Archive for Genetics

Why are women more religious than men?

Posted in Religion with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by neandergal

March is Women’s History Month. It appears that religious beliefs are not history among women. A recent survey by the Pew Research Institute shows that 63% of women compared to only 49% of men say that “religion is very important in their lives” and 66% “pray at least daily” compared to only 49% of men. Women’s close affinity with religion seems odd given that religious dogma tends to be misogynistic.

So why do women flock to religion? Larry Moran, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto addresses the question in his blog, Why Are Women Religious? He points out that, “The idea that women might feel the need to belong to a group isn’t wrong. There may even be some biological differences between men and women (hormones?) that underlie this preference for belonging.” Even if it is true that women are genetically predisposed to behaving more socially, it does not adequately explain the need for more religious affiliation.

So far, no evidence for a “religious” gene exists. Moran concludes in his article, “The fact that, today, women in Western industrialized nations tend to be more religious than men could be entirely due to culture.” Religion is as man-made as the bogey man or tooth-fairy. It is not genes that make us believe, but vivid imaginations and indoctrination.

Religion Defeated?

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by neandergal

One would think that scientific discoveries supporting evolutionary theory would have put to rest the question of whether science has defeated religion. Yet, a question mark remains over what answers the “how” versus “why” questions of life. Science asks “how” and religion asks “why.”

Colin Blakemore discusses this issue in an article published in the UK Guardian-Observer, Science is just one gene away from defeating religion. Blakemore describes how “Crick and Watson’s discovery transformed our view of life itself – from a manifestation of spiritual magic to a chemical process.” This is surely a “checkmate” in the “metaphysical chess match between science and religion.”

Religion continues to go unchallenged because of the notion that there are two questions, “how” and “why.” The answer to the “why” questions might be as simple as Blakemore points out: “Either they make no sense or they can be recast as the kind of “how” questions that science answers so well.”

The appeal of religion is that it gives definitive answers whereas science cannot do that. Definitive answers provide a source of comfort because no more questions need answering. Science answers questions with more questions and requires us to think. Freedom of thought is a burden. Religion alleviates that burden.

Colin Blakemore presents the UK Channel 4 television series God and the Scientists.

Special investigation: Who’s testing your DNA?

Posted in Science with tags , , , on January 22, 2009 by neandergal

This is how Michigan State Police fired forensic scientist, Ann Chamberlain-Gordon for misuse of equipment and how her husband got away with misusing his own equipment.

The New scientist article discusses the implications of privacy on DNA testing in the article, Special investigation: Who’s testing your DNA? Perhaps the safest way to protect your privacy is to keep your privates private to avoid getting caught with your pants down.

The Future of Man–How Will Evolution Change Humans?

Posted in Science with tags , , , on January 8, 2009 by neandergal

Peter Ward’s article, Future of Man – How Will Evolution Change Humans? in Scientific American Magazine discusses how we may have and continue to shape our evolution through changing the environment through technology. A study of genetic markers from 270 people showed that humans underwent some evolution as little as 5,000 years ago. In another study, large data sets of genetic variation showed how changes to the genome increased survival chances through increased resistance to diseases like Lasser fever and malaria and may explain differences in peoples’ ability to digest milk in different regions of the world.

Whatever the future holds for human evolution, it makes for interesting speculation and food for thought…for the time being.