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    Genes contribute to religious inclination


    by deepsand ·

    Genes contribute to religious inclination
    17:38 16 March 2005 news service
    Maggie McKee
    Genes may help determine how religious a person is, suggests a new study of US twins. And the effects of a religious upbringing may fade with time.

    Until about 25 years ago, scientists assumed that religious behaviour was simply the product of a person’s socialisation – or “nurture”. But more recent studies, including those on adult twins who were raised apart, suggest genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person’s religiousness.

    But it is not clear how that contribution changes with age. A few studies on children and teenagers – with biological or adoptive parents – show the children tend to mirror the religious beliefs and behaviours of the parents with whom they live. That suggests genes play a small role in religiousness at that age.

    Now, researchers led by Laura Koenig, a psychology graduate student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, US, have tried to tease apart how the effects of nature and nurture vary with time. Their study suggests that as adolescents grow into adults, genetic factors become more important in determining how religious a person is, while environmental factors wane.

    Religious discussions
    The team gave questionnaires to 169 pairs of identical twins – 100% genetically identical – and 104 pairs of fraternal twins – 50% genetically identical – born in Minnesota.

    The twins, all male and in their early 30s, were asked how often they currently went to religious services, prayed, and discussed religious teachings. This was compared with when they were growing up and living with their families. Then, each participant answered the same questions regarding their mother, father, and their twin.

    The twins believed that when they were younger, all of their family members – including themselves – shared similar religious behaviour. But in adulthood, however, only the identical twins reported maintaining that similarity. In contrast, fraternal twins were about a third less similar than they were as children.

    “That would suggest genetic factors are becoming more important and growing up together less important,” says team member Matt McGue, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota.

    Empty nests
    Michael McCullough, a psychologist at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, US, agrees. “To a great extent, you can’t be who you are when you’re living under your parents’ roof. But once you leave the nest, you can begin to let your own preferences and dispositions shape your behaviour,” he told New Scientist.

    “Maybe, ultimately, we all decide what we’re most comfortable with, and it may have more to do with our own makeup than how we were treated when we were adolescents,” says McGue.

    About a dozen studies have shown that religious people tend to share other personality traits, although it is not clear whether these arise from genetic or environmental factors. These include the ability to get along well with others and being conscientious, working hard, being punctual, and controlling one’s impulses.

    But McGue says the new work suggests that being raised in a religious household may affect a person’s long-term psychological state less than previously thought. But he says the influence from this early socialisation may re-emerge later on, when the twins have families of their own. He also points out that the finding may not be universal because the research focused on a single population of US men.

    Journal reference: Journal of Personality (vol 73, p 471)

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    16 August 2003

    Letters : The God gene
    17 May 1997


    Psychology, University of Minnesota

    Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami

    Journal of Personality

    Printed on Fri Mar 18 03:33:03 GMT 2005

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3330910

      Wrong Forum

      by roger99a ·

      In reply to Genes contribute to religious inclination

      I couldn’t help myself. sorry

      • #3330908


        by deepsand ·

        In reply to Wrong Forum

        If I’ve brought a smile to your face, my day’s work is done.

        • #3330906

          so to translate..

          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Cool.

          the article:
          religious fundies are genetically disposed to blind stupidity?

          ( I’m talking the extreme closed minded ones that cause particular religions to get bad press, the tv evangelists preaching hatred )

        • #3330891

          Quite possibly so.

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to so to translate..

          And, if so, it would follow that they are not likely to be rehabiliated using currently known acceptable methods of treatment.

        • #3330888

          Re: rehabilitation!! Do you mean a 2 X 4 upside the head???

          by sleepin’dawg ·

          In reply to Quite possibly so.

          Works for me even if it’s a tad extreme. :^O

          Dawg. ]:)

        • #3330872


          by jaqui ·

          In reply to Re: rehabilitation!! Do you mean a 2 X 4 upside the head???

          not extreme enough.

          try strapping bare steel cage over the genitals, with starving vole in it, them on a platform over 3 vats
          vat 1 ) sufuric acid

          vat 2 ) hydrochloric Acid

          vat 3 ) iodine

          whole assembly outside in mid-winter in the arctic, spray vole with water and watch the fun.

          oops ~blush~
          is my sadistic nature showing?

        • #3325812

          The SPCA objects.

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to naw…

          And, what have you got against voles?

        • #3325781

          But the voles wouldn’t be able to get to it…

          by jessie ·

          In reply to naw…

          I mean, come on, this’d have to be in the heat of summer, giving the vole something to go after… I know what happens to male genitals when they get cold…

        • #3325779


          by jessie ·

          In reply to naw…

          Most religious fanatics are over-the-top homophobes… so put them IN a cage with a large gay person who hasn’t had any in a LONG time… probably need to pull the fanatics teeth first, wouldn’t want our friendly flamer getting bitten.

          THEN have a nice religious ceremony where the two are pronounced husband and husband, in Massachusetts, so it’s all nice and legal.

          A former co-worker of mine, tried to tell me that according to the bible, if you have sex with someone, that means you’re married… even if the sex is non-consensual as between a 6 year old child and a pedophile. HIM, I’d like to see raped by a LARGE well HUNG sadist.

        • #3325700

          No need for gays.

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to naw…

          Just send them to Attica; preferably Cell Block B.

        • #3322611

          spca objects? jessie..

          by jaqui ·

          In reply to naw…

          to feeding the vole?

          after all voles eat 10 times thier body weight daily.
          they would eat a hole into the body to get warm.
          a staring vole cold and wet in sub zero temps with large food and warmth supply he’s slowly being eaten alive, if he falls 2 of the vats will kill him.
          slowly and extremely painfully.

          the third will just make him wish he was dead.

        • #3322556

          And, if he falls into the vats, …

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to naw…

          what of the voles?

          The SPCA holds that this would put them at an unnecessary risk of bodily harm.

          They would prefer that the contents of the vats be, at least, harmless to the voles.

        • #3322544

          Note of interest

          by bfilmfan ·

          In reply to naw…

          One of the many bizarre things is that sulfuric acid will not destroy body fat. I think I first learned this reading about John Haigh that kiled 9 people in the 40’s, I believe in London.

          To actually destroy a human body would require an extremely strong concentration of hydro-sulfuric acid, followed by the straining of the remaining fat and destroying that with sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide is commonly mixed with fat to make a product called “soap.”

        • #3322413

          Did you know that you can make a crude soap using urine?

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to naw…

          The ammonium carbonate found in urine reacts with oils & fats, such as those found in wool, resulting in partial saponification.

        • #3322412


          by neilb@uk ·

          In reply to naw…

          Check up the wonderful profession of “fuller”..

          Fullering was treating raw wool by trampling with stale urine (supplied by the local cottagers who were paid a penny a bucket). The urine converts the oil (lanolin) on the wool to a soluble soap which is then washed out by subsequent trampling in water.


          Where is this thread going? Paedophiles and voles? Now urine-scented soap.

        • #3322401

          Just like the ancient Romans did.

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to naw…

          As for the course of this thread, would you prefer linear or non-linear thought?

        • #3322400

          It seems to be pretty linear

          by neilb@uk ·

          In reply to naw…

          Theological genetics, paedophiles, voles, peeing on your cloth…

          To move on to the Romans was so predictable…

        • #3330901


          by roger99a ·

          In reply to Cool.

          You have now. Good work!

    • #3322386

      Thanks for the sanity check.

      by deepsand ·

      In reply to Genes contribute to religious inclination

      For a moment there, I was beginning to have my doubts.

      • #3322383

        It’s probably genetic

        by neilb@uk ·

        In reply to Thanks for the sanity check.

        So there’s no point in worrying about it.



        • #3322379

          Well, I did post to the wrong node, did’nt I.

          by deepsand ·

          In reply to It’s probably genetic

          On a more serious note, after having read the posted article, I realized that there was indeed a strong correlation between the physical appearance of members of my family on the one hand, and their religious beliefs, the extent to which they do or do not dogmatically cling to such, & their willingness to submit to authority on its face on the other.

          For example, within my immediate family, I and one sister strongly resemble my father; my other two sisters bear a striking resemblence to my mother.

          My mother comes from an Old World German Lutheran farming family; my father is a direct decendant of Daniel Boone, part of a very nomadic & fiercely independent group.

          Those sisters which resemble my mother easily & willing accepted her religious views; one even went beyond, and became a Jehovah’s Witness. And, both are quite submissive to any authority.

          My other sister and I, who resemble my father, have always been very independent thinkers, not accepting of anything merely because we were told it was so. Neither are we blindly obsequious to authority. In these regards we are much like our father.

          Within my mother’s family, most of which settled & remained a relatively small area, and were therefore quite well known to me, I can now observe the same patterns as seen in myself & my sisters.

          It is worth noting that it may not be religious beliefs per se that are genetically linked, but rather the ability and/or willingness to submit to authority.

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