'The God Gene': Bad Science Meets Bad Theology
Some scientists want belief to fit an evolutionary worldview. But we can't limit faith in God to a chemical reaction.
BY: Albert Mohler
Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson once declared religious belief to be "the greatest challenge to human sociobiology and its most exciting opportunity to progress as a truly original theoretical discipline." In other words, Wilson admitted that belief in God is a fundamental challenge to the theory of evolution, since evolution cannot explain why this belief could be so widespread, so powerful, and so closely tied to human existence. Now, Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, claims to have found the genetic explanation for belief in God--a "God gene" that provides an evolutionary explanation for faith.
Dean Hamer's work, published as The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes, is certain to attract considerable attention. His argument that belief in God is tied to a mix of factors, but localized in a specific gene, fits the reductionistic mind of the age. Furthermore, Hamer's hypothesis is the natural complement to a purely materialistic worldview.
The evolutionary worldview leads to a specific understanding of the human being, and that understanding is derived directly from pure materialism. The human being is understood to be the product of an evolutionary process that at every point is explained purely in terms of natural factors. Humans are collections of atoms and molecules, and all consciousness, belief, emotion, and moral judgment must be explained by nothing more than biochemical processes within the brain. In other words, the evolutionary mindset must reject the notion of a soul and must insist that all dimensions of consciousness are definable in purely physical terms.
In the physicalist worldview, the entire human experience is explained by genes, chemicals, natural selection, and the environment. In The God Gene, Dean Hamer attempts to explain religion and spirituality in purely physical terms. Yet, before he ever discusses the so-called "God gene," he redefines faith itself. Hamer begins his book with an illustration drawn from Buddhist spirituality, and within the first ten pages he redefines faith as "self-transcendence." As he explains, "Self-transcendence provides a numerical measure of people's capacity to reach out beyond themselves--to see everything in the world as part of one great totality. If I were to describe it in a single word, it might be 'at-one-ness'."