Saturday, July 18, 2015


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Last week I introduced some important core findings of a Columbia University psychologist--Dr. Lisa Miller:

  • We humans are genetically spiritual.

  • This natural spirituality emerges strongly in the adolescent years.

  • Natural spirituality is social and promotes human bonding through the experience of transcendence.
(Source: Miller, The Spiritual Child, p 52.)
 "In meditations" (60th years). (5637101180).jpg

In meditation.  Author Ion Chibsi, Moldavia.
licensed under the Creative Commons attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic License via Wikimedia Commons.

Today's posting moves into a bit more detail.

When we think of the development of our faith, we focus on what is available: personal testimonials to the power of faith in peoples' lives and our own faith development experiences. This sort of evidence would be regarded as "soft" and non-scientific. The lure that science possesses is demonstrability and repeatability. Faith development could not be put under a microscope, couldn't be studied in fossil remains. Therefore, the importance of faith could not compete with science on science's own terms. People had to choose faith or science, and many chose to believe science.

That, according to Lisa Miller, has all changed starting about fifteen years ago (TSC, p. 51.) Now we can talk about "the spiritual brain" scientifically. For example, Miller cites the Kenneth Kendler twin study that focused on spirituality. A key finding: spirituality develops in terms of genetic contribution and environmental shaping. The human genetic pool insures that spirituality is a given in human nature. 

"Can we escape any spiritual tendencies?" No, according to Kendler. Spirituality is part of genetics. It's inherited. It's part of our organic endowment, like eating and breathing. (TSC, p. 58.) The form of one's religion (for example: Islam, Hinduism, Christian) is affected by our upbringing, but spirituality itself is inherited. (TSC, pp. 58-64.)

Baptism in a pool.jpg

"Baptism in a pool"  U.S. Navy photo Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Spirituality surges in adolescence. Many of us have experienced this personally. As a pre-teen and teenager in Tacoma and Seattle, I participated in Christian fellowship groups, worship services, and education. Most importantly, I just felt myself growing, almost week to week, in faith experiences of relationship with God. 

Miller would say, "Darrell, your experience was typical of the surge of spiritual energy in adolescence." She bases her certainty on rafts of social and biological study reports.

To obtain the detail I urge you to read Miller's book. Here I recap her main points:

  • Spirituality is inherent in the human genetic pool.
  • Adolescence is the time in life when spirituality surges.
  • Social and genetic scientific research has established that natural spirituality, if allowed to flourish, creates stronger lives.

It's exciting that science confirms the reality and importance of human spirituality, an ancient cause which has recently gained a new lease through science itself. Many have thought that science and spiritual life were mutually exclusive. Now that's changed and science confirms the reality of spirituality. 

This seems to me to mark a revolutionary moment in our culture and will undergird a new phase of spiritual confidence and confident spirituality. Spirituality is not a myth. 

Click an emblem below to share the post with a friend or to make a comment. Return next week for more on the same topic. Thanks for reading and for sharing the message.


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