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Marrying your biological first cousin (where you share a pair of grandparents) is not only often considered taboo, but is illegal in many countries. However, some scientists and scholars now question the basis of this cultural norm.
With the scientific method, it is an empirical question as to whether a person's belief in God has a genetic component. From a religious point of view, the idea that a person's fate is predetermined from material causes may undermine the concepts of free will and spirituality.
There is an ongoing debate regarding the degree to which homosexuality is genetic versus environmental. A scientific understanding is important, in part because it can either support or refute a prevalent Christian belief that homosexuality is a choice.
The safety of genetically modified food has been an area of controversy since it was first put on the market in the 1990s. While conventional breeding for thousands of years has modified the genetic code of organisms, genetic engineering enables the precise modification of genetic code, even allowing the genes of one species to be integrated into another.
Jordan Grafman
Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary adaptive cognitive functions.
No simple cause for sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated, and there is no scientific consensus as to whether the contributing factors are primarily biological or environmental.
The Catholic Church
A marriage is never permitted if doubt exists whether the partners are related by consanguinity in any degree of the direct line or in the second degree of the collateral line.
Albert Einstein
I love you [wrote Albert Einstein in a letter to Elsa Einstein, his cousin and (second) wife to be].
Ann Cryer
As we address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity, we say it's a public health issue, and therefore we all have to get involved with it in persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle. I think the same should be applied to this problem in the Asian community. They must adopt a different lifestyle. They must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people.
Hamish Spencer
These laws reflect once-prevailing prejudices about immigrants and the rural poor and oversimplified views of heredity, and they are inconsistent with our acceptance of reproductive behaviors that are much riskier to offspring. They should be repealed, not because their intent was eugenic, but because neither the scientific nor social assumptions that informed them are any longer defensible.
Steven Pinker
To sum up. The universal propensity toward religious beliefs a genuine scientific puzzle. But many adaptationist explanations for religion, such as the one featured in Time last week, don't, I think, meet the criteria for adaptations. There is an alternative explanation, namely that religious psychology is a by-product of many parts of the mind that evolved for other purposes.
Richard Dawkins
...it's not necessary to assume religion aids human survival, though it might. ...do religious people survive better than non-religious people because they are freed up from stress, and so they don't get stress-related diseases and that kind of thing? I find that less interesting and less persuasive than the idea that religious ideas are just simply good [i.e. successfully replicating memes] for the religious ideas themselves.
John Polkinghorne
The idea of a God gene goes against all my personal theological convictions. You can't cut faith down to the lowest common denominator of genetic survival. It shows the poverty of reductionist thinking.
Dean Hamer
Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus all shared a series of mystical experiences or alterations in consciousness and thus probably carried the gene. This means that the tendency to be spiritual is part of genetic makeup. This is not a thing that is strictly handed down from parents to children. It could skip a generation. It's like intelligence.

New Comments

0 Points       Mahendra Trivedi       23 Jan 2015     Is genetically modified food safe to eat? General Comment
What is Genetic Research?
Genetic research refers to the study of DNA and involves with finding out how genes and environmental factors contribute to diseases. Knowing the reason only, we can detect the disease effectively and can prevent our body from the attack of diseases. However, genetic research is not only confined within the study of human DNA. It has implications in the field of animal and plant genetics as well and studies the behavior of genes, mutations, and molecular interactions for better understanding of diseases.

Benefits of Genetic Research

Genetic researchers are doing research on the genetic causes of common illnesses, such as asthma, arthritis, and Alzheimer. Results of such research will surely help in preventing and overcoming such physical illness. Researchers are creating drugs based on the knowledge of genes, which does not have any side effects. It is genetic research that gives us knowledge how diseases are inherited and how good habits are passed along. In plant fraternity, genetics research works on the development of seeds to gain resistance to herbicides, which is used to destroy unnecessary plants. Here, seeds are modified genetically to help the farmer spray herbicides on them to destroy weeds without damaging the plant.

Genetics research has revealed the cause why a person diagnosed with a gene for a particular disease does not develop any health hazards, while others affected with severity. Hence, it determines who will be susceptible to genetic disease that the doctors also cannot predict beforehand. Further, genetics research has helped people in other ways as well that general physiology fails to answer. Couples facing infertility problems are often referred to a genetic counselor. The counselor conducts test to check if the parents are carrying genes that increase the chance of genetic disease in the expecting child. Many couples go through this test before planning a pregnancy and ensure delivering a healthy baby.

Like human health, genetics research has worked consistently to determine the genes that carry diseases in animals. Various tests have been conducted to help breeders to plan successful breeding strategies and avoid birth of affected animals. It is done to save the breed from the risk of diseases.

The Trivedi Effect® Has Made Genetic Research More Effective

Mahendra Kumar Trivedi has founded an effective energy boosting technique that has been tested by more than 4000 scientific experiments. The Energy Transmission process administered by Mahendra Trivedi and other Trivedi Masters™ is based on Universal Intelligence, and the results of this phenomenon have spellbound the scientific community to question their beliefs. The genetic research conducted in Indian and foreign lab has showed that the Energy Transmission extended by Trivedi Masters™ can alter the DNA structure of plants by introducing a foreign gene artificially as is done with modified seeds.

With the help of the Trivedi Effect® an overall improvement can be achieved in plant. The yield of crops has been increased by 500% along with 600% increase in the immunity without using any fertilizers or pesticides. The potential effect of Energy Transmission generated by the thought of Mahendra Trivedi has a direct connection with a higher consciousness and can transform the natural structure of human, plant, seeds, along with animals. Mr. Trivedi started The Trivedi Foundation™ to work with leading research institutes and universities to introduce a new scientific field that challenges ongoing scientific thought and explores the effectiveness of TheTrivedi Effect®. Providing Energy Transmission, Mahendra Kumar Trivedi undertakes genetic modification of crops and plants with features useful to farmers and consumers. To know more about The Trivedi Effect® and Trivedi Science, check on http://www.trivediscience.com/ and http://www.trivedieffect.com/.

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Is genetically modified food safe to eat? Agree
Not much to say beyond just agreeing with mainstream science on what is clearly a scientific issue.

1 Point       donkavayo       24 Feb 2011     Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component? Mostly Agree
Probably. Reading Wikipedia article below made my opinion on gays cross the center line between anti-gay to pro-gay toward pro-gay but I still find it gross when thinking about why a man wants to mount another.
Industrial pollution may be another strong factor on increasing gay population. I read a scientific study about males of some bird kind becoming homo due to high mercury in their food. Also read another that says plastic material in cars, etc make penises of baby boys smaller. the other one about a town in Canada where women giving births to mostly baby girls due to pollution.


1 Point       blacktrance       11 Feb 2011     Is genetically modified food safe to eat? Agree
It's definitely safe to eat. There's nothing inherently dangerous about genetic modification.

0 Points       Benja       17 Sep 2010     Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component? General Comment
No. You're assuming we all have the same genetic component. Your assumption is religiously based, not scientifically based.

0 Points       Benja       09 May 2010     Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component? Mostly Agree
Conservatives aren't interested in your complicated papers. They have the bible. The bible clearly says that homosexuality is wrong. Since God is just, he couldn't have made us hard-wired to be evil - evil must be a choice.

This type of reasoning - where scripture is used to determine science facts - is dangerous. This is why I'd disagree with you on the issue of atheists directly challenging religious beliefs. The cruelty of challenging someone's beliefs - which at most is an attack of words (and I'd recommend any attack be done with courtesy and respect) - hardly compares to the cruelty of denying homosexuals legal rights.

0 Points       the27th       09 May 2010     Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component? Mostly Agree
I've seen the papers. Heritability is practically undeniable, genetic origin is pretty likely, X-linked is plausible.

0 Points       Abelard       06 Apr 2010     Does belief in God have a significant genetic component? Agree
Oh yeh, one other little thing, actually two. Please forgive me I can't help it. The principle is not contentious, I think you meant to say contended, i.e. controversial. Also your "Touching the Void" story, that would be anecdotal. One guy, two guys, whatever. The big picture------if individuals do or do not turn to God in times of stress isn't the issue, it's what the other 6 billion plus on this God-forsaken planet (sorry, couldn't help it) tend to do is. More than a billion people on this planet claim to be Christians, similar numbers for both Hindus and Muslims. Buddhists, Jews, and a gizillion tribal religions. Taoists, Shinto, Zens, Confucianists, Hare Khrisnas, and my personal favorite, the Rastafarians! For Christ's sake (oops, there I go again!) how can anyone possibly say that religion isn't at least in part genetic! Even the rational can be foolish!

0 Points       Abelard       06 Apr 2010     Does belief in God have a significant genetic component? Agree
Good point Benja! However it's not so much a question of people NEEDING to turn to God, but rather the original question of DO they and is it at least in part genetic. To me it clearly is. As a general rule human beings both individually and collectively are I self-centered and tend to be ego-maniacal. What I mean to say is that they have a much higher regard for themselves than is deserved and like to think they're in more control of their lives than they truly are. People hate to think they are "controlled" by their genetics. The truth be told however is that everything we are individually and collectively as a species is influenced by our genetics. Get over it. It is what it is. The first human civilization began around 4000 BCE. Before that Neolithic man and Paleolithic man struggled to survive for 150.000 years. Famine, drought, disease, tribal wars, climate changes. predators and on and on. To survive was extremely difficult. Anything that helped the species to survive was just fine with Natural Selection. Natural Selection is a process, it doesn't have an opinion. It doesn't matter that superstition, belief in the supernatural, or belief in an all-knowing omnipresent and all-powerful super-being is irrational. If it helps,it helps. Again and again and again, generation after generation, people who believed in the supernatural found strength in their religious beliefs. Have you ever prayed? I mean really prayed? Try it. Try it now. "Our Father, who art in heaven...." When you pray it has an incredible calming effect. At the very least it's extremely relaxing. For people who are religious it gives them serenity, peace of mind, a wonderfully spiritual connection.What it really does is that it gets them out of themselves, they forget their problems and worries. It helps them survive. The big things and the little things. The problem is is that it's delusional. It's a little crazy. Actually more than a little. On top of it the religious have the craziest myths!

1 Point       Benja       05 Apr 2010     Does belief in God have a significant genetic component? General Comment
There's a separate question you've brought up here that's really interesting, along the lines of:

"Do people need religion when faced with death?"

The principle, that there are no atheists in a foxhole, is contentious. I recall watching the excellent documentary, "Touching the Void", where a mountaineer, who is trapped in a crevasse with a broken leg, does NOT give up, despite horrible odds of survival. Furthermore, he NEVER turned to God. I'll dig for some more examples.

0 Points       Abelard       05 Apr 2010     Does belief in God have a significant genetic component? Agree
JG, I'm sorry, I thing you missed my point. (By the way, do you realize you said "Losing Reasonably" and not Losing Reason-ability". Interesting.) Let me paint a scenario: A Paleolithic tribe, twenty of them. They are in a cave. It's freezing cold outside. It's an early Ice Age and they have been caught by a sudden huge blizzard. Three feet of snow. They were unprepared (no accu-weather forecast!) They don't have enough food. It's been a week. Still snowing. A couple of small parties went out to try to find food and haven't returned. Things are looking really bad. If they don't get food soon they are going to probably starve. The realists know this, it's pretty obvious. You look outside and all you see is white snow up to your hips and howling wind. A rational, reasoning realistic person knows that they're all gonna probably die. Shit happens. For paleolithic man shit happened all the time. Life, living!, was extremely hard. Average life expectancy was maybe 30. Some delirious girl in the back of the cave, whose father was one of the ones who heroically went out looking for food, not to return, is mumbling something ridiculous like "Oh Father, Oh Father....."! The realistic ones know it';s one in a thousand. They lay down. They are weak, things look, and probably are, hopeless. You're right JG, the don't give up reason-ability, the give up reasonably. Rationally. A few people have gathered around the crazy girl, "Our Father, Our Father........" They irrationally don't give up hope. When there reasonably is no hope! Ritual calms the mind. (Distracts?) Miraculously, literally, help arrives. It's only the crazies, the "religious" who have survived. Religion may be irrational, but it is a great coping mechanism. Remember, "There are no atheists in a foxhole." Natural selection doesn't care if it rational or not, delusional or not,if it helps people survive then it's "good".

1 Point       JGWeissman       04 Apr 2010     Does belief in God have a significant genetic component? General Comment
"The prime directive: Survival of the Species!"

Not quite. The prime directive of natural selection is Best Possible Reproductive Fitness of the Individual.

See http://lesswrong.com/lw/kw/the_tragedy_of_group_selectionism/

"The realists among them realized that survival was highly unlikely so they did the perfectly rational thing, they laid down,accepted their fate and died."

What? The perfectly rational thing in this case is whatever gives the best chance of survival, and any rationalist can see that holding out until the 11th hour has a better chance of survival than just giving up. Accepting your fate and dying is Losing Reasonably. Rationalists don't Lose Reasonably. Rationalists figure out how to win.

See http://lesswrong.com/lw/nc/newcombs_problem_and_regret_of_rationality/

New Editorial Comments

1 Point       Benja       08 Jan 2009     Is genetically modified food safe to eat? Editorial Comment
Need a separate question on whether GM foods are environmentally safe, and get Greenpeace's takeonit.

Genetics Question Index

Does obesity have a significant genetic component?
Is genetically modified food safe to eat?
Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component?
Does belief in God have a significant genetic component?
Can a mental state such as stress cause baldness?
Is marrying your cousin OK?