The Emergence Of Belief

New Scientist reports on new software that suggests evolution produced religious beliefs:

The model assumes that a small number of people have a genetic predisposition to communicate unverifiable information to others. They passed on that trait to their children, but they also interacted with people who didn't spread unreal information. The model looks at the reproductive success of the two sorts of people – those who pass on real information, and those who pass on unreal information.

Under most scenarios, "believers in the unreal" went extinct. But when Dow included the assumption that non-believers would be attracted to religious people because of some clear, but arbitrary, signal, religion flourished.

"Somehow the communicators of unreal information are attracting others to communicate real information to them," Dow says, speculating that perhaps the non-believers are touched by the faith of the religious.

Well, that's helpful, isn't it?