Eugenics, Fate and Free Will-Yael Zeldin and Ari Spitzer


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Eugenics, Fate and Free Will By Ari Spitzer and Yael Zeldin

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Eugenics and Judaism What are Eugenics? Eugenics is the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits. (

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Is Eugenics permitted in Judaism? IVF, or in vitro fertilization is the process in which an egg is fertilized outside the womb and is later implanted for gestation. PGD, or Pre implantation genetic diagnosis, is a technique using in vitro fertilization to ensure that a baby does not possess a known genetic defect of either parent. After genetic analysis of the embryos so formed, only those free of defect are implanted in the mother's womb To prevent serious genetic disease, like Tay Sachs for example, it is possible to perform pre-implantation screening of the in vitro fertilized zygotes if both husband and wife are known carriers. Then, only the healthy ones are used for implantation. The discarding of the affected zygotes is not considered as abortion since the status of a potential life in Judaism applies only to a fetus implanted and growing in the mother's womb. “The Jewish legal question of using artificial means of conception to screen potential fetuses for genetic diseases has yet to be ruled on decisively by modern rabbinic authorities.”

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Is Eugenics permitted in Judaism cont. Ramban: The reason that Jewish people aren’t allowed to cross-breed animals (Kilayim) is because this considered contradicting creation. The Ramban applies this same concept to eugenics. God created the Earth in a certain way (in tzelem elokim, the image of god) so altering the essential nature of humans would be acting against God’s intent. Fred Rosner, MD Rav Hirsch interprets gods commandment to “replenish the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28) to mean that humankind is allowed to master, appropriate, and transform the earth and its products for human purposes. That being said, Rav Hirsch believes that eugenics are acceptable in Judaism and anything that can help the human race is permissible and even praiseworthy. “The heavens are the Lord's heavens but the earth He has given to mankind” (Psalms 115:16) Rav Hirsch believes that God meant for humankind to strive for scientific knowledge and it is mandated by the Torah to use scientific knowledge for the benefit of mankind. Bava Kama 85A: The use of such knowledge to heal illness and cure disease is also biblically allowed using gene therapy to cure is definitely allowed. The issue is whether we are permitted to use eugenics for other purposes. (

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How different religions and civilizations interpret the ideas of Fate and Free will. Hinduism Ancient Greece Atheism Judaism Buddhism Ancient Rome

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Christianity in contrast to Judaism

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Ancient Greece Greek Philosophy There is order to the world and a reason for everything happening Humans are capable of understanding this order by using their freewill. Art during this period was generally of the gods. They were motionless, looked lifeless, and many had the typical Archaic smile. The art of this period reflects the views of the Greeks at the time – they were very focused on the gods because they thought the gods controlled their fate The art of the Classical Period style is characterized by a joyous freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Classical art was very naturalistic and full of action. Art done in this period was full of action and was very lifelike. Greeks of this period showed their newfound freewill through their art.

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Ancient Rome Epicureanism Epicurus was roman-educated and studied at Plato’s academy. His philosophy expressed the idea that the pursuit of pleasure would lead to a fulfilling life. The Epicureans believed in hedonism Stoicism The Stoic philosophy expressed the idea that believed in wisdom, bravery, justice and moderation The Stoics believed that virtue and wisdom are the necessary abilities to achieve satisfaction. They believed that regardless of the consequences, one must always perform his/her virtuous duties and that wealth obtained during one's lifetime should be utilized to perform virtuous actions and to stay physically fit. Neither the Epicureans or Stoics believed in fate. They both believed in freewill.

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Hinduism 5 principles of Hinduism: the Three-in-one god Brahman Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer The Caste system (social classes) Brahman - elite, priest caste Kshatriyas  - warriors/rulers Vaisyas  - merchants and farmers Shudras - laborers untouchables - outcasts Karma every good action has good consequences, every bad action has bad consequences each action’s consequence will return to the individual later in time Reincarnation each individual soul experiences a number of births, deaths, and rebirths good karma leads to rebirth into higher caste or even into life as a god bad karma leads to rebirth into lower caste or even to life as an animal Nirvana the final goal of each Hindu a soul’s release from the cycle of reincarnation Fate and Free will Hindus believe in both fate and free will free will allows each individual to choose his own actions their actions lead to good or bad karma which becomes their fate in their life or in a future life

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Buddhism The ultimate goal of all Buddhists is to attain Nirvana; releasing attachment to desire and self, entering state of liberation and freedom from suffering Three trainings/practices Sila – morality, don’t do to someone else what you don’t desire Samadhi - personal freedom and control of one’s mind through meditation Prajna - the emergence of wisdom in a pure, calm mind Four Noble Truths Dukkha: Suffering exists Samudaya: There is a cause for suffering Nirodha: There is an end to suffering Magga: In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path Five Precepts Do not kill, steal, lie, misuse sex, consume alcohol or drugs Eightfold Path Panna: Discernment, wisdom: 1) Samma ditth: Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths 2) Samma sankappa: Right thinking; following the right path in life Sila: Virtue, morality: 3) Samma vaca: Right speech: no lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language 4) Samma kammanta: Right conduct by following the Five Precepts 5) Samma ajiva: Right livelihood; support yourself without harming others Samadhi: Concentration, meditation: 6) Samma vayama Right Effort: promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts 7) Samma sati Right Mindfulness: Become aware of your body, mind and feelings 8) Samma samadhi Right Concentration: Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness Fate vs. free will Buddhists believe in free will over fate. They believe that each individual controls his or her own destiny by meditating and following the Three practices, Four Noble Truths, Five Precepts, and Eightfold Path.

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Atheism the doctrine or belief that there is no god; disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. since Atheists do not believe in any god or supernatural being, they are not bound to follow any higher power and therefore are governed by their own morals which dictate their actions In other words, Atheists believe in their own free will the ability to do whatever they choose - since there is no higher power to stop them It could be argued that Atheists do not believe in fate in the sense that their actions have positive/negative consequences after death