Have you ever heard the term “God gene” or its scientific name, VMAT2? Well, depending on your belief system, openness, or religious persuasion you may be either stimulated or threatened by such discussion. Let me give you a sense of what this is all about.
A geneticist, Dr. Dean H. Hamer, has written a book entitled THE GOD GENE: HOW FAITH IS HARDWIRED INTO OUR GENES. The controversy divides Believers, who reject the idea that faith may be reduced to chemical reactions in the brain, and Secular Humanists, who refuse to accept that religion is inherent in people’s makeup.
Dr. Hamer believes that his research shows that spirituality – the feeling of transcendence – is part of our nature. He says “we think that all human beings have an innate capacity for spirituality and that that desire to reach out beyond oneself, which is the heart of spirituality, is part of the human makeup.” He says that “some people have a bit more of that capacity than others, but it’s present to some degree in everybody.”
He has stated that one gene, which goes by the name of VMAT2, controls the flow to the brain of chemicals that play a key role in emotions and consciousness. He says this gene, and there are more yet to be identified, is involved in the universal propensity for transcendence. He says this predisposes humans to believe, not necessarily what to believe.
Hamer likens spirituality to the capacity for language. Humans are genetically predisposed to have it, but the language people speak and the religion they practice are learned rather than inherited characteristics. Thus, all humans are oriented to be spiritual, but the religion or other spiritual path chosen, is a result of where you were born and raised and, thus, enculturated. The country or region that you grew up in largely determines what your spiritual expression will be. Certainly through travel, education, reflection, personal experience, etc… you may choose to modify that original belief and practice.
Hamer believes that various practices lead to a further activation of the VMAT2 gene which leads to feelings of transcendence and an intuitive sense of God’s presence. These practices would include, meditation, prayer, certain types of music and creative endeavors. He is concerned that much of “organized religion can get so codified, so caught up with learned rituals, that the focus on spirituality gets lost.”
In these times there are people who distinguish a difference between spirituality and religion, while others believe the two are the same and find that unification consoling. This article is not about avowing one thought over another, just pointing out the ongoing evolution of the conflict or union between Science and Religion. Is Spirituality the common denominator?
Respected Reader, if this geneticist is accurate in his finding that you have a spiritual component in your brain, like the rest of us mortals. What are you doing to activate, celebrate, and further create its conscious expression? The connective reality of transcendence is a wonderful state of mind!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates