Why does religion persist?

Human beings are genetically predisposed to be awestruck


Why does religion persist?
by varjavand

Throughout the history of humankind, we cannot find any phenomenon more enduring and more ubiquitous than religion. It has been with us ever since we started living in communities. While scientific investigations have not provided conclusive evidence regarding the origin of religion, many researchers believe that human beings have a natural inclination for religion because of their genetic makeup. In other words, believing in religion is rooted in our genes. We are predisposed to be spiritual beings and religion is the outward manifestation of our spirituality.

In his book The God Gene prominent geneticist Dr. Dean Hamer explains that spirituality is the product of human genes and is hardwired into our brain. However, other scientists believe that religion is mainly the product of environment and culture, and that it transfers across generations through cultural evolution. Relying on some contemporary researches, the purpose of this article is to shed some light of plausibility on the important issue of the birth of religion and its survival throughout the history of humankind. Unambiguously, this article is not intended to discredit or to undermine the sanctity of any religion in any way.


When I was in Iran a couple of years ago, I visited the holy city of Mashhad. I was mesmerized by the majestic shrine of Imam Reza (Shia’s eighth Imam) and the crowd of pilgrims paying homage to their beloved Imam. It was hard not to notice the begging and weeping of the pilgrims seeking solutions to the seemingly insolvable problems of their lives and unassumingly asking for forgiveness and blessing from Agha (gentleman) Imam Reza. It seems like visiting holy places such as this gives Shia devotees a break from the demands of everyday life and brings them peace because it provides an opportunity to repent, atone for past sins, and improve their spiritual report card.

While I was there, I heard a melodramatic story about a weeping dog that, according to the folks telling the story, had sought refuge in the holy shrine a few days before. According to the Shia narratives, Imam Reza had a reputation for coming to the rescue of animals in imminent danger. That is why he is also known as Imam-e-Zaamin (the guarantor). The following story is from the official Web site of Imam Reza:

“One day when Imam Reza (A.S.) was on his historical journey from Madina to Marw (Khurasan),while in a jungle the Holy Imam(A.S.) came across a hunter who was about to kill a deer. The deer was trying to get away and when she saw Holy Imam (A.S.), she said something to him. Holy Imam (A.S.) asked the hunter to free the deer so that she could go and feed her little baby deer who were very hungry. Imam Reza (A.S.) also told the hunter that once the deer had fed her babies she would come back. The hunter allowed the deer to go because Holy Imam (A.S.) had told him to, but he did not think the deer will come back. But Imam Reza (A.S.) waited with the hunter until the deer returned with her young ones. The hunter was amazed on witnessing this miraculous event and he set the deer free as a mark of respect for Imam Reza (A.S.). After this historical event Imam Reza (A.S.) became famous as Imam Zaamin(A.S.)”

Intriguing tales like these are the building blocks of religion in general, Islam in particular, and the primary reason for its continued attractiveness. Even though many such tales are counterintuitive, they seem to be inspiring to true devotees who accept them by faith. I asked my highly religious cousin who was with me about the authenticity of that unbelievable story of the asylum-seeking dog. He told me that incidents like that happen occasionally in the holy shrine of Imam Reza. He informed me that there is even a farm in the city of Mashhad where the animals that have sought sanctuary in the holy shrine, and were saved by Imam Reza, are taken and cared for until they die.

Apparently, stories like this are not unique to Muslims. People of various faiths are fascinated by such anecdotes because they are really appealing to the naïve believers. The odd stories spread swiftly around the globe, especially in this age of personal computers and the Internet. You may wonder how persuasive they are to ordinary people and how many act upon them. People are fascinated by these kinds of stories because they are strange and often contain what believers think are a lesson in morality, or they are just plainly sensational. These stories are usually the topic of daily discussion for Muslim families. They hear them so frequently that they develop a kind of susceptibility to them and they may in fact be brainwashed by them.

Modern scientific researchers tell us that religion survives through cultural evolution which is the transmission of cultural elements such as stories, ideas, thoughts, practices, and rituals through repetition and communication. While biological evolution occurs genetically, cultural evolution takes place through memes. I would define meme as a unit of cultural elements. Evolutionary psychologists tell us that human beings are designed by natural selection to be enthralled by outlandish things. The mental credulity that results from this human bias goes back to the dawn of social living. Generation after generation of human beings have been accepting some ideas and beliefs and rejecting others. The ideas and beliefs that are persistently accepted certainly have some selective advantages while the ones rejected have none. It is like the game of the survival of the fittest; only the beliefs with more selective advantages will endure. So the obvious question that this article tries to answer is what kinds of memes have more selective advantages and, therefore, are favored by the human mind?

Without a doubt, religious memes are very popular and everlasting. People seem to have been fascinated by them throughout human history, and have been holding on to them and passing them down to others persistently. It seems that our mind is genetically prepared to accept religious memes because of their numerous selective advantages. Religious researchers have offered plenty of explanations as to why religious memes are so well-liked, why people keep holding on to them, and what kind of selective advantages are of benefit.

To begin with, human beings are genetically predisposed to be awestruck by uncommon stories whether they are related to religion or not. Some recent examples are: octomom, balloon boy, an image of Jesus on a concrete wall, or the image of the Virgin Mary on a tortilla. That is because ordinary things have already been absorbed by our brain and we have become uninterested in them. Not many days after Khomeini (the grand ayatollah who installed Islamic government in Iran) returned to Iran from France, a rumor circulated in Iran that some followers had seen his picture on the surface of the moon! Of course that story wasn’t true; however, it gathered momentum and travelled across the country rapidly.

Although our fascination with such imaginary incidents seems to be short-lived, some of them leave a lasting mark on society. Many ancient religious stories are timeless, they last forever and will be passed on to the next generation through repetition wrapped in the cover of faith and sacredness. One such example is the story of the sighting of the Shia (one of the two main branches of Islam) twelfth hidden Imam in a place on the outskirts of the city of Qom, Iran called Jamkaran. We know that this cannot be factual; however, the love affair with this story is insanely insatiable. Every Thursday night a huge crowd of pilgrims gathers at this place to pray and to drop into a shallow well at the site a written request to the hidden Imam asking for help, salvation, forgiveness, and guidance.

Religious memes are not economically consequential; you do not lose anything if they are wrong or ineffective. Pious people, for example, always pray regardless of whether it works or not. If prayer happens to work, the religious memes will be reinforced and perpetuated; if not, there are always convincing explanations for their failure. For example, Muslims believe that if there is a severe drought, they can pray together, Namaaz Istisqa, and after which it should start raining. But what happens if there is no rain? Do you think that mullahs are going to give up or allow you to question the effectiveness of prayers, of course not. They will most likely blame the supplicants for not praying wholeheartedly and in pure faith or for not performing the ritual correctly.

According to a Shia' hadith, the corpse of a martyr will remain fresh and intact after it is buried and it will never decompose. Has there been any proof to this claim like exhumation of a martyr’s body to test its validity? And what would happen if the test failed? Most religious memes also withstand examination because they are like a one way street. Consider the story of heaven and hell. No one has actually returned to this world after his or her death to tell us whether there is, in fact, a heaven or a hell. Nonetheless, mullahs speak of heaven and hell so confidently one would think they had died and returned to this world to tell us about their firsthand observations.

It seems that religious memes stimulate good-feelings; people feel relieved when they pray and vindicated when they repent. Some memes such as circumcision supposedly confer medical benefits. Circumcision is required by Islam and Judaism. Mullahs also say that praying five times a day not only helps Muslims to exercise physically but also helps them to become disciplined. Even though such rituals may have medical benefits, medical benefit is not the primary reason why they are recommended. Circumcision, for example, is required because it is a sign of belonging and demonstrates that a believer is in fact a member of the community of “chosen people.” Similarly, the medical benefit derived from physical exercise is not the reason why Muslims are required to pray five times a day.

Religious memes confer distinctiveness. Muslims believe, for instance, that Islam is the final religion and that its prophet was the last messenger of God whose mission was to complete all previous religions. They also believe they are the chosen people, brothers and sisters and the members of the Islamic umma (community), the ones who are saved and go to heaven. Shia Muslims especially believe that they will ultimately dominate the world after the hidden imam returns to earth. Religious memes perpetuate themselves because some religions counsel believers to engage only in intra-community relationships. For example, according to Islamic jurisprudence, Muslim women are not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man under any circumstances, and the marriage of a Muslim man to a non-Muslim woman is conditional. Consequently, not only are the religious memes transferred more easily to offspring when both parents belong to the same faith, they are also more easily perpetuated.

Religious memes are often exploited to create or to enforce religious identity, or to strengthen nationalism, in which case they are also protected by religious authorities. Under such circumstances, religious beliefs are hard to contest and impossible to repudiate because those who do so will face reprisal or even serious criminal charges. This is the situation under the Islamic government in Iran.

According to some evolutionary psychologists, human beings have genes that make us especially vulnerable to group pressure. When we started living together in very small groups, individual survival was dependent on group support for food, shelter, and companionship. This is still the case, especially in societies in which people have very close relationships with each other. The chance of survival is very low, or non-existed, for those who are alienated or contest the prevailing norms. Consequently, human beings will develop a bias toward conformity, conformity to the popular cultural memes, especially those related to religion.

Practices such as male Muslims growing beards, or persons having a dark mark on the forehead as a sign of piety, or Sunni Muslims praying while keeping both hands on the chest are all indications that the human mind is indeed conformist. Individuals crave attention and often resort to anomalous behaviors to fulfill this craving. So the majority of the beard growing, chest beating, mourning, and forehead cutting (kama zani) are for for the sake of getting attention and bowing to the snobbish mentality of the crowd.

In summary, while genes are the kernel of spirituality, what individuals believe in is a function of culture. Cultural evolution occurs as a result of repetition and transmission of memes. Religion is the outward expression of spirituality. One way to understand the birth and the survival of religion is to draw a parallel between biological evolution and cultural evolution.

Evolutionary psychologists believe that religion is the product of memes. Memes are the units of cultural ideas developed by the human mind and are transmitted through various means of communication from one person to another and from one generation to the next. Memes are the attributes of human beings only; no other creature is intelligent enough for elaborate communications, and hence for transfer of memes. While there is a limit to the proliferation of genes, there is no such limitation when it comes to the duplication and dissemination of memes. And while the genetic evolution is very slow, memes can emerge, change, and spread easily and quickly. Like genes, memes can be positive or negative. The same can be said of religion.


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Varjavand, true pleasure to argue :) with you too brother

by mansor12121 on

Yes, thanks again

Why should I explain to you a basic primary school knowledge, while it’s very overt that your intellectual and educational level is very high!? 

You know quite well, in the court, neither the judge nor the jury needs to be a genetic scientist! as long as the scientific authority testifies. Judiciary authority always ask for the testimony of the scientific authority to clarify the scientific view about a disputed point. When this scientific authority (an authentic specialist who fulfil the criteria) says this is a undisputable fact, then the court takes this testimony as the strongest substantial evidence. The testimony of the scientific authority is stronger than, for example, eye witness as the former is always objective while the later could be in many times subjective. Prof. Moore is one of the world’s top authority, world’s top reference in his field. He explained his approval about the FACTS in Quran in all the chapters of his textbook and his approval was endorsed by many other top references in this specialty.

You asked me to read Elvis comment!!! Excuse me! have you read my reply to Elvis!!!? Please read it because it sounds that you haven’t. It’s truly and honestly OK if it’s hard to digest the highly specialized scientific material that is not in your field of speciality, but you can do it in the right academic way, ask the authority, ask the authentic & recognised references. And again




Why should I remind you that you don’t need to be an expert in anything to comprehend the meaning of the lowest point on land mentioned 1400 years ago and PROVEN now as an absolute fact.


Dear brother, you are talking about the scientific methodology in theory. In reality, you have faced all the evidences I gave you with baseless denial!  What else do you have other than questioning the honesty and the motive of Prof. Moore!! Do you think he’s a corrupt!!? Ok, what about his academic thorough explanation? What about the other professors’ views supporting his opinions? Do you think he would keep his top academic position when he added many verses of Quran to his textbook (No. ONE in the world) if it was scientifically baseless!!!?


 Yes, there are no justifications for all the facts in Quran and Hadiths now. When Mohammed PUH very clearly said that ((one day a man who is in the east of the world will see and talk to his brother who is in the west)) there was no justification for that Hadith. At his time and for many hundred years later, that hadith sounded very funny until our time, every one is doing video chatting now. Another Hadith ((One day, man will find the answer of his question on his palm)), now we have Palms & PDAs. Another one (( In the future people will travel by flying above the claudes))

You cannot deny these Hadiths as they are written in the very old books. You can’t deny that they are NOT mere morality advices, nor you can deny the many verses in Quran which have nothing to do with morals or advices. Truly there was no justification for the verse that clearly describes the difference in salt concentration between seas with continuity, or that describes the big bang beginning of the universe. 

You can’t deny the Hadith that says (( The time of Imam Mehdi is not a time of miracles, It’s the time of Science)). Yet, physical science does not deny the existence of proven (by experimentations & observations) extraordinary capabilities though, not being able to explain them, a branch of science called Parapsychology.

 After a huge system of compatibility with proven evidences, should I be suspicious about Imam Mehdi? Many people in the past were making fun about the Islamic video chatting theory… they simply said “it’s absolutely impossible”

Please brother stop the game of denial and let’s go to your next article as you said

Honestly, I can't understand Farsi :)




by varjavand on



The reason I have not addressed your question, specifically related to alleged Quran human embryonic, is because I am not a genetic scientist. I have no way to prove or dispute the authenticity of Dr. Moores' claims plus his motives are not known. It seems Elvis have already answered your question, Please read his comment below. And, I still stick to my belief that neither Quranic verses nor Islamic hadiths should conform to science, they are morality advices and not research hypotheses. if we try to subject them to scientific research, we open up a can of warm because we cannot provide justification for every religious declarations. You believe in them by faith and that is how it should be. Watch the following clips and tell me how you can provide scientific proof for such nonsensical claims?





With that, let’s end our discussion there and look forward to more interactions in the future. I am trying to put finishing touches on another article about Quran hoping that it will be posted soon. It was nice chatting with you.




Varjavand, Sorry for being so rushy :)

by mansor12121 on

I wrote my previous comment with big rush, many mistakes and even before comprehending your last comment.Unfortunately, I misunderstood some notes... Lack of time... I know, unacceptable justification :)

However, my previous comment still valid, just to add some notes 

Your comment has actually many very good and logical points... I do understand your concerns about the theories not the facts as I still consider addressing these facts is very important and effective. Quran is as much as God wants it to be. As the science is evolving, TAFSEER is amazingly corresponding to that evolution without any proved contradiction. Despite the desperate efforts of others trying to show contradictions, there haven't been any real ones. 

Islam, as a reference, composed of two halves (not tow references): Quran and Mohammed/Ahlulbait. You cannot seperate them. Otherwise you will have a different of a deficient meaning. The Hadith says frankly that wife beating must not even leave any short term redness on her skin, means a very very light hit that has an emotional effect and NOT a physical one. Yet, some people find it unacceptable and because it's part of changeable Fiqh, some clerics have banned it.  





by mansor12121 on

Thanks for your reply. Again you didn't answer my question!!!

Both religion and science have the same criteria to what is dynamic and flexible and to what is fixed and unchangeable. Facts are always fixed for both sides while Fiqh and theories are always changing. 1+1=2 is a scientific fact that will never change not today and not in 1 million years. The same applies for OSOOL in Islam that are unchangeable and some other facts mentioned in Quran. Is you have a look on an anatomy textbook that was issued in 1910 and compare it with a 2010 edition, you can hardly find a real difference in the scientific material between the two. Because what you see in anatomy, are findings and not theories. The lowest point on land is a fact based on a definite finding not a theory. The difference in salt concentration between seas of actual continuity that is mentioned in Quran is another definite finding that was proved by observations. So what I gave you depends on facts not theories. If some Islamic facts are not proved yet, we believe that one day they should be and this story is always happening. Some atheists were making fun about the idea that beef of a cow that was fed with animal products, is NOT HALAL and muslims do not eat it. In 1990s it was proven scientifically without any doubt that the cause of the lethal Cow Madness disease is eating that sort of beef. Millions of cows were eliminated for that reason especially in Britain. Another one, mentioned literally in Quran, alcohol might have some benefits but it’s harm, always, exceeds its benefits. One day this is going to be an undisputable fact.




I think your point regarding the scientific prove of Islamic paying is totally irrelevant. You won’t ask for a scientific prove for the Japanese way of greeting (body bending). Both are behaviours whether social or religious. Another but a misjudging point, there is no meaning of disservice if Mohammed PUH was chosen by God to perform a huge and enormously hard mission and being given a spectacular knowledge. Neither his charismatic character nor his charming brilliance, obviously, could explain his knowledge about the scientific facts.   


Definitely, I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others because, other than it’s impossible, I believe in humanity and the Quranic verse that states “religion must not be enforced on anyone”. But I’m always curious and wondering, Why people always insist to keep being traditionally following the trend. The nowadays vogue is to be one of the three: an atheist, agnostic or spiritual. Atheists and agnostics are happy with their carelessness and thinking they are the smartest people on the planet.

You, as a spiritual with all of my respect, what is your answer for yourself to my query about the facts that I gave you!?


If God is existing as you believe and simply just watching us!  How could that god be so stupid, unfair and unjust, only watching those billions of innocent people along history and around the world being killed, tortured, stolen, abused, raped, starved, humiliated…..etc by a relatively fewer people who die peacefully on their beds after having the best life and that’s it, nothing will happen later!!??


If you believe that there is a life after death, as some spirituals do, where people will be rewarded or punished depending whether they were good or bad, then this is another stupid god. He doesn’t know a concept of common sense that there should be regulations and restrictions according to which people are rewarded or punished, there should be a legislation. Is there any logic if a mother leaves her child without any guidance to let him experiment life and come up with his/her own conclusions, she’s simply unfair mother. If all mothers do the same, then it’s going to be a big chaos.


How could an infinitely great God whose wisdom is quite clearly evident everywhere in this universe, to be less wise with us and leaves us without any basic guidance!


Why should human beings keep subjecting themselves to be experimental animals until they discover what is good and what is bad for them. Millions and millions suffer until we reach conclusions which in most of the times are too late.


I live in Australia and I can see all of those people around me who are living alone without families. The rest of them living alone within their families, a world of materialism. I know from the data the huge amount of people who are taking antidepressant medications or those who are alcoholic or drug addicts. On the other hand with all the tremendous problems caused by the evil and corrupt politicians, in the countries (where people have faith), people there are happier

Too many questions are bothering me, but I won’t abandon my main question What is your explanation to the facts mentioned in Quran?   




by varjavand on

I believe it is risky to subject religious beliefs to scientific inquires because scenes is dynamic and always changing, when a new theory comes along the old one become obsolete. What happens then if science proves that what are in some Qurantic verse are,  in fact, invalid and not compatible with modern science? Are you ready to change your mind then? The difference between science and religion, I believe,  is that science is open and flexible, a two way street while religion is a one way street. When there is a disagreement between scientists, they sit down and talk; they don’t prosecute, imprison, or execute those who disagree with them.

I respect your opinion in believing in whatever you want to as long as you don’t try to shove it in everybody else’s throat as science. There are countless verses in Quran, many more Islamic hadiths  that do not conform to any scientific standards, can you prove that they are also scientific? Let me give you an example; is there anything scientific about praying for sick or dead?  There is none because scientific evidence has proven otherwise. However, people still keep praying and I respect that. It is up to them if they want to pray. I have no problem with being religious my problem is with the idea that religion is the only thing there is.

Believing that Quran is the words of God revealed to Prophet Mohammed is a disservice to him. I admire Prophet Mohammed as a charismatic leader, a bright person who were able to accomplish what no other human being could up to this point. However, if you believe that whatever he said was dictated to him word by word a through divine revelation,  you reduce him to a mere instrument. And that is a disservice to him.

Accusing me, implicitly or explicitly, of being an atheist is a wishful thinking. I am not. I probably am more religious that you are, but I believe in spirituality and sanctity of religion. I am repulsed by organized religion. I don’t want my religion, Islam, to be ridiculed as it has been in recent years in public media, especially in the West, and being scrutinized unfairly because of the idiotic deeds of a bunch of radicals. Islam has lost its legitimacy and its rightful place in the world exactly because of that un- needed exposure.

A great deal of distrust  of religion of Islam may have been  triggered by exactly what your are prescribing, trying to dig into Quran and try to contact scientific proof for every one of its verses. That is simply counterproductive. You should believe in Quran and accept it as whole by faith  as a book of morality not a scientific manual. No one told me before that Quran was a book of science. Now, if you want to tell me that Quran is a book of science and there is a scientific rational behind every declarations in it, you have to provide valid reason for every verses including ones, such as wife beating, may not conform to the conventional wisdom of individuals who live in 21st century.



Varjavand, why is it dangerous!

by mansor12121 on


Ok just give me some logical answers for my questions, otherwise I cannot understand what you mean by dangerous!!!!?

When the most renowned and knowledgeable specialised people in a specific field of science approve these facts mentioned by that religion a looong time ago when there was absolutely no human means to know them. Their approval of the Quranic facts based entirely on the scientific experimentations and observations… Then it’s very obvious, with the scientific method prove, that this religion is absolutely NOT a mere collection of traditional beliefs invented by an evil! individual to control other people. This amazing compatibility of religion with science (in all of the branches including Biology) shows that religion (Islam) and science has the same source, and that is God, the creator of everything, the creator of science and the creator of that religion. And, that creator wanted us to see these evidences if we have suspecions and eventually follow his path.


Give me a clear answer, what is your explanation for the same query, a man lived in an environment with almost the worst ignorance and lack of scientific knowledge, besides, he was illiterate, how could he know about all of these scientific facts in almost all fields of science?? How could he tell (for example) very frankly in Quran that the area around the dead sea in Jordan/Palestine is the lowest point on land and now we’ve come to discover that after 1400 years when satellites were invented?




I need an answer for that question, a direct one. There is a long list of undeniable scientific evidences similar to those of Prof. Moore in all fields of science and there must be an answer for that question. When you don’t have the answer, beyond dispute, you will say “it’s dangerous to relate Islamic belief to Science”,. Yes, It’s dangerous because you have no answer.


Ironically, you talked about science that is based on scientific methods like experimentation and observations and that’s what I gave you. At the same time you try to prove your opinion about religion and atheism depending on a hypothesis that is still to be proved and does not support atheistic or agnostic concepts by any means. In the contrary, it further supports the idea of Islam and I’m more than happy to post the evidences about this specific subject.


I’ve read that article of your link. Actually I should thank you, the writer strongly supports what I’m saying. Obviously, he’s an atheist and he ends his article saying the following ((There is a very, very important difference between feeling strongly, even passionately, about something because we have thought about and examined the evidence for it on the one hand, and feeling strongly about something because it has been internally revealed to us, or internally revealed to somebody else in history and subsequently hallowed by tradition.:))

He thinks that he has examined the evidence and he is not blindly following traditions of the atheists without any scientific evidence that supports atheism. Atheism is not based on evidence, It’s based on denial. This theory of denial is no more existing in the modern and recent discoveries.


I wonder if he knows that non of the greatest scientists in humankind history was an Atheist….  Not Isaac Newton, not Albert Einstein, not Stephen Hawking not even Charles Darwin  , all big scientists have been able to see God very obviously with their minds. Please read the following

((About the 1992 observations, which were from the COBE (the NASA satellite Cosmic Background Explorer), there was a story on the front page of virtually every newspaper in the world. The thing that the London Times, New York Times, etc. seemed to pick up on was a statement by George Smoot, the team leader from the Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratory. He said, "It's like looking at God." Obviously, this captured the public's attention.))


So the recent scientific evidence totally supports the idea of the first cause (God) , and that is the big bang theory.

((…the cosmological argument: (a) Everything that begins to exist must have a cause; (b) If the universe began to exist, then (c) the universe must have a cause.))

 ((The 1965 observation of the microwave background radiation by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson from the Bell Telephone laboratories convinced most scientists of the validity of the big bang theory. Further observations reported in 1992 have moved the big bang theory from a consensus view to the nearly unanimous view among cosmologists: there was an origin to the universe approximately 15 billion years ago. A somewhat more sober assessment of the findings was given by Frederick Burnham, a science-historian. He said, "These findings, now available, make the idea that God created the universe a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years."))



So you and your writer and all of those many millions who are atheists, are totally away from any scientific evidence and just following the nowadays baseless traditions, just happy of being careless and enjoy life!!! And looking to believers as idiots following traditions!!!

 The vast majority of atheists don’t know that their prophet!, Charles Darwin is a very strong believer in God. He said “When I wrote The Origin of Species, my faith in God was as strong as that of a bishop.”//speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/darwin/transcript.shtml 

But… but, his overwhelming problem was with Christianity, as it possesses huge points of weakness. This problem has been the same for all other Scientists.   


 The funny thing that your writer says “Faith, being belief that isn't based on evidence”!!!! I wish if he could tell us what is the scientific evidence of athiesm!!!?


Please just be logical and give a logical direct answer to my query

And don’t run away  :)



by varjavand on

Attempt to relate Quranic verses, or Islamic beliefs, to science is a dangerous business, a deservice to religion. The more we subject religious ideas to scientific scrutiny, the more alienated religion becomes since science has always upper hand. Scientific ideas are objective validated by facts, observations, experimentations, and other scientific methods while religious claims are normative “supported by nothing more than tradition, authority, or revelation.” and accepted by faith.

To gain more insight into the critical issue of compatibility of religion with science, review this article:




Elvis, that's pathetic

by mansor12121 on


Arguing with the lack of knowledge is a horrible problem, but what is really disastrous is the intentional avoidance of the truth, the intentional despise of our own minds and intellect by ourselves just to satisfy or desires and our subjective preoccupations.

It’s quite painful that you use terms like “silly” about a highly specialized work when you lack the base knowledge about it while specialists would never dare to use such a term with their fellow colleagues.

Yes, you googled the internet and you’ve come up with this pathetic answer that has nothing to do with the scientific methodology of any respectable study. I wish if you could understand what was written there or if you had the least awareness about the intensive comparative studies undertaken by Prof. Moore that took many years to end up with these conclusions


1. I left a link from the official web site of The American Association of the Clinical Anatomist showing very briefly the scientific position of Prof. Keith Moore.

2. Actually what is quite silly is to think that the author of the most popular anatomy textbook in the world, a first class academic and scientific participant and one of the world’s top researchers in his field (Anatomy & Embryology) who spent most of his life with Scientific Methodology, to think that he wasn’t aware about the funny, non-scientific and pathetic (answers!) in that link that you put. Or, that he wasn’t aware about the history of Embryology!  

3. It’s truly silly to think that such a systematic scientific authority person could give this dangerous statement about Quran & Mohammed (PUH) even in his textbook according to baseless mythical narrations!

4. What in your link is a desperate and funny trial written especially to those who doesn’t have the knowledge and they don’t want to have it, they only want to be convinced in what is already in their minds. Any academic person will read it with a smiling face realising that it was written by a naïve person and will not bother to finish reading it. There is an absolute absence of the basic criteria of a scientific debate. Very simply, there are many very precise information mentioned in Quran that the debater intentionally ignored because simply didn’t have the answer for them. Moreover, the debater says frank lies.

Just one example of the many and many intentional avoidances of facts is the meaning of the Quranic term for one stage of embryonic development, that is Alaqa. The debater says the meaning as (Alaqa, a piece of thick coagulated blood), while Arabs know from their language that Alaqa has 3 meanings 1) Clinging thing
2) Leech
3) Blood clot

The poor debater is not able to discuss the points addressed by Prof. Keith Moore who writes the following:

((The word "alaqah" refers to a leech or bloodsucker. This is an appropriate description of the human embryo from days 7-24 when it clings to the endometrium of the uterus, in the same way that a leech clings to the skin. Just as the leech derives blood from the host, the human embryo derives blood from the decidua or pregnant endometrium. It is remarkable how much the embryo of 23-24 days resembles a leech . As there were no microscopes or lenses available in the 7th century, doctors would not have known that the human embryo had this leech-like appearance. In the early part of the fourth week, the embryo is just visible to the unaided eye because it is smaller than a kernel of wheat.))

. The amazing fact is that the shape of that insect is extremely similar to the shape of that specific stage in human embryonic development. That debater avoid discussing this very specific and precise reality. It was that reality and many others mentioned in Quran that left many other scientists entirely astonished.

 Professor E Marshal Johnson says:

"...in summary, the Qur'ân describes not only the development of external form, but emphasises also the internal stages, the stages inside the embryo, of its creation and development, emphasising major events recognised by contemporary science."

"As a scientist, I can only deal with things which I can specifically see. I can understand embryology and developmental biology. I can understand the words that are translated to me from the Qur'ân. As I gave the example before, if I were to transpose myself into that era, knowing what I do today and describing things, I could not describe the things that were described...

I see no evidence to refute the concept that this individual Muhammad had to be developing this information from some place... so I see nothing here in conflict with the concept that divine intervention was involved in what he was able to write”



 Professor Gerald C. GoeringerProfessor and Co-ordinator of Medical Embryology in the Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA "...In a relatively few ayahs (Qur'ânic verses) is contained a rather comprehensive description of human development from the time of commingling of the gametes through organogenesis. No such distinct and complete record of human development such as classification, terminology, and description existed previously. In most, if not all instances, this description antedates by many centuries the recording of the various stages of human embryonic and fetal development recorded in the traditional scientific literature” 




   Professor Joe Leigh SimpsonProfessor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA "... these Hadîths (sayings of Muhammad) could not have been obtained on the basis of the scientific knowledge that was available at the time of the 'writer'... It follows that not only is there no conflict between genetics and religion but in fact religion may guide science by adding revelation to some of the traditional scientific approaches... There exist statements in the Qur'ân shown centuries later to be valid which support knowledge in the Qur'ân having been derived from God” May be the only weapon left for you is to say that ”Muslims have paid for those scientist to say so” again another funny claim that has obviously always been used by the bankrupt debaters.     I have given you one small example which is Embroylogy. If we go on with other sciences like Physics, Geology, Astronomy, …..etc, we will have a huge collection of undeniable scientific facts that are absolutely impossible to be known by an illiterate individual living in the dessert 1400 years ago. He should have been told by the ONE who created all of these facts.     



Embryology in the Qur'an

by Elvis on


 this video is so silly as it proves no divine intervention but reiterates some of the knowledge of human conception as it was known 1400 years ago.  for a complete explanation with verifiable references to Islamic Hadith regarding your specific question please go to:




scroll down to: The "Science" of the Qur'an and Hadith.




Anyone, Anybody has an answer???

by mansor12121 on


I wish if I have enough time now to write thoroughly about this, unfortunately not now 

Anyway, these are some amazing embroylogy facts mentioned in Quran by Prof. Keith Moore

Can Anybody, any scientist, any philosopher of all of you has an answer how could an illitrate man lived in the desert 1400 hundred years ago, know these facts about the Human Embryology

There are hundreds of similar absolutely undeniable evidences. I will start to post them later :)

Just don't run away from the question :) 



Agha Mehdi

by varjavand on

Agha Mehdi,


Your comment reminds me of a super pious Muslim man in my childhood
neighborhood, Calb Ali (Ali’s dog), I used to tease him. One day I told him
what would you do if I tell you there is no God! He replied angrily I will hit
you on the head with my shovel.


If you cannot take the heat, don’t enter the kitchen  




Dear Elvis,

by varjavand on


Dear Elvis,


Thanks for your comment and especially for your reference to that superb article,  //richarddawkins.net/articles/3534. I read it carefully and found it so intriguing and though provoking. I thought it would be a good idea to post some excerpts from this article not only for the benefits of the readers but also to strengthen the main premise of my own article:

 “our incredibly powerful brain is locked in a continual battle between reason and ancestral fears. This conflict helps us understand why religion has held such a grip on humanity and why reason must still fight to be heard.”

“An individual watching another chip away at a flint would attribute to him a purpose, similar to his own when he created a tool. So too would he assume that lightning, rain, the sun, the stars, the moon must have had some sort of purposeful creative force behind them. Here lie the very deepest roots of our religious beliefs.”

 While language would have provided the platform on which to construct fictive kin, it would have been ritualized ceremonies that solidified it. Next time you attend a baptism, note the ritualization of a child being accepted into 'God's family.”

“Religion gained its foothold by hijacking the need to give purpose at a time when humans had only their imagination -- as opposed to the evidence and reason that we have today -- to fathom their world.” “Leaving the faith one was born into would certainly have led our ancestors to being shunned if not worse. In Islam, the punishment for apostasy is death. And in Western cultures, it is not uncommon to hear of individuals whose families and friends have turned their backs because they have disavowed their religious beliefs.”

“It is far easier to ignore the evidence that there is no god than to give up the love and friendship of a community. Our survival depends much more on being part of a community, even in today's modern world, than on abandoning religion.” “but when (our primal brain) coupled with the attribution of our own primal fears to the mind of god along with our tendency for aggression, we are more than willing to commit the most heinous acts to protect our fictive kin and beliefs.”

“Religion needs to be taken seriously. Understanding its roots, how it can seize command of our psychology and take control of our culture, may well be one of the most important endeavors we pursue. For even with all our grand technology, modern medical advances, and volumes of knowledge, if we do not stop our archaic past from overriding our modern reason we are surely doomed.” 




Religion is the ultimate Big Mac

by Elvis on

Dear Varjavand,

Enjoyed your article very much.  What I need to address is that for generations religion has claimed its supernatural entity, magic, and the realm of the unexplained.  Scientific inquiry has chipped at it and ever since Galileo took up the church, religion has lost many battles in the discussion of belief vs. reason.  That is why we still have all this debate about compatibility of religion with scientific evidence, age of the earth, creation vs. evolution, belief vs. reason, etc.  Recent scientific discussions have shown that neither religion, nor god can be excluded from scientific examination of facts. 

May I suggest that those who think that Mr. Varjavand's perspective is interesting to please read more on the subjects such as memes he is pointing to before passing judgement.  Take a look at the following atricle by Cornwell and Thomson as it addresses a
straightforward history of religion from a biological and evolutionary process and discusses the genetic nature of our belief as an overstimulation of our sensory system.
May be at the end of the article when they equate religion with the ultimate Big Mac, then you see the point.


Mehdi:  Please save your $1000 and buy some real books on the subject to read.   


Religion genes - hahahaha

by Mehdi on

Oh, my God, that is sooooo funny. Who came up with that idea? Hahahahahahaha. These "scientist" are out of control. First the mythical "brain chemical imbalance" and now the religion gene! Oh, that is funny. Rolling on the floor! I'll give $1,000 cash to anyone who can tell us what the F%$#@ that statement even means! It is completely meaningless!

Niloufar Parsi

varjavand khan

by Niloufar Parsi on

thank you for your response. shame about the missing part and i hope to see it later.

i guess what i was alluding to is that genes responsible for religiosity may be the same/close to the ones that are responsible for fear. pure hypothesis of course (and one by a non-specialist for sure), however, gene mutation or growth is also shown to result from physical forces and brain activity. perhaps it is better to see the two/three sides as equally important and interdependent. fear can be the motivating (genetic) disposition that leads to spirituality. pure speculation on my part of course.


Varjavand, this is an interesting point of view!

by PERS66 on

I have always been fascinated with this topic,It’s also very interesting to see you have had 579 reads on your post so far! No doubt there is some magnetism associated between the topic and the human mind ;) “Many researchers believe that human beings have a natural inclination for religion because of their genetic makeup.”Perhaps this points back to the believe of viewing human beings as bi dimensional organisms made up of body + soul and what the spiritual (inner dimension) (Erfan)  of the monotheist classical religions have pointed out throughout the ages:  to know God and religion you must first come to know your ”self” i.e. what is this self made up of?

Perhaps The challenge is that throughout human history there has been a lack or shortage of spiritual scientist that could shed light on the matter in a language that is digestible for mindset of the majority of the human race in the 21st century but the good news is there are still plenty of references from contemporary researchers and scientists that view humans as bi dimensional beings.

I look forward to reading this book, thanks for sharing ;) 


Dear Commnters;

by varjavand on

Dear Commenters ,


Thanks for your comments. I am really pleased that almost all of you liked my article.


Ms. Parsi,


Genetic disposition for spirituality have been the subject of numerous studies. I believe there are enough researchers out there who are inclined to believe that it is the human nature that has contributed to evolution of religion. In other words, it might be is in our gene. However, the race to find the gene or genes responsible for religiosity is still on. While human gene(s) may have given birth to religion, it is the selective advantages of religious memes, as the article suggests, that is responsible for its persistence.


Fear, as you mentioned in your comments plays a role too, may I add also uncertainty. Having faced with fear of unknown and uncertainty about life after death and many other unanswered questions, human beings have been always in search of solutions, ways to hedge themselves against fear and uncertainty, especially related to the life after death. Looking up to sky in search of big brother was obviously a natural way out. Is it a wishful thinking? I don’t know.


PS: My other computer just quit working. As a result, I have lost my access to a file containing a more comprehensive comment I was working on. I am at the mercy of my son to come home, possibly tomorrow, and fix the computer.



memes enhance religious hardwires

by Monda on

Hardwires can be reformed through unlearning/ deconstruction of beliefs. Impossible task in closed social systems, where religion is at its most needed. 

I enjoyed reading your article Varjavand.  Also Thank you for reminding me of Dr. Hamer's work.  I think I caught him for a bit on NPR the other night. 


Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

nice article. am not sure if i would agree with the idea that there is some genetic disposition toward religion. without meaning to offend anyone, to me, god is more likely a remnant of man's ignorance and fears. this has been embedded in our behaviour, language and culture, and it is hard to remove. but i suspect it will be removed in time with our growing body of knowledge and understanding of the world around us... inshallah!

Ari Siletz

Varjavand, two separate contexts may be getting mixed up here

by Ari Siletz on

One context has to do with science discredting religion, the other context has to do with science explaining why our species has evolved religion. I believe our discussion is in the latter context.

But to make it clearer, you are right religion is similar to a placebo, but placebos are natural phenomenon within the legitimate domain of science. This article in the Journal of Neuroscience is one example among many of how placebo is the object of serious scientific study.


Though there is no science in religious beliefs, there is quite a bit of science in why such beliefs exist in the first place (pscyhology, sociology, neurobiology), and why they persist despite religious myths being destitute of empirical evidence. For some of us science does discredit religion, but the question is why it doesn't have the same effect on others? The simplest theory says it is due to lackof education or unfamiliarity with scientific methods of thinking. To test this theory, I suggest a scientific experiment: ask a large group of trained scientists in your university which ones still practice religion in some way (go to church, pray, get married by a priest etc.). Even if you find one that does practice religion, that simple theory needs work.


Dr. Dean Hamer's book, which you cite, is one example an effort to study religion as a natural phenomenon. As with any scientific investigation it may lead to good news or bad news for what we would like the outcome to be.  It may turn out that false beliefs are integral to the cohesion of human societies, and it may turn out that we can safely do away with them. Science does not yet know.



by varjavand on



I believe religious beliefs do not lend themselves to scientist inquiries. Subjecting them into scientific test is a precarious business, a losing proposition. Numbers and controlled experiments are the language of science, faith, often blind, is the language of religion. Beliefs are not objectively assessable. Once a while, some people try to prove that religion is compatible with science, it is a futile undertaking, a disservice to religion. Science has always upper hand in confrontation with religion. Applying heavy make up to an old lady does not make her any younger or more attractive. 

Religious beliefs are like placebo. They work as long as people believe they are true and accept them by faith; they will lose their benefits if they are discredited by science.



Religion and circumcision are memeplexes

by Hugh7 on

Religion and circumcision are memeplexes - clusters of memes (meme: unit of culture transmitted by imitation).

Thus the meme "There is a single omnipotenet deity" is shared by the Christian, Islamic and Jewish memeplexes, but "He was incarnated in human form" occurs only in the Christian memeplex, and so on.

The circumcision memeplex is more complicated, having aspects of religion, medicine, conformity, sexuality, sacrifice and more. These are given a preliminary analysis at //www.circumstitions.com/meme.html


Omid Parsi

by varjavand on

Thanks for bringing up that very important point in your comment.  

When the reward for piety is the worldly services such as eternal sumptuous life in heaven, as Islam and other religions promise their followers, its consequence is turning religion into a self-serving station. Devout believers become apathetic about the plight of others and unconcerned about the world and what is going on around them because of their fixation on self satisfaction. Their eyes are focused on the prize. This is incongruent with the overall spirit of religion which is lack of egotism and not pondering on selfish desires


brilliant article, especially book The God Gene is relevant

by AsteroidX on

Religions are manmade and I agree with VPK. It seems people need a figure as a protective parent who is always reliable and always available to its children when they are in need. It is a form of a security blanket. It is funny how a lot of religious people lack morals (concept of right and wrong), which I think is more important to have.   But, whatever rocks your boat, as they say ...

i am a bahai too

I like this article

by i am a bahai too on

I like this article. My thought, as I was reading it was that "religion" persists because God persists. No one can make a rational argument for God, belief is a personal matter. Religion very much deserves the scrutiny of science. However science is the study of the material. Religion is the study of the spiritual.  Science would define the material effect of spirtual practice, a great area of inquiry.

Some of us find natural comfort in the "dual" world system:  

"I have seen the two worlds are one;

One I see, one I know

One I hear, one I call."

- Rumi

Historically, one of the problems of human existence has been the many accumulated layers of tradition heaped upon great spiritual inspirations of the past. Over time this has obscured the original religious teachings that in their inception had a pervasive civilizing effect.

Arrival at a state of maturity in our modern world has finally made evident (to most) that wearing certain clothing, ringing certain bells,  lighting certain fires does nothing for God.

Strip away the traditions that (over time), had an oppressive effect and one can see the clear moral and ethical intent of the great religion teachings. (see JJ's discussion of hejab as an example of tradition interfering with religious teaching) I don't have to be a Christian to find reading the Sermon on the Mount to be instructive. What moral, ethical person can deny the meaning behind that famous sermon? I don't have to worship as a Hindu to find the Bhagavad Gita inspiring and heroic. Don't we all want to expericence a heroic figure like Krishna?   Truth and custom do not go hand in hand.

I think human beings will always need inspiration and a sense of awe to propel them forward. When we argue against "religion" I often think we are actually rejecting the tendencies and traditions of the past that were introduced by human beings (not the original prophetic Figure) to "enhance" an the original teaching but with time ended up obscuring their very meaning. "Religion" stays fresh when it is progressive.



by varjavand on

Veiled Prophet,


 Thanks for your comment. It is concise, straightforward, getting right to the point, and your prescription at the end is sound and urgently needed. There is nothing wrong for us to believe and to be spiritual, but when the spirituality is exploited and turned into organized religion, then tyranny, dogmatism, backwardness, and etc. will ensue 




Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Religion is about .

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Religion is about trying to give reassurance to ourselves. Human beings find themselves in the middle of a world that they cannot understand. Full of phenomena that makes no sens. So they invent ideas in order to explain it.

Initially the ideas are based on reason. For example they reason: things did not just come here by themselves. So someone must have put them here. That one is god. At this stage religion serves a purpose which is benign. It makes people feel better. They don't feel as helpless. Not all religions go through this phase.

In time rituals are added which become increasingly archaic and ridiculous. Groups of people emerge who claim to have a direct line of contact to god. They claim that they and only they know god's will. Therefore they must be obeyed or god will be angry. Gullible people fall for it and create the Pope or the VF and so on. This is when religion becomes truly poisonous. As the abuses get worse some people defy it and give up altogether. Others try to reform it. This happened to Christianity. 

Not all religions go through the two phases. Some go right to the second phase and skip the good part. Those tend to be the most damaging.

Whether there is a real basis to religion is impossible to say. Because we don't know. Anyone who claims to know is just going on faith.

So my plan is to do the right thing regardless and never pay attention to clerics. Specially to those who pretend to have a direct line to god. No organized religion for me!


Previous message was just a comment

by mrlayl on

- not aimed at anybody in particular.




Imaginery Friend for Grown ups

by mrlayl on

I liked this definition of God. So, go have your imaginery friend, just don't try to persuade or force me to beleive in it.


I vaguely recall the story

by benross on

I vaguely recall the story of a donkey which killed the poor miserable lion of Mashad zoo, then took refuge in haram.

If we want to believe, we believe in anything. And when we get bored, we mix some humour in our belief!

The islamic revolution, the core popularity of it, was not about believing in Islam. It was about believing in HIM. He could be anything within the known realm of belief... and for many, he was exactly that humour part!