Try telling a person of faith that a huge amount of their devotion to God was already pre-determined while they were still in their mother’s uterus, and they might take offense. But that is exactly what a brand new scientific study of separated-at-birth identical twins has revealed. Twin studies conducted around the world in the United States, the Netherlands, the U.K., and Australia show a 40% to 50% genetic component to belief in God. The following is an excerpt from Popular Science:
Skeptics among you might say that the twin studies showing similarity for belief are just reflecting some cultural or family influence that wasn’t properly corrected for in the study design. However in one study of adopted twins, the researchers looked at religious belief in a number of adopted twins raised apart. They found exactly the same result–greater similarity in identical twin pairs, even if raised apart. The conclusion is unavoidable: faith is definitely influenced by genes.
In an attempt to separate the ’3 Bs’–belonging, behaving, and believing, the three elements that make up religiosity–they asked a range of questions attempting to get a handle on individual differences in spirituality. They defined this as “the capacity to reach out beyond oneself and discover or make meaning of experience through broadened perspectives and behavior.” The scale is based on three main factors: self-forgetfulness, transpersonal identification and mysticism. Questions in the test they designed included: 1) ”I believe that all life depends on some spiritual order or power that cannot be completely explained” — TRUE or FALSE? 2) ”Often when I look at an ordinary thing, something wonderful happens — I get the feeling that I am seeing it fresh for the first time” — TRUE or FALSE?
They estimated the heritability of spirituality to be around 40 to 50 percent, which is quite high considering how tricky it is to measure. Other U.S. studies using even more detailed questions in larger numbers have found similar or even stronger genetic influences. These studies demonstrate our variable but innate inherited sense of spirituality, which affects how we perceive the world, ourselves and the universe. This is independent of our formal religious beliefs and practices and, strangely, largely independent of family influence.
You can read the full story by visiting PopularScience.com. The study confirms once again that there is no such thing as free will, and you can read much more about this idea by exploring the work of neuroscientist, philosopher, and author Sam Harris by CLICKING HERE.
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