Is God in Our Genes?

It seems that we have something like a sweet tooth for religion. And the question is why. Why are we so eager for the particular rituals and the particular behaviors … why do they appeal to us so much? … Our sweet tooth for religions is one of the most important and influential factors in the world today. If we don’t understand it, we’re cruising to trouble in this 21st century.

Daniel Dennett on Open Source

Philosopher Daniel Dennett — a proud atheist in the mold of zoologist Richard Dawkins — wants to understand why religion has such a powerful hold on people. And as a believer in the gospel of Darwin, he looks to evolution to explain why our minds and our culture are gripped by God.

So this hour we want to ask — and try to answer, from a variety of perspectives — are we hardwired (i.e., did we evolve) to believe in God? If so, does that prove that God exists? Or doesn’t exist? If we do have a kind of “God gene,” why did our minds evolve that way? Did belief in the supernatural confer some kind of adaptive advantage? At the individual level? At the group level? Or is belief in God a specific byproduct of our brain’s more general ability to make imaginative leaps? Or did God guide our evolution and, in doing so, make it easy for us to have faith?

What questions do you have?

Guest List
Daniel Dennett
professor of philosophy at Tufts University, director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, and author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
Michael Murray
professor of philosophy, Franklin and Marshall College, and co-editor, Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions.
David Sloan Wilson
evolutionary biologist at SUNY Binghamton, and author of Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
Gawain de Leeuw
Episcopal priest and blogger at The Salty Vicar.

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