Are We Genetically Predisposed to Believe in God?
In the last installment of our video “Conversations”, Dr. Jeff Schloss of Westmont College discussed two reasons for evangelical opposition to evolution: the theory’s challenges to biblical historicity and to the belief in a creator. In this segment, Schloss addresses what he sees as the third major area of difficulty and that is the question of whether or not human beings are predisposed toward belief in a higher power.
He observes that this has to do with human nature, and not just the origins of human beings, but what it is inside of human beings that people take as tokens of the transcendent—for example, certain moral beliefs, or the human capacity to have religious beliefs. He notes that these are areas of inquiry that evolutionary theory didn’t touch for the first 150 years or so, but in the last few decades its discourse has considered the possibility.
Schloss points out that while this question of evolutionary predisposition toward religious belief may be challenging, Christians need not see it as threatening. In fact, this is actually a Pauline notion that is explored in Romans 1, where Paul claims that it is in mankind’s nature to “know God”: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (ESV, Romans 1:20-21).
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Jeff Schloss is the Distinguished Professor of Biology and director of the Center for Faith, Ethics, and the Life Sciences at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Schloss’ interests include evolutionary understandings of religion, morality and altruism. He has served on the editorial and advisory boards of numerous science-and-religion journals and organizations, and he writes and speaks widely on topics related to science-and-religion.