Responses by RICHARD H. COX and IVAN C HOWARD
From: JASA 18 (December 1966): 97-101, 111.
When the topic of genetic control is mentioned, it is often described as "Genetic manipulation." Students ask, "But who will control?" Life magazine poses the question: "Which men will we assign to play God?" These questions underscore the general principle that anything developed for good may be misued for evil, but they also make the mistake of inferring that genetic control must necessarily be authoritarian. We accept freely many types of medical control, but do not speak of them as manipulation.
V. Elving Anderson is Assistant Director, Dight Institute for Human Genetics, University of Minnesota. Prepared for presentation at the twenty-first annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation at North Park College, Chicago.
Scientific research does have a nasty way of continually changing the context in which we must live our lives and make our decisions. We have thought that science would solve all our problems, only to find that new questions arise. Those scientists who worked so effectively in the first part of this century to develop means of disease and death control were not fully aware that their success would create the problem of birth control for our generation.
Do we really have to face this question of genetic control. Even some scientists argue against any type of control. "Let nature take its course," but this involves a cost in human life and suffering. "We don't know enough," but we do know enough to make some decisions. "We can do more to control the environment," but we can be concerned about genetic factors at the same time.
Another argument is that our present legal and social structures are too antiquated to come to grips with the complications introduced, for example, by artificial insemination. I am confident, however, that if we become convinced that certain procedures are indeed desirable for mankind, we will find ways of modifying our supporting institutions.
One of the requirements for living in a scientific age is a well-informed public understanding of the issues. We must look to specialists for information about the techniques available for our choice. They can help us to foresee the probable results of one choice or the other. The question of genetic control cannot be resolved without the help of science, but can science also provide us with the ideals, standards, and goals that must also be considered? One of the major concerns of this convention is to ask what role the insights of the Christian faith may offer. Pontecorvo has claimed that "present-day philosophies, systems of ethics and religions . . . are unprepared for, and possibly unable to cope with, situations continuously changing at an unprecedented pace." Is such a claim fully justified?The Nature of Genes
Why has the problem so recently attracted attention? Primarily because of recent developments in our understanding of the nature of genes. The development of any organism requires raw materials, energy, and information. The genetic material forms the information which guides the division of cells and their subsequent differentiation into tissues and organs. It does this primarily through specifying the sequence of amino acids as they are fitted together to form one type of protein or another. Some proteins become structural components of cells, while others act as enzymes to regulate further chemical reactions. Thus, twenty different amino acids can be put together in different combinations to form hundreds of different proteins.
The genetic alphabet is composed of only four bases arranged in three-letter "words," each word specifying an amino acid. The basic "code" has now been reasonably well established, and it appears that the same genetic code is found in all organisms thus far tested, from viruses to man.
In this way genes are responsible for many of the differences among individuals. In the blood, both red cells and white cells have distinguishable blood types. Genes control the presence of enzymes in the red cells, the globulins essential for disease resistance, the factors necessary for clotting, and the proteins in the plasma that carry copper and iron. The role of genes in the development of the nervous system is shown by the existence of more than sixty different genetic disorders that can lead to severe mental retardation. There is growing evidence that other aspects of human behavior are conditioned by our genes.
Certain types of natural controls can be identified within cells. It is estimated that not more than 20 per cent of the genes are active in any given cell. Some genes function early in development, while others may not produce their effects until after birth, or later in life. Jacob and Monod of France recently won a Nobel prize for their work in bacteria showing the control devices within bacterial cells whereby enzymes are not produced until the chemicals on which they act enter the cell. In the cells of human females, one of the two X chromosomes becomes tightly coiled and inactive, with the result that the gene dosage for females becomes more like that in males with only one X chromosome. Furthermore, it is becoming clear that the major effect of hormones may be to regulate the rate of gene action.
Other natural controls involve populations. Genes may change by mutation, but harmful mutants are gradually eliminated by natural selection. If the environment changes, a mutation formerly harmful may become advantageous. These two opposing forces generally result in a balance, or equilibrium. In those conditions which are genetic lethals, in the sense that affected persons never reproduce, the frequency of the condition is maintained by the frequency of mutations. If medical treatment makes the condition less severe, the mutations will slowly accumulate and the frequency of the trait will increase. Thus, by our medical advances we are already involved in a type of genetic control.
It is important to realize that our technological advances do not eliminate natural selection, but only change the pattern.
Does this effect of relaxed selection upon medical problems also extend to intelligence and personality? Is man becoming not only physically, but mentally and morally less fit as well? The work of Reed and others has shown that the fear of a declining intelligence level was based upon a biased treatment of the data. Earlier studies comparing the IQ level of school children with the number of siblings omitted those persons in the parental generation who failed to reproduce at all. When these are added to the analysis, the negative correlation between IQ and family size disappears.
When we turn to traits such as altruism or cooperativeness, we simply do not have the information.
Intuitively we may feel that antisocial behavior and
aggressiveness may be favored reproductively, but
there is no direct evidence to substantiate or deny
such a claim.
Types of Genetic Control
The question, thus, is not whether or not we should control our genetic future. Rather, we should ask whether this control should be indirect and unplanned, or the result of conscious choice.
Three types of conscious control are available to
us: (1) We can change the effect of genes through
medical treatment. (2) We can change the frequency
of genes. Medical treatment is now making it possible
for persons with certain genetic diseases to reproduce,
and this will slowly increase the frequency of these
genes. The selective use of birth control can help to
reduce the the frequency of harmful genes. (3) At
some time in the future it may be possible to change
the genes themselves.
The ability to control the effects of genes has become a growing part of the practice of medicine. Treatment is possible for about forty genetic diseases, but there is extensive experience for only about ten. In phenylketonuria (PKU) and a half-dozen other rare forms of mental retardation there are special diets which give the affected child a much lower intake of those food constituents which their bodies are unable to handle. In other genetic diseases a missing product can be supplied, such as cortisol for the adrenogenital syndrome, vitamin B6 for one type of seizures, or pancreatic enzyme in the case of cystic fibrosis. In Wilson's disease there has been some success with adding a chemical to the blood that will bind with the excess copper and remove it from the circulation. In the future it may be possible to introduce chemicals that will either repress or derepress the activity of specific genes and thus restore more normal function.
The ability to change the crenes themselves is still in the future as far as man is concerned, but some elegant experiments in bacteria and viruses have provided most interesting results. The effect of X-rays in producing mutations is much too general and unpredictable to be of much use in improving human genetic material. Some chemicals, however, have a much more narrow range of action and produce changes in only certain of the genetic bases. Further research may result in useful techniques for "directed mutation."
Another related possibility may be termed "partial crossing." Several decades ago it was discovered that the DNA from one type of bacteria could be incorporated into another bacterial strain, a process known as transformation. The recipient strain incorporated the new genetic material and thereafter displayed some of the characteristics of the donor strain. More recently the process of transduction has been described, whereby an infecting virus acts as a carrier of DNA from the donor to the host strain of bacteria.
Tatum has suggested the technique of transformation might be applied to man in the following way in the future. A quantity of bone marrow cells could be removed from a person affected with a genetic disease and the cells placed in tissue culture. DNA from a normal person would be added to the culture, and the growth conditions modified so that those cells which incorporated the new DNA would grow more rapidly than other cells. Later the transformed cells would be returned to the patient's body with the expectation that the previous genetic deficiency would be overcome by the action of the newly incorporated DNA.
It is obvious that such techniques would be applied
first to correct the effect of harmful mutations already
present in the population. They would not be used
deliberately to harm individuals any more than is done
now with other presently available types of medical
In the midst of the recent excitement about future possibilities of genetic alteration the potential effectiveness of changes in gene frequencies has been underestimated. Some of the issues can be illustrated with reference to PKU. About one out of every 10,000 newborn children is affected with this disorder, but about one out of every 50 persons in the general population is a carrier of the gene. In the past most of the affected persons were so severely retarded that only a very few have produced children. After the introduction of dietary treatment about 10 years ago most children with PKU are growing up with IQs over 70.
Some treated children are now approaching the age of marriage, and thought must be given to the results of such marriages. On the average one per cent of the children produced will have PKU, but all the others will be carriers. There is a further danger if a girl with PKU marries, since phenylketonuric mothers have a fairly high proportion of children who are mentally retarded even though they do not have PKU. Furthermore, a long term result of relaxed selection will be a slow rise in the frequency of the disease, an increase of about two per cent in the first generation.
A somewhat different picture is obtained when looking at the total group of the mentally retarded (defined as those with a tested IQ under 70). Genetic and environmental factors interact in the development of such persons, with one or the other being predominant in some specific instances. In a recent large scale study, Reed and Reed (1965) found that when both parents were retarded, 40 percent of the children were retarded. When one parent was retarded and the other normal, the rate was 11 per cent. When starting the analysis with retarded children it was found that 36 per cent had one or both parents retarded. It is not possible to extricate the separate roles of heredity and environment, but it is abundantly clear that retardationis often transmitted from parents to offspring.
Marriage need not be ruled out automatically for the retarded, but there is an obvious need for individual counseling from an early age. One of the clearest statements of this problem can be found in "Miles to Go," a report of the Connecticut Mental Retardation Planning Project (p. 101).
Young people with some means of support and good preparation, then, can hope for some success in a marriage, even though they may be sure of problems, as can all the rest of us. Where no genetic reasons exist making offspring inadvisable, even the birth of children may be a possibility, but obviously family size must be limited if the family's emotional and economic resources are not to be strained to the breaking point. This opens the whole Pandora's box of what kind of methods are to 'be employed, but if advice and help are available when needed (a very large IF), it need not be an insuperable barrier. It simply hasn't been tried with enough vigor yet.
Obviously, sterilization is useful only in a limited way. For one thing, only a small part of the retarded population is likely to marry is ever institutionalized. Nevertheless, a study of the medical-social possibilities here, when performed even on a voluntary basis, might indicate broader use in cases where religion permits and where genetics or existing family size point to the advisability of no further births.
Other methods can be tried. For those not opposed to artificial controls on moral grounds, counseling and supervision, employing existing agencies concerned with family planning and other community health agencies, could have reasonable success, given early education and preparation of the kind discussed above . . . Objection may be raised that such devices require fairly sophisticated and highly motivated users, but most retarded persons are capable of being guided when good relationships have been previously established.
For Catholics, the subject is more difficult. Even here, where supervision is present, some courses of action are possible. Catholic family planning is becoming more readily available . . . Meanwhile, the church seems to be re-examining its own attitude towards other methods of family planning. Perhaps it will increasingly take into consideration the needs of couples who absolutely should not have children for really valid physical, economic, or psychological reasons. Catholic priests may take into cognizance the likelihood of the couple's being overwhelmed by too farge a family when they do premarital counseling.
I have quoted extensively from this report because the approach preserves individual rights and freedom while recognizing the need for a much more adequate program than now exists. Furthermore, the results would almost certainly include a reduction in the proportion of retardation in the next generation.Goals and Means
A discussion about genetic control implies that we have some type of goal in mind. Most people would agree that mental retardation is never an advantage. The best choice is not so obvious when it comes to body height, or perhaps even length of life. If we are heading toward an era of expanding population with growing food requirements, then small stature may be an advantage. Meanwhile, there is some evidence that an intermediate height is associated with optimum survival. There is a growing realization that total length of life may be less significant than good health through the productive middle years.
Some principles to keep in mind would include the following:
1) Genetic improvement is more rapid when the list of objectives is kept small. With more goals there will be slower progress toward any of them.
2) Improvement is more rapid when: (a) the initial population is highly variable, (b) the relative role of genetic factors in the trait is greater, (c) the fraction of the population involved in the control program is higher.
3) There is abundant biological evidence that variability in a number of characteristics is highly desirable. A variable population is better able to withstand drastic changes in environmental conditions. There is no one genotype that is best for all circumstances.
The means available for altering gene frequencies are negative (conception control or abortion) or positive (artificial insemination). From my point of view as a genetic counselor, having some such techniques available is essential for couples if they are to make responsible and free choices concerning their families.
There are two extreme viewpoints which must be avoided, however: if something might be misused it must be wrong, or if something is technically possible it must be right. It is more reasonable to ask under what circumstances a given procedure should be used, and when it would be inappropriate or wrong.
If a woman comes down with German measles in the first months of a pregnancy, the risk that the fetus has been seriously damaged may be as high as 30-40 per cent. The risk is high enough that a therapeutic abortion is sometimes performed. In a small fraction of cases of mongolism the mother carries a translocation (one chromosome attached to another). When this is detected, the family can be told that there is one chance in three that the next child will be affected, another chance in three that the child will carry the translocation (and have a high risk of producing a mongoloid child in the next generation), and only one chance in three of having a normal set of chromosomes. Our legitimate reluctance to terminate human life must be balanced against a reluctance to bring severely damaged children into being.
Artificial insemination using donor sperm is now used in families where the husband is infertile or carries harmful genes that would affect children. It is sometimes objected that this constitutes adultery, but this argument cannot be defended from the Bible. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stresses the idea that lustful desire is the essential point of adultery. Furthermore, the Levirate law of marriage (in which a near kinsman of a deceased man is obligated to father an heir for the widow) is in essence a provision for donor insemination.Germinal Choice
The most carefully considered proposal for the improvement of the human gene pool has been presented by the geneticist H. J. Muller. He suggests the widespread use of donor insemination with several significant differences from present procedures. It would be used in fertile marriages, where the couple is biologically capable of producing children of their own. The sperm donors would be known and a choice of donor would be made by the couple. (In order to avoid any personal factors, the sperm would be stored and not used until some years after the death of the donor). The selection of potential donors would be based on evidence of "outstanding gifts of mind, merits of disposition and character, or physical fitness."
Some of the significant questions involved in this proposal are the following:
1) Is the genetic welfare of future generations of enough concern to enough people to serve as a motivation for decisions?
2) Is biological relationship generally essential for strong family ties?
3) What would be involved in the personal dynamics between husband and wife in arriving at the decision that their children should have another biological father?Guidelines for genetic control
Of particular concern for this convention should be an effort to determine which principles from the Bible and from our various academic disciplines can serve as reasonable guides for outlining a program of genetic control. I would suggest four criteria as a basis for our discussion.
1) A sense of responsibility. One of the main reasons why the question of genetic control has made the headlines is that geneticists and other scientists feel an obligation to inform the public about possible problems well ahead of the time when we will be actually confronted with them. Many scientists now realize that they must be concerned about the possible misuse of the results of their research. There should be no place for an arrogant disregard of consequences or a cowardly reluctance to face the issues.
Parents also must show a responsible concern for the welfare of their children yet to be bom. The late Pope Pius XII stated the case clearly:
Better warned of the problems posed by genetics and of the gravity of certain hereditary diseases, men of today have, more than in the past, the duty to take account of this increased knowledge so that they might forestall countless physical and moral difficulties for themselves and others. They should be attentive to whatever could cause lasting harm to their descendants and involve them in an interminable succession of miseries.He further discussed the implications of certain genetic blood diseases. "When a subject is a carrier of the Mediterranean hematologic disease, he may be dissuaded from marriage but not prohibited." if the presence of the disease is verified in both husband and wife after marriage, "they may be dissuaded from having children but not forbidden."
What is the basis for responsibility of this type? Simpson (1963) put it this way:
There has been disagreement and indeed confusion through the ages regarding to whom and for what man is responsible. The lower and the higher superstitions have produced their several answers. In the post-Darwinian world another answer seems fairly clear: man is responsible to himself and for himself. 'Himself' here means the whole human species, not only the individual and certainly not just those of a certain color of hair or cast of features." (p. 25)
There is an important sense in which a Christian also acknowledges with Paul: "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish; . . ." (Rom. 1: 14, RSV) But a Christian this responsibility to mankind flows from a more basic responsibility to God. It would seem that this difference in orientation must have some practical implications for our present problem, but it is not yet clear to me what these might be.
choice. I have pointed out earlier
that many people feel threatened by discussions about
genetic control because they assume that such control
must be authoritarian in nature. The memory of Hitler's
efforts to "improve the race" reminds us that such an
approach is possible. On the other hand, it is clear that
a number of countries have recently developed programs for population control which make the means
for birth control available but do not infringe upon
individual rights and freedoms.
It is essential, then, that any organized efforts to improve the human gene pool must respect the voluntary principle. It is more difficult to inform and educate and counsel than it is to legislate, but the former is a better way. One type of exception to this principle would include those persons placed in state institutions or otherwise judged (through standard legal procedures) as being unable to make responsible decisions. Restrictions upon reproduction form only one part of the limitation imposed on such persons.
But what is the basis for this insistence upon freedom of choice? As a biologist I can point to the uniqueness of each individual and the multi-dimensioned variability in the human populations. The Bible would add that each person is individually accountable to God, and that external restrictions upon his freedom compromise that fundamental relationship to God.
3) An adequate view
man. As far as genetics is
concerned, man can be treated as a marvelously complex physico-chemical being whose present form has
had a long history. Is this picture complete enough to
serve as a basis for all of the questions concerning
genetic control that may face us in the future?
Heitler (1964) has commented on this general point.
We must regard biological applications which rest on partial knowledge of life as irresponsible. Of course, scientists who practice these applications are not aware of acting irresponsibly. On the contrary, they work with a maximum of conscientiousness possible within the framework of their partial science. However, scientific applications which have even a chance of inflicting general damage on life in the future cannot be justified from the ethical point of view.
The root of this irresponsibility lies in the fact that the part is taken for the whole. We suggest that the thesis on which this irresponsibility is based - namely, that life is nothing but a complicated case of physics and chemistry -is itself immoral.
I do not presume that all who hear or read this paper will share a commitment to a Christian view of man. It is clear, however, that discussions and decisions about genetic control must assume, explicitly or implicitly, some view of the nature of man.
4) An adequate view of the future. It is essential to avoid a naive optimism. Any good gift can be misused. In Biblical terms, we must be constantly aware of man's sinfulness.
The paradox of the Christian gospel is that man's sinfulness is paralleled by God's goodness. The results of scientific research continue to alter the circum stances of life, bringing the promise of many good things but also the specter of calamity. Will we be able to cope with the situations we may face in a few or in many years? I doubt that our prospect is really different from that faced by Abraham. "By faith Abraham obeyed when be was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance;and he went out, not knowing where he was to go." (Heb. 11:8, RSV)
It is possible for us to have some control over the genetic future of man by: (1) changing the effects of genes, (2) changing the frequency of genes, or (3) changing the genes themselves. Some procedures are now in use, while others may be far in the future. In addition to a discussion of the technical problems involved, it will be necessary to consider guidelines such as a sense of responsibility, freedom of choice, an adequate view of man, and an adequate view of the future.References
Heider, W. 1964. Ethics of the scientific age. Bull. Atomic Scientists, Oct., pp. 21-23.
Miles to Go. Report of the Mental Retardation Planning Project. 1966. Connecticut State Department of Health, 79 Elm St., Hartford, Conn. 06115.
Pope Pius XIL Two Discourses. 1959. Bulletin Number 11, The Dight Institute, University of Minnesota.
Reed, E. W. & Reed, S. C. 1965. Mental Retardation: A Family Study. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Simpson, G. G. 1963. This View of Lite. The World of an Evolutionist. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Sonneborn, T. M., editor. 1965. The Control of Human Heredity and Evolution. New York: Macmillan. (Includes papers by Muller, Pontecorvo, and Tatum)
COMMENTS ON THE CONTROL OF
MAN'S GENETIC FUTURE
RICHARD H. COX
From: JASA 18 (December 1966): 102
Dr. Anderson correctly asks the very important question as to who will control. Whether or not man's genetic future will be controlled is pretty much an established fact, it seems to me. There are numerous controls built into our society at the moment and there have been genetic controls within the human race since its beginning. These controls, however, have been more subtle and built into the socio-cultural determinants rather than specific overt acts per se. It seems that the Christian church is more accepting of things which occur by accident and by subtle socio-cultural determinants than by specific control. Whether or not the church sees this as an attempt to "be as God" or for exactly what reason it is difficult to say.
As a psychologist it seems that I should mention a number of important items. We are all aware of the fact that Sigmund Freud in discussing the meaning of the sexes has given a great deal of attention to the male and his masculine power. Karen Horney, one of the first female psychoanalysts, added an interesting dimension to Freud's meaning of the sexes by stating that the male did not have superiority and that although Freud may have been right about woman's "penis envy" theory, yet the female is the one who is able to produce and because man cannot produce human life by specific reproductivity from their own bodies, they work, build buildings, and do other constructive things to make up for it. One would have to ask what the meaning of genetic control will have for the male. It may well be that the male needs to father. The males need to sire seems to have relevance in the Old Testament. Although we are told that the male was permitted to take unto himself a concubine for the purpose of producing a male heir one could also question whether or not it was only a male heir that was needed or whether it was also the male's urge and need to reproduce. There are numerous clinical case studies of men who have not fathered children and have become clearly promiscuous in an attempt to sire. Certainly this is true from the literature as regards the female who has not been able to produce a child by her husband, and thus becomes promiscuous with others in an attempt to become pregnant. The urge to parenthood is more than a simple conscious desire or contemplation and is indeed a deeply imbedded primary need of both men and women. Genetic control will offer serious contaminations and variables to the reproduction of the human race and thus may tamper with this basic primary need of man.
There have been statements made concerning the possibility of choosing the father of one's child. As a psychologist I would ask what meaning has this to both parents. What happens when the child grows up and is told that due to physical, emotional, or other handicaps the person whom the child has known to be father is not really the natural father, but an adoptive father? What will this mean not only to the father in his feelings of adequacy and inadequacy, but also to the mother who has been able to consciously choose that her husband is not "good enough, strong enough or some other reason" to father the child. One would have to ask what meaning it will have to the child and what kinds of questions the child would raise. One must also ask if it is possible to choose a father due to handicaps, if it is not then also possible to choose a mother.have raised numerous questions in regard to the specific genetic control of reproduction. However, there is another side to this picture which should also be mentioned. This has to do with genetic counseling to persons who are already married or about to be married. There are certain physical illnesses which are hereditary and why should they be passed on to the younger generation? A genetic counselor, it seems to me, could wisely point out to a couple the handicaps and difficulties of having children. Certainly this is done in cases of Rh factor and other known physical problems. Perhaps marriage counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, ministers, and other persons who are doing premarital and marital counseling should be made aware of current literature which would help them in counseling young couples in this regard.
As a psychologist my most serious question regarding the genetic control is "what effect will it have upon the emotional stability of the persons involved and the possible complications regarding an adequate self image"?Covenant Counseling Center 3417 West Foster Avenue
by IVAN C. HOWARD
From: JASA 18 (December 1966): 102-103.
Philosophy of religion seeks to discover the most basic assumptions underlying a religion and to determine the major implications of these assumptions. In summary these are its epistemology, its metaphysics, its philosophy of history and its ethics. We may bypass any discussion of these, with this audience, by simply stating that the Scriptures are our final criterion. Our approach will be to try to see the implications of some of these basic assumptions as related to genetic control.
From the epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of history of Scripture there emerges the fact that the universe, including man, is a creation of God. This settles the question of origins, and establishes the fact that God alone is the legitimate governor of the universe, and that He may rightly determine man's purpose and scope of activity in the world. Hence God's initial statement of his purpose for man in Gen. 1:28 is of special significance. It reads, ". . . and God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the face of the earth."
This verse has determining implications for our topic. It implies first of all that man is an intelligent being to be govemed by his choice, but responsible to God. It further implies that every man by virtue of a vertical relation to God may be evaluated on a mere utilitarian basis. It also precludes the idea that any aspect of nature lies outside of man's right to investigate or control. e.g. genetic control, weather control. He is to subdue and govern nature, and to make any changes he chooses in nature so long as he fulfills the divine purpose. The idea that any aspect of nature is sacrosanct violates the divine command and has caused tragic errors.
Turning now to the problem of population control one may say that man is under command to subdue nature by every means available, to supply food for the increasing population. This should be underscored as the first answer to our over-population problem. But secondly when human need equals maximum food production we must control population growth. It is significant that the command to populate the earth was given only twice, and each time when it was without inhabitants. Christ, in his day, never felt the need to repeat the command.
The task of populating the earth was complicated by the fall, by the disease, disasters and death that followed. It appears that God to compensate inaugurated the principle of overproduction. Animals, insects and plants greatly overproduce. Without the high death rate some of the lower forms of life would soon fill the earth. Man also came under the principle of overproduction. The word to Eve is, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." Hence the present reproduction rate of man is not the divine ideal, but a corrected pattern adjusted to man as subject to death. As medical science reduces the death rate the birth rate must be controlled or death uncontrolled will follow. Any endorsement of the maxim, "Let nature take its course," or any attempt to prove that man's sex purpose or life is analogous to lower animals is disqualified by the divine command to control nature by intelligent choice.
Likewise genetic control to produce the most healthy and talented offspring has Scriptural approval. Man is the final product of the process, therefore he should produce the best specimen possible. Every effort should be used to prevent deficient children and to produce superior ones. A cautious concern, however, is in order as to the methods used.
Man's freedom must not be violated, else his right of choice and responsibility are destroyed. Freedom, however, is a nebulous concept and needs careful definition. The danger of violating one's freedom is nevertheless inherent in any system of sterilization or artificial insemination. Science, it would seem, might well first investigate other means of race improvement. Christianity Today for Aug. 19, 1966 suggests that science may soon be able to inject knowledge or brain power into adults. With all the possibilities on the horizon should not science seek to correct faulty genes? Such would avoid the dangers and objections of artificial insemination. However, if artificial insemination is the only answer to race improvement, and if it is approached cautiously enough to insure that its gains outweigh its liabilities there is perhaps no valid objection to it. The journal of American Academy of Arts & Science, Daedalus, Summer 1961 states this better than I can. It reads "A discriminating course of progress, which avoids both passive drift and reckless experimentation, is perhaps needed."
Finally it may be well to point out that while health and capabilities may be increased by genetic control, this is not a solution to the ethical problem. Character is not inherent in the genes, but is the product of correct choices, otherwise conduct is a physiological problem rather than one of ethics. In this I must differ with Dr. Herman Muller.
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky