Letter: God of genetics

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The suggestion that our genes may influence our behaviour as well as our physiology does not present such a fundamental challenge to the Church's teaching about free will as Dr J W King suggests (letter, 17 November). I see no dilemma at all.

Christians have long recognised that in human nature - in genetic imperatives if you prefer - there is a tendency to ungodly behaviour: self-preservation instead of self-sacrifice is surely the best known.

St Paul's teaching is fully compatible with modern science: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", and "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate".

Paul understood compulsions, and that humans are pre-programmed for wrongdoing. Free will does not give the ability to choose to do no wrong. It is freedom to repent or not when the wrong is recognised.

Redemption depends not on avoidance of bad behaviour, which we knew was inevitable before genetics told us why, but on the events of Good Friday.


Chandler's Ford, Hampshire