This is an idea that’s been kicking around in scientific circles for about five or six years. The basic hypothesis is that there’s a specific set of chromosomes that create the emotional sensations we associate with things spiritual. It does not consider whether God or any form of super-nature exists, it merely says there are genes within us that give us spiritual feelings.
According to Wikipedia (admittedly not a 100% reliable source) these include "self-forgetfulness" (as in the tendency to become totally absorbed in some activity, such as reading); "transpersonal identification" (a feeling of connectedness to a larger universe); and "mysticism" (an openness to believe things not literally provable, such as ESP).
The more militant atheists are quick to point to the “god gene” as a rational explanation for religion and spiritual beliefs. They (i.e., these specific atheists, not those just positing the god gene hypothesis) claim this only confirms God and the supernatural are imaginary concepts, that they do not exist, that there are merely figments of human imagination.
Well, ya live by the rational materialistic standard, ya die by the rational materialistic standard. Let’s examine their claims re the god gene.
For the purposes of this discussion (and so no one can claim we’re taking a home field advantage), we’ll stipulate evolution works the way the rationalistic theorists claim it does: Life occurred by chance, arising from inert non-organic material and evolving over billions of years from simple single cell organisms to highly complex multi-cell creatures with various specialized organs.
Point 1: Light existed before eyes evolved. Sound (at least in the sense of vibrations carried through the air) existed before ears evolved. Every sense possessed by humans and animals was evolved in response to preexisting stimulation in the real world.
Point 2: Seeing/hearing/experiencing imaginary things is not a survival trait. If it was, we’d all be schizophrenics.
Ergo, if the god gene does exist and if it functions as advertised, then it points to the reality of a supernatural, spiritual world, not disprove it.
But wait! There's more!
Now we are finding even stronger evidence leading to a hardwired linkage between the physical biological world and the mental/spiritual one. Again, the evidence doesn't point conclusively to the existence of a spiritual, sueprnatural realm...
...but it sure doesn't point away from it, either.
Rather, it tells us something is going on, something beyond what can be accounted for in simple biochemical/materialistic terms. (Seriously, check out all the links, you'll be glad you did: Fascinating reading.)
[Above, the laminin molecule, a basic protein building block without which life as we know it could not exist. Along with the platypus, just another one of God's playful reminders about who is responsible for life, the universe, and everything.]
another imploded blog entry recovered & re-edited for reposting