Saturday, 7 March 2009

Filey Parish: Blogging for Lent - The Lonely Gene

A study from the University of Chicago has published evidence that loneliness may have a lot to do with our genetic makeup. See the BBC article at:


If true, what does this mean? If we feel lonely a lot of the time, is this just down to our DNA? All the advice about getting out and meeting people won’t help us if this is the case. We are just genetically disposed to loneliness and might as well bolt all our doors and throw away the key! Are things as simple and depressingly fatalistic as that? I think there is a growing tendency in this ‘post genome’ world to blame all our deficiencies, diseases and failures on our genes. From passing exams to sporting ability, from dyslexia to the propensity towards violence, we are shifting the responsibility for the things we feel are wrong in our lives onto our genes. Because they represent a purely biological phenomenon- they don’t have a conscience -it makes us feel better to point to our genes and say things like ‘Oh it isn’t his fault, his father was just the same!’ How convenient! Of-course our DNA plays a huge part in how we function and even how we behave, but is this the whole story? I hope not. If our choices, our personalities and even our wills are just an inevitable product of DNA programming then we are truly and completely alone in the worst sense, because there is no room for God in such an existence. Everyone experiences bouts of loneliness at some point in their lives. For those who are truly disabled by it we all need to be vigilant and ready to help in any way we can, because genes can't have the last word.

‘You find families for those who are lonely. You set prisoners free and let them prosper’ (Psalm 68:6- CEV)


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