The Brain Chemistry of the Buddha
In 'The God Gene,' geneticist Dean Hamer says human spirituality may have an innate genetic component to it.
BY: Interview by Laura Sheahen
One is that this idea of being "spiritual without being religious" gets clichéd a lot, but it's true. They really are different aspects of human personality.
Spirituality is a great thing. It gives people a connection to others and to the world around them; it's a wonderful talent of human beings that can enrich our life.
But when it comes to religion, to me the important thing is that it's not anything innate about humans. A lot of religious ideas aren't here because they're good for us-and probably they're not here because that's what God believed.
They're just here because they're ideas that replicate themselves easily. So they too can be changed: ideas like 'my religion is the only religion,' 'your religion is bad and you should die for it,' 'I'm going to heaven and you're going to hell,' 'we should have a war because we don't like your religion,' etc. They're terrible ideas. They are very powerful but they're not unchangeable. So that's my long lesson one.
Lesson two is that I hope this book will make religion a little bit more respectable in academic circles. It used to be that academics was all about religion. Then, especially after World War II, religion became very unpopular in academic circles. It became very flaky to talk about religion at all, except in a religion department.
But in fact, it's a very important part of people's lives. It's a lot more important to most people than evolution or nuclear physics or anything like that. People spend a lot of time on religion and praying and believing and it affects everything. I just hope that this sort of helps to reopen the the academic-scholarly scientific study of religion. It's a very important part of our lives.