What I mean really mean is: atheists are going out of existence because they are not breeding enough. Leaving aside the question of whether there is any truth in religious belief, this raises interesting questions about the apparent benefits of religion – at least for your genetic survival.
This is from a recent article by Jonathan Leake:
Atheists, watch out. Religious people have evolved to produce more children than non-believers, researchers claim, while societies dominated by non-believers are doomed to die out.
A study of 82 countries has found that those whose inhabitants worship at least once a week have 2.5 children each, while those who never do so have just 1.7 — below the number needed to replace themselves.
The academic who led the study argues that evolution, credited by atheist biologists such as Richard Dawkins as the process solely responsible for creating humanity, favours the faithful because they are encouraged to breed as a religious duty.
Michael Blume, a social science researcher at Jena University in Germany, said that over evolutionary timescales of hundreds or thousands of years, atheists have had fewer children and the societies they belong to are likely to disappear.
“It is a great irony, but evolution appears to discriminate against atheists and favour those with religious beliefs,” said Blume.
His arguments are in direct contradiction of evolutionary biologists such as Dawkins, who has argued that religions are like “viruses of the mind” which infect people and impose great costs in terms of money, time and health risks.
Blume’s work suggests the opposite: evolution favours believers so strongly that over time a tendency to be religious has become embedded in our genes. [Sunday Times, 02.01.11, p3]
Why is religion such a benefit? Because a religious tradition is better at allowing values, trust and cooperation to develop.
As well as the promotion of child-bearing by religious authorities, other important factors such as strong shared religious beliefs allow people to fit into a community, accept shared tasks and rules of behaviour. This ability to work together further raises the survival chances of children.
Evolutionary Theorists brought up far more scientific arguments – but committed believers in supernatural agents brought up far more children. There is a certain irony in here: creationist parents unconsciously defend the reproductive success of their children and communities against evolutionist teachings, whereas some naturalists are trying to get rid of our evolved abilities of religiosity by quoting biology. But from an evolutionary as well as philosophic perspective, it may seem rather odd to try to defeat nature with naturalistic arguments.