The Corner

Re: Re: Re: Derb Bait

Two readers have taken exception to the idea that one’s inclination to be religious is heritable–i.e. genetically determined in part.  They seem to think this idea is, in and of itself, subversive of religious belief.

I can’t see that it is.  The things that religion talks about–God, the soul, the afterlife, angels, etc.–are either real, or they’re not.  If they’re real, it wouldn’t be surprising that the ability to apprehend them is stronger in some people, weaker in others, and absent in some.  Most human abilities are unevenly distributed like that.  And most are in part heritable.

The material world is real–I hope we all agree about that–yet our ability to apprehend it, by our senses, varies from person to person.  The visual sense, for example, is very acute in some of us, dull in others, and missing in an unfortunate few–the blind.  And that variation is in part heritable. 

The two things–the heritability (or not) of susceptibility to religious feeling, and the reality (or not) of the things religions talk about–seem to me to be orthogonal.  Neither one depends on the other. 

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