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imageWell this week was interesting and the topic of conversation seemed to be the argument for a God gene being present. Apparently we all have one and so we must all believe in a higher power. Umm… I had of course heard of this idea several years ago and had dismissed the theory. Of course, on hearing the words banded around again I felt i should re-visit as maybe I had missed some recent study.

It quickly became apparent I hadn’t missed a thing, but decided maybe a post was just the thing, just incase there was anyone out there that had not heard of it.

You see Dean Hamer is a geneticist, author and filmmaker and he wrote a book called ‘ The God Gene- Faith is Hardwired into our Genes’ published in 2005.  His god gene hypothesis is based on a combination of behavioural genetic, neurobiological and psychological factors :-

  1. Spirituality can be quantified by psychometric measurements
  2. The underlying tendency to spirituality being partially heritable
  3. Part of the heritability can be attributed to VMAT2
  4. VMAT2 acts by altering monoamine levels ( it is a membrane that transports monoamines – particularly neurotransmitters such as Dopomine into synaptic vesicles.
  5. Spiritual individuals are provided with an innate sense of optimism

The ‘God Gene’ (VMAT2) is a physiological arrangement that produces sensations associated by some with mystic experiences, including spiritually as a ‘state of mind’

In other words it regulates our cognitive processes such as emotion, arousal and certain types of memory. Drugs used to increase the effects of monoamines are used to treat patients with psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

The psychologist Robert Cloninger, believes our spirituality can be measured by the self-transcendence scale :-

  1. Self-forgetfulness – a tendancy to become totally absorbed in some activity
  2. Trans personal identification- a feeling of connectedness to a larger universe
  3. Mysticism- an openness to believe things (some say) unproven such as ESP

So are we insinuating that religious belief is an imbalance? Or a wacky overdose on group therapy that culminates on a Sunday Morning? Are they getting a high from their evangelist preachers that causes this love affair with a god? Is religion really an anti-reality drug?

SCIENTIFIC RESPONSE

P Z MEYERS – Its a pump responsible for packaging a neuro-transmitter. It may be active during higher order processing. But it isn’t a god gene

CARL ZIMMER – VMAT2 is a gene that accounts for less than 1% of the variance of self-transcendence scores. Those, an signify anything from belonging to The Green Party to ESP. The god gene theory is based on an unreliable, unpublished study.  To date no one has continued.

RELIGIOUS RESPONSE

JOHN POLKINGHORNE, – The idea of a god gene goes against all my personal theological convictions.

WALTER HOUSTON – Chaplain, Mansfield College, Oxford. Religious belief is not related to a persons constitution, its related to society, tradition and character – having a gene that could do all that seems pretty unlikely to me.

I have two points to make from the above comments, one is its nice when a theologian admits his religion and god is totally based on handed down traditions and the society one lives in. Secondly, if there was a god gene we would be able to find the cure!

FAITH VICTIMS

So after all we are back to the fact that religions are based on faith. Faith is a successful brainwasher, especially if taught from childhood and it is hard to break the hold.  So what is faith? It is a state of mind that leads us to believe something (any something) without proof. If there was evidence then you wouldn’t need faith right? The proof would compel you to believe and that is it.  In fact the faith victims will tell you – believing in faith without evidence is the true virtue. Good luck with that one.

No, guys, its the proof of your unceasing gullibility and how wonderfully the brainwashing and indoctrination you have been given since birth  has worked on you is all. Your love of a sky fairy its that simple.

  • Richard Dawkins made an interesting comparison in his ‘The God Delusion’ :-

I made the comparison between falling in love and religion in 1993, when i noted the symptoms of an individual infected by religion ‘ may be startlingly reminiscent of those more ordinarily associated with sexual love. This is an extremely potent force in the brain, and it is not surprising that some viruses have evolved to exploit it’ (viruses’ here is a metaphor for religions). 

The equivalent of the moths light-compass reaction is the apparently irrational but useful habit of falling in love with one, and only one member of the opposite sex.  The misfiring by-product – equivalent to flying into the candle flame – is falling in love with Yahweh or with the Virgin Mary, or with a wafer, or with Allah) and performing irrational acts motivated my such love

  • The anthropologist, Lionel Tiger, in his ‘Optimism: The biology of Hope :-

There is a tendency for humans consciously to see what they wish to see.  They literally have difficulty seeing things with negative connotations while seeing with increasing ease items that are positive. For example, words that evoke anxiety, either because of an individuals personal history or because of experimental manipulation, require greater illumination before first believing perceived. The relevance of this to the wishful thinking of religion needs no illumination.

  • Sam Harris, hits the nail on the head in The End of Faith

The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruit of madness and consider them HOLY.  Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilisation is still besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature.   Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?

Faith is in fact one of the most dangerous follies , it leads people to believe in an invisible god and prepares them to kill and die for their faith. When blind faith leads you to justify murder and hatred of others – then you are the problem

YOU ARE A PSYCHOLOGICAL BY-PRODUCT OF YOUR RELIGION

YOU ARE NOT CONTROLLING THE STORM, AND YOU ARE NOT LOST IN IT. YOU ARE THE STORM – SAM HARRIS image

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