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The God Gene


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About the Author

DR. DEAN HAMER is a preeminent geneticist and author of The Science of Desire, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Living with Our Genes. Together with his scientific collaborators at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, he has authored more than one hundred articles for popular and academic science journals. His television appearances include Good Morning America, Dateline, Oprah, the national news shows, and documentaries for HBO, PBS, and the Discovery Channel. Dr. Hamer received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ariens Kappers Award for Neurobiology.


The chief of Gene Structure at the Cancer Institute argues that spiritual belief has an evolutionary advantage. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"Fascinating. . . . A compelling case that spirituality very well may be part and parcel of our genetic structure." -Los Angeles Times"Hamer ably narrates his quest to identify a gene that strongly correlates with self-transcendence. . . . Persuasive." -The Washington Post Book World "Hamer weaves a fascinating fabric of mysticism, culture, consciousness, and biochemistry . . . rife with history and multidisciplinary tidbits. . . . Enlightening." -Seed"Challenges some basic assumptions we may have and certainly goads us into reflection about human nature." - The News & Observer

This book's title is more rhetorical effect than factual accuracy: Hamer, who discovered the controversial "gay gene" in the 1990s, reports that he has now found a gene that may correlate in some people with their level of spirituality-not with belief in a being we would call God or with the performance of traditional religious practices, but with what psychiatrist Robert Cloninger called "self-transcendence." This trait is a capacity to feel at one with all life and with the universe as a whole, and Cloninger measured it with personality testing. The so-called "God gene" is a particular location in the human genome known as VMAT2, which affects the brain's neurotransmitters. Hamer admits that the gene probably accounts for less than 1% of the total variance in human spirituality. The book's later chapters become still more speculative, as Hamer, a molecular biologist at the National Cancer Institute, considers the scanty evidence of health benefits of spirituality, which would make faith an adaptive evolutionary trait. Hamer emphasizes that the existence of a "God gene" would neither prove nor disprove the reality of God. However, this gracefully written book may intrigue people of all faiths-or no faith-who wonder about the ultimate connection between science and religion. (On sale Sept. 14) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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