I’ll start off with the fact that I have no interest inbreeding so this is not a justification by any means. This is just a pondering that stemmed out of an e-mail exchange. What is inbreeding and what truly defines it.
Wikipedia defines inbreeding as:
Inbreeding is breeding between close relatives, whether plant or animal. If practiced repeatedly, it often leads to a reduction in genetic diversity. A concomitant increase in homozygousity of recessive traits can, over time, result in inbreeding depression. This may result in inbred individuals exhibiting reduced health and fitness and lower levels of fertility.
So we’ve established that if we agree with Wikipedia’s definition on inbreeding as a reduction in genetic diversity, what can we say about communal, intellectual, or societal inbreeding? Is there such a thing? I think there is, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is for you to decide. Let’s go over some examples.
A boy who is two years old and walks over to a new-born baby girl sitting in a stroller in front of the neighbor’s house. He meets her for the first time. Over the coming years they run around naked in the yard together at an age where it is somewhat socially acceptable. They go to dances together. In all ways they are best friends, brother and sister living next door to each other brought together by location and shared experiences. At the age of 18 they marry.
Socially acceptable? You answer that.
Another boy is 11 years old, his single father comes back from a business trip and tells his son that he met a woman and they are getting married in 6 months. She happens to have a 11 year old daughters. Seven years later the son and the woman’s daughter marry. They are step-siblings at the time.
Socially acceptable? You answer that.
I can’t tell you how you thought and your feelings on it, but if we look at the two above scenarios and define neither of those as inbreeding from a genetic stand point but from a relationship stand point both may be considered incestuous. Granted incest laws and inbreeding are separate on the moral compass scale, but truly you can’t have one without a varying degree of the other.
Some incest and inbreeding are accidental, take the case in point of the separated twins that got married in England last year. While they would have inbred if they would have had children before finding out they were related and on the strictest sense it is incest since they were brother and sister, if we throw morality out the door for a second is it truly incestuous? They had less in common in life experience then either the first two examples I gave. They are further apart so they bring more to the table for a child to learn from in a life experience department. From an intellectual or communal stand point this wouldn’t be inbreeding or incest. It would be two people who were in love that had the unlucky chance of common DNA.
Part of what was discussed at the time that was a news story was that people are attracted to people who are like them. So people with similar experiences and interest are going to be more attracted to each other with the more they are like each other. Unfortunately the more your significant other is like you the more your offspring is going to be like you because of the moral traits and beliefs you and your mate educate your offspring with. Hence while you may have preserved genetic diversity you have squashed a mutation in the sense of the child being more independent and different than yourselves. Your child is not likely to be more successful than either you or your mate. It is likely to fall in the same economic and societal structure as their forebearers.
Socially acceptable? Sure is.
Morally right when you look at the big pictures? You answer that.
The reason this comes up is all the friends and communities that people have had for years at a time. Whether it be a church group, a video game guild, an online forum, or a local chess club the closeness you can evolve with these people can become close enough that you can’t differentiate between your feeling for family or your feelings for the group you belong to. It is a family in every sense of the word except for genetics. The longer the group stays together and the more they become like the other people the more intellectual and interest stagnation can occur. If you live your life obsessed with something and so does your mate, highly likely your child will be the same way.
I can say that my wife and I shared friends but we were two very different people. We knew each other for a few months, and have grown more alike in the decade we’ve been together, but deep down from shared experiences we are very different people. However what if we would have met at 11 years old and married 7 years later? What if we had been part of a video game group that we had let our guard down and accepted as family. What about truly platonic friends that pick up romance after 30 years of friendship? At what point would there be a moral difference between communal inbreeding versus genetic? Is there ever?
If there is no such thing as communal or intellectual inbreeding, then will identical twins be able to legally marry and be accepted by society once we can do genetic manipulation? At the point we can do true genetic modification we can insure that no inbreeding at the genetic level will occur. Sure it still will be considered incest, but what would the health reason or societal reason truly be to keep the people apart? I’m sure eventually mankind will have to grapple and come up with the moral answer code going forward. Not yet but someday.
This is not a piece to make you decide something one way or another. It is more a piece to help you decide in the global communication world we live in that there will things that we need to decide on what is family. Is family only truly a genetic trait? Is it a lump of love and shared experiences? If so at which point will be the truly defining line between where incest and inbreeding live and where societies acceptable norms lie.
Mutation exists through differentiation, mutation leads to evolution. What needs to be done to insure evolution at all levels? You answer that.