The Bible prophesies that the righteous will inherit the land, and the godless will be barren. According to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, the Bible is one hundred percent correct.
The higher reproduction rates of religious people spell doom for atheism, according to the study. The culprit? Contraception. And who pioneered birth control methods? Secularists themselves.
“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,” write the four authors, from the University of Malaya Kuala in Malaysia, Idaho State University, the University of Oulu in Finland, and the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
Teams in the United States and Malaysia interviewed more than 4,000 students for the study. They asked students about their religiosity and recorded the number of siblings they had. In Malaysia, the religiously unaffiliated had 1.5 fewer siblings than the average. In the U.S., parents of kids with no religious affiliation had 3.04 children on average, still below the average of 3.2.
The fact that religious people tend to have more children is not exactly news. But the study also revealed some interesting tidbits. Religion, for instance, is highly heritable. The report cited evidence from twin studies showing that the capacity to believe in God has a genetic component.
Before the 1800s, the report suggested that there probably was not much of a difference in the reproduction rates of those with or without the genetic predisposition to believe in God. But “by the mid-19th century, scientific discoveries had moved to a point that human reproduction was sufficiently well understood that fertility rates began to be impacted, especially in the emerging industrial countries.”
At this point, secular people mastered contraception and started decreasing their birthrate. In evolutionary terms, this meant that the genes for religiosity gained a reproductive advantage — secularists were killing themselves off by having fewer children.
“Research indicates that the individuals who were most successful in curtailing their fertility during this time were the most highly educated and the least religious,” the report states. “Thus, for the first time in human history, secularists began to curtail their reproduction much more than the highly religious segments of these countries.”
Religious people may have the edge when it comes to having babies, but the secularization hypothesis rests more on the idea that atheists and secularists are able to poach the children of believers through the education system.
Indeed, the number of unaffiliated people has increased in America, and according to a Pew Research Center survey last August, nearly three-quarters of “nones” in the U.S. grew up in a faith tradition. Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of the unaffiliated said they left religion because they did not believe, while 20 percent said they disliked organized religion. Surprisingly, a full 10 percent said church was “just too inconvenient.”
At the same time, the study showed that American Christianity might be undergoing a revival — more than a quarter of Americans (27 percent) said they currently attended services at least once or twice a month but did not do so earlier in their adult lives. That August study showed Christian denominations growing more frequently than non-Christian ones.
Ultimately, religious trends are too big to grasp in full. But the study presaging the death of secularism did seem to confirm certain Bible passages.
Job 15:34 states that “the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.” Psalm 37:28 echoes this, declaring that “the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.”
These verses connect godlessness with wickedness and belief in God with virtue and righteousness. Psalm 14 is perhaps most explicit: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” Atheists and secularists would object, but Saint Paul actually applies this verse to all humankind in Romans 3, saying “we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.”
At the end of the day, Christianity isn’t about outbreeding the competition — it’s about saving the lost. Every person is a sinner, and salvation in Jesus Christ is the one answer for all people everywhere.
One thing is for certain — the reality of faith and religion is more complicated than the “secularization thesis,” which predicted that with increases in knowledge and technology, religion would disappear. Faith is still very much alive.