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Claim: Atheists have mutant genes, don’t live as long

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From Katherine Hignett at Newsweek:

Religious people tend to live healthier, longer lives than atheists.This trend has puzzled academics for some time, but social scientists may have discovered the reason why.

Research published in Evolutionary Psychological Science has linked a rise in atheism to increasingly prevalent mutant genes.

Lead author Edward Dutton from the Ulster Institute for Social Research explained the research to Newsweek. He says: “Maybe the positive relationship between religiousness and health is not causal—it’s not that being religious makes you less stressed so less ill. Rather, religious people are a genetically normal remnant population from preindustrial times, and the rest of us are mutants who’d have died as children back then.” More.


Mutant genes? Maybe we should have covered this for our occasional sci fi frite nite…

Evolutionary psychology is still looking for a problem it can solve. In the real world, religious people live longer because most long-surviving religions embody lifestyle rules and social structures that promote longevity. One is less likely to die in a church than in a crack den, irrespective of whether one has children.

Note: A friend writes to observe that atheism is there classified as “not religious.,” That is a dead giveaway for ignorance and incompetence in writing about the subject. Atheism means “not believing that there is a God/gods.” The Dalai Lama is an atheist; is he not religious? Humanists who strive to live by their principles may claim they are not religious but, sociologically, they are.

See also: “The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”

If naturalism can explain religion, why does it get so many basic facts wrong?

Evolutionary conundrum: is religion a useful, useless, or harmful adaptation?


Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain

Whether true or not, I like it because it will cause a lot of snot bubbles to be blown by atheists,who,the one's that I generally encounter come off as arrogant, condescending mental midgets who think they know everything. And since statistically speaking,as humans they are rare = not normal, it's nice to know that there might be a scientific reason for it. Wouldn't that be rich. willspeaks
Why do men die five years, on average, before their wives? Because they want to. Bah Dah Boom. I'm here till Friday. Two shows on Thursday. JSmith
OK, now I've read the paper, it's clear that it's garbage. THe only original result is that there is a really weak relationship between handedness and religiosity, and I wonder if this could be explained by environmental factors, particularly a response to Matt 25: 41 (Catholics & Baptists tend to be more right handed). There is absolutely nothing about mutational load, either in this paper or the papers it cites. Bob O'H
I'm way too old now but I rather fancy the idea of being a Teenage Mutant Ninja A/mat. Seversky
Maybe, just maybe, and in spite of all their prating to the contrary, atheists live shorter lives because they are prone to earning themselves more Darwin awards? EvilSnack
News @ 3 - Thanks for trying to send me the paper! My new one is bob.ohara at ntnu.no. Now I'm trying to work out which email you have - Germany or Finland? Actually, my German account was only shut down yesterday. :-( Bob O'H
Happy New Year! Atheists don't live long? Is that good or bad news? :-) Eugen
News, why is the paper so hard to access? Do religious people live longer and happier? I've yet to see conclusive proof. However, just on a statistical level the answer would have to be, yes! Per/1000 of people on the planet, the occurence of atheists would be, at a guess 1/1000, or less; we're pretty rare. Therefore religious people live longer because there are more of you. You're also probaly happier, for the same reason; fatter, thinner, stupider, smarter, more likely to die from cancer, less likely to die from cancer etc etc. News! What is the point of this contribution? rvb8
Hermits apart, an interesting distinctioon you make between conventional, i.e. church/community Christians and 'oddball'/'freelance' Christians (no disparagement - probably in some cases, a valuable cross ultimately). Aren't there atheist communities/clubs, though? I was surprised that the author was an atheist, though, as at first it sounded to me like an 'Onion'-type satirical piece. Axel
Bob O'H at 1, if your address on file with UD is correct, we have sent you the paper. Someone here happened to have it. Oops, your address with us is not up to date. Paper just returned. If you have a safe academic email address, please share if you want the paper. News
"One is less likely to die in a church than in a crack den" Most people who end up in the crack-den lifestyle are strongly, even desperately, Christian. For all sorts of reasons they weren't involved or included in a COMMUNITY, church or otherwise. The COMMUNITY is the key. When you have a loyal mate or a PURPOSE in life, you have a REASON to live right. Thus you're more likely to live longer. Back when civilization existed, civilization tried to provide loyal mates or a sense of inclusion for people who aren't naturally and visibly superior. Now that civilization is extinct, we're back to crocodile values. polistra
A friend writes to observe that atheism is there classified as “not religious.,”
Where do you mean by "there"? Ulster, the UK, Finland, Sweden or the US? I can't get access to the paper from home, but the description sounds wacky - I predict lots of arm-waving and no definitive data. I know several people who read this were atheists. I wonder if they are mutants too, or whether God removes their mutations when they see the light. Bob O'H

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