A new study suggests atheists are slowly dying out simply because they have fewer babies than religious people.
Though the the number of religious peoples has generally declined over the past century, because non-religious people tend to be less inclined to start a family and have lots of children, religious folks could gradually edge out atheists through simple demographic math.
Since “non-religious people are more likely to use birth control, their numbers are being overwhelmed by those who are highly religious,” the authors claim.
The study defines religiosity as any religion, whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or other. Muslim birthrates far outnumbered all other religious categories in both the U.S. and Malaysia, and the authors further predict that by the end of the current century, “Islam will have surpassed Christianity as the world’s largest religion and will comprise over one fourth of all the persons on earth.”
The researchers conducted the study to begin forming a “biologically informed prediction that counters the secularization thesis.” Even though the prevailing thought is that religion is dying out based on surveys of religion in America and around the world, the authors “envision a decline in secularism throughout the remainder of the twenty-first century, especially in industrialized countries.”
Surveying more than 4,500 students in Malaysia and the U.S. on their religious beliefs and number of siblings, the authors proved what many already knew: Religious couples tend to have larger families than secular people.
In Malaysia, atheists had 1.5 fewer siblings than the average for the country. Though the margin was smaller for the U.S., non-religious couples still have an average of 3.04 children compared to an overall average of 3.2.
The rise of effective contraceptives and other birth control methods in recent history means that non-religious folks can effectively end their genetic line. “It is ironical that effective birth control methods were developed primarily by secularists, and that these methods are serving to slowly diminish the proportional representation of secularists in forthcoming generations,” the researchers said.
Secularism in broad terms, however, could arguably never die out because children can leave the faith, and the secularization seen in the last century or so stems from other causes. But the researchers argue that there is a strong link between the religiosity of parents and that of their children. Consequently, the future will be both more religious, and more stupid.
The authors say that secularization has largely been driven by scientific advancement, and as religion becomes more prominent, science will be less influential in society. In the future, those “with low intelligence and often those in the average range will be unable to follow these scientific advancements, and the highly religious (even if highly intelligent) will not be able to accept their secularist implications,” the study says.
The authors say that “intelligent individuals are somewhat less likely to be religious,” as a 2013 study claimed, and certain genes can determine whether someone is religious or not. The genes “conducive to secularism are now evidently being reduced in human populations relative to genes for high religiosity and low intelligence,” the study says.
Because religion is “impervious to scientific scrutiny,” religious people can pass along their beliefs “indefinitely through family-based social networks,” while more rational, scientific-minded people are losing the demographics race.
As an historical example of genetics predicting religiosity, the researchers point to how America maintained a greater concentration of religious people than Europe throughout the 20th century. Religious fundamentalists, after all, led the migration from Europe to the New World.
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