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God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide - Comments

smegely's Avatar Comment 1 by smegely

I'm almost tempted to have a fourth child, but I do think Jonathon Porritt has a point too (I've already "borrowed" one child from a couple of childless friends).

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:06:03 UTC | #570810

Roger J. Stanyard's Avatar Comment 2 by Roger J. Stanyard

JESSE BERING - perhaps as a shrink you might want to consider living in the real world.

Outside of Northern Ireland.

;-)

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:07:35 UTC | #570811

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 3 by Jos Gibbons

There was a desire to work out whether the human race is set to become more or less atheistic. Two options lay ahead. One was to look at actual atheism incidences, which are growing steeply. In the US the non-religious are growing faster than is any religious group, and global irreligiosity is reflected both in its size and growth rates by the US in a microcosm fashion. The other was to neglect the existence of first generation atheists - those who leave faith tend to end up there - and concentrate purely on reproductive rates. Why did this route go wrong? As any expert on the Price Equation knows, it is the ratios of numbers of members of each phenotypic group in one generation to the last one that matter, not the mean offspring per members of each phenotype (not the same thing, as like does not exactly beget like, and we have sexual reproduction and environmental factors to thank for that). That most present-day US nonbelievers are first-generation reveals how bad this method of inquiry was. It is not the first time this fallacy has appeared in an article republished here, though it has broken the record for making the case over the most wasted words. So Bering's colleague is an idiot. Ironically that offspring alone don't tell all is better appreciated by one specific group of morons than by said idiot, namely those who fear gays will turn their own$ kids gay.

$ i.e. those of the fearful, not of the gays

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:30:46 UTC | #570822

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 4 by Tryphon Tournesol

Excellent article! Although I hope (as in: (educated) guess) that being descendand from beleiving parents does not automatically lead to being a believer yourself..

Yes, the whole balance-on-procreation-thing might be true. But as RD says: isn't it ridiculous to call a child christian,muslim or marxist? Maybe a trend will be broken in our lifetimes, that of passing the god-meme to one's offspring :)

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:37:06 UTC | #570825

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 5 by debonnesnouvelles

Bering "Since religiosity is to some degree a heritable trait, offspring born to religious parents are not only dyed in the wool of their faith through their culture, but Blume believes that they may also be genetically more susceptible to indoctrination than children born to nonreligious parents."

The article began so funnily and ended with such a bleak outlook ... Puts a heavy burden on secular women. But here is an easy option to act as a secular (gay) man: sperm donation!

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:50:32 UTC | #570836

freerider's Avatar Comment 6 by freerider

I enjoyed this article immensely and I am also enjoying the related comments on the Scientific American website.

The accumulation of knowledge through such means is a pleasure in itself.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:54:59 UTC | #570839

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 7 by Stonyground

The fact that not all children of religious parents turn out to be religious is the elephant in the room that this article seems to be completely ignoring. Two generations before me, my entire family were pretty devout Christians and their extended families were heavily involved with the Methodist Church. My grandfather and his brother were Methodist lay preachers. By my generation I would guess about half of the family had anything to do with religion and those who did were far less deeply involved. Now hardly any of the current generation are in any way religious.

I would guess that many of the commenting community here will be first generation atheists like myself if they are my age (early fifties) but are more likely to have been raised as atheists if they are younger. Maybe future posts will clarify this matter.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 15:59:42 UTC | #570845

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 8 by Hendrix is my gOD

If its a numbers game they want then its time we atheists started multiplying ourselves. I've got three little atheists running around myself, and there's no reason why I'm done.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:29:19 UTC | #570873

ScottB's Avatar Comment 9 by ScottB

I find myself slightly miffed at the slur against non-academics and their understanding of academia. I count myself as a non-academic and I think my understanding of what evolutionary psychology is, is fairly accurate (though I know more of the linguistic side of that field than the behavioural). Good article, though. I find it interesting that homophobia itself may be responsible for propagating homosexuality. For example, a homosexual person raised in a homophobic environment is more likely to try to fight his or her sexual preferences and to procreate "normally" than a homosexual person in non-homophobic environs. Thus, if homosexuality is genetic, being much more likely to pass on the tendency toward homosexuality. The irony of this brings joy to me every time I hear some religious fuckwit harping on about the fire that awaits gay people. Viva la vie boheme.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:35:27 UTC | #570881

wildhog's Avatar Comment 10 by wildhog

Given that there are almost 7,000,000,000 humans on the planet, consuming the resources, ruining the ecosystems, and making life impossible for many other species, it seems to me that it's having children that is selfish, not abstaining from having them.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:41:21 UTC | #570885

hungover's Avatar Comment 11 by hungover

Damn non academics! Where can a man buy a pizza and talk about erections without getting hassled by low-lives who don't understand kin selection?

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:46:52 UTC | #570892

wildhog's Avatar Comment 12 by wildhog

Comment 8 by Hendrix is my gOD :

If its a numbers game they want then its time we atheists started multiplying ourselves. I've got three little atheists running around myself, and there's no reason why I'm done.

I cant imagine anything worse for this planet than the belief that people can and should "out breed" other groups they feel competitive with.

I am the offspring of two religious people, yet I am an atheist. Perhaps we should consider the idea that logic and reason may possibly be contagious. (I'm trying to spread some right now.)

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:57:47 UTC | #570908

Neil5150's Avatar Comment 13 by Neil5150

We are all born atheists; complex behaviors are not heritable, only the predisposition to. Religiosity is learned; and the same thing that separates us from the other great apes, leaves us susceptible to religious indoctrination. We learn very differently than the great apes, seems at first a disadvantage to the individual; however the social benefit out-weight the individual cost of forgoing logic.

The Black Box: Victoria Horner The Human Ape 4 of 10 (the experiment starts at 8 min)

The experiment demonstrates the difference in how we and the other primates learn new skills. We humans "fail" on a grand scale, beside the chimp. We innately throw logic and reason out the window for culture.

Time will kill Christianity, as it has with all mythology. Religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.... and the "ages" are getting closer all the time...

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 17:07:25 UTC | #570914

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 14 by Hendrix is my gOD

I cant imagine anything worse for this planet than the belief that people can and should "out breed" other groups they feel competitive with.

The overpopulation problem is in the poor countries where people cannot provide for themselves, let alone additional children. The developed western countries are actually declining in population. The U.S.' birth rate has plummeted and its small growth is from immigration, while the largest segment of the population, the baby boomers, are entering old age.

First, what i said was tongue-in-cheek, a sarcastic remark on the article's incorrect implication that religionists breed religionists and atheists breed (or fail to breed enough) atheists.

Second, I have three children because I can provide all of them with a good life. what is the point of those who can provide the necessities to children to avoid it, when either way the poor countries stay hungry and overpopulated. Perhaps adoption of third-world children, but there is still the human need to reproduce yourself. The responsible thing for affluent western nations is to increase their ranks among the affluent, while humanitarianly using the nations' wealth (tax the rich)to fight poverty and uncontrolled birth rates in the third world. I was also joking about little atheists running around. As much as I strive for it, I have no guarantees that any of my children will be atheists when they grow up.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 17:28:55 UTC | #570923

wildhog's Avatar Comment 15 by wildhog

Comment 14 by Hendrix is my gOD :

I cant imagine anything worse for this planet than the belief that people can and should "out breed" other groups they feel competitive with.

The overpopulation problem is in the poor countries where people cannot provide for themselves, let alone additional children.

Second, I have three children because I can provide all of them with a good life. what is the point of those who can provide the necessities to children to avoid it, when either way the poor countries stay hungry and overpopulated.

You're only looking at the population issue from the perspective of your own species. From the perspective of the planet's ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them, it doesn't matter how crowded your country is or whether you are able to buy stuff for your kids. In fact it's the rich countries that live a highly consumptive lifestyle and cause so much destruction to the planet by consuming so much.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 17:55:39 UTC | #570939

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 16 by crookedshoes

Irish Pizza? WTF? Is it any good? Do they make it Sicilian style? Marinara on top or under the cheese? Anyone ever had a provolone pie? If no-- I urge you to go forth and seek this commodity.... Oh, wait, i am off topic....yawn.... the only interesting thing in the article to me was the damn idea of an irish pizzeria (potential for endless jokes in poor taste and sure to offend). i am Irish and Italian so sue me. The comments to this point are far far more compelling reading than the "look at me, I'm a PhD" attention seeking of the author.

ScottB, I recently took a group of high school kids to see an accomplished author and speaker give a lecture about his life's work. The first thing he said was in reference to the fact that at this conference they gave different colored badges to the high school students and the career scientists/teachers. His words (paraphrased) were: "I really wish that they had thought this one through before they decided on this system. There is no difference, no difference between the two groups when applying the scientific method to a new problem." I was so impressed and felt my students' change in perspective immediately. Sorely lacking here in this piece.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:01:55 UTC | #570948

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 17 by Hendrix is my gOD

You're only looking at the population issue from the perspective of your own species

Point well taken. I did recently become a vegetarian to stop being a species-ist. I guess my claim that I'm not necessarily done having kids is incompatible with my being an environmentally-conscious, vegetarian, liberal atheist.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:28:49 UTC | #570970

hungover's Avatar Comment 18 by hungover

Comment 16 by crookedshoes :

Irish Pizza? WTF? Is it any good? Do they make it Sicilian style? Marinara on top or under the cheese? Anyone ever had a provolone pie? If no-- I urge you to go forth and seek this commodity.... Oh, wait, i am off topic....yawn.... the only interesting thing in the article to me was the damn idea of an irish pizzeria (potential for endless jokes in poor taste and sure to offend). i am Irish and Italian so sue me. The comments to this point are far far more compelling reading than the "look at me, I'm a PhD" attention seeking of the author.

ScottB, I recently took a group of high school kids to see an accomplished author and speaker give a lecture about his life's work. The first thing he said was in reference to the fact that at this conference they gave different colored badges to the high school students and the career scientists/teachers. His words (paraphrased) were: "I really wish that they had thought this one through before they decided on this system. There is no difference, no difference between the two groups when applying the scientific method to a new problem." I was so impressed and felt my students' change in perspective immediately. Sorely lacking here in this piece.

I agree, I felt the piece had an overwhelmingly condescending tone. Perhaps because I'm Irish I was over sensitive to this guy's attitude. It's as if he was speaking as the only gay in the village but also highlighting the fact that he's well educated and finds it difficult to converse with the subomeguloids of Ireland. Get a grip buddy you get paid to sit around and think for a living.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:39:07 UTC | #570976

neil pharr's Avatar Comment 19 by neil pharr

God is bliss. It is time for the religious folks to demonstrate some bliss or shut up. I like the yogi's explanation that bliss comes after the pineal gland excretes a bliss inducing hormone called amrita in Sanskrit. It seem a lot more fun that sexual sensations alone.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:48:07 UTC | #570983

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 20 by Hendrix is my gOD

It seem a lot more fun that sexual sensations alone.

Ya, right. I've tried your dOG, and if that's bliss then I'd rather be dead.

Have you ever tried the evil pleasures of Rock n' Roll? "Rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the 'aints."

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:08:19 UTC | #570995

TobySaunders's Avatar Comment 21 by TobySaunders

"This is what gets me hard" he says in the pizza shop... just talking about this & that, comparing women to half-eaten bits of pizza, mentioning one's erect penis, in the pizza shop... ejaculation... this & that. While people are listening & eating... wow. Anyway...

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:13:51 UTC | #571001

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 22 by Hendrix is my gOD

"This is what gets me hard" he says in the pizza shop... just talking about this & that, comparing women to half-eaten bits of pizza, mentioning one's erect penis, in the pizza shop... ejaculation... this & that. While people are listening & eating... wow. Anyway...

But what really gets me excited is if the Pizzeria has a special discount before the football game.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:17:36 UTC | #571004

bugaboo2's Avatar Comment 23 by bugaboo2

Dude, the author is Jesse Bering who is fabulous. It's his schtick. Writes for Slate now too.

Comment 21 by TobySaunders :

"This is what gets me hard" he says in the pizza shop... just talking about this & that, comparing women to half-eaten bits of pizza, mentioning one's erect penis, in the pizza shop... ejaculation... this & that. While people are listening & eating... wow. Anyway...

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:20:51 UTC | #571005

NealOKelly's Avatar Comment 24 by NealOKelly

Comment 17 by Hendrix is my gOD

I did recently become a vegetarian to stop being a species-ist.

Um... so now you're just a kingdom-ist. It's a slippery slope...

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 20:36:07 UTC | #571052

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 25 by ZenDruid

We certainly don't need a population war.

The one interesting premise I took from this article is the notion that subservience has become a 'genetic' vice 'cultural' imperative. Easy enough to investigate, I suppose....

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 20:58:01 UTC | #571061

huldrych zwingli's Avatar Comment 26 by huldrych zwingli

why religions would tell their members to multiply is too obvious to write about, I think. purely academic, so to say. however, the side point I still don't get is what "the gay is good for"? ... I mean, what is the evolutionary advantage of having so and so many gays per number of poeple in a population? kin selection really does explain that? how is/was it better to have a gay brother than to have a heterosexual one?

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:15:29 UTC | #571074

Hendrix is my gOD's Avatar Comment 27 by Hendrix is my gOD

Um... so now you're just a kingdom-ist. It's a slippery slope...

What???!!!! Did you miss the word atheist in there?

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:51:27 UTC | #571100

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 28 by crookedshoes

religious people get more intercourse. Atheists have more oral. Can anyone DISPROVE THIS? HAHAHAHAHAHA

See we atheists leave the "M" out of moral and PRESTO -- more oral.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 22:41:05 UTC | #571133

ScottB's Avatar Comment 29 by ScottB

@retomuller. Who said it was for anything? If there is a gene that's propogated and it does no harm itself to propogation- or if it indirectly helps propogation of itself in another individual- then there's no reason why it shouldn't prosper. There's no evolutionary advantage to Crohn's disease but I and many others, both now and in the past, are suffering from it. It doesn't effect my ability to procreate and my lifetime is only shortened when compared to modern humans. Genes don't need to have advantages to succeed.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 23:15:40 UTC | #571151

huldrych zwingli's Avatar Comment 30 by huldrych zwingli

@ScottB... homosexuality would tend to decrease your "ability to procreate" significantly, though, wouldn't it...? However, you are of course right and it's not really an issue to explain a high frequency of this "trait" in a population if you've got to be (transhetero- or) homozygous for a (some) "gay allele"(s) to show the trait. data, anyone? (how many genes are at least involved?) or somebody with good-societal "uses for the gay"?

In terms of the genetics of atheism... I still feel that a good public school system and the freedom to question authorities will breed many more of us than the best marker assisted breeding ever could...

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 23:55:02 UTC | #571168