The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes
The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes by Dean Hamer came out in 2004. The God gene hypothesis is based on a combination of behavioral genetic, neurobiological and psychological studies.
The major arguments of the hypothesis are: (1) spirituality can be quantified by psychometric measurements; (2) the underlying tendency to spirituality is partially heritable; (3) part of this heritability can be attributed to the gene VMAT2;4) this gene acts by altering monoamine levels; and (5) spiritual individuals are favored by natural selection because they are provided with an innate sense of optimism, the latter producing positive effects at either a physical or psychological level.
Essentially Hamer says that we can’t answer if there is a God, but we can answer why we believe in God. The idea of self-transcendence as the yardstick for faith or enlightenment was created by Robert Cloninger. Self-transcendence is a sense of at-one-ness. We forget all sense of time, place and identity when we transcend ourselves.
Women are 18% more likely to be spiritual than men. Spirituality comes from within and not from any particular religion. Mysticism is a fascination with transpersonal identification with nature and unexplainable phenomenon.
Monoamines such as serotonin and dopamine are important in our consciousness. Monoamines and mysticism have been linked through the use of LSD, Mushrooms and Psychiatric Medicine. D4DR is associated specifically with self-transcendence, as is the VMAT2. VMAT2 stands for Vesicular Monoamine Transporter. It has its head and tail tucked inside the vesicle and it has 6 coils that are triggered by hormones. It is like a gift being unwrapped and then the signals begin. As in Realty: Location, Location, Location. The Gift wrapping protects the contents from being too quickly degraded or lost. VMAT is vital. If we don’t have this gene then we don’t have a desire for survival.
Ecstasy releases Serotonin. Prozac is Ecstasy’s cousin in the drug world. Paxil and Zoloft are the next closest cousins. With Serotonin it is like “I am at one with God.” Cocaine releases dopamine, which makes one feel more like “I AM God.” Music and dance can also induce mystical type states. Our temporal lobe is in charge with music appreciation and spirituality as well. Epileptic seizures are similar to electrical storms in the brain, but they too can trigger a sense of spirituality.
We do not know God intellectually, we feel him, and so it makes sense that our sense of spirituality is connected to our emotions.