Vol 3, No 1, 2004

What are the Implications of Genetic Sciences for the Christian Understanding of Free Will

Diana Carrigan

Abstract

This paper will consider the implications of genetic science for the Christian understanding of free will. The notion of humans as created in the image of God, with freedom to cooperate with or reject the divine will for the world, is essential to Christian spirituality, ethics and mission. Genetic determinism would challenge the very reality of such free will. Consider for example the following dilemmas: Is a religious vocation (which requires voluntary surrender of many freedoms) a genuine choice, or just the result of genetic predisposition to religious interpretations of experience, combined with familial and cultural factors? Would the presence of a gene predisposing one to a homosexual orientation negate the understanding within some Christian traditions of homosexual acts as intrinsically morally disordered?