Experimenting with spirituality: analyzing The God Gene
in a nonmajors laboratory course

Silveira LA.
University of Redlands,
Redlands, CA 92373-0999, USA.
CBE Life Sci Educ. 2008 Spring;7(1):132-45.


References linking genes to complex human traits, such as personality type or disease susceptibility, abound in the news media and popular culture. In his book The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes, Dean Hamer argues that a variation in the VMAT2 gene plays a role in one's openness to spiritual experiences. In a nonmajors class, we read and discussed The God Gene and conducted on a small scale an extension of the study it describes. Students used polymerase chain reaction to replicate a portion of their VMAT2 genes, and they analyzed three polymorphic sites in the sequence of these products. Associations between particular VMAT2 alleles and scores on a personality test were assessed by t test. The course, of which this project was a major part, stimulated student learning; scores on a test covering basic genetic concepts, causation/correlation, and laboratory methodology improved after completion of the course. In a survey, students reported the laboratory project aided their learning, especially in the areas of statistics and the linking of genes to behaviors. They reported high levels of engagement with the project, citing in particular its personal nature as motivating their interest.
Private eugenics
'Designer babies'
Personal genomics
Genetic enhancement
Ashkenazi intelligence
Eugenics before Galton
Scandanavian eugenics
The literature of eugenics
Human self-domestication
Germline genetic engineering
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
A life without pain? Hedonists take note'
Francis Galton and contemporary eugenics
Gene therapy and performance enhancement
The serotonin system and spiritual experience
Transhumanism (H+): toward a Brave New World?
5-HTT and AP-2beta gene polymorphism/spirituality


and further reading

BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World