. 

Certainly, but they probably do so at a lower rate than heterosexual people.  So, it would still be selected against, unless there's some additional benefit to either the homosexual individual or their kin.

 

There wouldn't be the same selection against lesbians.  Up until very recently, women generally didn't have any say in the matter, over whether they were going to get married or not, in most cultures.

"unless there's some additional benefit to either the homosexual individual or their kin."

I think there IS a huge benefit to human survival that homosexuals of both sexes provide. 

Having no children.  Of course by tricking mother nature and using a turkey baster to avoid that nasty man thing, they negate that benefit. When rats are allowed to multiply in an enclosed, limited space, they get overcrowded.  Many begin to display homosexual behavior.  This is obviously to the benefit of the many.  They say that about 10% of humans are homosexual.  As the world gets more crowded, will that percentage increase? 

  • I think there IS a huge benefit to human survival that homosexuals of both sexes provide.

Obviously there is; it's just hard to pin down the exact factor.  The gene has survived long-term, after all.

 

  • Having no children.  Of course by tricking mother nature and using a turkey baster to avoid that nasty man thing, they negate that benefit.

Turkey basters haven't been around long enough, on an evolutionary timescale, to have an impact.  Arranged marriage and rape have been, though.

 

  • When rats are allowed to multiply in an enclosed, limited space, they get overcrowded.  Many begin to display homosexual behavior.  This is obviously to the benefit of the many.

I'm not sure you're understanding the basics of kin selection.  No genes gain from ceasing reproduction, except perhaps in very close kinship situations.  We're talking one or two separations (1st or 2nd cousins) within the family tree; beyond that, the odds of the kin sharing the same gene are too small to matter.  Even within an overpopulation scenario, you still have those genes that promote greater survival and reproduction winning out over others.

 

Until you have a catastrophe that wipes out 100% of a given population, we're not going to see what you're proposing.  You'll usually have some remnant of a population that survives the catastrophe, and within that group, the genes that lead to the overpopulation scenario will be well-represented.

 

Nature works on a boom and bust cycle.  A given predator will become a better hunter, increasing the food available to the population.  This allows for greater populations of the predator species ... which has a detrimental effect on the populations of the prey species, dropping the available amount of food for the predator species, which leads to starvation within the predator species.  The most fit tend to survive this lean period and reproduce.  This is fantastic for the evolution of species.

 

  • They say that about 10% of humans are homosexual.  As the world gets more crowded, will that percentage increase?

More like 3%, in the male population, according to most studies I've seen.  Lesbians are a little higher, which would make sense, according to what I mentioned about women not having much say in the matter, historically speaking.

 

Clearly, getting accurate statistics on the subject is a bit of a mess, though:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#Demographics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbianism#Demographics

 

And I don't think the percentage is going to go up noticeably.  We have better methods for reducing the reproduction rate, now.  Anyway, I want to see your info about the study of homosexuality in overpopulated rat colonies.  I've never heard of anything like that.

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