RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Gatherer, D. (
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 15:44:55 +0200

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 15:44:55 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
To: "''" <>

Most religious traditions have evolved in an environment
where information is predominantly transmitted vertically
(i.e. most children follow their parent's religion).

According to Cavalli-Sforza, it's primarily the mother's religion. Fathers
only have a slight influence. In the absence of horizontal transmission,
the rate at which a religion spreads depends largely on the rate that its
_females_ breed. Women, incidentally, score higher on religiosity scales
than men.

-- what about the
followers of religious cults. I suspect that whenever you
see memes transmitting predominatly horizontally you will
see maladaptive (to the genes) memes arising.

I agree, but they will only ever be very transient, literally epidemic in
their pattern of sudden rise and equally sudden decay. I don't think such
dynamics can apply to the major world religions. I remember reading, when I
was at Warwick, so this is a few years ago now and I can't recite the
chapter and verse of the reference, a book about the Elim Church, which is
one of the stronger components of the evangelical fringe in the UK. What
distinguishes the Elim Church is the turnover in its membership. The
average member only stays some 3 years or so - most move off to other
similar organizations (incidentally most are female). Yet despite this the
Elim Church persists. It survives with virtually no vertical transmission,
despite its female predominance. However, it's unlikely to become a major
world religion.

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