Religion and Genetics

Researchers have published a study of identical and fraternal twins which purports to show that our "genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person's religiousness." Another study -- by Dean Harmer in his book The God Gene -- claims that there is specific genetic material that encourages spirituality.

It would not surprise me to find that genetics plays some part in religious belief, though pegging down numbers like "40%" seems far fetched to me. It would also not surprise me if the human genetic code encouraged at least an openness to some leve of spirituality. Of course, I have yet to see a study that claims that genetics plays a preponderant role in religiousity. Nor would I expect to. I myself have gone through periods of doubt and increased faith. Some Christians convert to atheism. Some atheists and agnostics, even leading atheists like Anthony Flew, convert to theism. Ultimately, though upbringing, exposure, and experience all play their roles, openness to religion is a matter of choice.

I also thought this comment was interesting:

About a dozen studies have shown that religious people tend to share other personality traits, although it is not clear whether these arise from genetic or environmental factors. These include the ability to get along well with others and being conscientious, working hard, being punctual, and controlling one's impulses.

Anyone else see the significance, if any, of a genetic predisposition towards religiousity? In all humans or in some more than others?


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