Friday, April 27, 2012

Born to be, or not to be, religious

Almost half of American adults, for example, have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lifetime, and most do so before age 24…once people enter adulthood they tend to stick with one category, retaining either faith in God or the absence thereof…
Recent research suggests, however, that this is not the whole story.  By studying the correlations among thousands of individuals’ religious beliefs and measures of their thoughts and behaviors, scientists have discovered that certain personality types are predisposed to land on different spots of the religiosity spectrum.  Genetic factors account for more than half of the variability among people on the core dimensions of their character, which implies that a person’s feelings regarding religion also contain a genetic component.
…religious individuals tend to display agreeable and conscientious behaviors.  For example, religious people are inclined to show cooperation in laboratory experiments and to volunteer in real life.  They also endorse healthy lifestyles that reflect self-control such as low alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
…In a way, we are born to be inclined toward religion or atheism.  Does God call us?  For some of us, the answer is yes: through our genes, parents, acquaintances and life events.
—Saroglou, Vassilis.  May/June, 2012.  “Are We Born to Be Religious?”  Scientific American Mind.