Atheism has been linked to genetic mutations, according to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science. The authors of the study, who are from the Ulster Institute for Social Research, argue that industrialization has changed our genetic makeup because it has reduced the impact of natural selection. In pre-industrialization societies natural selection played more of a role in which genes survived because the "fittest" were the ones who would reproduce, thus passing their genes onto the next generation. But industrialization brought better medical care and medicine, meaning that more mutations were allowed to proliferate.
What does all of this have to do with religion and atheism? The authors of the new study contend that before industrialization, religious societies thrived because their worship of "moral gods" was what helped individuals to develop strong social bonds and to choose reproductive partners that would pass on strong genes. But western societies became less religious after industrialization, and with the rise of atheism came increased levels of mutations among humans, the researchers say.
"We developed better and better medical care, easier access to healthy food and better living conditions. Child mortality collapsed down to a tiny level and more and more people with more and more mutant genes have survived into adulthood and had children," lead author of the study Edward Dutton said to Newsweek.