scilogs Biology of Religion

The Genetic Priming of Religiosity - Guest Post by John Jacob Lyons

from Michael Blume, 24. March 2011, 22:18

Note from the Blogowner: I met John at the "Explaining Religion"-Conference in Bristol, where he presented a well-done poster. And I am glad that he is using this blog to present his works and thoughts online for open debate. Please feel free to ask any questions or to make any suggestions you have. 

John Jacob Lyons:

In the 12 March 2011 edition of ‘Biology of Religion’, Michael Blume reported that yet another twin-study (Kendler et al, Virginia Commonwealth University) had confirmed that religiosity is partly genetically inherited and partly conditioned by the environment. Recent empirical work based on ‘discussions about causation’ with very young children has come to similar conclusions. Justin L. Barrett will be presenting some of his more recent work in this area on 6 April 2011 at Corpus Christi College, Oxford as a contribution to this year’s Oxford Literary Festival.

Of course our nearest cousins, the chimpanzees and the bonobos, don’t manifest religiosity and the first hominid to do so, by definition, couldn’t have inherited his/her religiosity. If the whole rigmarole began as simply ‘behaviour’, how in heaven’s name did it get into the genes?  Of course, at the end of the 19th C, a fellow called Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed the theory that acquired characteristics, such as the muscular arms of the village blacksmith, could be directly inherited (in their adulthood of course) by offspring.  Whether he thought this applied equally to female offspring is a moot point. However, the theory was shot down in flames by the Weismann Barrier experiments of August Weismann at the beginning of the 20th C. that demonstrated that genetic information cannot pass from soma to germ-cells. At about the same time a number of scholars, including James Mark Baldwin came up with the suggestion that adaptive behaviour, over evolutionary time, could be ‘assimilated’ into the inheritance system. However, to my knowledge, the mechanism that could cause this to occur has never been proposed.

I have recently suggested that there is no such ‘assimilation’. My hypothesis is that, over evolutionary time, there will be a tendency for a consistent adaptive behaviour to ‘prime’ relevant sections of the genome toward gene-variants (alleles) that encourage/support the manifestation of the adaptive behaviour. This hypothesis applies to the adaptive behaviours of all organisms; all animals and all plants. This includes the phototropic behaviour of plants, the nest-building behaviour of birds and the religiosity of homo sapiens.

In Poster 1 reproduced below, I suggest that religiosity became an adaptive behaviour; probably during the Palaeolithic Era. I have then outlined the mechanism that resulted in certain genetically-mediated propensities relevant to religiosity being ‘primed’ toward allele-sets that encourage/support religious behaviour. I do not suggest that the propensities I have mentioned are necessarily the appropriate ones; it is the suggested mechanism that lies at the heart of this hypothesis.


Of course, religiosity hasn’t been the only adaptive behaviour in town. There are always a host of adaptive behaviours vying to prime the genome. Some will involve gene-sets that overlap the relevant set for religiosity and may well ‘want’ to prime those genes toward different variants. No adaptive behaviour will ever get its optimal set of alleles; compromise and sub-optimisation for any particular adaptive behaviour are inevitable.

You may well wonder how a plant can be environmentally ‘triggered’ to behave photo-tropically. At this point, I have no idea. Perhaps plants don’t need the environmental trigger. If you don’t mind, and even if you do, I will have to leave this one hanging for the time being.

Hastily retreating to a consideration of homo sapiens and religion --- I suggest that once an adaptive behaviour, such as religiosity, has become widespread in a human population via genetic priming, it effectively becomes part of the environment and any new mutations that chime with that particular adaptive behaviour will be favourably selected.  This is explained in Poster 2 that also refers back to Poster 1 as the ‘adjacent poster’.

 

The ‘take-home’ message of this article is that I am suggesting that religiosity has not been assimilated into the human genome. There is neither a gene nor a clutch of genes for religion. However, I do believe that our genomes have been primed for religiosity and that we need just a simple trigger from the environment to manifest religious behaviour.

Finally, please see http://tinyurl.com/l6bure for a related short piece I have written on this subject and an ensuing discussion that may be of interest.

John Jacob Lyons, 24 March 2011

 



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  1. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    29.03.2011 | 21:13

    This is a test. I'm not sure if this s/w is allowing comments.

  2. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    29.03.2011 | 21:17

    It evidently is allowing comments! I would welcome any that you have; or any questions; or any challenges; or any endorsements. Any feedback at all really.

  3. Balanus Subject
    31.03.2011 | 11:54

    Hello Mr. Lyons,

    Thank you for your interesting thoughts.

    To me, the term "genetic priming" sounds like a new evolutionary mechanism. But I think, it is only a new or another term for well-known mechanisms of the evolution of behavioural traits.

    My impression is, that you believe that "genetic assimilation" as proposed by Waddington is a real evolutionary process or mechanism.

    Do you know the review article of Pigliucci et al on this topic?

    Phenotypic plasticity and evolution by genetic assimilation.
    In: The Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 2362-2367.

    http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/reprint/209/12/2362

    Best wishes

  4. Balanus Subject
    31.03.2011 | 14:18

    Another question:

    I am religious or not religious, depending on the definition of religiosity. If religiosity is defined as the belief in supernatural or superempirical agents, I'm not.

    According to your hypothesis, there was no trigger which installed religiosity in my brain. But when I was young, I did believe devoutly in supernatural agents. What has happened to my belief? When do you think does the trigger act on the brain, is there a narrow or wide time-window as it is the case with many imprinting processes in animals?

    Almost all children believe in supernatural agents. Obviously, the genetically based construction of the child's brain enables such a behaviour. But when all structures of the brain are fully developed (at 20 years or so), only a part of the individuals remain religious as a child. Other develop a more or less sophisticated believe in supernatural agents. What do you think is the reason for these diverse developments?

    In my opinion, it are the genetically based structures of the relevant parts of the brain, which are responsible for the differences in fundamental religious behaviour, and which we could not deliberately modify.

    Sorry for my poor English :-)

  5. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    01.04.2011 | 11:32

    Thanks for your comments/ questions Belanus.

    My GP hypothesis seeks to explain how adaptive behaviour impacts the genome of a species over evolutionary time; sometimes called the 'Baldwin Effect'. In my opinion, previous attempts to specify the mechanism that allows this to happen have been inadequate and unconvincing.

    On the other hand, phenotypic plasticity/ epigenetic processes (such as mythylation and chromatin marks) seek to explain the mechanisms that assist an organism to adapt to an environmental change and GP does not address this issue at all.

    I will address your other points in my next post.

  6. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    01.04.2011 | 12:01

    "According to your hypothesis, there was no trigger which installed religiosity in my brain. -- What happened to my belief?"

    As you developed, your increasing cognitive faculties would have modified your earlier beliefs -- trigger or no trigger.

    'Time windows' for triggers will have to wait until GP has been assessed by my fellow evolutionary theorists and, if considered of interest, empirical tests of the hypothesis are being considered. Time window evidence for religiosity in particular will, of course, be difficult to come by.

  7. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    01.04.2011 | 12:15

    I suggest that the diversity in mature religious belief that we see is a function of:-

    1.Genetic priming; the particular relevant allele-set of the individual.

    2.Triggers and early nurturing.

    3.Life experiences and concomitant cognitive constructs.

  8. Cris Genetic Priming
    02.04.2011 | 03:39

    Interesting. Disentangling the biological aspect from the cultural aspect of this behavior seems to be a bit problematic. What about the idea that the entire suite of genes responsible for our neural architecture results in a brain-mind that is naturally "primed" for the cultural cultivation of "religious" patterning?

  9. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    02.04.2011 | 09:51

    Thanks Cris.

    If I have understood you correctly, that is indeed what I am suggesting. In principle,

    Biology -- genetic priming of relevant genes (yet to be specified)

    Culture -- initial trigger (usually from main carers), upbringing,
    life experience and cognition

  10. Winrar Subject
    03.04.2011 | 14:24

    This topic is simply matchless :), very much it is pleasant to me.

  11. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    04.04.2011 | 15:42

    I'm glad that you find the topic interesting 'Winrar'. That's very reassuring.

    But also any new theory needs to be questioned and challenged in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. I would therefore particularly welcome further contributions that force me to defend/ explain the ideas I have put forward.

  12. J. A. Le Fevre @ John
    05.04.2011 | 00:40

    Have you looked at the spread of religious inclined individuals within the human populations from the archeological records? The relatively recent so-called ‘Eve theory’ or ‘recent out of Africa’ research includes DNA studies which indicate a genetic heritage common to all modern humans leading back to a small seed population of hundreds to a few thousand founding individuals some 70,000 to 90,000 years ago.

    One thing to keep in mind about religion among humans is that it did not appear in isolation. Spiritual beliefs in humans only appear in archeology with a full suite of artifacts and behaviors. Because of this, they have been dubbed ‘modern’. That is, all ‘modern’ humans have a culture that included religious beliefs, but they also have better tools, larger camps (more individuals in a band) and longer life spans.

    What you have with ‘modern’ humans in the early days were (relatively) large, well armed and well organized bands facing small, scattered bands of ‘archaic’ hominids (including Anatomically Modern Humans or AMH with our same bones, but a Neanderthal lifestyle). Religious beliefs then spread throughout the world as believing humans spread, displacing the non-believers. Archaic (non-believing) humans were driven to extinction about 30,000 years ago. The point being: Religion did not ‘spread’ through a large population of humans, but spiritual beliefs, advanced tool making and advanced socialization were all acquired by a very small population of humans who then were able to spread themselves and their collected technologies across the world.

    We have no data on just how belief was first introduced, but it has been a constant feature of modern human community for 70,000 years. The post-industrial era is really the first exceptions I see to that pattern.

  13. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming @ J A Le Fevre
    05.04.2011 | 11:47

    Yes, I've recently read with interest Bryan Sykes's books on 'human genetic history' including 'The Seven Daughters of Eve'. Absolutely fascinating. I've even sent him my DNA for analysis!

    Of course, we always need to remember that early proto-religious practices may well have left no relics for modern archaeologists to find. Supplication to the mountain 'god' who brings the rain would leave no traces.

    Although I am extremely interested in the evidence we have bearing upon the early spread of religion, I cannot see that, at this point, it either supports or challenges my genetic priming hypothesis.

  14. Michael Blume Linked from Nature Network
    05.04.2011 | 12:54

    Dear John, dear commenters,

    I am happy to be able to show that this guest post and its discussion has been recommended and linked by the colleagues from Nature Networks here:
    http://blogs.nature.com/...WT.mc_id=TWT_NatNetNews

    Thanks to the Nature Networks Team!

  15. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    05.04.2011 | 18:14

    It may be of interest that my general hypothesis in this area is that:-

    All living organisms are genetically primed to manifest the adaptive behaviour of their species.

    My suggestion vis-a-vis our priming for religiosity is a particular case of this general hypothesis.

  16. J. A. Le Fevre @ John
    05.04.2011 | 19:37

    Everyone sees something different in the same picture, so I thought I would throw that out first. What I see is that all modern humans come from (at least) 70,000 years of consistent religious behavior in their communities. I agree we cannot deduce the beliefs/behaviors prior to the artifacts, but once the artifacts start, they appear ubiquitous – all human communities descendant from that early group have held to that behavior. What I see as the first real change to this pattern is the mass conversion of half a billion souls in the last 50 years or so. Temples are not being torn down wholesale, so if this is temporary, it will not appear in archeology – but we do not see this pattern in recorded history, making this the first opportunity to run a ‘check’ on your proposition. My take is that it gets a yes and a (conditional) no. This rapid change in an expressed characteristic strongly suggests an environmental trigger – something ‘in-the-water’ has changed, causing large numbers of individuals to terminate religious behavior – usually within a single generation. Clearly, 70,000 years of selective pressure has not ‘fixed’ this behavior into the gene pool, so that derivative proposal of yours has not been demonstrated in this situation., but not everyone has stopped religious behavior, suggesting multiple triggers, or a trigger threshold that varies between individuals, such that those with a low threshold remain religious as the concentration of the active agent is reduced. Are you looking at any environmental agents which trigger religious behavior?

  17. J. A. Le Fevre @ John
    05.04.2011 | 19:45

    Let me suggest a slight variation on your hypothesis: All living organisms are genetically primed to manifest a suite of adaptive behaviours with a range of environmental triggers that lead to different expressions under different conditions.

  18. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming @ J A Le Fevre
    05.04.2011 | 22:11

    You write " --- making this the first opportunity to run a ‘check’ on your proposition."

    We anticipate that this behavioural trend will tend to be counter-adaptive since there is strong evidence that lack of religiosity is negatively correlated with fecundity. However, I can't see that this will provide an opportunity to test my proposition.

    You write "Clearly, 70,000 years of selective pressure has not ‘fixed’ this behavior into the gene pool, so that derivative proposal of yours has not been demonstrated in this situation."

    I have written already that:-

    I suggest that the diversity in mature religious belief that we see is a function of:-

    1.Genetic priming; the particular relevant allele-set of the individual.

    2.Triggers and early nurturing.

    3.Life experiences and concomitant cognitive constructs.

    I believe that our genetic priming for religion has indeed been 'fixed'. The recent trend to the secular that you allude to is being mediated via 3. above. In some cases, this is sufficient to reverse the genetic priming and other cultural/ existential encouragements toward religiosity.

  19. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming @ J A Le Fevre
    06.04.2011 | 00:35

    With regard to your comment re. my general hypothesis:-

    The hypothesis needs to be confined to Genetic Priming alone.

    Once you mention "different expressions under different conditions" you have to mention epigenetic mechanisms such as methylation and chromatin marking. Genetic Priming and these Epigenetic Mechanisms run alongside Darwinian Natural/ Sexual Selection in my synthesis of the evolutionary processes.

  20. John Jacob Lyons Genetic Priming and the need for an Environmental 'Trigger'
    14.04.2011 | 18:11

    If you are interested in my general genetic priming hypothesis, there was a relevant, confirmatory study carried out in 1967 on the neo-natal pecking behaviour of chicks. They would only peck at "shiny, high contrast targets". In particular, they would peck at their own toes until, by chance, they hit upon food/water. This 'environmental experience/trigger' was found to be necessary before they pecked only at the food/water and not their own tippy-toes. If their toes were masked, and no other shiny targets were available, they didn't peck at all.

    They appeared to be genetically primed to peck at shiny objects but needed an environmental trigger to peck only at food/water. See,

    Hunt and Smith, 'Pecking and Initial Drinking Responses in Young Domestic Fowl', Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology', 1967, Vol 64(2).

  21. John Jacob Lyons Genetic Priming; the general hypothesis
    17.04.2011 | 12:09

    A more explicit statement of this hypothesis that clarifies my use of the word 'priming' is as follows:-

    "All living organisms are genetically primed for the adaptive behaviour of their species but a 'trigger' from their environment is required to manifest the behaviour."

    With regard to 'religiosity' --illustrated in the first poster in the article above -- the parental suggestion that the demised kitten has gone to pussy-cat heaven is the prompt from the environment that triggers the adaptive behaviour.

  22. John Jacob Lyons Genetic priming
    20.04.2011 | 01:13

    I have noticed that another blog has taken an interest in this article. See:-

    http://blogs.nature.com/...04/03/i-cant-think-of-a

  23. John Jacob Lyons @Perdre Du Ventre
    27.07.2011 | 17:12

    Thanks for your encouraging comments.

    At present, it would be unwarranted to call 'Genetic Priming' a 'theory' as distinct from an 'hypothesis'. However, I am gradually presenting it to more and more evolutionary theorists with good results and a lot of interest. I have been invited to present it again at a one-day conference at the Linnean Society in London in September.

  24. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 The Etiology of Religion
    11.08.2011 | 07:01

    I work from the premise that religion answers a cosmological question and proeeds from human judgment and human reason faced with the mystery and structure of the cosmos. There is no empirical evidence that human reason and judgment have their roots and cause in evolutionary or biological engines or that human reason and religion are the work of biological causes.
    I lay down these three premises for discussion and debate and will welcome any and all opposing viewpoints because I am convinced that the present state of evolutionary science regarding human behavior and religion are intenable and erroneous and lead only to a false understanding of what it means to be human.
    1st Premise; A human person is the terminus ad quem of human conception and the terminus a quo from which all human embryonic life develops.
    2nd Premise: Human gestation is a human subject in a state of somatic and organizational and developmental repose, with an integrating principle distinct and separate from the body of the mother.
    3rd Premise: The integrating principle of human embryonic life is a human person in the unfolding of its innate human potential, gradually experiencing, expressing and revealing its uniquely human potential.
    In the light of these premises, the assertion that human behavior, human reason, ethics and religion are products of evolutionary powers is rendered obsolete.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  25. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    28.08.2011 | 04:47

    1 - The premise that biology is the source, the cause and the etiology of religion is false and contradictory.

    2 - There is no causal link between the somatic and psychosomatic structure of human beings and the human cognitive powers.

    3 - The premise is based on a confused understanding of the word "biology".

    4 - The premise is also based on evolutionary principles drawn from Charles Darwin's "The Descent of Man" and not on opbservable data in the somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive structure of the human being.

    5 - There is no observable empirical data in the human embryo that indicates an evolutionary origin - any conclusions affirming this is drawn from the biology of non-human mammalian species.

    6 - The Human Embryo is specifically human, self-contained and equipped with exemplars of its somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive powers from the moment of conception.

    CONCLUSION; Religion has its origin and cause in the Human Intellect, based upon a reasoned judgment of objective and observable realit=ies.

    I am prepared to defend these arguments in any the public arena.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  26. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & Michael Bloom
    29.08.2011 | 16:20

    The reason that The Biology of Religion is a "faux" science is because it is based on a false reading of Darwin's "The Descent of Man". "The Descent of Man" is a flawed work is because it applies data from non-human species to Homa Sapiens without scientific rigor. "The Descent of Man" is Darwin's revenge against God for the death of his daughter which he saw as the result of the truth of Survival of the Fittest. The Descent is not a true scientific work.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town. Nebraska

  27. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to J. A. Le Fevre, John Jacob Lyons & Michael Blume:
    07.09.2011 | 06:45

    I would guess that you, or some of your colleagues hold that conscience, too, is caused by evolution and that therefore is purely subjective and there is no objective right or wrong - and that Survival of the Fittest is the first law of life.

    Well, there gangs of teenagers on the streets of Chicago and Los Angeles who believe this - and there bodies of dead teenagers on those same streets who also believed it. I don't imagine you have thought out the moral and social consequences of Homo Darwiniosus? Well, here at Boys Town and in a dozen mini-campuses around the country, we have to welcome the broken and battered lives of those who tried to live out that doctrine.

    I don't know where conscience comes into your Darwinian science, and I wonder if a certain brand of Social Doctrine is not part of it.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  28. John Jacob Lyons Father Stevens, re my background
    14.09.2011 | 10:17

    You have inquired about my background and there is precious little to see on Academia.edu.

    I am retired. In my career I was basically a consultant mathematician. I worked for Thomson Reuters for many years as a senior manager and completed the methodology for British Airways's passenger forecasting system in the 1990s.

    I have four degrees. Bachelors degrees in both Mathematics and the Arts, an honours degree (1st) in Psychology and a Masters degree in Economics specializing in Operations Research.

    I now describe myself as an independent socio-evolutionary psychologist and evolutionary theorist. I am responsible for suggesting a new evolutionary process in Biology that is known as 'Genetic Priming'.

    I have always preferred the light of reason to the leap of faith. However, I believe that there are some mysteries that science will never explain about our universe. For example, the ultimate origin of time/space. To that extent, I must describe myself as agnostic. But, aside from this reservation, I see religiosity, the religions and their gods as human constructs.

    This is my current view but I remain open-minded and forever questing.

    I hope this is of interest.

    John

  29. John Jacob Lyons Father Stevens, re: Genetic Priming
    14.09.2011 | 14:57

    I am pleased to say that my article 'The Genetic Priming of Religiosity' is easily the most read article on this blog to date averaging well over 800 reads per month since it appeared last March.

    It was well received at The Linnean Society in London when I presented it last week and has had unofficial endorsement from several eminent biologists and philosophers.

    In order to publish it in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, I will have to think of a way to test the hypothesis empirically and/or show that it follows deductively from reasonable premises.

    In its general form, the Genetic Priming hypothesis is that ------------------

    'Over evolutionary time and for all organisms, any consistent, sustained adaptive behaviour tends to prime the relevant genome toward allele-variants that support/ encourage that behaviour.'

    In the article on this blog I suggest that religiosity has always been an adaptive behaviour for hominids and that, consequently, we are innately primed for religiosity.

    I would offer this as an example relevant to 'The Biology of Religion'. Maybe my suggestion is wrong Father Stevens but it undoubtedly qualifies as a scientific hypothesis that links biology/ genetics on one hand to religion on the other.

    John

  30. John Jacob Lyons Father Stevens, re: Genetic Priming
    14.09.2011 | 15:49

    Thanks for you interest.

    You probably know that in evolutionary theory the word 'adaptive' simply means:-

    'Tending to increase the expected number of descendants.'

    Just click on this link:-

    http://www.scilogs.eu/...-post-by-john-jacob-lyons

    John

  31. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 15:58

    Dr. Lyons -

    I found your "Genetic Priming of Religiosity" and am making a print of it. I am happy finally to have in hand one of your scienific writings. I will look for others in the future.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  32. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 10:41

    There must be a first cause which is not itself caused. I paraphrase drastically from the Summa.

    I recognize this argument from my own contention that there are mysteries involved in our existence that science can never resolve. As I have explained, I call the, albeit unknowable, answers to these mysteries my personal God. As I think you know, I reached this conclusion before I read any of the Summa.

    While I'm thinking about this, I just want to thank you sincerely for introducing me to this line of thinking and the Summa. It illustrates the truth that, painful as it sometimes must be, all personal beliefs need to be opposed (with reason) for personal understanding to grow.

    Best wishes,

    John

  33. John Jacob Lyons Do you really understand Evolutionary Theory (ET)?
    17.09.2011 | 12:25

    I want to suggest that at least an elementary understanding of modern ET is necessary to comment sensibly on some of the issues raised on this blog. It is very easy to assume that a "it's the survival of the fittest; isn't it?" level of understanding is sufficient but it definitely is not. I have seen many posts here that seem to betray such an inadequate level of understanding.

    With respect, if this applies to you, my advice would be to fill this lacuna in your knowledge before making your contributions.

    Ignorance of basic ET is a potential road-block to productive exchange on these issues and I believe that many discussions I have seen here have hit the buffers on this account.

  34. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 On Genetic Priming
    18.09.2011 | 22:02

    The Genetic Priming of Religiosity
    by John Jacob Lyons

    A Critique by Clifford Stevens

    The thesis of this study by John Jacob Lyons has as its hypothesis that "over evolutionary time, there will be a tendency for a consistent adaptive behavior to 'prime' relevant sections of the genome toward gen-variant(alleles) that encourage/support the manifestations of adaptive behaviour".

    With this addendum: ""This hypothesis applies to the adaptive bhaviour of all organisms: all animals and plants. This includes the phototropic behaviour of plants, the nest-building behaviour of birds and the religiosity of "Homo Sapiens";

    First of all, there is no reason given for the choice of "religiosity" in human beings. Why not music skills, language development, sleeping habits or literary composition.

    There seems only one reason for this selection of terms: religion is the one human behaviour pattern that includes "the service and worship of God expressed in forms of worship, and the name or concept is not allowed in the vocabulary of evolution.

    2nd, why the term "religiosity? This has become a species neutral term, other manifestations of which appear both in animal and "the phototropic behaviour of plants, and the nest-building behaviour of birds".

    This is a methodological device to assure that no one will question the very idea of a "Biology of Religion", since the appeal to "relevant sections of the genome" places the hypothesis solidly where the evolutionist claims the laws of evolution apply. In logic this is known as "begging the question" which means affirming that which you are first required to prove.

    THESIS 1 - There is no indication or evidence in the Human Genome that the alleles of the Genome have any causal effect upon human behavior.

    THESIS 2 - There is no evidence in the Human Genome of an evolutionary origin of the Genome or any of its DNA sequences, since the Genome itself is not species neutral, but is species specific in the 150,000 genes that constitute its DNA structure.

    THESIS 3 - The "mechanism" mentioned as the cause of Genetic Priming is not a mechanism in the usual sense, it is organic, and, if operative, would have to be dominant or recessive. But in the Genome, depending upon which of the two genotypes, of the phenotype of the heterozygote resembles, there is no way of determining the causality of the "mechanism". In the present state of Genomic studies, the very idea of such a "mechanism" is premature.

    THESIS 4 - So, the statement of Dr. Lyons Guest Post that this "mechanism" is at the very heart of his hypothesis renders the hypothesis invalid.

    THESIS 5 - Adaptive behaviour does not "prime" the Genome> That is an inaccurate statement As indicated above, there is no evidence of an evolutionary origin in the Human Genome, since the Genome itself is species specific.

    THESIS 6 - The very concept of "priming" has no meaning in the genetic powers of the Human Genome, since the Genome is species specific and has reached the highest point of its optimization. Any hint of further optimization is not only futile, but is based on a flawed observation.

    THESIS 7 - Religion is not an activity of the biological powers of Homo Sapiens, it is an activity of the intellectual and volitional powers, based upon a reasoning process that determines truth from falsehood.

    THESIS 8 - The hypothesis that "over evolutionary time, there will be a tendency for a consistent adaptive behaviour to 'prime' relevant sections of the genome toward gene-variants that encourage/support the manifestation of adaptive behaviour, has been shown to be false and scientific untenable

    Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  35. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Genetic Priming of Religiosity
    19.09.2011 | 02:43

    THESIS 9 - Genetic Priming in Homo Sapies is postulated on the thesis that Homo Sapiens is included in Darwinian Evolution.

    What militates against that and disproves the hypothesis is the Genetic Code and the Genetic Signature(s).

    The Genetic Code is species Specific and the Genetic Signature is Subject Specific.

    The Human Embryo and its DNA has no genetic trace of anything relating to "lower species" and is totally, distinctly and specifically human with no traces of evolutionary origins, sealed scientifically by the Genetic Code.

    The Human Embryo and its DNA rivets the totallly of the species specificity in a unique and unrepeatable human subect, sealed scientificallly by the Genetic Signature(s).

    Any hypothesis or claim indicating otherwise has no empirical or scientific basis and no scientific standing whatsoever.

    Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  36. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 On Genetic Priming
    19.09.2011 | 07:48

    THESIS 10 - Those who take the evolution of Homo Sapiens as a given are ultimately deceived by the "model" that is implicit in their hypothesis, for that is all it is - an hypothesis - until a better one comes along.

    A theory or hypothesis is a model of some scientific phenomenon and the closer the model to the scientific facts involved, the more accurate the model.

    The problem with the evolutionary model of Homo Sapiens is that it presumes too much and substitutes supposition for proof and similarity for descent.

    The supposition is that Darwinian principles of Natural Selection and Behavior Modification apply to human beings, with the "evidence" drawn, not from human beings themselves, but from "adaptive behaviors" of bacteria, plants, bees, wasps, birds and non-human mammalian species.

    None of the evidence is drawn from the human organism itself, because no such evidence exists.

    The similarity is the fact that the human organism has somatic and psychosomatic structures "similar" to the somatic and psychosomatic structures of non-human mammalian species, but the similarity ends there, because the somatic and psychosomatic structure of human beings are species specific, with a genetic code riveted into the very fabric of a human embryo and its DNA.

    In the human embryo there is another specificity not found in the embryos of non-human mammalian species: the genetic signature, identifying the human subject underlying the somatic and psychsomatic structure, with a genetic signature unique and different from that of any other member of the human race.

    But that is not the only defect in the evolutionary model of the human species. It does not take into account the specific human powers of human beings, for which there is no parallel in other mammalian species: the intellectual and volitional powers which cannot be esplained by somatic and psychosomatic powers, even thougfh evolutionary biologists behave as if these distinctly human powers had their source and causality in ths biological powers, by linking the human biological powes to adaptive behaviors in the evolution of bacteria, plants, bees, wasps, birds and other mammalian species.

    The error is easily recognizable: the evolutionary model is defective.

    Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  37. John Jacob Lyons 'The Genetic Priming of Religiosity'
    22.09.2011 | 09:53

    'The Genetic Priming of Religiosity' article on this blog got 6000 reads in its first 6 months. That's more than double the monthly hit rate of any other article in the list of 'Top Read Posts'.

    I just want to record that I am very grateful to Michael for its publication on the 'Biology of Religion' blog.

  38. John Jacob Lyons A Recommendation
    22.09.2011 | 17:10

    You may know that I regard myself as neither a believer nor a non-believer. I would have to ask "Believer in what exactly?". 'God' is a subjective human construct and, clearly, means different things to different people.

    However you would react to the question, I want to recommend a series of three documentaries aired by the BBC several years ago and I have given the link below.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/...story-disbelief/

    I watched it for the first time some years back -- before I became interested in the Biology of Religion. It may well raise issues that are pertinent to the matters we discuss on this blog. I do remember that it was very thought provoking and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone seriously interested in thinking about religion and belief.

  39. John Jacob Lyons Michael
    29.09.2011 | 17:43

    Broadly speaking, biology is the study of life forms and human psychology is the study of the behaviour/ mental experience of the particular life form called Homo sapiens. If this is accepted, then the subject area known as the 'Psychology of Religion' would appear to lie within the scope of this 'Biology of Religion' blog.

    Scientific work relevant to the Psychology of Religion has burgeoned in recent years. If Michael agrees with this interpretation of the scope of his blog, it would make a vast range of books, articles and papers suitable subjects for discussion here.

    Do you agree and is this possible Michael? Does it fit with your Scilogs remit? Is it something you would want to do?

  40. John Jacob Lyons Genetic Priming ---- Update
    06.08.2012 | 10:59

    I am a member of a Linnean Society international consortium planning a learned publication on the role of behaviour in evolution. I have completed a formal paper explaining and supporting my Genetic Priming Theory and it is now being peer-reviewed. We hope to publish early-2013.

    It started here when Michael Blume invited me to write a piece on my ideas for this blog. So thanks Michael!

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