Build-A-Baby: If you could pick the perfect child…

I was reading an article posted on Yahoo! news about how it may be possible in the future to select the genetic traits you want your child to possess.  Want a boy?  No problem.  How about blue eyes?  No problem.  How about a kid who is a natural musician or athlete?  How about one with a supreme intellect or astonishingly good looks?  No problem.

If this technology were available to you when you had, or will have have, your child(ren), would you consider using it?  If you knew it was safe, would you consider it?  Are there any ethical issues involved that would need to be considered?  For those Christian readers, what are the biblical issues involved?  Would it be OK for Christian parents to use this type of technology?

Of course, I did not have this to worry about since my child is already the perfect baby! 🙂

The article is worth a read, even if it only gives us a glimpse into what potentially lies ahead in the realm of genetic selection / altering.  I look forward to reading your thoughts about this topic.

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18 Responses to Build-A-Baby: If you could pick the perfect child…

  1. Philippa says:

    Eeek! This is the movie Gattaca come to life! Interestingly, in the movie if parents just let the baby be conceived without any intervention, it’s called “a God child.”

    No, I wouldn’t. I only have an emotional reaction to back it up, but I’d feel like I’d be messing with creation.

  2. Carey Terry says:

    Personally I think it’s sad. The bible tells me that God created me, knited me in my mothers womb and knew my before I was born. God is our creator, not man.

    If I could pick my childs characteristics or physical features then I wouldn’t. I want my kids to be created be God and made to be exactly what HE intended them to be! Not what I intended them to be. That’s selfish and parents shouldn’t be so controlling.

  3. Kelsey says:

    I agree that the idea of a designer baby is disturbing and wrong, but I wonder if it really would be selfish of the parents to pick out prime genes? Imagine the poor kid who was born with only God-given genes. That child would probably be in the minority, and would probably be shockingly mediocre in every way compared to all the kids who were specially designed by their parents. Who would want to put their kid through that? I guess it seems like a pretty selfish move either way. Definitely a no-win situation.

  4. Tim Farley says:

    It is easy to say that it is wrong when it comes to picking our child’s eye color or personality traits, but what if it is a matter of avoiding genetic problems like cancer or some other disease or abnormality? Would that be OK?

  5. Ben A says:

    I’m all for it — if it’s safe and time-proven to be okay.

    I see three areas that are similar:

    #1: We marry people who have genes that we want to give our children.

    If my wife had a genetic condition that would spell the end of her life at 29 years old and our kid had a 50% chance of getting it, I think we’d adopt or not have kids at all.

    And if I was dating a girl and we both really wanted to have kids in the future but she had a genetic condition that would produce only mentally handicapped children, I think I’d either drop her or marry her and not have children.

    I may be a little cold on the subject, I suppose. But I don’t think it’s always wise to have your own children when you’d be putting them into harm’s way just by their being born.

    God would love them. I’d love them. But I’d also love to care for a child that has no mother or father.

    #2: When we need to see better, we get glasses. See better? We get a hearing aide. Got a broken bone? Get a pin. Need a new pancreas? Grow it with cord blood stem cells. We have no problem doing these physical things to ourselves or our children.

    Genetics is just another physical thing. It’s a slight bit more complicated and it’s microscopic, but all DNA does is provide the information to build proteins. And proteins are physical things that work mostly by their shape (just like a hammer or a pin or even a hearing aide).

    So if you could knock out a dangerous protein sequence, I’m all for it. If you want to spend a little extra money to make your kid’s eyes glow in the dark, I suppose that’s up to you. Is it wrong? So long as it’s not hurting a child, go for it.

    #3: Nobody goes into the deep parts of the temple. Nobody eats the consecrated food. But David could because it could save his life.

    Sometimes God allows us to do unlawful things as long as we maintain the spirit of the law (which can be defined as “loving God and your neighbor”).

    Even if it was morally ambiguous, shouldn’t we be able to do something that is a little unkosher in order to save a life? Or make some neat green eyes? Or a sixth finger? [I love Gattaca too]

    If we’ll take blood transfusions, ought we remove diabetes?

    Or maybe not… ?

    (good one Tim!)

  6. Carey Terry says:

    I doubt they can stop a child from getting a disease! This is more of like designing your baby to look like you. Personally like I said, to me it’s all about God and that’s the reason I live. If God creates my baby with brown eyes then give God the glory for my brown eyed baby! We are beautifully and perfectly made by God. Yeah, sometimes I wish my hips were smaller or my skin was tanner. Sometimes I look in the mirror and hate what I see. When I was 17 I had an eating disorder and would stand in the mirror naked pinching my fat and then cut myself because I wasn’t pretty enough to the world. I found my identity in the world and hated what I looked like. After years of searching for my identity in the world I realized the world has nothing to offer. It took many years to find my identity in Christ and realize that he chose each and every part of me to look a certain way. The world may not like my brown eyes, but my heavenly father adores them because he chose them! My Dad may have thought I was too fat, but my heavenly father told me my price is far above rubies! This is just an examply of what I’m talking about.

    I don’t think a person is totally evil and a horrible person if they disagree with me. But it’s just a personal choice and opinion. “God create my children in your image and design them with your hand!”

  7. Tim Farley says:

    Ben:

    I was wondering what you would think, given your bio-medical background. I was wondering how immunizations may also be similar in that we “engineer” our immune system to fend off cetain diseases. They certainly do not come that way from the womb.

    Carey:

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that we are all created exactly how our Father wants us. We have infinite value in His eyes and we should understand our self-worth through Him and not the world around us. I am so happy to hear that you found this truth too! I would not want my daughter any other way than how God created her, just like you express your desire to have children designed by Him.

    I guess my biggest question is where we draw the line. We already do things in the medical world to “correct” things or prevent things from happening in the future. If we could use genetic engineering to accomplish the same things, would it be OK?

  8. Carey Terry says:

    Your right, we do already use things to correct ourselves, such as plastic surgery. It’s sad no one can be happy with their self. I guess plastic surgery is okay in some cases such as if a person is deformed and needs to correct a certain body part. Other than that there is no need for it.

    Where do we draw the line? If a person doesn’t have a deformedy, then why are we trying to fix them?

  9. Tim Farley says:

    Carey:

    I agree with you. I think the line is determined by what is done to fix real problems and what is done to fulfill our wishes / desires.

  10. Carey Terry says:

    Amen! 🙂

  11. Andrew says:

    Who wants a genetically-modified baby? What is this, an experiment? Talk about cheapening human life! We have no business tampering with this process and yes, that even means “fixing” stuff like down syndrome, deafness, blindness, etc. The limitations and differences one has can go a long way in teaching others the things they don’t see themselves and impacting their lives like nothing or no one else could. Every “normal” person takes their senses so much for granted, they forget to use them to their full extent (like a blind person who has tapped into a whole new level of hearing ability that others could only dream of having).

  12. Carey Terry says:

    I agree we shouldn’t tamper with things, especially on children. However, if someone is blind and can have surgery so they can see then why not have it? Maybe you would chose to remain blind, but I’m sure the majority of blind people would give anything to see again. It’s not changing a person, it’s helping them. Just like a person wear glasses so they can see better. Why not wear them or get lasik eye surgery so you can see? That’s great if they want to remain blind or deaf. But why would a person want to be like that? No one wants that. I have been a teacher for young children. They don’t want to be that way. Their no different and yes their human. Your right that they need to learn to live with their issue. They need to know it doesn’t change them or make them any different because it doesn’t. But no child or adult wants to have a missing leg or be blind. But that’s a whole nother subject!

  13. Ben A says:

    “Real problems” is interesting.

    In my bioethics course, we covered a severe mental problem: small breasts. Researchers found that B and A cups have a lower self esteem and so they were pressing insurance companies to pay for augmentation much in the same way that they would pay for counselors (but the research showed that counselors did nothing, augmentation had an immediate and prolonged positive effect on self esteem).

    Sorry for the XXX post, but it brings about a question: What is a “real problem?”

    I think we’d all agree that the solution shouldn’t be augmentation. It should be creating a positive self identity even with our faults. And then moving that identity over to society to help out our brothers and sisters.

    Obviously, I think we should leave well enough alone on many aspects. But if genetic manipulation could have made my nephew have a working heart without years of open heart surgeries and an early expiration date, I’d be tempted to do it.

    My favorite post: “my heavenly father told me my price is far above rubies”

    Amen to that sister.

  14. Tim Farley says:

    Ben:

    I have tried to stay away from being too technical so I do not confuse anyone and so I do not have to get too lengthy in my answers, but I think you’ll understand this since you were in the same seminary classes as me. By “real problems”, I mean those attributed to the fall. Anything that is a result of sin and not God’s created design (think, Creation-Fall-Redemption). So, any disease or sickness would be in this category. So would any physical deformity. Eye color, height, skin color, gifts and abilities, etc, are all part of God’s created plan and are not “problems”, but should be seen as good. I hope this helps.

    I know there are still gray areas where it is a tough call.

  15. Ben A says:

    Tim:

    Good answer!

  16. aaron says:

    Well, once born, you aim your kids a certain way. YOu give them a ball, or a guitar, or a gun. The difference here is the actions are prenatal. Is their really a difference to the desired effect the parent’s want? Or are the means only different?

  17. Tim Farley says:

    Aaron:

    Is “aiming” a child a certain direction the same as determining / changing a child’s future?

  18. Kimbal says:

    Excellent topic and many good comments. We do “choose” our children’s traits to an extent by the partner we marry. If she liked my sandy hair and blue eyes and I liked her brown hair and hazel eyes, we will find it easy to love the various combinations of “us” we see in the physical traits of our children. We will see things that remind us of grandparents, etc. Remember, in order to “engineer” a child science has to be quite invasive. Do I want my child removed from the womb shortly after conception and have a scientist withdraw and play with the DNA string and then restoring the child to the womb? Do I want artificial insemination and testtube fertilization of my child? How do we know that this is not traumatic to a young life? How often do humans make mistakes? I prefer to trust God fully.

    It seems presumptious of science to believe they can control non-physical traits such as intellect, predisposition to be an artist or a singer, and so on, for God gives gifts to his children as He wishes. I have gifts, my wife has gifts and every one of my children have gifts but we all vary in the combinations given. Materialistic scientists believe that all things have natural causes, so they are beginning with a misconception (small pun) in that they believe they can control God’s gift of life. This idea is symptomatic of the “secular humanization” of our society. In other words, this is a Tower of Babel concept, an attempt by man to play/defy/replace God. IMO, of course.

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