In 2004, Dean Hamer wrote a book about what he called the God Gene. (The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes) As a geneticist, Hamer researched and studied the theory that ones genes are responsible for various traits and life choices such as faith, sexual orientation, and human behavior. Hamer conducted a series of behavioral genetic, neurobiological and psychological studies that led him to hypothesize that spirituality has a genetic component that can be associated with belief in mystic experiences, including the existence of a deity and the ability to conceptualize and connect with a greater existence and larger universe.
All of that can be considered hogwash by believers and nonbelievers alike and like all hypotheses or theories, not proven to be true.
The idea of a God Gene was also shared by billionaire Oprah Winfrey on her website and by one her favorite not-a-billionaire-but-close-enough sensei, Deepak Chopra – Chopra focused on his own version, which he called the Faith Gene. The underlying intent is to help people feel at peace with themselves which is easier to accomplish through faith than other means – all of it on the premise that genetics is the determinant of life optimism.
Regardless of your opinion on religion, there is something far more important at play here than genetic predisposition. What is truly at play is slightly different and focused on the idea that psychologically you are more or less likely to go forward on faith when you believe in what you stand for. We’ll call it the Believe Factor, not genetic. Rather than a scientific approach, the Believe Factor is the hypothetical notion that humans have a variable levels of ability to believe IN SOMETHING or not.
This is easy to understand in relation to traditional religion. Many people of the Christian faith believe in God. Their level of commitment however may vary. There are those who are completely committed and exhibit unwavering faith that God exists. They have a high Believe Factor rating – they follow Christian tenants to the letter and find connection to God in everything. On the other hand we know people who question their own faith regularly, those who mostly believe but are not completely certain, and of course there are those who don’t believe at all. These are different levels of their Believe Factor.
Further evaluation includes the idea that those who don’t believe at all in a deity may still have a strong Believe Factor, even though WHAT they believe may be entirely void of traditional religion. Their Believe Factor may be just as strong or stronger than that of the committed Christian listed above.
A devout following of traditional Christian Teachings in many ways is no different than a devout following of let’s say, Climate Crisis Teachings, or Pro-Choice Teachings, or a belief in Socialism or Communism or Democracy. Those followers can be just as dedicated as any Christian. Those individuals are looking to fill the need for belief and faith and they landed on a non-religious cause, but a cause nonetheless. And they can be just as immovable or stalwart in their faith.
Attorney General William Barr (in his 8/9/2020 interview of Life, Liberty, and Levin), was absolutely correct when he said “[t]he left wants power because that is essentially their state of grace in their secular religion,” he said. “They want to run peoples’ lives so they can design utopia for all of us and that’s what turns them on. And it’s the lust for power and they weren’t expecting Trump’s victory and it outrages them.” Very much a description of a religious faith on the part of the liberals (in this case the rioters) for their belief system and the Believe Factor.
Barr added, “[t]hey’re not interested in compromise, they’re not interested in dialectic exchange of views. They’re interested in total victory,” Barr said. “It’s a secular religion. It’s a substitute for a religion.”
The Believe Factor is merely a function of extremes and the dynamics of those extremes are different than what we generally believe. We receive constant input that the radical liberals are for example on the opposite end of the spectrum than radical conservatives when in fact they are the same. We’re told regularly that those who have a strong belief in Christianity are the extreme and it is viewed as the opposite end of those with a strong belief in Manmade Climate Change. They are the same, just as wedded to their beliefs, both operating on scientifically unverifiable information, and both KNOWING their truth to be true. (And both believing that the information they have is fully proven.)
Here’s another example we’ve generally already accepted: There are those who believe in Trump very strongly, with a strong Believe Factor and there are those who believe in Biden very strongly, with a strong Believe Factor. Those individuals are on the SAME SIDE of the Believe Factor spectrum as one another. For the things we believe in, we ‘trust our faith’ and do not need proof – we KNOW it to be true. Both sides consistently cry an inability to understand why the other is so blind in their faith and support when often we can see the same behavior in ourselves.
In this context, religious liberty becomes very different animal. It is at the cross section of extremes (not the moderateness) that matters. It is when extreme viewpoints of any belief extend into illegal behavior that we need to question their viability. A radical Christian who bombs and abortion clinic is just as much of a murderer as a BLM rioter who guns someone down for not agreeing with their ‘religion’. Christians and religious zealots do not have a corner on the market for “a higher power told me to do it” reasoning. At the end of the day, if any individual is not behaving in an illegal manner, they are fully entitled to their strong Believe Factor opinions.
What we can gather from this line of thinking is the idea that there are those who follow their faith blindly who can never be convinced otherwise. It doesn’t matter if the candidate has inconsistent rhetoric, shows serious indications that he is declining in mental health, or has significant discrepancies in his voting record – there are some who will blindly follow (and distort any contrary input to fit their Believe Factor.)
Even those who are the most reasonable and intellectual in their political outlook, will be painted by the opposing side as radical – especially if those doing the painting also have a strong Believe Factor.
The problem arises when we understand that the right to ones opinion is not granted equally in our current social climate:
Last night Attorney General William Barr was interviewed for about an hour on Mark Levin’s conservative talk show. The next morning the Washington Post reduced the hour into one short headline which read, “Barr slams Black Lives Matter, accuses the left of ‘tearing down the system’.” Similarly, The Hill’s headline read, “Barr: The left ‘believes in tearing down the system’.” It is fair to deduce that the Washington Post and The Hill editors or perhaps the establishments themselves, have STRONG Believe Factors. Additionally they hold the power of communication. (This is the crux of the saying “don’t mess with anyone who buys ink by the barrel,” as attributed to several different Americans.) So those slanted headlines will reach a far greater number of people than will William Barr’s actual primary source interview, and most importantly have a far greater ability to reach those with a WEAKER Believe Factor. Those individuals with softer conviction are receiving weighted information and the Washington Post and The Hill have the luxury of being able to influence and sway the election.
This can be further complicated by the idea that what constitutes an individual’s faith may not be transparent. The Washington Post, in this case, could have a strong Believe Factor for a political outlook that is focused on a sincere belief that socialism will make the country better – alternatively, the Washington Post could simply have a strong Believe Factor for generating wealth and power through advertising and the support for a political candidate. It become a function of motivation, ulterior or otherwise.
Add to that the idea that those who buy digital ink by the barrel like Twitter, Facebook, and Google (with a strong Believe Factor for left-leaning political causes [or money]) jump on board by deleting (censoring) information that is not part of their ‘faith’ and highlighting those communications that ARE part of their ‘faith.’ This results in a loss of productivity that would have come from public, intelligent, and meaningful dialog. We are guaranteed to see this in today’s news about the William Barr interview. We have already seen it in the medical information surrounding Covid-19 – it is rare to find a headline about the virus that isn’t politically charged in one direction or another.
(photo by Joseph Northcutt on Unsplash)