From a WSJ review of a new book chronicling the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart:

The Minnesota study’s IQ results hit a nerve years before their publication in 1990, overshadowing other controversies that might have been. Many of its findings are bipartisan shockers. Take religion, which almost everyone attributes to “socialization.” Separated-twin data show that religiosity has a strong genetic component, especially in the long run: “Parents had less influence than they thought over their children’s religious activities and interests as they approached adolescence and adulthood.” The key caveat: While genes have a big effect on how religious you are, upbringing has a big effect on the brand of religion you accept. Identical separated sisters Debbie and Sharon “both liked the rituals and formality of religious services and holidays,” even though Debbie was a Jew and Sharon was a Christian.

Just another example of the ‘God Gene’ at work, I suppose, and, as such, just another reminder that there is little or no prospect of ever weaning mankind off religion (Professor Dawkins, please note).

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5 Responses to Twins

  1. Lapis Lazuli says:

    I don’t think Dawkins hopes to “eradicate religion”, just that religion should become a transparent myth.

    You can probably enjoy the rituals even if you don’t assume that one needs religion to be moral, or that religion is equipped to answer scientific questions about how the world works.

  2. Susan says:

    I’d enjoy a study of the “indifferent to religion” gene, if there is such a thing.

  3. AndyTK says:

    I’d say that this is an argument for the creation of Atheist churches. Note that the sisters both liked the “rituals and formality of religious services and holidays”. One can create this without the supernatural. Religion currently is the only real provider of broad local communities with traditions and ceremonies. If Atheists never step up to the plate to provide these services we will never fully win. If we do then we can reach a number of people that want to have a ceremony to mark birth, adulthood, marriage and death along with holidays to celebrate forgiveness, charity, moderation and other aspects of living a good life.

  4. sumnotes says:

    The “God gene” is most likely a pleiotropic allele expression (possibly antagonistic), and I suspect Prof Dawkins knows this full well (certainly seems to be in my family!). Is either evolutionarily stable?

  5. WmarkW says:

    I disagree that “Religion currently is the only real provider of broad local communities with traditions and ceremonies.” The military, for example, does. And a lot of our patriotic celebrations resemble a religion. Maybe there’s a genetic component to why service(wo)men are generally religious.

    Whether the need for rituals, ceremonies and community can be translated into an atheistic system, I’m not sure. It’s difficult to form a coherent organizational structure around non-interest in a subject. You end up with things like Grayling’s “Atheist Bible,” figuring that what atheism needs is the kind of inspirational literature they carry at WalMart or Cracker Barrel.

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