I’ve heard this idea before, but Steve Jones is one of the first people who I’ve seen covered in major media espousing it:
Professor Jones said history had proven that religion grows rapidly during large population booms, particularly in poorer countries.
He argued that rapid growth in Africa could spark a new resurgence of major religions like Christianity.
However in increasingly atheist countries in Europe people are no longer reproducing in sufficient numbers to avoid population decline, he told the Hay Literary Festival.
“Britain is the only country in Europe that’s replacing its population,” said Prof Jones.
“We atheists sometimes congratulate ourselves that the incidence of religious belief is going down.
“But religious people have more children. Where are people having the most children? It’s in the tropics and in Africa.
Ok, so people in hardcore religious areas have more children. These areas are often poorer, less educated, and when lack of education is combined with religion (which isn’t hard considering that lack of education is correlated on a societal level with higher levels of religion), the result is more children. Meanwhile, in more civilized countries with better education (where there is less religion) people aren’t having kids just for the sake of having them.
But then Steve Jones spends the rest of the article smiling at the prospect of the world becoming more like the less civilized, less educated nations. And then this conclusion is just bizarre:
“We may not need more scientists but more theologists.”
Look at the level of societal health in countries that rely heavily on science (like the European ones). Now look at the general level of societal health on countries which eschew much of science to rely on theology (many of the African nations Jones mentioned). Those countries don’t need more theology.
This bit made me gawk, mostly because what came after it:
“It seems pretty clear that religion began at exactly the time when communities were beginning to farm.”
He said that as communities expanded, and a priest class emerged, societies became increasingly unequal.
And as societies became larger, more stratified, gods became angrier and more vengeful as a way of keeping the population under control, he claimed.
So when religion came into the picture it created inequality, and the privileged class used fear to manipulate the rest. So what came after this admission by Jones? Nothing. He just moves right along, pining for more religion, specifically Christianity:
However he admitted that when you removed the supernatural elements and miracles, the New Testament was one of the greatest political documents ever written.
“It’s very easy to be sarcastic about religion,” he said, “But many think that the New Testament is the finest political document ever written and you would be pushed to argue with that.
Say what? Where is democracy in the New Testament? There’s mention (and recommendations) for slavery, condemnation of gays…but nothing about democracy, economy, etc. Whoever says the NT is one of the greatest political documents ever either hasn’t read the NT or doesn’t know shit about political theory.
“Our entire society is based on tenets of the New Testament.”
When positive, the tenets of the NT are almost all plagiarized from previous thinkers/philosophers, so the bible doesn’t get the credit for those basic good ideas like the Golden Rule. And there is plenty of rank immorality in the NT (slavery, for instance) that has no place in a humane society.
Our entire society is based on the NT…gag me.