RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Nick Rose (
Wed, 27 Oct 1999 12:09:50 -0400 (EDT)

From: Nick Rose <>
To: JOM-EMIT Discussion List <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 12:09:50 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Derek,

>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.

That's certainly true of the small and unrepresentative
sample of lapsed Catholics I know. Most of them say that
their mothers were the primary religious influence, and
that their fathers were much more 'take it or leave it'. A
fact that (given the Church's negative position on many
women's issues and rights, e.g. female priests,
contraception and abortion) I've always found slightly

Did the HEA report a difference between men and women in
terms of the 'benefits' of religion? If not then it seems
that men are getting something from religion - despite
they're being less religious. For me that would point
towards social psychological and community support rather
than any intrinsic psychological reward of belief...

>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 haven't noticed a sudden decay in scientology, for
instance. Surely, the horizontally transmitted memes will
survive so long as they can gain as many or more hosts than
they lose. Like a viral infection perhaps ;) The major
world religions may not be as extreme as cults, but they
still have many features which appear to be virus like;
convert the non-believer, burn the heretic, faith is good -
questioning faith is bad, etc.

I remember reading about a snail parasite which, because
it's life cycle was longer than the life span of the snail,
caused the snail to live longer. Of course, the snail's
reproductive energies were no longer being spent making
more snails, but more parasites. An analogy for the 'memes'
priestly celibacy or the doctrine of contraception?


Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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