Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled “The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order” criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited:
The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy.
Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result of the emergence of genetic determinism was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness, cohesion, and egalitarianism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species.
The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and the subsequent Abrahamic religions which pioneered the development of a reproductively active male as a supreme being (a Father). Since the 1850s, this myth-making role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.
Reaction by Paul Carline:
The subject of genetic determinism is certainly important.
However, I had imagined that the devastating results of the Human Genome Project had actually put an end to the dogma of genetic determinism – because it was shown that genes do not control anything of a higher order, but merely code for proteins. Director of the privately funded HGP research team, Craig Venter, remarked that the results told us nothing more about what it means to be human.
The research-grant-led ’scientific’ response was to say that the attention of the research must now be redirected to ‘proteomics’. But it is clear that the love affair with the idea of some kind of ‘master molecules’ controlling not only our physical makeup, but even our beliefs, hopes and fears – and especially our health – has not been abandoned, but rather intensified, with the toxic mRNA pseudo-vaccines being the latest progeny.
The corrupted science which now dominates research continues to deny the reality that the (arche)typical forms of living organisms are not shaped from within i.e. in ‘encoded’ genes, but are the result of invisible – but detectable – formative forces from ‘outside’, potentially from the entire cosmos. In a wiser age Paracelsus wrote that the forms of things are in the”astral light” i.e. the light from the stars (including the planets and comets).
Dr. Latham will almost certainly not agree with me on that – but at least we are in agreement that genetic determinism is a fallacy!
I am, however, left wondering what Dr. Latham means precisely when he states that “organisms are self-organised systems”. For the overwhelming majority of living organisms, it can hardly be said that they possess a “self” that consciously organises their development and form. Of course it is a problem for biology which is forced by its own belief system ultimately to see living beings merely as complex machines.
I recently reviewed a new book by an American biologist and naturalist who came to the same conclusion: that living beings are just the sum of their internal and external “activity” – they are just living beings ‘doing their own thing’. I do not find that very profound.
A couple of small but important points: Christianity is not an ‘Abrahamic’ religion, despite the centuries of corruption of the truth and the disastrous adoption of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law which relate exclusively to Judaism. The idea that the Christian supreme being is based on the model of a “reproductively active male” is to my mind simply laughable. Christian theology is totally free of the older descriptions of sexually active gods and goddesses.
Christian teaching actually refers to a trinity of supreme beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), where – according to the evangelist John – it is the ’Son’ i.e. the Christ who initiated the creation of the world. Even Genesis refers to multiple spiritual beings – the plural Elohim – as the active agents in cosmogenesis.
Jonathan Latham’s reply:
Just a correction, I dont know what definition of ‘consciously’ you use (and I dont normally use the word at all and dont in the blurb) but indeed all organisms are self-organising, even down to the tiniest virus. That is the history of evolution, which began with self-organising among the relatively speaking very simple initial set of molecules (long before DNA existed); and the definition of consciousness that I would choose to use would apply to them, it is simply the perception of and response to the environment.
In humans with large brains, we focus on the mental aspects but these perceptions and responses but are merely narrow aspects of a larger bodily whole consciousness that is closer to the consciousness of bacteria. But in general, consciousness is not a useful word as commonly used because the people who use it generally refuse to define it and the reason they refuse is that any rigorous definition would have to roughly follow my logic and so deny genetic determine and this is highly problematic since they are ideologically and a priori committed to it.
You are conflating sexually active with reproductive. Older and non-Christian ideas of gods did sometimes emphasize their sexuality, but all the references to “Our father” eg in the central “lords prayer” make it clear, to me at least, that paternity is central to Christianity: Jesus appearing as God’s son is another example. He could just have appeared, but no, was a male offspring.