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Belief: It’s in our Bones

On February 18th, 2011

Several weeks ago I came across a study that confirms everything that I believe about the very human need for the transcendent. 

Michael Blume, a social science researcher at Jena University in Germany, decided to see if it was true that religions are ‘like viruses of the mind,’ as Richard Dawkins maintained, costing those so ‘infected’ in time, money but most especially health. 

The pros and the cons
His interest was sparked by reading of a man in 1838 who had taken a piece of paper, labeled it with “That’s the Question” and systematically listed the pros and cons of getting married. 

The cons including most likely having to ditch his life-long desire for a trip to America or France, and realizing that he would no longer have the leisure to meet up with his buddies at the pub whenever he wished. 

The pros included children (if it were God’s will, he wrote), the companionship of a good woman when listening to music or books and the comfort of having someone to look after you in old age. 

In the young man’s view, the pros had it, hands down. There was only one thing for it:  to find himself a wife.

When he went to visit his cousin Emma, she was less interested in the fact that he had inherited a fortune than in his apparent Christian piety.  When she was fully convinced that he was a true believer, she agreed to marry him and bear his babies.

The young man in question happened to be Charles Darwin.  The most fascinating thing about his very rational approach to marriage was that despite his view of life as a struggle for survival of the fittest, it is quite clear he also believed that religion was part of life’s equation.

Greater evolutionary advantage
This generated a giant question in Blume’s mind about those factors that weigh on the choice we make of an ideal partner. Although modern evolutionary theories focus only on genetically fixed strategies (ie, we choose partners who are most likely going to help our genes survive), how much do cultural issues determine successful reproduction?

And, more basically, are religious people at greater evolutionary advantage than atheists?   

Blume examined family demographics data from 82 countries to see who is more likely to survive: atheists or believers.  He discovered a stark difference between the number of children in families of believers vs. those in the families of atheists. 

All over the world, and throughout the ages, religious people have had many more children than atheists.

Countries where most people worship God at least once per week have families with an average of 2.5 children, compared with just 1.7 among those who have never worshipped.

According to a Swiss census in 2000, Hindus were found to have 2.79 children on average, Muslims 2.44 and Jews 2.06, while the ‘non-affiliated’ had the lowest number of babies, at 1.1 per woman. 

A dying breed
Atheists, in other words, are not only not propagating and multiplying; they are not reproducing enough even to replace themselves.

Seen in an evolutionary timescale – thousands of years – if this kind of poor track record carries on, atheists essentially will disappear. 

“It is a great irony, but evolution appears to discriminate against atheists and favor those with religious beliefs,” said Blume.

In other words, religion is not bad for your health – it’s good for the survival of you and your offspring. 

Of course, there are numerous factors affecting these figures, as Blume is at pains to note, and religions themselves promote a go-forth-and-multiply brand of family life. In numerous cultures, a large family is a sign that God is blessing you; the Catholic faith maintains its ban against contraception.

Furthermore, believers tend to cluster together as part of a community so that people bond together in ways that increase the survival chances of the children of all their members 

In our genes
Nevertheless, as Blume sees it, evolution favors believers so strongly that over time a tendency to be religious has become embedded in our genes. 

According to Jesse Bering, author of The God Instinct and director of the Cognition and Culture Institute at Queen’s University in Belfast, believers are more likely to beget believers because they are genetically more susceptible to adopting their parents’ faith.

In evolutionary terms, religion is good for us because we are more likely to propagate our own genes.

My own take from all this is more fundamental. Belief in the transcendent is essential to us; we were born to believe. All of us possess the understanding, deep within us, that we are simply part of a cosmic superorganism – a greater whole. 

When this knowledge is reinforced through belief in any higher power, whether God, all-that-is, or a giant energy field, we feel at one in our hearts and we thrive—and multiply.

Comments

comments

0 responses to “Belief: It’s in our Bones”

  1. Robin Turner says:

    "All over the world, and throughout the ages, religious people have had many more children than atheists."

    We can't really say "throughout the ages" when atheists have only been around in significant numbers for a century or two. Most atheists live in developed countries, and developed countries have lower birthrates overall. So what we're left with is the small difference between atheists and believers within developed countries, which could be explained, as you mention, by religious exhortations to multiply. Or perhaps it's that atheists are kmore socially responsible.

  2. pauline says:

    The same thoughts were occurring to me as I read as Robin who's posted above. In the current epoch it could be said that atheists are being thoughtful and responsible by not having many children. I know many highly conscious, loving, intelligent atheists that have made such choices. I am also fully in favour of us all making our own minds up and not having religions impose ideas about childbirth on us - an unconditionally loving God or Higher Power would not. However, I totally agree with Lynn's final sentiments... that deep within all of us is a sense that there is something mysterious, loving and greater than us all.

  3. Art Noble says:

    In the 13th Century, Nahmanides wrote a marriage manual for producing learned sons. (The Holy Letter, or Igarett ha Kodesh) Today, we assume that genes are fixed and a sequence of the 3.01 billion "empty" base pair cannot be activated. If we can produce "learned sons" (and daughters), then something is going on besides transferrence of "fixed" genes. Can our transcendence have something to do with it? I think so!

  4. Cynthia Yarrow says:

    "Seen in an evolutionary timescale – thousands of years – if this kind of poor track record carries on, atheists essentially will disappear. "

    While some children born may indeed adopt their parents lack of a belief in deism or a theology, it is not true that atheists will ever disappear since the lack of belief quite frequently stems from an examination of one's religious upbringing.

    As a former Christian, I was born an observer of people and their behaviors, and there was no greater classroom than the churches I grew up in for this study. I questioned many things sold to me, and refused to buy them until I felt I was old enough to understand them. That magical birthdate never came.

    Once completely disillusioned with the church and its parishioners, I committed myself to my own study of the bible, and from this came the true demise of my beliefs, as I was thoroughly mortified by, and further disillusioned with, what I read.

    Perhaps the question is not whether we're born to believe but rather whether we're born to think and question. It would seem the latter is a recessive trait given the state of the world today.

  5. I look around me and I see miracles . . . .the grass grows, the birds fly, a baby cries, and I conclude that life is not a chance experience. We are here for a reason. I think most people feel there has to be a Cause. . . . . . nothing much about genes. As Lynn says, "we were born to believe."

  6. hazel says:

    This study totally ignores several factors: quality over quantity; humanities relationship with the Earth and the choice to limit reproduction in view of overpopulation; it doesn't distinguish between those who do not participate in organized religion, yet are very spiritual and the true atheist; and it totally ignores conscious choices which are made for multiple good reasons.

  7. Paul says:

    AMEN! (AND SO IT IS).

  8. Anna says:

    It boils down to less possibility/less education = more children

  9. Minna says:

    thank you to Hazel,
    who beat me to pointing out exactly the things which disturbed me in both the referred research and the posted blog. i'm generally inspired by the work done & the words written here, and yet this was an ounce too lopsided for me to happily digest.

    much love,
    from Minna who is neither an atheist or devoted follower of any organized religion, and yet believes;
    and who, despite she is happily committed to a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, has no intention whatsoever to reproduce.

  10. Above all, "God" is a personal experience, one attained by one-focusedness which begins with the knowing that there is more that the eye can see. That Knowing then becomes the core of your life's search and values. I don't think it's genetic, maybe environment and a certain degree of ignorance, that is accepted culture plays a role. But the Spirit must be borne of one's own choice, one's own Path.
    Peace

  11. bluzboy says:

    I'm not sure about this logic - by the same reasoning, homosexuals should have disappeared. The tension here is, as in so many of these variations on the theme, between faith in pre-destination and free will... and whatever genetic component gives rise to their expression. But, generally faith is associated with hope, hope is associated with the future, offspring an expression of hope in the future.

  12. Eileen says:

    My husband and I who are well versed in quantum physics and epigentics have had one child at the ages of 40 and 57 after long careers transversing the globe. We are investing all of our accumulated knowledge to this child about the strong possibility of an energetic God in an energetic universe(es) of which she is as important a part of God - as her finger or toes is importantly part of her. This makes her more powerful and more responsible than I was ever taught to believe i was in my Catholic school upbringing (while living in the Middle east). So why would those whose religion is non-existant or founded in consciousness science have far fewer children than those who beleive that God is an angry old man who is likely to punish them when they die? Do those practicing traditional religions live longer and healthier lives than those practicing no religion or alternative religion --that's what the study should have considered as well. Not just how many offspring do they have in total.When I was a child my mice had up to eight babies every 8 weeks but only lived about two years, whereas I have only one offspring but we might both live to be 100 like my grandfather. Do those practising traditional religions tend to die younger due in part to religious conflict? If so multiple then offspring would be of tremendous benefit. I'm afraid this blog and study leaves more questions than it answers, which is not a bad thing.

  13. Thank you for this post. It moved me greatly.

    I truly believe that humankind needs a spiritually based belief structure. It is as if it is engrained within our very souls and base genetic structure. The reason I believe this is very simple; every civilization, every group of people, finds a form of faith of greater, higher, munificent and grand power.

    This brings us to the question of whether there IS a God. For me, it was very simply. I simply looked around and asked over and over, "If there IS a God, please talk to me. Please let me know You exist."

    Eventually, I was answered in a big way. It was THAT simple.

    BUT... as for having children and replicating one's self and thus one's belief structure... it makes perfect sense that those civilizations that worship or highly respect marriage (a loyal union to raise the children successfully) will be more likely to have their belief structures promulgated into the future.

    That said, it still seems to me there's something in the logic and perhaps gene structure of all "cogent and cognitive" thinking species to find "spirituality."

    Animals look to higher powers as their Gods... there is a "God Spark" in EVERY living creature.

    And He is much this thing we call, LOVE.

    imho. : )

  14. Kate says:

    My lst born and his wife who are very educated and not religious have decided not to have children. I was sad at first but then I realized they are both sensitive to the things that are happening on Earth right now and did not want to subject a child to all of that and more to come.

    When I see the headlines of families who have 10+ children they are 99% of the time very religious and some of the time, the parents have no college education as well.

    Over population will become a problem at some point IF the ecological changes cause shortages as they are predicted. But some religious people in the US seem to care more about the Bible's message than Science's message and ignore the environmental challenges that may await future generations. Being kind to the planet with it's limited resources will take everyone's cooperation so that future children will enjoy their lives. I guess for some people who don't want to participate in exercising common sense and selflessness, ignorance is bliss.

  15. Devin says:

    this is just kind of silly to think of atheists dying out.
    the only determination of what the dominant mindsets are in the future are the emergent ideas that appear as we all increase our understanding of ourselves and our worlds.
    In my opinion eventually all religions will realize the common ground they share with each other and drop their strict boundaries and their 'our path is the only path to salvation' mindset and move into the useful realm of philosophy.
    as a side... religious ideas throughout history are responsibly for a countless number of wars and killings and genocides and conflicts around the world resulting in a ridiculous number of deaths... so perhaps its not so good for your survival after all.
    realize that the stories in the books are not literal and not real, and instead focus on being a good person and doing good in the world, bring the power into your own life and realize you are the creator, not some man in the clouds.

  16. Steve says:

    There are many factors that are likely to influence birthrates -- cultural, economics, education, etc, etc. For example, if one examines the birthrate demographics between countries, as a general rule the higher the income of the country, the lower the birthrate. For example, birthrates in advanced and rapidly growing economies such as in northern Europe, Japan, Korea, etc., have declined substantially in recent years.

    Without knowing more details of the study that is cited here, it is hard to assess the conclusions because only two variables are compared -- religion and number of children. If we are to place credibility on statistical and social scientific studies, we should know more about the nature of the study and whether or not other variables were considered -- and what they may have revealed.

  17. Judy says:

    I have never seen an animal praying, or going to church. Yet if left alone in a pristine environment, they will balance their numbers. Nature has given us a drive to procreate to keep our species alive. That has nothing at all to do with religion. It is religion that messes with that and causes many other side issues, and in the end , overpopulation and lack of balance. That speaks for itself.

  18. @Judy

    Excellent points... as for Religion, it isn't the religion itself so much as how people choose to interpret it.

    For instance... the Christian New Testament says, "If you must do of two things, let them be these... Love thy neighbor as thy would love thyself, AND, love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength, mind."

    That's it. No domination, no berating others, no confessing, no judging, no special candles, no hatred of gays, no burning forever, nada.

    BUT... you can see what has happened when the hand of man has entered the equation. They have taken spirituality to use it to dominate and profit.

    Perhaps in this case it's the messenger rather than the message.

    ~~~

  19. Debra says:

    Having been on a spiritual quest for many years....wondering about the old age question, why are we here???, I have paused briefly...as I am approaching my 60th birthday...realizing I have far less years ahead of me than when I was in my 20's....mortality is more real...
    However, whenever I am close to water, nature, trees, and take the time to really "see" a beautiful sunrise, sunset, admire a beautiful flower, my newborn grand-daughter.....I feel a unity, and an intelligence...
    Religion although destructive often beyond all understanding, has been humankind's feeble attempt to put into form which cannot be put into form, and to collectively identify the unknowable with ritual and common language.

  20. Anna Sofia Marie says:

    Dominant religions of the world advocated for multiple children for their own selfish gains, shamed families who did not reproduce, advocated for rape within the family and then took precious money from their poor struggling large families. Religions and knowledge of our souls are not synonymous. Neither are athiests and those who do not believe in the need for an organization that takes advantage of our soulful feelings. There are several distinctions lacking in this research. Organized religions have been irresponsible to the needs of the world as a whole, poluting our earth with overpopulation to the point of filthy air, land and seas plus starvation and limited access to materials and services necessary to enjoy life without suffering. Religions violate the universal law, "Thou shalt not kill." with religion-based wars. If one way to be one with God is through nature, doesn't this point a damning finger at religion for distressing and violating nature? Religions do not stress what an important part of God each of us is as Eileen has pointed out. If we find oneness through deep prayer/meditation alone within ourselves, then why is it necessary to have judgemental, poluting, irresponsible, greedy organized religions?

  21. Yes, not up to your usual standard Lynn. The work you did in The Field is so much more profound and meaningful than this culture-bound stuff. Oh well, can't have a good day every day, eh?

  22. Dorothy says:

    I would agree more with the sentiments posted by some of your readers than with the findings of the study. I fail to see any connection with religious belief and "passing on our genes" other than the encouragement of some religions that people have large families. Belief is not passed on like hair color. Given our ever-increasing population that may well result in rendering the planet uninhabitable by anyone at all, it is ridiculous to make having children in any number look like a virtue.

  23. I'm a little surprised by the comments for this post. Lynne has brought to our attention a rather interesting study and to my knowledge, it would seem that the reactions are a little emotionally-based. That is, the beliefs of the readers here have had their own belief systems challenged.

    I find it interesting how some topics can very easily polarize people to one side of the fence or the other. That would be an interesting study to do... the ability of one to stay "objective" while engaging in a topic that challenges their beliefs.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    Jeremiah

  24. Todd says:

    Organized religion , I read somewhere, is responsible for half of what's wrong in our world, and half of what;s good. I don't agree with that totally, but it has some merit.In the same publication, it stated there have been perphaps 100 million killed in the 20th century,(including WW 2), in the name of God or favored races. Where is the piety with that.I have noticed that fundalmentalist of all faiths are the noisest, and the most destructive by nature.They focus on the messenger and twist or ignore the message. I agree with what several people have stated in finding Whatever It Is within myself, It's my responsibility to find what I feel, which is where my belief will come from. This study is to vague to make conclusions making the statements that were made.

  25. Diana Little says:

    But what if it's in out highest evolutionary good to stop breeding? To transcend the human form itself?
    That religions may keep us bound to this dual nature? The cycle of birth and rebirth? Death and more death?

  26. Sharon says:

    Dear Lynne,
    I do believe you are right....much more than anyone will realize. Belief is definitely embedded in your mother's egg, just as it is in your father's sperm. I have a personal Revelation for you as experienced by myself and my children i would like to share with you. email me and I will fill you in with the details. Love your work....and Bless you.
    Sharon

  27. Jasper says:

    I find this thesis pure humbug…
    Then, children of believers are not necessarily believers as well.
    For instance… even religious people can come to their sences =)
    No, but seriously now… where do all the gay’s come from then?

  28. Victoria Baker says:

    There are so many aspects of this blog/research as presented that simply cannot add up. It seems to have started with an idea and hoped to support it with unsupportable claims. We don't know very much about "atheists throughout the ages" because the state religion was required of everyone, rigidly, throughout time. And people who don't attend church may be very spiritual (like myself!), and who may choose not to have children as an altruistic choice because of human overpopulation. The idea that those who have many children are somehow genetically superior just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. As for atheists dying out, in my experience I've seen it far more common for children to reject the beliefs of their parents, whether religious or not. Atheists don't "die out" because people examine their beliefs and come to their own conclusions throughout their lives. The comparison to homosexuality and the argument that by that logic homosexuality wouldn't exist is not quite accurate because homosexuality is an inborn tendency and is found in hundreds of animal and insect species throughout the planet. But the logic nevertheless is similarly flawed. And finally, this "research" depends on Richard Dawkins' work on "The Selfish Gene", which in turn is rooted in Social Darwinism, which has been used for racist, classist, and sexist purposes for more than 100 years. I don't see this as a productive avenue.

    Lynn, I'm disappointed that you would present this research as meaningful. I totally believe that we are born as part of a larger truth. But I don't believe that organized religion necessarily helps people to connect with that truth. Too often it prevents people from that connection. Organized religions too often have served the state's interests and not true spirituality. Many of us who chose not to have children did so out of profound spiritual awareness. I don't understand how this sort of flawed research actually supports your research-- I think quoting this flawed reasoning denigrates your own.

  29. Robert Post says:

    I don't think it's about "organized religion" at all. I was once a Lutheran ministerial student. Now I belong to the largest "New Thought" church on the planet. No dogma, no creeds, everyone welcome, all faiths affirmed for the core of good in all of them. Our church campus in Denver, CO, USA is like a huge metaphysical university. We have a large bookstore where a whole host of spiritual and metaphysical books are offered. So what is it all about? Why do "believers" fare better? I think its because we are more closely connected to our "Source Energy", if you will. We are more optimistic, more supportive and supported, and more in the flow of existence. I don't have a mental picture of God. "He" is not a person nor can he be understood by humans. That's because HE is us. Jesus even said so: "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."

  30. Matt says:

    I think in all honesty, statistics only say what the manipulator wants them to say. Perfect example is coconuts. They kill about 25 people a year from falling from their high trees. A statistician will tell you this makes coconuts 4 times more dangerous than sharks! And as for religion vs. Atheism, a "Darwinian" is deemed an atheist, and so are many spiritualists. If we can make distinctions between different religions, then is it not only fair to also have different sects of atheism? And with religions all telling the same story on different paper, as mentioned above, is it not the messenger that is to blame?
    On a similar subject, I would love Lynne to do a study on the subtle similarities between so called opposing religions. A prime example would be pagans and Christians. We seem to forget that half of Christianity's religious festivals are only there bequeathed were created by man to coincide with already existing pagan festivals to make Christianity more acceptable and encourage conversion. And thats just the tip of the iceberg.

  31. Rose Garman says:

    It seems to me that the problem or conflict is in "the trying" or the "search to find" something or someone to blame or credit for existence.

    All I have to do is be, what other proof could one possibly need?

  32. Mark says:

    In the past, people were often converted at the end of a sword. Fear was the motivating factor. Also the fear of eternal damnation was used. Recently, however, we are discovering our essence, which is based in Love not fear. It may take a few years or a few generations but that's where the human experience is heading.

  33. Amber says:

    By definition all pagan cultures/civilizations were either atheistic or agnostic in their beliefs. Monotheism is a rather new phenomenon for Mankind. However, despite pagan beliefs, ancient cultures were known to be highly spiritual even if the beliefs held may appear bogus/misinformed ... to some of us today. And without a doubt they were able to flourish and survive well enough for us to be here today.

    Neither belief nor disbelief in a "God', has had any impact on the survival and propagation of our species throughout time. Prior to the last century there were no real reliable and safe methods of mass population control aside from war, famine and disease. Furthermore, social systems for security as one ages were the luxury of only a very few. Consequently, Man lived by the idea that propagation without limitation was in fact a necessity rather than a choice. It is only within modern times with it's medical and educational advances that this idea has come into question.

    Because of the greater security, comfort and freedom to question our beliefs and make choices, provided by our technological advancements today, whether an individual/their offspring reproduces/not is based on educational, intellectual, medical, cultural, social, economic and circumstantial factors, and not on any genetic tendency towards atheistic, religious or spiritual beliefs.

    The notion that an individual's tendency to believe/disbelieve in a 'God' is somehow genetic is as bogus as the notion that an individual's tendency to be racist or sexist ... is also genetic. Most people's belief systems are grounded in environmental and cultural factors and not in biology. As pointed out, in modern times atheism comes and goes within family lines, with little impact on the survival of the idea of atheism itself.

    I think many scientists and people in general have fallen into the trap that the gene is 'God' and therefore the ultimate creator/destroyer i.e decision maker of human life and destiny. This is quite separate from a belief/disbelief in a supreme creator i.e what some refer to as 'God'. Until Mankind can come up with a comprehensive and indisputable definition of what consciousness is (including it's source), I think we need to be very discriminating about seeking yes/no answers to all sorts of complex and multifaceted questions such as this one.

    Throughout history Man has always had a desire/craving to control/manipulate his environment, which has been based on a refusal to accept improbability, insecurity and ultimately death. Despite all our discourse and observations about the environment, we still believe that it ultimately comes down to us i.e our genetic makeup, against the environment - including the humans who we do not perceive as being part of our group.

    Consequently, today there is a 'run on the gene' with any and everything being ascribed to genetic causes. As long as we can ascribe a characteristic/trait/behaviour to genetic control then we feel 'knowedgable' and therefore safer, since we have gotten a handle on yet one more facet of our environment - in this case people who may hold a particular belief system.

  34. Sadashiv says:

    May be families with more children tend to become religious.

  35. DHenry Niese says:

    Acknowledging the Supreme Creative Being makes people more in tune & respectful of
    His/Hers/Its Creation & power.
    "God gave you a brain. You figure it out!" Bill Eagle Feather,
    Sundance Chief & medicine man,
    Rosebud Sioux

  36. Henry Niese says:

    Here's Jasper's answer: They come from the same place we all do.

  37. John says:

    Not certain I understand the..er..Problem? I don't see a problem here. If as I believe God is there then why would he care one way or another if anyone believes in him or her or the source or the force or what not?

    Trust me folks. God is unconcerned with whatever you believe. Just as I am. If I were the whole of God, and not just a part of God as I believe. As a being, as a person, why shall I care what you think? Be we one and the same part of one being or not. I will always be me. So...you tell me I don't exist?

    Response: Ok. If you like. I won't exist for you. I leave the room you are in and poof! I'm gone! No worries!

    Calm down folks. If folks choose to believe or been shown another path then that's it. That's what they Will believe.

    You want to be a missionary? Just talk with folks. Get to know them. Exchange ideas and cultures and thoughts. That will work so much better than coming at another with a will to "change them". No one changes anyone else. We change ourselves if and when we are ready to change. And ONLY then.

    Besides. If you truly believe in God Almighty. Then won't he do it? Since there is nothing beyond him, beneath him, or above him. And nothing he/she/it cannot do. He does not need us.

    We have need of him. But, as an atheist would think. Even if he exists, what good is he?

    The world does not need missionaries. It just needs people. People who are willing to listen, not just talk!

    Ok, I'm done rambling. Hopefully this has will be of aid to someone.

    Be well all.

    John.

  38. If you watch Zeitgeist Moving Forward http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w you'll learn something very interesting.
    Scientists have found that even certain genes we have that are responsible for certain aspects of our behavior are switched on or off depending on certain experiences we have during our childhood.
    Therefore a child with a blank slate who has the importance in beliefs and religion pushed on him again and again during his childhood can switch on this certain gene.
    But there is almost nothing at all that is predetermined at our birth, it seems that close to 100% of who we are is created by the environment we are born into and the experiences we encounter.

  39. Lezley says:

    I truly feel we are moving beyond "belief" and into something much deeper. This is somewhat more tricky for those who are raised with a certain religious ideology. We all choose our family of birth so of course this process is part of our own personal learning curve. The "knowing" that we are all connected at our core dynamic source releases us all from the endless searching for something "out there". We begin to vibrate at an inter-connection with everything. Also having a larger family usually comes from a deep fear of dis-connection from source.
    I have never met anyone with a large family who is "balanced" in this area. It is neither good or bad ~ merely a chance for souls to incarnate and have an experience. Nothing is wasted in this amazing creation we call LIFE!!!

  40. Geeta Vinu says:

    Following/ belivieving in a regilion & having children are totally divergent issues is what i think..whether an athiest or a believer having a child is a consious responsibility. The difference in number of children between believers & athiests is probably becasue almost all religions advocate "no Contraceptives" "go natural" ideals. Besides firm religious believers tend to be more loving & tolerant which obviously helps them to be better able to handle large families. As humans we need to trust & believe in something/someone greater than us, as children,we gave parents this place of omnipotence, but as we grew older our religous beliefs or lack of took over..but at the end of the day, if any dire situation arises we immediately look for "GOD" or something omnipotent "OUT THERE" to come to our rescue..dont that suggest that..we are born to believe???
    love & peace to all

  41. Chatham H. Forbes Sr. says:

    If the brain is an instrument, then the operator of that instrument brings to it a prior knowledge of that larger realm of which we are all members. The brain doesn't have to be "hard wired" to believe in our membership in the inclusive ocean of God, or consciousness. Bruce Lipton finds that the membrane of our DNA cells is the vehicle by which we, as souls, operate the brain, and presumably the entire human organism. The human organism, in this scheme, is a community of aware cells in constant communication. Therefore,the decision to "multiply" is a conscious one by the soul. The cultural and material environment will also play a role in such decisions. This reasoning from Lipton's premise leads to what seems a far-out scenario, but - there it is! Also, I believe your book The Field reports that the brain, or mind, operates by quantum rules, if I remember correctly. Or was that Deepak Chopra's belief? But how about the strong lustful impulses of the lizard brain?

  42. To believe in the Quanta of Any and All Action simply means that there is no such thing as Non Action!

  43. Rose Garman says:

    The Universe evolves as Consciousness evolves and this is very "thing" is the process of Creation. Higher Power, being outside of time and space, isn't "doing" anything. It's already been done and It goes on eternally. "I am" is local consciousness, the point where everything collapses, or becomes what seems to be static the moment I observe it, nothing moves, like a snapshot. This is continually creating and evolving simultaneously, it be beatiful, it may be ugly, thus, duality. I'm not doing anything, I'm just in it. When I think "out" of it, there's nothing there at all, just peace, it's finished, complete, whole, total. Outside of time and space, there's just God and His children, and all of us are One, pure non-dualism. Free-will isn't between the aspects of duality. Free-will is being able to choose between duality and pure non-dualism.

  44. Kathleen T says:

    The conclusion drawn from Blume's study (religion is in our genes) does not match the variables in his research (religious views, number of children). It just finds that people participating in organized religion have more children than those of us who are led to other ways of viewing the world. There are countless confounding variables and assumptions (many listed by commentators above) that, in my opinion, render trivial his entire argument.

  45. Heidi Grieb says:

    When a spirit inhabits a body, various genes are also expressed by that spirit, and even that can change as the spirit itself evolves. We as spirits have wiggle room when it comes to what we each express, we are not limited by the code that was passed to us.

    If evolution was weeding out atheists and homosexuality, wouldn't it have done so by now? Human evolution factors in a range of possible cognitive abilities, and having that range has made us so successful.

  46. Cynthia Yarrow says:

    I would add that a belief in a single deity (and why not several hundred while we're at it) does not equate itself to a belief in man-made doctrines. Given that the stern ideas of procreation stem more from said doctrines, it's hard to pinpoint any presumed genetic need to believe in a deity as the cause of believers' procreational successes.

    Rather, people seem to have a predisposition to become followers, and whatever the predominant dogma du jour is, that's what the followers will cling to. All may have a similar belief in a deity, but their beliefs about the world around them are shaped by the dogma, not the belief in a deity. As someone else pointed out, this is not necessarily healthy for the planet or our species, as our numbers are far too great, casting the notion that religious belief could ultimately be the cause of our demise, or at least contribute greatly to it.

    As we have seen with zealous believers, their cause is not centered on responsible stewardship, kindness, compassion, or evolution of the mind. Instead, it is centered on doctrine itself, and too often these doctrines are destructive to people, animals, and the planet.

    I don't see how a deeply ingrained (read genetic) belief can be helpful to anyone if it causes them to eschew logic and reason for the sake of the belief itself. I think the state of our planet speaks to this quite eloquently, if we are predisposed to listen.

  47. Belief: It's in our Bones | The Intention Experiment...

    [...]We can't really say “throughout the ages” when atheists have only been around in significant numbers for a century or two. Most atheists live in developed countries, and developed countries have lower birthrates overall. ..... On a similar subjec...

  48. Jackie says:

    Deep and prolonged self examination akin to peeling back the layers of an onion eventually leads to experience of the essence, the pure awareness, at the innermost core of being. Identifying with the concsiousness that perceives rather than the thinker of the thought renders all debate superfluous and un-necessary. It matter not what you believe in. Its all just the soap opera of life playing out. Debate, war and argument lead further away from the essence of all that is...look within for the answers. None are right and none are wrong, and points of view can change. Its the differences and contrasts that make our experience of the world interesting and stimulating, but ultimately our opinions are worth nothing! The universe will maintain homeostasis whether you believe that god is a grumpy old man or a creative and loving force, or whether you don't believe in anything at all!

  49. Chuck says:

    I think its a mistake in trying to connect spirituality with religion. I agree with Lynn that we all are wired to seek a higher power, wether we call it god or all that is.
    I also think birthrate has more to do with the kind of religion practiced and education level. Our daughter does not want to have children since she thinks the world population is unsustainable at this point.
    This thinking is more complex than just a religion issue.

  50. me, who cares, enuf says:

    Religion is between you and your neighbors,
    While
    Spirituality is 'Souly' between you and God....

    About the 'having kid's' thingy... well, i am a concsiencous objecter.

    If i can't honestly say"Life's a BREEZE!! Wish U were here!" Then i would not ever desire to 'hijack a living soul away from heaven only to live here amongst us 'warring earthlings' who currently reign on this corrupt little planet.

    Religions more often tend to create more desired membership drives via bans on birth control in hopes the parents will offer up their offspring to said cult/religion. If you were born a Catholic, likely you will be raised by your parents as a Catholic... etc.etc. ; - )

  51. Kelly says:

    In Christianity, a lot of people believe that a new Earth will soon be provided to true believers. I think this belief tends to make some Christians more relaxed about the impact of people on the environment. If you think that you get a new planet when the old one is worn out, then it is OK to keep populating.
    Atheists would probably not believe that we are leaving this planet any time soon, and so might not think it prudent to keep adding more people.
    I'm not sure where other religions stand on what happens when we have used up the Earth.

  52. Ron says:

    Nevertheless, the point remains that Dawkins' explanation of religion being the product of a faulty gene doesn't make much sense when the vast majority of the world's population are "believers". It makes more sense to argue that atheism is the product of an aberrant gene. Not to mention all the evidence for believers living longer, more happily etc....

  53. Lisa says:

    I am taking an Intro to Logic class in college. The Professor is teaching us to argue our opinions on God, religion, and politics, and out of 27 students there are only 2 confessed true Christians in the entire class. But, what I found more interesting is the number of students who say they are Christians but do not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven (don't tell anyone in your church). I find this to be the case more and more everyday where the true Christian faith is losing its bond upon its people.

    I believe religion causes you to look outside of yourself for the answers to life and all that is happening to you instead of looking within yourself to see your part in life and how you cause your own happiness and problems.

    There are Christians who believe they must have children in order to assure the Christian faith is carried on until the end of time- to save the human race. I believe if you take a congregation of 7000 people and ask them who wrote the bible, why it was written, and when it was written, 6990 couldn’t answer that question. And, that to me, is very sad.

  54. Sue says:

    I have a dream and it is to see humanity see itself as one life living together for the goodness; truth and beauty of ALL. This is the religion I believe in, no separative ideals, instead a totally inclusive society. We can have this now!! except it still has not reached critical mass, for this inclusive society to manifest. So, I keep putting out to our world from my consciousness the consciousness of oneness.

    • Ann Smith says:

      Yes once we come to the understanding that we are all indead one then we can heal the world . Millions die of starvation and dissease because the collective consciousness allows it. If we believe that this not accectable we can put an end to it -this world has plenty for all. So I'm with you the consciousness of oneness is the most important thing we must seek

  55. Allison Rhody says:

    I everyone,thanks everyone. Rose, again in bloom. Peace and Love ll later

  56. Hal Lumley says:

    Most of the world of non believers go through life doing life. They go from a-z and lack the transcendence and vision of self that believers have. Belief that we are part of a bigger picture and CONNECTED is in my opinion the key to letting go of who we think we were and allowing ourselves to be connected. My religion took years to assimilate and if people ask me what do I believe. I indicate to them that MY God does not have a beard and sit at a table with twelve people. If they ask how did I arrive at this, I will simply ask them could you believe in a power greater than yourself. If they say yes they have one of the most important ingredients-WILLINGNESS.
    I pray for the day when the collective mind of mind can use their INTENT to change our world.

  57. Jan says:

    After years of studying and paying attention to my fellow humans, I have noticed that it appears to be true that we do need something we identify as "bigger" than ones self to believe in, a "greater good" as it were. Perhaps it is because it is challenging to people to become aware of the truth of who they are? And I can't help but wonder if it is when people have been "civilized" to the point that they no longer remember their connection to all that is, and bury their joy and love, that they require something bigger from outside their self?

  58. chrys says:

    Well, if there is a case for 'believers' being responsible for higher rates of birth - perhaps their 'churches' also need to have higher responsibilities to finance new 'green' energies. If (on the other hand) we can acknowledge the human family as ONE whole, we could stop breeding past the capacities of the earth (fish, farms, fuel etc) to provide or adoped a Chinese or Indian baby. There is also evidence to suggest that the more educated a women the smaller the number of progeny. We will never really know who wrote the bible (there is said to be at least 3 compositions/times of Genesis Creation Story alone) so perhaps being Educated will be the secret to furthering our survival - as the bible says "study to show thyself approved" ..

  59. chrys says:

    P.S. given Darwin's DNA (and family's survival) I often wonder was Emma his (or God's) best choice? Hereditary factors were one of Darwin's greatest concerns the more he learned.

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