In the world today, there is a lot of research being conducted into the human genes, and what they may do and may not influence. The Human Genome Project (HGP) completed its research in 2003, and analysis is still continuing of its findings.
The HGP set out to identify approximately 20000-25000 genes in human DNA; determine the sequences of about three billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA; and organise this information onto a database. Now scientists are looking into what our genes shape us to be, for example in the case of homosexuality. Do our genes make us homosexual or bisexual, or is to do with other factors such as environment? To pose the question a different way, are homosexuality and other things inherited?
So what else could be inherited? We know hair colour, eye colour and skin colour are passed on from our parents. We also know that things such as weight are more to do with society and our upbringing. How about need for attention? If our parents crave attention from a loved one, will their children? Well, of course the behavior of both parents would be inherited by the child, so they may or may not depending on the other parents genes. Since twenty-three chromosones from each parent combine to make the full fourty-six of a human being, certain characteristics are inherited from one parent or the other. This is why two children of the same parentage could have different coloured hair. Every human also has dominant and recessive genes, meaning that some genes will create a phenotype, and some will be recessive so that they will not show, they will be the genotype. So one of the parents may have a recessive gene for ginger hair, meaning that their child has a chance of having ginger hair. This is the same for inherited diseases where the parent may be a carrier, and it is recessive genes that enable them to be a carrier.
Since we do not yet know, due to lacking scientific research, what is inherited and what is not, various questions can be posed. The example I am going to use for response to the title of this write-up is Adolf Hitler. As many of you will know and all of you should know, during world war two he systematically killed six million Jews in Europe. Many would deem this pure evil, whatever his reasons were. But was his behavior due to his environment and social situation or upbringing, or due to his genes?
Before some of you message me telling me that posing this question in itself is comparable to denying the Holocaust, I would like to briefly say that I do not feel that if his genetic makeup was what brought him to do it, that it is a way of justifying his actions. Whether it was environmental factors, or his genetic makeup, his actions were evil and unacceptable.
The question of Hitler's relatives that are still living today is an interesting one. Three brothers live in America, and are detailed in the book 'The Last Of The Hitlers' by David Gardner. They are great nephews of the Fuhrer, and have made a verbal pact to never marry or have children, so that the bloodline can at last die with them. If the three brothers are relatives of Hitler, they have the same genes that have passed down from someone deep in their family line, and therefore, they could, in essence, harbour the same anti-semitic feelings. If this is true, this is a chilling thought.
Could the systematic killing of millions of Jews become a reality again? Forgetting the reasons behind Hitler coming to power enabling him to enact his grand plans, it's quite possible in fact. Scared? Well, of course these men have led very different lives to that of their great uncle Adolf, but if it's in their genes afterall, it could be lying deep. It's entirely possible, and a fact, that genes are shared with Adolf Hitler, so if behavior and feelings are inherited, they are essentially Adolf Hitler in a different guise.
So do genes create a tendency or a tyranny? Well, this in itself is an interesting question to try and answer. Just because these men are of a different upbringing, it doesn't mean they do not have the same feelings, just hidden by their teaching from their parents. You could say it's lucky they have decided to end the family line with their generation given that this as an entirely feasible idea. Do they have the same feelings but are restrained by society, since their ideas will not spread easily? If they are, then genes do in fact create a tyranny, bringing about a whole different idea and a whole different argument, that of designer babies. Could the government take the role of God, as some see it, and weed out the weak and the ill-minded to create a perfect society free of inherited illness and evil? Theoretically, yes.
If a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) had a child, would they, taken from birth and given to a foster family, turn out to have the same racist views? This experiment would be a good attempt at finding an answer to the statement provided. However, it is nigh on impossible to conduct. First you would have to find someone who conforms to KKK thinking, is a member of the KKK, and would openly confess it for the purposes of science. Secondly, they would have to have a child with a female member of the KKK so that the child's genes were wholly from KKK parentage. Thirdly, they would have to accept having this child taken from the moment of birth to a foster family for the rest of the child's life. Only then could this experiment be conducted.
Let's say, for the purposes of this write-up, that we find a KKK member who has a child with another KKK member, and agrees to never see this child, ever. This child is taken to a foster family, who for the purposes of the experiment would have to have absolutely no racist views. A suitable family is found and the child handed directly to them. Every five years the child would be asked what s/he thinks about certain people. If the child had racist views, you could conclude that it was hereditary, and if not, then by upbringing, in turn answering the question.
Since this is a near impossible experiment to conduct, the answer will never be found, unless it can be found through analysis of the HGP. The statement suggests nothing about environment or external factors, so the true question is as it stands, 'do genes create a tendency, or a tyranny?'
Do recessive genes of behavior, if behavioural genes exist, affect the behavioural phenotype? This is the same question worded differently, since a tendency would be created by recessive genes, and a tyranny by there being a zero chance of recessive genes of negative behavior such as racism.
I guess we will never know unless light can be shed by analysis of the HGP. Still, it is an interesting thought.