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  • By Rachel Hosie

    A new study has suggested that atheism is doomed because religious people have higher rates of reproduction.

    Due to their lack of belief in contraception, religious believers are having more […]

    • When antiquated ideas, e.g.. keep reproducing like hell to make sure the offspring survive to reproduce, come into conflict with reality, then usually reality wins. The Pope doesn’t have to clothe, house and feed all those wee offspring with Catholic parents, but the parents do ! Certainly in the more advanced countries most Catholics just ignore Mother Church’s teaching on contraception. Every sperm is sacred, – NOT ! Looking back, I see J.S. Bach had some 20 offspring of whom about 7 died, (I could be wrong, but a sizeable number). And he was a Lutheran !

    • Yep, nonsense.

      Religion is necessarily cultural, and dependent critically on childhood indoctrination for its deeply entrenched nature and robust survival. This is, though, still only mimetic and not genetic.

      The true battle is not between religion and Atheism, but between fundamentalism and secularism. Provided the secularists (religious and atheist) win the battle for decent education to dilute childhood indoctrination then the good guys will win.

    • Fortunately Atheism is a renewable resource.

    • Yep, nonsense

      Wrong again, Phil !!!! haha!

      Evidence:

      😀

    • This was going to be the DVD everyone got for Xmas. I just thought it too depressing in the end. No-one can defeat the serried ranks of the stupid. Half below a hundred joining forces with, the Foxed, the Rethuglicans and the religiously lobotomised….

    • Phil

      Uh-oh, did I push you off the cliff? Don’t take it too seriously. Just a little regression to the mean. Nothing that can’t be remedied and they will inch their way back up to one or two standard deviations…after an eon or two…maybe

      Oh crap! Rachael Maddow has a copy of a leaked Trump tax return! Phil, I’m dumping you for Rachael now.

    • after an eon or two…maybe

      No don’t kid yourself. The great kleptocrat social experiment was a success. Reduced welfare actively reduces IQ without people noticing the theft!. Domesticated Animals can lose up to 20% of their brain function and all without affecting Stockholm Syndrome. We’re doomed breeders of the stupid unless…

      I’m dumping you for Rachael now.

      unless…. those clever people at Disney really can turn us gay.!

    • I believe statistics on religion are often suspect. They reflect certain associations but not necessarily deeply held ideologies. Many people identify culturally and socially with religions that they really consider part of their nationality, without taking specific doctrines to heart. This is certainly true in Europe and especially of Scandinavia. I think it will be found that, within any particular society, living standards and education correlate negatively with both birth rate and religious belief.

    • Oh, and Blondes are at risk of going extinct because of hair dye.

      I’ll tell you what is on the endangered species list: statistics. Or, at least, people who understand statistics.

    • phil rimmer #4
      Mar 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Religion is necessarily cultural, and dependent critically on childhood indoctrination for its deeply entrenched nature and robust survival.
      This is, though, still only mimetic and not genetic.

      Very much so! If indoctrination dies out due to improved education and widespread rational evidence based thinking, religious delusions will die out or greatly diminish, regardless of the numbers of children particular individuals have!

      Provided the secularists (religious and atheist) win the battle for decent education to dilute childhood indoctrination then the good guys will win.

      As you say, the assertion that “atheists are dying out due to lower birth rates in atheist families”, wrongly assumes that religion is genetically inherited, rather than culturally acquired or theocratically imposed”!

    • Being religious doesn’t guarantee your children will follow your creed. Many religious families use contraceptives in order to be able to feed their family, taking no notice of what their religious teachings say. Also the advancements of the sciences have an enourmous influence on people from religious backgrounds. A strengthening of religion would take place in countries with high birth rates among the religious population, together with a ban of free spreading of ideas and the teaching of science. A drop in the living standards and the rise of poverty, exposing people to economic strain and uncertainties, might contribute to a return to a miracle-seeking culture.

    • Odalrich #14
      Mar 15, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      A strengthening of religion would take place in countries with high birth rates among the religious population, together with a ban of free spreading of ideas and the teaching of science. A drop in the living standards and the rise of poverty, exposing people to economic strain and uncertainties, might contribute to a return to a miracle-seeking culture.

      . . . . . and a desperate need for miracles – or at least some food-aid (see Alan #3), from countries which CAN manage their population and its needs, using science and secular laws!

    • Laurie

      watching the extremely attractive and successful Rachael Maddow every night might be turning me gay

      Clever women really are a big turn-on. Bicuriously, as someone who is, er, ambidextrous, that never worked for me with men. Sweet and winsome every time.

      Disney, I realise, are really clever. Though LeFou is nothing compared to the out and proud character at the end of Paranorman, he is at least a servant. Making the poor and the disadvantaged (those most likely to cleave to fundamentalism) utterly comfortable with being gay, properly solves our problem of their over reproduction. The superior classes can continue to keep it as a thrilling perversion, needing offspring to scupper the rumours.

      Of course, the pill should be available over the counter now, with all the warnings. For young folk who will possibly not be in a stable relationship, the additional use of the less secure condom as a guard against STIs should be encouraged also. The problem is, informing your healthcare professional so that she can suitably advise later. Long term use is the issue.

      I’m all for adolescents being able to have confidentiality in these matters from a fairly early age….But this is another problem when it is not the state being the immediate bill payer.

      What about the morning after pill?

      The Netherlands and Scandiwegia have brilliant sex education running all throughout the educative cycle. THIS nets the lowest rate of all problems and happy, confident kids, less likely to be pressured into things, more likely to do the right thing when they are ready. More than anything, lets work for THIS.

    • Fade

      The strongest correlate with total fertility rate is poverty. Female education does indeed play a significant role, but it may be argued that this itself is more driven by poverty than religion. Children are wealth for the very poor. Indeed these days religion, that free insurance policy and consolation of the anxious, can be said to be caused by poverty. Dirt poor Somalia (mostly Muslim) and Mozambique (56% Christian 19% Atheist, 18% Muslim) have very similar TFRs of over 5. On education 60% of undergraduates in Iran are women. In the US average Iranian Americans outperform average Americans in income and education by an impressive amount.

      Poverty is the strongest indicator of our problem in my view.

      I haven’t though read the paper you have tracked down. Just scanned it. Many thanks for finding it. I worry it hasn’t been controlled for poverty, and religiosity remains its proxy. I must read thoroughly….

    • Religion as a proxy for poverty from a Gallup global survey 2010-

      http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/zyz9jwryreek-j9ee1xkdg.gif

      The exceptionalism of the US is now being accounted for by epidemiologists by its iniquity. A more comprehensive indicator than poverty is perhaps self-perceived poverty.

    • And here is total feritility rate as a function of GDP per capita

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_and_fertility#/media/File:TFR_vs_PPP_2015.png

      Notice exceptional US religiosity isn’t so stand out here.

    • Sorry. Bit too cryptic. (Must explain more.)

      If you put the income v religiosity data on the religion v TFR graph you see the former is a straight line with plenty of religiosity change still to happen at $25k. This strongly suggests (but doesn’t absolutely prove) religiosity is not the actual, direct, main driver of TFR.

    • fadeordraw #18
      Mar 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Also of note, the study includes consideration of western countries with high IQ and sub-replacement fertility bringing in lower IQ immigrants, high proportion Muslims, from non-western countries, to maintain population growth; a considered requirement for economic growth.

      Actually, if you look at immigration into the UK and US there two strands!

      There are the highly skilled university trained immigrants (eg. medical staff, engineers, scientists) and business people, who are from families who have the money to enable them travel and establish themselves in high- earnings – high-cost developed countries, and then there are those who are just imported uneducated cheap labour, escaping poverty-ridden mismanaged, corrupt, regimes.

      A significant proportion of immigrants into developed countries, are selectively chosen, high IQ, educated students, who have competitively gained employment on the basis of skills or qualifications.

    • fadeordraw #24
      Mar 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

      Now there might be religiosity and secularism genes, not sure of the genome investigation here, but one would think that such subject matter would be more in the realm of memes and that there would be much more at play to determine outcomes than evolution theory based upon natural selection.

      That could be so, if the matter was purely genetic, but memes are also subject to natural selection – with many earlier religions evolved into new branches, and some older ones now extinct.

    • fadeordraw #26
      Mar 17, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      it is highly likely that far more artificial than national selection is going on with their growth and evolution.

      While is is convenient to separate human experiments for independently wild trends, humans are just as much a part of nature as any other organism, and so subject to natural selection. Natural selection takes place in both genetic and memetic trends, regardless of if any human selection is consciously chosen or not.

      In many instances (such colonisation of empires), religious memes have been very much linked to physical and cultural selection pressures on populations.

    • phil rimmer #19

      The strongest correlate with total fertility rate is
      poverty. Female education does indeed play a significant role, but it
      may be argued that this itself is more driven by poverty than
      religion.

      Why female education? They can not get pregnant by itself. If poverty is a constant and a reality for both sexes I do not see why female education plays “significant” role when males are the ones who can make them pregnant!.

    • LaurieB #11

      Any woman who has no insurance … I’d be happy if those
      pills are given away for free but can’t imagine that would happen in
      the US. Please let them be extremely cheap. This is even more
      important now for poor women who stand to lose their ACA health
      insurance if the Republicans get their way. Over the counter cheap birth control materials with no questions asked is how people can be sexually active without fear of pregnancy – the very thing that control freak fundamentalists rail against!!!

      Totally agree! And if women can not financially afford contraceptives, wouldn’t be bad idea to charge it somehow to men (through taxes haha). That way they will take (whether they like it or not) responsibilities for their sexual behavior. If they have freedom to avoid contraceptives, than women should have same kind of freedom to have contraceptives free of charge. 😉 Because men and their irresponsible behavior are cost for them they didn’t ask for.

    • fade

      So for memes, Alan, what’s you percentage guess for artificial vs natural selection

      For a strict meme theory as you might get from Dan Dennett or Susan Blackmore it is all natural selection. This is an explanation of human behaviours from the selfish memes perspective. The assumption is of a determinist universe where freewill in the religious understanding of it is incoherent. Dennett would say what freedom we have is of a free choice of alternatives, of a free choice of memes.

      Further this idea of memes as naturally selected replicators has led to the proposal that this evolutionary sculpting of memes resulting from their “stickiness” and a sufficient level of mutation to allow a response to selection pressures is exactly the process of their existence inside our heads. It is the possible explanation for the formation of all our thoughts.

      Thoughts evolve as subconscious entities made of memes, meme-complexes and meme fragments, mutating until they are judged by aesthetics and fuzzy logic heuristics to be fit for conscious apprehension. After that they can be subjected to the more formal testing that cultural tools like language and maths and formal logic bring. We consciously see ideas tested by these cultural processes and reject of keep thoughts accordingly. Rejected thoughts are tossed back into the subconscious mutating melting pot.

      The meme evolutionary processes are not as per DNA gene-world but rather more like those in RNA world, where reproduction of long-lived tiny fragments and much shorter lived huge gangly, fuzzy edged fragments seem to populate the ecosystem. Often, simulations have shown little “helper” fragments symbiotically tied to the larger. Mutation rates are much higher than in gene-world allowing much faster adaptions but confering much lower robustness. These are tantalising parallels.

    • fadeordraw #28
      Mar 17, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Still it’s not as in the non-sapient influenced wild, as in pure natural section. So for memes, Alan, what’s you percentage guess for artificial vs natural selection?

      That depends entirely on the culture or the isolation of the culture involved.
      In history aggressive theocratic enforcement, has achieved near 100% compliance with particular religions in the limited areas of particular empires in particular periods of history. – As with species, some have branched and evolved into new denominations and cults, or hybridised with related religions or cultures, while others have gone extinct.

      artificial vs natural selection?

      As with plant an animal breeders, artificial vs natural selection, is a laboratory concept of semantic convenience, to identify human input into experiments.
      There is no clear cut boundary. In fact there is no boundary at all! It is only the source of the selection pressure which is specifically experimenter applied.
      In wild ecosystems there is often considerable unconsidered unintentional human input (such as deforestation for timber or farming), which has a massive influence on the ecology and evolution of species in that area, but such effects can just as well be caused by diseases, insect infestations, beavers, changes in climate, wild fires, etc.

      Globally, the effects of human organisms are just as “natural” as the effects of any other organisms and the mathematical laws of population balance, apply to humans the same as for any other organism.

    • Modesti

      Why female education.

      In the poorest societies and therefore the most religious societies girls are very often not educated. They are seen as mothers of children only.

      For the poorest societies children become both health insurance and pension plan. They are put to work early (they are biddable slaves!) and ensure that work can be done to feed you when you are sick or old. The first child is a heavy investment, but you are a young teenager and healthy yourself. Subsequent children can be minded by their elder siblings and when you are old you get to earn your keep by looking after your children’s children. Big families are stable supportive economic units, but women must play there single role of supplying children.

      Cultures of Poverty (inevitably religious) do not want educated women upsetting this tried and tested model.

      Educated women in poor countries often become the economic centre for the household. They are the ones most likely to start a business. They are the one’s most caring of their offspring. No woman wants the repeated agony of childbirth with its high attendant rates of mortality and if they can create economic stability without going through it, i.e. using the education and efforts to earn as an alternative to just being a brood mare (kept for breeding), then they usually take it. Education also gives them access to contraception. (Many IUDs are used covertly.)

      Guardians of the Cultures of Poverty (men) lose much of their status by this and hate it. They shoot schoolgirls.

    • @Crookedshoes

      Oh, and Blondes are at risk of going extinct because of hair dye.

      Does this mean that hair dye manufactures will proportionally breed more?

    • @Crookedshoes,

      Along similar lines to the Blondes comment.

      I’ve also heard that pubic lice are endangered of extinction due to deforestation so to speak (AKA the Brazilian and manscaping). Environmentalists should start campaigning to bring back merkins for species preservation, or perhaps they should start protesting outside of beauty salons, at the very least preserve the pubes as a source or natural habitat, in much the same way we put up bird, bat and possum boxes perhaps those with genuine environmental consciences could host a number of woven patches around our bodies to preserve the species.

      It also makes me think of Noah’s ark, who had to carry the pairs of each species of pubic lice? Were they evenly distributed or did one of Noah’s children or his wife have to bear that burden alone, would have been an itchy time. Given they had to be spread throughout the human population after landing they would have had to have kept them till at least the next generation reached puberty. “So pleased you’re a man now – here are your very own collection of pubic lice be sure to share them with your sisters or first cousins”

      Just thought I’d leave you with those thoughts on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

      regards

    • fade #36

      You raise some very important points for our political/cultural development. I want to respond when I have a clear moment. I am uncertain, using the idea of memes with reactionary forces disinclined to accept the idea of genetics and evolution is the tool we need.

      As you might imagine I will find it difficult, wanting mimetics to achieve a solid scientific definition so it can propagate (!), to go along with this small conspiracy to keep it from being an explanation from the lowest of causal levels of human actions in groups. Dawkins wanted to establish the replicator’s “eye view” (the Selfish perspective). Determinism all the way down.

      On the other hand the idea that the very essence of unnatural in the world, taking a top down view, is Human Society seems as good a use of the term as any. This super organism of human society (for this is what memes enable) clearly has processes that appear distinct from DNA genetics (because they are).

      fade, I haven’t begun to address the issues you are concerned with yet. I need to think about them much more.

    • To LaurieB #11:

      Over the counter cheap birth control materials with no questions asked
      is how people can be sexually active without fear of pregnancy – the
      very thing that control freak fundamentalists rail against!!!

      *I am another that ***totally*** agrees with you. When my daughter was in her mid teens, I helped her to obtain contraceptives. I had a vasectomy in 1965 and that was one of the best things I ever did. Not only were these actions a good thing for both my daughter and I, we both had fulfilling but separate lives and did not contribute to the human population explosion ( I had 2 offspring and she has had no children). She is now happily married to a man who has a degree from MIT in computer software engineering.

      Those Christian fundamentalists that voice extreme objection to anyone having sex only for pleasure have as a mindset a belief system based on the philosophy of an old bearded charismatic man Augustine of Hippo (circa 1690 BP) who thought sex was the “original sin.” It was just the kind of philosophy that the Roman Catholic Church needed to control people’s lives so they made him a “saint.” Augustine started a meme that has lasted for all those centuries and now permeates our civilization like a poison that now destroys people’s lives.

      It appears that now President Trump and fellow Republicans are preparing to cram those poisonous beliefs down our throats by means of legislation, the Supreme Court, and school vouchers.

    • To fadeordraw #18:

      Basically it’s concluding that secularists/atheists have comparatively
      high IQs (of course) and that those with religiosity have lower ones.
      And that it’s genetic; that there’s a religiosity gene (propensity to
      believe associated with being generous) and, I presume, with the lack
      of this gene, an ingrained skepticism or, perhaps, a stinginess gene.

      I would like to offer an opinion on your use of the word “gene.” It seems to me that many if not most human behavior is not a result of the action of a single gene, but instead is the phenotypic expression of a gene complex.
      That is to say that human behavior, or any aspect of human behavior, is a result of the interaction of a number of genes in a very complex pattern of expressions. I think it is misleading to those not trained in genetics to refer to the “gene” as the basic determinate of some aspect of human behavior.

    • I hadn’t read the article until now. Just because religious people have too many kids doesn’t mean that non-religious people have too few. (By the way, there was a video on the page showing Palestinian rights activists marching with the heading: is “religion dividing London?” Palestinian rights have nothing to do with religion, per se; those are people protesting human rights abuses, a cruel and illegal occupation!)

      As for the topic: I suppose anyone can die out. If every atheist and all their children became celibate they might – but atheists want children just like everyone else. Maybe not 17. (Catholic priests are more likely to die out.) Asimov encouraged families, and this was back in the 70s, to have one or two kids. These Irish Catholics with 17 kids. That’s just nuts. (No offense; I love James Joyce.)

      Many religious people (or people who claim to be; I often suspect that many just pretend) practice birth control; and many atheists like having a lot of kids, etc.

      Atheists dying out. An absurd notion. I thought The Independent was a good online news source. Well it’s only one article, and people have to make a living.

    • Dan #42
      Mar 26, 2017 at 5:41 am

      (By the way, there was a video on the page showing Palestinian rights activists marching with the heading: is “religion dividing London?” Palestinian rights have nothing to do with religion, per se; those are people protesting human rights abuses, a cruel and illegal occupation!)

      I would have thought that a march for any rights of oppressed minorities, shows that (these days), peaceful marches are treated with respect in London, and that that those marching expect to have a significantly large sympathetic audience!

    • I watched the video, Alan, and the people interviewed said exactly what I would expect them to say: it’s not about religion. And it seemed like it was a peaceful event. So why that ridiculous and stupid heading: “Is religion dividing London”? It’s a loaded, provocative question and that headline shows extremely bad judgment on the part of the editor/writer or whoever. They couldn’t just say: Protest in London for Palestinian Rights” or whatever; they have to have an angle.