Monday, November 15, 2004

God is in the details

From the Telegraph:

"Religious belief is determined by a person's genetic make-up according to a study by a leading scientist.

After comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples, an American molecular geneticist has concluded that a person's capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals. His findings were criticised last night by leading clerics, who challenge the existence of a "god gene" and say that the research undermines a fundamental tenet of faith - that spiritual enlightenment is achieved through divine transformation rather than the brain's electrical impulses.
...
Growing up in a religious environment was said to have little effect on belief. Dr Hamer, who in 1993 claimed to have identified a DNA sequence linked to male homosexuality, said the existence of the "god gene" explained why some people had more aptitude for spirituality than others. "



I haven't seen the study first hand or read his book, so I can't comment on its merits, although the notion of a generalized trait such as "religiosity" or "spirituality" being genetically influenced isn't exactly an exotic idea among behavioral geneticists. One suspects the moniker "god gene" was chosen at least in part to generate some press and sell some books.

But really. First Dr. Hamer debunks the notion that homosexuality is a moral failing, and now he tells us that spirituality resides in our gray matter, not our souls. Must've gotten his knuckles bloodied up pretty badly by the nuns at school, or something.

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