These last weeks have seen a flurry of evolution-religion reports in the scientifically minded media. For example, Jesse Bering wrote about religion & demography in Scientific American, Jonathan Leake featured about the low birth rates of atheists in the Sunday Times and the Guardian started a lively God-instinct debate. Susan Blackmore has shown the greatness to rethink her position. And finally, even Richard Dawkins acknowledged the religion-fertility-link and, instead of applauding the progress in evolutionary studies, commented on it with disdain.
This whole argument rests on the unspoken assumption that children automatically take on the beliefs of their parents. Let us hope [...] that this link can be broken.
Well, of course, it has never been my argument "that children automatically take on the beliefs of their parents". They don't just take the language, intelligence, creativity or musicality either - all of these (and many more) are biocultural traits, whose evolutionary history and universality rests in their reproductive potentials.
Religion, fertility and genes by Robert Rowthorn
But then, just in time, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B published a fascinating paper by Cambridge Professor Robert Rowthorn: Religion, fertility and genes: A dual inheritance model.
Here, Rowthorn modelled some scenarios in population genetics based on the observations about higher-than-average fertility among the religious. And the most striking finding from my perspective was the impact of "secularization": If a certain percentage of the religious defected nevertheless in each generation, an eerily realistic picture emerged - the share of the religiously affiliated went downward, but the genetic predispositions toward religiosity streamed into the non-religious population. On the long run, religiosity won out nevertheless - as we can see by observing "non-religious" movements venerating their dead, organizing communal vows, rituals, symbols and mythological myths etc.
Up to now, RichardDawkins.net has not brought the new paper to it's readers and mentor. But if they were truly scientifically minded - shouldn't they applaud any finding on a topic of such high interest to them?