Presentation of the hypothesis
Some microorganisms would gain an evolutionary advantage by encouraging human hosts to perform certain rituals that favor microbial transmission. We hypothesize that certain aspects of religious behavior observed in the human society could be influenced by microbial host control and that the transmission of some religious rituals could be regarded as the simultaneous transmission of both ideas (memes) and parasitic organisms.
Testing the hypothesis
We predict that next-generation microbiome sequencing of samples obtained from gut or brain tissues of control subjects and subjects with a history of voluntary active participation in certain religious rituals that promote microbial transmission will lead to the discovery of microbes, whose presence has a consistent and positive association with religious behavior. Our hypothesis also predicts a decline of participation in religious rituals in societies with improved sanitation.
Note that they don’t offer any evidence for the proposition now, only say that it’ll turn up. The significance of this getting published is the low level of argumentation that naturalists are prepared to entertain about the origins of religion.
Follow UD News at Twitter!
Update note: Come to think of it, Dan Graur is one of the authors. Apart from being an ENCODE foe, he is known for attacking crappy social psych papers: The problem today is that so much of the science media is content to be gunwales under in just plain junk that you can’t know for sure unless they say it IS a hoax.