Field of Science

A rant on the evolution of religion

There's been a minor explosion of punditry about the evolution of religion, some of it naive and some of it making my blood boil. It seems that it was Jesse Bering who kicked it off. Before Christmas, he wrote up Michael Blume's research into religion and fertility. Then in the New Year, Jonathan Leake picked up the story in the Sunday Times. Most recently, Nick Spencer took up the cudgels in the Guardian.

Each of them made me more exasperated than the last! And what is it that's got them so excited? Well, it's the idea that the relatively higher fertility rate of the religious in the modern world means that religion is somehow at the apex at the tree of life. Here's Jonathan Leake spouting off:
Such a view – that the ubiquitous phenomenon of human religiosity is not only in the blood but also delivers a distinct evolutionary advantage – is gloriously consonant with (most) religious views.
Well, maybe it is consonant with religious views, but it's also nonsense, based on a profound (but common) misunderstanding of religion, and the connection between religion and psychology. Let me try to explain in three steps...

First off, we are not naturally religious.

At least, we are no more naturally religious than we are naturally football fans, or concert goers.

Of course, football and pop concerts are popular because they appeal to a number of deep-rooted instincts, but no-one would claim they are natural. They are things we invented.

And here's the critical bit: we invented them specifically to satisfy our instincts.

So that's the way that it works. We have mental biases, that make us want to do certain things. We make culture, and we make culture that appeals to and works with our mental biases.

Religion, like music, is cheesecake for the mind - an "exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of our mental faculties". So the fact that religion, like football and pop concerts, taps into our instincts is not a coincidence and it's not a surprise.

In fact, it's bleeding obvious.

That leads to another critical concept. There is more than one way of tickling these sensitive mental spots. All of culture does it. It just so happens that one group of cultural practices in the West that seem to appeal to similar mental biases have been given the label 'religion'.

But try to apply these categories to other cultures, and you fall flat. Other cultures have invented kirschtorte, not cheesecake, while some choose not to have dessert at all. These people have the same cognitive biases, but different ways of tickling them.

Once you get that point, the next is obvious: Religion can be beneficial without being optimal.

If someone invents a cultural practice that's harmful, it's not going to be very popular. But if someone invents a cultural practice that's really the bees knees, it still won't be popular if it doesn't tickle our cognition.

So the most popular cultural practices are going to be ones that make the best of our mental deficiencies, while still appealing to our blinkered mental capacities.

You can be reasonably sure that religions have, in some way, been optimised. But optimised for what? In the great landscape of cultural possibilities, any given religion is probably at a local optimum. It will have been designed that way by its human inventors. But that doesn't mean that a better culture is not possible, if you shift radically to another part of the landscape.

To the people of Iron Age northern Europe, garotting members of their community and dumping their bodies in the bog probably seemed like a damned fine idea. No doubt it appealed to a host of human mental biases. It also seems to have been successful in building communities (at least, in relative terms) - after all, the culture survived for millennia.

And yet, it's an approach to life that most people would frown upon today.

In other words, it's perfectly possible for religion to be beneficial in terms of the local cultural landscape, and yet harmful compared with the potential possibilities. Religion can be beneficial and harmful at the same time. It just depends what you are comparing it with.

Which brings me to my last point. High fertility is not a sure indicator of evolutionary advantage.

Sounds odd? But it all depends on context. Let me explain with an example.

Fat people are less fertile. They get fat because they're predisposed to eat too much and not exercise unless they have to. So it's clear that these traits are not going to be favoured by evolution, right?

Which, no doubt, explains why why my local shopping mall is populated by such svelte, athletic-looking individuals!

Well of course it's immediately obvious what's wrong with that line of argument. In fact, 2 million years of evolution, in a harsh, food-scarce environment, has favoured precisely those individuals who stuff their faces with all the calorie-dense food they can get, and who do the absolute minimum of exercise required to get it.

It's only in the modern environment where the tables have been turned. It's only now that over-eating and under-exercising carries an evolutionary penalty. And that's why so many people in rich countries struggle with their weight.

Now compare that to atheism. Atheism, like religion, is a cultural construction. It's taken up by people with the right mental biases who are placed in the right cultural setting. And like obesity, atheism is increasing, not decreasing. The majority of people in Scandinavian countries (and, yes, now the UK too) are now not religious, just as the majority of Germans are now overweight.

Clearly, the mental biases that predispose for atheism were not selected against in our evolutionary past, no more than the mental biases that predispose to obesity were.

Perhaps, in the cultural settings that occurred in the past, the mental biases that are today linked to atheism actually increased fertility. Perhaps those mental biases led to a higher proportion of children survived to reproductive age. Who knows!

Today, atheists and the non-religious have fewer kids. Now, that could mean all sorts of interesting things in the future. But predicting the future is a mug's game, and simple extrapolation almost always results in embarrassment.

Predicting the past is much easier. And whatever else, we can be sure that a good grip on reality does seem to have been evolutionarily beneficial. Which is nice.

To finish, here's one Mormon woman's remarkable story, just published in the NY Times. Just to show that the relationship between religion and fertility is never going to be as simple as the pundits would have you believe.

 If you liked this... then you might also like the follow-up posts, There's no such thing as a gene for religion, and Why we are all different (and not all religious).


Creative Commons License This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.

34 comments:

  1. I agree with the thrust of the post. I would quibble here though:

    At least, we are no more naturally religious than we are naturally football fans, or concert goers.

    Substitute "sports fans" and "loving music." Or, substitute "Christian" or "Muslim." There are different levels of specificity here. I think natural religiosity can be analogized to love of music, not concerts.

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  2. I do not think that we are naturally religious, but do you think that we are naturally magical thinkers as an adaptive mechanism? Yes, our biases create the connections we choose to imagine, but does not that choice have an intrinsically adaptive root to it?

    Now, trying to link religiosity with fertility as a component of individual fitness? Hmmm...no.

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  3. Religion is more like gambling than it is like football.

    One can picture groups of people inventing a game and then getting together regularly to play it, because it's fun. But religious congregations do not assemble spontaneously. There is always an organizer. A founder. The guy in charge. The guy who gets paid.

    Religion is like gambling. Due to the disconnect between human cogitation and the laws of chance, people can be taken in by games of chance. Some people find it "fun" to gamble; yet you'll never see groups of people spontaneously assembling to create anything like a casino. Every casino has been founded by some entrepreneur: a guy who is taking advantage of human weaknesses and make a fast buck. The situation with religious congregations is exactly the same.

    There is a widespread misconception that there has to be something good about religion, otherwise it would not persist. To this, Daniel Dennett replies: "There must be something good about the common cold. After all, every human society we know of has had it!"

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  4. But then Daniel Dennett is comparing a cultural construct of our own devising to a virus against which we are helpless and that also is harkening to evolutionary drive itself. Religious practice may have driven the rise of cities; it's not just something done for money or goods. Some scholars see a benefit from magical thinking practices, and in that sense, gambling and religion might definitely fall into the same category.

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  5. Great points. One small issue (possibly agreeing with Emily, now that I read the comments too):

    I think when some people say "We are naturally religious", they mean,
    "We have naturally religious attitudes" for instance: we naturally have a dualistic illusion.

    I don't think they mean we all naturally like to go to church, sing hymns and read bibles -- that is cultural.

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  6. @Sabio Lantz

    Yes, you got the point. Of course, every religious tradition is a cultural option - as is every language, every piece of music and every field of science (etc.).

    And if my colleagues and I would have found clear reproductive advantages of the musical, scientific etc., many would have rejoiced. But as religion is emotionally disliked by many, it seems hard to explore it with the same, open mind set. Instead, it is repeatedly inviting... rants.

    *Sigh*

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  7. What an uncharacteristic post for you, Tom! You usually steer so far from polemics. ;p But I can only applaud this. Indeed, while there is some interesting discussion to be had about both our past biological evolution and how it enabled religion, as well as a more memetic approach to the "evolution" of religion, most of the thinking out there, especially in the popular press, is muddled beyond all comprehension.

    I really liked when you pointed out that a behavior like religion can be beneficial without being optimal. In many ways, that's probably the best retort to those who assert that either that religious propensity is an adapative trait (as opposed to unrelated adaptations being co-opted by religion) or that modern religion has been finely honed by memetic "evolution" to be some awesome social panacea. Even if we accept one of those hypotheses (and as you describe, there's many reasons not to), then all that tells is that religion probably is sub-optimal. Evolution by natural selection is an algorithm that is highly prone to getting stuck in local maxima. Examples abound. In fact, we would expect any product of naturally selected evolution to be "pretty good but not perfect", just by the nature of the algorithm.

    Could religion be the memetic equivalent of the recurrent laryngeal nerve? Dude, I think there's a blog post of my own in that metaphor...

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  8. Great post Tom! What do you make of Sue Blackmore's input into the debate? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/16/why-no-longer-believe-religion-virus-mind

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  9. Brilliant stuff. What I'll take away is that atheism is a bit like obesity!

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  10. Sabio (and Razib) - yes, that is what they mean but that's part of the problem. As Razib says, we're talking about different levels here.

    There are many cognitive biases that religion plugs into - dualism, fear of death, hyperactive agency detection, the need for group membership, the feeling of interconnection, the need for leadership and hierarchy, the need for control, the need for explanations - etc. Even art and music are wrapped into it

    All the things we call religion tap into several of these. But they vary as to what they tap into. There is no supernatural agency component to Buddhism, for example.

    And there are many things that we don't call religion that also tap into several of them. Like being a sports fan, or a concert goer (which is why I chose that level, Razib).

    That's why the boundary between religion and 'non-religion' is so fuzzy.

    And that has important implications for the discussion of evolution and religion. Evolution acts on genes, which in turn acts on cognitive biases, which in turn act on culture (to complicate matters, culture affects the environment for gene selection, resulting in co-evolution, but that's a whole other topic).

    But the point for now is that what evolves are the mental substrates. This has two implications. First is that just saying that ‘religion’ is favoured isn’t enough if you want to talk about genetic evolution. What you need to know is what are the cognitive substrates that are favoured. ‘Religion’ doesn’t exist as a phenotype, let alone a genotype.

    Second is that, since social structures that are not ‘religions’ also are favoured by many of same cognitive biases linked to religion, you can have an evolutionary environment that favours ‘religion’ in some broad sense and yet still ends up with a population that be happily atheist.

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  11. Michael, the link between religion and fertility is fascinating. As I said in my post, the implications for the future are intriguing.

    But you cannot extrapolate from a relatively high fertility rate in the modern environment to infer an evolutionary basis in the past. It's illogical, for the reasons I've explained.

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  12. James, :) not really as polemical as I was aiming for. I guess I am just not cut out for demagogy.

    Anyway, the point you make is an interesting one. On top of the whole 'local but not global maximum' thing (which, as you say, is pretty much inevitable in any evolved process), there's the issue of local environment.

    So, for instance, you might say that religion is something that facilitates large-scale social structures. That may be great if you live in Europe. But if you live in disease-ridden Africa, opening your doors to outsiders may mean getting your community wiped out buy by some deadly communicable disease.

    So the optimal religino would be different in the two different environments. And that in fact is what Randy Thornhill showed back in 2008.

    Funnily enough, Science + Religion had a piece on this just the other day.

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  13. Daniel, my thought about that Blackmore piece was:

    1) She was very silly if she ever really thought that religion had no adaptive utility. I mean it's possible, of course, but it doesn't seem likely. (that's not to say that beliefs in non-existent agents has adaptive utility. Personally I'm not convinced by that, but the evidence either way is not good).

    2) High fertility in special case religions like the Amish etc in modern times does not prove much. In addition to the reasons I put up in the blog post, we have the added complication that these strange splinter religions have a history of being massacred by self-righteous 'normal' people. Which is not a very successful evolutionary strategy...

    The question is not whether religion is beneficial or at least cost-neutral (given our mental make up). Of course it is or people would invent some other cultural structure (and probably call that 'religion' instead :) )

    The question, to my mind, is how does religion get created by our cognitive biases, and which aspects of culture that we bundle up into 'religion' are beneficial - historically and now. And by beneficial I guess I have to limit myself to reproductive fitness in this context, although of course there is more to living a good life than having umpteen kids.

    It's a very complex problem, for which terms like "religion" and "atheism" aren't really very helpful.

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  14. Elite Buddhists may not evince a belief in the supernatural, but plenty of "lay" Buddhists do.

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  15. Hi Tom,

    the reproductive potentials of religious affiliation are just that: reproductive potentials. If they were meaningless or superficial, you should be able to point out a single case of a non-religious population with the same reproductive potentials for just a century. This should be especially easy if the definitions were "fuzzy", as you assume.

    Then, there's an evolutionary history: Religious behavior is emerging in human history and spreading since then. Then, there are brain studies. Then, there are Twin-studies. Then, there are psychological experiments...

    Tom, you wouldn't "rant" on these findings if they were about the evolution of music or speech, although these traits are as modular, multifaceted and "fuzzy" as religion. What you actually wrote is that you don't like religion and therefore won't accept any evidence not fitting your worldview.

    As I am a great admirer of your (up to now scientifc) work here, forgive me for being somewhat shocked and sad about that "rant"...

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  16. It is not reproductive potential. It is reproductive probability. Physically and genetically there is no difference between the religious and the irreligious. Otherwise, conversions would be far less common. As it is, conversions are generally driven by epistemology. Epistemology is a cultural or learned influence on, of all things, culture, specifically beliefs.

    The cultural influence (reduced sex education, reduced access to artificial voluntary infertility and preference for larger families) of our more common supernatural ideologies makes the results of the study a no-brainer. Religious people have more babies. Yes, and?

    The suggestion that religiosity specifically, as opposed to hyperactive agency and pattern detection, is genetically heritable is just another example of hyperactive pattern detection. Congratulations! You've found a false positive.

    Do birth rates really exceed what we would expect based on the cultural influences of religions? Maybe, but only if we were to assume religions offered magical protection from extramarital insemination. And yet extramarital insemination among the religious does occur at rates similar to the non religious. From this we may assume that either the genetic increase in fertility overwhelms the magical protection or that both are fantasies. Given that there is already an expectation of higher birth rates based on cultural influences there's not much room for a genetic explanation.

    Where is the evidence for genetic religiosity? Birth rates? No no. Birthrates are already explained by cultural influences. Is there any reason we should ignore the cultural influences? Where is the support for genetic religiosity?

    Historically humans were more religious. Certainly we have better examples of willful ignorance currently then we have had historically. If the findings of the study were truly due to genetic religiosity then we might expect a near absence of the irreligious after 5000 generations. And yet, religiosity is less common today than it was 1000 years ago, if only slightly. And this is in spite of higher birth rates.

    I have to admit the study doesn't include historical information. But it doesn't need to. Even in recent history, in spite of higher birth rates among the religious, adult frequencies of non-religious are not a dwindling percentage. It is hard to deny the cultural influences. But genetic influences elude identification.

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  17. Interesting post, thanks for writing.

    I recently wrote a post: Religion: a temporary phase in mankind's history? and now I'm wondering if you find it naive or if it makes your blood boil ;-)

    In summary, I was arguing that there are good reasons people are religious because it is of advantage for them, both psychologically as well as socially. And that are benefits science can't provide - at least not yet. I'm arguing that scientific thinking is however on the way to become personally more beneficial and I think that time will come when religion become outdated and a temporary phase in mankind's history.

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  18. Michael Blume writes:

    If they were meaningless or superficial, you should be able to point out a single case of a non-religious population with the same reproductive potentials for just a century.

    This is not a fair challenge. Can you point out a single case of a predominantly non-religious population existing for just a century? Religion seems to have been with us since the dawn of recorded history, so it's awfully hard to find fair apples-to-apples comparisons. The modern secular societies like Denmark and such have only been that way for a few decades, and in any case they differ from past societies in so many other ways as well.

    The closest example I could think of to meeting the "non-religious population existing for a long period during recorded history" would be Communist China. For a number of reasons, I personally would not argue that the population was predominantly non-religious. But one could. And uh... how's their "reproductive potential" working out, eh?

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  19. Michael, well OK I stuck rant in the title but it wasn't really a rant, was it? So don't let that put you off.

    I never said that the findings on religion and fertility are meaningless or superficial. Quite the opposite, they're fascinating and important. That's why I keep returning to the subject.

    My point is that an observation of fertility linked to a particular cultural distinction in the modern world can't be taken as evidence of genetic evolutionary fitness in the past (the present, yes [with caveats outlined by T.Ray] - just not the past).

    That's for the reasons I discussed in the post.

    Genes act at the level of cognitive modules (or even more basic), not culture. Religion is a culture (in fact, a broad range of different cultures).

    The religion/non-religion dichotomy did not really exist in the past (at least, not in the way it does now). [plus, as James points out, the religion of today has notable differences to the religion of 2000 years ago, let alone prehistoric times]. We create and recreate culture. The psychological underpinning of the Deobandi movement in Pakistan is different in a lot of important ways from that of Lutherans in Sweden

    The fact that atheistic culture springs up so readily when cultural conditions facilitate it suggest that it does a pretty good job of appealing to whatever brain modules were preferred by natural selection in the past.

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  20. Bee, gosh, interesting! I don't think science is ever going to replace religion - they serve different social purposes. Science does undermine religion by reducing its scope. But the most powerful force acting to reduce religion is multi-culturalism (leading to cultural relativism and undermining the absolutist claims of religion) and secular social networks.

    So if we were ever to see a society with little or no religion, it would be one in which you create social structures that meet human needs but that are external to superstitious beliefs.

    Of course, people would still have superstitious beliefs. That's just human nature. But if you divorce the superstition from the social structure then you no longer have a religion.

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  21. @Tom

    We are most susceptible to superstition when we are least in control. In case it's not obvious, i am agreeing with you.

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  22. We are NEVER in control, we are constantly superstitious. It is only a matter of degree and impact.

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  23. Reflections on the larger question.
    James Sweet writes: ‘This is not a fair challenge’.

    Not a bit fair. It’s a turkey shoot, and they’re all in a barrel. I’m going a bit off the specific topic of this post, but from happening upon this blog I have been pondering a proposition for its premise (Not as articulated in the comments above: ‘The question, to my mind, is how does religion get created by our cognitive biases, and which aspects of culture that we bundle up into 'religion' are beneficial - historically and now. It's a very complex problem, for which terms like "religion" and "atheism" aren't really very helpful.’, but in the tagline to the side: ‘I want to know why some people believe in gods, and what the psychological and social consequences of those beliefs are.’). This post and comments are rich with very poignant points addressing said question.

    T.R.: ‘First off, we are not naturally religious.’
    Agreed. In two and a half million years of ‘homo’, theistic belief systems were first noted about 70,000 years ago and struck as an apocryphal disruptive technology. Human communities in possession of this phenomenon expanded through the world, driving all archaic populations extinct, such that naturally occurring atheism (or non-believing humans) disappeared 30,000 years ago. They simply could not compete. A second destructive wave began with the introduction about 10,000 years ago of ‘organized religion’ (characterized by a ‘tribute’ supported class of professional practitioners or priests, and the construction of temples). Those communities not in possession of organized religion survive primarily in books or on reservations, with a few fading communities in fringe environments – they are being out competed. Yet, as Tom points out:
    ‘[I]n the modern environment . . . atheism, [is] taken up by people with the right mental biases who are placed in the right cultural setting, [and] atheism is increasing. Clearly, the mental biases that predispose for atheism were not selected against in our evolutionary past.’

    It is not our genes that drive us to religion, but competition – it gives us the winning edge. Non believing humans have been out competed by believing humans for 70,000 years, and Michael’s data shows that phenomenon is continuing into the present.

    As devout Christians, Europeans dominated the world economically, technologically, and militarily for five hundred years. When Europe withdrew from that competition in the mid twentieth century (with foreign armies camped upon their soil), the ‘right cultural settings’ were in place for the mass conversions we see today. Religion provides a significant competitive advantage, but at a steep price (in time and money). If you have chosen to not compete, why pay the price? It’s all quite rational.

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  24. Hmm, dual-inheritance theory as a team sport? "Go believers, you rock!" :)

    I think it's indisputable that ideas regarding the supernatural, and ideas about god etc, have developed over time and that some (e.g. Christianity) have been vastly more successful than others. Presumably their popularity is because they gave some value to the people who adopted them.

    But you're confusing cultural diffusion with genetic reproduction. The two are linked, but it's not a simple linkage, as I tried to point out in my post.

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  25. No, Tom, you are confusing my post with staying on topic :) Genetic reproduction is, in my opinion, a minor component in the dynamics. Civilization was just not possible without organized religion. Growing communities would simply fragment into warring tribes – it’s in the data. It happened every time. Tribes were never able to settle into cities until they developed or adopted organized religion. No exceptions. Religion is not cheep – 10% of your waking time, 10% of your produce (very rough estimate – varies regionally). Any civilization that could survive without paying the price would have a great advantage. None has yet to capitalize on it. No hunter-gather band, lacking spiritual beliefs, could compete with those having spiritual beliefs – that all played out long ago, but there are non on record which were successful in giving it up since then. A lot has been ‘added’ to civilization (separated from religious control) since its beginnings to solve various challenges – courts and judges, police, education, representative government and etc. I was thinking, like you, that we may have ‘developed’ ourselves ahead of religion for the most part until I saw Michael’s research – it looks like we have a way to go yet.

    It’s simple Darwinian math: don’t invent something you don’t need, don’t pay for anything that isn’t worth it. You pointed out yourself that given a ‘favorable climate’ humans will dump religion like last weeks garbage – and that is when they simply ‘feel’ they don’t need it any longer (the data suggests they do). Nature does favor those who can take advantage of their situation (it also punishes them if they get it wrong). Some of the earliest ‘original’ writing to our knowledge were the Athenian Stoics and playwrights mocking the veracity of their religious myths (most earlier literature was transcriptions of oral tradition, not original) suggesting that at least some in any population at any time were not considering their stories as ‘true’. You cannot argue that humans were simply fools for the last 70,000 years, nature would weed that out.

    Nobody had it until someone invented/discovered it (we are not naturally religious, as you said). Those who had it went on to conquer the world, or at least dominate their corner of it. Hardly a trivial advantage.

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  26. For many, any answer is better than no answer.

    Shared beliefs are cultural.

    Cultural phenomena can sprout, flourish and die within a matter of hours or years. They can also last indefinitely. Examples might include Beethoven's 9th and the golden rule.

    A combination of no-better-explanation and an acceptable cost/benefit ratio (social pressures, pascal's wager) will give even unfounded belief cultural staying power. Long-held beliefs are likely to morph over time as competing ideas infringe on shared domain.

    If the perceived cost for either the acceptance of a new idea or the displacement of the old belief, outweighs the perceived benefits then there is little hope for even the consideration of the new idea.

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  27. JA leFevre: in your first post you wrote "Michael’s data shows that phenomenon is continuing into the present". But Michael's data is on fertility, and the conclusion being drawn is that religion is favoured by straight Darwinian selection (rather than cultural group selection, which is what you're talking about).

    Now, I agree that there's a strong case to be made for role of religion in cultural group selection. I'm not convinced by it, however. I mean, if religion is changed in response to cultural innovation, then the popular religions are a symptom, not a cause of improved culture (see Did World Religions help bring about complex societies?.

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  28. While I agree with most of the post, I also must concede to Michael Blume that certain religious societies do appear to be blooming. This seems restricted to cloistered communities, even if there is some variance on the amount of contact with and education on the outside. As a secular atheist Jew living in Israel, I'm particularly worried about the rise of the ultra-orthodox. Nothing in what Tom Rees writes undermines the solid data on the impressive growth of these religious communities.

    My understanding of secularization is too thin to conclude anything about the long term implications of this demographic rise. We'll see.

    Yair

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  29. Yair, I totally agree. For me, Blume's findings (and simlar findings by other researchers) on religion and fertility are fascinating for the prospect they hold for the future, rather than what they can tell us about the past evolution of religion (which is not a lot).

    For example, see my earlier post on Shall the fundamentalists inherit the earth?

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  30. How do you account for the non-beneficial aspects of religion that go against the cultural ethos, such as the huge financial resources it sucks up? Wouldn't there have to be at least some element of parasitism? Some sense in which religion is tricking humans into acting for its benefit?

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  31. Henry: In biology, one measure of the robustness of a beast is how much parasite loading it can tolerate. The abuses religions and the religious have heaped on society are legendary, and yet those belabored societies out perform the tribal communities who are free of priests? Go figure.

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  32. My name is Christopher. I come from a Christian family. Way back, after finishing my schooling and when I was doing my Intermediate (junior college), I sensed a kind of emptiness in my heart. (This emptiness, which I later-on understood, was God’s way of drawing me to Himself). In my desperate attempts to solve this problem, I found myself bunking college and attending Christian meetings and visiting Christian bookshop with the hope of finding a solution. During one such visit to a Christian bookshop, I came across a small book-let titled; Tell me plainly, how to be saved. Through this book-let (written according to the Bible), I have understood that every human-being is a sinner and is bound to go to hell after one’s time on this planet-earth is over. But God’s great love for man-kind made Him send His only son, Jesus Christ, into this world. Jesus, who lived a sin-less life, suffered an account of our sins and died on the cross in our place. He rose again from death the third day and is now in the midst of us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Whoever believes in Him will become a child of God and will skip hell to enter heaven, the presence of the Almighty God.


    The book-let went-on to say that the way of believing in Jesus Christ is by repenting of our sins and asking Jesus for forgiveness for our sins as only the blood of Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse us from every kind of sin. Then we should invite Jesus into our hearts. When I did all this, the emptiness in my heart left and the love, joy & peace which I never had till then filled my heart. Since then, the Lord has been wonderfully leading me and has never left me alone, as per His promise in the Bible for all those who come to him in faith. He gave a purpose for my living. Whatever I have been going through in life, I can say with all confidence, that there was never a time that I felt or was left helpless; this is so as one of the precious promises in the Bible says: “Even lions go hungry for lack of food, but those who obey the LORD lack nothing good.”

    This is how the Lord has sought me, forgave my sins, made me His child, gave me a purpose for living, has been meeting all my needs and put His peace & joy in my heart that no person or experience or circumstance or problem can take it away.

    It’s a Biblical fact that every person has a heart with a God-shaped vacuum and nothing can fill that vacuum, except God Himself. This is why we need to invite Jesus to come into our hearts after repenting of our sins.

    The one decision I will never regret is, giving my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope and wish that you also will make a decision to make Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior. If so, please say this prayer meaningfully from your heart:

    Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Almighty God. Thank you for suffering on the cross for my sake. I now repent of all my sins. Forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me with your precious blood. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus and make me your child. From now on, I will read the Bible regularly and obey what it says. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

    If you have made a decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, please let me know the good news. Thanks. May you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

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  33. Interesting post. I am mystified whenever I hear about a modern growth in religious beliefs. I think of religion as people’s attempts to explain things that they cannot understand. With the growth of scientific explanations, I would think that people’s reliance on religious explanations would decrease. Of course, science can’t explain everything. As far as higher fertility rates among religious people, wouldn’t the ban on contraception among certain religions account at least in part for this?

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- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="http://www.fieldofscience.com/">FoS</a> = FoS