What's the evolutionary explanation for atheism?

Alan Jacobs poses this excellent question as a “thought experiment” in his latest column for Books & Culture.


Very interesting argument - especially here:

"But such data as we currently have can't be encouraging to the atheist cause. As many studies have shown, atheism is especially associated with higher levels of education and with Western Europe, and highly educated people and Western Europeans tend to have low birth rates—less than replacement level, in many cases. If religious people are having lots of offspring and atheists aren't having many at all, that would suggest that it's almost impossible for atheists to gain ground, evolutionarily speaking."
Anonymous said…
Yes WTM but, as with homosexuality, religious people keep producing atheists making comparative birth rates almost irrelevant. So we can't just outbreed them. This is a cultural issue not a strictly biological one.

The entire argument rings a little hollow even if it scores some quick points.