Ted Peters, as quoted by Peter Leithart:

“The growing myth of genetic determinism blows first in one direction: if we are programmed totally by our DNA, then what we think is human freedom is in fact a delusion.  Then the myth blows the opposite way: if we can apply our best engineering technology to DNA, then we can gain control over nature and guide our own evolutionary future.  The genes determine the future; we want to determine the genes.”

That’s as perfect a description as I have seen of the way genetics get tossed about.

Scientific discoveries get deployed in moral debates with an almost unabashed confirmation bias.  Dislike the trait and genetic research can contribute to therapy.  Like the trait and genetics is deployed as the trump card against any objection to it.


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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. As someone who’s studied science extensively, I see how easily our curiosity can be corrupted by sin. There’s part of me that thinks that if we surrender our desire to know everything, people in general might be more apt to hear the words of the Gospel. Do I believe in willful ignorance? Certainly not. However, it saddens me to think that one reason people get abortions because of what they might read on a genetic test – information that’s only newly available. Before genetic tests, you didn’t know what to expect and parents raised their children as they were born to them. With this new scope of knowledge, I think a question Christians need to pose to themselves and the world is whether we’ll let genetic knowledge rule our choices or if we’ll let Christ’s truth assume that role.


    1. Matthew Lee Anderson August 3, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Anonymous, yes. The relationship between knowledge and control is a very interesting one and potentially problematic one. Thanks for the comment!



  2. I LOVE this post. I keep coming back to it. Very succinct and true.


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