Spirit and Heredity

WHILE advances in genetic research hold great promise for increasing crop productivity and other benefits, there are other aspects of this work that have a grim message. As geneticists have analyzed our biological heritage, many have come to believe that certain proclivities--such as a tendency toward alcoholism, for example--are inherent in the genetic makeup of some people. This cruel theory would condemn us to be forever subject to the outbreak of disease or a failure to rise above moral lapses or antisocial behavior because our genes are flawed. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that many people fear the implications of genetic research. Yet there is an alternative to simply accepting as inherent a tendency toward disease and sin. And the alternative has a great deal to do with who and what we think we are. To pursue this alternative demands a change in our thinking and in our lives. The basis of genetic research is the premise that man is a material being, governed by a genetic map that determines biological and even some psychological details. Governed by this map, our futures would already be determined, and the hope of avoiding disease and other troubles would be slim. The Bible gives us a completely different view of man. And the prophet Ezekiel saw clearly that God's power is able to overcome genetic inheritances. He describes God as saying, "What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold all souls are mine. Christ Jesus built on this fact throughout his he aling ministry. He taught that man is spiritual and forever at one with his divine Father, God. He was telling us that our real heritage is spiritual and that we can trust this heritage to be good. The foundation of this trust is that God is Love, not a changeable God who loves and hates but one who is infinitely loving and totally good. In different ways the Master made the point that God's love far exceeds even the highest human love we can portray. And because we are God's spiritual offspring, we naturally express His nature. It follows, then, that to recognize our spirituality is to gain freedom from the belief that we are merely material mortals, subject to genetic prophecies and limitations. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, discerned that human heredity was in sharp contrast to the spiritual nature of man as God's offspring. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes, "Heredity is a prolific subject for mortal belief to pin theories upon; but if we learn that nothing is real but the right, we shall have no dangerous inheritances, and fleshly ills will disappear. We can begin our progress toward a clearer understanding of spirituality by turning in prayer to God. We can pray to see that our true nature includes love, health, wisdom, purity. These and other spiritual qualities are what constitute our real inheritance. The material picture of sin or sickness, with all its threats and sorrow, can be put off as we learn to know ourselves in spiritual terms. We affirm the right way of looking at our lives by living as spiritually as we can. In the case of disease, for example, we can pray to know that spiritual being cannot include inharmony or debility of any kind, because spirituality is an expression of God. And since God is pure, unadulterated Love, man cannot include anything that would be unlike divine Love. Such prayer can do much to free us from the fears aroused by genetic theories. And as we persist in it, we will see more of our true spiritual heritage as the sons and daughters of God.

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