A Faith Gene?

An article by PopSci discusses the implications of the findings from a study of twins.  The study shows that faith has a genetic component.


I can see evidence of this in my own family. Faith is abundant on my father’s side of the family but not so much on my mother’s side.

I’ve noticed, while reading the Old Testament, that God had a way of genetically selecting faithful men for the tribe of Israel.  He started by choosing Noah and his family, the only people He deemed worthy to save in a world full of wicked people. God weeded out the bad seeds with a flood, and let the good ones propagate. Then He chose Noah’s son Shem, over his brothers, to be the head of the Semitic people.

Shem Ham and Japheth by James Tissot 1904.
Shem Ham and Japheth by James Tissot 1904.


Later on, God chose Shem’s descendant Abraham to be the father of Israel (through Isaac, but not through his half-brother Ishmael).  Isaac’s son Jacob fathers the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, but Jacob’s twin brother Esau (truly the eldest) gets sidelined because he didn’t value his birthright.  He therefore didn’t get to contribute to the gene pool of Israel the way his fraternal twin did. Interesting, huh?

So if we apply genetics to theology (which is probably a bad idea–but that isn’t going to stop me from doing it), maybe genes are the way that God predestines us to be Christians.  Maybe He knew that some of us would be more likely to turn to Him than others because of heritage and He explained that to the apostles through the concept of predestination.  Or maybe I’m off my nut.

What do y’all think?  Let’s chat about it.


  1. I have no problem with a faith gene. For awhile now I’ve come to think (realize?) that Judaism, at least, is inherited. It’s one explanation for its survival despite numerous attempts otherwise. As with other traits, people carrying the appropriate genes can’t help themselves, they’re just Jewish. Sometimes they’re born and brought up that way, sometimes not. A study of converts to Judaism found that 14% of the converts found out later that they had Jews in their ancestry. That’s not random considering Jews are maybe 2% of the population.

    As you say, “God weeded out the bad seeds . . .” He also weeded out the “non-Jews” out of the Jewish pool (agriculturalists might say, culled the reverts from the selected gene pool). At least, that’s one perspective one could put on the several clean ups of the herd that went (goes?) on:

    (Num. 25) Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

    (Exodus 32:26-28) Taking up a position near the entrance of the camp, Moses said: “Whoever is with G-d, come to me!” The entire tribe of Levi gathered about him, and Moses ordered them to slay every one guilty of worshipping the Golden Calf, regardless of his position and relationship to them. That day, the seventeenth day of Tammuz, three thousand men of the children of Israel lost their lives, in punishment for their idolatry.

    So, the ones who acted Jewish survived and the ones who didn’t, didn’t.

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