Friday, 27 May 2011

Calvin Shrine Genes

It has been the custom, more and more in these DNA-crazed days, for scientists to seek out the gene, or group of genes, that cause diseases or behavioural issues, or to determine sexual orientation, ability to play the banjo or any other of a list of attributes and preferences.

And of course the further you go this way, there's a necessary reduction. Especially in the area of moral responsibility. If there were an antisocial or illegal practice that could be proven to be totally caused by a person's genes then given they had no option, could they be held responsible in any way?

When you get into the belief in God, this becomes interesting for us Arminians. If there's a "God gene" that predisposes us to belief in God - then clearly it's been tied up with other related genes. In the same way that the gene for whiteness in cats also codes for deafness in many occasions, clearly the gene for religious belief also codes for intelligence, good looks and resilience under pressure. Unless you're a fundamentalist. But - if your genes decide whether you believe or not - then Calvin was right. And it is down to God whether or not you believe in God. And that strikes me as a bit unfair, although I'm sure Calvinists would be able to explain to me why it's not. Some argument along the lines of "God's gaff, God's rules", I would have thought.

I thought I'd bring this subject to your attention today as it's the anniversary of the old predestinarian's death. And therefore I figured if I made this a kind of memorial to John Calvin - a place to remember him if you will - and wrote on this theme, it would give me the excuse for the title of this blog post. It's just what he would have hated.

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