Is there a gene that determines how spiritual we are - how close we can feel to the divine? Molecular biologist Dean Hamer would say yes. In his book "The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes," Mr. Hamer outlines that he has scientifically shown that individuals who are able to consistently reach a transcendent spiritual mental state have a specific gene in common. And he believes there could be other gene combinations that bring about the same effect.
Time magazine concluded in an Oct. 25 story on this new finding that, "Our most profound feelings of spirituality, according to a literal reading of Hamer's work, may be due to little more than an occasional shot of intoxicating brain chemicals governed by our DNA." And Hamer agrees that he actually sees every thought and feeling human beings experience as a result of the activity of the brain. Another study in the same article concluded that whether or not we're drawn to God at all is "hardwired into our genes."
Of course religious philosophers and clergy from all corners are a bit put off by these conclusions. They fly in the face of many church teachings and, if true, have far-reaching implications for who is able to really find redemption and communion with God.
Will those entering a church leadership role need to have a genetic screening? Are some of us just going to be left out because our wiring is inherently faulty no matter how genuinely we try to understand our relationship with the divine?
Reading about how science and theology are wrangling with Hamer's ideas, I found myself standing firmly outside both of the positions presented. My big problem is that the debate never ventured beyond the contention that men and women are purely physical beings and nothing more. That just doesn't hold water for me.
I don't have to count on any shot of brain chemicals to feel that my prayers bring me into a better understanding of God. I know my relation to God has nothing to do with my physical body or my brain. True consciousness, intelligence, and spiritual understanding are not regulated by DNA, brain cells, or anything else material and limited.
Now that may sound like a very "out there" kind of thought, but many spiritual thinkers have come to the same conclusion. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, expressed it beautifully when she wrote: "Man is by no means a material germ rising from the imperfect and endeavoring to reach Spirit above his origin. The stream rises no higher than its source" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 246).
The divine Mind is our only source of existence, and this is what enables us to commune and experience the divine in our lives - to rise as high as our source. As eternal, spiritual beings, we cannot be held in check by material confines.
And in addition, within the theological debate is the age-old thought that God gives only certain people the ability to understand and be in communion with Him and to experience salvation. The Time magazine article even suggests that this inequity may be "an important part of the spiritual journey," causing some to struggle with an understanding of the divine while others have a wide open door and easy access - possibly a genetically arranged access.
This tendency to bless some and leave others out is in total opposition to the nature of the God of Love who has made each of us in His image and likeness, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis. The divine Love that formed creation does not pick and choose favorites; therefore, none of God's children is randomly predestined to be more spiritual. Each one of God's children possesses the same spiritual qualities and reflects them directly from God. Each has unlimited spiritual potential and unfettered access to the Spirit of God.
We are able to experience the consciousness of God's presence not because it is written in our genetic code, but because it is indelibly and lovingly engraved in our heart and nature by our Father-Mother God - unquestioningly, eternally, divinely.