Do you believe that through our social and biological evolution, we have become "hard wired" to believe in gods, the supernatural, life after death, etc, as a means of coping with our own mortality?
As you know, one can not usually point to any single gene for most traits; no one
has found a "gay" gene (or a straight one for that matter), and we know that the function of many genes are not "written in stone".
They me turned on, or off, or performing a different function intirerly as needed.
Can this be the explaination why, in spite of the overwhelming evidence from nearly every
branch of science, philosophy, and plain logic, that people still cling to the supernatual?
In response to the statement that there is no "gay gene" that is actually incorrect one article states that the same "gay gene" in males cause increased fecundity in females. So it's a hit or miss kind of thing where its great for females, but a disadvantage for males. Although the article below does not explain "lesbianism" yet, they are working on an explanation.
Here is the link to the article:
Now in response to the fact that were hard wired to be religious. The answer is yes.
1. Community Cohesion. The fact that people are willing to die for a "god" actually shows commitment to the community as a whole, as well as religion was used to keep people in line. It is a self-regulating behavior.
2. Reproduction. Religious people tend to proliferate at a higher rate than non-religious people. This is true if you look at third world countries and developed nations. Evolution has made it so that being religious is advantageous.
3. Coping mechanism. You have to put yourself in the shoes on mankind thousands of years ago when there was not a lot of knowledge of why natural phenomenon occurred, and how it occurred. Imagine seeing lightening 10000 years ago, that would have terrified you knowing that something so unpredictable can strike and possibly kill without warning. Mankind in that age was very paranoid about the environment around and they needed some sort of explanation to feel some sort of control, although very false sense of control. Also, mankind is very fearful of its demise, so religion makes you feel better with the idea of an afterlife.
Fortunately, today we have no need for religion with the strides mankind has made, but unfortunately we are still hard wired to believe in superstitions. It will take a while to leave this part of our history behind, and when we do the world will be a much better place to live in.
I think some people are more able to feel religious euphoria than others. I have often wondered if people are more likely to become atheist after an injury or illness that alters their brain chemistry. Just like some people have depression due to chemical action in their brain, I think others have a tendancy to feel more euphoria - especially euphoria that is religious in nature. I also believe it's possible to generate mass euphoria and that this can be directed in specific ways. For example, rock concerts. At rock concerts (or other musical concerts), musicians and singers are able to stimualate this feeling of euphoria in others.
Chapter 5 of the God Delusion it pretty relevant to your question.
I don't usually think it's a acceptable to answer people's question with "go read this book", but you've not asked a easy question, the chapter isn't hard or long, and I think a lot of people here would agree with me. Okay, fine, here's a summary: http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/09/book-club-god-delusion-chpt-... (Dawkins also discusses other hypothesis like group selection or the "god gene", you might also learn that genes aren't necessarily as simple as 'theres a gene for this and one gene for that')
Although my comments do not strictly relate to the god gene i have read the following:
'Personality - What makes us the way you' are by Daniel Nettle
The book mentions that two genomes have now been identified that can indicate certain personality traits, such as the degree of openness or neurosis in a person. Apparently researchers have found evidence that depending on the variance of these genes, this can relate directly to an individual’s personality and that up to 50% of your personality is therefore hereditary.
Certainly interesting stuff!
I often say that humans evolved a dependency on the, "God Delusion". Fifteen years ago I was discussing religion with a Jewish intellectual named Levi who put it this way. "The God concept was designed to provide an escape at the time of development of self consciousness from the devastating impact of realization of finality and termination (Death). It offered a virtual reality to replace the cold, indifferent, harsh, cruel and futile purposelessness of life". Levi Throughout human history, human ignorance,seperstion and imagination contributed to the evolution of the virtual reality known as religion. Although the virtual reality is completely subjective and only resides within the minds of the believers, evolving religions do have a profound influence on human societies. So humans evolved this dual concept of reality. On one hand we interact with people, places and things. On the other hand, humans created a virtual reality, the stuff of Gods, spirits, ghosts, angels, demons, heaven and hell. Human brains also evolved the capacity to compartmentalize. People can be intelligent, nice and normal and still be religious. Much like bilingual? people switch from one language to another, people also hold two different concepts of reality within their brains. They can easily switch between the real world and the virtual world of religious mythology.