# Is religiousness a genetically heritable feature?

I know that parent beliefs have very strong influence on child, but is it possible that genetic factor also play a role? I doubt that the content of any religion could be heritable through genes nor anyone could be genetically predestined to be Christian, Jew, Buddhist or votary of any particular religion. But is it possible that some kind of sensitivity to religious aspect of life could be heritable?

I know that it is hard to distinguish genetic and environmental factor in such case, but maybe someone have already made such research for example on monozygotic and dizygotic twins or adopted children?

I've thought that if it is indeed heritable, then celibacy in the Catholic Church might be suicidal for this faith, as it eliminates the (potential) "godliness genes".

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@ChuckSherrington there are purported measures for "religiousness" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… not sure what the current accepted one(s) may be, if any. –  Ben Brocka Aug 30 '12 at 21:30
@BenBrocka Sure, I would buy into that, but going from questionaire -> personality characteristic -> phenotype -> genotype would still be hairy, I think. –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 30 '12 at 21:39
@ChuckSherrington There are plenty of measures, take a look at McGregor, I., Haji, R., Nash, K.A., & Teper, R. (2008). "Religious zeal and the uncertain self." Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30, 183–188. This measure is used in Inzlicht et al. (2009; see this answer for more detail) when looking for neural correlates of religiousness. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Aug 30 '12 at 22:07
@ChuckSherington, monozygotic twin studies: Genetic and environmental influences on multiple dimensions of religiosity: a twin study concludes there is a genetic component. The general course of these kind of studies is to take twins that have been separated to different households from birth and compare them to twins int he same household. I'm not sure what this particularly study does (haven't read it) but its a typical approach in behavioral biology. –  Keegan Keplinger Sep 1 '12 at 7:06
@Preece I do not assume a priori that such a gene exist nor that the religiousness is it only function if such a gene exist. It could for example makes people more social and helps integrate the members of community (as integration is indeed one of the function of religions in human communities). Also, as I said, I do not think that the content of any religion is a product of direct biological evolution. –  Marta Cz-C Sep 3 '12 at 8:41