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Model Says Religiosity Gene Will Dominate Society

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the getchyer-broad-brushes-n'-start-paintin' dept.

Earth 729

Hugh Pickens writes writes "PhysOrg reports on a study by Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor at Cambridge University, that predicts that the genetic components that predispose a person toward religion are currently "hitchhiking" on the back of the religious cultural practice of high fertility rates and that provided the fertility of religious people remains on average higher than that of secular people, the genes that predispose people towards religion will spread. For example, in the past 20 years, the Amish population in the US has doubled, increasing from 123,000 in 1991 to 249,000 in 2010. The huge growth stems almost entirely from the religious culture's high fertility rate, which is about 6 children per woman, on average. Rowthorn says that while fertility is determined by culture, an individual's predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics, in addition to their upbringing. In the model, Rowthorn uses a "religiosity gene" to represent the various genetic factors that combine to genetically predispose a person toward religion, whether remaining religious from youth or converting to religion from a secular upbringing. Rowthorn's model predicts that the religious fraction of the population will eventually stabilize at less than 100%, and there will remain a possibly large percentage of secular individuals. But nearly all of the secular population will still carry the religious allele, since high defection rates will spread the religious allele to secular society when defectors have children with a secular partner."

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Seriously... (0, Flamebait)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045282)

What a ******* load of bunk !

Emeritus professors really have nothing else to do ? Can't they you know hunt down university girls and propose to "help improve their grades", like they usually do instead of pushing rubbish like this ?

Re:Seriously... (3, Insightful)

bigpet (1695756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045370)

honestly these guys are full of shit. I come out of a family with a long tradition of strict religion but me and both my siblings are non religious. Sure this is only anecdotal evidence but the article also doesn't have the data 100% on its side. Their entire study is based on this sentence:
"an individual’s predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics"

This is just another way to spread the fear against muslims and other religious groups. I just wish this fear wouldn't encounter such fertile ground here in europe. Stop the fearmongering ffs.

Re:Seriously... (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045600)

honestly these guys are full of shit. I come out of a family with a long tradition of strict religion but me and both my siblings are non religious. Sure this is only anecdotal evidence but the article also doesn't have the data 100% on its side. Their entire study is based on this sentence: "an individual’s predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by Parenting"

Let me fix that for you.

- Dan.

Re:Seriously... (5, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045406)

What a ******* load of bunk !

The gene VMAT2 is likely what they are talking about. VMAT2 is a physiological arrangement that produces the sensations associated, by some, with mystic experiences, including the presence of God or others.
Carl Zimmer claimed that, given the low explanatory power of VMAT2, it would have been more accurate for Hamer to call his book A Gene That Accounts for Less Than One Percent of the Variance Found in Scores on Psychological Questionnaires Designed to Measure a Factor Called Self-Transcendence, Which Can Signify Everything from Belonging to the Green Party to Believing in ESP.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene [wikipedia.org]

It's worth noting that one of the other research pioneers of this so called God Gene, Dean H. Hamer pretty much disproves the whole God Gene theory in his own book by the same title.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=faith-boosting-genes [scientificamerican.com]

Re:Seriously... (1)

Baseclass (785652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045450)

Atheism has grown in the past couple decades more so than any other point in history.
Perhaps the atheism gene is more prolific than anyone ever expected.

Re:Seriously... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045478)

Emeritus professors really have nothing else to do ?

I'm sure not every professor emeritus is whackadoodle, but the ones you hear about sure tend in that direction.

Can't they you know hunt down university girls and propose to "help improve their grades"

Then write a paper about how the Dirty Old Man gene is self-sustaining?

Model This! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045552)

The model also indicates niggers, spics, and muslims will dominate society.

Um, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045284)

For Christ's sake! this can't be true. . .

Re:Um, (5, Insightful)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045432)

There are no atheists during Orgasms or when you bang your knee.

Thats just (2, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045294)

A nice way of saying that the stupid people are breeding too much

Re:Thats just (2)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045340)

No no you read wrong, it is not scientists breeding here...
Dumb people are not reproducing more.

Re:Thats just (1)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045356)

Oh I so wish I had mod points for you! +5 Funny!

Re:Thats just (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045376)

Maybe, maybe not. Two groups of people that breed the most are religious and/or those living in poverty. Either way, it's because they have too much idle time on their hands, and in bed.

Re:Thats just (2)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045528)

You're preaching to the choir.

Religiosity gene? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045296)

Religiosity gene. Wow, really? Gee, what's next, the gay gene?

Re:Religiosity gene? (2, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045374)

Religiosity gene. Wow, really? Gee, what's next, the gay gene?

We have religious conservatives arguing that homosexuality is a choice, and we have university academics arguing that religious leanings are genetic.

The funny thing is that I thought academics would lean towards the free will argument, but I guess sometimes they take "there must be an explanation for everything" too far and convince themselves that human behaviour is easily explained with statistical models with ridiculously weak premises.

Re:Religiosity gene? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045418)

Rush Limbaugh once said that should the "gay gene" ever be found, that group could quickly turn pro-life in the abortion debate. Not sure about the men, but certainly the women homosexual group in a future GATTACA society.

Re:Religiosity gene? (5, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045424)

The funny thing is that I thought academics would lean towards the free will argument, but I guess sometimes they take "there must be an explanation for everything" too far and convince themselves that human behaviour is easily explained with statistical models with ridiculously weak premises.

So... how would you detect free will, if it does exist?

Re:Religiosity gene? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045452)

I am not sure if they would necessarily lean towards free will. I would think a properly trained academic would think that there is no such thing.

Re:Religiosity gene? (4, Insightful)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045492)

We have religious conservatives arguing that homosexuality is a choice, and we have university academics arguing that religious leanings are genetic.

This study just proves it:
The believing-that-everything-is-genetic gene is about to dominate science!

I wish there was a way to prevent this stupidity from recurring. But that wish is probably just something I'm predisposed to. Bummer.

Re:Religiosity gene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045388)

From the Far Side: The gene that makes us think that everything is determined by genes.

Re:Religiosity gene? (2)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045400)

In all seriousness, with few exceptions, genetic natural selection no longer has much place in western society. With very few exceptions, the main factor in determining how many times over a person passes his DNA to the next generation is how many times said person wants to pass his DNA. There is very little practical reason to have more than 1-2 kids, so those with religious beliefs will those who don't. The question is whether there is such a thing as a 'religiousity gene' or combination of genes. If I were to bet, I would bet against that.

"You should have four children. One for Mother, one for Father, one for Accidents, and one for Increase." -Winston Churchill

Re:Religiosity gene? (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045544)

Is there any logical reason to have kids in the first place? They eat up your resources (figuratively and literally) with practically little potential for gain until they are into their thirties (at which time they are likely to make enough to support you should you need it.) Though they pay into Social Security, that won't likely benefit the parent until the child is in their forties. The money saved and invested for 22 years (old school with parents paying for 4 years of college) or longer (as today's economy sees many twenty-somethings still living at home) would likely yield much better returns.

Re:Religiosity gene? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045588)

Why do you live at all if you are not going to be continuing the human race?

Re:Religiosity gene? (2)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045614)

I don't know. Maybe because the survival instinct in me is pretty strong, or because my death would hurt those who care about me.

Re:Religiosity gene? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045626)

Why do you live at all if you are not going to be continuing the human race?

What a sad and empty life you must live!

Re:Religiosity gene? (1)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045630)

Emotionally, it can make sense. I have no argument that it does financially. My post was meant to imply 'even assuming there is benefit in having 1-2', not to state that explicitly that I believe there is. Any sort of nationalistic reason involving paying for future social security I agree does not apply here, because the existence of YOUR 1-2 child(ren) will not really have any significant affect on the system. I put in the Churchill quote mostly because I find it amusing.

Less than 100%? (1, Funny)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045302)

Must be one complex and accurate model to figure it will stabilize at less than 100%.

Re:Less than 100%? (3, Funny)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045316)

Any less complex model clearly would have predicted over 9000%!

Evolution (2)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045306)

Well, that's evolution for you. If all else is equal but there's a genetic factor that predisposes some people to reproduce more than others, then that phenotype will eventually dominate.

Re:Evolution (4, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045334)

So there's an evolutionary advantage to not believing in evolution? Whoda thunk it?

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045474)

So there's an evolutionary advantage to not believing in evolution?

How ironic.

It is probably a pro-social gene if any (4, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045384)

Religiosity is mainly just a predisposition to value things like group solidarity
and the stability that comes from enforced conformity and hierarchical authority.

Someone who values these things (or fears the lack of them) more than they
value some kind of quest for truth or rationality or objectivity, is predisposed
to religion.

Re:Evolution (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045404)

In all seriousness,
This is competing with the "slutty and stupid" gene set. I known several women and who each had 4+ children due to sloppiness around birth control and gave up most of them for adoption.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045632)

Or maybe it was because their "slutty and stupid" male partners fathered 4+ children due to sloppiness around birth control and then gave up most of those children for adoption.

Oh right. It's never HIS responsibility to prevent or parent the children. Nevermind.

Re:Evolution (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045414)

A welfare state, such as in the UK where Catholics, Muslims etc effectively get paid to procreate doesn't help the problem either.

Re:Evolution (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045596)

The article's point is exactly the opposite. FTA: "Studies have found that the high fertility rates stem from cultural and social influences by religious organizations rather than biological factors.".

Re:Evolution (2)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045610)

Well, that's evolution for you. If all else is equal but there's a genetic factor that predisposes some people to reproduce more than others, then that phenotype will eventually dominate.

But we've been at it for a million years or more... mostly with much higher rates of belief in one or more gods than now... so why would this gene be starting to skew things now? If religiosity were genetic (and assuming it induces above-average child bearing as a side-effect), wouldn't it have dominated everyone long ago?

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045312)

So, religiosity is a (generation-late) STD?

EXTERMINATE! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045314)

Clearly, we should terminate those inferior people before they contaminate us.

Hitler was right in his war!
At least now we can prove it, since we've isolated the gene.

It seems to me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045318)

We're getting closer and closer to Idiocracy.

genes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045320)

i didn't know stupidity was part of the genes

Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045322)

I've seen kids from very religious households go in all different directions with respect to religions. It seems very unlikely that there's anything like a genetic "predisposition" to religion.

Now what will happen is that more people will grow up in religious households than not; but that I see as a good thing, as it will decrease the overall fear of religion from people who don't have much direct experience with it. People do stupid things out of fear and fear of religion and those that practice it is no different. In reality although I'm not religious myself, most friends and families I have known that have been very religious have been fine people and I have no desire to see anyones ability to practice the religion they choose impacted.

Re:Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045358)

The study isn't saying that the gene FORCES you to be religious. In fact, the part about the "high defection rate" means specifically that some kids from religious families who have the religious gene will become non-religious and end up intermingling with a non-religious crowd, thereby introducing the "religious gene" into that population.

Re:Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045468)

I'm assuming the gene doesn't actually make you "religious", it just predisposes you to being suggestible and superstitious, which is pretty much the foundation of any religion. ie: People with that gene are less skeptical in general. Just my take on it.

Re:Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (1)

sohare (1032056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045526)

I've seen kids from very religious households go in all different directions with respect to religions. It seems very unlikely that there's anything like a genetic "predisposition" to religion.

This word "predisposition"; I am not sure it means what you think it does. Considering that the biology of the brain influences a host of human emotions and inclinations, it's probably more unlikely that there isn't some genetic factor predisposing people toward superstition of one form or another. Belief in ghosts, UFO abductions, and medical pseudoscience doesn't differ substantially from religious faith; save for the fact that the latter is typically inculcated on the very impressionable minds of young children.

Re:Where is there proof of a "religious" gene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045612)

"Predilection" is probably the better word to use, in this case.

Perhaps a study of regression (3, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045324)

Might prove useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean#History [wikipedia.org]

Anyway, it seems that such a trend is eventually self correcting; we will have a religious war in which all those extra children will exterminate each other.

Wanna sign up for the next Crusade, anyone?

This should have never made the front page (5, Insightful)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045326)

Yes I said it, this should have never made the front page:

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.
link to abstract [royalsocie...ishing.org]

I am all for keeping an open mind but after reading that last sentence, I suspect the paper is quite ridiculous and may actually be a funny read.

Re:This should have never made the front page (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045416)

He defines a model, then performs a simulation to predict what the future will be according to that model.
It is all perfectly rigorous and scientific.

How do you think scientists can predict what will happen? Magic?

Re:This should have never made the front page (2)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045580)

My problem is the foundation of the model. Sure I can show something is statistically accurate, but that does not make my model any more correct if the underlying assumptions are crazy. I mean without proper identification of said "gene", this is very speculative. If this study is taken in the light that there may be a gene or some other underlying cause not yet known, more productive follow-up research could be done. The research itself may be good but the conclusions drawn may need to be revisited. (However my assumption could be flawed also as there seems to be a damn pay-wall.)

How do you think scientists can predict what will happen? Magic?

...and fairy dust, large explosions, and general mysticism. (Mostly I like to imagine the large explosives...)

Re:This should have never made the front page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045430)

So wait, you're upset that someone tested a theory with a statistical model? You sir, will be upset in life rather often.

Re:This should have never made the front page (2)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045532)

Nah, the potentially faulty assumptions are what gets to me. I can back many ideas with a statistical model, but not all my opinions are correct. Something I learned in statistics also... correlation does not imply causation, especially if the underlying assumptions may be flawed. I think this paper shows that more research could be done, but to base any sort of judgment from this study alone would be absurd.

You sir, will be upset in life rather often.

I flinch often when watching the news... ah it sends chills down my back!

Re:This should have never made the front page (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045548)

thank u for pointing that out, i stopped reading after the "religiosity" not being linked

Re:This should have never made the front page (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045618)

Then you'll die laughing at this: "The theoretical physics are supported by numerical simulations."

Depressing (1)

thomas.galvin (551471) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045328)

Well that was a perfectly depressing way to ruin a Saturday night. I'm going to go read about something fun, like the Egyptian riots. :-/

Re:Depressing (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045352)

Yes I agree it is depressing. Seems humanity has nothing better to do but publish an endless stream of bunk studies and statistics...
Can't people just enjoy life the way it is ? NOOO WE GOTTA ANALYSE THE HECK OUT OF IT IN THE HOPES WE CAN CHANGE IT EVEN IF WE DONT GET ANYTHING OUT OF IT...

rubbish (1, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045332)

an individual's predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics

AKA i'm going to deliberately ignore a "nature vs nurture" debate that has raged on for centuries, and go with "nature" in an offhand comment that states a specific behaviour determined by nature is.. likely.

Oh and this is the lynchpin of my entire preposition. I'm a professor.

Re:rubbish (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045564)

No, 'this' is a pronoun. 'On' is a preposition. :D

Oh and this is the lynchpin of my entire preposition. I'm a professor.

Re:rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045598)

Oh and this is the lynchpin of my entire preposition. I'm a professor.

... of economics

Junk science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045336)

Stop posting articles like this. They are purely speculative and based on the assumption that a "religiosity gene" even exists (hint: it doesn't). Quit polluting the internet.

Re:Junk science (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045368)

Sadly a lot of science looks like junk nowadays.

So yes there are more and more religious people, maybe, but thats because science is more and more shit (vanity "scientific" studies and bored university students projects that are nothing new or interesting).

A very old cautionary tale (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045338)

I've heard this one too many times in my too long life. They always have the form: This [subset of society] is motivated to rapidly reproduce by [religion, heritage, culture, the-pope, stupidity (Malthusian), their world dominating ways, etc] so given just a small march of years they will overwhelm us [who aren't of that subset]!!

My favorite reply is: meh, how many leaders does the world need anyway? Then the existentially scared person will assume you are referring to their subset as "leaders" and will wander away)

Assuming much? (2)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045346)

"Rowthorn says that while fertility is determined by culture, an individual's predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics"

If I had to choose one or the other, I would probably go with the desire to reproduce as more "genetic" rather than a set of abstract belliefs that must be taught. But then again, I don't teach at Cambridge

Religiosity? (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045354)

Whats behind religiosity is probably something more broad and fundamental, like following leaders, belonging to groups, easy to be suggestionable and things like that. But religions are more culture than genes, they belong to the meme terrotory, and is of the bad ones. In any case, the movie Idiocracy explain it better, and probably the base explanation and causes are the same.

Re:Religiosity? (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045378)

People confuse religion and spirituality sadly...

Religion is following some order... like politics or hell, just laws... or... lol, science!
Spirituality is none of these things.

Re:Religiosity? (2)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045504)

- This. I'd be mildly curious to see whether spirituality genes occur more commonly in those who describe themselves as belonging to an organized religion. I could easily believe it's not that different: some believe, some just stick with what they were raised with due to never questioning it. I would guess, however, that among converts (perhaps even /away/) the spirituality genes are more common. Also all the comments about how weak the correlation is.

It's a bit silly to conflate organized religion with belief.

Re:Religiosity? (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045638)

Congrats, you just restated the point of TFA: "Rowthorn has developed a model that shows that the genetic components that predispose a person toward religion are currently 'hitchhiking' on the back of the religious cultural practice of high fertility rates. "

*facepalm* (0)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045408)

the genetic components that predispose a person toward religion

*facepalms so hard that my head starts to bleed*...

JSYK, here's the Common misunderstandings of genetics [wikimedia.org] page on Wikipedia.

This is absolute madness. Nobody knows what genes do anymore! They've all became tools for misleading people into believing the stupidest things, including, but not limited to:


  • That you can be "born" gay (or with ANY other sexual attraction, for the matter)
    That, as the article suggests, you can be born leaning towards religion in general, which is the most illogical thing I've heard this week
    That it's useless to try and change who you are because you were "born that way"

Etc. etc. etc.... There is NO SUCH THING as a gene that dictates your behavior, preferences, or predisposition! When will people actually care about this? All of those things are either semi-random or are determined by the person's general intelligence/experiences (IIRC).

Not to forget that this article also assumes that there is absolutely nothing positive to be gained from religion and that it "makes people stupid", therefore it's a "bad thing". I, as a Catholic, beg to differ. Roman Catholicism is one of the most well-thought-out, reasonable, logical, and historically accurate religions in the world (if not THE most, for all of them). Yes, there are stupid Catholics (including ones that abuse children) but that doesn't disprove the religion, unless it contradicts something (which it doesn't).

tl;dr, don't listen to this guy who obviously doesn't know his facts.

Re:*facepalm* (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045456)

There is NO SUCH THING as a gene that dictates your behavior, preferences, or predisposition!

What's your favorite explanation for instinct?

(Assuming you believe such a thing exists.)

Re:*facepalm* (1)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045534)

There is NO SUCH THING as a gene that dictates your behavior, preferences, or predisposition!

Hold on, if this is true then how do you explain instinctive behaviour [wikipedia.org] ? I'm no biologist, but my understanding is that genes can dictate behaviour (e.g. baby turtles move towards ocean) and preferences (e.g. birds of paradise).

Re:*facepalm* (0)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045550)

Damnit, beaten by 10 mins. That's what I get for researching a comment!

Wrong terminology... (1, Interesting)

Stonan (202408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045420)

It isn't a religiosity gene, it's more like a gullibility gene or a genetically caused weakness of the mind. I have found that those who devoutly believe in fairy stores and invisible people can be easily convinced of the most absurd things as long as you talk to them in that level, convincing tone that Obi-won pulled off so well in Star Wars.

Also, some people can be hypnotized, others can't. Difference: strength of mind.

Re:Wrong terminology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045514)

Nice way to stereotype. I'm religious, and I bet I'm more intelligent than you.

What use intelligence... (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045554)

...when you can be so easily swayed by such scant evidence?

Re:Wrong terminology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045616)

Intelligent people are frequently gullible. They are not mutually exclusive.

How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045422)

How would you distinguish a "Religiosity gene" from a gullible gene, or a gene for looking for an easy way for dealing with stress or negative emotions, or a gene for simply fitting in with family and friends without actually believing....

People believe or follow religions for various reasons, to reduce them all to a gene is ridiculous. Even one type of 'follower' being reduced to a gene, even reduced to a predisposition is fucking unlikely, for very simple reasons.

hmmm.. (1)

Denihil (1208200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045428)

idiocracy, anyone? i think the idea of a religious gene as valid, though definitely contentious.

Sagan on religiosity gene (5, Interesting)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045440)

A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.

Re:Sagan on religiosity gene (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045518)

and pedophilia

Indistinguishable? (2)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045444)

How would you distinguish a "Religiosity gene" from a gullible gene, or a gene for looking for an easy way for dealing with stress or negative emotions, or a gene for simply fitting in with family and friends without actually believing.... People believe or follow religions for various reasons, to reduce them all to a gene is ridiculous. Even one type of 'follower' being reduced to a gene, even reduced to a predisposition is fucking unlikely, for very simple reasons.

Bad conclusion (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045462)

As the availability of scientific texts increases, we'll see a decline in religious affiliation.
Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/111/ [xkcd.com]

The penis is mightier than the sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045472)

Obviously we secular people have to take more seriously the old slogan "Make love, not war". ,I have found it useless to argue in favor of secular attitudes to religious people so the only way to change the world for the better is to reproduce more vigorously. Since nature has already provided the motivations for this a popular movement towards secular reproduction should catch on with no trouble.

"Do it in the dark, with your clothes on" (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045482)

Where are the Presbyterians when you need them? I was taught that it was a sin to "do it," even if you were married. As to the Amish:

Amish Chick: "It's Friday evening, do you want to drink beer and watch television?"

Amish Guy: "Hell, no. We're Amish. We don't drink beer and we don't watch television. How about you showing me the new quilt that you sewed for the bedroom? God said nothing in the Bible about fucking like bunnies. Ooooh, you make me feel so macho! Bark for me, baby, 'woof, woof, woof'"

Religion will fade eventually (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045490)

Religion persists only because people have an use for it. But that's steadily disappearing.

One of the main things about it is that it's an explanation for the unexplainable. For instance, before we knew what lightning and the Sun were, those were "explained" by religion. Now we know what they are, and that part of religion became obsolete.

Currently some of the main things people seem to cling to is healing, morality and the afterlife. Healing will go away eventually, as medicine gets to the point where we can heal pretty much anything. Morality will take some effort, but the Catholic church seems to be making a very good demonstration of how their priests aren't especially moral. For the afterlife, we'll probably be able to live eternally if we want to eventually.

Over time, things like that should result in it fading until it becomes inexistent or barely so, as it has less and less relevance to people's lives. The effect is already seen in Europe, where in many countries a large percentage is not religious, and antiquated religious policies are being beaten back. For instance Spain introduced gay marriage in 2005 and is progressive in other respects like allowing transsexuals to serve in the army.

shocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045494)

this should be common sense to anyone that observes humanity, notices cultural differences, and realizes that natural selection favors NOT the fittest, but most prolific species. Notice i said 'natural selection'. no need to go deeper with the term 'evolution'. However, that was a very funny comment...'those who don't believe in evolution have an evolutionary advantage'...it's so true. just like they say people with depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality than people that are not depressed.

where there is a will, there is a way. having the will is a matter of accepting the consequences of the way.

This means NOTHING. (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045522)

According to TFA, he created a model that assumes the presence of a religiosity gene or genes:

"In the model, Rowthorn uses a 'religiosity gene' to represent the various genetic factors that combine to genetically predispose a person toward religion..."

But nowhere is there any further mention of what those genes may be or any evidence for them, or even past research on the subject. (The past research mentioned is only about fertility among religious people... not about any genetic predisposition.)

There is no evidence I am aware of that such a thing actually exists.

Frankly, I am dubious. This seems to be a very big assumption. Huge, in fact. Huge and very questionable.

Religious demographics (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045536)

There was a good talk on religious demographics at fora, and how fundamentalist families have much higher fertility rates within most all cultures.

http://fora.tv/2010/09/05/Eric_Kaufmann_Shall_the_Religious_Inherit_the_Earth [fora.tv]

I don't understand the hostile reaction to the idea that propensity to religion has a genetic component. I wonder what the gene is for that.

Re:Religious demographics (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045566)

Find That Gene!! Then Find A Cure!!

A page from the book (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045538)

Like the 'gay is a choice' promoters would have us believe, perhaps we can "Save' the misled religious folk, and show them the path to true non-stupidity.

Silk and sows ears (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045546)

What a load of hogwash.

Sure (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045570)

But in the real world, religion is on the decline.

NBA (0)

rherbert (565206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045574)

By this logic, the percentage of the population that play in the NBA will stabilize at some point less than 100%.

haha, you been worrying about the wrong beards! (2, Funny)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045576)

ha ha, all this time you Americans have been running around worrying about some bearded dudes in the Middle East, panicking about Muslims, al-Quaeda, Bin Laden and all that crowd... and all the time you've been looking at the WRONG BEARDS!

Fancy that, turns out those chilled out Amishes have pulled one on you, it's the dudes with the buggies and the barns you got to watch out for, and they've all got US passports to boot.

Just goes to show, doesn't it. It's the quiet ones who do carpentry you got to watch out for ;-)

Gresham's Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045590)

This is another instance of Gresham's Law [wikipedia.org] , originally "Bad Money drives out Good Money" but applicable in many fields. This time it's Bad Genes drive out Good Genes.

Great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045606)

Evolution is producing organisms that don't believe in it.

Total nonsense (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045608)

A gene for religiosity? Come one! That's ridiculous.

What we are seeing is simply cultural evolution. A philosophy that says "have lots of kids and instill in them this belief system on the pain of eternal punishment" is simply (unfortunately) quite likely to propagate itself.

Hmm... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35045620)

I've always suspected that a species will evolve intelligence and then devolve into lawyers and politicians. This isn't too far off. I wonder if this accounts for external factors such as deadly plagues which secular people will vaccinate against while religious people will pray against.

Welfare Gene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045628)

It seems to me that people on welfare are the ones who procreate the most.
What about a welfare gene?

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