Hardwired for God?

I’m currently an agnostic, but I came across this interesting idea in my search for “the truth.” It has been suggested that there may be a neurological basis for the human inclination towards spiritual experience or connection.
In the report “Hardwired to Connect,” it says: “Much of the first half of this report is a presentation of scientific evidence…showing that the human child is 'hardwired to connect.” We are hardwired for other people and for moral meaning and openness to the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connection is essential to health and to human flourishing…Primary nurturing relationships influence early spiritual development, and spiritual development can influence us biologically in the same way that primary nurturing relationships do…In short, the two kinds of connectedness analyzed in this report—connection to others and connection to the transcendent—seem to influence the same biological systems in quite similar ways. This phenomenon may help explain why some people find, in their religious faith and spiritual practice, some of the very sources of security and well-being that were not available to them form their parents."
This stipulation is often used by theists as evidence for the presence of a god, but I am not sure because of a central question I have. Did the need for religion/God come about as a precautionary substitute for lack of social interaction? In other words, if an individual had marginal/inadequate or no exposure to other people, is the ever-available propensity to believe in deities intended to serve as an evolutionary safety net for the social interaction necessary?



Welcome to the forum! :slight_smile:

I’m just wondering, how would the emergence of this propensity fit with known natural history. How would it be selected for if it depends on social (and by implication, reproductive) isolation of individuals? In the development of humans, when have they ever not been social creatures? Religion has always developed in communities and been enforced and strengthened by communities, not by isolation. So I’m having a hard time imagining how this propensity would develop “as an evolutionary safety net” for individuals who are deprived of human community. Beneficial adaptations depend on reproduction to survive, so it’s kind of hard to picture how an adaptation that primarily serves socially isolated individuals would gain a foothold in a population.

Also, could you provide a link to the source you are referencing?

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Thank you for your response. Hmm…the points your brought up give me pause in my previous train of thought. Yea, now that I think about it that way, it doesn’t seem like a logical "safety net."
Unfortunately, I don’t have an actual link. I found this in a book that used an excerpt from a report, which seems to require you to buy it.

I have also come across several similar studies before. For the time being, I’ve only dug up this one:

Being human: Religion: Bound to believe? (Nature 2008)

I have not given this much philosophical thought but one may theologically approach this by taking the “created in the image of God” consideration. To anyone who is not quite sure to what the “image of God” is, I would encourage this impressively made video:

God is not a response to a problem. God is the Source of Reality or Life.

God created the universe to be relational in nature, because God is relational in Nature.

God created humans in God’s Own Image, which is Relational, because God created humans to live in God’s universe.

The eminent scientist E. O. Wilson recently wrote an important book, The Social Conquest of Earth, pointing out that the species that dominate the earth are social species working together, not individualistic species working for individual dominance. This goes against Dawkins’ individualistic view of natural selection, which is the basis of his New Atheism. This is just to point out that science - evolution - points to the relational aspect of life, despite Dawkins.

Evolution favors those species and individuals that cooperate, because the ecology is relational. The ecology is relational because God is Trinity/Love, that is relational. Humans are not “hard” wired for God, but are soft wired for developing relationships with each other and the environment, because this is how the universe works.

God does not force people to love God, but there are physical, mental, and spiritual advantages to be in right relationship to God and others. Since humans are by definition created as limited beings, God gives us the ability to work together to overcome our limitations.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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