Model Says Religiosity Gene Will Dominate Society

by darthfader 10 Replies latest social current

  • darthfader

    ( -- 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. At this rate, the Amish population will reach 7 million by 2100 and 44 million by 2150. On the other hand, the growth may not continue if future generations of Amish choose to defect from the religion and if secular influences reduce the birth rate. In a new study, Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge University, has looked at the broader picture underlying this particular example: how will the high fertility rates of religious people throughout the world affect the future of human genetic evolution, and therefore the biological makeup of society.

    Start of Article:

    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. Even if some of the people who are born to religious parents defect from religion and become secular, the religious genes they carry (which encompass other personality traits, such as obedience and conservativism) will still spread throughout society, according to the model’s numerical simulations.

  • bohm

    darthfader -- this is only true IF there is such a thing as a religious gene that has a major impact on religious preferences.

    Although it is always difficult to determine the many interacting functions of a gene, VMAT2 appears to be involved in the transport of monoamine neurotransmitters across thesynapses of the brain. This is a long way from a "God Gene", as PZ Myers notes:

    "It's a pump. A teeny-tiny pump responsible for packaging a neurotransmitter for export during brain activity. Yes, it's important, and it may even be active and necessary during higher order processing, like religious thought. But one thing it isn't is a 'god gene.'" [ 4 ]

    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, According to One Unpublished, Unreplicated Study. [ 5 ] However Hamer notes that the importance of the VMAT2 finding is not that it explains all spiritual or religious feelings, but rather that it points the way toward one neurobiological pathway that may be important.

  • darthfader


    I dont necessarily beleive that there are a "gene for religousness", but I think that the same genes promoted conformity and altruism, and to signal the level of commitment to cooperate and reciprocate among members of a community (Michael Shermer) are the same ones that are active in the "religious mind". As the "God of the gaps" slowly disappeared over the past milleniums we have moved off the need for religion to explain things and resort to logic. This creates a dichotomy in the modern human brain that ones must choose sides. The more orthodox/devout are by far more prolific and thereby carrying those genetic enhancements on to their children.

    As far as the Amish people becoming a "mighty nation" I think they will butt up against resource and communication problems which will limit their growth.

    I just thought it was an interesting article -- thanks for your feedback!


  • SacrificialLoon

    One problem with Israel. The more secular population is being outbred by the more orthodox populations on both sides (jewish and islam). It can only lead to problems.

  • Qcmbr

    Well - IF this/several gene(s) influences religious persuasion and religious persuasion positively influences child birth rates then - and it is said through gritted teeth - that is the genetic info that should be passed on and should become the dominant one. Evolutionary selection.

    I think the internet and rising standards of living will save us from fundamentalism well before that. Fingers crossed.

  • bohm

    darthfader -- another interesting "imaginary gene" is one that had to do with the desire to be a parent. Imagine the havoc it would cause if a gene arose that gave the people who carried it a desire to have children without regard for the consequences. Even if the gene had undesirable side effects it would spread very quickly in the western world.

    THAT would be a clusterf#ck.


    "Religious Jeans"..

    ...................... ...OUTLAW

  • villabolo

    There is probably a complex of genes which effect the Temporal Lobes, where transcendent experiences seem to originate from.

    This does not imply that the "religion" projected by such a population has to be orthodox religions like Judeo-Christianity. If severe social upheavals occur, as I believe they will in coming decades, then you will have an increase in whatever genetic complex predisposes us towards religions. At the same time, however, it's possible (just maybe) that all orthodox religions will fade away from society and be replaced by another religion/s better suited to the new social conditions.

    The old religions will be seen to have been failures that did not prepare humanity for the cataclysms just ahead, indeed contributed to them.


  • thetrueone

    That religiosity gene needs a condom...... right quick.

  • villabolo


    "That religiosity gene needs a condom...... right quick."

    Religiosity by and of itself is not necessarily the problem but the particular religion itself. In my opinion several thousand years of civilization has produced dysfunctional religions by virtue of the fact that civilization itself is dysfunctional.

    We once worshipped nature, as Paleolithic cave paintings make clear. We no longer worship what we eat but what/who eats us. Totalitarian gods for totalitarian societies. Future Paradise to relieve us of our present Hell.

    We need a radically different civilization that is ecologically sustainable in the context of self reliant villages where everyone participates in growing their own food with permaculture. That will, I believe, generate a Pantheistic religion where we once more integrate ourselves into the greater reality of nature instead of being forever alienated from it, or the demon god/s who have replaced it.


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