“Religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame” – Albert Einstein.
Having spent about 14 years of my life meditating and having enjoyed the anandam, and also having a deep belief in God, I was very curious to read the book ‘The God Gene’ by Dean H. Hamer, Ph.D. and I found his ideas very interesting. You can read the criticisms for this theory all over the internet., but I wanted to quote a few of his ideas on my web-site.
Many Ancient Indians saw God everywhere and in everything, and so do many modern Indians for that matter. Does this have anything to do with our genes? Let me quote and summarise a few of Hamer’s ideas below and then I shall summarize my own thoughts.
- The God gene is a specific individual gene associated with the self-transcendence scale of spirituality.
- It codes for a momamine transporter – a protein that controls the amount of crucial brain signaling chemicals.
- The brain chemicals controlled by the gene alter consciousness, our sense of reality, our awareness of ourselves and the universe around us, inclusing our thoughts, memories and perceptions.
- In self-transcendence, there is a blurring of distinction between the self and the other.
- The key role of monoamines is to link objects and experiences with emotions and values. (Read Ramakrishna Math publications on manas, chitta and buddhi).
- Monoamines such as serotonin and dopamine are important players in consciousness.
- While religion is transmitted by culture, spirituality is transmitted by genes.
- Spiritual Beliefs and feelings are products of the brain – the firing of electrochemical currents through networks of nerve cells.
- Self-actualised people are more spiritual and less religious.
- Women are more self-transcendent than men.
- VMAT2 is the God gene. It makes a protein that packages all the different monoamines into secretory vehicles.
- People who have the VMAT2 gene variant containing the ‘C’ allelle are more spiritual than those who have the ‘A’ Allelle.
- Mystical experiences similar to what the most disciplined and self-regulated monks have can be also be had through drug abuse. (Remember the 70’s HRHK chilkas?)
- The monoamines are the biochemical mediators of emotions and values. They are what makes us feel.
- Monoamines are not freely available to the brain. They need to be wrapped up an unwrapped.
- Monoamines are synthesised from the food you eat. That is why food affects your feelings. For eg sugar in the blood makes more serotonin in the brain which relieves feelings of depression.
- Monoamines are produced in the neurons. These neurons are in the center of the brain an send out their branches far and wide. These monoamines must be gift wrapped before thery are sent to other parts of the brain in membranes made of protein, sugar and fat. This is where the vesicular mono amine transporter (VMAT2)comes in. Calcium ions help in opening up the membrane once the monamines reac their destination.
- The monoamines of interest here are serotonin (feel bad when low, (aggressive when in excess?)), dopamine (feel good) noradrenaline (stress related).
- Persinger: The biological basis of all spiritual and mystical experience is due to the spontaneous firing of the temporoparietal region, which increase the communication between the left and right temporoparietal regions. (This is the way a human senses the presence of God (or maybe thinks he does.)).
- There are two brain circuits one orientation area and one association area.
- When you close your eyes and focus on the association area, the orientation area partially shuts down.
- In an individual with the C allele, there is much more monoamine signalling than in one with the A allele.
- The ‘C” guy has more joyous spiritual experiences.
Maybe Indians have more of the VMAT2 C allele variant gene? The happiness index is very high and the suicide rate is very low! The number of mystical experiences are also higher. People here are also optimistic in spite of the living conditions. Maybe be some student of Hamer will perform an experiment. I am waiting to hear about it.