Religious diversity is the side effect of…increased threat of infectious disease
From the British Psychological Society’s Research Blog comes a rather startling conclusion: religion was established for the “avoidance and management of infectious disease” (linkthanks Rajeev Mantri):
Fincher and Thornhill used the World Christian Encyclopedia and the Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network to compare the spread of infections and religions across 219 countries. Their results were clear: in regions with a greater variety of infectious parasites, the diversity of religions also tends to be greater. This association held strong even after exploring the impact of other potential factors, such as differences in democratisation and histories of colonisation.
The researchers say the association between religion and parasites occurs because reducing contact with outsiders can help protect against disease. In turn, when cultures fragment and groups avoid making contact with each other, more religions are likely to spring up.[BPS Research Blog]
Reality, it appears, mirrors satire. Or the Proceedings of the Royal Soceity:B Biological Sciences mirror The Onion. Now unless journals of learned societies mistake correlation for causation (the world’s oldest professional mistake), one should wonder why God created disease.