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?

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.

Or put another way, those who are easily led and less willing to think for themselves?

“Provided the fertility of religious people remains on average higher than that of secular people, the genes that predispose people towards religion will spread,” Rowthorn told PhysOrg.com. “The bigger the fertility differential between religious and secular people, the faster this genetic transformation will occur. This does not mean that everyone will become religious. Genes are not destiny. Many people who are genetically predisposed towards religion may in fact lead secular lives because of the cultural influences they have been exposed to.”

I’ve added the bullshit meter because I think this is a case where the researcher is mixing things that result in statistical junk science.

In a related story, the Muslim-country birth rate is falling as their living standards, education rise.




  1. TheDevilMadeMeDoIt says:

    #33

    I guess you already know you are going straight to Hell, Alfie.

    God truly frowns on people spouting that nonsense for their own, private purposes, especially if you don’t actually believe it and I know and He knows, you don’t actually believe it, Alfie.

    Using the Gospels to troll poor, innocent souls on DU is a one-way ticket, straight to Hell and you know it is, don’t you?

    Repent, Alfie! Repent and embrace the Lord or you will burn in the Pits, forever!

  2. hhopper says:

    I’m more worried about the Tea Party gene.

  3. God, also known as Allah says:

    I am responsible for everything good and evil. The devil is in the details.

  4. Rob says:

    CURSOR!!!! Number 26..

    DEAD ON!

    THANK YOU!

  5. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Kudos to Cursor?? Lets take a look:

    “Religion, by itself, is not as bad as some would have you believe. It is misuse that makes it a problem. But you can just as easily misuse science.” /// No, just the opposite. Religion is “bad” when it is used exactly as designed. And that determination devolves into a discussion of what “good” and “bad” means? Consuming/energy/thoughts/time with ideas of invisible unprovable/internally inconsistent beliefs systems is an affront to logic/truth/efficiency==just to begin with. Then go to the fact that of all the many stupid things hoomans are prone to “misuse” and you’ve got religion heading the list.

    No, religion: evil in itself and by common application. A fail for cursor and his advocates.

    Silly Hoomans.

  6. General Tostada says:

    Religion: n.
    A daughter of Hope and Fear explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

    – Ambrose Bierce (the Old Gringo)

  7. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    We all love Ambrose but how does religion explain the unknowable? It doesn’t. Only science explains. Lets tighten that up:

    “…explaining to Ignorance a bit of nonsense until the truth comes along.”

  8. God, also known as Allah says:

    Re: “religion: evil in itself and by common application.”

    So far, bobbo is the closest to actuality.

    Did you know that a soul molds nicely into a Ping Pong ball? I just destroyed Jesus 7-5 in a game similar to table tennis (except that there’s no table). Mohammad keeps sticking the balls up his ass. It’s ok, I’ve got billions of them. See you soon Alfred.

  9. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    # 45 Alfred Persson said, “your posts are read, only out of morbid curiosity”

    rrrrrrring! “Hello, Kettle? This is Pot…”

  10. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    #44–Allah==not to put too fine a point on it but Alfie thinks you aren’t being (derogatory?) enough. From his own position, you haven’t started to dig, whether or not you have reached bottom is vague as most religious critiques are. I am however refreshed and informed by your forthrightness and applaud your willingness to come forward and make the record.

    The size of a ping pong ball. Most instructive-leading to the recognition that all the old questions are irrelevant: how many angels can fit on the head of a pin? Obviously none, unless you have assigned them smaller souls? More compact and powerful?

    Gee, just as in science, it seems every answer just provokes more questions==proof you are the author of all things including science? Sad Alfie selling YOU down the river Styx for his non-belief.

    Don’t we always dance with whom brung us?

  11. General Tostada says:

    42 –
    uh, okay, have it your way. To me, though, your ‘revision’ was actually already implied in there.

    And by the way, there are plenty of things science can never explain, and probably shouldn’t even bother trying to (at least not the way theology does)

  12. TheDevilMadeMeDoIt says:

    #45

    You are really digging yourself a hole this time, Alfie. You must know what is at the bottom of that hole. Fire and brimstone. Why dost thee damn thyself?

    “…your posts are read…” This is true.

    “…only out of morbid curiosity…” That is a deliberate falsehood, Alfie, a paving stone on the road to Hell.

    “…to see if you’ve reached bottom, and started to dig.” Do as I do, Alfie? That is not very good advice, considering where you are headed.

    “…already affirmative action low standards…” How very un-Christian of you, Alfie! Sadly, it is exactly what we have come to expect from False Witnesses.

    There is a special section of Hell, Alfie, reserved for fake Christians. Repent while it is still possible. We pray for thee to truly see The Light.

  13. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    #48–General Incompetence==moving the statement from implied to expressed is a notable difference. What you might infer, others will miss totally and vice versa.

    But I post not to quibble but to MOCK the notion that religion “explains” anything. It does not. Whatever science cannot answer HAS NO ANSWER. No religion. “God did it” is no answer at all–just mindless dogma.

    And if mindless dogma is “an answer” for you, then you still have to deal with the conflicts among the mindless dogma. Did god do it, or was it the Black Raven, or the Whales Tale, or is it Turtles All the Way down?

    Religion: for the intellectually lazy who still want to suck their mother’s teat.

    There simply is no there, there.

    Silly Hooman.

  14. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    #44 Allah me – All I know is at 21 grams, you should be able to get three or four in the ping pong ball…

  15. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Alfie–you really do owe this blog a different picture each time you finish your dirge. OTOH, I guess that is just exactly how dogma works–by repetition? But spare us your dogmatic approach even to things non secular. Imagine how your collection of men dancing together will grow and all with a cover excuse? It will be good for your soul on many different levels. Give it a try.

  16. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    Bobbo – be careful giving advice to Alfie. His shrink may have suggested some stability. Thus the same photo.

    BTW – any interested: Check out Google’s new Art Project. I’ve just started looking through it. Fascinating. And if you do like it, try http://artchive.com/ which might even be better – especially since it’s not Flash based.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I do have to rest periodically, as it is written.

    Alfred, I love it when you talk trashy. The next time you pray, don’t hold back you naughty boy. Feel free to use language that would burn the ears off Mother Teresa… if she still had ears that is.

    You can’t insult me Alfred. I am all things to all I have created. I am the bottomless pit of evil and the topless pinnacle of good. Bottomless and topless, I lay on a public beach of infinitely smaller particles amidst an ocean of forever and ever. You see what I want you to see, hear what I want you to hear, read what I want you to read. Your morbid curiosity is mine.

    Animby, a soul is currently 2.7 grams because I like table tennis. I may take up bowling next.

    bobbo… science… so many questions, and they keep getting more difficult, I know. Could it be that when you get close I just nudge the answers a little further out of reach?

  18. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Anon–I know you are known by many names, but that cock centeredness always comes thru, be it Allah, Anon, or What’s That?

    But you do pose an interesting issue. The imagery is captivating, dare I say divine? So, as you nudge the answer a little farther ((note to bobbo: look up further vs farther==could be SATAN at work)) out of reach aren’t you none the less leaving a larger ripple in the ocean of knowledge in which science swims? Thus, you too are limited by the physics of reality. Maybe you could have made the universe a different place, maybe you will next time, or are now somewhere else, but that is the truth for here and now. and that is why I contest you. The ripples are mine, I’ll give you the vastness of things not yet known. The pleasure is in the discovery and that next nudge, not the smugness in keeping it from others. Its a good thing you are a god, for as a hooman being, you would be quite a failure.

    Ha, ha. Yes, yea verily!

  19. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    #55–animby==nice link there. I’ll have to spend hours more there when time permits. Always good to review the classic every few years.

  20. God, also known as Allah, also as Anonymous says:

    Ah crap.

  21. TheDevilMadeMeDoIt says:

    #53 Alfie

    “My doctor told me to exercise with dumbbells.”

    She didn’t tell you to drop them on your own head, now did she?

    Damned psychiatrists! They are lousy at prescribing effective physical therapy but the pills…

    …the pills are interesting, aren’t they, Alfie?

    You do seem to be concussed and leaking hate out of all of your orifices, instead of love.

    Perhaps it would be appropriate if we traded names.

  22. Alden Bena says:

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