The discussion that I attended consisted of speakers from a wide array of areas of specialization. The purpose of having an assortment of speakers was to give the students different perspectives meant to explain the themes of the relationship that exists between genomics and spirituality together with the mainstream bioethics perspective. The first speaker, a medical doctor from the Department of Genetics at the prestigious King Faisal Specialist Hospital located in Saudi Arabia talked about the relationship between genomics and spirituality. His simple and easy to understand the argument about how genomics relates to health revolved around the simple relationship between mutations and disease, with the second part featuring complex genetics. Simple genetics involves the direct relationship between mutations in the cells and having a disease; if you happen to have a mutation, then you are most likely to suffer from a disease that is directly related to that mutation. On the other hand, complex genetics was said to be more complicated and the leading causes of complex diseases such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. Complex diseases such as diabetes involve an individual having a genetic predisposition to a disease, but at the same time exacerbated by environmental factors (lack of exercise, sedentary life and bad diet). According to this speaker, the genome is not life as it is not different from any other components that the cell cannot live without, bringing into question the non-physical characteristics of humans and spirituality.
Additionally, the speaker gave an example of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests on stroke patients which indicated that stimulation of certain damaged areas of the brain have an effect on the emotions that they are going to exude. In his closing remarks, he was of the opinion that the genetics of spirituality also include and a physical component which is stimulated by external environmental factors. The second speaker, an expert in mainstream bio-ethic perspectives, lauded science for providing robust, precise and high-resolution knowledge about human beings. The speaker also noted that science has its limits in explaining the soul. Additionally, he was of the opinion that the concept of the soul articulated what made us special. As human beings, we can make decisions, be subject to criticism by staying loyal to the experience that we are special. He clarified the construction of human nature by first providing Aristotle’s opinion about the soul. He noted that Aristotle posited that the soul was something like a form that keeps us in shape (Aristotle, 2016, p. 67). As far as entropy was concerned, the speaker noted that human beings have been able to use life to delay through the complexity they develop and maintain. The soul is also responsible for providing us with an opportunity to be addressed with an experience of vocation given as an example.
According to the ideas of Lous P. Pojman in his book “Ethics Discovering the Right and Wrong,” the basic nature of human beings is the same the world over. Human nature is an aspect that is common among the human race and roots for objectivism by categorically stating that there are stark similarities in human nature. Some of the principles that will be instituted by human beings will meet their needs better than others as principles that are known to meet the essential needs of human beings are objectively valid and legitimate moral principles.
The general argument is that because a common human nature exists, a valid set of objectively placed moral principles can apply to all human beings. There exists the assumption that human nature is common and depending on a social reality of choice, an individual will accept the authenticity of this morality viewpoint (Pojman & Fieser, 2017, p. 42). Knowledge of human genetics and anthropology provides overwhelming evidence of human beings further bolsters the relativists’ opinion that it’s an illusion, and as human beings, we are only related to our interests. Human beings typically prefer to have an option of survival to experience love, friendship and be happy as opposed to enmity and hatred. The search for peace and security is a never ending quest as we are social beings who want friends and family at the end of the day.
Human beings can sometimes override moral principles when they come in direct conflict with other principals of morality that we hold. An individual may decide to override the principle that forbids them from lying if it is in a situation where a murderer asks them where their family member is with the sole intention killing them. Additionally, one might decide to steal in difficult times as they would want to feed their family. According to the Social Contract Theory, human beings have to agree collectively in morally as a means of reducing chaos and creating peace. Such a contract requires an individual to set aside their nascent hostilities towards others to create a better life where everyone follows basic moral rules (Skyrms, 2014, p. 31). The social benefits that would accrue from such a contract would include the reduction of human suffering, flourishing of human beings, a solidified society and the resolution of conflicts of interest in a fair and just manner.
I am of the opinion that morality and ethics can be genetic in nature, but only to a certain degree. Ethics and morality are often a combination of both nature and nurture. Certain aspects of morality such as a person’s manners are taught and imparted from a very young age. An individual’s personality and their basic compassion is indeed genetic and is often part of their personality. In this argument, it is important to bring in the angle of mental illness. A mental health problem might leave one without morals, and no amount of schooling on morals will help fix it. The origins of human ethics are genetic we use culture as a means of collective memories that are then passed on to future generations. It is, however, important to note that the there has been an overestimation in the role that genomes and genetics plays in human morals and ethics.
A social contract also comes into play before broaching the question of morality and ethics among human beings . Human beings have over the years learn to live in harmony by having rules on morality that would allow them to thrive in life without having to meet a violent demise as a result of competing interests between the different parties that may with similar interests. It is thus important to seek a balance in explaining where we get our morals from when looking at the genetic predisposition that has while at the same time considering that human beings have self-interest that can be protected through the use of amicable agreements to guide their behavior.
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