“If Adam and Eve were the first and only people on earth, then where did Cain get his wife?” This pertinent question has puzzled a multitude of Christian students throughout generations. Biblical scholars have offered many explanations but the most plausible one is that Cain had children with his sister. Before you pull back in wonder, remember that back then the human race was extremely robust with no diseases or malfunctioning genes to mar its progress. In the fullness of health and vigour, close relatives, including siblings, could marry without the adverse effects that incest has right now.
The human race has deteriorated to great lengths such that disease is embedded in our very makeup—genes. Scientists, however, have fought back with equal zeal and have experimented— successfully—with a myriad of disease stopping strategies, one of the latest being the editing of a human embryo of faulty aspects that can lead to the development of diseases later on. This is great breaking news for the human race, especially those faced with the devastating knowledge that their unborn child may have to be “a person of determination”, living with an illness like Sickle Cell Anaemia, Down Syndrome or conditions like deafness all their lives; consequently, requiring one to undergo continuous treatment or receive care all their lives. The implication of this breakthrough is that eventually genetic illness and conditions that affect generations can be completely wiped out before a child is born.
Although this impressive news has massive positive potential, it also comes with significant questions. The editing of the genes not only affects the faulty component, but it also interferes with the rest of its makeup leading to alterations to who the person is actually. Meaning the person may be different genetically from their forefathers. In Africa, and indeed in many parts in the rest of the world, this is a very important subject—the carrying on a lineage and heritage.
When you closely think about it, the choices that we make on who to date—Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—and marry, what to eat when expecting a baby, and our lifestyles, are outward ways of editing the makeup of our next generation. The only difference is that editing an embryo is done in the inside of a person.
Perhaps, for parents and educators, an interesting question would be, can genes be edited to leave only those components that develop into intelligent students?