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Ken Ham Approves of Brothers Having Sex With Sisters

ken ham incest chart

Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and Ark Encounter, believes that at the beginning of the world 6,024 years ago, incest was approved by God.

Ham writes:

…Perhaps no woman mentioned in Scripture has caused more confusion among Christians. Despite the fact that we have regularly addressed this issue in numerous books, articles, and presentations, the issue of Cain’s wife is still one of the most common questions we receive. Who was she, and why have so many believers struggled to give a biblical answer to this inquiry?

The simple answer is that Cain married his sister or another close relation, like a niece. This answer may sound revolting for those of us who grew up in societies that have attached a stigma to such an idea, but if we start from Scripture, the answer is clear.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us that Adam was the first man. Genesis 3:20 states that Eve was the mother of all the living.(NASB), and Genesis 5:4 reveals that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters (besides Cain, Abel, and Seth).

There were no other people on earth as some have claimed. God did not create other people groups from which Cain chose a wife, as we are all made of one blood (Acts 17:26). If He had made others, these people would not have been able to be saved from their sins, since only descendants of Adam can be saved—that’s why it was so important for Jesus to be Adam’s descendant.

Doesn’t the Bible forbid marriage between close relations? It does, but the laws against marrying family members were initially given as part of the Mosaic covenant, approximately 2,500 years after God created Adam and Eve. Due in part to genetic mistakes [God made a mistake?], these laws were necessary to help protect offspring from mutations shared by both parents.

But that’s incest! In today’s world, this would be incest. But originally there would have been no problem with it. Looking back through history, the closer we get to Adam and Eve, the fewer genetic mistakes people would have, so it would have been safer for close relatives to marry and have children.

Christians who have a problem with this answer need to remember that Noah’s grandchildren must have married brothers, sisters, or first cousins—there were no other people (1 Peter 3:20, Genesis 7:7). Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 20:2). Isaac married Rebekah, the daughter of his cousin Bethuel (Genesis 24:15), and Jacob married his cousins Leah and Rachel. Clearly, the Bible does not forbid the marriage of close relatives until the time of Moses…

Ham’s argument is necessary if one reads the Bible literally. In Ham’s world, the earth is 6,024 years old, and evolution is Satan’s lie. However, in the aforementioned post, Ham reveals that he is not really as much of a literalist as he claims to be.

Ham says Cain married his sister or niece. Where does the Bible say this? Where does the Bible say Cain married anyone? Perhaps people didn’t get married in Cain’s day. Perhaps Cain actually had sexual relations with his mother. Why doesn’t Ham mention this as a possibility? Ham repeats the same story when trying to explain where the children of Noah’s grandchildren came from.

According to Ham, a law against incest was not necessary until 2,500 years after God created Adam and Eve. The reason? “Genetic mistakes, these laws were necessary to help protect offspring from mutations shared by both parents.” Again, where does the inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible say this? Shouldn’t Ham follow the mantra: where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent?

How is a particular human behavior not sinful for 2,500 years, and then, all of a sudden, it becomes sinful? How can an immoral act ever be moral? Does this mean God changed his mind? Does this mean God permitted immorality so he could accomplish a greater good? I thought Jesus (God) was the same yesterday, today, and forever? Doesn’t Ham’s explanation lay waste to this “Biblical truth?”

Sooooo many questions . . .


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    August Rode

    You dare deny Ken Ham the right to write his own gospels, Bruce? Clearly these are things that God has revelated to him and it’s obviously Ham’s duty to share those revelations with his flock.

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    ewww. but, about Cain…is there any mention of Cain having children, or is this just an old supposition on the part of a lot of Christians? (It’s been a zillion years since I slept thru Sunday School, so I can’t recall, and I probalby didn’t pay attention in the first place since I found church to be soooooo boring when I was a kid)

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      Bruce Gerencser

      It’s assumed. Been awhile since I’ve looked at it myself. It is also assumed that Adam and Eve had other unmentioned children. Who exactly were these daughters? How do we know it wasn’t Eve having sex with her son? What about Seth? Who did me marry? Did he have kids? What about those half angel/half human giants found in Genesis 6? Who had sex with whom and when and where? ?

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        When you find out which angel was having it on with a human or part human or some giant, please let Pastor Doug Wilson know exactly what sexual acts were performed, especially oral sex and whose tongue was where and exactly and all the details. Only in this way will the pastor be able to set things on a better course and help you angry atheist haters from Satan know the true error of your ways. (I’ve been following Natalie Greenwood’s marathon torture via Wilson’s biting Christian love.)
        Ken Ham et all will accept anything the Bible says or apparently infers IF the statements/verses begin with: What I am about to utter is God’s Holy Word and without error. In this way capital A Atrocity becomes fine and dandy…
        My preacher dad used to fall into this same pit in his arguments when he was frustrated with the opposition. Listen, he would say, in preface to his utterance: “Any sensible person knows…” These words were to make it clear that He was right because He was Informed by GOD and his human sensibility. He might have thought he was informed by God but none of it was sensible at all… The Bible says, I win. God never errs.
        One door and only one
        and yet it sides are two
        I’m on the inside
        so fuhuhuck you! (I love those ol’ Sunday Scruel songs!)

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    So for the atheist materialist whats the problem with brother sleeping with their sisters, or fathers with their sons or any sexual relationship so long as they love each other , surely you would not inflict your moral standard on someone else would you.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Really? Is this the best you got? How about investing some brain cells in thinking about how someone not religious might address issues of sexuality. Besides, it is Ken Ham who says he has an infallible, unchanging moral standard, the word of God. How about addressing the issues I raised in my post? Once you do that then I’ll be glad to discuss my view on human sexuality.

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        The issue is not bible moral infallibility the issue is ,you know I live in Ireland ,you know we have just past a law to allow same sex marriage , and you know the line used was what right has anyone got to tell two people who love each other they cannot get married and have exactly the same rights as anyone else. So Bruce is a father marrying his son just to icky for you or does it sit uncomfortable with your moral code, please tell me how do you decide whats ok in this regard.Please tell me if you have the courage of you convictions, Also sorry to see you replied to my post you must be in pain to be up at this hour, so sorry to see thats the case , honestly.

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          marfin, you silly wit… You listen to Susan-Anne too much: Because a person feels attracted to same-sex individual, fathers will rape their sons. marfin, what you do to your own mind is far more despicable and sad than marriage between same-sex couples. Your mind is sloppy cesspool of anti-logic goo-goo poo-poo. You have no code. Your Bible says whatever you want it to in 2015, just as it did for believers in 1200 when the Cathars were exterminated for Papa. (just been revisiting that history) You use the Bible as a weapon to harm others and then say it is the invisible man’s decision and you are just a good guy with a message. You hate with your sheep’s garb. marfin, I am so sorry you are in such a mess, in such pain that even basic reason seems to escape you. Seriously, I am sorry. You don’t mean to troll but you mean to troll though not trolling at all as a troll. Why do you feel that people see you this way? Is it Satan, causing so many to just shake their heads in disbelief? marfin, if God informed you and led you here to amuse and abuse yourself, I think you should consider another flavor of self-harm. Have some courage in your convictions, you can do it!

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            I wrote: “what you do to your own mind is far more despicable and sad than marriage between same-sex couples.”
            Sorry for the clumsy expression. It seems to imply that same sex marriage has something despicable about it and that was not at all my intent. Marriage is a fine thing and that includes same-sex unions. What marfin does with the mind is not in any way comparable to marriage. The comparison was clumsy and insensitive. I meant to say that what marfin is condemning reveals a despicable heart. Whether marfin’s faith has reduced that condition or increased it is unclear to me.

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          Bruce Gerencser

          After you directly answer the issues I raised in this post, I will gladly write a post on how I determine morality and deal with specific issues like incest. (And I’ve written about this issue before) you see, the issue is the Bible and it’s supposed morality. If it’s not, then there is not one valid reason to keep an adult same-sex couple from marrying. The opposition against same-sex marriage is totally fueled by appeals to what the Bible says about homosexuality. So, if you are going to appeal to the Bible as your moral standard, and that standard does not change, then Ham’s view on incest is unbiblical, immoral, and every bit as evil as homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

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            Exodus 32-14 And God changed his mind, so yes God`s mind can be changed, but as you say why he seemingly allowed close relatives to marry but now does not we can only speculate on as the bible is silent on this matter. How can something be a sin in the past but not be a sin now, again unless we get it revealed to us in the bible we can only speculate , but under the law if you did not keep the Sabbath you were sinning and could be put to death, under the new covalent we are no longer required to keep the Sabbath day , so we cannot be sinning as its no longer commanded.But as to why god requires or no longer requires certain things I believe we can find the answers if we look.Animal sacrifice is no longer required because christ is our sacrifice Hebrews chapter 10, and this would apply to the Sabbath as it say in Colossians 2-16 law and sabbath were a shadow of things to come so once Christ the substance came the shadow was no longer required. Even the whole law given to the Jews was only added because of transgression Galatians 3-19 but was only in place until Christ the mediator came.
            I hope you see I have made an honest attempt to answer you question , SO
            A 50 Year old man marrying his 25 year old son or daughter or marrying his son and his daughter if they say they love each other why is it wrong is it because it just feels wrong or just sits uncomfortably with our moral sensibilities , how should we judge this.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Hmm, you assume that I will say incest is ok, but isn’t that exactly what you are doing? The only difference is the point and time in history. I assume you think incest is immoral. That means incest is a moral issue. Again, are you saying a behavior can one day be moral and the next day immoral? Are you not the moral relativist you condemn be for being?

            You really need to spend some time thinking about this issue.

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    A few months ago, there was this article on patheos: who was Cain’s wife? I’ve always been taught it was one of his sisters as well but the funny thing is, that Cain has to be marked by God to stay safe (but shoudn’t everyone know him since it’s just his family that’s alive right?) And another thing that’s a little off is that he and his wife flee to a city in another country where apparently there is a bunch of people as well. So where on earth did they come from?

    I was taught that, although sinful, Adam and Eve were still perfect (no degeneration yet) and so genetic problems that would otherwise arise with incest-marriages did not occur yet. This only began happening after Noah or Lot or what not… So whereas it would be true today, it wouldn’t be back then.

    There was also an entire theory that had been built around this concept of degeneration. Rather than evolving, mankind would be getting weaker geneticly making the human race eventually inviable, hence we need God, heaven, and the end of the world.

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      I had written that blog post on No Longer Quivering. On top of the laughable violation of literal Biblical interpretation used that Bruce does a great job highlighting, Ham’s incestuous world would collapse in a really short time due to the effects of inbreeding.

      Most people know about Tay-Sachs and the damage it has caused in the Jewish population. The prevalence of the Tay-Sachs recessive allele in Ashkenazi Jewish people is 4%. If Adam had one mutation and his kids inbred, 50% of Adam’s offspring would be carriers and 37.5% of his grandkids would be carriers. Add a second mutation in Eve and 75% of their kids are carrying one or two fatal recessive mutation with 55% of their grandkids carrying one or two mutations.

      That’s a bloodbath.

      It actually gets worse if the recessive mutation is on the X-chromosome (which starts wiping out half the sons and ~25% of grandsons).

      The worst case scenario I’ve thought of is an autosomal dominant that kills adults after they’ve started reproducing – think a early-onset Huntington’s disease. That sucker would fly through the population.

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        In the worse-case scenario of a HD-like illness that strikes immediately after reproductive age, the population genetics stabilizes after ~3 generations at 56% of people are unaffected and 44% have one or two copies of the mutation and die.

        That kind of death rate is known to destroy civilizations.

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    We cannot forget that there were “others” on earth, apparently also created by God that were involved in sexual unions, Gen. 6:1-6 tells about the “Sons of God” or Nephilim that are largely believed to be fallen angels who engaged in sex with human women. The story then gets enhanced…without proof…that this union resulted in the giant community that later lad David slew with the stones. Even Job spoke about these Sons of God presenting themselves before God in heaven on several occasions.

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    No I was more looking for how you judge , yes I judge on what the bible say`s so what is your basis for judging ? .But if sitting on the fence is where you prefer to be because you know the implications of coming down on one side ot the other thats ok Bruce just watch out for those splinters. As the old saying goes what really beats a boxing champ is not the punches to the face its the pats on the back, so beware of those who just agree and say we are great , but don`t ask us to question our positions

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Again, you haven’t seriously addressed the issues I’ve raised. THAT is the point of the post. You ask me to defend a position you think I have, yet you are unwilling to do the same.

      Jesus, same yesterday, today, and forever.
      I am the Lord, I changeth not.
      Incest is not a sin.
      Incest is a sin.

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        I thought I had answered it in principle re the animal sacrifices and Sabbath day which were commanded and now are not so not doing them would have been a sin , but now with a change of covenant not do them is not a sin , so yes incest was not a sin( I assume this on the basis that Adam and eve were the only humans by special creation and not by natural birth) but now is a sin.

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      I don’t like the bible. It may inadvertently contain snippets of wisdom, the occasional historically accurate fact, and be interesting as a document relating to our history but ultimately it’s a heap of bullshit. And the trouble is that people like Marfin, who I’m sure is a decent guy, are forced, as a result of believing it, to perform all sorts of mental gymnastics, engage in interminable wordplay, and actually end up simply confusing the issue more than when they began their semantic adventure.

      So here’s my take on a man marrying his son. The dangers of incest where reproduction was a possibility were recognised thousands of years ago, long before we had any understanding of evolution, but the dangers could be observed (for the very real dangers, read up on the British Monarchy, indeed European monarchical dynasties over the last three centuries). So incest was banned and, indeed, most countries try to prevent overly close relatives from marrying. Note this is for good, practical reasons, not because it says so in some text. Now, I agree with allowing homosexuals to marry each other because I think they should have a right of choice available to the 90% of the population which happens to be heterosexual. If I am going to even up the rights, however, then it seems to me reasonable to impose some of the limits. Hence I would not allow an incestuous relationship between homosexuals because that would be unfair to their heterosexual counterparts, albeit there would be no reproductive problems to consider.

      I’d never thought about this before so thank you for drawing it out. Others may well disagree. It’s how morality comes about.

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        You do know if a man married his son there would be no reproduction.And you have hit the nail on the head by saying others may disagree so how do we decide , who gets the rights to impose limits on moral behaviour and by what standard do they judge, by majority, by feelings, by deduction . You see as an individual I can decide what right for me but can I decide what right for someone else. Without the acknowledgement that there may be a moral lawgiver an objective moral law cannot exist as we cannot even say for sure what morality is.So If I say there may or may not be a moral lawgiver but if I acknowledge the possibility I then have a basis for moral law if you say there is no moral lawgiver what is your basis for knowing and enforcing any moral code or law

        • Avatar
          August Rode

          Are you familiar with the Bible, marfin? According to the Bible, humanity acquired its moral sense not from God but as a result of disobeying him. God wanted to prevent our becoming moral beings but apparently couldn’t think far enough ahead to keep his prized Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil out of the hands of a pair of innocents who could not have known that disobeying was a wrong action. So, according to the Bible, we are moral beings in spite of God’s incredibly feeble attempt to keep us from being so.

          Do you really think you need God’s (reputed) Word to tell you right from wrong? If so, then you really don’t have much of a moral sense at all as what you’re actually looking for is something that you can be obedient to. Obedience and morality are not the same thing. Morality is about making choices; obedience is about avoiding choices.

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            August Rode

            Here’s the definition from the Wikipedia article on morality (

            Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behavior”) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper: In other words, it is the disjunction between right and wrong. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with “goodness” or “rightness.”

            I agree with that. Don’t you?

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        August Rode

        I look at it differently. Incest is specifically about sex, not marriage.

        Marriage is essentially a legal relationship, a contract, recognizing that the two people involved have agreed to share resources and to act as each other’s power of attorney where that’s necessary. Marriage isn’t about sex; people will have sex regardless of whether they’re married or not. Given how I understand marriage, I can’t see a good reason why the two people involved in a marriage need to have different genitalia nor why they need to be unrelated or distantly related to each other. The reason why society limits the number of people involved in a marriage to two is because resolving legal issues in contracts between multiple parties gets increasingly difficult with the number of parties involved.

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    Re Morality its not a matter whether you and I agree, what if someone disagrees , are you going to be the moral law maker and tell them they are wrong, also please give definition of right, wrong , proper , goodness etc you know where this is going don`t you, who gets to make the final decision. For instance a lot of people think its wrong to eat meat they feel very strongly about this so are they right or wrong, and I dont mean just for them, is eating meat objectively right or wrong,please forward you answer to PETA.If a wife with 3 young children thinks its wrong that her husband leave her for a younger model, right or wrong. Who gets the ultimate say in matters of morals right, wrong.

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      August Rode

      Martin, why does anyone need to have the ultimate say? Morality is about interpersonal relationships. It isn’t my responsibility to tell you how you ought to behave toward anyone else. That’s something you need to work out for yourself. If you can’t work it out for yourself and find yourself in need of assistance from a book, then avail yourself of that by all means. I need no such assistance.

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      John Arthur

      Hi Marfin,

      Please give a definition of morality! You assume a god gives the definition of morality for you, yet your god changes his mind on many occasions. What makes you think that the new covenant is the basis of morality? The NT attributes 13 of its letters to Paul, yet most biblical scholars believe (on the evidence available to them) that 6 of these letters are forged. Oh they mightn’t use the word “forged” but rather consider them to be written by disciples of Paul, using a pseudonym. Bart Ehrman calls them what they are: forgeries. So how can you rely on God to give us morality by speaking through forgeries?


      John Arthur

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    Its not the ultimate say in what people do I am questioning its the ultimate say in what good, evil, right , wrong , and morality actually is. So I have no problem whatsoever in how you want to live or what you BELIEVE morality is , its just
    you know how much flak we Christians take for believing in stuff , so as long as we all agree its a belief system the atheist world operates under in regard to morality you will get no argument from me.

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      August Rode

      Good, evil, right, wrong and morality are all uniquely human concepts, Martin. We don’t apply them to the so-called “lower” animals and there is no one else to whom they can be applied whose existence can be demonstrated an any reasonable way. What these terms mean is what we agree they mean.

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    marfin, your belief system can be stretched to include the sentence I am now trying to write, as munky as it might be…. I have to have a belief in my ability to manage the keyboard and arrange it all. Also, that the sun rising over the hill can be curtained sufficiently to allow me continued vision at my screen and not the dreaded blind glare. You see, these myriad kinds of beliefs are not really the same as yours when you go ‘ultimate’. And to keep doing it is just loving the blur. What is the sun exactly and how do you define glare? Are the words you are creating yours or do they originate with the ultimate Word and what is that and on it goes, ad nauseum.
    You feel a need to point at an ultimate invisibility you accept as God because you feel like it… the Bible says God and marfin gets it. Many of us don’t. Belief is a part of breathing but that does not mean God to me. And your being comfortable thinking that it does only means you like a feeling of being comfortable. Science thankfully embraces wrong to discard wronger. God was never wrong. God never fails. Sorry marfin… just cannot believe that crock.

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    I fail to see why taking instructions from some divine lawgiver actually helps.

    Let’s pretend for a moment that the bible does, indeed, lay done some basic principles of morality. Are we as humans not entitled to assess those instructions for relevance? Why should we just accept the instructions as laid down; we are surely mature enough to decide whether we are prepared to accept these laws, or whether we feel that we could do better ourselves.

    I don’t invent morality out of thin air and, even if I did, it’d hardly be reasonable to expect others to accept my morality without question. I deliberately threw in a hastily considered opinion about incest earlier on, and August Rode gave a good response that’s made me re-consider. That’s the way morality works. We don’t just think it up willy nilly on the hoof (I rather suspect that’s exactly how the Ten Commandments came about), rather it is a considered response to circumstances as they arise, and the job never finishes. Ultimately it’s up to the courts and to governments to give some sort of legal structure to morality, based on all the factors that can be considered relevant, but most morality is just ordinary people behaving in ways we have come to think of as acceptable. The idea I’ve heard expressed by some religious nuts that if they didn’t have biblical constraints placed on their behaviour they’d be psychopaths is just plain nonsense. In fact it’s actually an immoral position; morality should be innate, not a behaviour born of fear.

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    Appreciate all the comment s guys but once again who actually defines what morality is, So to hunt for sport, wear fur, and eat meat morally right or wrong , to leave your wife and kids for a younger model right or wrong, to leave your husband and limit his seeing his children to a couple of hours a week right or wrong . I know we all want to discuss , rape, murder, incest , the big seemingly obviously wrong things but what about the issues I have just raised.You see as a christian I am constantly told I have no scientific basis for my beliefs ( I disagree of course) but please show me scientifically how you know what morality is, or perhaps there is another way apart from science to get knowledge.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Morality is derived from where we live, who are parents are, what tribe (s) we are a part of, education, social conditioning, and cultural expectations. In states governed by laws, we the people, though our elected officials make laws to govern our society. These laws are to some degree arbitrary, and they can and do change with time. i.e. Slavery, same-sex marriage, adultery, divorce, birth control. Is there a genetic component to morality? Maybe. Of course, this raises the whole issue of whether humans have free will.

      I have no problem saying that religion has deeply influenced my moral and ethical views. But, that doesn’t mean that morality comes from a God. Such a belief is a metaphysical claim, one that no religious person can prove.

      Now that I am an atheist, I recognize that 50 years in the Christian church made a deep imprint on my life, good and bad. I do my best to hang on to what good I gained from Christianity and I reject the bad. I now turn to humanism to provide a moral and ethical framework going forward.

      Back to the issue of incest. My opinion is similar to that of others; what two (or more) consenting adults do sexually is none of my business, nor is it the government’s business. Outside of the age of consent, genetic concerns, and social wellbeing, it’s really none of anyone’s business who sticks what, when, and where.

      As a Christian, you are free to live according to your interpretation of the Bible, but as a citizen in a secular state, I don’t think religious commands have any place in our law.

      Yes, our legal system has been influenced by Christianity and the Bible, but that doesn’t mean we should codify Christian Marfin’s interpretations unto laws for everyone.

      In a secular state, we have to find a common ground on which to govern ourselves. An antiquated religious text, which contains immoral and barbaric practices and commands, is not that common ground.

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    Just some clarification I am not someone who believes anyone who does not believe in God cannot do good so if Bruce is kind to his wife, gives help to the poor, comforts those who need it, these are good things, I am against same sex marriage, abortion,etc and feel I have a right to express myself on these matters , but as these matter usually come down to a vote of the people and become laws on this basis so be it I will not be violent against anyone who holds an opposing view.The real issue once again is who gets to write this moral code, no one has answered my question re eating meat etc we as a society can decide how we want to live but who says its moral, the majority may be content to live under certain moral laws but that in and of itself does not make these laws moral.The question is not can we live morally , the question once again is what is morality, is my definition right is Bruce`s definition right .
    The funny thing is if you take atheist materialist philosophy To its logical conclusion as the die hard atheists do, you realise not only does morality not exist , there is no good, bad right, wrong,sane insane,freewill,self, consciousness,person hood, for how can a random collection of atoms and electrical impulses claim anything is actually real.If you look at this debate between scientists there really is a case to be made that we or our reality is nothing more than the product of the motion or lack thereof of atoms.

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      August Rode

      …who gets to write this moral code, …”

      You do, Martin, for yourself and for yourself alone. And you’ll do this regardless of whether you get your some of your ideas from a book or not. If you get it wrong, you’ll find out about it in no uncertain terms from the people you’ve hurt.

      …is my definition right is Bruce`s definition right.”

      Those are not good questions, Martin. Is your definition right for whom? For yourself? Most likely it is. For anyone else? Perhaps not. Why should it be? Do you want to put yourself in the position of telling everyone else how they ought to behave? What if you’re a despicable person? You have, for example, said that you’re against same sex marriage. On what basis? What does it have to do with you? I would wager that the only real reason you’re against it is because it offends you personally. Well, I’m sorry but that isn’t a nearly good enough reason to deny it to others who see some value in it. One right that you don’t have is the right not to be offended.

      “there really is a case to be made that we or our reality is nothing more than the product of the motion or lack thereof of atoms.

      Of course, but that’s a useless perspective in this case as it loses so many of the properties that emerge with higher levels of organization.

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    So there is no objective morality only subjective is that not the point I have been making we all just want to do what we want an as long as I think it ok sure it must be ok. A word or idea that changes its meaning with each and every persons perception of it really has no meaning at all.

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      August Rode

      You have a gift for deliberately misunderstanding, Martin. We all decide for ourselves what is in our own personal moral codes. When we get it wrong, we usually find that out in no uncertain terms from the people we’ve hurt. Most of us are able to work out what hurts others before we act.

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      Correct Marfin, there is no such thing as objective morality. Not one single example.

      For example, take what most would regard as the most fundamental moral principle, that you don’t kill other human beings. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well no, it really isn’t and I’m sure you agree. Perhaps you kill in self defence, I wouldn’t be surprised if, like most right wing christians, you believe in capital punishment, what about assisted suicide….the list is endless. Objectively you claim you can’t kill another human being, yet in many circumstances it is justified. That means a subjective approach is needed, rendering objective an obsolete term in this context.

      And on top of this, you must deal with consequentialism, which is, of course, what the god of the bible displays.

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        August Rode

        Here’s my perspective, Geoff. Morality is a matter of looking at all of the issues involved in a situation and selecting the option that causes the least amount of harm to others. There are situations where all of the available options cause harm in some way and so the moral thing to do, if one must do something, is to choose the option that causes the least harm. Killing someone is always harmful to someone. Nevertheless, in some cases, it may actually be the least harmful thing to do and therefore the preferred action.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Yes, all morality is subjective. Even among Christians who adamantly say that there is objective morality you find argument,debate, and disagreement over what the Bible says. Supposedly, the Ten Commandments are objective morality, yet Christians routinely fuss and fight over who has the right interpretation of the Decalogue.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    As a teen, still practicing Catholicism (though having doubts), I soldiered through a long tome by Robert Heinlein called “Time Enough for Love.” One of the stories he tells is of a brother and sister, both slaves and supposed twins, who are the result of genetic manipulation such that they are not close relatives in terms of DNA. The book was written in the 1970s, so the science is garbage, but the premise was interesting. The point was to question what really constitutes incest, and why is it problematic? The hero buys these slaves, immediately frees them, and helps them manage a modest future. The two had been raised knowing they were a breeding pair, and so they happily partnered and had kids. But when our hero went to visit them and their eldest kids were going through puberty, he discovered they had no idea why the kids shouldn’t partner if they wanted, and he ended up giving them a crash course in genetic issues of normal siblings having children.

    So, by the time I was twelve or thirteen, I was thinking about the actual reason behind such a fiercely defended concept as close relatives never marrying. I also had a crush on a cousin about that time, and was firmly scolded for admitting that, even though I’m adopted and so he and I were not genetically close relatives.

    Yet another crack in the wall of my religious upbringing.

    As a now-ancient, atheist adult, my thinking on the morality of close-relative relationships is nuanced. I’m absolutely convinced that it is immoral to have children with a close genetic relative, because the risk of the child having a lifelong disability is significant. It’s one thing to take stupid risks with your own life and health, but taking them for another is just plain wrong. I’m also against close relationships between any two people where there’s a significant power imbalance, and/or maturity level. It doesn’t always go badly for the person with less power or maturity, but it often does, and there’s some taking advantage that can go on without the more powerful/mature person intending for it. This would cover the homosexual relationship between a father and his son. It also covers the common and to me, fiercely immoral, professor-student relationship between an established academic and a conventionally young student. With an older, more mature student, the issue becomes much more fuzzy and it starts to depend much more on the actual maturities and personalities of the involved individuals.

    But within the more common range of questionable relationships, it’s often fuzzier. (Fictional twins Jaime and Cercei Lannister making children is an example of an immoral relationship. A twin brother and sister who share housing when she’s past menopause, and finding comfort in the same bed at night? Doesn’t bother me at all.) For me, it boils down to, who is being hurt or might be expected to be hurt.

    Trying to do as little harm as possible to our fellow humans, which is a reasonable basis for morality, is actually complicated and nuanced. It requires much harder thinking than following a holy book, but much more honest thinking than that required to reconcile one part of a holy book with another part. And it requires not lying to yourself, although self is the easiest person of all to lie to.

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    The Heinlein chapter you mention actually isn’t scientific garbage. Let me explain. The genetic relationship (with a normal karyotype) with our parents is always 50%, but with siblings it is an average of 50%, so Heinlein’s twins (who weren’t really twins, because they aren’t related at all) it is possible for siblings to have zero genetics in common. The “twins” are a thought experiment that every chromosome each twin received was the chromosome NOT received by the other twin.

    As for Ham’s assertion, while Ham’s Bible narrative and timeline has no basis in fact, I (and science) agree that the incest taboo is generally agreed to be what a society itself defines as incest. Incest taboos have a strong cultural component, and are derived from experience of bad outcomes from children of relatives. For example there are isolated islands that don’t have an incest taboo because all of the recessive lethal alleles have been removed from the population.

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    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone here truly think that discussions, like the back and forth above, actually achieve anything worthwhile? I read all of the comments, and quite frankly, I feel mentally and emotionally exhausted after reading all of that? Maybe Rodney King asked the right question: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

    I’ll tell you why we cannot all just get along. American Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals will not allow it. Whenever any person stands up and says:

    “I——and I alone——have the truth, and anyone who does not fully accept my exclusive truth deserves torture forever——ain’t nobody gonna be happy and getting along.”

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    I just love the flip flopping about God: “God is unchangeable blah blah. Morality is eternal. Oh, but for convenience’s sake brothers can have a child with their sisters and it wasn’t a sin, but now it is.” Don’t they EVER get tired of the bs?

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    MJ Lisbeth

    One of my grandparents came from a remote rural village in Italy. There, it wasn’t unusual for people to marry cousins because there had been little, if any, in or out migration to the area for centuries, so everyone was at least somewhat related.

    Still, there was (understandable and justifiable, to my mind) disgust of, and prohibition against, sexual relations between siblings and or between parents and children. Those folks knew nothing about genetics and, as many of them were illiterate and the Roman Catholic Church discouraged lay people from reading the Bible, they could not point to any Scriptural verses to support their revulsion. Somehow, though, I think that even if Church authorities told them such relations were OK, people wouldn’t have engaged in them. They understood, even if they couldn’t articulate, the harm that would result.

    Peasants are wiser than people with power realize. I sometimes wonder what folks in that village would have thought had they ever read the Bible for themselves. For the record, the grandparent in question was not what most people would call a “devout” Catholic or seemed to think much of, or about, faith in general.

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Bruce Gerencser