Philosophers, theologians and evangelists have long insisted that there is a God-space in us all, seeking satisfaction in a relationship with the Almighty. All over the world, man has identified and worshipped God or gods in various ways; expressing a universal need to understand the unexplainable, searching for a place in the grand scheme of things, finding answers and alleviating doubts concerning the after-life – coming to terms with something or someone greater than ourselves. The question being: Has man created God in his own image or did God create man in His? (Genesis 1:26,27)
Scientists are indeed questioning which came first, God or the human need for God. Trying to discover whether humans created religious systems in response to cues and clues from above or whether evolution instilled in us a sense of “something out there” to aid in our preservation by herding us into like-minded communities; law-abiding, interdependent, cooperative and obedient to a central authority.
Molecular biologist Dean Hamer claims to have found scientific evidence that human spirituality is indeed an adaptive trait and that he has discovered at least one gene responsible for our yearning for God – a gene significantly associated with the regulation of our moods.1 He says, “I am a believer that every feeling we feel is the result of activities in the brain.” Concluding that, “I think…we’re a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag.”2
Herein lies the problem. Does the possible existence of a gene that encourages our seeking of an exalted being along with a higher standard of living disprove His actual existence? Religion in general and Christianity in particular has always maintained that God is not merely an abstract idea, even as He can’t be neatly categorized or scientifically proven. The revelations of faith (Being sure of what we hope for and certain of things unseen – Hebrews 11:1) are not strictly quantifiable; as they necessitate fixing our attention not on the seen and “knowable” but on what is unseen. (2 Corinthians 4:18) This results from our realization that much of what the world defines as knowable is indeed temporary – changeable – unstable, while much of what is unseen is constant and consistent, even in the secular/scientific world; such as the laws of gravity and thermodynamics. Causing us to acknowledge that, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 In part because there are, “…secret things (that) belong to the Lord our God,…” alone. Deuteronomy 29:29 Not because he chooses to conceal himself from us but because we aren’t capable of comprehending the immensity of who he is; something utterly different from us even as he attempts to create a little of himself within us. (Genesis 1:26,27; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And yet, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Is. 55:8-11The reality of our relationship with God being, “He has… set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (Even so, what we can know of him is enough!)
Mr. Hamer, while professing to be agnostic tempers his assertions by saying, “If there’s a God, there’s a God. Just knowing what brain chemicals are involved in acknowledging that is not going to change that fact.” While Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg’s study of the brain’s response during prayer reinforces Hamer’s nod to God’s possible existence. In his study, Dr. Newberg used imaging systems to “watch” the brain’s response to spiritual stimuli (Which verified Dr. Hamer’s findings on the characteristics of a praying person’s feelings of selflessness, connectedness to something bigger than self and openness to things not literally provable.) In measuring blood flow and activity in different areas of the brain, he found that the more heartfelt the prayer, the more intense the activity in the frontal lobe – which controls concentration, and the limbic system – which processes powerful feelings. In conjunction with these, he noted as well the dimming of the parietal lobe – the area that orients us to time and space, allowing us to “reach out” beyond ourselves.
For some, this supports behavioral neuroscientist Michael Persinger’s contention that, “God is an artifact …a brilliant adaptation… a built-in pacifier… of the brain.” But for others, like Lindon Eaves, a Psychiatric Behavioral Geneticist, it simply supports the obvious. “Of course concepts of God reside in the brain. They certainly don’t reside in the toe. The question is, To what is this wiring responsive? Why is it there?” Would it not be a reasonable assumption that if we were indeed divinely created, our genetic makeup would include a “chip” that would not only enable us to conceive of God but encourage us to seek him out? Paul Davies, a professor of natural philosophy concurs, asserting that, “I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that if you explain something, you explain it away. I don’t see that at all with religious experience.”3
Paul sensed this same quest in the Athenians years ago. “I see that in every way you are very religious…”, even dedicating an altar to an unknown God. “Now what you worship as something unknown (or unknowable) I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…”, needing no temple nor priesthood to serve him, having determined the times and places men should live. “God did this so that men would seek him out, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’” Acts 17:22-28 (See also Jeremiah 29:13)
“In the beginning…”, throughout the creation of all things was the Word. It was with God, being the essence of who he is – and was God. By his Word – all things were made. As, “God said, ‘Let there be,…’”, and there was. (Genesis 1 and John 1) And, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” – “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…, but the darkness did not understand it.” (Some preferring darkness to disguise their evil deeds.) This Word became flesh and was the very image of the invisible God and the exact representation of his being. This light, life and Word being God’s, “…Son, whom I love; with (whom) I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (John 1:1-5 & 14, John 3:19, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3 and Matthew 17:5)
1 The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes, Doubleday Publishing
2This is the same man who several years ago announced that he had discovered a gene responsible for homosexuality, his evidence proving to be unreplaceable by any other scientists and discounted by most – except for those who wanted to believe Mr. Hamer’s assertions for reasons other than scientific.
3From a Time Magazine investigation of claims made by Mr. Hamer in his book, The God Gene
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