Thursday, November 18, 2004

God in our genes?

Time Magazine's October 25 issue (we get them kinda late over here) has an interesting cover article called The God Gene (by subscription only).
The author, Jeffrey Kluger, poses the question, "Is religion a product of evolution," and the article focuses on the research of molecular biologist Dean Hamer. Dr. Hamer claims that human spirituality is an adaptive trait and that he has discovered one of the genes responsible.
I was skeptical as I started reading the article, and an early quote from Dr. Hamer was a further turn off;

"I think we follow the basic laws of nature, which is that we're a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag."

Kluger writes from a completely secular point of view, and portrays the religious leaders he quotes in the typical manner of big media - closed minded and illogical.

"God is not something that can be demonstrated logically or rigorously," says Neil Gillman, a professor of Jewish philosophy, "[The idea of a God gene] goes against all my personal theological convictions."

When I read that bit I immediately thought of C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the 20 th century, and wondered if Mr. Kluger has ever read Mere Christianity (or even heard of Lewis for that matter.)
As I read on I began thinking of how the possibility of a God gene meshes with the doctrine of predestination - interesting possibilities there. Would God place a certain gene is his elect? I always thought individuals would seek God because of a yearning in the soul and not because of some element of our physical make-up (which I still think is more likely), but I haven't put much thought into the subject.
My main beef with the article (other than the usual disdain for religion) is the lack of serious consideration that humans might be eternal and unique beings, and the way Kluger associates spirituality with feelings.
Spirituality is a feeling in the same way love is a feeling. Those who are spiritual or loving only when they 'get the feeling' do not know the true meaning of either.

(hat tip to Dan)