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« Do Christians Need to Read the Bible? (Video) | Main | Tactics & Common Ground »

August 21, 2012


Suppose we discover a strong genetic predictor of psychopathy.

The OP would obligate us to implant embryos with this trait rather than discard them.

Good plan!


The only difference between this and something like selective breeding and culling is that in the latter they eliminate the undesirable animals after they're born.


I wonder what personality flaws Julian Savulescu has in the opinions of his parents?

Good plan indeed!



Yes, you are right. But that's the point of the article. That all human life created is worthy of life outside of the womb rather than to be selectively destroyed.

Let's assume the situation you outlined actually happened - the reason they should not be discarded has nothing to do with what the indicators say; they are worthy of life regardless. Moot point.

Darth Dutch


Your particular supposition regards genetic predictors. As you may know, genes are not very good predictors of disease or disability because genes rarely work in isolation, but in clusters of dozens or even hundreds of genes. There are a few single genes that are predictive. For example, mutations to the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene in women is predictive of developing breast cancer over their life span. However, if one does not have other risk factors, such as jewish decent, previous cancer, ovarian cancer, etc) even a mutation in one of these genes increases the risk about 40%. But which 40/100 embryos will develop breast cancer over their lifespan? If we abort all, then we abort 60/100 that likely will not develop breast cancer. Another consideration is that of those 60 embryos that will most likely not develop breast cancer, some will develop cardiovascular disease, or be raped, or be battered. Why don't we just abort the whole lot to insure no one will endure hardship, or cause society to bear any burden associated with the hardship.

So all things considered, I think the more ill conceived plan is yours.

Suppose it is possible to determine from somebody's genes that they would grow up to be a sociopath. Would that justify taking their life?

Suppose we didn't discover somebody had the sociopath gene until they were five years old. Would that justify taking their life? If not, then it wouldn't justify taking the life of an embryo either as long as the embryo is just as much a member of the human family as the five year old.

I think that's the real issue here. Screening embryos would sound like a good idea if embryos were not human beings. After all, nobody thinks there's anything immoral about factoring in genetics when choosing a spouse to be the mother or father of your future children because nobody dies in the process. The reason these people think screening embryos is a good idea is because they don't think embryos are valuable living people like the rest of us are.


It's called a supposition. That's why I started with Suppose. Furthermore, I'm aware that there are genes that are perfect good predictors of disease or disability.


I point out the implication the 'personhood' position. I know that there are those who will dig in.

Others might be persuadable.


Suppose by the time we perfect such genetic trait identification, the US Govt with Obamacare had grown to a monstrosity and at that point the govt run hospitals decide to eliminate those with a trait to disagree with the govt on anything and everything. Would that be beneficial?


I also referred to your supposition as a supposition, so I'm not sure I get your point. Can you help me understand why both of us referring to your hypothetical as a supposition is a problem for me but not for you?

As for the purported genes that you "know are perfect good predictors of disease or disability", can you share one with me as I did with you in my earlier comment?

kpolo, it would be beneficial to the government, but it wouldn't be beneficial to the people who get eliminated. Why do you ask?


For many of the disorders listed here, having the genetic trait means you (certainly) have the condition. Have a look.



Thanks for your direct response, but have you looked carefully at the list? For example, a specific mutation of the X chromosome is linked to the occurrence of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. While males with this mutation almost always have DMD, females rarely develop the disease. So again, as I said before, genes rarely act alone.

So you are correct that "many" of the extremely few conditions listed are linked with a single gene mutation. So I still believe my initial point is correct, that your supposition is so unlikely as to be pointless.

But let me ask my question again using DMD as our example. If you were to find that a preborn male has the Xp mutation do you believe that the most moral response would be to destroy him before implantation? I would guess that if one surveyed many individuals with DMD, that most are thankful that they had a life to live at all.

So how many perfect people are there in the world? Who gets to decide which traits are acceptable and what might be the outcome of a power struggle spawned by desire to hold that scepter? The assumption that the body is not controlled by the spirit is behind the beliefs fueling the push for genetic selection. Should this whole issue be considered without viewing it from a Christian worldview?

You were born too late. They could have used you in the Third Reich.

"Suppose we discover a strong genetic predictor of psychopathy."

And what would lead us to think we're not all psychopathic in some meaningful sense anyway?


Angelman syndrome is defined by one of four mechanisms and 100% of those who have it have some of the symptoms.

How did I find this? I started at the top of the Wikipedia list. Angelman syndrome is the second disorder listed.


How do we know that scientists aren't lying?

It has just dawned on me that this is nothing more than in utero hunger games, with Mother as president Coin and the doctor as president Snow and the womb as the arena. It fits... and may the odds be ever in your favor for there can be only one victor and to him go the riches of life and all others die in the arena.

Stop this barbaric gladiatorial game!

It's interesting how the fertility goddess demands the sacrifice of many children for the one(s) we believe will serve our gratification the best. Interestingly, countless studies, like this one, indicate that it's parental attitudes far more than genetics that produce desirable children. Parents who seek self-gratification in their children will be disappointed. Parents who help a child learn to deal with his or her inevitable flaws and love them anyway are far more likely to produce children who are stable and achieve reasonably well according to their potential.

Well said, Jim!

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