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  1. #1
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    Neurology, genetics, and spirituality.

    I am curious as to whether any scientists have examined religion and religious belief, and I came across Matthew Alper’s explanation that religion has a neurological basis. I have not read the book, and I wonder if anyone here is familiar with his work.

    In his book The God Part of the Brain (1996), Alper apparently attempts to show how genes influence our religious experiences. He also gives accounts of many scientific studies which suggest that activities such as meditation, yoga, or prayer evoke sensations, which, although perceived as evidence of the divine or sacred, are actually the ways in which our brain interprets neurochemical processes.

    Alper therefore attempts to show the influence that genes have on religious behavior. For example, in one study at the Virginia Commonwealth University involving 30,000 sets of twins, researchers concluded, “Although the transmission of religiousness has been assumed to be purely cultural, genetic behavior studies have demonstrated that genetic factors play a role in the individual differences in some religious traits.”

    Alper suggests that there is a bell curve where the majority of people are spiritual/religious. On one of the tapering edges of the curve, there are people who are extremely religious, many of whom are martyrs, spiritual leaders, or prophets. The other extreme has people who are “spiritually/religiously deficient, those born with an unusually underdeveloped spiritual/religious function.”


    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/has-s...-rel_b_2552380
    Last edited by Crovash; 04-06-2021 at 05:23 PM.

  2. #2
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    If a genetic basis for religious inclination is accurate (and it is not an unreasonable take given what we know about genes) then from a Christian perspective, god made me this way and subsequently condemns me to hell for being this way.

    Wow.

  3. #3
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    Along the same vein as the possibility of a genetic basis for religious experience — though less materisitcally focused — is the concept of spiritual intelligence. “ Spiritual intelligence is a term used by some philosophers, psychologists, and developmental theorists to indicate spiritual parallels with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient).

    Howard Gardner, the originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, chose not to include spiritual intelligence in his "intelligences" due to the challenge of codifying quantifiable scientific criteria. Instead, Gardner suggested an "existential intelligence" as viable. However, contemporary researchers continue to explore the viability of Spiritual Intelligence (often abbreviated as "SQ") and to create tools for measuring and developing it. So far, measurement of spiritual intelligence has tended to rely on self-assessment instruments, which can be susceptible to false or unreliable reporting.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_intelligence

  4. #4
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    Basically everything has genetic correlations, I dont see why spiritual intelligence would be any diff.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nastynice View Post
    Basically everything has genetic correlations, I dont see why spiritual intelligence would be any diff.
    Are they correlations or causations?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    Are they correlations or causations?
    Probably little bit of both, just like everything else.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nastynice View Post
    Probably little bit of both, just like everything else.
    So, let’s say spiritual awareness intelligence is caused by certain genes, then for some, something like faith is not only easy, but natural. And for other it is difficult, if not impossible.

    The same might be true if Alper’s hypothesis holds (see above) that religious belief is neurochemically determined (who knows, maybe the writers of “Caddyshack” were on to something when Bishop Pickering, after being struck by lightning, finds himself at the Country Club bar asserting that there is no god.)

  8. #8
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    There is no such thing as 'easy' to come by faith.
    Why do you seem bound and determined to turn the spiritual into something physical?
    One person 'can't help' but become spiritually aware because he's genetically programmed for it while someone else virtually cannot become spiritual because they're not programmed that way?
    For a guy who doesn't believe in God, that doesn't strike you as something that would be beyond Darwin's evolution?
    gotta love 'referential' treatment

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    So, let’s say spiritual awareness intelligence is caused by certain genes, then for some, something like faith is not only easy, but natural. And for other it is difficult, if not impossible.

    The same might be true if Alper’s hypothesis holds (see above) that religious belief is neurochemically determined (who knows, maybe the writers of “Caddyshack” were on to something when Bishop Pickering, after being struck by lightning, finds himself at the Country Club bar asserting that there is no god.)
    Yes, I agree with this. Just like any other intelligence (cognitive, emotional, etc), I believe spiritual intelligence as the same in having genetic or physical basis.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    One person 'can't help' but become spiritually aware because he's genetically programmed for it while someone else virtually cannot become spiritual because they're not programmed that way?
    That seems to be taking it too far, imo. But I do think, just as with any other human trait, some people find it easier to understand while some find it harder.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    Why do you seem bound and determined to turn the spiritual into something physical?
    Because I am a curious person, and I live in this world, and I have observed that there are material (i.e. physical) causes for non-material occurances.

    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    For a guy who doesn't believe in God, that doesn't strike you as something that would be beyond Darwin's evolution?
    Correction: I do not believe in your god (i.e the god depicted in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    Because I am a curious person, and I live in this world, and I have observed that there are material (i.e. physical) causes for non-material occurances.

    Correction: I do not believe in your god (i.e the god depicted in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions).
    there is only one God who has ever traditionally been capital G and that was my comment, but OK

    still sounds like you're looking to degrade the human decision making process....suggesting people are 'pre-disposed' to their ability to develop faith
    gotta love 'referential' treatment

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    there is only one God who has ever traditionally been capital G and that was my comment, but OK
    Fine, have it your way. I don’t believe in your God.

    So we go back to your comment, and I ask, what does believing or not believing in your god (God) have to do with the development of genes vis a vis evolution?

    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    still sounds like you're looking to degrade the human decision making process....suggesting people are 'pre-disposed' to their ability to develop faith
    I’m not looking to degrade anything. I am looking for potential answers to questions about the human condition. If it turns out that there is an actual gene for faith, well, so be it, and as such, well, yes, I guess I am therefore suggesting the possibility of predisposition or even causation.

    Those who promoted the theory of evolution were excoriated by many religious folk — and still are, I believe. Did the evolutionists come up with the proposition just to degrade humanity or religion? I don’t think so.
    Last edited by Crovash; 04-08-2021 at 11:44 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiteWolf View Post
    ....suggesting people are 'pre-disposed' to their ability to develop faith
    But isn't this true? I mean it holds true with everything else, predisposition to musical talent, scientific comprehension, mathematical ability, athletic ability, etc etc etc. Why would faith be different?

    I personally definitely see a predisposition with atheists and a simplistic black and white view of the world. A right and wrong view. And in their eyes god has done some sort of wrong, so they hold it against him as being an injust god. And no injust god could ever exist. They dont care to believe in one.

    Black and white. Right and wrong. Atheist. Heavy correlation.

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    Last edited by nastynice; 04-09-2021 at 02:23 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nastynice View Post
    But isn't this true? I mean it holds true with everything else, predisposition to musical talent, scientific comprehension, mathematical ability, athletic ability, etc etc etc. Why would faith be different?

    I personally definitely see a predisposition with atheists and a simplistic black and white view of the world. A right and wrong view. And in their eyes god has done some sort of wrong, so they hold it against him as being an injust god. And no injust god could ever exist. They dont care to believe in one.

    Black and white. Right and wrong. Atheist. Heavy correlation.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    How deep down are we considering a predisposition? I mean we're all predisposed to a myriad of disease possibilities, too...but the chances for some of them are miniscule.

    I just can't view something deeply spiritual and non-physical in nature to be neurologically predisposed. If I grow up in a strong Christian home I'm not predisposed to my spirituality, it's not even genetics that might cause me to be a spiritual person myself. It's the environment I grew up with. If I'm predisposed, would I not stand the same chance of becoming a spiritual person regardless of environment?
    gotta love 'referential' treatment

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