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Thread: Religious Belief is Determined by a Person's Genetic Make-up

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    Religious Belief is Determined by a Person's Genetic Make-up

    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.

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    Lord Winston will present his theory in a new book, The Story of God, published later this month, and a three-part television series to be broadcast at Christmas. In them he will contend that “transcendentalism” may help to explain how it was that prehistoric man took on such tasks as building Stonehenge.

    “My key point is the transcendentalism,” he said. “How is it ancient people took blocks of stone all the way from Wales to dump them at Stonehenge? It can only be explained by the search for transcendentalism. The effort, the sheer exasperation of doing that, must have meant they were driven by something higher than themselves.”

    The existence of a religiosity gene could have been an important factor in man’s struggle for survival but would by no means have been an over-riding consideration. “It would be a side issue in evolution,” he said after giving a talk to children about the workings of the human body. “If it wasn’t, we would all be wholly religious or wholly unreligious.”


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    AW: Religion - an "Evolution Thing"?

    Somehow religion as an evolutionary thing does not really make sense to me.If it were this way it must have happened this way:
    Prehistoric atheist hominids were living.One some mutated and suddenly got the belief in a higher being.This must have been advatageful for them in some way or such a gene wouldn't have survived until now. How can the believe in a higher force be an advantage?And is this gene really about believing in God(s) or rather about having spiritual experiences?
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    Re: AW: Religion - an "Evolution Thing"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Illuminatus
    Somehow religion as an evolutionary thing does not really make sense to me.If it were this way it must have happened this way:
    Prehistoric atheist hominids were living.One some mutated and suddenly got the belief in a higher being.This must have been advatageful for them in some way or such a gene wouldn't have survived until now. How can the believe in a higher force be an advantage?And is this gene really about believing in God(s) or rather about having spiritual experiences?
    Perhaps belief in divine beings is advantageous in that it spurs people to fight more ferociously and with less fear of death. Goddists, as it were, might have been more psychologically fit to beat non-Goddists in competition for resources, since they would have been able to hold such beliefs as these:
    • God wills that I control the land.
    • God wants the pagans converted or killed.
    • My god is better than your god(lessness) so I must control you.
    • God is powerful, and he wants powerful subjects.
    • God will reward me if I die in battle against those who oppose me and my people.
    • God wants me to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.
    Non-Goddists would not have the benefit of any such beliefs. Unless a struggle showed clear and immediate material advantage, they would be more inclined to shrink from the battle, ceding land and resources to the Goddists until they sank into oblivion. The non-Goddists would be playing a lower-stakes game with less incentive to action than would the Goddists.

    It is interesting to note that increased social secularization of our people has gone hand-in-hand during the past century with increased cession of land and resources to more religiously inclined invaders.

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    AW: Religion - an "Evolution Thing"?

    I think whats really crucial is "belief", whether one calls it religion or not, since religion can have many forms. Crucial is to be able to act and think group oriented, which can be achieved on a more primitive level through religion, in the best cases to a rationalised higher Idealism, with the main problem being that such higher Idealism can mainly evolve in certain personality types which live in a specific environment, so religion was the "more secure way" for the masses. Compare with Islam, which was in fact, at least at its peak, the time of its expansion, a cultural-religious tool and weapon for Arabs and their ethnocultural (Semitic-Arabic), genetic (Middle Eastern) and racial (Arabid/Orientalid primarily) specification in an evolutionary interpretation.

    An important problem for the future of mankind is that more typical to extreme religious fanatism is incompatible with higher rational Idealism which just recognises some basic values and decides otherwise in a logical to scientific manner, for the good of the human group(s) and individuals on the long run rather. Ideologies being, or should be, as a rule closer to higher Idealism.

    Religion is good because of its transcendental justification and better motivation both for more intelligent, but less educated or even unintelligent people in particular. The good thing is that a prophet f.e. gets through religion a long term influence on a people and can stabilise a moral system and cultural tool, the problem is, that this system is often very conservative and totally irrational. Even if the founders might have been rather rational in their decisions, the conditions might have changed with the result of some of those rules being very malign for the group now, even if they were useful in the past. Higher rational Idealism on the other hand comes from a look on reality as far as the respective individual can grasp it, this means the "details" can be changed all the time according to the real needs of the people and group.

    But that was seldomly reached, at best in individuals, often with limited success still and one can argue that its a longer way to go for humans to reach such a level both with the cultural and biological preconditions. However, transcendental aspects must not be bad, but they have to be as generalised as possible, so that they can be adapted according to the scientific progress and (necessary-useful!) socio-economic changes in a given group. The cultural system must be always helpful for the biological unit and its individuals, if its not, it must be changed or abandoned, thats the problem with religion and its conservative tendencies, which can't be changed that easily afterwards, even if it would be necessary from a logical standpoint.

    Finally it could be said, that the masses can be "just religious", but the leadership must be always rational AND idealistic at the same time. Ideal would be a rational AND idealistic mass as well, but that was and still is a dream so far, even if just looking at the leading elements...

    Compare with this:
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=59581

    As well as threads about evolutionary psychology.
    Last edited by Agrippa; Wednesday, June 28th, 2006 at 03:23 AM.
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