It’s called “a provocative study” — Is religion a product of evolution? This is the question under consideration in the October 25, 2004, edition of TIME magazine by staff writer, Jeffrey Kluger. He said that some scientists think that the evolutionary process simply developed a genetic tendency in some people toward a feeling of transcendence.
Is there a gene embedded in our chromosomes that gives us a sense of something or someone beyond this time/space dimension? Are some people divinely disposed while others are not? Rush Limbaugh said that some people have the gene while others do not. He said, “Those who have it live in the red states and those who don’t live in the blue states!”
All kidding aside, could we have a genetic connection to heaven? Is it possible that our Creator could have embedded such a genetic code in human chromosomes? If the theory of a “God gene” were ever proven, the evidence would have to come down on the side of “design” rather than on random selection by some evolutionary process.
Kluger writes, “Ask true believers of any faith to describe the most important thing that drives their devotion, and they’ll tell you it’s not a thing at all but a sense — a feeling of a higher power far beyond us.” However, Kluger suggests that mankind may have a more practical need for religion — the need for survival. He postulates that religion helps man to think that his body and mind can be preserved somewhere after death. He questions: “Which came first, God or the need for God? Did humans create religion from cues from above, or did evolution instill in us a sense of the divine so that we would gather into the communities essential to keeping the species going? … Even among people who regard spiritual life as wishful hocus-pocus, there is a growing sense that humans may not be able to survive without it.”
This idea of a God gene is the work of Dr. Dean Hamer, chief of molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute. He has published a book on the subject, claiming that he has located one of the genetic codes that give man the sense of transcendence. Hamer calls his God gene “VMAT2″ — a vesicular monoamine transporter that regulates the flow of mood-altering chemicals in the brain.
This so-called “God gene” contains the codes for the neurotransmitters that regulate our moods: “… every thought we think and every feeling we feel is the result of activity in the brain. I think we follow the basic law of nature, which is that we’re a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag.”
Dr. Hamer misses the point. This secular hypothesis offers no explanation as to why we have such a gene in the first place.
Dr. Hamer seems to think that our “feelings of spirituality may be due to little more than an occasional shot of intoxicating brain chemicals governed by our DNA.”
It seems to me that he is putting the proverbial “cart before the horse.” There is a verse in the Bible that lends toward the possibility that God programmed our DNA to recognize a transcendental existence. Solomon wrote:
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world [eternity] in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Eccl. 3:11).
Kluger quoted a translation that says, “[God has] set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
The Interlinear Bible’s literal translation says, “He has set eternity in their hearts, without which man cannot find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.”
The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible translates the Hebrew text olam, as “world,” but it also refers to “eternity.” Furthermore, the Interlinear Bible shifts the grammar from “no man can find out” to “without which, man cannot comprehend” God’s plan of the ages “from the beginning to the end.”
The context may be telling us that God has placed something deep within us, without which we could not even begin to fathom eternal values.
For example, if a computer cannot contact, nor comprehend the Internet without a special software driver and modem, it seems logical that mankind cannot contact, nor comprehend our Creator without some program encoded in our genetic makeup.
Kluger suggests, “If human beings were indeed divinely assembled, why wouldn’t our list of parts include a genetic chip that would enable us to contemplate our maker?”
However, before we buy into that concept, let us remember that “moods” affect only the soul. Though moods may account for a feeling of ecstasy, only the Holy Spirit can guide us toward a true knowledge of God.
Feelings of ecstasy can lead us into all kinds of foolish notions. In the Old Testament, such religiosity could lead one into “idolatry.” We are cautioned to “try the spirits, whether they are of God” (I John 4:1). The Bible tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Whether or not we are predisposed toward feelings of transcendence, God still offers eternal life to all. Salvation is not a matter of emotion, but of faith — of simply believing what we read in the Bible about the First Advent of Christ — His death, burial and resurrection on our behalf.
Now, we are intelligent people. Therefore, we would do well to explore that inner desire to live forever by reading the only book in the world that offers the answer for a future existence beyond this world — the Bible. We should read it … carefully.