Culture Genetics Naturalism

Researchers claim to have discovered genes re the “meaning of life”

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File:DNA simple.svg That guy at Nature who rides “Genetic determinism rides again” was right. Now, from ScienceDaily:

For the first time, locations on the human genome have been identified that can explain differences in meaning in life between individuals. This is the result of research conducted in over 220,000 individuals by Professor Meike Bartels and PhD student Bart Baselmans from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The researchers identified two genetic variants for meaning in life and six genetic variants for happiness. The results were published this week in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.

The fact that genetic variants for a meaning in life have been found indicates that everyone is different and that differences between people in complex processes such as a meaning in life are in part due to biological differences. VU professor Meike Bartels: “We live in a society where everyone is expected to thrive, achieve the highest, and live a meaningful life. If we have a better idea of the causes of differences between people, we can use that information to help people who feel less happy or struggle with the meaning of life. We also find that there are environmental factors that are important for happiness, but not for meaning and vice versa. In the future we would like to identify which environmental factors are responsible for this discrepancy.”

Previous research has shown that individual differences in happiness and well-being can partly be attributed to genetic differences between people. Furthermore, the first genetic variants for happiness were found a few years ago. Baselmans: “These results show that genetic differences between people not only play a role in differences in happiness, but also in differences for in meaning in life. By a meaning in life, we mean the search for meaning or purpose of life.” Paper. (open access) – B. M. L. Baselmans, M. Bartels. A genetic perspective on the relationship between eudaimonic –and hedonic well-being. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-32638-1s More.

As if terms like “happiness” or “meaning or purpose of life” had a fixed meaning like hemophilia or Klinefelter syndrome.

See also: Why genetic determinism can’t simply be disproven It is a mindset, an attitude to life and to people: In popular culture, the thought is expressed as “It’s not me, it’s my genes.” Among our betters, couched in bureaucratic terms, the thought is “You’re right and we could do with fewer genes like yours.”

6 Replies to “Researchers claim to have discovered genes re the “meaning of life”

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    Well how convenient, here I am worrying about exactly this sort of thing and of course this week something like this post. To be honest this makes me sick. I guess atheists don’t have the gene since there is no meaning to life. Obviously epigenetic markers play no part in people’s life choice that form their meaning of life. I no longer have to struggle with trying to keep my idealilogy, it’s simply genetic, and now that I know this, as the doctor stated, it will be easier to make me happy! Oh yeah the reason I’m unhappy is that all meaning is genetic! I guess my genes hate themselves!

  2. 2
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Aaron

    don’t anthropomorphise your genes – it really pisses them off.

  3. 3
    Tom Robbins says:

    Think about it, he is really saying something transcendent and supernatural – that human beings have a gene that makes them search for meaning in life? Well, not that I believe it anymore than I believe that a happiness gene is simply one that make more serotonin, BUT WHAT SELECTIVE ADVANTAGE does meaning of life gene carry? I think they get themselves tangled in religious metaphysics sometimes without even realizing it. After all, a gene is only conserved if it is useful and has a REASON or purpose for being conserved…. like any “gene” its how it is regulated, switched on or of, it is not like having blue eyes or green eyes, some kind of straight mendelian grid – and talk about cause and effect issues! Do happy genes make someone more prone to believe in a purpose? In the real world, overall, people that genuinely believe in a loving compassionate God, tend to worry less, but take myself as an example – I was a stress ball when I was younger, but it was when I first looked at the science and history that supported belief, and then I came to believe in my heart, and now I have no fear of death – did I gain a gene or loose one in their model? Of course not… I see headlines like this, and first I note they are usually targeting a certain people group – in this case non-materialist, to try and tell them their belief, their need for meaning is purely physical, and yet they are again embracing the old way of thinking of the one dimensional gene – we are far beyond this and we know genes can be turned on and off in reaction to a person’s thinking or behavior/lifestyle/chemicals. They are dynamic and its a read write system. But the ironic thing to me is, how do the explain in a Darwinian world, that such a sophisticated gene is important for selection?? I wonder if anyone has asked these “researchers”. Next thing is they will say they found an atheist gene – and it will turn out to be a gene that causes depression and narcissism.

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    First off,

    ScuzzaManOctober 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm
    Aaron

    don’t anthropomorphise your genes – it really pisses them off.

    I hate you ScuzzaMa lol 😉 :p

    I’m kidding of course

    Secondly now that I’ve read the article I believe you’re right Tom. There are a lot of issues with this scientific paper starting with the fact that it’s not so scientific, it’s a questionnaire with testing someone’s genetics and then looking at the brain regions. This absolutely has nothing to do with environment at all. It just immediately assumes a genetic cause for each brain region. We are all very aware that brain regions can change and develop according to your environment furthermore such studies have also proven that someone can look like they are a psychopath on a mfri machine but not actually be a psychopath. They obviously did nothing to look at how they develop throughout their entire life, there is absolutely no way a questionnaire could ever truly dig deep enough into the development and environment of a human being throughout their life to give them that type of information that would allow them to a tribute a gene to a particular meaning of life

    Super will illusionist Mike Haggard conceded that notion just recently on the free will debate, and he is one of the primary protagonist of will illusionists. He even realized that there is probably no way to figure out how somebody could make a decision unless he knew every step of their life and could map it out in their neurons. So the study almost smacks of ridiculousness.

    By the way I do thank you for that post and you to scuzzaman That made me chuckle quite a bit

  5. 5

    Why is it they always talk about positive things–like happiness and meaningfulness, but since they have no power to change those genes, the only real option is the one given to natural selection–destroying bad genes. The genes they really want to describe are the genes for sin, violence, intransigence, etc. We all know where this is heading.

  6. 6
    AaronS1978 says:

    I’ve noticed this too, every single time they make a new discovery that supports genetics influencing or determining something it’s USAUALY a personality trait or a quality that people cherish. There are some things like depression and the pedophile gene, bad driver gene, and even the gay gene, that come up, that are generally viewed in a bad light or has something to do with some kind of agenda.

    I’m not ragging on gay people, but I do believe it’s not just a gene and I have many gay friends I just want to make that clear.

    But if I were to put my finger on it I believe that a lot of these genetic studies generally push an agenda. Nancy Seagal is a very good example of that with her twin studies in attempts to draw every personality trait from genetics. She never speaks of the dissimilarities between twins, only their similarities. Yet you encounter incredible outliers like the cranial twins who have very different personalities yet they are genetically identical and their brains are interwoven.

    As one might put it really does seem like every personality trait that we have they want to prove that there is a physical causation for it and I guess that is the reason why genetic determinism frightens me. It’s their way of removing the soul.

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